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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 2 hours 51 min ago
On October 23, 2014, Judge J. Paul Oetken heard oral arguments on the question of UN immunity and whether service of process was effective in the ongoing case against the UN on behalf of Haiti cholera victims.. The following article summarizes the oral arguments made by IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Blain, and one of the three amici who argued in support of Plaintiffs, Kertch Conze. Conze, representing the Haitian Women of Miami and the Haitian Lawyers Association, gave a passionate argument on behalf of the Haitian community, explaining that the UN could not assert immunity after breaching its legal obligations to provide victims access to a remedy.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Court Asked to Intervene in Haiti Cholera Suit
Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service
October 23, 2014
MANHATTAN (CN) – Blaming the United Nations for the “worst cholera epidemic in modern times,” a lawyer for the Haitian victims told a federal judge Thursday that diplomatic immunity has prevented her clients from delivering a lawsuit some 4 miles uptown to the organization’s headquarters overlooking the East River.
While Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the UN’s “moral responsibility” earlier this year for the outbreak that killed 8,000 and infected 700,000 Haitians, he has insisted that the institution should not face legal liability.
The United Nations has dodged a class action lawsuit from the victims for more than a year.
Lawyers for Delama Georges, whose father died during the outbreak, and other Haitians have been unable to serve the federal complaint because UN premises is considered “inviolable.” They asked a federal judge to acknowledge service, or allow for the unprecedented step of mailing, faxing, or emailing their lawsuit to the United Nations.
Hoping to avoid a diplomatic headache, the United States dispatched attorneys from the Justice Department and State Department to prevent that fate.
This first hearing in the high-profile case Thursday drew dozens of spectators to the grand courtroom of New York’s Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, but arguments largely focused on arcane details of international law.
Beatrice Lindstrom, representing the plaintiffs for the Institute of Justice & Democracy in Haiti, said the fundamental facts of the case are “not disputed.”
Kertch Conze, of the Haitian Lawyers Association, became particularly passionate and indignant as he emphasized the thousands of innocent victims claimed by the UN’s alleged negligence.
“These people who have been infected, they did nothing wrong,” he said.
Conze echoed the plaintiffs’ arguments that the UN’s alleged violation of one section of the treaty waived whatever immunity the other portion provided.
“If you breach the contract and you come to court and tell the judge, ‘I have immunity,’ then you come to court with unclean hands,” Conze said.
Such a position also would be “patently unfair,” he added.
Click HERE for the full text.
Show support for Haiti’s cholera victims at this NYC hearing in the lawsuit against the UN.
On September 29th, we received news that the Manhattan Federal Court granted our request for a hearing in the class action lawsuit IJDH filed against the UN last year for introducing cholera to Haiti. The Court’s decision to schedule a hearing is a crucial step towards justice, and shows that the court is taking a serious look at the UN’s international law obligation to provide victims justice. The court has ordered all parties to appear, including several groups who submitted amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in support of IJDH’s clients.
The hearing is open to the public, and we encourage everyone who cares about this issue to be present and show their support. Seating is on a first come first served basis. A government-issued photo ID is required for entry, and electronics use will not be allowed (e.g. cell phones, laptops, cameras).
Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse
40 Foley Square
New York, NY, 10007
October 23, 2014 at 10am
Learn more about the cholera epidemic and our fight for justice here.
Travail de droits humains avec un impact: dirigé par ceux dont les droits ont été violés; soutenu et amplifié par un réseau d’avocats engagés, militants, journalistes et étudiants. Cet article utilise notre travail de plaidoyer pour choléra comme une étude de comment le travail pour les droits humains qui renforce les dirigeants de base peut vraiment avoir un impact sur le système. Fran Quigley, auteur de How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, décrit la façon dont nous avons utilisé un “Réseau justice pour choléra” pour créer une dynamique pour la justice pour les victimes du choléra en Haïti.
