Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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Mario Joseph Brings Haiti Elections to Capitol Hill

March 6, 2015 - 11:40

The following is a statement from Mario Joseph, BAI Managing Attorney, during a Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) panel. The panel was part of HAWG’s “Haiti Advocacy Week,” a series of events in D.C., aimed at getting Haiti more attention on Capitol Hill.

Mario Joseph
March 6, 2015

Bonjou.  Good morning. I would like to thank the Haiti Advocacy Working Group for organizing this panel and for inviting me to participate on it. I would like to thank all of you for coming, and I look forward to our discussion about politics and elections in Haiti.

In light of the conference’s theme, “Haiti for Whom?”, I think it is worth posing the question “elections for whom?” at this panel. That is a good question. We hear a lot from the perspective of the Haitian government, the international community and the political parties. But we need to keep in mind that the most important perspective in any voting is the voters. The voters want three things: they want to vote freely, they want to choose freely from all eligible candidates, and they want that vote counted.

Voters have a right to these three things, a right recognized by Haitian and international law.  The right is protected by a series of rules, in Haiti’s Constitution, and our laws. I would like to address three groups of rules that are particularly important for the next elections: rules on timing of the elections, rules on who runs them, and rules on who gets to be candidates.

This whole political crisis has been generated by a failure to respect the timing of elections.  Regular elections in Haiti are clearly set out in our constitution, as in the US constitution, but those rules have been ignored. All our mayors are appointed and 1/3 of our Senate seats are vacant because elections that the constitution scheduled for 2011 have not yet happened. Then we lost another third of our Senate, and all of the house of deputies when elections did not happen last fall.  This situation is, obviously, a serious violation of the right to vote.

The second important group of rules is who gets to run the elections.  That has been the center of the political crisis the last three years. The real solution, according to the Constitution, is a Permanent Electoral Council.  A permanent Council has never been formed in the nearly thirty years of our constitution, so the current administration inherited the problem. But President Martelly missed the opportunity to have elections that could create a permanent council by proposing a series of electoral councils that fell short of constitutional requirements in in very important ways. The current council is the least unconstitutional, and least controversial of the series. But it still raises important concerns, particularly about whether voters will be allowed to choose from all eligible candidates and whether their votes will be counted.

The third group of rules is who gets to be candidates.  The electoral council and the government have been saying the right things about allowing all parties to participate, as has the US government.  But a lot of those right things were said before Senate elections in 2009 and Presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010, which systematically and illegally excluded candidates from Fanmi Lavalas and other parties. In fact, members of the US Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, warned Secretary of State Clinton that proceeding with the exclusive elections would lead to exactly the political crisis we now have.

Another issue that is important to raise here in Washington is the issue of election financing. It has become a tradition in Haiti that most of the election financing has come from the international community, especially the US. While we appreciate the generosity, Haitians have the same concerns about foreign funding of elections that Americans would have. Voting is an exercise of national sovereignty , and should be paid for with sovereign funds.  Some would argue that international financing provides the international community leverage to advocate for better elections.  I am afraid the International community’s actual practice, especially the generous financial and diplomatic  support for the predictably disastrous 2010 elections does not support that argument.

Review: How Human Rights Can Build Haiti

March 6, 2015 - 06:38

Carol Strazer
March 2015

Not since Tracy Kidder’s masterful narrative of Mountains beyond Mountains have I found an author who could provide a clearer picture of Haiti and some of the people who work there. Unlike Mountains… Quigley’s well-researched book studies Haiti’s broad, systemic difficulties. Yet, like Tracy Kidder, Fran Quigley shines hope on Haiti’s future as he includes in his book, not one, but two courageous men—one American, one Haitian—and their supporters, as they apply the tools of their lawyerly trade in the pursuit of Haitian human rights.

