Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Syndicate content
IJDH.org
Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago

Identifying Ethical Integrity Challenges to the Rule of Law Facing the Judiciary

February 26, 2015 - 10:45

Attend this informative panel at UC Hastings College of the Law.

WHAT:

This panel is part of a 2-day symposium on professional ethical integrity, highlighting justice systems around the world that have or have faced rule of law challenges. Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of BAI, will speak on this panel, along with a law professor from Hong Kong University and a Senior Judge from the US Court of Appeals. The symposium is free, with an optional $25 donation.

WHERE:

UC Hastings College of the Law
200 McAllister Street
Alumni Reception Center
San Francisco, CA 94102

WHEN:

February 26, 2015
1:45 pm – 3:15 pm

 

Click HERE for more information, and to register.

Equality for ALL Dominicans

February 26, 2015 - 09:00

Attend a rally and candlelight vigil in NYC, highlighting human rights violations in DR.

WHAT:

Rally for Awareness on the Denationalization Crisis & Anti-Haitian Campaign in the Dominican Republic

and

Candlelight Vigil for Henry “Tulile” Jean Claude, Haitian Lynched in Santiago, DR

WHERE:

Dominican Republic Consulate
1501 Broadway (btw. 43rd & 44th St.)
New York, NY

WHEN:

February 26, 2015
12pm, rally
6:30pm, vigil

Also, don’t miss the related documentary screening February 27th.

 

Sponsored by the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York, Inc. (HALANY).

Letter to Dominican Republic Consulate General

February 26, 2015 - 08:20

February 26, 2015

In conjunction with a rally and vigil demanding respect for human rights of Haitian-descended Dominicans, the Haitian American Lawyers Association of  New York (HALANY) delivered a letter to the Dominican Consulate General. In it, HALANY and the co-signers (including IJDH) express concern about recent judicial and governmental decisions in the DR, as well as anti-Haitian acts in DR. They also urge the Dominican Republic government to respect its domestic and international human rights obligations, like the American Convention on Human Rights.

Click HERE for a pdf of the letter, in English and Spanish.

Amnesty International’s Annual Report on Haiti

February 25, 2015 - 13:09

Amnesty International just published their annual report on the human rights situation in Haiti. In it, they describe the ongoing political/electoral crisis, housing issues, gender-based violence, and more.

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

Amnesty International Report 2014/15

Amnesty International
February 2015

Republic of Haiti
Head of state: Michel Joseph Martelly
Head of government: Laurent Salvador Lamothe (resigned on 14 December)

More than 80,000 people made homeless by the January 2010 earthquake remained displaced. The authorities failed to establish durable measures to prevent forced evictions. Concerns remained over the overall lack of independence of the justice system. Several human rights defenders were threatened and attacked.

BACKGROUND

Long-overdue local and legislative elections for a third of seats in the Senate had not taken place by the end of 2014. This was largely due to disagreements between the government and parliament over the electoral council, as a result of which six senators refused to vote for the proposed reform of the electoral law. On 14 December, the Prime Minister resigned after a consultative commission appointed by the President had recommended his resignation among a number of measures to be taken to appease tensions. Concerns remained at the end of the year over the country’s political stability, as the terms of another third of the Senate and all members of the House of Deputies were due to expire in mid-January 2015.

In October, the UN Security Council renewed the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for an 11th year and recommended a radical reduction of its military component.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Questionnaire for States and Civil Society to Assist in the Preparation of the Annual Overview of the Human Rights Situation in the Hemisphere

February 23, 2015 - 16:17

We are grateful for the opportunity to present our joint submission to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) regarding the human rights situation in Haiti. In it, we focus on lack of accountability for human rights violations by the Haitian National Police and Duvalier regime, as well as threats to human rights defenders, poor prison conditions, and examples of compliance to IACHR precautionary measures for women and girls.

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

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Questionnaire for States and Civil Society to Assist in the Preparation of the Annual Overview of the Human Rights Situation in the Hemisphere
February 23, 2015

Joint Submission by the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) is a human rights organization based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti that provides legal services to low-income Haitians and engages in strategic advocacy on their behalf. The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) is a human rights organization based in Boston, Massachusetts, that works in partnership with BAI to protect the human rights of Haitians through legal, policy and advocacy work. Together, we are grateful for the opportunity to present our joint submission to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the human rights situation in Haiti.