Partie de l’article est ci dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complète.Les militants et le droit en Haïti : des campagnes de défense des droits de l’homme multi-niveaux pour obtenir justice
Fran Quigley, openDemocracy
23 octobre, 2014
Chris Jochnick a récemment posé une question éminemment importante lorsqu’il a demandé si les cours de justice, les militants et les avocats pouvaient réellement faire la différence en matière de pauvreté. Je pense que nous pouvons sans crainte dire que c’est le cas. Actuellement, un partenariat entre l’organisation des droits de l’homme haïtienne, le Bureau des avocats internationaux, connue sous le nom de BAI, et leur partenaire basé aux États-Unis, l’Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), constitue le moteur d’une remarquable campagne internationale multi-niveaux et multi-forum visant à obtenir justice pour les victimes de l’épidémie de choléra haïtienne d’octobre 2010.
Il est important de noter que la campagne n’a pas commencé dans les bureaux d’un avocat ou au siège d’une ONG. Elle a été lancée dans les rues d’Haïti. Les haïtiens ont un héritage glorieux en matière de militantisme populaire qui remonte à la seule rébellion d’esclaves réussie dans l’histoire et l’évincement ultérieur de dictateurs comme Jean-Claude Duvalier. Ainsi, dans les jours suivant l’épidémie d’octobre 2010, les haïtiens s’organisèrent et manifestèrentpar milliers à l’extérieur des bases de l’ONU dans le pays, demandant jistis ak reparasyon, justice et réparations, pour les dévastations vécues.
Et il y a en effet des poursuites contre L’ONU pour le compte de milliers de victimes du choléra. Les plaidoiries devraient se tenir le 23 octobre dans l’affaire Georges et al. c. United Nations et al. Les poursuites en justice sont importantes, mais elles n’occultent pas les autres éléments de cette action de plaidoyer. En fait, l’affaire du choléra est seulement une partie de l’ensemble de l’agenda en matière de droits de l’homme qui est poursuivi par le BAI et l’IJDH. Le partenariat a également dirigé les efforts visant à poursuivre en justice l’ancien dictateur Duvalier pour ses crimes contre les droits de l’homme. Il a également été un élément clef de la coalition répondant aux viols dans la période suivant le tremblement de terre, et a constamment fait pression en faveur d’élections libres et justes en Haïti.
Mon récent livre sur ce partenariat, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, (Comment les droits de l’homme peuvent construire Haïti) illustre la manière dont les actions de plaidoyer en matière de droits de l’homme–à condition que les droits économiques et sociaux soient inclus et que le renforcement des mouvements populaires demeure un soucis constant–peuvent vraiment construire Haïti. Et cela peut également contribuer à construire une vie meilleure pour les pauvres du monde entier.
Cliquez ICI pour le texte complète.
Join this teleconference on the implementation of a limited Haitian Family Reunification Parole program.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a teleconference to discuss the implementation of a limited Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program.
Under this program, certain Haitians in Haiti who are beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions may be considered for parole to come to the United States up to two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current.
During this teleconference, USCIS officials will provide an overview and address questions about the HFRP program.
On the day of the session, please use the information below to join the teleconference. We recommend that you call in 10 to 15 minutes before the start time.
Toll-free call-in number: 1-888-972-4308
Toll number if you are calling from outside of the U.S.: 1-312-470-7184
Wednesday, Oct. 22, from 2:00 to 2:45 p.m. (Eastern)
If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received a confirmation email within two business days, please email Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.
Human rights work with impact: led by those whose rights have been infringed; supported and amplified by a network of committed attorneys, activists, journalists, and students. This article uses our cholera advocacy work as a case study of how human rights work that empowers grassroots leaders can really make an impact on the system. Fran Quigley, author of How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, describes how we have used a “Cholera Justice Network” to build momentum for justice for Haiti’s cholera victims.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Activists and law in Haiti: multi-level human rights campaigns to find justice
Fran Quigley, Open Democracy
October 22, 2014
Chris Jochnick recently posed a critically important question when he asked if courts, activists and lawyers really can make a difference on poverty. And I think we can safely say yes. Right now, a partnership between the Haitian human rights organization Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, known as BAI, and their US-based partner, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti(IJDH) is the driving force behind a remarkable multi-level, multi-forum, multinational campaign to obtain justice for the victims of the October 2010 Haitian cholera epidemic.
