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World Bank Rejects Haitians’ Complaint About Mining

February 17, 2015 - 07:39

Many Haitians recently filed a complaint with the World Bank, outlining their concerns about a new mining law that the World Bank is supporting. Last week, the World Bank Inspection Panel refused to consider the complaint, though World Bank acknowledged the Haitians’ concerns as legitimate. Now that Parliament, which had opposed the new law, isn’t functional, many fear that Martelly will pass the law by decree. This would leave both Haitians and the environment vulnerable to the human rights violations and damage common in mining areas.

Part of the press release is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Center for Human Rights and Global Justice
February 17, 2015

                                                           

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

World Bank Refuses to Consider Haitian Communities’ Complaint about New Mining Law Complaint Office Recognizes “Legitimate” Concerns, Rejects Complaint on Technical Grounds

(NEW YORK, SAN FRANCISCO, PORT-AU-PRINCE Feb. 17, 2015)—Last week, the World Bank Inspection Panel refused to consider a complaint from Haitian communities about the Bank’s support for development of the mining sector in Haiti.  Communities affected by mining activity and the Justice in Mining Collective, a group of six Haitian civil society organizations, submitted the complaint in early January, alleging violations of their rights to information and participation and threats of human rights abuses and environmental harms.  The Inspection Panel—an office established to address complaints from people affected by World Bank-sponsored projects—recognized that the complaint raised “serious and legitimate” concerns and that the mining industry presents significant risks.  The office nevertheless denied the complaint on narrow, technical grounds.  The complainants expect to receive a copy of the decision in French today.[1]

Communities’ concerns about the development of the mining industry stem in part from their experiences with mineral exploration to date.  Farmers report that they have lost crops and watched fertile land turn barren; they allege that companies have entered and operated in their communities without seeking permission; and they contend that they have nowhere to bring their concerns.  Now, the World Bank’s complaint office has declared that it will not investigate their grievances.  “For the Panel to recognize that our concerns are legitimate and yet refuse to register the case, it is as if the lives of Haitian people do not matter to the World Bank,” said Peterson Derolus, Co-Coordinator of the Justice in Mining Collective.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Protests opposing Dominican citizenship policy reignite after public lynching

February 14, 2015 - 08:28

After a recent public lynching of a Haitian man in the Dominican Republic, Dominicans of Haitian descent reignited protests opposing the current citizenship policy, which has retroactively stripped citizenship of people whose ancestors migrated to the country and who cannot prove the legality of their migration. Undocumented residents face both the risk of deportation and the reality of being stateless in their own country, prohibiting them from finding a job, getting married, and having access to documentation. A researcher from Amnesty International claims that the local Dominican government has intentionally created obstacles for Haitian-Dominicans seeking registration, by poor advertising of the policy and instituting burdensome fees. The protests call for the international community to boycott the country’s tourism industry and to seize travel to the Dominican Republic, as a means to ardently stand against racism and discrimination.

Haitian’s Lynching Renews Protests Against Dominican Citizenship Law

Kenya Downs, National Public Radio

February 14, 2015

A Haitian man was lynched at a public plaza in the Dominican Republic this week. Authorities there say it was the result of a personal dispute, but activists claim it’s part of rising racial animus and anti-Haitian attitudes in the Caribbean nation.

The lynching came during an already tense time for Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. Feb. 1 marked the deadline for tens of thousands of them to report to the country’s civil registry to prove that their ancestors came to the nation legally. Those who didn’t — or couldn’t — comply with the deadline could be deported. For many of those affected, that could mean being deported to Haiti, a place where they’ve never lived, where they may not have any remaining family, and may not know the language.

This is all the result of a 2013 ruling by the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court which retroactively stripped citizenship of people whose ancestors migrated to the country and who can’t prove that the migration was legal. The change applies to anyone born after 1929, potentially affecting an estimated 240,000 Dominicans. The vast majority are people whose family migrated from Haiti.

Click HERE for entire article.

Human Rights Webinar with Author Fran Quigley

February 12, 2015 - 17:00

Join our first ever webinar with author Fran Quigley and IJDH Director Brian Concannon.

WHAT:

Fran published How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign in September 14. The book profiles Brian, BAI’s Managing Attorney Mario Joseph, and their many collaborators in the fight for justice in Haiti. Come hear more about the book, developments since September, and how you can help. Afterwards, we look forward to answering your questions!

WHERE:

Register here: https://www.bigmarker.com/conferences/c497be2233b2

WHEN:

Thursday, February 12, 2015
8:00 PM (EST)

 

Young Man of Haitian Descent Lynched in DR

February 12, 2015 - 10:38

A young man of Haitian descent was recently lynched in the Dominican Republic, striking fears of increased discrimination of Haitian descendants in the country. Racial tensions have been high between Haiti and  DR since their founding but were highly exacerbated by a September 2013 ruling that retroactively stripped citizenship from estimated hundreds of thousands. In 2014, new immigration laws that were supposed to help proved too bureaucratic to allow for much progress. Activists fear that the lynching is a sign of trouble for the rights of Haitian-descended Dominicans.

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

Dominican Republic lynching raises fears of humanitarian crisis Young man, apparently of Haitian descent, found hanged from a tree in a Santiago park as anti-Haitian sentiment appears to be on the rise

Sibylla Brodzinsky, The Guardian
February 12, 2015

 

The apparent lynching of a young man in the Dominican city of Santiago has reignited fears of a looming humanitarian crisis.

The corpse of a man, apparently of Haitian descent, was found hanged from a tree in a city park, his body beaten and his hands and feet bound by rope.