Author Fran Quigley delves further into Haiti’s complicated problems and explains the challenges Haiti faces. He methodically constructs each chapter with interviews, facts, and observations. For those readers concerned about our poorest neighbor and its struggles with human rights abuses, the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, and the cholera epidemic, this is a must read. If you wonder, as I have, why nearly five years after the earthquake, thousands of Haitians still live in enormous tent cities and why over 8,000 people have died from cholera, then you must read Quigley’s book. The author recounts the intense collaboration and support Brian Concannon, International Human Rights Lawyer, and his Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti provides to Mario Joseph and his team of lawyers at Haiti’s Bureau des Avocats Internationaux. Concannon’s and Joseph’s human rights approach provides Haitians with a real promise for justice by respecting Haiti’s constitution and demanding its enforcement.


Author Fran Quigley is a clinical professor at McKinney School of Law, Indiana University. Vanderbilt University published How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign in 2014.

Reviewer Carol Strazer is the author of Barbed Wire and Daisies, a historical fiction novel based on WWII Germans’ true stories of ethnic persecution.

Haitian Family Reunification Stakeholder Meetings

March 6, 2015 - 06:30

Learn about how Haitian Family Reunification is being implemented, in Miami, Boston, and New York City.


HFRPP Stakeholder Meeting

Intended for Haitian community stakeholders, immigration service providers including community based organizations, attorneys, Congressional staff, elected officials and other intergovernmental partners. Special Guest Speakers: Maura Nicholson, Deputy Chief, International Operations Division, Refugee Asylum and International Operations (RAIO) Directorate AND Erin Fatica, District Director, Latin America, Canada, and Caribbean (LACC) District

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
8801 NW 7 Ave.
Miami, FL 33150

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 11:30am – 1pm

(Please leave extra time to go through security.)

If you wish to attend this session, please RSVP to no later than Friday, February 27th.


Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program Town Hall

North Miami Adult Education Center Auditorium
13110 NE 8th Avenue
North Miami, FL 33161

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 7-9pm


Information Session: Implementation of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program 

During this session, USCIS subject matter experts (Maura Nicholson, Deputy Chief, International Operations Division, Refugee Asylum and International Operations (RAIO) Directorate AND Erin Fatica, District Director, Latin America, Canada, and Caribbean (LACC) District) will discuss the implementation of the HFRP Program.

USCIS Boston District Office
JFK Building, Conference Rm 900B (9th floor)
15 New Sudbury St, Boston MA 02203 (Government Center)

Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 10am

New York

Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program Meeting

US Citizenship and Immigration Services officials from D.C. will provide an overview of the HFRP Program and address questions about its implementation.

26 Federal Plaza, Room 300
New York, NY

Friday, March 6, 2015 at 9:30am

Haiti for Whom?

March 6, 2015 - 06:00

Attend these exciting panels in DC, about aid accountability after Haiti’s quake.


Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) has organized several panels and events to discuss Aid accountability and inequality five years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake. We’re especially looking forward to panels where Mario Joseph will be speaking, including one in which he’ll describe his work since the earthquake, and one in which he and some of our allies will discuss the cholera epidemic caused by the United Nations.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

WHERE (respectively):

421 Cannon House Office Building

2168 Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room


Here‘s the program, with information on the speakers.

Here‘s a list of the panels and their descriptions.

Why Was USAID’s Haiti Housing Project So Disastrous?

March 5, 2015 - 02:25

There have been a few articles and reports on how USAID’s housing project in the north of Haiti failed to live up to projections and also cost millions more than planned. This article delves deeper into how that happened, including lack of oversight from USAID, failure to respect quality control measures and mismanagement of the project. The article includes interviews with some of the contractors who mismanaged the funds and built the poorly-constructed, largely dangerous homes.

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

How the US Plan to Build Houses for Displaced Haitians Became an Epic Boondoggle

Jake Johnston, Vice News
March 5, 2015

After the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, the US government responded with an ambitious plan to build 15,000 new houses in the country. But the ensuing program to put roofs over the heads of displaced Haitians has included a boondoggle of epic proportions at one $35 millionhousing development, where shoddy construction practices and faulty sewage systems are currently the subject of an ongoing investigation.