Importantly, the campaign did not begin in a lawyer’s office or in the headquarters of an NGO. It was launched in the streets of Haiti. The Haitian people have a proud legacy of grassroots activism that dates back to history’s only successful slave rebellion and the subsequent ouster of dictators like Jean-Claude Duvalier. So, within days of the October 2010 outbreak, Haitiansorganized and demonstrated by the thousands outside of UN bases in the country, insisting on jistis ak reparasyon—justice and reparations—for the devastation they experienced.
And yes, there is litigation against the UN on behalf of thousands of cholera victims. Oral arguments are set to be heard on October 23rd in the case ofGeorges et al. vs. United Nations et al. The litigation is important, but it does not overshadow the other components of the advocacy. In fact, the cholera case is only one piece of the broad human rights agenda pursued by the BAI and IJDH. The partnership also led the effort to prosecute the former dictator Duvalier for his human rights crimes, was a key part of the coalition responding to post-earthquake rape crisis, and consistently pushes for free and fair elections in Haiti.
My recent book about this partnership, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, illustrates how human rights advocacy—to the extent that it embraces economic and social rights and keeps a laser focus on empowering grassroots leadership—can truly build Haiti. And it can help build a better life for the rest of the world’s poor as well.
Click HERE for the full text.
This article gives a detailed overview of UN immunity in the case of the cholera epidemic in Haiti. It tracks the UN response to claims against it since they were first filed in 2011, all the way to the October 23, 2014 hearing on the question of UN immunity. There are many opinions mentioned on the effects of waiving UN immunity but regardless of those views, this hearing presents an opportunity for Haiti’s cholera victims to finally have justice.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti cholera victims get a hearing in U.S. court
Olivia Crellin, Al Jazeera America
October 22, 2014
Delama Georges lives one stop from the end of the No. 2 train line in Brooklyn, right next to Holy Cross Cemetery. His proximity to so much death did not bother him until Nov. 9, 2011, when he learned that both his parents had contracted cholera during a visit with his sister in Haiti. While Georges’ mother lay in a coma, brought on by violent vomiting and diarrhea, his father died, joining more than 8,500 Haitians who died in the epidemic, which began four years ago this month.
The tragedy took on a new dimension after a coalition of U.S. and Haitian lawyers from the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti filed a class-action lawsuit against the United Nations for the alleged role of Nepalese peacekeepers in contaminating the country’s waterways.United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, center, visits Los Palmas in the central plateau of Haiti during his two-day visit to the country on July 14, 2014. Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty Images
This week, Delama Georges, one of five Haitian and Haitian-American plaintiffs named in the case, may be one step closer to being granted his day in court. IJDH lawyers will get their chance on Thursday to argue that the lawsuit should go forward. Since the suit was filed in a federal court in New York a year ago, the United Nations has declined to acknowledge it, on the grounds that the organization enjoys diplomatic immunity.
During a visit to Haiti in July, Ban said the U.N. has a “moral responsibility” to help Haiti eliminate cholera. But the U.N.’s only response to the litigation so far came in March, when the United States filed a response, stating that the body “enjoys absolute immunity.” No U.N. officials are expected to attend Thursday’s hearing.
Whatever the results of that hearing — which could take weeks, or months, to be determined — an appeal is likely. Said Lindstrom, “We’ve always understood the lawsuit to be a tool to keep public attention and pressure on the U.N. to change course and do the right thing.”
Click HERE for the full text.
Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls the plan to partially implement Haitian Family Reunification in 2015 “a great step forward.” She states some of the program’s benefits, like remittances to Haiti, and also the importance the the US helping Haiti. She says “They’re our hemispheric partner. We need to help them.”