Our review of recent initiatives by the Haitian government reveals that although several encouraging reforms have been made, much work remains to be done to ensure that Haitians can exercise their rights under the American Convention of Human Rights. A lack of resources, political will and coordination among government entities has hampered efforts to protect Haitian human rights, and will likely continue to do so until the Haitian government holds itself accountable through fair and timely elections. Lawful governance is a necessary precursor to developing strategic, long-lasting policies for enforcing human rights.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Immigration Reform Can’t Just Focus on Immigration Policies

February 23, 2015 - 13:52

This article discusses anti-Haitian sentiment in the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and United States and how that has affected their immigration policies for Haitians and descendants of Haitians. The author also discusses some of the policies that would need to be changed in order to reform these immigration policies, such as the cheap labor policies that bring thousands of Haitian immigrants to both DR and the Bahamas.

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

Dominican Republic isn’t the only country with anti-Haitian policies

Nathalie Baptiste, Latin Correspondent
February 23, 2015

On January 27, Amnesty International reported that 51 people had been illegally deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. Of those 51, 30 were Dominican-born children.

This mass deportation is part of an ongoing effort by the Dominican government to purge its soil of Haitians and their descendants — regardless of the fact that many of them were born and raised in the Dominican Republic and have absolutely no ties to Haiti.

The Dominican Republic is not alone in its anti-Haitian policies. The governments of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos have also put forth new policies that discriminate against immigrants from Haiti and those of Haitian descent. Even Brazil, Canada and the United States have policies that routinely place Haitians and their children at risk of deportation.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

RNDDH apporte l’attention du CEP aux efforts visant à saper d’élections équitables

February 23, 2015 - 13:17

RNDDH met en garde les membres du Conseil Electorale Provisoire (CEP) au sujet de tentatives de fraude par deux organismes impliqués dans les élections. Ces deux organisations sont le Bureaux Electoraux Communaux (BEC) et le Bureaux Electoraux Départementaux (BED). De nombreux membres du BED et BEC ont des liens étroits avec des gens puissants en Haïti. Dans cette lettre, le RNDDH rappelle à la CEP de son rôle crucial pour garantir des élections justes et démocratiques.

Partie de la lettre est ci dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complete.

Lettre ouverte aux membres du Conseil Electoral Provisoire

Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains
23 février 2015

Mesdames, Messieurs les Conseillers,

Le Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) s’empresse de porter à votre plus haute attention une situation qui risque de saper les efforts que vous affirmez vouloir déployer pour la réalisation, à travers le pays, d’élections libres, honnêtes, démocratiques et inclusives.

Mesdames, Messieurs les Conseillers,

Au cours de l’année 2014, un concours pour la mise en place des Bureaux Electoraux Communaux (BEC) et des Bureaux Electoraux Départementaux (BED) a été réalisé par le Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP) d’alors. A l’issue du concours, plusieurs voix s’étaient élevées pour dénoncer le fait que le texte d’examen ait été distribué à certains postulants et que les résultats aient été carrément truqués dans le but de favoriser des proches du pouvoir…

 

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complete.

Rural Haitian Communities Tackle Access to Justice

February 23, 2015 - 10:21

This is BAI’s 2nd blog post on their new Civic Engagement Program (PEC). The PEC aims to educate low-income communities on their human rights to clean water and primary education. These informed citizens will then be better equipped to develop strategies to demand those rights. In this post, the community members discuss corruption in the judicial system.

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

Cliquez ICI pour la version française.

Tackling Access to Justice in Civic Engagement Meetings

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux
February 23, 2015

On a rainy day in January, BAI attorneys traveled to the outskirts of Saut d’Eau to meet with community members as part of BAI’s Civic Engagement Program. Meeting face to face with community members enables BAI attorneys to gain firsthand insight into the problems specific communities are facing, and to support community-led solutions. Today, the community members chose to tackle a particularly pressing problem — access to justice.

BAI Managing Attorney Mario Joseph began by asking community members about their experiences with the Haitian legal system, and their candid answers revealed unfortunate truths about systematic barriers to justice in Haiti. Fok ou penche, one man responded matter-of-factly, “you have to bribe.” Another man answered that if you want your case to move forward, then it’s your obligation to pay a bribe to a judge. There’s simply no other way to ensure that your case will be reviewed in a timely manner, if at all.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Cliquez ICI pour la version française.

Haitian Government Should Stand for Haitian-Descended Dominicans

February 20, 2015 - 10:46

Everyone knows that Haiti and the Dominican Republic have had a troubled history. This article focuses on what the Haitian government should have done, and should now be doing, to fight for the rights of Haitian-descended Dominicans. In September 2013, DR issued a ruling that stripped citizenship from hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their descendants. The Haitian government hasn’t done much to fight against it.