Police were quick to say his death was related to a theft, but heightened tensions in the Dominican Republic against people of Haitian origin and the gruesome nature of the killing make it hard to rule out a hate crime, human rights advocates have said.

“Nobody knows yet the reason behind the lynching, but it comes in the context of constant discrimination and violence against Haitians,” says Santiago Canton, of the Robert F Kennedy Center for Human Rights.

The death of the man came just hours after a group of Dominicans in Santiago, the country’s second largest city, publicly burned the Haitian flag. Elsewhere, human rights groups have reported that a man was recently denied access to a public bus because he “looked Haitian”.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Demonstrations in Port-au-Prince

February 11, 2015 - 10:17

On February 5th and February 7th, thousands of demonstrators, many of whom were university students, marched through Port-au-Prince with several demands. The demonstrations manifested in response to disagreements with various issues, including current gas prices, teachers’ salaries, the Martelly/Paul regime, and the present status of the 7,500-soldier UN mission (MINUSTAH). The protests paralyzed all government offices, banks, commerce, and schools, and they also halted traffic in the capital and its suburbs.

Two Days of Demonstrations, Two Days of General Strike

Kim Ives and Isabelle L. Papillon, Haiti Liberté 

February 11, 2015

In the past week, two massive demonstrations and two days of a successful general strikes have rocked the government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Evans Paul. The principal demands are for the lowering of gas prices and for the resignation of both Martelly and Paul. Demonstrators also call for the 7,500-soldier UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave immediately.

Thousands marched through the capital on Feb. 5 and again on Feb. 7, the 29th anniversary of the fall of the Duvalier regime in 1986. “The gas thief in the National Palace has to go!” demonstrators chanted at both demonstrations. “The gas thief in the Prime Minister’s office has to go! Martelly, the foreign colonists sent you to destroy the country! But the people are rising up, and you have to go! Do you hear that Obama? Do you hear that Bill Clinton?”

A 40-year-old bus driver spoke to a group of journalists as the demonstration on Feb. 5 was in the capital’s main square, the Champ de Mars. “Today, we are in the time of Hitler,” he said. “The Gestapo killed the Jews. In Haiti, Martelly’s police are killing Haitians. I am ready to die to rid the country of vampires of the ‘tètkale’ [bald-headed] regime. I have nothing to regret. I leave behind me only misery.”

University students, along with other popular and progressive organizations, are also part of the protests. On Feb. 5, they organized a sit-in outside the offices of the Ministry of Economy and Finance to force the Martelly/Paul government to lower fuel prices. The Haitian police’s Company for Intervention and the Maintenance of Order (CIMO) fired tear-gas canisters and water cannon at students at the Faculty of Ethnology and the Teachers College (École Normale Supérieure).

Click HERE for the entire text.

 

Relief and Development in Haiti

February 8, 2015 - 16:00

Join Karen Keating Ansara in Gloucester, MA for a talk on Haiti post-2010-quake.

WHAT:

Essex philanthropist and human rights activist Karen
Keating Ansara will share her experiences in Haiti since
a devastating earthquake hit the nation five years ago.
Ansara, who with her husband Jim launched a Haiti
Fund within hours of the disaster, will ask what lessons
would-be donors and volunteers can take from Haiti.

WHERE:

Gloucester City Hall
9 Dale Avenue
Gloucester, MA

WHEN:

Sunday, February 8, 2015
7 to 8:30pm

 

Click HERE for more about this talk, and Karen.

Former OAS Rep Says MINUSTAH Illegal

February 7, 2015 - 12:54

Former Organization of American States representative Ricardo Seitenfus says MINUSTAH’s presence in Haiti is illegal. The UN troops have occupied Haiti since 2004 and are responsible for the cholera epidemic that has killed and infected Haitians since 2010. In a recent speech, Seitenfus noted that the immunity the UN claims to enjoy (e.g. from lawsuits like that of the cholera victims) is also illegal, as MINUSTAH doesn’t conform to Haiti’s Constitution.

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

United Nations presence in Haiti is illegal, according to former OAS representative in Haiti

Hougansydney.com
February 7, 2015

Haiti, MINUSTAH, “The presence of the United Nations in Haiti is illegal,” says Ricardo Seitenfus

The former Special Representative of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Haiti, Ricardo Seitenfus, participated Friday in a round table on elections at Quisqueya University (Port-au-Prince). During his speech, Mr. Seitenfus said that “the United Nations- presence in Haiti is illegal,” noted VD6.

The Brazilian professor said that the presence of MINUSTAH in Haiti does not conform to the Haitian constitution, and treaties signed by the country. “So the immunity that the UN claims that it enjoys in Haiti is illegal too.”

 

Click HERE for the full text.

What is the Provisional Electoral Council?

February 6, 2015 - 14:23

This article describes the latest version of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in Haiti, which is tasked with leading the elections. One major cause of the current political crisis is the lack of constitutional CEPs in the past. The constitutionality of the newest CEP is still up for debate but it has a crucial role to play in ensuring fair and democratic elections in Haiti.

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

A Look at the New Provisional Electoral Council

Center for Economic and Policy Research
February 6, 2015

Haiti’s current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), formed in late January, is the fourth incarnation of an electoral council since Martelly’s ascension to the presidency in 2011. With elections delayed over three years, parliament ceasing to function and the country run by a de facto government, the current CEP will have a large role in leading the country to elections and a restoration of constitutional rule. “Fair elections will require an impartial, independent and constitutional CEP to facilitate the free participation of all political parties,” wrote the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) last month.