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text and video.GOP REP: HAITI REUNIFICATION SHOULD BE STEP FOR DACA PARENTS
Ian Hanchett, Breitbart TV
October 21, 2014
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) stated that she believed the Department of Homeland Security’s recently announced program to allow thousands of Haitians into the US was “a great step forward” that she hoped would provide an example for policies to handle the parents of children who fell under the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Tuesday’s “Jose Diaz-Balart” on MSNBC.
Ros-Lehtinen expressed that she hoped the Haiti program would be a step to taking similar action for parents of children who fell under DACA.
Click HERE for the full text and video.
This blog post describes the beginning of the cholera epidemic from one observer’s perspective. It also compares the initial lack of international response and local vulnerability to the disease to the ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Part of the post is below. Click HERE for the full text.Cholera in Haiti, four years later
October 20, 2014
On the evening of October 20, 2010, I posted an item from Treyfish at Pandemic Information News: Haiti: A mysterious outbreak. Excerpt:
Health officials in rural Haiti are investigating a possible disease outbreak that could be responsible for dozens of deaths and a surge in hospital patients, U.N. aid workers said Wednesday.
Haitian government officials say at least 19 people have died after suffering brief bouts of fever, vomiting and severe diarrhea, with dozens of more deaths suspected. Most are reportedly children.
Hundreds of patients reporting those symptoms have overwhelmed a hospital in the seaside town of St. Marc, some 45 miles (about 70 kilometers) north of the capital of Port-au-Prince, Catherine Huck, country deputy for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told The Associated Press.
“I’ll look for more details in the morning,” I wrote, blissfully ignorant of what I was letting myself in for.
Since October 2010 cholera has receded from the western consciousness. It’s now endemic in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but no real threat to North Americans’ peace of mind. The same will not be true of Ebola; it may become endemic, but the chance of its escaping West Africa to Europe or Asia or the Americas will generate many alarming headlines for years to come. Just as cholera has inspired countless “Poor Haiti” storoes, we can look forward to any number of Poor Guinea/Liberia/Sierra Leone reports as social disorder becomes yet more ingrained in those unlucky countries.
It is not a pleasant prospect.
Click HERE for the full text.
This editorial reflects the years of persistent advocacy which yielded Friday’s DHS announcement that it will implement early next year a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. Calls for this program date to January 2010, nearly five years ago. The program is limited: only DHS-approved beneficiaries whose visa priority dates will become current within two years will be eligible, while some are on wait lists of up to 12 years in Haiti. But it’s a start, and in coming months we will monitor its implementation and seek to expand its coverage.
Part of the editorial is below. Click HERE for the full text.Finally, Mr. President…
October 19, 2014
Here’s what the Editorial Board said two years after a cataclysmic earthquake turned Port-au-Prince and much of the island to rubble, killing hundreds of thousands:
“President Obama has failed to do the one thing in his power that could help lift Haiti out of the morass that has engulfed it since the January 2010 earthquake: Order the Department of Homeland Security to admit into the United States the thousands of Haitian nationals whom DHS already has approved for U.S. visas. He could expedite this orderly migration process immediately. It doesn’t take an act of Congress, literally.”
And three years after the earthquake:
“The U.S. government can do its part by speeding up the family reunification process. Homeland Security has already approved family-based visa petitions for 106,312 Haitians, but the waiting period to enter this country of 21/2 to 12 years makes little sense.”
And four years:
Of course, the Editorial Board’s wasn’t the only voice calling for the president to act over the years. Steven Forester, policy coordinator of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, said that there have been letters signed by South Florida’s entire Congressional delegation and editorials in major newspapers.
DHS has yet to determine the date of implementation. After all this time and foot-dragging, we would suggest immediately.
Click HERE for the full text.
