Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Syndicate content
IJDH.org
Updated: 1 hour 16 min ago

Hope for UN Accountability with New High Commissioner

August 11, 2014 - 11:56

This article is a profile of Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, who will be the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights next month. Zeid has a history of standing up for human rights, even against UN peacekeepers in sexual abuse cases. His appointment as the High Commissioner gives hope for continued pressure for the UN to be accountable for peacekeepers’ actions. In October 2013, the previous UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, supported compensation for UN cholera victims in Haiti.

‘Prince’ Could Be a Career Liability

Pooja Bhatia, Ozy
August 11, 2014

Next month, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein of Jordan will become the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, the world’s moral-arbiter-in-chief. For the 50-year-old diplomat, the position could well be a prelude to secretary-general, but for now, as he noted last month, he will be the first commissioner from the Muslim Arab world and the first from Asia.

He glossed over the fact that he will be its first prince.

Now, Zeid is not a typical prince. As pretender to the now-defunct Iraqi throne, he is unlikely to be king of anything. He has noted that he is “broke,” and he descends from refugees as well as royalty. Plus he’s winsome in a nerdy way, more shabby professor than sheik, and has long been active in human rights. His Arab background seems an asset — even Israeli leaders are said to welcome his appointment.

Yet that pesky HRH is a chink in Zeid’s otherwise solid armor. It’s a reminder of the prince’s lifelong ties to the Jordanian regime headed by his cousin, King Abdullah II. For years, Zeid has been Jordan’s ambassador to the U.N. or to Washington, and of late, the country hasn’t been scoring high on the political-freedom barometer. The week Zeid’s appointment was announced, for example, Jordanian authorities suspended an Iraqi opposition TV station in Amman and arrested more than a dozen journalists. Zeid has not commented on Jordan’s abuses, and some have questioned his suitability for the human-rights post.

Still, response to Prince Zeid’s appointment has been largely positive. “He’s really pushed the envelope on human rights,” says Elizabeth Defeis, a human rights lawyer and professor at Seton Hall who has written about Zeid.

In 2002, Zeid helped usher into existence the International Criminal Court — a feat in itself — but the big test came in 2004, when then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan assigned Zeid an unsavory task: investigating allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Zeid’s report was “groundbreaking,” observers say. It documentedpervasive abuse on the part of the Blue Helmets, like trading food for sex with girls, and criticized the peacekeeping system for failing to punish them.

Editorials fulminated. Reform was promised. Zero tolerance was mandated. Then, as oft happens with U.N. reforms, nothing happened. But Zeid wouldn’t let up. In a leaked report, he castigated the U.N. for its “‘zero-compliance with zero tolerance’ throughout the mission.” Withering stuff, in diplospeak.

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, left, speaks after a U.N. Security Council vote, Feb. 22, 2014.

“I’m pleasantly surprised that they chose someone with his willingness to ruffle institutional feathers,” says Brian Concannon Jr., a human rights lawyer who heads the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. “Zeid has a history of standing up for justice, even though that might not always be popular.”

Zeid himself is popular. In some ways, he seems the archetypal diplomat. His accent is upper-class British (his Ph.D. is from Cambridge), his voice pleasantly deep but not overbearing and, when pensive, he strokes his well-trimmed beard. Yet he is uncommonly down to earth. Presiding over the Security Council this year was “hell on earth,” he said recently, because of the council’s powerlessness to stop atrocity. In official speeches, he likes to mention his wife, Princess Sarah (née Sarah Butler, of Houston).

The prince is also a giggler. His playful manner sometimes even throws people off course. When asked recently about his family’s relationship to Iraq, Syria and Jordan, he responded: “You’ve all seen Lawrence of Arabia, to put this in context?”

The audience laughed.

“My father’s uncle is Alec Guinness.”

The audience laughed more.

“No, really,” he said, and he meant it. Zeid’s granduncle was Faisal, the man who, with T.E. Lawrence, led the Arab Revolt from 1916 to 1918. Faisal became king of Iraq; Faisal II was deposed in a bloody coup in 1958. Zeid’s father and grandfather then became refugees, and that stateless phase has made the family sensitive to the plight of refugees, Zeid has said. They weren’t refugees long, though: Another of Faisal’s brothers had become king of Jordan. His descendant is King Abdullah II, Zeid’s cousin and former boss.

To be sure, being royal doesn’t make Zeid a monarchist. And just because the regime he’s served is awful on press freedom doesn’t mean he is. Indeed, some believe Zeid is far more reformist than his past posts let him express; they believe he could be a standard bearer for Arab democracy and “build and nurture the still small voices of Arab liberalism and political moderation,” as Barbara Crossette wrote recently.

Of course, Zeid comes to the job as an Arab when the world’s worst human-rights hot spots are in the Middle East — Gaza, Iraq and Syria. “My thought is that it can be a disadvantage and an advantage,” says Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “He knows the region well, he is a Muslim and he can bring people together … but there are those who will question whether he comes with a particular bias.”

As for his own country’s human-rights issues? “It’s a valid question, and, I think, one people should press him on,” Hicks says.

Thus far, Zeid has danced around such questions with a diplomat’s grace. In 2011, back when the world still thought the Arab Spring might yield a democratic summer, Jon Stewart asked Zeid about human rights in Jordan. “Is it illegal to criticize the king in the press or is it just looked down upon?” he asked.

“Essentially, we believe we are still a family,” Zeid said by way of an answer as he plugged the king’s new book. Zeid spoke a bit about the regime’s reformist ideals, its open ear. “And again to plug His Majesty’s book,” he started seriously, before falling into a joke, “because I have to make sure it’s No. 1 in a few weeks’ time…”

Stewart laughed. “May I ask what happens if it’s not?” he asked.

“I would likely be the ambassador to Trenton, New Jersey,” Zeid said.

The audience laughed.

The answer to Stewart’s original question, by the way, is “illegal.”

 

Click HERE for the original.

Le Cep décide de la date des élections

August 11, 2014 - 10:49

Une autre étape dans la saga des élections est prise le 11 août: Le Conseil électoral provisoire décide de la date des élections. Les élections sont prévus pour le 26 octobre 2014 mais normalement, il faudrait au moins six mois pour organiser les élections dans le pays.

Lisez notre questions fréquemment posées (FAQ, en anglais) pour comprendre l’importance des élections libre, juste et démocratique.

Haïti-Elections : Le Cep va se prononcer sur la faisabilité ou non des compétitions pour le 26 octobre

AlterPresse
11 août 2014

P-au-P, 11 août 2014 [AlterPresse] — Le Conseil électoral provisoire (Cep) est en train d’élaborer, ce lundi 11 août 2014, une correspondance à l’intention du président de la république, Joseph Michel Martelly, sur la probabilité d’organiser ou non les élections le 26 octobre 2014, date prévue dans le cadre de l’accord d’El Rancho (signé le vendredi 14 mars 2014), apprend AlterPresse.

« La lettre est en cours d’élaboration », fait savoir à AlterPresse l’un des conseillers électoraux, Léopold Berlanger, sans pourtant donner de détails sur le contenu de la lettre.

Cette correspondance sera adressée à Martelly, plus de 48 heures après une rencontre, dans la soirée du vendredi 8 août 2014, au Palais national. Le Cep y a discuté (avec Martelly) de différents points relatifs aux prochaines compétitions dans le pays.

Le budget des élections, l’amendement de la loi électorale 2013 et le calendrier électoral, ont fait l’objet de la rencontre du 8 août 2014.

Dans cette correspondance, les conseilleurs électoraux devraient définitivement fixer leur position sur la date du 26 octobre 2014.

Pour les spécialistes, il faudrait au moins six mois pour organiser les élections dans le pays.

Si le scrutin ne peut pas se tenir le 26 octobre, il pourrait toujours avoir lieu les 27 ou 28 octobre, a paradoxalement avancé Martelly.

Sans la tenue de compétitions électorales, d’ici la fin de l’année 2014, le parlement risque d’être dysfonctionnel début 2015.

Michel Martelly partagera-t-il la logique de prolonger le mandat des députés et du tiers des sénateurs, ou de constater la caducité du parlement et diriger par décrets ?

En attendant, une commission spéciale sénatoriale continue de multiplier des rencontres avec différents protagonistes politiques, dont des membres d’organisations sociales, en vue d’un déblocage du processus électoral.

Le groupe, dit des six sénateurs de l’opposition, maintient sa position, exigeant le respect de la Constitution avant de voter des amendements à la loi électorale de 2013.

 

Cliquez ICI pour l’original.

Lisez notre questions fréquemment posées (FAQ, en anglais) pour comprendre l’importance des élections libre, juste et démocratique.

How Media Coverage Affects Epidemics’ Spread

August 11, 2014 - 02:43

This article discusses media coverage of an epidemic and how misleading it can be, particularly in the case of cholera in Haiti. People expected the cholera epidemic to result from the 2010 earthquake, even though disasters actually don’t result in epidemics most of the time, and many other misconceptions also spread quickly along with the bacterium. These misconceptions often lead to more deaths than necessary. Ultimately, the spread of accurate information will help control epidemics like this both before and after they spread.

First Days of the Epidemic

Jonathan Katz, Beacon Reader
August 11, 2014

For many fixated on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, or its faint echoes in the United States, the ready parallels have been from horror movies (especially thezombie apocalypse Americans like to joke, perhaps a little too insistently, is always around the corner). It’s not hard to see why. Thanks to the hefty infrastructure investments of previous generations, and more than a little luck, it’s been a long time since an infectious outbreak threatened social order in this country.