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

Dominican Republic New Citizenship Law: A Litmus Test For The Haitian Government

Ed Gehy, The Haitian Times
February 20, 2015

The Haitian-Dominican problem did not start yesterday; thus no viable solution can be found overnight. Haiti shares the same island with Dominican Republic; but relations between the two countries have never been more strained in recent history than they are now.

A gruesome reminder of the Dominican inhuman treatment of Haitians came as recently as last week when a Haitian immigrant was found hung in a public park in the city of Santiago, north of Santo Domingo.

Modern day critics have a tendency to compare Haiti to its neighbor only based on Haiti’s current state of affairs. Such a way of thinking is factually misleading. Historical reports suggest that Haiti had a more developed economy than Santo Domingo when both countries were colonized by foreign powers.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Activists Urge Ending Deportations to Haiti

February 19, 2015 - 16:41

Two human rights clinics published a report recommending a stop to deportations to Haiti. The report begins with a foreword from Haitian author Edwidge Danticat and compiles stories of people deported for minor crimes, like failing to return a rental car on time. Many of the deportees were longtime Lawful Permanent Residents, left children behind in the US, were mentally ill, and/or were terrified of the situation they’d face in returning to a country they barely know. Activists hope that these human stories will help persuade legislators to stop deportations and extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitians.

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

Activists say Haitian deportations need to stop

Rebecca Savransky, Miami Herald
February 19, 2015

Wildrick Guerrier had been living in the U.S. for years, along with his mother, fiance, two younger brothers and 9-year-old son, all of whom were citizens or lawful permanent residents.

But Guerrier had a criminal record. He was an LPR but had not yet become a U.S. citizen.

So in 2011, he was deported to a Haitian jail.

“Upon deportation, Haitian officials detained Wildrick and over 20 other men in a filthy police cell, where they were exposed to feces, blood, and vomit,” according to a report released earlier this week about the conditions Haitians face when they are deported.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Still No Answers in DR Hanging of Haitian Youth

February 19, 2015 - 13:16

On Wednesday, February 18, Spokesperson of the National Police in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Colonel Matos expelled rumors that they have arrested or accused anyone for the hanging of a young Haitian in a park February 11. He said that the investigating commission will release its findings in its own time. He did not comment on whether this crime could be linked to the other recent violence exhibited against Dominicans of Haitian descent in the DR.

Click HERE for the original article, in Spanish.

Desmiente que haya apresados por el caso de joven haitiano colgado de un árbol

Yomaira del Rosario

18 de Febrero 2015

SANTIAGO (R. Dominicana).- Aún no hay apresados ni acusación formal contra nadie por el asesinato de un inmigrante haitiano de 20 años, cuyo cadáver fue encontrado colgado de un árbol en el parque Ercilia Pepín, de la calle Sabana Larga, en Santiago, el pasado miércoles 11 de febrero.

La aclaración la hizo este miércoles el portavoz de la Dirección Cibao Central de la Policía Nacional en Santiago, coronel Damián Arias Matos, quien tras la visita repentina a esta plaza el pasado lunes del jefe de la institución mayor general Manuel Castro Castillo, se limita a decir que la comisión investigadora, que encabeza su superior, ofrecerá en su momento los datos conclusivos de la investigación.

Desmintió que dos hombres haitianos hayan sido apresados y confesado el asesinato de Algro Yan (Tulile) y atribuyó la falsa especie al “ejercicio inventado, especulativo e irresponsable” de los firmantes de la nota publicada en algunos medios de comunicación.

Arias Matos no ha reiterado, como lo hizo antes, que el asesinato de Tulile, de quien el Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses, (INACIF) estableció que murió antes de ser colgado, pudiera estar relacionado con el asesinato, unas horas antes, de Minerva Altagracia Díaz Ventura, de 70 años, asesinada en su apartamento del residencial Las Perlas, a pocos metros del Ercilia Pepín.

Por la muerte de Díaz Ventura, a quien robaron electrodomésticos, está cumpliendo prisión preventiva de tres meses Annerys Núñez, principal sospechosa del crimen. Núñez ha negado en todo momento que tuviera alguna relación con la muerte del haitiano, aunque si con la de la mujer.

Algro Yan fue hallado colgando de un árbol en el parque Ercilia Pepín el pasado 11 de febrero, poco después de las seis de la mañana. Un día antes, grupos que se identificaron como miembros del Movimiento Revolucionario Caamaño Deñó, incendiaron la bandera haitiana en el sector Los Ciruelitos, donde repudiaron la presencia de los inmigrantes haitianos y exigieron su expulsión.