The Department of Homeland Security announced today that it will implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP), starting in early 2015. This HFRPP will let thousands of approved Haitian beneficiaries promptly enter the U.S. if they are within two years of their visa priority dates. IJDH, with Haitian American leaders and others nationwide, has led a years-long effort to win this program’s creation to save lives and help Haiti recover. While the program is more limited than needed, thousands should benefit, and we will monitor its implementation and seek its expansion in coming months.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Obama administration to allow thousands of Haitians to legally enter United States
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
October 17, 2014
Thousands of Haitians who have been waiting to reunite with U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident family members in the United States will now have a chance to do so – up to two years before their immigrant visa for a green card may be issued.
Beginning next year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program to expedite family reunification for eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are living in Haiti and have already been approved for a family-based immigrant visa.
The major policy shift announced Friday comes nearly three months before the fifth anniversary of Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, which launched a campaign by immigration and Haitian advocates to speed up family reunification for Haitians, some of whom have been waiting as long as 12 years in the immigration pipeline.
But after 80 pieces of support, including letters signed by the entire South Florida Congressional delegation and 17 editorials in nearly a dozen major U.S. newspapers, some had given up hope that such a program would happen.
“There have been more political letters than I can count,” said Steve Forrester, who has led the effort as immigration policy coordinator for the nonprofit Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.
Forrester hailed the announcement although it doesn’t cover immediately the approximately 100,000 Haitians whose I-130 visas have already been approved for a potential green card.
Under the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program, Haitians authorized parole will be allowed to enter the United States and apply for work permits but will not receive permanent resident status any earlier than when their priority date is due.
Click HERE for the full text.
Thursday, October 23 we will have a hearing in New York Federal Court, about the issue of UN immunity. This article does an excellent job of explaining what the hearing is all about and giving a brief history of the cholera epidemic in Haiti, which precipitated this case. It also features an interview with Brian Concannon, IJDH Executive Director.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Outbreak On Trial: Who’s To Blame For Bringing Disease Into A Country?
Richard Knox, WBUR’s CommonHealth
October 17, 2014
If an international agency introduces a devastating disease to a country, should it be held accountable?
That’s the big question at the heart of a court proceeding that gets underway next Thursday. The international agency is the United Nations. The disease is cholera. And the nation is Haiti.
Four years ago this month, thousands of Haitians downstream from a U.N. peacekeeping encampment began falling ill and dying from cholera, a disease not previously seen in Haiti for at least a century.
Since then cholera has sickened one in every 14 Haitians — more than 700,000 people; and over 8,000 have died. That’s nearly twice the official death count from Ebola in West Africa thus far.
A year ago, a Boston-based human rights group sued the U.N. for bringing cholera to Haiti through infected peacekeeping troops from Nepal, where the disease was circulating at the time. The U.N. camp spilled its sewage directly into a tributary of Haiti’s largest river.
Brian Concannon of the IJDH says the U.N.’s immunity is limited. He says it’s supposed to have a mechanism to compensate those injured by its actions – which might cover such things as sexual assault by peacekeeping troops, or property damage, as well as the introduction of lethal diseases.
That mechanism is called a Standing Claims Commission, which would resolve disputes over damage claims.
“The U.N. has never set up a Standing Claims Commission in 60 years of peacekeeping missions,” Concannon said in an interview.
His group petitioned the U.N. in 2012 to set up such a commission to address cholera claims. But as the secretary-general’s spokesman says, the U.N. found those claims “not receivable,” which provoked the current lawsuit.
Despite the opposition of the U.S. government, Concannon says he’s optimistic. For one thing, Judge Oetken didn’t have to schedule a hearing at all. “The safe route for the judge would be to say, ‘I’m going to defer to the government and dismiss the case,’” Concannon says. “The fact he granted our request for a hearing is a sign the court is taking this seriously.”
Click HERE for the full text.
Don’t miss this new documentary on the other side of Haiti.
A new documentary, “Lakay,” by Chicago-based Haitian-American filmmaker Tirf Alexius, which deals with the recovery of Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, will get a nationwide theatrical release after it screens at the 9th Annual Harlem International Film Festival this month.
