Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Syndicate content
Updated: 47 min 21 sec ago

UN Urges Continued Investigation of Duvalier Crimes

October 7, 2014 - 08:41

Many feared that with former dictator Duvalier’s death, victims of his regime would never find justice and closure. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reminds us that Duvalier didn’t commit crimes alone. His accomplices can and should still be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions.

Haiti: despite death of former President, UN urges continued probes into alleged abuses

UN News Centre
October 7, 2014

It is “essential” that legal proceedings and investigations against individuals associated with former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier continue despite the former leader’s recent passing, the United Nations human rights office urged today.

Serious human rights violations, including torture, rape, and extrajudicial killings, dating to the period spanning 1971 to 1986 – the years when Mr. Duvalier, also known as “Baby Doc,” was in power – have been extensively documented by Haitian and international human rights groups.

Earlier this year, Haiti’s Court of Appeals reversed a January 2012 decision that stated that the former leader could not be charged with crimes against humanity which occurred during his reign because the statute of limitations had expired.

At a press briefing held in Geneva, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) noted that while all the crimes were “obviously” not committed by Mr. Duvalier himself, it was imperative that the perpetrators of all abuses be brought to trial.

“It is the right of the Haitian people to obtain accountability for past violations of their human rights and the duty of mankind to remember, establish the truth and ensure justice for the victims,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters.

After years living in exile, Jean-Claude Duvalier’s return to Haiti in 2011 spurred victims and civil society organizations to seek justice for the abuses committed during his 15 years in office.

Mr. Duvalier died on 4 October of a reported heart attack. He was 63.


Click HERE for the original.

Duvalier Death “Sad for Haitians” Denied Justice

October 6, 2014 - 12:48

This interview with writer Jean Saint-Vil and journalist Amy Wilentz, author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier” features victims’ responses to the death of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and information on Duvalier’s repressive regime. The interview also discusses the current Haitian government’s support of Duvalier and President Michel Martelly’s reaction to his death, seen as a “slap in the face” of Duvalier’s victims. Human rights defenders hope to continue the Duvalier prosecution, against those who helped carry out his regime’s crimes.

Part of the transcript is below. Click HERE for the full text and video.

Death of U.S.-Backed Ex-Dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier Won’t End Haitian Victims’ Quest for Justice

Democracy Now!
October 6, 2014

The former U.S.-backed dictator of Haiti, Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc,” has died at 63. Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986, taking power after the death of his father who had ruled since 1957. Baby Doc’s death came just months after a Haitian court ruled that he could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law, and that he could also be held responsible for abuses by the army and paramilitary forces under his rule. Under his regime, hundreds of political prisoners held in a network of prisons died from their extraordinarily cruel treatment. Baby Doc’s government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten, in some cases tortured, jailed and forced to leave the country. Despite his human rights record, Baby Doc was a close ally of the United States. After years of exile in France, he returned to Haiti in 2011 and became an ally of Haiti’s current president Michel Martelly. We are joined by Haitian activist and writer Jean Saint-Vil and journalist Amy Wilentz, author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier has died at the age of 63. Known as Baby Doc, Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986. He took power after the death of his father, who had ruled since 1957. His death came just months after a Haitian court ruled that he could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law and that he could also be held responsible for abuses by the army and paramilitary forces under his rule. According to Human Rights Watch, Baby Doc’s rule was marked by systematic human rights violations. Hundreds of political prisoners, held in a network of jails, died from their extraordinarily cruel treatment. Duvalier’s government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten; in some cases, tortured, jailed and forced to leave the country. One of his most vocal critics in the 1980s was a priest named Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who would later become Haiti’s first democratically elected president.

AMY GOODMAN: Despite his human rights record, Jean-Claude Duvalier was a close ally of the United States. After years of exile in France, Baby Doc returned to Haiti in 2011 and became an ally of Haiti’s current president, Michel Martelly. In messages posted on Twitter Sunday, Martelly called Baby Doc, quote, “an authentic son of Haiti.” There is now talk about a possible state funeral for Duvalier. Many victims of his regime have spoken out against the idea. Robert Duval was a political prisoner who was jailed for 17 months during Duvalier’s rule.

ROBERT DUVAL: You know it is a crime against humanity. It’s like the—you’re talking about torture. You’re talking about disappearances. You’re talking about summary executions. You’re talking about starving people in jail. You’re talking about genocide. You know, whole families have gone, even to the point of having children two years old be thrown in the air and come down in bayonet. This is the type of crime that his regime has committed. And he was the head of it for 15 years, under the regime of Duvalier. It’s very well known and very well documented. More than 50,000 to 60,000 people have perished under those conditions I told you about. So, to give this man a national funeral, that would be a slap to all of the victims and to the nation in general.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Duval. To talk more about Baby Doc’s legacy, we’re joined now by two guests. Jean Saint-Vil is an Ottawa-based Haitian writer, radio host and activist. His website He’s joining us from Ottawa. Amy Wilentz is also with us, an award-winning writer and journalist. She’s the author of several books on Haiti, including Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti, which was published last year and received the National Book [Critics Circle] Award. She’s also the author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. She teaches in the literary journalism program at the University of California, Irvine, joining us from Los Angeles.


Click HERE for the full text and video.

Haitians Need Closure After Duvalier’s Death

October 6, 2014 - 11:35

This article discusses US support for both Duvalier regimes, the negative economic and social effects, and how Haitians might deal with the lack of accountability left by Jean-Claude Duvalier’s sudden death.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

How Will Haiti Reckon with the Duvalier Years?

Laurent Dubois, The New Yorker
October 6, 2014

In January, 2011, one year after an earthquake killed tens of thousands of people (by some estimates, hundreds of thousands), Jean-Claude Duvalier landed unannounced in Haiti following twenty-five years of exile in France. In the years between his return to the country and his death on Saturday at the age of sixty-three, he circulated freely about Port-au-Prince, meeting with old friends, dining at fancy restaurants, and occasionally accepting invitations to government events. For Haitians who had suffered imprisonment or torture under his regime, or who had been forced into exile themselves, Duvalier’s unapologetic presence in the country was shocking. A group of twenty-two plaintiffs, the Collectif contre l’impunité (the Collective Against Impunity) had been pushing for a trial against him, and had been gathering evidence to present in court. This February, they won a victory when a Haitian appellate court ruled that Duvalier could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law. The next step never came, and now it is too late. According to the Human Rights Watch lawyer Reed Brody, who worked on the case, “Duvalier’s death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human-rights trial in its history.”