Click HERE for the original article, in Spanish.

68-Page Report Calls for a Stop to U.S. Deportations of Haitians

February 19, 2015 - 10:43

The University of Miami School of Law and the University of Chicago School of Law, in collaboration with other human rights groups, have published a 68-page report calling for the U.S. government to stop deportations of Haitians with a criminal record. Based upon extensive fieldwork and research, the report documents the struggles that deported Haitians, and the families they are forced to leave behind, face in a post-earthquake Haiti. Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat wrote the foreword to the report, expressing her concerns about the “continuing humanitarian, and increasingly political, crisis in Haiti” and its implications for deported Haitians.

Click HERE to access the downloadable PDF of the report.

Aftershocks: The Human Impact of U.S. Deportations to Post-Earthquake Haiti

University of Miami School of Law
February 19, 2015

Aftershocks: The Human Impact of U.S. Deportations to Post-Earthquake Haiti

Haiti still reels from the devastating effects of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people, rendered one in seven Haitians homeless, and wreaked $9 billion of damage in a country whose 2009 GDP was only $7 billion.

The United States recognized the enormity of the crisis and granted Temporary Protected Status to eligible Haitians. Excluded from protection are individuals with certain criminal convictions (one felony or two misdemeanors).

Over the past five years, the United States has forcibly returned approximately 1,500 men and women, including those with only minor criminal records, mothers and fathers of U.S. citizen children, people with severe medical and mental health conditions, and others. The result has been utterly devastating to deportees in Haiti and the families they leave behind in the United States.
Haiti Report

Haiti Report

This report documents the stories of the men and women who have been deported from the United States to post-earthquake Haiti on account of a criminal history. Based upon extensive fieldwork and research, this report details the experiences of deportees—who sometimes refer to themselves as “strangers in a strange land”—and their U.S.-based family members. The report argues that the United States violates the fundamental human rights of Haitian nationals and their family members when it deports them to post-earthquake Haiti without due consideration of the deportees’ individual circumstances and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat wrote the foreword to the report. Ms. Danticat is the award-winning author of such works as The Dew Breaker, Brother, I’m Dying, and Breath, Eyes, Memory.

Click HERE to access the downloadable PDF of the report.

Nombreuses organisations demandent réponse à lynchage au RD

February 19, 2015 - 08:11

La semaine dernière, un jeune homme haïtien a été assassiné en République dominicaine dans ce que beaucoup croient être un incident raciste. Nous avons aidé une initiative visant à répondre à la lynchage en soutenant une lettre au candidat présidentiel RD Leonel Fernandez. La lettre a été distribuée le 13 Février par Edwin Paraison, qui a travaillé sur les questions RD / Haïti depuis des décennies. Avocate Nicole Phillips a traduit la lettre en anglais, et nous avons obtenu des dizaines de signatures pour elle, y compris Edwidge Danticat et Noam Chomsky.

Partie de la lettre est ci dessous. Cliquez ICI pour l’originale.

Click HERE for the English version.

Antihaïtianisme en RD: Leonel Fernandez interpellé

Le Nouvelliste
19 février 2015

Port au Prince, Haïti, le 19 février 2015

Honorable Dr Leonel Fernandez
Président du Parti de la Libération Dominicaine (PLD)
Santo Domingo, RD

Monsieur le Président,

Permettez-nous de reprendre ici le fait indéniable que lors de l’élection présidentielle de 1996 en République dominicaine, vous avez bénéficié de la campagne antihaïtienne la plus haineuse depuis la dictature de Trujillo.

Malgré ce renforcement momentané de l’inhospitalité face aux ressortissants d’un pays limitrophe et ami, votre arivée au pouvoir avait été favorablement accueillie des deux côtés de l’île parce qu’elle semblait représenter un renouveau dans la vie politique dominicaine, susceptible de permettre aux rapports binationaux de prendre une nouvelle direction.

 

Cliquez ICI pour l’original.

Click HERE for the English version.

Many Organizations Demand Response to DR Lynching

February 19, 2015 - 07:30

Last week, a young Haitian man was lynched in the Dominican Republic in what many believe was a racist incident. We pitched in on an initiative to respond to the lynching by supporting a letter to DR Presidential Candidate Leonel Fernandez. The letter was circulated February 13th by Edwin Paraison, who has been working on DR/Haiti issues for decades.  IJDH Staff Attorney Nicole Phillips translated the letter into English, and we obtained dozens of signatures for it, including Edwidge Danticat and Noam Chomsky. The English translation is below.