While the formation of previous electoral councils did not follow Article 289 of the Haitian constitution (Martelly originally wanted to form a permanent electoral council that is subject to different provisions, for background on this, see here), the current one hews more closely to what is outlined there. Nine representatives from various sectors of civil society nominated representatives to the CEP, which were then ratified by the President. However, as IJDH points out, the process “deviated from the relevant constitutional provisions in several respects, including the participation of new civil society groups, and prohibiting the participation of government agents and political parties.” Further, the political accord outlining this new process never received parliamentary approval.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Latino Media Collective Interviews Brian Concannon

February 6, 2015 - 10:03

A Washington, DC radio station interviews IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon on where Haiti stands after the 2010 earthquake. Brian discusses UN responsibility for the cholera epidemic,  peacekeeper accountability for sexual violence in Haiti, and immigration issues for people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic and Bahamas.

Click HERE for other shows on WPFW 89.3FM.

Oscar Fernandez, Latino Media Collective
February 6, 2015

http://www.ijdh.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/wpfw_150206_130000latinomedia.mp3

 

Click HERE for other shows on WPFW 89.3FM.

Annual Haiti Remembrance & Call to Action

February 4, 2015 - 12:00

Commemorate Haiti’s earthquake in Boston with Senator Forry.

WHAT:

We come together to pay tribute to those who lost their lives and reflect on the progress made so far in rebuilding. Through the work of the Haitian diaspora and friends of Haiti, we have accomplished a significant victory. Four years ago, at the State House, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry launched a petition drive resulting in the collection and submission of over 6,000 signatures to our President and the Department of Homeland Security encouraging them to establish the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP). Today, Senator Forry is proud to say that our goals have been achieved. Late last year, President Barack Obama approved the establishment of HFRPP. We will continue our advocacy efforts on behalf of the immigrant community and hope you will join us.

WHERE:

Nurses Hall
Massachusetts State House
Boston, MA

WHEN:

February 4, 2015
3-4pm

Common Dreams Reviews ‘How Human Rights Can Build Haiti’

February 2, 2015 - 12:37

This review of Fran Quigley’s How Human Rights Can Build Haiti includes many of the history lessons Quigley brings in throughout the book. It describes how BAI and IJDH’s work fits in with that history, and why this book is a must-read for anyone interested in human rights.

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

‘How Human Rights Can Build Haiti’

Marjorie Cohn, Common Dreams
February 2, 2015

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has suffered a devastating earthquake followed by a deadly cholera epidemic, both set in the backdrop of a history of oppression by corrupt rulers and foreign exploitation. In spite of incredible challenges, two intrepid human rights attorneys – one Haitian and one American – have worked diligently to vindicate the rights of the people of Haiti, with some notable successes.

Fran Quigley’s important book, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, tells the story of Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon, whose Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) has given hope to untold numbers of Haitians. They opt for a ‘bottom-up’ rather than a ‘top-down’ approach. Their preference is to help to empower the Haitian people to make change themselves, instead of relying on outsiders – particularly the United States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – which establish ‘rule of law programs’ and provide charity, generally with strings attached.

Mario Joseph

Often called the leading human rights lawyer in Haiti, Mario Joseph is president of BAI. “We had an earthquake, yes, but far too many people died in this earthquake. And that is because we in Haiti have no respect for the rule of law,” he says, attributing the deaths to poorly built homes crowded onto steep hillsides. It is estimated that more than 200,000 were killed, 300,000 were injured, and two million were rendered homeless by the earthquake.

Joseph has developed a reputation in Haiti as a fearless advocate, in the face of numerous death threats. While court proceedings take place in French, Joseph speaks Creole so his clients can understand the proceedings. “The justice system is unaffordable for the people of Haiti,” Joseph observes, “but if you are rich or important and your rights are not respected, you can find justice. Conversely, if you are powerful and you abuse human rights, you can find ways to avoid the consequences of your actions.”

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Amnesty exhorte la protection des droits humains en Haïti

February 2, 2015 - 10:42

Amnesty International reconnaît l’importance des élections en Haïti, mais l’organisation exhorte également le nouveau Premier ministre de ne pas oublier les droits humains. De le droit de manifester pacifiquement à le droit au logement, Amnesty decrit le situation des droits humains en Haïti. Dans cette lettre, Amnesty rappelle au premier ministre pourquoi la protection de ces droits est particulièrement crucial en ces temps politiques précaires.

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

Click HERE for the English version.

Lettre ouverte à Evans Paul, nouveau Premier ministre d’Haïti :
Faites des droits humains la priorité de votre nouveau gouvernement.

Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International
2 fevrier 2015

Monsieur le Premier ministre,

Amnesty International vous écrit pour mettre en lumière certaines des questions relatives aux droits humains qui, selon notre organisation, doivent être résolues en priorité par votre gouvernement.

Nous comprenons que la priorité énoncée par votre gouvernement soit l’organisation d’élections locales et parlementaires n’ayant que trop tardé, mais l’État reste toutefois tenu de respecter et de promouvoir pleinement les droits humains pour tous en Haïti. De plus, notre organisation estime que s’attaquer en priorité aux questions décrites ci-après est crucial dans le contexte politique actuel et dans les circonstances relatives à la reconstruction après le séisme.