But terrifying, disruptive outbreaks happen in the real world all the time. Far from having to stumble our way through a supposedly unprecedented crisis, those tasked with getting out information can find plenty of examples of how the rapid spread of contagion and information have influenced each other in the recent past. One of the best examples is the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti.

The first word of the outbreak came over Haitian radio on October 20, 2010: patients were overwhelming a hospital in the coastal city of Saint-Marc. All had worryingly similar symptoms of severe diarrhea, fever, and vomiting; an unconfirmed number (41, the radio announcer estimated) were dead. Haiti’s health ministry and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had sent teams from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to investigate.

The news was a potential bombshell. For nine months since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake had ripped through southern Haiti, responders and the media had been on the lookout for an outbreak of disease. Even isolated cases of infectious diseases could be greeted with panic on the airwaves. So as the resident Associated Press correspondent, I faced a choice surely familiar to those who first encountered the Ebola outbreak in Guinea this spring, or those on alert for signs it may now be coming our way: Do I sound the alarm and risk panic? Send a measured story that readers will likely ignore? Or do nothing and wait, risking that someone else in the press might get the story first?

I went with the middle option. After checking with sources at the UN and in the Haitian government, I went with the facts we had (including the highest death toll that the UN could confirm: 19) and a less-than-thrilling headline: “Officials probe possible outbreak in rural Haiti.” We didn’t have to wait long for more information. The next day, the UN and Haitian government both confirmed a death toll of 135. On October 21, the pathogen was confirmed as cholera by the CDC.

Four days later, on October 25, the major U.S. networks picked up the story. NBC’s Brian Williams described the burgeoning epidemic as “the inevitable spread of [post-quake] disease.” Anderson Cooper mused on CNN: “The question is, was this preventable? It certainly was predicted.” Both were wrong on the science. Far from being inevitable, scientists have repeatedly shown that post disaster-epidemics rarely occur. And cholera had not been on the medical radar in Haiti at all, because in 206 years the country had not seen a single laboratory documented case of the disease. The evidence would eventually show that the bacterium that caused the 2010 outbreak, Vibrio cholera El Tor, was imported from South Asia to Haiti, most likely by a battalion of United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal whose waste entered a river that flowed past their base, far outside the quake zone.

That cholera was new to Haiti was important for a couple of reasons. First, it meant the disease—caused by a bacteria that spreads through contaminated food or water—would likely be deadlier than usual because the population had no pre-existing immunity. The lack of familiarity was also going to affect the speed of treatment, which was no small issue: Cholera victims can survive if they get emergency rehydration treatment, but left untreated the disease can lead to an excruciating death by dehydration in days, or sometimes hours. Not only did most Haitian doctors and nurses have no experience with the disease, but aid groups who could help keep the initial outbreak from spreading were focused in a different part of the country. It also meant that, like anyone confronting a deadly, highly contagious disease for the first time, millions in Haiti were going to be very afraid.

That fear had consequences. As aid groups raced to setting up temporary cholera treatment clinics in the Haitian countryside, many paid less heed to communicating with the people they were trying to help. Since foreign doctors, most of whom didn’t speak Haitian Kreyòl, would often arrive in a neighborhood or village ahead of the epidemic in hopes of cutting off its spread, many thought they were bringing the disease with them. On October 26, rock-throwing students forced a 400-bed Doctors Without Borders clinic to close in Saint-Marc. The protesters said the aid group had set it up too close to a nearby school. (There have been reports of similar tensions in West Africa.)

Then as now, coverage was pervaded by a sense that the worst was yet to come. Everyone wanted to be first to report that the disease had arrived in the quake zone. Before the first cases in Port-au-Prince were confirmed in early November, reports highlighted the conditions of tent camps home to hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors (“squalid” was generally the word used). Adding to the sense of doom, about three weeks into the epidemic, on November 5, Hurricane Tomas roared over Haiti from the Caribbean Sea. But neither the hurricane nor the tent camps turned out to be the catastrophic factors we had feared: The storm mainly lashed the country’s far southwest, far from what was then the epicenter of the disease. When cholera reached the capital four days after the storm, the camps turned out to be one of the safest places in the epidemic, because aid groups were still providing treated water.

Instead, the nightmare scenario turned out to be the prolific spread of the imported bacteria through the island’s rivers and streams, combined with a pervasive lack of interest in the hard decisions necessary to stop it. More than 8,500 Haitians have died from cholera since the start of the epidemic, and more than 700,000 have been infected—no one knows how many have died in isolated mountaintop villages, far from media or responders’ attention. Hundreds more have died of the cholera strain in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico and elsewhere in the region, and a few isolated cases have arrived in the United States. The UN, which still refuses to admit its role in causing the outbreak, pledged to raise $2.2 billion for improved sanitation, water, and healthcare to combat the epidemic but in 2014 has raised just $11 million from member states. The mistrust and fear cultivated in the epidemic’s first days has cast a shadow over public health and international aid.

Ebola is infinitely harder to treat than cholera, but it’s also much harder to catch. The death toll and infection rates in West Africa have accordingly been lower, though fatality rates are astoundingly high. Yet, though both diseases thrive primarily in places with broken health and sanitation infrastructure, the idea of Ebola provokes far more fear than cholera in wealthy countries like the United States. In part that is because cholera, once among the deadliest diseases in the globalized world, has become one of the best-understood diseases in medical science. Ebola scientists are working hard to catch up. As always, the media will have a crucial role. Understanding, if communicated well, can help fight fear, and ultimately disease itself.

 

Click HERE for the original.

Rights Defenders Threatened for Rape Case Involvement

August 7, 2014 - 04:48

In yet another instance of threats to human rights defenders, the head of GADES is being harassed for her involvement in a rape case. Amnesty International is calling on the public to contact authorities and ask them to investigate the threats and bring the perpetrators to justice. Making Haiti a safer environment for human rights defenders will increase respect for the rule of law, improving the system and society as a whole.

Click HERE for Amnesty’s action alert.

Women human rights defenders in Haiti threatened

Jamaica Observer
August 7, 2014

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) – The London-based International human rights group, Amnesty International says members of an organization of women human rights defenders in Haiti have received threats following the recent sentencing of a police officer for the rape of an underage boy.

Amnesty said the organization, GADES, has been supporting the victim and his family throughout the legal process.

On June 25, a court in Les Cayes, south-western Haiti, sentenced the police officer, who was found guilty of the rape of a 15-year-old boy in 2013, to 10 years imprisonment.

Since the judgement, Amnesty said members of GADES have received numerous threats and that on June 25, the un-named police officer’s lawyer publicly threatened in court, Samia Salomon, GADES coordinator, claiming members would face repercussions if his client was sentenced.

According to testimonies received by Amnesty International, police needed to intervene to maintain order in the court.

Since the judgement was made, Amnesty International said at least three members of GADES, including Salomon, have received anonymous threatening telephone calls on their private phones.

Similar calls have also been made to GADES offices, stating: “stop doing that work, otherwise you will lose human lives,” Amnesty International said.

In response to the threatening phone calls, Amnesty International said GACES decided to close it offices between June 25 and 30 and that on July 2, while Salomon was on a beach near Port-Salut, three police officers accompanied a justice of the peace to interview her after receiving an anonymous call accusing her of carrying drugs in her car.

Amnesty said no further investigation was carried out, adding that GADES lodged complaints with the police and the Office of the Public Prosecutor on and July 7 and 23.

Amnesty International said it was urging the public to express concern for the safety of Salomon and other members of GADES by calling on Haitian authorities to provide “effective protection to them in accordance with their wishes.”

The human rights group also called on the authorities to “immediately and independently investigate the accusation of threats and intimidation against members of GADES, to make the results public and to bring those found responsible to justice.”

 

Click HERE for the original.

Click HERE for Amnesty’s action alert.

NGOs Need Sustainable Solutions, Especially for Cholera

August 5, 2014 - 09:05

Although many organizations poured into Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, the situation is almost always the same as it was pre-quake because their help was not sustainable. Those who built wells often neglected to monitor them or include mechanisms to keep the water clean, leaving the people at risk for cholera. Aid organizations need to focus more on sustainability in order to make a real impact in Haiti.

Relief organizations need to think long-term, research shows

Julia Glum, Medical Xpress
August 5, 2014

When a magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, the world wanted to help.

People gave blood. Communities organized bake sales. International and nongovernmental organizations visited the area to dig wells and provide access to safe .

But University of Florida researchers say NGOs dropped the ball by not providing the long-term follow-through needed for their assistance projects to be truly effective. In fact, researchers say that routinely happens in NGO assistance projects in other crisis-stricken countries. The study results were published online July 28 by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

NGOs need to not only provide initial help to crisis-stricken countries but also to make long-range plans to maintain them, said Glenn Morris, director of UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute.

“You came in and did the easy part: You dug the well,” he said. “Then you left before you did the hard part … monitoring it.”

In Haiti, monitoring the wells was critical because dirty water can spread cholera. Haiti is still in the middle of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call the intestinal disease’s worst recent outbreak in modern public health.

When the UF research team, headed by Jocelyn Widmer, surveyed 345 wells in Haiti two years after the earthquake, they found more than a third of the wells contained fecal bacteria.

“The people who are drinking the water … have a risk of getting sick not just from cholera but from a variety of other diarrheal diseases,” Morris said.

The average cost to have a contractor dig a well in Haiti is between $7,000 and $11,000, so NGOs can create them quickly and cheaply and then report it to their backers. But maintenance to keep the water clean costs money, and it’s rarely included in budgets.