Instead of a trial, we’ll have a funeral. What will it look like? Who will speak, and what will they say? In a tweet, Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly, made clear the tone he would seek to set: “Despite our quarrels and differences, let us salute the departure of an authentic son of Haiti.” But how we remember Duvalier is much more than a matter of “quarrels and differences”; it is a question of how, decades on, we should remember and confront a haunting and traumatic history of political repression.

When Duvalier is buried, there will be many conversations in the streets and homes of Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and Gonaïves, but also in those of Brooklyn, Miami, Montreal, Cayenne, the Bahamas, Guadeloupe, and Paris. The memories of those who suffered under the Duvalier regime have been passed on quietly within families inside and outside of the country, and more openly through such writers as Marie Vieux-ChauvetFrankétienne, and Edwidge Danticat. But many have inherited a hesitation to speak about what happened during those years. The deep desire for closure, redemption, and reparation is still shadowed by a legacy of impunity and forgetting. Haiti’s future depends on a serious reckoning with the inheritance of the Duvalier regime. Now that Jean-Claude is gone, what shape will that reckoning take?


Click HERE for the full text.

Ex-Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier Dead

October 4, 2014 - 13:34

Jean-Claude Duvalier, notorious for the corruption and human rights abuses that reigned during his presidency, died of a heart attack this weekend. Some fear that justice for Duvalier’s victims can’t be served now that he’s died but many hope that the prosecution will continue with others who were involved in Duvalier’s human rights abuses.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Ousted Haitian Dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier Dies

Evens Sanon & Trenton Daniels, ABC News
October 4, 2014

Jean-Claude Duvalier, who presided over what was widely acknowledged as a corrupt and brutal regime as the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti until a popular uprising sent him into a 25-year exile, has died. He was 63.

Duvalier died Saturday from a heart attack at the home of a friend in Port-au-Prince where he had been staying, said his lawyer, Reynold Georges, and several officials in the impoverished nation.

The former leader, known as “Baby Doc,” made a surprise return to Haiti in 2011, allowing victims of his regime to pursue legal claims against him in Haitian courts and prompting some old allies to rally around him. Neither side gained much traction, however, and a frail Duvalier spent his final years quietly in the leafy hills above the Haitian capital.

Haitian President Michel Martelly expressed his condolences to the former dictator’s family, making no mention of the widespread human rights abuses that occurred under Duvalier and his more notorious predecessor and father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier.

“On behalf of the entire government and people of Haiti, I take this sad occasion to extend my sincere sympathies to his family, his relatives and his supporters across the country,” Martelly said.

The elder Duvalier was a medical doctor-turned-dictator who promoted “Noirisme,” a movement that sought to highlight Haiti’s African roots over its European ones while uniting the black majority against the mulatto elite in a country divided by class and color.

“Papa Doc” tortured and killed political opponents, relying on a dreaded civilian militia known as the Tonton Macoutes.

In 1971, Francois Duvalier suddenly died of an illness after naming his son to succeed him. At 19, Jean-Claude Duvalier became the world’s youngest president.

Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled for 15 years, retaining the Tonton Macoutes and the brutality of his father’s regime, though to a lesser extent. The son’s administration was seen as less violent and repressive than that of the father, though it perhaps was more corrupt.

Wisps of press freedom and personal criticism, something never tolerated under the elder Duvalier, emerged sporadically during the reign of “Baby Doc” because of international pressure. Still, human rights groups documented abuses and political persecution. A trio of prisons known as the “Triangle of Death,” which included the much-feared Fort Dimanche for long-term inmates, symbolized the brutality of his regime.

Since his return from exile, victims of the regime have testified in a criminal investigation of human rights abuses during his 15-year reign but the case has moved fitfully and there had been few signs of progress. His death brings an end to that effort without giving Haiti a chance to reconcile with that past, said Amy Wilentz, author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier,” and other works about the country.

“What this means is that there will never be a trial against him and there won’t be a chance for the Haitian people to have justice and to purge from its soul the true horrors of the Duvalier era,” Wilentz said. “It’s an end but there is no closure that comes with it.”

Click HERE for the full text.

Duvalier Death Denies His Victims Justice

October 4, 2014 - 08:33

Notorious former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier died of a heart attack over the weekend. He was under investigation for corruption and crimes against humanity. but now that he’s dead, his victims fear that justice may never be served.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti: Justice Denied by Duvalier’s Death Ex-Dictator Under Investigation for Crimes Against Humanity

Human Rights Watch
October 4, 2014

(New York) – The inability of Haiti’s courts to bring to trial former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier deprived his countless Haitian victims of the justice they sought, Human Rights Watch said today. Duvalier’s death was reported on October 4, 2014.

“It’s a shame that the Haitian justice system could not bring Baby Doc Duvalier to trial before he died,” said Reed Brody, special counsel at Human Rights Watch, who worked with Duvalier’s victims. “Duvalier’s death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human rights trial in its history.”

Duvalier inherited power from his father, the dictator François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986. During the son’s rule, Haiti was marked by systematic human rights violations. Hundreds of political prisoners held in a network of prisons known as the “triangle of death” died from their extraordinarily cruel treatment. Others were victims of extrajudicial killings. Duvalier’s government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten, and in some cases tortured, jailed, or forced into exile.

“A Haitian proverb says ‘He who gives the blow forgets; he who carries the scar remembers,’” Brody said. “Duvalier may have forgotten the blows he gave to the Haitian people, but his victims remember.”


Click HERE for the full text.

Former Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier Dead

October 4, 2014 - 07:30

This article describes former dictator Duvalier’s rise to power, presidency, and exile from Haiti. The Duvalier regime was marked by embezzlement, violence, murders, and forced disappearances. Originally supported by the US, Duvalier’s gross human rights violations and corruption lost him US support and played a large role in his exile.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Jean-Claude Duvalier, ex-Haitian leader known as Baby Doc, dies at 63

Stephanie Hanes, The Washington Post
October 4, 2014

Jean-Claude Duvalier, the second-generation “president for life” who plunged one of the world’s poorest countries into further despair by presiding over widespread killing, torture and plunder, died Oct. 4 at his home in Port-au-Prince. He was 63.

He had a heart attack, his lawyer, Reynold George, told the Associated Press.

Despite a brief, hopeful window when it appeared that the overweight, overwhelmed dauphin might liberalize the country, the younger Duvalier soon followed in his father’s violent footsteps. Tens of thousands of Haitians were killed under the regimes, with many more tortured, according to human-rights groups.