On February 3, the US-based company Thor Construction was suspended from receiving government contracts because of its work in Haiti. Another contractor with close ties to the Haitian president has so far escaped punishment.

As the relief effort’s flagship housing project comes under increased scrutiny, interviews with involved parties and an analysis of contract documents, independent reports, and congressional testimony reveals that the problem is far from a simple case of contractor malfeasance. Rather, USAID, the government agency responsible for administering foreign civilian aid, simply failed to provide meaningful oversight of its contractors and ensure adequate results for US-taxpayer financed projects.


Click HERE for the full text.

Ban Ki-moon Responds to Question about Cholera Crisis

March 3, 2015 - 11:44

After a group of Nepalese U.N. soldiers introduced cholera to Haiti in 2010, at least 8,774 Haitians have died of the infection. Ban Ki-moon waited months before calling for an investigation, while U.N. soldiers at the base in Haiti cleaned out waste pits prior to epidemiological examinations. In January, the United Nations was cited as having ‘absolute immunity’ from being held accountable for bringing cholera to Haiti, and the victims’ lawyers plan to appeal. Although the United Nations has yet to accept responsibility, Ban at last replies to a question about the cholera crisis.

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

The Secretary General in His Labyrinth

Jonathan M. Katz, New Republic

March 3, 2015

Between the lights of Long Island City and Ban Ki-moon stood a stretch of wooden desk, a well-kept ornamental tree, a window, and the East River. The 70-year-old secretary-general was proud of the window, part of the 38-story glass curtain that covers the face of the U.N. building. Its blue-green glass looks like the 1952 original, only stronger and more energy efficient. It’s the crown jewel of a seven-year, $2 billion renovation nearing completion, the sort of administrative housekeeping at which Ban excels. He glanced out, then went back to the papers on his desk. There was, as one of his favorite English expressions goes, no time to lose. In twelve hours, at 8 a.m., Tuesday, September 23, he was to take his seat in front of the General Assembly and open one of the most important conferences of his life—a world summit on climate change. More than 100 heads of state and government would be there, President Obama among the featured speakers. Leonardo DiCaprio would provide opening remarks.

Ban did not know that an argument was raging down the hall which threatened to overshadow the whole thing. Earlier in the day, an American diplomat dropped a hint to a member of Ban’s staff: After more than a month of airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State militants, the United States was expanding its bombing campaign into Syria. The strikes would begin immediately.


Click HERE for the original article.


Accusé violeur nominé comme secrétaire général en haïti

March 2, 2015 - 14:56

Josué Pierre-Louis, qui a occupé de nombreux postes gouvernementaux en Haïti, y compris presecutor, ministre de la Justice, et le président du Conseil électoral vient d’être nommé secrétaire général du bureau du Premier ministre. Cette nouvelles est troublant parce que Josue a été accusé de viol en 2012 et a réussi à intimider son accusatuer assez pour abandonner le cas.

Partie de l’article est ci dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Haïti-Politique/Société : Le Rnddh et la Sofa s’élèvent contre la nomination de Josué Pierre-Louis comme secrétaire général de la primature « Un personnage controversé, impliqué dans plusieurs scandales dont un dossier de viol contre sa subalterne, non encore élucidé »

2 mars 2015

Communiqué de presse du Rnddh et de la Sofa

Transmis à AlterPresse le 1er mars 2015

Le Président Martelly recycle son allié politique, Me Josué Pierre-Louis, en accord avec le Premier Ministre Evans Paul

Banalisation, abus de pouvoir, népotisme, tolérance, silence complice de la société, sont les meilleurs alliés de l’impunité structurelle qui gangrène notre société. Cette banalisation de l’impunité, est encore plus manifeste quand il s’agit de la violence liée au sexe, instrument puissant de la domination masculine.

La Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn-SOFA et le Réseau national de défense des droits humains (Rnddh) élèvent la voix encore une fois contre la banalisation des actes et comportements répréhensibles des hauts fonctionnaires de l’Etat par les dirigeant-e-s étatiques.


Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

No Elections Timetable Yet for Haiti

March 1, 2015 - 09:57

Last Thursday, most of Haiti’s political parties met to decide the electoral timetable for 2015. The parties rejected the preliminary calendar proposed by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) on February 10. The parties were also unable to come to a consensus on the timeline of elections, with some preferring two elections this year and some preferring more. The CEP plans to consider all the proposed options and publish a timetable by next week.

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

Haiti – Elections : No consensus on the electoral timetable

March 1, 2015

Thursday in Petionville, nearly 200 representatives of political parties debated for over 6 hours with the 9 advisers of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) around the electoral timetable. Unlike the pre-calendar proposed for discussion by the CEP, the majority of leaders of political parties require that all elections (parliamentary, presidential and local authorities) be held before the end of 2015. However, participants have been unable to agree on how elections should be organized first. The only thing that seemed to be a consensus, it was the impossibility to hold elections in July due to the period of state exams.

Note that several parties of the radical opposition including the “Patriotic Movement of Democratic Opposition” (MOPOD), the “National Rally of Progressive Democrats” (RDNP) and “Pitit Desalin” of the former Senator Moïse, were conspicuous by their absence.


Click HERE for the full text.

Equality for ALL Dominicans – Documentary

February 27, 2015 - 14:30

See a documentary and panel on the citizenship crisis in DR.


“The Birthright Crisis” documentary, followed by a panel discussion on human rights violations in DR.


John Jay College of Criminal Justice
524 W. 95th St. (btwn 10th/11th Ave)
Room L63 NB
New York, NY


February 27, 2015


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

UN Response to Cholera Claims Still Inadequate

February 27, 2015 - 14:11

On February 19, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a letter in attempts to explain the lack of UN accountability for cholera. While the letter mostly applauded the UN’s efforts to secure funding for water and sanitation in Haiti, Ban Ki-moon also made the longest statement on the legal claims to date. Unfortunately, the statement continues to be an inadequate explanation of why the UN won’t take responsibility for the epidemic that has ravaged Haiti since 2010.

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

Ban Ki-moon Explains to Congress Why the UN Won’t be Held Accountable for Cholera in Haiti

Center for Economic and Policy Research
February 27, 2015

In December, Rep. John Conyers and 76 other members of congress wrote to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging the U.N. to provide a settlement mechanism for cholera victims and their families and lays out the reasons why the UN should be legally obliged to provide such a mechanism.  The members of Congress add that, “while we applaud the UN’s efforts to secure more funding for cholera treatment….we wish to respectfully remind you that these efforts do not absolve the UN of its obligation to receive legal claims from victims of the epidemic and provide remediation for the affected communities.” 2 months later, Ban Ki-moon has finally sent the members of Congress a lengthy response which the defenders of Haiti’s cholera victims have characterized as “preposterous as a matter of law and logic.”

In a letter, dated February 19, 2015, Ban Ki-moon responds to the 76 members of congress. Most of the letter is dedicated to outlining all the work the U.N. has done to combat cholera in Haiti.  The U.N. has indeed issued calls for cholera funding, but the Haitian government’s 10-year cholera eradication plan remains woefully underfunded. Just 18 percent of the $2.2 billion required has thus far been pledged, with less than 13 percent actually disbursed, according to the most recent data [PDF]. A donor conference in October failed to secure significant additional pledges of support.


Click HERE for the full text.

Rapport sur la situation des droits en Haïti

February 27, 2015 - 13:13

C’est un rapport sur la situation des doits humains en Haïti, publié par RNDDH en préparation pour la visite de l’expert indépendant sur la situation des Droits Humains en Haïti. Dans le rapport, RNDDH decrit la crise politique, les problèmes avec le système judiciaire, l’impunité, et la violence dans le pays.