The study’s results show that NGOs’ preliminary relief efforts aren’t enough, Morris said. Contamination is a constant threat, especially after storms: In the flooding that followed Hurricane Sandy, 51 percent of the wells showed evidence of fecal contamination.

Chlorinators and trained professionals could help keep the water clean, but the researchers found no coordinated strategy for the water sources installed after the earthquake.

“We need to rethink the way we respond to disasters,” Morris said. “We need to rethink the approach that basically says you come in, do good deeds for a little while and then you walk off and leave the problems with the people that are still there.”

For example, NGOs had built 56 percent of the water points in the study region, but only 25 percent had any evidence of a management strategy. Sixteen percent were non-functional. Although about half reportedly had a “pump keeper,” they had no power to repair or run the wells. Instead, Haiti’s resource-deficient government faces the maintenance challenge.

While issues with some NGOs’ transparency and credibility have been documented in news accounts, Morris said the Haiti situation should serve as a strong reminder that the follow-through problem needs to be addressed.

“It’s easy to go in and do  for a short period of time,” he said. “What’s hard is sustainability.”

 

Click HERE for the original.

New Haiti Act Addresses Many Human Rights Issues

August 5, 2014 - 08:22

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, which recently passed through US Congress, has the potential to resolve many human rights and rule of law issues in Haiti. From housing rights, to elections, to food security, and more, this new bill aims to hold aid agencies accountable for using funds to empower the Haitian government and Haitian organizations in order to better Haiti.

Assessing Progress in Haiti

Margot de Greef, Church World Service
August 5, 2014

Port-au-Prince - On Friday July 25 the United States Congress passed the S.1104, The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act. CWS has played a big role in advocating for the passage of this Act, and encouraged allies in Congress to consider the bill favorably. As CWS Country Representative for Haiti – and someone who has lived in Haiti for many years – I want to thank members of Congress who took an interest in this legislation, which measures the progress of recovery and development efforts in Haiti following the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Many people have asked many times ‘where the money went’ that was donated to the people of Haiti and the reconstruction of their country. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act will contribute to finding a better answer to this question. It requires the Secretary of State to submit to Congress a report on the status of post-earthquake recovery and development efforts in Haiti no later than December 31 and annually thereafter through December 31, 2017. The report should include information of work done by US government agencies, housing strategy, strengthening Haitian governmental and nongovernmental organizational capacity, consultation with civil society, accountability, anti-corruption efforts, and efforts to address the particular needs of vulnerable populations.

Much of the money went back to the United States, either through imported materials or contracting. This represented a failed opportunity to invest in Haitian companies and local human resources. Donated food products are in competition with local production; ironically, Haitian rice (to name just one example), is more expensive than imported rice. Haiti can produce, but is limited by foreign aid. Forty years ago Haiti was self sufficient in food and this is where it wants to be once more. Food distribution is no sustainable solution; increased agricultural production is.

This is also where the Assessing Progress Act can play a role, since it does not only require the Secretary of State to report, but also to submit a three year Haiti strategy, which must include plans to improve capacity building of the Government of Haiti, assist the Government of Haiti in holding free and fair elections, reduce corruption, consolidate rule of law and an independent judiciary, develop sustainable housing, promote agricultural development, and improve access to potable water and sanitation services.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act opens new opportunities to address corruption and government effectiveness. Haiti will only develop when it has a well functioning, strong and respected government that is taken seriously and that takes itself seriously, taking responsibility of its country and citizens. Corruption has had too much of a history in Haiti, disrupting both government and private institutions, while forcing the poor to pay bribes to get access to basic services.

Other areas of intervention of CWS in Haiti include food security, child protection, housing and integration of people with disabilities, all addressed by the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act. The majority of people depend on farming and Haiti is a country full of natural richness. It is time that these natural resources be exploited, in a positive sense, by and for its citizens.

The earthquake made many people disabled. People with disabilities have historically been hidden in Haitian society, they are not seen as ‘full’ citizens with capacities and rights. They are a vulnerable population, as the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act says, and their needs require to be addressed. The same goes for children living in forced domestic service, also called restavèk.

At the same time, assessments of housing projects show mixed results. There are fewer homes constructed than was planned, many empty houses, and, for some of these projects, there has been ambiguous beneficiary selection. Some private initiatives have definitely made a change, but coordination remains difficult.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act has a lot of potential to address pertinent issues. CWS will continue to strive for realizing progress in Haiti.

 

Click HERE for the original.

St. Boniface Seeks a Director of Development

August 5, 2014 - 05:28

Company Description
The St. Boniface Haiti Foundation (SBHF) strives to improve life for the poor of Haiti by facilitating access to quality, affordable health care, educational opportunities and community development programs. Our goal is to create a model of successful, sustainable development in rural Haiti that relies on local leadership and work force and that can be replicated throughout the country. We believe the only way to achieve this goal is by empowering Haitians to help Haitians. We work to improve health and quality of life for all members of the community at every stage of their lives.
Founded in 1983, SBHF has grown into a recognized and award-winning leader in community-based care. Programs include our hospital in Fond-des-Blancs in southern Haiti, a satellite clinic in the village of Villa, a network of community health workers and mothers’ counselors, mobile clinics, nutrition programs, scholarships, community development programs, and Haiti’s first Spinal Cord Injury rehabilitation center. Nearly 200 employees (98% of whom are Haitian) serve more than 67,000 patients and thousands of community members every year. SBHF’s Fiscal Year 2015 will see the opening of our new Maternal Health Center in Fond-des-Blancs and the opening of improved, permanent facilities in Villa.
This year also marks the seventh consecutive year Charity Navigator has awarded SBHF its coveted 4-star rating for sound fiscal management—a distinction only 2% of charities in the US can claim. Fully 89% of all contributions go directly to supporting our core programs in health, education and community development.

Job Title: Director of Development

Seniority: Director

Job Function: Management, Strategy/Planning

Job Description
The Director of Development is responsible for conceiving, developing and implementing fundraising strategies to support the goals and objectives of the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation (SBHF). With a strong corps of donors from the Boston area and beyond, SBHF draws support from donors and partners at the national and international level and has an annual operating budget of $7 million. Poised for growth, SBHF benefits from vital, principled leadership at the staff and board level who are ready to partner with a strong development professional in guiding the organization to its future. This position is located at St. Boniface’s U.S. headquarters in Newton, MA and is supported by a full-time Development Coordinator.

Job Duties:

  • Sets fundraising objectives and works with the President/CEO, Board, and St. Boniface leadership team to design and implement strategies to meet organizational fundraising goals
  • Closely monitors implementation of strategic plan to ensure that the organization reaches all fundraising objectives in a timely manner
  • Works closely with President/CEO and other relevant stakeholders to ensure timely and appropriate follow-up with current and potential donors and donor organizations
  • Responsible for managing and coaching all development staff and volunteers
  • Oversees communications plan (annual report, website, social media, public relations, etc.) to inform donors and potential supporters of St. Boniface’s work
  • Responsible for organizing donor events for St. Boniface including the annual gala, donor dinners, and other relevant fundraising activities as needed
  • Identifies, researches and cultivates new donor opportunities for the organization
  • Oversees management of Donor Perfect, St. Boniface’s donor tracking system
  • Manage reporting to donors and ensure contracted deadlines are met
  • Provides timely and comprehensive fundraising reports to the President/CEO and St. Boniface Board as necessary
  • Helps coordinate and participates in prospect and donor trips to Haiti as needed

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • At least five years fundraising experience with increasing levels of responsibility
  • Strong experience in annual fund and/or major gifts work with a proven track record of success
  • Experience managing a donor database (familiarity with DonorPerfect a plus)
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Ease representing an organization to external audiences
  • Experience grant writing and reporting
  • Strategic thinker with strong organization skills and high attention to detail
  • Strong belief in the mission of the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation
  • Background in international aid a plus
  • Experience managing people up and down a reporting chain
  • Willingness to travel (nationally and internationally) on occasion

Salary and Benefits

This is a great opportunity for someone with strong major gifts and/or annual fund experience who is interested in moving into a leadership role at a vibrant and growing organization. SBHF is offering a competitive salary and benefits package, commensurate with qualifications.

How candidates can apply: direct application to external website to apply: http://haitihealth.org/get-involved/jobs-and-internships/

Rep. Frederica Wilson Champions Haitian Family Reunification!

August 4, 2014 - 11:56

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Steve Forester, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, steveforester@aol.com (English, Haitian Creole)

U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson Champions Haitian Family Reunification!

(Miami, August 4, 2014)—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on July 28 replied replied to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s April 28 letter to the President urging creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program to save lives and speed Haiti’s recovery.

“We have taken your request for the creation of a family reunification parole program for Haitians under advisement and are actively reviewing this proposal,” wrote Deputy Secretary Mayorkas.

In her July 31 letter to community leaders conveying this reply, Rep. Wilson wrote, “I will continue to fight for the establishment of this important program.”

“We strongly applaud Rep. Wilson for her continuing engagement and advocacy on behalf of these families,” said Haitian American Grassroots Coalition (HAGC) chairman Jean Robert Lafortune. Added Haitian Women of Miami Executive Director Marleine Bastien, “Frederica’s support is key to winning creation of this program to finally help our loved ones, who have been neglected far too long.”

“Rep. Wilson represents the largest Haitian American constituency of any congressional district Her dedication to this goal is and will be enormously important to its achievement and is greatly appreciated,” said IJDH Immigration Policy Coordinator Steven Forester.