GARANTIR LE DROIT À LA LIBERTÉ DE RÉUNION PACIFIQUE

Ces deux dernières années, Amnesty International a eu connaissance d’un nombre croissant de cas d’usage excessif et injustifié de la force par les forces de sécurité – dont des casques bleus de l’ONU – pour disperser des manifestations, faisant souvent de nombreux blessés et parfois des morts. Des enquêtes ont été ouvertes dans certains cas, mais à notre connaissance, aucun agent de sécurité ou autre autorité n’a fait l’objet de poursuites pénales pour avoir participé à ces incidents.

Plus récemment, le 15 décembre 2014, à la suite d’informations selon lesquelles un homme aurait été tué et deux autres blessés après que la police et la force de maintien de la paix de l’ONU ont fait un usage excessif de la force au cours d’une manifestation à Port-au-Prince, notre organisation a demandé une enquête approfondie et impartiale, et des mesures pour prévenir d’autres exactions�.

Le nombre croissant de personnes tuées par la police, notamment au cours de manifestations, ainsi que l’absence d’obligation de rendre des comptes pour ces actes, préoccupent également le Comité des droits de l’homme des Nations unies qui, en octobre 2014, a recommandé aux autorités haïtiennes de mettre en œuvre sans délai des enquêtes efficaces sur toutes les exécutions commises par la police et de traduire en justice les auteurs de ces actes. Le Comité a par ailleurs recommandé qu’Haïti poursuive la formation des membres de ses forces de sécurité, afin de veiller à ce qu’ils se conforment aux Principes de base des Nations unies sur le recours à la force et l’utilisation des armes à feu par les responsables de l’application des lois�.

Amnesty International se félicite de votre engagement à « respecter le droit de manifester pacifiquement », exprimé lors d’une rencontre avec des diplomates des États-Unis le 21 janvier. Dans le contexte actuel d’instabilité et de dissidence généralisée, il est crucial que ces déclarations se traduisent par des mesures concrètes permettant aux victimes d’obtenir justice, et visant à tenir les auteurs de ces actes responsables d’atteintes aux droits humains et à prévenir de nouvelles violences.

PROTÉGER LES DÉFENSEURS DES DROITS HUMAINS

Amnesty International est préoccupée par les informations de plus en plus courantes faisant état d’attaques, de menaces et de harcèlement subis par des défenseurs des droits humains, dont des avocats, au cours de ces deux dernières années. Dans de nombreux cas, les actes étaient directement liés à leur travail de défense des droits humains. D’une manière générale, aucune enquête approfondie n’a été ouverte dans un délai raisonnable et les autorités n’ont pas su protéger efficacement et prendre un ensemble exhaustif de mesures pour que les défenseurs des droits humains puissent travailler sans craindre de représailles.

Comme l’a également recommandé le Comité des droits de l’homme en octobre�, le gouvernement doit prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour protéger les défenseurs des droits humains afin qu’ils puissent travailler sans crainte. Par conséquent, l’État haïtien doit mener sans délai des enquêtes exhaustives et efficaces sur toutes les allégations d’attaques, de menaces et d’intimidation prenant pour cible des défenseurs des droits humains, rendre publiques les conclusions de ces enquêtes et traduire les responsables présumés en justice.

Au vu du contexte politique sensible qui règne actuellement en Haïti, il est crucial de créer un environnement sûr et favorable permettant de défendre les droits humains sans crainte de représailles ni d’intimidation, conformément à la Déclaration sur les défenseurs des droits de l’homme (ONU).

 

Cliquez ICI pour l’originale.

Click HERE for the English version.

U.S. Ambassador Calling One-Man Rule in Haiti Constitutional is Incorrect, Dangerous

January 30, 2015 - 18:48

Cliquez ICI pour la version française.

For immediate release

Contact:

Nicole Phillips, Esq. Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (San Francisco), nicole@ijdh.org,  +510-715-2855
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (Boston), brian@ijdh.org, +1-617-652-0876-263‑0029 (English, French, Creole)

U.S. Ambassador Calling One-Man Rule in Haiti Constitutional is Incorrect, Dangerous

Boston, January 30, 2015 — The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) reacted to the statement by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power that Haiti’s President Martelly’s rule by executive authority without a Parliament is “permitted by Haiti’s Constitution,” calling it “incorrect as a matter of fact, and dangerous as a foundation for policy.”

Ambassador Power made the statement on January 29, in a UN briefing about the UN Security Council’s January 23-25 mission to Haiti. Elections have not been held in Haiti for over three years, resulting in vacancies in every seat in Parliament except ten Senate seats, as well as all local elected offices. On the same day as Ambassador Powers’ briefing, twenty Haitian human rights groups denounced the unconstitutional installation of a government without Parliamentary approval.

“Nothing in Haiti’s Constitution permits one-man rule. The Constitution did clearly require legislative elections in 2011 and 2014 that the government failed to hold, creating this unconstitutional void,” said Nicole Phillips, an IJDH Staff Attorney. Attorney Phillips warned that “a mischaracterization of such a fundamental fact could lead to dangerously uninformed policy. With the large roles played by the UN and United States in Haiti, there is a lot at stake.” The UN Security Council oversees the MINUSTAH Peacekeeping mission in Haiti, which will spend over $500 million this year.

IJDH noted that Ambassador Power’s statement did acknowledge the potential dangers of unchecked presidential power, and urged “free, fair and inclusive elections, as soon as possible.” But IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon cautioned that “the pressure those words placed on Haiti’s Executive branch was undermined by the statement’s failure to place responsibility with President Martelly for creating the crisis in the first place.”