Cliquez ICI pour la version française.

February 19, 2015

Mr. President,
Allow us to revisit here the undeniable fact that during the presidential elections of 1996 in the Dominican Republic, you benefited from the most heinous anti-Haitian campaign since the dictatorship of Trujillo.

Despite this temporary reinforcement of racism against nationals of a neighboring country and friend, your arrival in power had been welcomed on both sides of the island because it seemed to represent a revival in Dominican political life that could allow bi-national relationships to take a new direction.

Certainly your three terms (1996-2000, 2004-2008, 2008-2012) have been marked by some praiseworthy initiatives including the gift of the University Henri Christophe in Lemonade, as part of the reconstruction following the earthquake in Haiti. However, they were heavily tainted by some atrocious events, including the massacre in Guayubin in June 2000; xenophobic incidents against Hatillo Palma in 2005 and the odious crime against Carlos Nerilus in 2009, just to name a few.

Showing a barbarity like no other, on February 11, 2015, in Santiago, the hung corpse of Claude Jean Harry, covered in violent marks, brought tears of the Dominicans who knew him, the discontentment of society and pain of the entire Haitian community.

We therefore denounce and consider indecent and revolting all attempts to seek a scapegoat among the victim’s community.

With indignation, we bring to your attention that this dehumanizing act is a consequence of too much of the anti-Haitian crusade launched to support you and that hasn’t stopped growing.

The most radical supporters of this crusade were working with you and even now occupy far too important government positions based on their alliances with the PLD. We will save you the time of describing here the coincidences of their positions with yours on the migration case and particularly the right to the nationality of Dominicans of Haitian origin before the constitutional reform of 2010.

In addition, death threats made against Dominican journalists for their objective treatment of the Haitian issue and the presence of “masked groups” who, in addition to burning the Haitian flag on the public highway, declared war on illegal immigration deeply concern us.

Given the seriousness of the situation, we ask that you firmly condemn these intolerable acts. Also, we urge you, in your capacity as president of the Juan Bosch party, in close collaboration with competent authorities, to take control of an escalating situation; otherwise history will remember your heavy responsibility in a regression that could prove dangerous for peace between the island’s two countries.

 

Cliquez ICI pour la version française.

Two Arrested for Lynching in DR

February 18, 2015 - 14:36

Local police in the Dominican Republic claim that two Haitian men confessed to the lynching of a young Haitian man in DR last week. Human rights groups assumed the lynching was racially motivated, in line with recent increased tensions between Haiti and DR. Dominican police, however, dismissed any racial motives right away. The author of this article was unable to reach the police for comment after this latest development.

Click HERE for the original article.

Dominican Authorities Arrest 2 In Case Of Hanged Haitian

Roque Planas, The Huffington Post
February 18, 2015

Police in the Dominican Republic have arrested two people accused of strangling a Haitian man to death and hanging his corpse in a public park in the country’s second-largest city of Santiago, local media report.

The hanging of the Haitian migrant, who police identified as Jean Claude Harry, 23, occurred against the backdrop of a racially charged immigration and citizenship debate in the Dominican Republic. But the arrests cast doubt on whether those tensions played a part in the killers’ motivations, as both suspects arrested are also Haitian, according to Dominican daily Listín Diario.

Dominican authorities have yet to reveal the suspects’ names, but local police say that the suspects confessed to killing Harry to take 2,000 pesos – about $45 — that a woman had paid him to help move furniture and other items from the home of a different 70-year-old woman who was found strangled last week, Listín Diario reports.

The arrests came days after the head of the national police, Major General Manuel Castro Castillo, discarded robbery as the motive in the crime.

“It wasn’t robbery,” Castro Castillo said Friday, according to Dominican daily Hoy. “Judging from the characteristics of the incident, several people were involved because first they strangled him and then they hanged him.”

The national police did not respond to an email request to speak with Castro Castillo. Attempts to reach Damian Arias Matos, a police spokesman in Santiago, were also unsuccessful.

Several human rights organizations had initially raised concerns that the killing might have been connected in some way to ongoing tensions sparked by the Dominican government’s recent moves to strip thousands of Haitian descendants of citizenship in the country.

A series of legal changes since 2004 have done away with birthright citizenship in the Dominican Republic. The country’s constitutional court applied the new standard retroactively in a 2013 decision.