About 100 U.S. congresspersons of both parties and chambers, joined by Haitian diaspora groups and leaders and political and religious leaders nationwide, have since Haiti’s 2010 earthquake urged the President to create this program to more speedily bring to the United States thousands of beneficiaries of DHS-approved family-based visa petitions who remain on years-long wait lists in Haiti.

For more on Haitian Family Reunification, visit our site.

###

GADES Human Rights Defenders Threatened

August 4, 2014 - 06:44

In yet another instance of threats to human rights defenders, the head of GADES (Groupe d’appui au développement du Sud) is being harassed for her involvement in a rape case. Amnesty International calls on the public to contact authorities, asking them to investigate the threats and bring the perpetrators to justice. Making Haiti safer for human rights defenders will increase respect for the rule of law, improving the system and society as a whole.

Activists Fighting for Justice Threatened

Amnesty International
August 4, 2014

Members of GADES, an organization of women human rights defenders in Haiti, have received threats following the recent sentencing of a police officer for the rape of an underage boy. The organization has been supporting the victim and his family throughout the legal process.

On 25 June a court in Les Cayes, southwestern Haiti, sentenced a police officer found guilty of the rape of a 15-year-old boy in 2013 to 10 years’ imprisonment. The feminist human rights organization GADES (Groupe d’appui au développement du Sud) has accompanied the victim and his family in their search for justice, providing legal support throughout the process.

Since the judgment was handed down on 25 June, members of GADES have received numerous threats. On 25 June the police officer’s lawyer publicly threatened in court GADES and its coordinator, Samia Salomon, stating that they would face repercussions if his client was sentenced. According to testimonies received by Amnesty International police needed to intervene to maintain order in the court. Since the judgment was made, at least three members of GADES, including Samia Salomon, have received anonymous threatening telephone calls on their private phones. Similar calls have also been made to GADES offices, stating: “stop doing that work, otherwise you will lose human lives” (Arrêtez ce travail, sinon vous aurez des pertes en vies humaines). In response to the threatening phone calls, the organization decided to close their offices between 25 and 30 June. On 2 July while Samia Salomon was on a beach near Port-Salut, three police
officers accompanied a justice of the peace (juge de paix) to interview her after receiving an anonymous call accusing Samia of carrying drugs in her car. No further investigation was carried out.

GADES lodged complaints with the police and the Office of the Public Prosecutor on 7 and 23 July respectively. The police have only confirmed that one of the phone numbers which made threatening phone calls to GADES members was the same number that anonymously called the justice of the peace. GADES is not aware of any investigation started by the public prosecutor into their complaints and the organization has not received any protection from the authorities.

Please write immediately in French or your own language:

  • Expressing concern for the safety of Samia Salomon and other members of GADES and calling on the authorities to provide effective protection to them in accordance with their wishes;
  • Calling on the authorities to immediately and independently investigate the accusation of threats and intimidation against members of GADES, to make the results public and to bring those found responsible to justice;
  • Reminding them of their duty to guarantee that human rights defenders can carry out their work without fear of violence and threats, as established in the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 15 SEPTEMBER 2014 TO:
Minister of Justice and Public Security
Jean Renel Sanon
18 avenue Charles Summer
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Email: secretariat.mjsp@yahoo.com,
jrsanon@mjsp.gouv.ht
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister

General Director of the Haitian Police
Godson Orélus
Police Nationale d’Haiti
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Email: godore68@hotmail.com
Salutation: Monsieur le directeur / Dear Director

And copies to:
GADES
Email: gadesorg@yahoo.fr

Also send copies to:
Ambassador Paul Altidor, Embassy of Haiti, 2311 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
Telephone: 202 332 4090 | Fax: 202 745 7215 | Email: amb.washington@diplomatie.ht
Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Office if sending appeals after the above date

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Groupe d’appui au développement du Sud (GADES) is a women’s human rights organization based in the city of Les Cayes in the South Department of Haiti. They present themselves as a “feminist organization” which accompanies women and children victims of violence, provides legal and judicial assistance, carries out awareness-raising campaigns on violence against women, organizes human rights education activities on women’s rights, and facilitates workshops with police on women’s rights and gender issues.

Several threats and attacks against human rights defenders have recently been reported in Haiti. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights issued precautionary measures in favor of human rights lawyers Mario Joseph and Patrick Florvilus in October 2012 and November 2013 respectively, and human rights activist Pierre Espérance in June 2014, requesting that the Haitian state adopt any necessary measures to guarantee the life and personal integrity of the lawyers and activists.

On repeated occasions in 2013, members of Kouraj, a LGBTI rights group, have been threatened and intimidated during public demonstrations held in Port-au-Prince, the capital (see UA 186/13, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR36/014/2013/en). A direct attack against the organization’s office also took place in November (see UA 320/13, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR36/021/2013/en).

On 8 February 2014 human rights defender Daniel Dorsinvil and his wife were killed by a gunman in the residential neighborhood of Canapé Vert, Port-au-Prince. The circumstances and the motives of the killings remain unclear. An investigation was opened and various people are currently held in pre-trial detention. In February Amnesty International called for a thorough investigation into the killing (see http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR36/006/2014/en).

On 2 April Pierre Espérance, executive director of the National Human Rights Defense Network (Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, RNDDH), one of Haiti’s leading human rights organizations, received a threatening letter at the organization’s office. The letter contained a gun bullet and accused Pierre Espérance and the RNDDH of publicizing false reports aiming to destabilize the government. It also mentioned the attack on Pierre Espérance in 1999 when he escaped a shooting by gunmen in Port-au-Prince. The letter concluded that “in 99 we missed you, this time you won’t escape it, stop speaking bullshit”. For more information, see UA 87/14, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR36/009/2014/en.

The Haitian women’s rights organization Komisyon Fanm Viktim Pou Viktim (KOFAVIV) based in Port-au-Prince has received numerous threats in recent months. Two of their leaders were forced to leave the country because of fears for their safety. Amnesty International has called on the Haitian authorities on numerous occasions to provide protection to the women’s human rights defenders, but so far the organization is not aware of any specific steps taken by the authorities (see http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR36/010/2014/en).

In accordance with the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, authorities in Haiti must fulfil their obligation to protect human rights defenders and to fully investigate attacks against them and bring those responsible to justice. They also have a duty to guarantee that human rights defenders can carry out their work without fear of violence or reprisals.

 

Click HERE for the original.

Haiti Act Will Increase Local Procurement, Aid Accountability

July 30, 2014 - 01:25

What happened to the billions donated to Haiti for relief and recovery from the 2010 earthquake? The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, a new bill that recently passed through Congress, hopes to provide more transparency and accountability, at least for US government funds going to Haiti. This is a huge step towards answering that elusive question in the future.

Where has all the Haiti aid money gone? U.S. to keep closer track

Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation
July 30, 2014

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – U.S. Congress has passed a bill that will make it easier to track the billions of dollars of American aid money spent in Haiti, a think tank said.

After a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, killing more than 200,000 people, the U.S., the largest foreign aid donor in Haiti, allocated a total of $1.3 billion for humanitarian relief efforts and $2.3 billion for recovery, reconstruction, and development.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act – passed by Congress earlier this month and now awaiting President Obama’s sign-off – aims to improve oversight, transparency and U.S. accountability on how money is spent on the ground, says the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

“People often ask where did the money go in Haiti? It’s been difficult to fully answer this question. The bill is the first step to know how money is being spent. It provides a measuring stick and a basis to hold the U.S. government accountable on what it does in Haiti,” Jake Johnston, a CEPR expert on U.S aid to Haiti, told Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

Most are the funds are largely overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and include money to tackle the cholera epidemic that has killed more than 8,550 people, the construction of a power plant, new housing settlements, and a new port in northern Haiti, which is two years behind schedule, according to a report last year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

A key reason it is difficult to track how USAID funds are spent on the ground is because the agency relies heavily on contractors, who often hire subcontractors in Haiti, as is the case elsewhere in the world, Johnston said.

The Haiti Act requires the State Department to report to U.S. lawmakers every six months on post-earthquake recovery and development efforts, including details on direct contracts awarded by USAID and other government agencies, and more significantly on subcontracts as well.

“Often the black box appears at the subcontract level. Reporting subcontracts by programme, such as health, will give more clarity on what money is being spent on,” Johnston said.

LOCAL PROCUREMENT

The legislation calls on the U.S. government to do more to involve Haitians in rebuilding and development, including hiring more Haitians, using local contractors and companies, and publishing more information in Haitian Creole.

“It lays out the groundwork for consultations with the Haitian government and civil societies and gets those voices who have felt outside to be inside the reconstruction process,” Johnston said.

In the past five years, USAID has been pushing to increase the use of local contractors and organisations in countries where it operates as part of a series of reforms, known as USAID Forward.

Yet there is a long way to go to ensure that USAID uses Haitian rather than U.S.-based companies or organisations – an issue the Haiti Act seeks to address.

“Of the $1.4 billion awarded by USAID in contract and grants since the earthquake, less than 1 percent has gone to Haitian companies,” Johnston said.

While USAID data shows that local procurement by the agency increased worldwide from 14.3 percent in 2012 to 17.9 percent in 2013, in Haiti it decreased, according to Johnston.

Recent data on the USAID Forward website reveal that just over $4 million, or 2 percent of all USAID spending, went to Haitian companies or organisations in 2013, down from $11.3 million in 2012.

(Editing by Alisa Tang: alisa.tang@thomsonreuters.com)

 

Click HERE for the original.