Jean-Claude Duvalier maintained his father’s well-established terror apparatus — most notably the Tontons Macoutes, the shadowy militia whose name means “bogeymen” — and added new techniques for skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from the national treasury.

Under the younger Duvalier’s watch, Haiti became the Western Hemisphere’s epicenter for AIDS, as well as a major cocaine-trafficking stop. Although he courted the United States and other donors with promises of human-rights reforms and a business-friendly economic policy, living conditions for Haitians dipped even lower than their already dismal standing.

Illiteracy rose and life expectancy sank. When tens of thousands of desperate, malnourished “boat people” tried to flee Haiti for U.S. shores during the 1970s and ’80s, Duvalier’s response, true to form, was to demand kickbacks from their unscrupulous human smugglers.

By the time he and his family boarded a U.S. Air Force cargo plane and flew to exile in 1986, with truckloads of Louis Vuitton luggage and millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts, Duvalier had cemented his country’s status as the basket case of the Americas.

He remained unrepentant.

“I got to know Duvalier as a man who is by turn intellectually dishonest, manipulative, even downright clueless,” wrote Haitian-born journalist Marjorie Valbrun in a 2011 Washington Post essay, which recollected interviews she had conducted with Baby Doc in 2003.

“In rare but telling moments, he also seemed deeply sad,” Valbrun added. “He denied any past wrongdoing. He rejected accusations of corruption during his presidency. He dismissed allegations of officially sanctioned murders and arrests of political opponents as fictional creations of a biased news media. He never uttered a word of remorse and ceded only one major mistake: ‘Perhaps I was too tolerant.’ ”

According to official records, Jean-Claude Duvalier was born July 3, 1951. He was the only son of Simone Ovide and her husband, the doctor Francois Duvalier.

In January 2011, Jean-Claude Duvalier surprised Haitians by returning to his earthquake-damaged country with his companion, Veronique Roy. The frail-looking Baby Doc said that he was not there for politics, but because he wanted to “help.” Banking experts, however, suspected that he had arrived to circumvent new Swiss regulations preventing exiled leaders from obtaining money stolen from their countries.

He was promptly arrested and charged with embezzlement and other crimes, but remained living in a high-end hotel in the mountains of Port-au-Prince.


Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti in a Time of Cholera Wins Emmy

October 3, 2014 - 06:37

September 30th, “Haiti in a Time of Cholera” won an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. This is a unique opportunity to draw attention to the still-ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti and the United Nations’ lack of accountability for the epidemic its peacekeepers caused.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti Cholera Documentary Wins Emmy

The Haitian Times
October 3, 2014

A documentary about the Haiti cholera epidemic won an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a News Magazine on Sept.30. Fault Lines: Haiti in a Time of Cholera, which was produced by Al Jazeera media network, looked at the United Nations’ (UN) refusal to comply with its own legal obligations in the face of overwhelming evidence that it introduced cholera to the small island country.

“This Emmy leaves the UN nowhere to hide from justice,” Mario Joseph, managing attorney for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) said. The BAI has worked with cholera victims in Haiti since 2011. Millions of people including over 100 members of congress and UN human rights officials denounce the UN’s “failure to respond justly to its cholera epidemic.”

The film begins in Haiti, where thousands died after a cholera outbreak.

“The only outstanding question is whether the UN will continue to undermine its own credibility by refusing to submit to the rule of law that it so enthusiastically promotes.”

“Al Jazeera tells stories of people that are not often heard, and ‘Haiti in a Time of Cholera’ is an example of such a story,” Walker, who worked as a producer and correspondent on the film said. “This Emmy award is a testament to the team who worked on the program and an opportunity to draw attention to the scale of the cholera crisis in Haiti.”


Click HERE for the full text.

Big Step Towards Justice for Haiti’s Cholera Victims

October 2, 2014 - 15:58

The judge in the cholera case against the UN has granted oral arguments, set to take place October 23. This article gives a quick overview of cholera in Haiti and discusses why oral arguments are a big step towards justice for Haiti’s cholera victims.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Will Haiti Cholera Victims See UN in Court?

Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams
October 2, 2014

It’s been almost four years since the cholera outbreak began in Haiti following the disastrous earthquake.

Since then, the disease—brought to the Caribbean nation by United Nations troops from Nepal—has claimed the lives of over 8,500 Haitians and sickened over 700,000.

But the victims’ journey towards justice took a positive step on Tuesday when Judge Oetken granted oral argument in the case. The court date is set for Oct. 23 in New York.

Haiti justice advocates are welcoming the development.

Brian Concannon, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti(IJDH), stated, “The Court’s decision to call a hearing shows that it is taking a serious look at the UN’s international law obligation to provide victims justice, as a precondition for asserting immunity. The hearing is also an excellent opportunity for discussing the UN’s compliance with its obligations, both in court and without.”


Click HERE for the full text.

Al Jazeera Cholera Documentary Wins Emmy

October 2, 2014 - 14:35

Haiti in a Time of Cholera won an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism. This blog post summarizes the Al Jazeera America documentary about the cholera epidemic in Haiti and the lack of UN accountability.

The documentary and part of the post are below. Click HERE for the full text.

Al Jazeera America Documentary on Cholera Outbreak in Haiti Wins an Emmy

Ansel Herz, The Stranger
October 2, 2014

Fault Lines – Haiti in a time of cholera by hakomasong

Hey, people, guess what? Justice isn’t dead! The team behind a really great, little-noticed Al Jazeera America documentary about who caused a cholera outbreak in Haiti just won an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism. The documentary traces the outbreak to United Nations peacekeepers, who were supposed to be protecting Haiti’s population.


Click HERE for the full text.

Rep Waters Concerned by Violence in Haiti

October 2, 2014 - 11:28

Peaceful protestors commemorating the 1991 coup anniversary were attacked by Haitian police on September 30th. Congresswoman Waters wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing concern about this and further violence in Haiti. In the letter, she urged Kerry to encourage the Haitian government to respect its people’s human rights.

Congresswoman Waters Urges State Department to Support the Rights of Peaceful Demonstrators in Haiti

US Congresswoman Maxine Waters
October 2, 2014

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerryexpressing concern about the potential for political instability and violence in Haiti.  The letter urges him to use his influence to encourage the Government of Haiti to respect the rights of Haitian citizens to peaceably assemble and express their political opinions free from government intimidation.  Copies of the letter were sent to Thomas C. Adams, Haiti Special Coordinator, and Ambassador Pamela A. White, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti. 