Facing international criticism over the issue, Dominican legislators passed a law last year that returned citizenship to some Dominicans of Haitian descent, while creating a pathway to legal residency for others. Human rights organizations including Amnesty International criticized the law as insufficient, however, and faulted the government for doing too little outreach.

Fewer than 9,000 people applied to normalize their status before the Jan. 31 deadline, according to El Día, though Amnesty International says as many as 110,000 qualified.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Haitian Communities’ Mining Law Complaint Rejected by World Bank

February 18, 2015 - 11:15

The World Bank rejected a complaint issued by Haitian communities regarding the new mining law, due to a technicality. The Haitian communities’ complaint highlighted a fear that an increased investment in the mining sector will consequently create adverse environmental and social ramifications. Although the World Bank has provided technical assistance to the Haitian government in rewriting its mining laws for the past two years, the technical assistance mechanism is not subject to the World Bank’s safeguard policies, allowing the Inspection Panel to refuse to hear the complaint. New York University’s Global Justice Clinic and Accountability Counsel, which supported the Haitian communities’ complaint, believes the World Bank should not have discretion to avoid complaints involving blatant human rights and environmental risks.

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

On a Technicality, World Bank Rejects Complaint on Support for New Mining Law

Center for Economic and Policy Research

February 18, 2015

A complaint from Haitian communities and supported by New York University’s Global Justice Clinic and Accountability Counsel has been rejected by the World Bank on technical grounds. The groups had asked for the Bank’s Inspection Panel to review whether assistance the Bank is providing to the Haitian government follows Bank guidelines relating to transparency and environmental safety.

Since 2013, the World Bank has provided technical assistance to the Haitian government in rewriting its mining laws, leading to a new mining law being drafted in 2014. Though Haiti has not seen large-scale commercial mining for decades, the government awarded multiple concessions in 2012 over opposition protests. In 2013, following a forum on mining sponsored by the World Bank, then Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe declared that to advance Haiti’s development, “we are counting heavily on the contribution of the mining sector.”

The Haitian communities’ complaint [PDF] states:

  • Complainants fear that, due to the government’s weak capacity and the law’s inadequacies, this increased investment in the mining sector will result in serious social and environmental harms, including contamination of vital waterways, impacts on the agriculture sector, and involuntary displacement of communities. Complainants are also concerned about the exclusion of Haitian people from the law reform process, particularly when contrasted with the reported regular participation of the private sector in drafting the new law. Further, Complainants fear that the government of Haiti lacks the capacity to regulate and monitor mining company activity.

In its response, the World Bank’s Inspection Panel says that it “has decided not to register the case.” The Panel acknowledged that the issues raised were “serious and legitimate,” and agreed that the new mining law could “have significant and considerable adverse environmental and social consequences.”

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Popular Haitian Author Advocates for Ending Deportations

February 18, 2015 - 09:14

Two human rights clinics, in Miami and in Chicago, published a 68-page report on the deportations from the US to Haiti.  The report recommends that the U.S. stop deporting Haitians because the situation in Haiti is really bad for them: They face violence, harassment, extortion by police, cholera, and more. Well-known Haitian author Edwidge Danticat contributed to this report.

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

Haitian author Danticat: Stop deportations to Haiti

Rebecca Savransky, Miami Herald
February 18, 2015

A report released this month by human-rights groups says that people who are deported to Haiti face tough conditions after they leave the U.S.

Activists, authors and report contributors will speak about the findings Thursday morning at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. The report recommends that the U.S. stop deporting Haitians with criminal records until conditions improve in their country.

After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the U.S. granted eligible Haitians Temporary Protected Status, allowing them to stay in the country temporarily. But those with two misdemeanors or one felony are forced to leave. About 1,500 people have been deported to Haiti in the past five years, according to the report.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Nicole Phillips, A Dedicated Human Rights Advocate

February 18, 2015 - 07:36

Nicole Phillips, IJDH’s incredible Staff Attorney, was recently featured on a feminist blog which profiles women in human rights law. The post tells the story of how Nicole helped fight for a women’s center on her college campus, and how she ended up at IJDH. It ends with Nicole’s favorite BAI/IJDH program, and advice for students who want to pursue human rights work.

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

Women in Human Rights Law: Nicole Phillips

Sarah Winfield, Ms. JD
February 18, 2015

In January 2015, Katie Larkin-Wong gave a presentation to UC Hastings’ NWLSO chapter on the power of social media in career development. Fired up by her talk, I immediately resolved to start a column on women in human rights, as that area of the law is my passion. Each month, I’ll interview and profile a woman who practices human rights law, blogging about each interviewee’s life, passions, and advice for budding human rights lawyers.