Pangea Legal Seeks Immigration Attorney

July 29, 2014 - 11:23

Pangea Legal Services (Pangea) is a rapidly growing non-profit organization based in San Francisco, California. We serve the immigrant community, particularly in the area of deportation defense.  In addition to direct services, we advocate on behalf of immigrants through policy advocacy, education, and legal empowerment efforts.  Our vision is to live in a world where the fundamental right to move is respected by all.

We bring positive attitudes, enthusiasm, and humility to our work.  Our team works long, hard hours, and we support and learn from each other.  We are committed and available to manage large caseloads, and help grow the organization.  We produce very high-quality work.

We are recruiting an additional attorney to join our team, and we are looking for a good fit—in terms of attitude, dedication, experience, quality of work, and commitment.  This position may turn into a director-level position within the coming year, and we need someone who is ready and able for the responsibility that directors must undertake.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Providing direct legal representation to immigrants in removal proceedings
  • Leading advocacy initiatives, community education, and coalition building in San Francisco and San Mateo counties
  • Helping to establish internal policies as we scale our non-profit
  • Supervising law clerks, interns, and other volunteers

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Fluency or proficiency in Spanish (other languages a plus);
  • 2+ years legal services or litigation experience (immigration experience a plus)
  • Ability to work independently and in teams alike
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Excellent writing and communication skills
  • Desire to invest in the organization’s growth, and work long hours as needed
  • J.D. degree with membership in good standing with a State Bar (California preferred)

SALARY AND BENEFITS

  • Pangea is a non-hierarchical organization striving toward pay-equity
  • Currently, all staff salaries range from $41,000-46,000
  • Benefits include standard medical (Kaiser), a socially responsible retirement investment package (Simple IRA), and a preventative health benefits package (monthly reimbursement for: therapy, athletic or musical classes, acupuncture, etc).

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

This position will be open until filled, and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. If you believe you might be a good fit, please submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, copy of your transcript, and three references to welcome@pangealegal.org.  Please indicate “Immigration Attorney Application” in the subject line of your email.

 

Click HERE for the original posting.

Haiti Needs National Dialogue to Solve Chronic Problems

July 28, 2014 - 15:37

The way aid organizations used the billions donated after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake undermined the government by circumventing it, rather than using the opportunity to strengthen and restructure it. The fact that Haiti’s majority, the poor, are often left out of politics also hinders the country from growth. This article proposes using a national dialogue to address these issues, particularly if Haiti’s large youth population is included in this conversation that will affect their future.

Why Haiti Needs a National Dialogue

Clare Lockhart and Johanna Mendelson Forman, Foreign Policy
July 28, 2014

Note: This article is an abridged version of a longer report, “Escaping the Crisis Trap: New Options for Haiti,” produced by the Legatum Institute and the Institute for State Effectiveness.

On the afternoon of January 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Shoddy construction compounded the scale of the devastation; many buildings collapsed on their occupants. Government figures put the dead at over 300,000, with as many injured, in a city of 2.5 million. Overnight, more than 1.3 million people — nearly a tenth of Haiti’s population — were homeless. The overall damage estimates amounted to $7.9 billion, 120 percent of Haiti’s 2009 GDP. The aftermath brought immediate, extreme challenges: 40 percent unemployment, widespread hunger, and frequent disease outbreaks caused by poor sanitation.

The international response was instantaneous and generous. Donor nations pledged $5 billion in short-term aid and $10 billion over the long term. They also committed to work through government mechanisms to build the country’s capacity for self-sufficiency. Four years on, their efforts have unquestionably yielded progress: 90 percent of the homeless have been resettled, 80 percent of the rubble has been cleared, and joblessness continues to decline. There is even some promise of new foreign investment in Haiti.

Yet the international effort’s results have fallen far short of the expectations of both Haitians and donor nations. Unemployment and food insecurity are still prevalent in Haiti. One hundred thousand people continue to live in squalid camps characterized by poverty, cholera epidemics, and sexual violence toward women. (The photo above features two boys who live in a camp for earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince.)

Haiti remains the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with a per capita income of $777.10 — a fraction of what their Dominican neighbors earn.

Haiti remains the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with a per capita income of $777.10 — a fraction of what their Dominican neighbors earn.

Moreover, progress toward self-sufficiency remains slow. The training of a new national police force is not advancing fast enough to stem the current reliance on U.N. troops for security. This cultivates the sense among ordinary Haitians that they are an occupied nation. The Haitian government still depends on donor assistance and remittances from abroad for nearly all of its revenue.

Instead of working to rebuild the country’s long-dysfunctional government, as they committed to do after the earthquake, donor nations and aid organizations fell into a trap that we refer to as the “sovereignty paradox.” Unable or unwilling to trust government institutions as reliable partners in their aid operations, NGOs and their funders programmed around them, creating parallel administrative structures that effectively undermined Haiti’s government and alienated its people. This disappointment provides an opportunity for Haitians and their partners to pause, regroup, and set the agenda for the future. We accordingly call for the creation of a “national discussion” involving individuals and groups, especially young people, throughout the country. It would aim to take stock of Haiti’s considerable assets and generate grassroots pressure to transform the Haitian political and governmental system.

The tiny island nation’s troubles extend far back into history: Originally claimed for the Spanish crown in 1492, Haiti was subsequently colonized by the French. In 1804, Haiti declared independence from France, constituting the only successful slave revolt mounted in the Americas. An ensuing succession of chaotic governments vied for control of Haiti well into the 20th century. Despite several attempts at participatory elections, democratic rule proved elusive. Corrupt and wealthy elites maintained their power, backed by thuggish security forces. Meanwhile, most Haitians lacked the most basic access to justice, education, or health care.

Haiti seemed poised for fundamental change in 1991, when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, became its first democratically elected head of state. The military and police structure resisted change, however, and seven months into his presidency, the military overthrew Aristide. He returned to Haiti under the aegis of the United Nations and Bill Clinton’s administration in 1994. Since then, a pattern of successive elections, ouster, deadlock, and intervention have reduced government into more of a revolving door than a platform for meaningful change.

In Haiti, political office has always been the main and often only means of upward mobility. Incumbents resort to any means to secure their inherently precarious political positions — including violence. A narrow, kleptocratic elite has captured key positions in government agencies and civil society organizations. As a result, neither represents nor caters to the interests of the majority of the country: the poor. Few Haitians see elections as having any effect on their lives.

Hindered by weak, dysfunctional public institutions, Haiti has been unable to create the basic conditions for private-sector growth: reliable market regulations, transparent property rights, a secure banking system, etc. Without growth, poor Haitians lack opportunity, and the Haitian government lacks a tax base to use to wean itself off foreign aid.

Donors complain about the Haitian government’s lack of accountability, but they themselves set a poor example of successful finance management and transparency.

Donors complain about the Haitian government’s lack of accountability, but they themselves set a poor example of successful finance management and transparency.The U.N. agencies, NGOs, and contractors have yet to publish accounts of financial expenditure that are readily available to Haitian citizens. They waste time and money on duplicating inefficient projects because they fail to coordinate with one another or with local governments. Meanwhile, they are complicit in the siphoning off of significant foreign-aid dollars for favored NGO and U.N. contractors. Only 10 percent of the $6.04 billion in funding donated between 2010 and 2012 went to the Haitian government, and less than 0.6 percent went to Haitian organizations and businesses. By circumventing Haitian institutions in the effort to deliver aid, the donor community missed an opportunity to use its resources to reform the institutions themselves.

Though the situation in Haiti remains dire, the country could build upon its considerable assets to move away from aid dependency. Thediscovery of gold and nickel deposits holds the promise of new jobs and significant government revenues. A 2010 trade agreement with the United States provides favorable import access for Haitian textiles. The country has barely begun to exploit its potential for tourism, an industry central to the economies of other Caribbean countries. There is also considerable growth potential in the Haitian agricultural, construction, and telecommunications sectors. Taking advantage of these assets requires the donor community to use its resources in ways that promote Haitian self-sufficiency. For example, in the massive post-earthquake rebuilding efforts, NGOs have tended to give construction contracts to Dominican firms rather than taking a chance on less-experienced Haitian firms. Haiti also requires better-functioning government institutions and legislation to advance reform, such as well-framed mining laws to guard against corruption and rent-seeking.

The first step is to establish conditions for a national dialogue that would cut across traditional class, party, and geographical lines, giving voices outside the usual political elites an opportunity to participate in shaping the national agenda. Individuals who truly represent Haiti’s diversity can collaborate to develop a shared vision for their country’s future. This vision would endure beyond any single elected government or charismatic leader — providing an overarching benchmark by which Haitians can hold their government accountable. National dialogues have already helped to undergird political and economic reforms in many countries, including Chile, GuatemalaPeru, and Mexico.

The process should start with Haiti’s young. Half of Haiti’s 10 million people are under 25, and it is critical that a national dialogue should consider what they want their country to look like in 15 to 20 years; this will determine the dialogue’s power to drive Haiti’s future. Effective education is critical to cultivating a new generation of leaders. Today, more than half of Haiti’s population is illiterate. The country’s overall education statistics are among the worst in the Western Hemisphere. All too often, low-income countries focus solely on primary education — but this is not enough to give the next generation the technical know-how in science, agriculture, education, and commerce that it needs to drive the country forward.

In the short term, the government can draw upon the talents of the 1 million strong Haitian diaspora.

In the short term, the government can draw upon the talents of the 1 million strong Haitian diaspora.Returning Haitians could also help to mentor the next generation of leaders. They can also share their knowledge on how other countries used remittances to drive economic activity and boost employment, such as through home loans, construction loans, or investment in small business and education.

This national dialogue must identify and prioritize programs to promote growth and skills development and address entrenched problems: poverty, unemployment, failing infrastructure, and weak institutions. These problems can be solved, but Haiti’s government must unlock its potential to overcome them.