Told from a personal POV, and starring Alexius, along with his brother Remoh Romeo (who also produced the project with Alexius, along with Hugh Grady and Macdanne Edmond), the documentary chronicles what happened when the two brothers returned to Haiti to locate their loved ones after the earthquake. However, what they found is a story of courage and resilience by the survivors, as well as a new hope.
WHERE & WHEN:
The film is getting a nationwide theatrical release starting on October 17th, when it opens in 2 suburban Chicago area theaters – the AMC Woodfield 20 Lowes theaters in Schaumburg, and the AMC Loews Country Club Hills 16.
Then on October 24th, the film opens in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles, and in more cities the week after, on Oct. 31st.
Click HERE for more on the film, and to watch the trailer.
Despite letters of support from many different organizations and bipartisan leaders, the Obama administration continues to ignore the need for a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP). This is particularly upsetting for Haitian Americans and advocates because a similar program for Cubans already exists and was recently renewed. President Obama’s broken promises on HFRPP will likely result in decreased voter turnout in next month’s elections.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Obama ignores Haitian family reunification
Steve Forester & Marleine Bastien, Miami Herald
October 15, 2014
President Obama plans to announce executive actions regarding immigration tailored to Hispanic needs, a key demographic. While that’s smart substantively and politically, his neglect of a key Haitian-American goal may lower voter turnout next month.
The president has so far ignored more than 80 significant calls since 2010 for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (FRPP), like a recently renewed Cuban program, disappointing Haitian Americans previously upset when related 2012 campaign promises weren’t met.
At risk are 109,000 beneficiaries on wait lists of up to 12 years in Haiti, despite DHS approvals of their family-based visa petitions. They’re legal by definition and will be coming eventually, assuming they survive such long waits in struggling Haiti.
The program would speed up the process, save lives, reunite families, serve our national security by creating new remittance support to thousands in need and generate substantial work-permit application fees to the U.S. Treasury. No one would get permanent status any earlier than under current law, and the program should cost little.
Only election night will tell if this will lower turnout among Haitian-American voters; conversely, firm signals that the White House will instruct DHS to create the program should significantly increase their enthusiasm and turnout on election day.
Click HERE for the full text.
On October 15, the UN Security Council renewed MINUSTAH’s mandate until 15 October 2015. The short animated timeline below marks the occasion for AJ+ (a new digital branch of Al Jazeera).The UN in Haiti: Ten Years of Controversy
October 15, 2014
Thank you so much to everyone who attended our October 9th call on human rights in Haiti. The call prominently featured 6 human rights groups, with about 10 joining the call in total, and was a great opportunity to hear how Haitian human rights defenders and the international community are working to improve the situation in Haiti. If you missed it, dial (712) 432-1219 and follow the instructions using Meeting ID 416-399-999 and Reference Number 3 to listen.* If you don’t speak French, here‘s an English summary. Special thanks to Patricia Pabst for summarizing the call, and to all the volunteers who worked against the clock to get the reports translated into French so they’d have maximum impact.
*If you can’t listen to the entire call at once, press 4 to rewind 1 minute, 5 to pause or resume playback, and 6 to fast forward 1 minute.
Besides the murders, forced disappearances, and violence that were rampant during Duvalier’s regime, the former dictator stole hundreds of millions from Haiti. This article uses the story of one man who sought reparations from Duvalier to demonstrate how victims of that brutal regime still want justice. Although Duvalier is dead, victims, their lawyers, and human rights advocates still plan to pursue his accomplices and finally give some closure to those who suffered.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Duvalier’s Passing Does Not Wipe Away Victims’ Misery
Vania Andre, The Haitian Times
October 11, 2014
Etzer Lalanne is not a man you’d expect should be nearly a millionaire. His large glasses hang over his small eyes, surrounded by bags and wrinkles – evidence of the hard long years of working as a cab driver in New York City.