The text of the letter follows:

I am extremely concerned about the potential for political instability and violence in Haiti.

It has been reported that Haitian police used water hoses and tear gas against thousands of Haitian demonstrators, who were attempting to march towards the home of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on September 30th as part of commemorations of the anniversary of the 1991 coup d’état.  These confrontational tactics were used despite reports that the demonstrators were peaceful.  It has also been reported that police blocked the route along which the demonstrators had planned to march.

I strongly urge you to use your influence and the diplomatic resources available to the United States to encourage the Government of Haiti to respect the rights of Haitian citizens to peaceably assemble and express their political opinions free from government intimidation.


Click HERE to read the full text.

Le dossier du choléra aura une audience

October 2, 2014 - 09:23

Le juge pour le dossier du cholera contre l’ONU accorde une audience sur l’immunité le 23 octobre 2014. Maitre Mario Joseph, du BAI, explique l’importance du cette audience, en nous rappelant que c’est le début de la lutte pour la justice.

Partie de l’article est ci-dessous. Cliquez ICI pour la texte complete.

Haïti-Choléra : BAI, Haïti bénéficiera d’une audience auprès du Tribunal fédéral de Manhattan…

Haiti Press Network
2 octobre 2014

« Haïti bénéficiera d’une audience auprès du Tribunal fédéral de Manhattan à New York , le 23 octobre prochain ». C’est en substance ce qu’a annoncé le président du Bureau des Avocats internationaux (BAI) et l’Institut pour la Justice et la Démocratie en Haïti (IJDH) ce jeudi 2 octobre lors d’une conférence de presse tenue dans les locaux de ce bureau sis à la deuxième impasse Lavaud (Lalue).

Monsieur Mario Joseph se dit satisfait de l’avancement du dossier compte tenu du fait que la plainte d’Haïti contre les Nations unies a été déclarée « irrecevable » au titre de la section 29 de la Convention sur les privilèges et immunités de cet organisme datée de 1946. Alors que l’accord de siège paraphé le 9 juillet 2004, entre le gouvernement haïtien et l’ONU préconise la mise en place d’une commission permanente de réclamation prévue au paragraphe 55 dudit accord pour l’indemnisation des victimes.

Cliquez ICI pour la texte complete.

Haiti Cholera Emmy Leaves UN Nowhere to Hide

October 1, 2014 - 12:08



Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti),, +509-3701-9878 (French, Creole, English)
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-541-263-0029 (English, French, Creole)
Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-404-217-1302 (English, Creole, French)

Emmy Award for Haiti Cholera Documentary Leaves UN Nowhere to Hide, Lawyers Say

Al Jazeera America Film Documents UN Refusal to Comply With Its Own Laws

(Port-au-Prince and Boston, October 1, 2014)—Lawyers representing victims of the UN-introduced cholera epidemic in Haiti applaud the awarding of the News Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism to Al Jazeera America for Fault Lines: Haiti in A Time of Cholera. The lawyers noted that the distinguished award, announced in New York on September 30, exposes the UN’s refusal to comply with its own legal obligations in the face of overwhelming evidence that it introduced cholera to Haiti. The disease has devastated the Haitian population since 2010.

Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), which has worked with cholera victims since 2011, declared that “this Emmy leaves the UN nowhere to hide from justice. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has joined millions of Haitians, media all over the world, over 100 members of the U.S. Congress and even top UN Human Rights officials in denouncing the UN’s failure to respond justly to its cholera epidemic.”

The compelling film, which also won a 2014 Peabody Award, contrasts the fight that Haiti’s cholera victims and their lawyers are waging for justice with the UN’s dishonest and lethally slow response to the epidemic. It follows Sebastian Walker of Al Jazeera America as he journeys from Port-au-Prince to New York to understand why the UN has not done more to end the suffering it caused. Walker and his team are eventually forced to leave UN Headquarters for asking too many questions about the lack of accountability.

In response to being awarded the Emmy, Walker said, “the most pleasing aspect of winning this award is the opportunity to bring the story into greater focus, so that more and more people outside Haiti are aware of the devastating impact of this disease and the ongoing fight for justice of those impacted.” Walker added: “This award is dedicated to the many hundreds of thousands of Haitians infected with cholera since 2010, and to the families of the more than 8500 Haitians who have died from the disease so far.”

This is the worst single-country cholera epidemic in modern time. The disease plagues the Haitian population to this day and will continue to kill unless the water and sanitation infrastructure that has controlled cholera in Europe, North America, Latin America and elsewhere is installed. Without this infrastructure, the majority of Haitians lack reliable access to clean water, and are left vulnerable to a disease that has been controlled in the Global North since the 19th century.

“There is no serious dispute that the UN caused the epidemic, or that it has a legal responsibility to compensate the victims under international law,” said Brian Concannon, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), a Boston-based non-profit that represents plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the UN. “The only outstanding question is whether the UN will continue to undermine its own credibility by refusing to submit to the rule of law that it so enthusiastically promotes.”

For more information, including case documents and background materials, see





Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti),, +509-3701-9878 (French, Creole, English)
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-541-263-0029 (English, French, Creole)
Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-404-217-1302 (English, Creole, French)

Emmy Award pour documentaire sur le cholera en Haïti Feuilles ONU pas d’échappatoire, disent les avocats

Al Jazeera Amérique Film Documente le Refus de l’ONU de se conformer à ses propres lois

(Port-au-Prince et Boston, 1 Octobre, 2014) –Les avocats  représentant les victimes de l’épidémie de choléra de l’ONU-introduit en Haïti applaudissent l’attribution de l’Emmy pour l’excellence en investigation journalistique à Al Jazeera Amérique pour Fault Lines: Haïti in A time of Choléra. Les avocats ont fait remarquer que le prix prestigieux, annoncé à New York le 30 Septembre, expose le refus de l’ONU de se conformer à ses obligations légales en dépit des preuves accablantes qu’il a introduit le choléra en Haïti. La maladie a dévasté la population haïtienne depuis 2010.