 

Click HERE for the original.

New Bill Set to Increase Local Procurement in Haiti

July 28, 2014 - 13:11

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, a bill that will increase US aid accountability and transparency, has passed through US Congress.  The Act is much-needed, as the percentage of aid money going to Haitian organizations decreased from 2012 to 2013, and US aid to Haiti has some of the worst procurement statistics worldwide. This article outlines the statistics of US government spending in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, as well as the foreseen difficulties with increasing transparency of this aid money.

US Congress Passes Aid Accountability Legislation as Local Procurement Falls in Haiti

Center for Economic and Policy Research
July 28, 2014

More than four-and-a-half years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. Congress passed legislation on Friday demanding greater accountability and transparency in U.S. relief and reconstruction efforts. “[W]e need to provide more accountability of our efforts to rebuild Haiti as we work to produce sustainable local capacity and strengthen democratic institutions,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), in a press release praising the bill’s passage.

In April 2013, CEPR published “Breaking Open the Black Box: Increasing Aid Transparency and Accountability in Haiti.” The report concluded that “the lack of real transparency around U.S. assistance to Haiti makes it much more difficult to identify problems and take corrective measures.” Among the recommendations made in the report, many have been included in the recent legislation, such as: reporting sub-award contract data, prioritizing local procurement and the involvement of local civil society, releasing data at the project level and including benchmarks and goals, and increasing the amount of information published in Haitian Creole.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, as the bill is known, will require the Secretary of State to submit to Congress a report every 6 months detailing the U.S. government strategy in Haiti, including program goals and outcomes. Crucially, the bill also requires reporting on “amounts committed, obligated, and expended on programs and activities to implement the Strategy, by sector and by implementing partner at the prime and subprime levels,” making it far easier to track where the money goes and who is the ultimate recipient.

It has been U.S. policy to increase local procurement worldwide as part of an ambitious reform program called USAID Forward. However, the new bill will ensure that the U.S. carries this out in its Haiti policy, something that has taken on extra importance as recent data released by USAID shows the level of local procurement actually decreased in 2013 from 2012.

Local procurement data recently posted (XLS) on the USAID Forward website reveals that just over $4 million, or 2 percent of all USAID spending went to local companies or organizations in Haiti. This is down from $11.3 million (5.4 percent) in 2012. Overall expenditures for Haiti decreased from $209.5 to $198 million, according to the database. Worldwide, the level of local procurement actually increased, from 14.3 to 17.9 percent, showing just how far behind U.S. policy in Haiti is.

The aid accountability bill states that “it is the policy of the United States” to prioritize “the local procurement of goods and services in Haiti,” and repeatedly calls on the U.S. government to outline a strategy that “builds the long term capacity of the Government of Haiti and civil society in Haiti.” While these are core principles that leading donors worldwide have agreed to adopt in line with evolving aid accountability awareness, the U.S. has been slow to implement these changes, especially in Haiti.

Commenting on the bill’s passage, CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot stated, “it is a step in the right direction if U.S. taxpayer dollars are to be used in a way that will benefit the people of Haiti instead of merely lining contractors’ pockets.” He added that, “66.2 percent of USAID contracts has gone to Beltway-based firms, while just 1.5 percent has gone to Haitian companies…There is something terribly wrong with this picture.”

What the Data Shows

The data released by USAID, showing the levels of local procurement, while a step in the right direction, falls far short of what is being required in the Haiti aid bill, and has severe limitations. Unlike in the USASpending.gov database, which reports all contracts and grants awarded by USAID, the Forward Database contains no identifying contract numbers, meaning reconciling the two databases is virtually impossible. Further, the USAID Forward database doesn’t specify whether the expenditures are via prime awards or sub-awards, an important distinction. Finally, the information is provided only well after the fact, while the USASpending.gov data is updated regularly. For these reasons, to present a more complete picture of USAID procurement in Haiti, an analysis of the USASpending.gov database is required.

As of July 14, 2014 USAID has awarded $1.38 billion for Haiti-related work according to the USASpending.gov database, including both contracts and grants. As can be seen in Figure 1, overall, just 0.9 percent has gone directly to Haiti organizations, while 56.6 percent has gone to firms located inside the Beltway (Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland).

Figure 1. Percent of USAID Funds Awarded, by Location of Recipient

There is some evidence to show that local procurement has been increasing in 2014. Though the USASpending.gov data confirms the drastic decrease in local procurement in 2013, thus far in 2014 just over 2 percent has gone to local companies, as can be seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Percent of USAID Awards Given to Haitian Companies, Annual

In response to inquiries from CEPR, the USAID Haiti Task Team responded that, “the amount of new obligations directly to local organizations will vary from year to year and do not necessarily reflect the level of USAID involvement in building local capacity,” adding that, “any attempt to split up our funding into discrete shorter time periods such as fiscal years is bound to encounter fluctuations.”

In 2014 and beyond, “USAID/Haiti anticipates higher percentages,” of local procurement. To help move in this direction, USAID issued an Annual Program Statement (APS) in March 2014 that programs $5.5 million “to provide direct funding to local Haitian organizations,” in a number of sectors. Further, and in line both with USAID Forward and the recently-passed legislation, USAID “is currently identifying opportunities” for Haitian organizations to provide development capacity building to civil society groups and local companies in order “to expand the number of Haitian organizations able to receive direct funding from USAID or other donors,” according to the Haiti Task Team.

Still, a deeper look at who the recipients are shows a more limited reach of USAID’s local procurement. Since the earthquake in January 2010, of the $1.38 billion awarded by USAID, just $12.36 million has gone to Haitian organizations. And of that, 57 percent went to just one company, Cemex Haiti, which is a subsidiary of a Mexican company that is one of the largest cement manufacturers in the world. A further 8.6 percent went to the local branch of Transparency International. Though both organizations physically operate in Haiti and employ Haitians, it highlights the advantage for local firms of having international connections, without which they are often left behind.

While more funds certainly go to Haitian companies through subcontracts, there is little available information available on this. Despite previous legislation requiring the reporting of subcontracts to the USASpending.gov database, in practice very little is ever reported. Only $44.1 million is reported in subawards for work in Haiti, of which 20 percent went to Haitian companies, as can be seen in Table 1. Even at this level, over 44 percent of the funds went to companies inside the Beltway. The newly-passed legislation, in requiring the reporting of data at both the prime and sub levels, will allow for a much more thorough analysis of USAID spending in the future.

Table 1. Subaward Obligations, by Location of Recipient

The U.S. Congress has sent a clear message to the State Department and administration that the U.S.’s Haiti policy has not lived up to its pledge and that is has fallen short in key areas of transparency and accountability. The next step will be holding those actors accountable with this new piece of legislation.

 

Click HERE for the original.

UN Must Live Up to Cholera Promises

July 28, 2014 - 07:29

This article explains how Ban Ki-moon’s recent visit to Haiti was a step in the right direction but he and the UN need to live up to the sympathetic words Ban uttered during his visit. The UN cholera elimination plan still remains vastly underfunded and the UN still has not apologized or admitted responsibility for cholera. Now that Ban has admitted “moral responsibility” for ending the epidemic, visited Haiti, and told Haitians the UN will stand with them, will the UN do more?

UN Secretary General ramps up Haiti cholera response rhetoric

Tom Murphy, Humanosphere
July 28, 2014

In what has become an all too familiar dance, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti to draw attention to the ongoing cholera outbreak. He again threw his verbal support behind the $2.2 billion plan to eliminate cholera from the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in 10 years. He stressed the need for global support to address the challenges of clean water and sanitation in Haiti in order to put to a halt an epidemic that has infected more than 700,000 people and killed 8,500 since October 2010.

“I know that the epidemic has caused much anger and fear. I know that the disease continues to affect an unacceptable number of people,” said Ban while speaking at a church service in the village of Los Palmas, last week. “Whatever I say today will not lessen the despair you have felt over the loss of your loved ones.”

What he did not say was that the outbreak is the UN’s fault. He did not say that it was UN peacekeepers from Nepal who accidentally brought cholera into Haiti and spread it because the UN mission was not properly disposing of its fecal waste. He did not apologize on behalf of the UN for the error that cost thousands of lives.

 

Ban made what he called a “necessary pilgrimage” to Haiti and got attention from various media sources about the trip. The tenor of such report has changed over time due to the fact that this story has already been told. For example, much was made of remarks by Ban in late 2012 about the $2.2 billion plan for Haiti. As Jonathan Katz and I reported for Foreign Policy, there was not really much news in what was announced. The plan was already established nearly a year before that, by the UN. Even the money supposedly raised at the time was just countries following through on promises more than two years prior.

At the time, only $118 million of the $2.2 billion needed was available. More than 18 months later, the UN is short of the $400 million that is needed to kick start the end of cholera on the island. Yet again, Ban was called upon to take leadership and admit the responsibility of the UN for the outbreak. An editorial by the Miami Herald pushed the issue yet again, when Ban made the visit to Haiti. The editors say that the UN should not only accept guilt, but compensate the victims of the outbreak.

“[T]his should be only the beginning of the U.N.’s effort to make things right with the people of Haiti. “Moral responsibility” requires that the United Nations take concrete steps to back up the secretary general’s admission. Otherwise, it amounts to nothing more than hollow words,” write the editors.

Ban was commended for admitting that the UN has a “moral responsibility” to lead the way. His visit last week was proof positive that he was taking need for UN leadership more seriously. What remains to be done is solving the problem of the lack of access to improved sanitation for nearly three out of every four Haitians. As the US and other countries have shown, universal access to clean water and sanitation all but puts an end to water-borne diseases like cholera.