The UN and the United States government have been criticized in Haiti and abroad for offering blind support to President Martelly. Although the causes of the crisis are complex, most observers agree that President Martelly’s establishment of a series of electoral councils that failed to comply with the Constitution and maximized his influence on the elections played an important role.

Attorney Phillips added that “Haiti’s political crisis was generated by a failure to comply with the Constitution.  If the international community wants to contribute to a solution to the crisis, it should criticize illegal practices, not endorse them.”

For more information about the legal issues surrounding Haiti’s political crisis, see IJDH’s Ensuring Fair Elections in Haiti: Legal Analysis of Recent Developments.

 

###

Cliquez ICI pour la version française.

Bahamian Haitians Face Statelessness and Deportation

January 30, 2015 - 07:35

New immigration rules in the Bahamas are resulting in many people being stateless or in limbo. Human rights groups are denouncing the decision and many feel the rules are due to anti-Haitian sentiment. The Bahamas claims that they simply want to know who is living in the country but many have been deported since November 2014. Similar scenes have played out in the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos recently.

Click HERE for the original.

Immigration Rules in Bahamas Sweep Up Haitians

Frances Robles, The New York Times
January 30, 2015

NASSAU, Bahamas — Kenson Timothee was walking down the street when a uniformed officer asked him a question that sends Bahamians of Haitian descent like him into a panic these days: Do you have a passport?

Mr. Timothee, who was born in the Bahamas to illegal Haitian immigrants, wound up jailed in immigration detention for six weeks. He is one of hundreds of people swept up in a fiercely debated new immigration policy in the Bahamas requiring everyone to hold a passport, a rule that human rights groups say unfairly targets people of Haitian descent.

Mr. Timothee had proof that he was born in the Bahamas, but because he had trouble obtaining his absentee father’s birth certificate, his application for Bahamian citizenship was never completed.

“I showed them that I had applied for citizenship, but they said that wasn’t good enough; as far as they are concerned, you are not Bahamian, you are Haitian, and you need to get deported,” Mr. Timothee said. “I don’t know anything about Haiti.”

According to a strict new immigration policy, schoolchildren like these two friends of Haitian descent who were born in the Bahamas will be required to have a student residency permit to attend school next fall. CreditAndrea Bruce for The New York Times

On Thursday, the Bahamian government announced that the new policy would go a step further: By next fall, schools will be asked to ensure that every child has a student permit. The annual $125 permit and a passport with a residency stamp will be required even of children born in the Bahamas who do not hold Bahamian citizenship.

The tough new policy echoes similar stances around the region, where new citizenship policies and anti-immigration measures have overwhelmingly affected Haitians, who are fleeing the hemisphere’s poorest country and are the most likely group to migrate illegally in great numbers. The top court in the Dominican Republic ruled in 2013 that the children of illegal immigrants, even if they are born in the country, did not have the right to citizenship.

Facing an international backlash, the Dominican government came up with a plan to prevent tens of thousands of people from becoming stateless, but months later, few people had managed to complete the process. With few successes to tout, in October the Dominican government extended the application period for another three months.

In Turks and Caicos, a top immigration official vowed early in 2013 to hunt down and capture Haitians illegally in the country, promising to make their lives “unbearable.” The country had already changed its immigration policies in 2012, making it harder for children of immigrants to obtain residency. Last year, Turks and Caicos said it would deploy drones to stop Haitian migration.

In Brazil, politicians considered closing a border with Peru last year to stem the tide of Haitians, and last month, Canada announced that it would resume deporting Haitians.

Here in the Bahamas, Mr. Timothee’s arrest coincided with stepped-up immigration raids in predominantly Haitian shantytowns, where people who lacked passports or work permits were apprehended. When illegal immigrants ran from officers, the agents knocked down doors and took their children, and the photos of toddlers being carried away circulated widely on social media.

Since the policy took effect Nov. 1, children born in the Bahamas have been deported with their parents, and others with Haitian-sounding names have been pulled from school classrooms, human rights observers said. The government acknowledges that even Bahamian citizens with French surnames are frequently arrested by mistake. In September alone, 241 Haitians were deported, according to government figures.

Though 85 percent of Bahamians support the new policy according to one poll, it has set off a round of international condemnation. A Florida legislator called for a tourism boycott of the Bahamas and organized a protest at the nation’s Miami consulate. Citing some of the more alarming cases, including that of a pregnant Haitian woman who gave birth on an immigration detention center floor aided only by other detainees, several international groups have asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to intervene.

Immigration officials in the Bahamas say their policies do not target any particular group, provide a better sense of who is living in their country, and could deter thousands of Haitian migrants from taking to the high seas each year in boats that often sink.

“We had situations where 100 people were showing up every day; that’s unsustainable,” said Frederick A. Mitchell, the Bahamian foreign minister. “That situation had spiraled out of control.”

Annette M. Martínez Orabona, director of the Caribbean Institute for Human Rights, said she recently visited the Bahamas to investigate the new policy, arguing that it fit into a broad context of immigration crackdowns in the region.

“It’s all guided by discriminatory practices toward persons of Haitian origin,” she said.

Children like Mr. Timothee’s 5-year-old daughter are in a particularly precarious legal situation, she said. If nationality is passed down by blood and Mr. Timothee has no citizenship, then what passport would his daughter get?

“The third generation is in a black hole,” Ms. Martínez said.

In the Bahamas, the Constitution says that people born there to parents who were not citizens have the right to apply for citizenship between their 18th and 19th birthdays. In a country where one in 10 Bahamians is of Haitian descent, many people never apply, and others face years of administrative delays, leaving an untold number of people in the country without documentation.