Mario Joseph, Procureur Général du Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), a travaillé avec les victimes du choléra depuis 2011, a déclaré que «ce Prix ne laissera pas à l’ONU le temps de s’échapper à la justice. L’Académie Nationale de Télévision, d’Arts et des Sciences s’est rejoint à des millions d’Haïtiens, de médias du monde entier, plus de 100 membres du Congrès des États-Unis et même de hauts responsables des droits de l’homme des Nations Unies à dénoncer l’incapacité de l’ONU à répondre favorablement à l’épidémie du choléra. ”

Le film fascinant, qui a également remporté le Prix Peabody en 2014, oppose la lutte des victimes du choléra en Haïti et leurs avocats se livrent à la justice avec la réponse malhonnête et lente de l’ONU à l’épidémie. Le film évoque Sebastian Walker d’Al Jazeera Amérique durant son parcours de Port-au-Prince à New York pour comprendre pourquoi l’ONU n’a pas fait d’avantage pour mettre fin à la souffrance qu’il a causé. Walker et son équipe ont été forcés de quitter le siège des Nations Unies pour avoir posé trop de questions sur le manque de responsabilité des Nations Unies sur ce dossier.

En réponse à avoir reçu le prix Emmy, Walker a déclaré, « l’aspect le plus agréable de gagner ce prix est l’occasion de mettre l’histoire dans la plus grande attention, afin que plus de gens hors d’Haïti soient conscients de l’impact dévastateur de cette maladie et de la lutte en cours pour la justice de ceux qui sont touchés. » Walker a ajouté: « Ce prix est dédié aux centaines de milliers d’Haïtiens infectés par le choléra depuis 2010, ainsi qu’aux familles des plus de 8500 Haïtiens qui sont morts de la maladie jusqu’à nos jours.»

C’est la pire épidémie ayant affecté un seul pays dans les temps modernes. La maladie harcèle la population haïtienne jusqu’à nos jours et continuera de tuer à moins que l’eau potable et l’infrastructure sanitaire qui a contrôlé le choléra en Europe, l’Amérique du Nord, l’Amérique latine et ailleurs soit installé. Sans cette infrastructure, la majorité des Haïtiens manqueront l’accès fiable à l’eau saine, et resteront vulnérable à une maladie qui a été contrôlée dans l’hémisphère Nord depuis le XIXe siècle.

« Il n’y a aucune contestation sérieuse que l’ONU a causé l’épidémie, ou qu’elle a une responsabilité légale d’indemniser les victimes en vertu du droit international, » a déclaré Brian Concannon, directeur exécutif de l’Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), une organisation à but non lucratif à Boston qui représente les plaignants dans un procès fédéral contre l’ONU. « La seule question qui n’est pas encore résolue est si l’ONU continuera de saper sa propre crédibilité en refusant de se soumettre à la règle de droit qu’elle promeut avec tant d’enthousiasme. »

Pour plus d’informations, y compris les dossiers et documents d’information, voir



Urgent Action for Camp Acra Adoquin

October 1, 2014 - 06:24

UA: 247/14 Index: AMR 36/013/2014 Haiti Date: 1 October 2014



A woman was killed after municipal agents opened fire in order to remove street sellers from the road in proximity of a makeshift camp for displaced people in Port-au-Prince. Two other camp residents were injured by the police. Camp residents fear further violence by the municipality and the police.

On 26 September, armed municipal agents from the Delmas’ Streets Control Brigade (Brigade de Contrôle des Rues, BRICOR) intervened to prevent street sellers from occupying a public road. They were selling goods in the area located beside the Acra Adoquin Delmas 33, a makeshift camp for displaced persons left homeless by the January 2010 earthquake, in the municipality of Delmas – metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.

Following the street sellers’ resistance, the agents started firing gunshots indiscriminately. One bullet reached Carline Jean, a resident of the camp and a mother of six young children, killing her on the spot. According to a member of the camp committee, as the camp residents started protesting in the streets following the violent attack, the police dispersed the demonstration by throwing tear gas and firing live ammunition. Another woman, Janvier Cloraine, and a one-year-old child, Vilon Guery, are reported to have been injured by bullets.

According to data from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Acra Adoquin Delmas 33 camp is home to more than 15,000 people. Camp residents fear that other incidents might occur if the municipal agents and the police carry out similar operations.

Please write immediately in French or your own language:

Calling on the authorities to immediately and independently investigate the killing of Carline Jean and the injuries suffered by two other camp residents, to make the results public and to bring those found responsible to justice;

Expressing concern for the use of firearms by members of the Delmas’ Streets Control Brigade and for the alleged excessive use of force by the police.


Mayor of Delmas
Wilson Jeudy
Mairie de Delmas
Delmas 33, Rue Charbonière #69
Port-au-Prince, Haïti
Salutation: Monsieur le Maire / Dear Mayor

General Inspector of the Haitian Police
Ralph Stanley Jean Brice
Inspection Générale de la Police Nationale d’Haiti
Delmas 2, route de Delmas
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Salutation: Monsieur l’Inspecteur général / Dear General Inspector

Minister for Human Rights and the Reduction of Extreme Poverty
Roseanne Auguste
33, Boulevard Harry Truman
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Salutation: Madame la Ministre / Dear Minister

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.




In April 2013, residents of Camp Acra Adoquin Delmas 33 suffered from threats of eviction and an arson attack. Following the protests initiated by the residents after the attack, police from Delmas 33 police station arrested two of the protestors and beat one of them, Civil Merius, so brutally that he died because of his injuries in police custody. The other arrested man, Darlin Lexima, was released without charge the next afternoon, and told Amnesty International that he had been beaten in police custody (see UA 98/13 Despite a judicial complained filed by the Haitian human rights organisation Defenseurs des Opprimés (DOP) and multiple calls from Amnesty International, there is no evidence suggesting that a judicial investigation has been initiated. At the end of August, the General Inspector of the Police told Amnesty International delegates that the police internal investigation had yet to conclude.

According to the IOM, by the end of June 2014 there were 28,134 households or 103,565 individuals still living in makeshift camps following the devastating 12 January 2010 earthquake which left more than 200,000 people dead and some 2.3 million homeless.

More than 16,000 internally displaced people living in makeshift camps have been victims of forced evictions. Amnesty International documented that the Delmas’ Streets Control Brigade (Brigade de Contrôle des Rues, BRICOR) was involved in many of the forced evictions occurred in the municipality of Delmas.

Name: Carline Jean (f), Janvier Cloraine (f), Vilon Guery (m) and other residents of Acra Adoquin Delmas 33

Gender m/f: both�

UA: 247/14 Index: AMR 36/013/2014 Issue Date: 1 October 2014


Click HERE for the original.

National Democratic Institute Seeks Resident Director

September 29, 2014 - 09:22

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) seeks a Resident Director with strong elections, women and youth political participation and political party strengthening experience, as well as excellent program and staff management skills to oversee the implementation of NDI’s programs in Haiti. Experience working in Haiti and/or post conflict environments strongly preferred. The Resident Director will oversee NDI’s programs on the ground. This position will also be responsible for overall office management, including financial and human resources issues.