More than 25 years ago, a Florida court awarded Lalanne – a Haitian refugee who was granted political asylum in the U.S. – $750,000 in a civil case against Jean Claude Duvalier, for the 10 months he spent as a political prisoner under the dictatorial regime in 1981.
Despite the victory, red tape and the crafty skills of lawyers and accountants prevented Lalanne, 62, from ever seeing a cent of his money. But, for the first time in more than 25 years, a dream that lay nearly dead for more than two decades, showed some signs of life with the passing of Duvalier on Oct. 3.
Even in death his wrongs have to be rectified, Lalanne said. His sentiments echoed that of thousands of Haitians who agree Duvalier’s passing does not wipe the slate clean for the stain he left in Haiti’s history. On Wednesday, reports surfaced the former dictator would not be receiving a state funeral on Saturday.
“After killing so many people, there’s no way you can honor that man with a state funeral,” Lalanne said. “There’s no way I could accept if he did.”
The former leader’s death reawakened questions of accountability and whether Lalanne, alongside thousands of others with grievances against the exiled despot, would finally be able to cash in their calls for justice.
“Lalanne has a legal right to revisit and pursue this case, the question is whether he has the practicality to do so,” said Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). “It’s a matter of whether he can find the money and resources to fight this case.”
The likelihood that there’s any money left is very small, said Ira Kurzban, a Florida-based attorney that represented Lalanne, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste , a Miami activist who passed away in 2009, and the Haitian people in the 1986 case that sought $504 million in damages from Duvalier.
Duvalier had an army of lawyers and accountants to hide his money, Concannon said. He was very open about how he stole public money and “did a good job of hiding it.”
Several of people have cases similar to Lalanne’s all over Haiti, Concannon said. They have the right to pursue this, regardless of how many steps it takes.
“All we can do is keep pushing to get through the justice system and see if at the end of the journey there’s any money left.”
Click HERE for the full text and a clip from the Democracy Now video report.
Even after launching several “new” cholera elimination plans since the epidemic first began four years ago, the United Nations is still struggling to raise adequate funds for water and sanitation in Haiti. While donors hesitate to fund the plans for various reasons, some argue that the biggest is the lack of UN accountability for causing the epidemic in the first place. The UN itself has the capacity to fund the plan, if only it was prioritized effectively.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.High-Level Donor Conference on Cholera in Haiti Fails to Secure Much Needed Funding
Jake Johnston, Common Dreams
October 11, 2014
Like a Matryoshka doll, inside each cholera elimination initiative for Haiti one will find another and inside that, yet another. At the two-year anniversary of the earthquake, in January 2012, organizations launched a “call to action” for the elimination of cholera. Almost a year later, in December 2012, the U.N. launched a “new” initiative designed to “support an existing campaign.” Then in February 2013, the Haitian government and international partners announced a 10-year elimination plan. When funding was slow to come, the U.N. and other partners began raising funds for a two-year emergency response. In March of 2014, another “high-level” committee was formed and then in July, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon traveled to Haiti to launch a “Total Sanitation” campaignwithin the “context” of the cholera elimination plan. Since that first announcement in 2012, 1,600 Haitians have died from cholera. Today, in a “high-level” donor conference sponsored by the World Bank, the Haitian government presented yet another plan.
“We have a plan, it’s a $310 million plan for three years,” Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told the crowded 13th floor conference room in the World Bank headquarters here in Washington, DC. Lamothe urged those in attendance to “take action” and “fast-track this process” in order to “protect the lives of millions of people” and “ensure the most vulnerable of the society are protected against water-borne diseases.” But the 2.5-hour conference ended up short on pledges and long on pleas, with only the event’s sponsor, the World Bank, contributing substantial funds.
“The UN has a binding international law obligation to install the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control the cholera epidemic, as well as compensate those injured,” said Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, who is representing cholera victims in their case against the U.N. “MINUSTAH has spent far more than $2 billion since cholera broke out on other things. It is a question of priorities.”
Click HERE for the full text.