For my first post, I interviewed Nicole Phillips, a staff attorney at theInstitute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole when I was interviewed for, and selected to be a member of, this year’s Hastings to Haiti delegation. Nicole currently teaches a seminar on human rights and the rule of law in Haiti. The seminar will prepare the students in the delegation for a week-long trip to Haiti in early March.

Throughout the interview, I was struck by Nicole’s dedication to social justice work. As I learned about her life, I felt a strong affinity with her for this reason, but for many others as well,  not least because we are both Bay Area natives, were both exposed to feminist principles from a young age, and are both UCSD alumnae (go Tritons!) I am indebted to Nicole, who helped spear-head a movement to secure funding for the UCSD Women’s Resource Center (WRC), where I volunteered as an undergraduate. When Nicole was at UCSD, it was the only such center in the UC system that was not funded. Nicole and the other women in the movement protested and staged a months-long sleep-in on campus, obtaining funding within a couple of years. Nicole remembers visiting the WRC years later: “7 or 8 of us visited campus in 2006 and saw how beautiful – and huge! – the Women’s Resource Center is now. It was pretty remarkable to see the legacy of all our work, which at the time didn’t seem like a big deal, it just seemed like it needed to be done.” As a founding member of Hastings’ NWLSO chapter, I am inspired by Nicole’s work and hope to leave a similar legacy for future students – and thankfully I have had it much easier so far, no demonstrations required! I am honored to be Nicole’s student, and excited to share what I learned about her career as a human rights lawyer.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Letter to Leonel Fernandez on Haiti-DR Immigration Conflict

February 17, 2015 - 18:58

Last week, a young Haitian man was lynched in the Dominican Republic in what many believe was a racist incident. We pitched in on an initiative to respond to the lynching by supporting a letter to DR Presidential Candidate Leonel Fernandez. The letter was circulated February 13th by Edwin Paraison, who has been working on DR/Haiti issues for decades.  IJDH Staff Attorney Nicole Phillips translated the letter into English, and we obtained dozens of signatures for it, including Edwidge Danticat and Noam Chomsky. Both the French letter and the English translation are below.

February 17, 2015

Mr. President,
Allow us to revisit here the undeniable fact that during the presidential elections of 1996 in the Dominican Republic, you benefited from the most heinous anti-Haitian campaign since the dictatorship of Trujillo.

Despite this temporary reinforcement of racism against nationals of a neighboring country and friend, your arrival in power had been welcomed on both sides of the island because it seemed to represent a revival in Dominican political life that could allow bi-national relationships to take a new direction.

Certainly your three terms (1996-2000, 2004-2008, 2008-2012) have been marked by some praiseworthy initiatives including the gift of the University Henri Christophe in Lemonade, as part of the reconstruction following the earthquake in Haiti. However, they were heavily tainted by some atrocious events, including the massacre in Guayubin in June 2000; xenophobic incidents against Hatillo Palma in 2005 and the odious crime against Carlos Nerilus in 2009, just to name a few.

Showing a barbarity like no other, on February 11, 2015, in Santiago, the hung corpse of Claude Jean Harry, covered in violent marks, brought tears of the Dominicans who knew him, the discontentment of society and pain of the entire Haitian community.

We therefore denounce and consider indecent and revolting all attempts to seek a scapegoat among the victim’s community.

With indignation, we bring to your attention that this dehumanizing act is a consequence of too much of the anti-Haitian crusade launched to support you and that hasn’t stopped growing.

The most radical supporters of this crusade were working with you and even now occupy far too important government positions based on their alliances with the PLD. We will save you the time of describing here the coincidences of their positions with yours on the migration case and particularly the right to the nationality of Dominicans of Haitian origin before the constitutional reform of 2010.

In addition, death threats made against Dominican journalists for their objective treatment of the Haitian issue and the presence of “masked groups” who, in addition to burning the Haitian flag on the public highway, declared war on illegal immigration deeply concern us.

Given the seriousness of the situation, we ask that you firmly condemn these intolerable acts. Also, we urge you, in your capacity as president of the Juan Bosch party, in close collaboration with competent authorities, to take control of an escalating situation; otherwise history will remember your heavy responsibility in a regression that could prove dangerous for peace between the island’s two countries.

Français:

Honorable Dr. Leonel Fernandez

Président du parti de la Libération Dominicaine (PLD)
Monsieur le président,

Permettez-nous de reprendre ici le fait indéniable que lors des élections présidentielles de 1996 en République Dominicaine, vous avez bénéficié de la campagne anti-haïtienne la plus haineuse depuis la dictature de Trujillo.