Click HERE for more information.

Without Cholera Accountability, UN Violates Treaties

September 29, 2014 - 08:41

Though Haiti recently made it to the UN General Assembly’s agenda, the UN still isn’t taking responsibility for the cholera epidemic and not enough has been done to provide justice to the victims. At an anti-cholera protest in front of UN headquarters September 26th, IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom explained how the UN is violating its treaties by not providing a remedy for cholera victims. Meanwhile, the Haitian government is also facing criticism for not doing enough to demand justice for cholera victims.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Reveals UN Defying Its Own Treaties

Makini Brice, The Canal
September 29, 2014

Haiti may be on the UN General Assembly’s agenda again, but the real confrontation with the Caribbean nation is set to take place in a nearby New York courthouse. Several groups have hit the United Nations with class-action lawsuits over a four-year cholera epidemic that many studies have traced to Nepalese peacekeepers at a UN camp.

Demonstrators march in Boston against UN officials unwilling to face up to negligence in Haiti. (IJDH)

In 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake that hit the country’s capital, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving an additional 2 million homeless. Shortly afterwards, a cholera epidemic swept the country, sickening about 700,000 people and killing around 8,500, according to the UN mission in Haiti.

Multiple studies, including one from Yale University, affirm that the epidemic spread from peacekeepers in a UN camp about 35 miles from Port-au-Prince. UN officials, however, have refused to accept responsibility.

In 2011, the Office of International Lawyers (BAI) and the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) began filing claims for compensation on behalf of Haitian and Haitian-American victims and their families — but to no avail. In 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote to members of the US Congress: “After careful deliberation, claimants were informed that the claim is not receivable.”

So last year, the two public-interest law firms and a private law firm (KKWT) sued the United Nations, seeking compensation for “personal injury, wrongful death, emotional distress, loss of use of property and natural resources, and breach of contract.” Two other groups have subsequently filed separate lawsuits against the United Nations for the cholera epidemic.

The Irony: Flouting International Law

Beatrice Lindstrom, an IJDH staff attorney, says treaties give the United Nations legal immunity when the organization sends peacekeepers. Instead, it is supposed to organize a Standing Claims Commission to determine whether the United Nations can be held liable for damages against a person and, if so, for how much.

But Lindstrom says that UN officials didn’t organize a Standing Claims Commission in Haiti, nor have they done so in any of the countries in which they’ve launched peacekeeping missions in the past 66 years. In other words, if the United Nations does something wrong in a country where the organization has peacekeepers, there is simply nowhere for victims to turn.

Beatrice Lindstom (left) at the cholera demonstration outside the UN General Assembly in New York. (@BeaLindstrom)

The victims’ lawyers assert that the United Nations has breached the terms of its agreement, so the institution shouldn’t be able to claim immunity. “This question [of UN responsibility] has never really been asked before,” Lindstrom explains.

When I interviewed Lindstrom earlier this month, the two sides had sent written arguments to the federal court in the Southern District of New York. UN officials have asked the US Justice Department to argue their side, and in July, the United States asserted that the United Nations does have legal immunity. IJDH, BAI, and KKWT have in turn asked the court to grant oral arguments, but Lindstrom could not say when the request might be granted.

Click HERE for the full text.

Martelly and Foreign Involvement in Lavalas Destabilization

September 29, 2014 - 07:48

This article discusses the two coups against President Aristide, in 1991 and in 2004. It ties them to international interference in Haiti and the current Haitian government’s ties with former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. While Duvalier, whose regime was responsible for thousands of deaths and disappearances, lives freely in Haiti, Aristide faces an arrest warrant and revival of charges against him, for which there is no evidence.

Part of the article is below. Click here for the full text.

A Revolution Interrupted, Haiti 23 Years after the 1991 Coup

September 29, 2014

For the Haitian people, 1991 marks an assault on popular democracy. Today, the consequences of the 1991 coup resonate in Haitian society as the current government carries out unconstitutional measures and persecutes the country’s former president.

Who orchestrated the military coup d’état in 1991,
Plus the presidential coup d’état kidnapping in 2004,
In order to bury the neo-liberal death plan deeper
In the entrails of Haiti? The new colonists.
-Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haiti-Haitii? Philosophical Reflections for Mental Decolonization, 2011

Twenty-three years ago on September 29, 1991, the Haitian people suffered the nation’s 32nd coup d’état eight months after the election of the country’s first democratically elected president, Father Jean Bertrand Aristide. The consequences of the 1991 coup reverberate today in Haitian society. Military intervention, economic exploitation of Haitian people and their natural resources, as well as the return of the Duvalier dictatorship manifested in Michel Martelly’s puppet government prove that Haitians are still struggling with the dilemmas left behind after the 1991 coup.

It is impossible to speak of the 1991 coup without mentioning the second coup against Aristide in 2004. On both occasions, France, United States and Canada worked closely with the Haitian elite class to dismantle the achievements of the Haitian people.

However, Haitians then and now continue to organize despite incredible obstacles. The people and its popular movement, Lavalas, meaning the great flood, are at the height of a contemporary struggle for self-determination and sovereignty in the region. Haiti stands in the eye of the storm as international powers attempt to destabilize the nation utilizing Martelly’s administration.

The Resurrection of the Duvalier Dictatorship in the 21st Century

The Haitian people remember the Duvalier era (1957-1986) as a time of incredible repression, as father and son duo Francois Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier carried out a reign of terror in the Caribbean nation. The Duvalier dictatorship built stronger ties with the U.S. government following the military occupation of 1915-1930, opened up the nation to sweatshop labor and persecuted political organizers under an anti-communist campaign. Some scholars estimate that the Duvalier regime’s death squad the Tonton Macoutes murdered 30,000 to 50,000 people.

This time period in Haitian history resulted in the mass exodus of people ranging from skilled laborers, political leaders and peasants. The Haitian people’s democratic election of Aristide and his grassroots vision offered hope. For many Haitian people, “Aristide symbolizes the truth.” The 1991 coup d’état interrupted Haitians’ self-determination.

Today, Duvalier’s dictatorship resurfaces under the Martelly administration.

In 2011, Martelly was (s)elected as president with less than a quarter of the vote in an electoral race that unconstitutionally banned Lavalas party candidates from running. Also, elections were held under terrible conditions, far from guaranteeing transparency and democratic participation.