Cliquez ICI pour le pdf.

Etat des lieux à l’occasion de la visite de l’expert indépendant sur la situation des Droits Humains en Haïti.

Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains
27 février 2015

Quel que soit l’angle considéré, la situation générale des droits humains en Haïti est chaotique. Elle est caractérisée par une rupture de l’ordre démocratique, l’officialisation de l’impunité, la corruption au niveau des institutions publiques, la cherté de la vie, le non-accès aux produits de première nécessité, etc. Conséquemment, les droits civils, économiques, politiques, sociaux et culturels du peuple haïtien sont quotidiennement foulés au pied.

Ce document de synthèse, élaboré en prévision de la rencontre avec l’expert indépendant sur la situation des Droits Humains en Haïti, le sieur Gustavo , présente un état des lieux de cette situation.


Cliquez ICI pour le pdf.

Can the UN Keep Dodging Cholera Accountability?

February 27, 2015 - 12:06

As the United Nations continues to dodge accountability for the cholera epidemic it caused in Haiti, its credibility continues to erode. This article discusses the origin of the epidemic, how cholera has been treated in the past, how the UN can work towards ending the epidemic, and implications if our lawsuit succeeds.

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

When Peacekeepers Become Disease Spreaders When United Nations peacekeepers inadvertently started a cholera epidemic in Haiti, victims expected compensation from the world’s foremost human rights arbiter. What does it mean if they can’t get it?

M. Sophia Newman, Pacific Standard
February 27, 2015

They called him moun fou, a Creole term for a mentally ill person—but what killed him began as a rational act. On a day in October 2010, a 28-year-old man (who happened to have schizophrenia) bathed in a local river in the town of Mirebalais, Haiti. By October 12, the man was sick with diarrhea; less than 24 hours later, he was dead. Some 720,000 of his fellow Haitians have since contracted the same condition—“a tsunami of sick people,” says Louise C. Ivers, a doctor with Haitian NGO Partners in Health—and nearly 9,000 have died. The disease is cholera, and the source of the outbreak, according to a lawsuit initiated by 5,000 of them, is an action by the United Nations.

In 2010, after a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, a battalion of U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal was stationed at a base along the Artibonite, one of the country’s biggest rivers. Within weeks, cholera—a disease never before seen in Haiti—spread nationwide. Months later, scientific investigations would determine that the Nepalese detachment were immune carriers of a strain of cholera bacteria that had recently been found in outbreaks in Nepal. They’d built toilet facilities that released their untreated waste directly into the Artibonite. In Haiti, which lacks sufficient potable water in homes and schools, the bacteria became impossible for millions to avoid. “In the beginning, we were so overwhelmed by the death around us,” Ivers says of the epidemic.*


Click HERE for the full text.

To Eradicate Cholera, UN Must Focus on Justice

February 26, 2015 - 13:58

The UN’s cholera plan, which has been relaunched in several iterations since 2010, continues to struggle for funding. The current plan is only 12.9% funded, with only 1% of those funds being pledged by the UN. The UN would probably be more successful at raising these crucial funds if it took responsibility for causing the epidemic, and focused on justice instead of charity.

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

UN Cholera Plan for Haiti Must Choose Justice Over Charity

Ted Oswald & Katharine Oswald, HuffPost Impact
February 26, 2015

In a recent article, Pedro Medrano Rojas, the UN Senior Coordinator for Cholera Response in Haiti, called on the international community to change course on its “historic lack of attention to water and sanitation” in Haiti by increasing support for water and sanitation infrastructure to combat the cholera crisis in Haiti.