The new policy forces them to apply for a passport from their parents’ country of origin. Americans who have children in the Bahamas regularly get United States passports for them, and this is no different, Mr. Mitchell said.

“There’s nothing wrong with being Haitian,” Mr. Mitchell said.

But the people affected by the new policy are leery of obtaining citizenship from Haiti, a country most of them have never visited.

“It’s a trick,” said Fred R. Smith, a civil rights lawyer in the Bahamas who has become the policy’s most vocal critic. “Once you apply for a Haitian passport, you’re already a citizen of another country, and you no longer fit into a category where the Bahamas is under an obligation to give you citizenship. You are no longer stateless.”

He said the government had routinely descended on an area, apprehended a few hundred people, and “hauled off” anyone who could not produce papers on the spot. The majority of detainees are released when their relatives or employers come to the detention center with their paperwork.

Some people have been deported even though they were born in the Bahamas. People like Mr. Timothee, whose citizenship status is pending, wind up in limbo. Others, like Rose St. Fleur, have been sent home with an admonishment to carry their paperwork.

Ms. St. Fleur, a 29-year-old Bahamian citizen, said she had been picked up twice since October. She was 32 weeks pregnant when neighbors watched agents drag her down the street onto a bus, she and her neighbors said.

“When they asked me my name and I told them, they said, ‘That’s a foreign last name,’ ” Ms. St. Fleur said. “I told them, ‘Yes, but I am a Bahamian citizen.’ ” She said they replied, “You still have to come with us.”

Many people have not been able to obtain documents because the paperwork required, including certified copies of both parents’ birth certificates, is difficult to obtain. The Haitian government, itself crippled by political infighting and a halting recovery from the earthquake five years ago, has been unable to speedily produce records for the hundreds of thousands of people in the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas who are suddenly in need of decades-old birth records.

Because of delays in obtaining Haitian passports, thousands of Bahamians are now at risk of having no nationality at all.

“The person who may have a delay in getting papers is not stateless,” Dwight L. Beneby, the Bahamas’ assistant director of immigration. “It’s not that we’re trying to get rid of people or trying to get out of giving them citizenship. If you are here, let’s know who you are.”

Francois Guillaume II, who was Haiti’s minister of Haitians living abroad when the policy was announced, said the new policy came without warning.

“It’s troubling when we have cases of people who have never lived in Haiti and are sent to a country that is completely foreign to them,” said Mr. Guillaume, who lost his position in a recent ministerial shuffle. “It must be traumatizing for them.”

Most of the Bahamian-born deportees were children, but one was 18 years old, and it was unclear why she was not given the opportunity to seek legal residency, he said.

“I don’t think there is an anti-Haitian sentiment in the area; I believe there are countries experiencing social pressure and are trying to look for solutions,” Mr. Guillaume said. “Some solutions are rash. Sometimes they are politically motivated. Nonetheless, we hope the solutions respect international norms.”

 

Correction: January 31, 2015 

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of a picture caption with this article misstated the effects of the Bahamas’ new immigration policy on the two boys pictured, born in the Bahamas but of Haitian descent. The boys have always been considered Haitian; that is not among the policy changes. (The new policy requires everyone to hold a passport, and as of next fall will also require all schoolchildren who are not citizens to have a student residency permit.)

 

Click HERE for the original.

Residency deadline leaves thousands vulnerable to deportation

January 30, 2015 - 02:00

As a consequence of a residency deadline, thousands of people of Haitian descent who have had their Dominican citizenship’s revoked are left vulnerable to deportation. Human rights groups and foreign governments continue to lobby the Dominican government to protect the individuals at risk of deportation by granting them provisional rights. However, the Dominican Republic remains under scrutiny by human rights organizations as it proceeds to use people of Haitian descent and migrants as “convenient political scapegoat[s].”

Dominican citizenship deadline approaches amid fears

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald 

January 30, 2015

Human rights groups say tens of thousands of people of Haitian descent but stripped of their Dominican citizenship by the Dominican Republic’s highest court could be at risk of deportations after a residency deadline takes effect Sunday.

Fewer than 7,000 individuals who were born to undocumented foreign parents and never had their births made official in the Dominican Republic have applied to obtain a residency permit needed to later claim citizenship. The number is far less than the government’s estimated 50,000 — human rights groups say it’s as high as 250,000 — who had their citizenship revoked after the Dominican Constitutional Court in 2013 removed citizenship for persons born after 1929 to immigrants without proper documentation.

Washington González, the Dominican deputy minister for interior and police, told the news agency EFE that, unlike three months ago when the deadline was extended to Feb. 1, there will be no extension this time. He said 6,937 people had registered so far and that individuals will be allowed to apply on the day since it’s a Sunday.

“There have been several obstacles and concerns surrounding the process,” said Wade McMullen, managing attorney with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. “But we can’t forget that the Constitutional Court stripped hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of their nationality and forced them to register as self-reported foreigners in exchange for getting what appears to be temporary protection from being expelled from the only country they have ever known.”

Following the court’s ruling, the Dominican Congress approved a law to regularize the status. Despite the law, human rights groups and foreign governments have continued to criticized the Dominican Republic, which threatened last year to leave the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The group ordered the Dominican government to protect individuals from deportations and to grant them provisional rights.

While the Dominican law doesn’t exclusively target individuals of Haitian descent, they are the vast majority affected.