Martelly, a former kompa style music singer aligned with the Tonton Macoutes, has increased state surveillance, political persecution, the restriction and criminalization of freedom of thought and association punishable by the death penalty under his administration.

However, Martelly does little to censor himself. In 2011, Martelly publicly insulted the Lavalas movement and Aristide after the former president’s return to Haiti while praising the return of Jean Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier. Martelly was caught on camera saying: “The Lavalas are so ugly. They smell like s**t. F**k you, Lavalas. F**k you, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.”

Foreign political, economic and military intervention has thrived under Martelly’s mandate. International NGOs and private investors have been set on selling any vestiges of the Haitian people’s dignity by converting the country into a textile sweatshop, mega luxury tourist destination and open for mining as well as oil exploitation.

In 2012, former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton remarked that Haiti “is open for business, and that’s not just a slogan.”

In addition, millions of foreign aid monies (donated for earthquake relief efforts) from well known international charities, NGOs and governments have been invested in NGO salaries, extravagant hotels and other tourist projects.

A growing militarized presence under United Nations troops and the construction of a US$74 billion U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince plagues Haiti. The U.S. base of operations will be a geo-political gold mine against the region’s growing integration movement.

This present day plunder and policing is only permissible under Martelly’s current administration as he continues to strip away rights and protections guaranteed by the Haitian constitution.

For example, the Haitian parliament is coming closer to absolute non-functionality as Martelly refuses to call elections (a power subscribed to the president under the constitution). Instead, Martelly is bullying the Senate to approve the El Rancho Agreement. The unconstitutional agreement would allow Martelly to hand pick the country’s electoral council.

Presently, “six senators have resisted and say, how can this supersede the constitution? The U.S. Embassy has not denounced this. And we have a saying in Haiti, if you don’t say anything when people misrepresent you, that means you are in agreement,” remarks one Haitian organizer.

In the event that the Haitian people do not democratically select officials, all state power will be concentrated in the executive branch by January 2015.

The popular movement has staged sit-ins in front of the parliament in solidarity with the six senators who risk imprisonment for defending the constitution under Martelly’s administration.

Court Case Charade Surrounds Elections

In August, Judge Lamarre Belizaire, appointed by Martelly, issued a court order accusing Aristide of “illicit drug trafficking, embezzlement of public funds, forfeiture and concussion, and money laundering.” This is not the first time that unfounded corruption charges have been used to defame Aristide’s character.

Brian Concannon Jr., the Executive Director for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti explains, “there have been a long series of cases against President Aristide and Lavalas party members and officials including: dozens of criminal cases filed in Haiti between 2004 and 2006, that led to months of pre-trial detention for dozens of people, in some cases two or more years…a criminal Grand Jury proceeding targeting Aristide in US Federal Court in Miami, that continued for over a year, and never led to any charges agaisnt him…a civil suit in the US against Aristide and several other officials, that was filed, but never served on the defendants…and a series of charges against Aristide and over 20 other officials filed under the Martelly regime since 2011.”

Now is the time for solidarity with the Haitian people as a campaign to undo Lavalas’ achievements are underway.


Click here for the full text.

Development Plans in Haiti Disservice the Poor

September 26, 2014 - 08:49

Forced evictions are continuing in Haiti due to the government’s plans to rebuild Port-au-Prince. The poor are often left with just 10 minutes to gather their belongings before their homes are destroyed. This article describes this situation and other human rights violations related to development in Haiti, such as sweatshop labor.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti: Where will the poor go?

Seth Donnelly, San Francisco Bay View
September 26, 2014

During my last trip to Haiti this June with a delegation of students and human rights observers, we were exposed to the raw violence of the ongoing forced dispersal of the poor. On May 31, the Martelly regime intensified a process – in the name of “eminent domain” – of violently evicting the poor from their homes in downtown Port-au-Prince and then physically destroying their homes and businesses.

In downtown Port-au-Prince, the Martelly regime has been destroying homes of the poor in the name of “eminent domain.” – Photo: Seth Donnelly

We met with a group of men and women who had been subjected to this violence and we filmed their extensive testimony. They spoke of SWAT police and bulldozers coming at night, of having only 10 minutes to flee their homes, then witnessing the destruction of everything they had.

These survivors came to us with tears, anger and backpacks full of the only possessions they had left. They spoke of having to sleep in parks or on roofs, of children being put out on the street, of vulnerability to infection and ongoing harassment by the government.

One man, speaking on behalf of the Representatives of the Citizens of Centre-Ville Against Forced Displacement, stated that more than 62,000 people had lost their homes in downtown Port-au-Prince since May 31. The Martelly regime has not provided compensation and humane, alternative housing – in clear violation of the Haitian Constitution.

Indeed, official sources acknowledge that 400 properties have been destroyed, but only 17 people compensated.[i] Clearly, this grossly underestimates the numbers of people rendered homeless since legally registered pieces of property may actually consist of multiple dwellings of the poor with dozens of people living within them.

Secretary of State Planning Michel Presume stated earlier in the spring that the Martelly regime had taken all the necessary steps to compensate “the owners.” “We deposited this money in a deposit account. Owners have just to appear with their original titles, so they can receive from the Expropriation Committee the value of their land or their homes in accordance with the evaluation criteria for buildings.”[ii] Undoubtedly, the problem with this compensation formula is that it does not take into account the thousands of people dispossessed of their homes who were tenants, not owners.

Accompanied by a Haitian human rights journalist, we visited the areas of downtown that had been subjected to these demolitions; we saw massive destruction spanning blocks and blocks, including half of the General Hospital. We saw a bulldozer still at work and Haitians standing around the rubble, perhaps some still in shock, as if another earthquake had hit.

The initial eminent domain decree for the downtown was issued by President Preval in 2010, then repealed and re-issued (with some modifications) by Martelly. Ostensibly, the goal is to rebuild the administrative center of the city, but Martelly has also stated that he welcomes the involvement of “entrepreneurs” and the private sector.

Secretary of State Planning Presume stated that “the State has a budget of about 150 million U.S. dollars (for the construction of the administrative city) from several sources: Petrocaribe, Treasury and Fund of the Cancellation of Haiti’s Debt.”.[iii]

The people who shared their testimony with us blamed Martelly for their dispossession and current misery. According to these Haitians, the eminent domain project involves not just the reconstruction of the administrative center, but the transformation of the downtown into an upscale, commercial zone. Further investigation is required to determine other facets of this plan and sources of funding and investment involved, particularly those by the “private sector” welcomed by Martelly.