” I have seen again and again the courage of the Haitian people. Your determination in the face of hardship continues to inspire people across the world. The United Nations will continue to stand with you in your efforts to build a brighter future for you and your children,” said Ban to the church-goers.

Can the Ban and the UN live up to those words?

 

Click HERE for the original.

Congress Passes Bill for Haiti Aid Accountability

July 25, 2014 - 09:43

After the 2010 earthquake, billions were donated and pledged to Haiti but over 4 years later, much of the money is unaccounted-for or still yet to be disbursed. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, which recently passed through Congress, seeks to better account for US government money going to Haiti.

Congress passes law promoting transparency in Haiti’s reconstruction Concerned about the slow disbursement of U.S. dollars in Haiti and problems with projects, U.S. lawmakers pass legislation giving them more oversight.

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
July 25, 2014

Nearly five years after a devastating earthquake nearly flatten Haiti’s capital, the U.S. Congress on Friday passed legislation aimed at shedding light on how U.S. funds are used in the country’s reconstruction efforts.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2014 requires the U.S. Secretary of State to submit to Congress a report on the status of post-earthquake recovery and development projects in Haiti, using U.S. taxpayers’ dollars, no later than Dec. 31, 2014 and annually thereafter through Dec. 31, 2017.

The measure was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who like many have expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in U.S. government funded projects, and the slow disbursement of aid in Haiti where the quake killed more than 300,000, and left 1.5 million homeless and an equal number injured.

The new legislation is being applauded by several groups including the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), which provides direct financial support to grassroots organizations in Haiti.

“In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, our government laudably committed a significant amount of aid to help Haiti rebuild, but a lack of transparency made it difficult to understand how U.S. government funds were being used and if recovery efforts were making progress and were being measured,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS.

Messinger said she believes that the “legislation embodies a new commitment to transparency, accountability, and good governance.”

In the wake of the quake, the U.S. and others in the international community pledged more than $10 billion over 10 years. Pledges, however, been slow to materialize. For example, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has noted that as of June 30, 2013, the U.S. Agency for International Development had disbursed just 31 percent of its reconstruction funds in Haiti. Congress, the GAO said, had not been provided with sufficient information to ensure effective oversight of the projects.

The GAO also has been highly critical of USAID-funded projects in Haiti, from cost overruns and lax oversight with housing construction to the slow pace of the construction of Haiti’s largest public hospital in Port-au-Prince. One report also noted that a new modern seaport to support a new $300 million industrial park in the country’s northern corridor was two years behind schedule and U.S. government funding will be insufficient to cover the costs.

But U.S. lawmakers also noted that donors in general have encountered “significant challenges” in helping Haiti with its recovery even as the government highlights the post-quake progress.

Although more than 90 percent of the displaced has left the camps, there are still an estimated 103,565 people living in 172 camps scattered around metropolitan Port-au-Prince, the International Organization for Migration said. The thousands of new homes that many envisioned after the disaster never materialized, forcing most quake victims to return to existing housing with the help of a Haitian government rental subsidy program financed by international donors.

U.S. lawmakers noted in the legislation that they remain concern about Haiti, and its slow progress.

“Unemployment remains high, corruption is rampant, land rights remain elusive, allegations of wage violations are widespread, the business climate is unfavorable, and government capacity remains weak,” the legislation said. “The legal environment in Haiti remains a challenge to achieving the goals supported by the international community.”

 

Click HERE for the original.

Half Hour for Haiti: Human Rights is Key

July 25, 2014 - 09:34

Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alert:
Friday July 25, 2014
Help spread the word: Human rights is the way to build Haiti

Be Part of the Solu­tion for Haiti: Make a Dif­fer­ence a Half Hour at a time

7/25/2014

Dear Friend,

Thank you so much if you made it to yesterday’s conference call on How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign. The questions were insightful and it was a motivating discussion that we hope will continue on past the call. If you missed it, here‘s a recap.

As mentioned on the call, we’re bringing back the monthly Half Hour for Haiti Action Alerts, in which you can take on one task to help advance human rights in Haiti, for half an hour or less. See this month’s action below.

Take Action!

Fran Quigley’s new book about BAI, IJDH, and human rights, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, comes out this month. This book will be a great tool to demonstrate how human rights work and systemic change are the best ways to build a better Haiti. Every day, human rights abuses get in the way of progress–whether it is fair and representative elections, evictions of internally displaced persons, or under-paying factory workers. Haiti needs human rights for political, economic, and all other forms of progress. Here’s how you can help us spread the message:

  • Talk about the book. Tell your friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances why this is a must-read. Spread the word via social media and emails.
  • Buy the book. It will be available online and at your local bookstore. If your local library doesn’t have a copy yet, gift one to the attention of the Director of Circulation so it can be placed on display with the other new books.
  • Request the book. If your local library or bookstore doesn’t have it yet, ask everyone you know to request the book so they know it’s in demand and request copies from the publisher.

Don’t forget, the author’s proceeds go directly to BAI and IJDH, to help us continue partnering with Haitians to build the rule of law in Haiti. Check out his site, speakoutforhaiti.org, for more ways to help.

 

Mesi anpil!

Kermshlise Picard
Communications Coordinator

Assessing Progress in Haiti Act Passes Congress

July 25, 2014 - 06:01

 

This new bill is meant to provide transparency and accountability by keeping better track of where USAID and other US government funds for Haiti go. Given that “66.2 percent of USAID contracts has gone to Beltway-based firms, while just 1.5 percent has gone to Haitian companies” after the 2010 earthquake, this is an exciting step towards improving aid to Haiti.

Haiti Aid Reform Bill “Will Be a Step in the Right Direction,” CEPR Co-Director Says

Center for Economic and Policy Research
July 25, 2014

For Immediate Release: July 25, 2014
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

Congress Passes “Assessing Progress in Haiti Act” to Enact Greater Oversight of USAID in Haiti

Washington, D.C.- New legislation passed by Congress to provide increased oversight of USAID activities in Haiti will be “a significant step in the right direction,” Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), passed the House by unanimous consent today. A first version of the bill was approved by the House in December 2013 and the Senate approved a modified version, introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), that was passed by voice vote on July 10 of this year. The bill will require that USAID and other agencies regularly report to Congress regarding the benchmarks, strategies and contracting for post-earthquake aid activities in Haiti, including efforts aimed at treating and eradicating the cholera epidemic that has killed over 8,550 people and sickened over 700,000.

“This bill could go a long way toward correcting some of the problems with government transparency and effectiveness in the Haiti relief effort that we documented in our report ‘Breaking Open the Black Box,’” Weisbrot said. “It is a step in the right direction if U.S. taxpayer dollars are to be used in a way that will benefit the people of Haiti instead of merely lining contractors’ pockets.

“66.2 percent of USAID contracts has gone to Beltway-based firms, while just 1.5 percent has gone to Haitian companies,” Weisbrot added. “There is something terribly wrong with this picture.”

The bill requires that Congress receive annual progress reports “on the status of post-earthquake recovery and development efforts in Haiti, including efforts to prevent the spread of cholera and treat persons infected with the disease.” The bill mandates that agencies detail how the Haitian government and target constituencies, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and farmers, are involved in the coordination of the aid process and how they are being impacted.

Importantly, the bill will also require more reporting regarding sub-grants. CEPR’s 2013 report, “Breaking Open the Black Box: Increasing Aid Transparency and Accountability in Haiti” by Jake Johnston and Alexander Main detailed how funds designated for Haiti end up going to sub-contractors who are often not identified, and who are not held accountable for what they do with the money. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act will require the State Department to provide data on U.S. Haiti assistance funds disbursed at both the prime and subprime levels in line with one of the CEPR report’s main recommendations.

Much of the U.S. government aid earmarked for Haiti following the quake has gone to foreign contractors, providing little benefit to Haitian businesses, organizations or workers. The Haitian government has also largely been bypassed as aid funds have gone to foreign contractors, international agencies and the many groups that populate what is known as the “republic of NGOs.” Of the $6.43 billion disbursed by bilateral and multilateral donors to Haiti from 2010-2012, just 9 percent went through the Haitian government.

Alexander Main, co-author of “Breaking Open the Black Box” said, “For years Haitian citizens, U.S. members of Congress and concerned U.S. citizens have noted the lack of progress in international relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti and asked ‘where has the money gone?’ This legislation should help provide us with a much more detailed picture of how U.S. taxpayer money is being used in Haiti by USAID and the big private contractors that implement assistance programs.”

###

Click HERE for the original.

HHRCBH Conference Call Recap

July 25, 2014 - 05:40

On July 24, 2014 we had a great conference call on Fran Quigley’s new book, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign. If you missed it, here’s a recap. The key takeaways are in bold.