This is a welcome call — cholera has killed over 8,824 people in Haiti since it wasintroduced by UN peacekeepers in 2010, and water and sanitation is critical to curbing transmission of the disease. Thirty-eight percent of the Haitian population lacks access to improved drinking water sources and only 24 percent has access to improved sanitation. As Mr. Medrano notes, “[b]y strengthening these infrastructures, we will eliminate cholera and also other waterborne diseases.” Doing so has the potential to save several thousand lives each year.

Yet Mr. Medrano and others’ persistent efforts and laudable goals of eliminating cholera in Haiti have not borne fruit. In 2012, the UN and Haitian Government launched a joint plan to eliminate cholera from Haiti. Two years later, this plan is still only funded at 12.9 percent despite a high-level donors conference hosted by the World Bank in October 2014 and repeated calls to action. Even the UN itself has only pledged 1 percent of the required funds for the plan. Over that same period, it has been able to raise over $2.5 billion to support MINUSTAH, its peacekeeping mission in Haiti, even though the country has not had a recognized war in a century.


Click HERE for the full text.

Speech on Judicial Corruption at UC Hastings Symposium

February 26, 2015 - 12:12

Mario Joseph spoke at a panel in UC Hastings’ 2-day symposium on professional ethical intergrity. Below is a transcript of his speech.

UC Hastings Ethical Integrity Conference: Ethical integrity Challenges Facing the Judiciary Around the Globe

February 26, 2015


First, I would like to thank faculty and staff at UC Hastings that helped make this event possible.  Thank you to Hastings Professor Morris Ratner for your assistance in organizing this important panel discussion.  Thank you to Professor Kate Bloch for organizing this conference.  Professor Bloch came to my office, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince last summer and gave a wonderful training to our lawyers and interns on ethical practices.

I would like to also thank my fellow distinguished panelists, Professor Fu Hualing and the Honorable Anthony Scirica.

It is also a great pleasure to be at this symposium with my distinguished Haitian colleagues, attorney Carlos Hercule and Dr. Jomanas Eustache.

The BAI has around 20 lawyers and legal interns. Together, we represent for free Haiti’s poor who do not otherwise have access to legal representation.  One of the BAI’s biggest projects is the prosecution of gender-based violence claims; we currently have over 500 sexual assault cases. But the majority of our cases involve trying to hold government officials and Haiti’s elite bourgeoisie accountable for corruption and exploitation of poor people. For example we represent victims of the former brutal dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier. We also represent human rights defenders and victims of police brutality.

For me as the managing lawyer of BAI, legal ethics is a relevant and very important topic.  This afternoon, I will talk about issues plaguing the Haitian legal system that we see in our cases every day, including the lack of an independent judiciary, judicial corruption, conflicts of interest, and the lack of discipline for judges and lawyers.

First, I’ll start with the lack of an independent judiciary and judicial corruption. Judicial corruption is pervasive and part of our legal culture. Bribes to police, judges and prosecutors are the norm in most cases in Haiti. It has become part of the legal culture.  Allegations of corruption are not investigated or punished, so there is little incentive to not pay or accept bribes. As Me Hercule said this morning, all lawyers must act with honesty and integrity for the benefit of the legal profession and rule of law. The practice of BAI is to not use bribes, but we are one of the few law offices with this practice.

Another part of the corruption is the political interference with the justice system. The following are examples of the lack of an independent judiciary. All of these are my cases now.

The first case is the prosecution of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and his regime.  There is no political will to prosecute this case. Haitian President Michel Martelly replaced the prosecutor and investigating magistrate on the case when he took office in 2011.  A few months later, the political violence charges against Duvalier were dismissed. I represent 8 victims in the case.  I started receiving death threats when I denounced the judge’s arbitrary dismissal as politically-motivated. We appealed the case to the appellate court.  Fortunately, after six months of evidentiary hearings and legal argument, the appellate judges reinstated the case. But the Martelly administration continues to obstruct justice.  For example, they refuse to release critical documents to the court’s investigation, stalling the proceedings.