Malgré ce renforcement momentané du racisme contre des ressortissants d’un pays limitrophe et ami, votre arrivée au pouvoir avait été favorablement accueillie des deux côtés de l’île parce qu’elle semblait représenter un renouveau dans la vie politique dominicaine, susceptible de permettre aux rapports binationaux de prendre une nouvelle direction.

Certainement vos trois mandats (1996-2000, 2004-2008, 2008-2012) ont été marqués par quelques initiatives louables dont le don de l’Université Henri-Christophe à Limonade, dans le cadre de la reconstruction qui a suivi le séisme en Haïti. Cependant, ils ont été à la fois lourdement entachés par des évènements atroces tels le massacre de Guayubin en juin 2000; les accrocs xénophobes de Hatillo Palma en 2005 et le crime odieux de Carlos Nerilus en 2009, pour ne citer que ceux-ci.

Témoignant d’une barbarie à nulle autre pareille, le 11 février 2015 à Santiago, le corps pendu de Claude Jean Harry, couvert de marques de violence, a provoqué les pleurs même des Dominicains qui le connaissaient, le mécontentement de la société et la douleur de la communauté haïtienne toute entière.

Nous dénonçons donc et qualifions d’indécente et de révoltante toute tentative de chercher un bouc émissaire parmi les compatriotes de la victime.

Avec indignation, nous portons à votre attention que cette action déshumanisante est une conséquence de trop de la croisade anti-haïtienne lancée pour vous appuyer et qui n’a cessé depuis de prendre de l’ampleur.

Les partisans de cette croisade les plus radicaux ont occupé avec vous et occupent jusqu’à présent d’importants postes gouvernementaux sur la base d’alliances avec le PLD. Nous vous économisons le temps de vous décrire ici les coïncidences de leurs positions avec les vôtres sur le dossier migratoire et particulièrement le droit à la nationalité des dominicains d’origine haïtienne avant la réforme constitutionnelle de 2010.

Par ailleurs, des menaces de mort proférées à l’endroit de journalistes dominicains pour leur traitement objectif de la question haïtienne et la présence de « groupes cagoulés » qui en plus d’incendier le drapeau haïtien sur la voie publique disent déclarer la guerre à l’immigration illégale nous portent à de profondes préoccupations.

Face à la gravité de la situation nous vous demandons de condamner énergiquement ces actes intolérables. Aussi, nous vous exhortons, en votre qualité de président du parti de Juan Bosch, à une collaboration étroite avec les autorités compétentes, afin de prendre en main une situation qui dégénère, au risque de voir l’histoire retenir votre lourde responsabilité dans des dérapages qui pourraient se révéler dangereuses pour la paix entre les deux pays de l’ile.

Fair Elections Can End Haiti’s Political Crisis

February 17, 2015 - 12:36

Just as the international community has played a major role in Haiti’s current political crisis, it has the opportunity to play a major role in ending it. In order to end this crisis and prevent another one in the near future, Haiti needs fair, democratic elections that respect the Constitution. Haitians have been constantly demonstrating in the streets against the unconstitutional way the crisis has been handled so far. If the next election is equally illegal, “it can make deterioration [of the situation] inevitable.”

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

Ending Haiti’s Crisis Begins With Giving Haitians a Fair Vote

Brian Concannon Jr., World Politics Review
February 17, 2015

There is no question that Haiti’s government has hit the ground hard lately. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s Cabinet resigned in December, following mounting criticism of its record on human rights and the economy, as well as its failure to hold local and parliamentary elections for over three years. The election delays rendered parliament dysfunctional last month, as terms expired for a third of Haiti’s Senate seats and the entire Chamber of Deputies.

Meanwhile, on the streets, a steadily growing opposition movement generates at least one large anti-government demonstration each week. For two days last week, cities across Haiti were paralyzed by a public transit strike against government-set fuel prices. On the economic front, public investment in Haiti dropped 65 percent in the last three months of 2014, compared to the previous year. The government has also racked up $1.6 billion in oil debts through its involvement in Venezuela’s generous Petrocaribe program, which allows Haiti to buy cheap oil with deferred financing and then sell it for a higher domestic price and pocket the difference. Although that has allowed the Haitian government to fund social programs to check more popular dissent, Haiti’s beleaguered president, Michel Martelly, will leave much of that bill to his successors, to be paid over the next 25 years.

 

Click HERE for the full text.