McMullen said RKC will continue its lobbying efforts to pressure Dominican authorities to reverse their position including reaching out to leaders of the 15-member Caribbean Community regional bloc, which has taken a strong stance against the ruling, when they meet in the Bahamas in the coming days. Concerns also will be raised about a new Bahamas immigration policy that also has triggered an increase in individuals of Haitian descent being detained and deported to Haiti from the Bahamas.

“We see this all around the world,” McMullen said, “ a convenient political scapegoat for governments needing to play to the lowest common denominator to rally people around them. People of Haitian descent and migrants are those unfortunate scapegoats in places like the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.”

McMullen and Amnesty International researcher Chiara Liguori said while they do not know for certain what Dominican authorities will do after Sunday’s deadline takes effect, there is cause for concern over the possibility of mass deportations.

On Wednesday, Amnesty issued an appeal for urgent action whenr two-mini buses carrying 51 individuals including 30 children born in the Dominican Republic were deported to Haiti after a military officer denied them access into a city for being “undocumented migrants.” The group was en route to the eastern Dominican town of San Juan de la Maguana to register under the program. The children were traveling with a group of Roman Catholic nuns and some Haitian migrants, who were also going to enroll in the separate National Regularization Plan for Foreigners with irregular migration status

The Dominican Ministry of Interior eventually gave authorization to allow the group to re-enter the country.

“This isn’t an anomaly,” said McMullen, noting the country’s history with mass expulsions targeting those of Haitian descent. “It is only a matter of time.”

Said Liguori: “We don’t know what the authorities are planning…. there have been no reaction from the government.”

 

 Click HERE for the original text.

 

 

20 organisations se prononcent sur la crise politique

January 29, 2015 - 13:17

20 organisations des droits de l’homme expliquent leur position sur la crise politique actuelle en Haïti, dans une note. Dans la note, les organisations demandent le respect des droits humains, de la Constitution, e de la séparation des pouvoirs de l’Etat. Maintenant, président Michel Martelly gouverne par décret parce que les termes de la plupart des membres du Parlement ont expirer le 12 janvier 2015.

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

20 organisations prennent position sur la crise politique

Louis-Joseph, Olivier, Le Nouvelliste
29 janvier 2015

« Les organismes de protection et de défense des droits humains prennent acte de l’installation d’un nouveau Premier ministre et de son gouvernement sans la ratification préalable au Parlement de sa politique générale, conformément à la Constitution et aux principes fondamentaux en matière de démocratie », lit-on dans la note dont une copie a été déposée au journal.

Plus loin, les 20 organisations déclarent avoir constaté aussi « avec regret le dysfonctionnement du Parlement haïtien, le 12 janvier 2015, en raison de la non-tenue des élections législatives et locales, depuis 2011 ». une situation voulue par le président Martelly, selon la note portant les signatures de Gédéon Jean, directeur exécutif du Centre d’analyse et de recherche en droits de l’homme et du secrétaire exécutif de la Plate-forme des organisations haïtiennes des droits humains, Antonal Mortimé.

 

Cliquez ICI pour le texte original.

Haitian Family Reunification Will Soon Begin

January 29, 2015 - 09:17

After years of advocacy for its implementation, a limited version of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HRFPP) is set to begin on February 2, 2015. With that come scams and fees from people hoping to profit from applicants’ lack of familiarity with the regulations. To help prevent that, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, a State Representative and 2 City Councillors met with  members of the Haitian community in Boston to teach them what to look out for. While we are excited about this first step to HFRPP, we will also keep fighting for full implementation of the program.

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

Haitian community briefed on ‘Family Reunification’ process

Eliza Dewey, Dorchester Reporter
January 29, 2015

Five years after a catastrophic earthquake rocked Haiti, the ongoing impacts of the disaster were evident last Thursday night at an event in Mattapan designed to inform the community about a new federal program that will help an estimated 5,000 Haitians per year join their family members in the United States.

The event, held at the Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan Square, was hosted by State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry in conjunction with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians. State Representative Dan Cullinane and City Councillors Tim McCarthy and Charles Yancey were also in attendance.

The program in focus, known as the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRP Program), enables eligible Haitians who have already applied for an immigrant visa to the United States to spend the final two years of their waiting period in this country with their family. The HFRP program does not itself confer any legal immigration status to beneficiaries.

Application to the HFRP Program is by invitation only. Beginning on February 2, 2015, the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) will begin sending out written invitations to American citizens and lawful permanent residents who are eligible to apply to the program on behalf of their relatives living in Haiti. Potential Haitian beneficiaries cannot apply for themselves.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Stop Mass Deportation of Haitian-Descended Dominicans

January 28, 2015 - 13:58

Tuesday, January 27, a group of Dominicans hoping to enroll in DR government programs for immigrants were deported instead. When these programs were first announced, many feared they would be used to identify and discriminate against immigrants. Now, many worry that those fears are becoming reality. Please send appeals to Dominican Republic authorities urging them to prevent these human rights violations.

Click HERE for additional information.

DOCUMENT – MASS DEPORTATION IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Amnesty International
January 28, 2015

UA: 20/15 Index: AMR 27/002/2015 Dominican Republic Date: 28 January 2015

URGENT ACTION

mass deportation in the dominican republic

On 27 January, 51 people, including 30 Dominican-born children, some of their mothers and 14 other adults were deported without due process to Haiti from the Dominican Republic. More mass deportations of Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian migrants are feared.