Another example is with Judge Lamarre Belizaire. Judge Belizaire was appointed by President Martelly even though he was not qualified to be a judge under judicial rules.  Belizaire did not meet Haiti’s 5-year legal experience requirement for judges.  He was also disbarred by the Port-au-Prince Bar Association for 10 years for his illegal pursuit of political dissidents, thanks to the courageous work of Me Carlos Hercule.  Judge Belizaire was appointed by President Martelly to handle politically sensitive cases, such as baseless criminal charges against human rights defenders.

For example, last August, Judge Belizaire opened an investigation involving 10-year old money laundering and drug trafficking charges against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who heads Haiti’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas. Lavalas is one of sixteen political parties arbitrarily excluded from the 2010 election. Judge Belizaire’s investigation targeted many members of Lavalas. An arrest warrant remains pending against President Aristide, even though no evidence has been presented of his culpability.

Judge Belizaire also handles a case against lawyer and political opponent André Michel. Attorney Michel, who has repeatedly denounced the President’s handling of election procedures, was detained and unlawfully arrested in October 2013 following harassment and death threats. Michel also brought corruption claims against President Martelly’s wife and son. Last August, Michel and his two clients were indicted by Judge Belizaire for murder without any formal investigation.  Fortunately the Appellate Court overturned the indictment late last year.

Lastly, there is the case of Mayor Jean-Morose Villiena. Villiena is a corrupt mayor in a small remote town in the south of Haiti.  Mayor Villiena ordered the murder of several human rights defenders in his town, and burned down 30 homes of people who opposed his corrupt and illegal conduct. After hearing all of the evidence from dozens of witnesses, the investigating magistrate recommended the Mayor and 20 of his accomplices be tried for murder and attempted murder. But the trial judge refused to prosecute the Mayor. Today the Mayor is a free man, as are most of his accomplices responsible for the crimes. Meanwhile the victims of his crime live in terror of another violent attack and the indignity that the murderers of their family members are free.

The lack of discipline for judges is also a significant problem in Haiti. The Superior Council of Judicial Power (CSPJ) was established in 2012, and is charged with appointing judges, investigating complaints of judicial misconduct, and disciplining judges. There are some ethical attorneys on the CSPJ, but unfortunately it has become a politicized council. Judges are nominated by the Martelly administration in an irregular manner that violates ethics and the Constitution, often done based on political alliances, and without the consent of the CSPJ.  The CSPJ is used as a political tool of the Haitian government, such as by appointing members of the electoral council and unqualified Supreme Court justices.

The CSPJ should create a technical body that tracks the judges’ decisions and the length of time judges take to render the decisions to evaluate each judge’s performance.  This will help prevent judges’ performance from being based solely on political factors.


In conclusion, the result of our corrupt judicial system is that lawyers feel like they need to play the game in order to be respected and win cases.  BAI lawyers sometimes complain that they will never win our cases without bribing. We need to work twice as hard and be twice as skillful as our opposing counsel.  But as we’ve seen with many of our case, many Haitian judges and prosecutors are ethical, justice can prevail, and we do win.

Our clients and the Haitian people are well aware of the blatant corruption and political interference. The result is a lack of confidence in the justice system.  With each case that the BAI brings, whether it is on behalf of rape victims, political prisoners, or victims of the Duvalier regime, we are trying to fight corruption and give judges the opportunity to act with integrity.

Haiti’s endemic judicial corruption and lack of political independence impacts Haiti’s poor people the most, which is most of the country.  Seventy-eight percent of Haitians live on less than two dollars a day, and most will be exploited by their employer, landlord, business partner, husband, or police officer.  Most human rights victims will not know their legal rights and will not have legal representation to defend their rights.

The lawyers and judges in Haiti must stand up to fight the corruption in our justice system. It is not easy, but we must do it one case at a time. We must teach ethics in law school and train lawyers and judges about ethical practices to change our legal culture.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak on this distinguished panel about such an important and relevant topic.

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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


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.