Where will the poor go? Where have so many tent city dwellers already gone? The Martelly regime has dismantled most of the tent cities through stick-and-carrot methods: Many families have received a one-time payment of $500 to relocate while others have been violently evicted from the camps.

The $500 payment is notoriously inadequate given the spike in land and housing prices and rents, a “market reaction” in large part to so many rich foreigners now living in Port-au-Prince as part of the NGO-U.N. network. Moreover, the price of rice – now “Made in the USA” – has increased dramatically in recent years, perhaps as much as 500 percent, further rendering this $500 aid package paltry.

We gained a sense of where so many desperate people are relocating when we visited Canara, a “city” of approximately 200,000 people seeking to eke out an existence in the arid, “dust bowl” hills in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince…


Click HERE for the full text.

Why Haiti Needs Prison Reform

September 25, 2014 - 12:28

This article uses the inhumane conditions in Haiti’s National Penitentiary to illustrate the poor condition of the prison system in general. Haiti’s prisons are way overcrowded and the rate of pretrial detention is extremely high. Unfortunately, the Haitian government doesn’t have the funds or will to improve the prisons itself. Haiti needs systemic change in order for its people’s human rights to be respected, inside and outside of prisons.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Inside Haiti’s prisons: a nation battles crime and human rights abuses as it struggles to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake

Martin Bentham, London Evening Standard
September 25, 2014

The former French naval officer looks down from the walls of Haiti’s National Penitentiary at the mass of prisoners crowded in the yards below and delivers a simple verdict.

“It’s just not human,” says Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, shaking her head in dismay, before continuing her tour of the Port au Prince prison with the United Nations team that she now works for.

Her assessment of the prison is blunt, but accurate.

Each of the National Penitentiary’s yards is crammed full of inmates. Some are naked and washing even their most intimate parts in full view of their fellow prisoners.

Others simply stand without clothes in the stifling heat. Each man has only a yard or two in which to stand. Any notion of personal privacy or space is absent. They are conditions that would be denounced in a zoo.

The situation inside the cell blocks is equally dire with prisoners sleeping three to a bed because of the huge overcrowding in a prison which is meant to hold 1,500 inmates, but has 4,600 instead.

Perhaps worst of all three quarters of the men have yet to be convicted. Pre-trial detention of three years or more is common in Haiti because of the snail-paced speed of a deeply flawed justice system that is marred by problems in every area.

A recent United Nations report on the country summarised the situation by warning that “overcrowding, prolonged pre-trial detention, lack of qualified health personnel and insufficient budgetary allocations” all remain “key challenges” for Haiti’s prison system.

Budget restrictions: a lack of funds mean a prison meant for 1,500 inmates is packed with 4,600The report added: “Persons held in pre-trial detention account for more than 70 per cent of the total prison population”. It also put the overcrowding rate across the country at 172 per cent with women and children held alongside men in some of the country’s prisons.

In the National Penitentiary, Inspector Michel Evens, who has run the prison for the past two years, admits that conditions are unsatisfactory.

“I’m a person too so of course I wish things were better here,” he says, adding that he manages to keep inmates calm and prevent serious disorder through constant vigilance and the use of informants who can alert staff to emerging tension.

Gang members are rotated between prison blocks to stop criminal  networks from the streets outside reforming inside the jail. Armed guards monitor the prisoners from watch posts high on the prison walls.

Mr Evens admits, however, that the task of maintaining order remains difficult in the face of the severe overcrowding and the inordinate delays in the justice system which provoke frustration among the many inmates awaiting trial.

He adds: “It’s good intelligence, not force, that helps us keep order. Anything here can provoke violence, even a rumour, or lack of water or food.”

Speaking outside the prison, Carl Alexandre, a Haitian born former US prosecutor, who is overseeing the United Nations’ efforts to bolster the rule of law in the country, said that conditions were unacceptable.

“This can’t continue. Our goal is to get the best out of a pretty bad situation,” he said. “I’m not interested in releasing murderers and kidnappers. But if they freed the prisoners with minor cases they could get 1,000 people out of that prison.”

Mr Alexandre adds that large numbers of the National Penitentiary’s inmates have been in prison for longer than any jail term they might receive after trial.


Click HERE for the full text.

Rights Displaced in Mozayik: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

September 23, 2014 - 15:30

Join CHRGJ in NYC for a film screening on housing rights in Haiti.


Lester Pollack Colloquium Room, 9th Floor

245 Sullivan Street

New York, NY


September 23, 2014 6:30pm – 8:30pm


After a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, 1.5 million people lost their homes. Four years later, more than 100,000 people continue to live in informal tent cities where they face regular threats of eviction, water and sanitation problems, and security risks. The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice invites you to watch Mozayik, a documentary about life in the Mozayik displacement camp. Following the film hear from filmmaker Jon Bougher, Haitian housing rights activist Jackson Doliscar, and Professor Meg Satterthwaite. The panelists will discuss the human rights issues highlighted in the film, how they fit into the international legal context, how activists can encourage participation within affected communities, and how participation can facilitate rights protections.


Click HERE to RSVP.

Click HERE for more on the event and panelists.

Course on Ethnic Denationalization in the Dominican Republic

September 23, 2014 - 15:00

Take this new CLE course on the 2013 DR Constitutional Court ruling.


Ethnic Denationalization in the Dominican Republic: A Critical Analysis of Constitutional Court Ruling TC 168/13

3 (Skills) NY Credits /3 (Municipal/General) NJ Credits

This CLE course will focus on the controversial 2013 Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruling (TC 168/13) divesting Dominicans of Haitian descent of citizenship. The program features a distinguished panel of presenters ranging from academia, practitioners and activists. Our panel of experts will explore issues such as:

  • Who is a citizen?
  • What is statelessness?
  • How are the rights of stateless persons protected?
  • What international/regional treaties address the right to nationality?
  • What impact do international pressure and social movements have in shaping a country’s domestic politics?

An English translation of the Constitutional Court’s decision will be available at the program.


Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
One Battery Park Plaza
New York, NY 10004


Tuesday September 23, 2014


Presented by Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York, Inc.

Dr. Luis Barrios, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies
Ms. Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste, Program Director, Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice
Ms. Laura Bingham, Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative
Dr. Samuel Martinez, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut, Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Mr. Vladimir Duthiers, CBS News Correspondent

Haitian American Lawyers Association of New Jersey
The Haitian Roundtable
Dominican Bar Association
Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Ius Lingua
Marino Legal Academy


Click HERE to register.