On the morning of 27 January, two mini-buses transporting 30 children aged between seven and 13, all born in the Dominican Republic, accompanied by some of their mothers (7 Haitian women) and 14 other Haitian migrants were travelling with religious officials to San Juan de la Maguana in eastern Dominican Republic. Following a ruling issued by the Dominican Constitutional Court in 2013 that rendered tens of thousands of people of foreign descent stateless, the mothers intended to enrol the children in a naturalization scheme established by the Dominican government in May 2014 to regularize the situation of Dominican children of irregular migrants. The 14 other Haitian migrants sought to enrol in the National Regularization Plan for Foreigners with Irregular Migration Status, established in 2013 for undocumented migrants living in the Dominican Republic.

Around 20 kilometres before reaching San Juan de la Maguana, where the nearest offices that process enrolment for both naturalization and regularization processes are located, the mini-buses were stopped at a military checkpoint. The military officers denied the group access to the city for being “undocumented migrants”. Following negotiations with the religious officials, they were asked to obtain a pass at the office of the Migration Directorate in Elias Piña near the Haitian-Dominican border. Once they arrived at the Migration Directorate office, they were detained and accused of being illegal wanderers. The authorities ordered their immediate deportation to Haiti without giving them the opportunity to have their cases individually examined, and therefore be able to challenge the legality of their detention or appeal the decision.

Following pressure, in the evening the Dominican Ministry of Interior gave authorization to the whole group to re-enter the country. They were still on Haitian territory on the morning of 28 January. The 30 children are in a particular situation of vulnerability as they do not hold Haitian citizenship and remain stateless. �

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

Calling on the Dominican authorities to allow the group to enrol in the naturalization and regularization schemes according to their wishes;

Urging them not to use naturalization and regularization procedures to detect alleged undocumented migrants and to stop all deportations of similar measures against applicants in the naturalization and regularization schemes;

Urging them to fulfil their obligations under international law, which prohibit arbitrary and collective expulsions, and to ensure that all those facing removal from the Dominican Republic have their cases individually examined in a fair and transparent procedure, where they can challenge the authorities’ decisions and have their case reviewed.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 11 MARCH 2015 TO:

Minister of Interior and Police

José Ramón Fadul

Av. México esq. Leopoldo Navarro

Edificio de Oficinas Gubernamentales Juan Pablo Duarte

Santo Domingo, República Dominicana

Email: info@mip.gob.do

Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister

 

Director of Migration

Lic. Jose Ricardo Taveras

Dirección General de Migración

Avenida 30 de Mayo, Esquina Héroes de

Luperon,

Santo Domingo, República Dominicana

Fax: +1 809 534 7118

Email: info@migracion.gov.do

Salutation: Dear Director

 

Minister of Foreign of Affairs

Andrés Navarro García

Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores

Avda. Independencia No.752

Santo Domingo, República Dominicana

Fax: +1 809 985 7551

Email: relexteriores@mirex.gob.do

Salutation: Dear Minister�

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

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

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

 

Click HERE for additional information.

Unsafe Situation for Human Rights Defenders in Haiti

January 28, 2015 - 10:57

In Haiti, those who stand up for the marginalized are often harassed and become victims themselves. This article features an interview with one such human rights defender, who has been threatened and harassed for his work on housing rights. In the interview, he chronicles many recent cases of human rights defenders being threatened, arrested, or even killed for their work. The more we speak out about these cases, the more we can prevent.

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

The Attack on Human Rights Defenders in Haiti An Interview with Jackson Doliscar, Part II

Beverly Bell, Other Worlds
January 28, 2015

Community organizer and rights defender Jackson Doliscar speaks to efforts of the Haitian government to silence advocates of human rights and land and housing rights, (See part I of Doliscar’s interview.) The attacks are part of the government’s strategy to leave opposition movements defenseless.

The cases that Doliscar discusses here are only a few of the many instances of violence and illegal imprisonment that the government of Michel Martelly has perpetrated since taking power in a fraudulent election three years ago. Other cases even include the public assassination of the coordinator of the Coalition of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH by its Creole acronym), Daniel Dorsainvil, and his wife, Girldy Larêche, on February 8, 2014.

The Martelly Administration is becoming increasingly autocratic, including disregarding elections and instead ruling by decree. Nevertheless, the US government continues to provide political and financial support, even including assistance to the lawless police.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Cholera Victims Continue to Seek Justice from UN

January 27, 2015 - 11:47

On January 9, 2015 a US judge ruled in favor of absolute UN immunity in the cholera case. The judge cited previous cases where UN immunity was upheld but cholera victims and their lawyers argue that those cases differ from this case. Where the UN has provided alternate means of seeking compensation in the past, it has avoided accountability at every turn in this case. This article features interviews with IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon, UN press officer Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, and future IJDH Legal Intern Wesley Laine.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the original.

Lawyers push lawsuit against UN for Haiti cholera outbreak

Claire Luke, Devex
January 27, 2015

Human rights lawyers in New York are preparing to file an appeal against a U.S. judge’s decision to dismiss a class action lawsuit against the United Nations, the next step in an uphill battle that, if successful, may change the way the public can hold the institution accountable for its actions.

The appeal is the latest in the much-publicized case alleging that the United Nations negligently introduced cholera to Haiti after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that tarnished the U.N.’s reputation in the troubled Caribbean state.

The lawsuit, Georges et al. v. United Nations et al., was dismissed Jan. 9 in the Southern District Court of New York on the grounds that the United Nations is exempt to charges against its immunity.

Brian Concannon, executive director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti — the first to file claims on behalf of 5,000 cholera victims and their families — told Devex the appeal will argue that the United Nations should not be able to use its immunity as a shield for negligence and misconduct.

 

Click HERE for the original.