  • Nicole Phillips (moderator) thanks staff who helped organize the call and introduces the book, Fran Quigley, and Mario Joseph. She explains that Brian Concannon is also on the call but will be translating for Mario and thus, not giving an intro.
  • Fran says “We are living in a moment of real historic opportunity for Haiti.” Then he describes the incredible number of Americans who donated to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and how he’s impressed with how many people are interested in Haiti. He goes on to say that “Charity, however well-intentioned, is not enough” because Haiti needs social change and activists fighting for that. Just like in the anti-Apartheid and Civil Rights movements, activism led to social change. Fortunately, Haiti already has many activists fighting on the ground but more remains to be done. The cholera campaign has the potential to establish that Haitians have human rights that should be respected by the global community. It’s a groundbreaking case.
  • Then Mario gives an intro to BAI’s work, explaining how Brian began the partnership between the two men and the two organizations, BAI and IJDH. He explains how he, Brian, and others worked closely with victims of the Raboteau Massacre and activists for justice for the victims. They ate with them and really spent time getting to know them and ended up winning the first such case in Haiti’s history. Mario also thanks everyone who joined the call and thanks IJDH for putting the call together to help him spread the word about human rights in Haiti.
  • Nicole asks Fran to tell his favorite story about Mario before opening up for questions. Fran says that he can’t think of one story because Mario’s life story is so impressive. He says “The movement makes the leader more than the leader makes the movement.” Then he explains how Mario’s life embodies the movement for justice in Haiti, from his humble beginnings and struggle for education, to today.
  • Paul Miller asks what our plan is for promoting the book and using it to spread the word about why human rights approach is the best way to build Haiti:
  • Brian explains that we will spread the word through social media, emails, and word of mouth as usual. Fran will also have speaking engagements all over the country. If anyone is interested, please contact us for more information. We will also post the currently scheduled events on the site. After the call, we will also send out an action alert, listing some easy things everyone can do to get involved. This is part of reviving our old “Half Hour for Haiti” action alert emails.
  • Nicole asks Mario what the most important human rights issue in Haiti is right now and Mario says elections. He explains that most of the local representatives have been chosen by the Martelly government and only 2/3 of Senate seats are currently filled. This will get worse in January as another 1/3 of the Senators’ terms will expire. All the House of Deputies seats will also expire by January if there is no clear and reliable date set for elections.
  • Mario makes some closing remarks: The problems we’re dealing with are in Haiti but Haiti isn’t isolated. I would like to invite everyone to be engaged—there are people who provide financing but Americans can also participate as citizens: Contact Congressmen, etc. We don’t need to make a distinction between Democrats and Republicans—there have been issues on both sides (e.g. Clinton’s policies that undermined rice production in Haiti). Find ways to engage with organizations that are effecting change in Haiti. We need to be absolutely clear that the charity approach doesn’t work—there needs to be collaboration between organizations and Haitian people. People need to stay engaged because there’s a big problem with propaganda about Haiti. People need to stay engaged to fight that propaganda.
  • Again, Mario thanks Paul Miller, IJDH, Fran Quigley, and everyone who’s helped so far.
  • Nicole thanks everyone for participating and reminds them to keep an eye out for the action alert and other emails from IJDH, as well as Fran Quigley’s site, speakoutforhaiti.org, which will also have updates about the book tour and actionable steps.

Click HERE for more info on the book.

How Human Rights Can Build Haiti Conference Call

July 24, 2014 - 11:00

Join our live conference call on the new BAI/IJDH book, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign.

WHAT:

The new book about BAI and IJDH, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign comes out this month! To introduce it, we’ve invited the author and the two human rights attorneys he profiles to tell you all about it. Fran Quigley, BAI Managing Attorney Mario Joseph (expected), and IJDH Director Brian Concannon will give a brief intro to the book, BAI and IJDH’s unique partnership, and how you can help. Afterwards, we look forward to answering your questions!

WHERE:

To join, dial (712) 432-1212 and enter the meeting ID, 416-399-999. Some countries have free conference numbers available, HERE. Just make sure to use the meeting ID to get on our call. Long-distance charges may apply for international callers not listed but a calling card will work as ours is a US phone number.

WHEN:

Thursday, July 24, 2014 @ 2-3pm

 

Click HERE for more info about the book.

Haitian Prime Minister Aims for Presidency

July 24, 2014 - 07:27

Analyzing Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s recent public activity, many think that he is making plays for the presidency. Without Senate certification that he hasn’t misused government funds, Lamothe can’t run for President but with elections still delayed, Lamothe has a chance: If elections don’t happen by January 2015, President Martelly will rule by decree and thus, have the final say regarding Lamothe. Follow this link to find out why elections have been so long delayed.

Borrowing from Hillary Clinton, Haiti Prime Minister raises profile As an ongoing political stalemate in Haiti fuels an electoral crisis, many are focusing attention on Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamonthe’s constant campaign-style stops.

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
July 24, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE – For a man who says he’s not a presidential candidate, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is campaigning like one.

From visiting a remote central Haiti village with United Nations head Ban Ki-moon to stumping at a Haitian diaspora town hall in North Miami, Lamothe last week was everywhere a candidate needs to be — although the start of the 2015 Haitian presidential race is more than a year away.

“That is how prime ministers run,” said Robert Fatton, a University of Virginia politics professor and Haiti expert. “That is not a Haitian thing. This is politics.”

Lamothe, 41, the tech savvy businessman-turned-politician, insists that he’s not a candidate.

“This is part of my job; what I am doing as prime minister, it is to govern; it is to manage,” Lamothe said before joining more than a dozen flown-in members of his cabinet in front an overflow crowd for his televised town hall in North Miami. “I am prime minister today, and I am focusing on that.”

But Lamothe’s schedule reflects a Hillary Clinton-like method of raising a future candidate’s profile without officially announcing for office. And that is prompting concern and panic in Haiti where observers say the presidential posturing is intensifying a crisis prompted by legislative and local elections that are three years behind schedule.

In order to run, Lamothe would need certification that he has not misused government funds. But the opposition-controlled Senate is unlikely to support giving him the décharge, leaving opponents and some supporters of President Michel Martelly to see delaying the Oct. 26 elections until next year as key. Martelly will rule by decree, practically guaranteeing that Lamothe will get the needed clearance. Opponents believe the delay would lead to Martelly’s downfall.

If the elections are not held, Haiti risks being thrust into chaos a decade after a U.N. Peacekeeping mission arrived to strengthen democracy, observers warn.

“I am particularly concerned that the political transition in Haiti will undergo regression,” Ban, the U.N. secretary general, warned last week at the end of an overnight visit. “Holding inclusive elections in October is essential for the continuity of parliament in 2015, and for the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law.”

With President Michel Martelly and the opposition still at logger heads over the delayed elections, analysts say the future doesn’t look bright for Haiti. Increasingly, October elections look impossible. And while a first-round in December remains do-able, there is growing fear the elections won’t take place until next fall alongside the presidential balloting.

That would leave Haiti with no lower chamber and just 10 out of 30 senators come the second Monday in January.

“That would be catastrophic for the country even if there are sectors who think it would work in their favor; a devastating political tsunami,” said Sauveur Pierre Etienne, national coordinator for the opposition Organization of People in Struggle (OPL), which has ended its boycott of the elections. “It feels as if the focus is no longer on the delayed local and legislative elections, but on the presidential elections.”

Fueling the political friction, say analysts, is Lamothe’s constant campaign-style stops that are generating suspicion and intrigue even among foreign diplomats about his presidential ambitions. One former prime minister, Jacques-Édouard Alexis, has even publicly called for “a common front” to stop Lamothe’s rise to the presidency, prompting push-back from Lamothe’s supporters.

“The prime minister is in an electoral campaign,” Etienne said, “and the political parties are panicking, other candidates are panicking.”

The major hurdle that elections supporters face is the lack of a law governing the election. Six senators have refused to support an amended law, saying they lack confidence in the nine-member provisional electoral council (CEP) that will have to oversee the balloting. Also, four of the largest opposition parties are boycotting the elections, saying they also have no confidence in the CEP.

“We changed the CEP four times in order to organize this election; we went 28 steps already,” Lamothe said. “Unfortunately, not all the cards are with us.”

“Everybody knows we will not have elections this year,” opposition Senator Steven Benoit said, accusing Martelly and Lamothe of “pretending they want to have elections but of course they know very well, they are not going to have it.” Benoit is not among the senators refusing to amend the election law.

For his part, Martelly has yet to officially anoint his successor.

Still, the singer-turned-president who overshadowed Lamothe at the North Miami meeting by singing and swinging his waist on stage, has made several veiled references that lead watchers to believe Lamothe will get his blessing — although nothing is guaranteed.

“The way Martelly was talking, he clearly said at one point, ‘I will put my hand on the anointed candidate,’” Fatton said about the North Miami gathering. “Clearly that was an indication that he’s going to put his hand on Lamothe.”

Fatton believes reports of conflict between the two friends have been grossly exaggerated.

“I think there is an agreement there. He is the logical candidate,” Fatton said of Lamothe. “The guy has a wonderful PR machine. You go to all of the social media, he’s there. He’s all over the country traveling, inaugurating things without saying he’s running and obviously, without also saying anything bad about Martelly, and pushing Martelly as ‘The Man,’ and then he’s just in the background.”

Lamothe’s schedule provides a textbook case in running for president:

Monday: Lamothe shook hands and distributed free government food to the poor as he hosted Ban amid a gaggle of TV cameras.

Tuesday: Lamothe played table tennis with Ban and other diplomats as he helped to inaugurate an Olympics-financed sports complex.

Friday: In Miami, he glad-handed with Haitian Americans, pitched post-earthquake progress and attended a reception in his honor, where he took no questions.

Saturday: Lamothe was center stage at a televised town hall in North Miami.

Sunday: He threw out the first pitch at a Miami Marlins game, much like any major U.S. candidate for office or cultural figure.

“There is no one else in the cabinet who is a serious candidate. If he says he’s a candidate now, they can attack him more. It’s very much like Hillary,” Fatton said. “He’s looking at the scenery; he’s using the position of prime minister to be prime minister but obviously also to be a candidate.”

Click HERE for the original article.

Click HERE to learn more about elections in Haiti.