Now that Duvalier has died, what will happen to the case against him? How will victims of his regime find justice? It is important to remember that Duvalier did not carry out his crimes alone. His regime’s victims are insisting that the case continue against those who torturted, imprisoned, killed and stole, and we will be there to support their fight and prosecute Duvalier’s co-defendants. Now more than ever, we need to show current and future leaders that Haiti will not stand for impunity.
Find recent articles about Duvalier here.
Learn more about our work on the Duvalier prosecution here.
One major factor that slowed the Duvalier prosecution was the United States’ refusal to help. The US has the ability to provide evidence and support that would’ve made a major difference in the trial but instead, and unlike past actions in Haiti and elsewhere, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to leave the prosecution to the Haitian government. Now, Duvalier has died a free man. The victims and their advocates still want justice and will continue by prosecuting Duvalier’s co-defendants. It’s just a shame that Duvalier, too, was not held accountable for his crimes.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.From Cradle to Grave, the US Protected Jean-Claude Duvalier
Fran Quigley, Common Dreams
October 10, 2014
In February of 2013, I stood in a sweaty, overcrowded Port-au-Prince courtroom and watched as Jean-Claude Duvalier answered questions about hundreds of his political opponents being arrested, imprisoned, and killed during his tenure as Haiti’s “President for Life.”
Many of Duvalier’s rivals were held in the notorious three prisons known collectively as the “Triangle of Death”—Casernes Dessalines, Fort Dimanche, and the National Penitentiary. One political prisoner held in the Casernes Dessalines recalls being placed in a cell underneath the grounds of the National Palace, where Duvalier lived. The prisoner was led to an area so dark he could not see, but a guard’s torchlight revealed the man was locked in a room amid the skeletons of former prisoners.
At the court hearing I attended, Duvalier ducked responsibility, saying that the killing and oppression was done without his knowledge.
Then he walked out of that courtroom a free man, which is how he died earlier this month, at age 63.
On a previous visit to Haiti, I interviewed Raymond Davius, who still carries the physical and psychological scars from being imprisoned and tortured for daring to join a political party that opposed Duvalier. “The problem is not as much about Duvalier himself as it is what he represents,” Davius said. “If Haiti does not judge Duvalier, we have lost the opportunity to send a message to Haitian leaders who think they can kill whoever they want and steal whatever they want, and not be judged.”
Instead, the message after Duvalier’s death continues to be one of impunity in Haiti, if you are rich enough and powerful enough. From his cradle in the National Palace run by his despotic father to his grave, where the latest U.S.-backed Haitian president called for asalute to an “authentic son of Haiti,” Jean-Claude Duvalier enjoyed U.S. protection. I ended my column on the February, 2013 court hearing with this sentence: “The U.S.has enormous influence here, and most observers feel Duvalier will be held accountable for his crimes only if the U.S. speaks up.”
We didn’t, and he wasn’t.
Click HERE for the full text.
Un grand interview avec Mario Joseph sur Duvalier et les droits humains en Haïti. Dans l’interview, il explique comment le gouvernement Martelly ne respecte pas les droits humains, pourquoi certains ont une “Duvalier nostalgie,” et plus.
Cliquez ICI pour lire l’interview complète.«Le président Martelly tient tous les leviers du pouvoir»
Angélique Mounier-Kuhn, Le Temps
9 octobre 2014
Ce n’est qu’à sa sortie de l’avion qui l’amenait en Suisse, le week-end passé, que Mario Joseph a appris la mort de Jean-Claude Duvalier, l’ancien dictateur rentré en Haïti en 2011 après vingt-cinq ans d’exil. Considéré comme l’un des défenseurs des droits de l’homme haïtiens les plus influents, Mario Joseph est à Genève cette semaine à l’occasion de l’examen d’Haïti, ces jeudi et vendredi au Palais Wilson, par les 18 experts indépendants du Comité des droits de l’homme. Leurs conclusions seront publiées le 30 octobre prochain.
Cliquez ICI pour lire l’interview.