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UN Advisors Recommend Apology, Compensation for Roma Poisoned by UN Negligence

April 7, 2016 - 18:02

A UN-led panel found that the United Nations compromised the lives and health of inhabitants of camps in Kosovo, which were built on a toxic wasteland and had high levels of lead. The camps house Roma, who were forced to live there in light of the war between Serbia and ethnic Albanians, and immediately began experiencing health problems because of the camps’ toxicity. Despite these illnesses and deaths, and recommendations from human rights groups, the WHO and medical experts, the UN kept the Roma in these camps for over ten years. The panel’s recommendation of an apology and compensation has important parallels to the cholera case, which also involves UN negligence leading to unnecessary and prolonged illness and deaths.

Roma Poisoned at U.N. Camps in Kosovo May Get Apology and Compensation

Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

April 7, 2016

Hundreds of Roma families in Kosovo, who were forced to live for more than a decade in squalid United Nations camps built on toxic wasteland that leached lead and poisoned their children, have long become accustomed to frustration and despair.

Now the Roma, also known as Gypsies, may be close to receiving compensation — and a public apology — from the United Nations, which has not acknowledged any responsibility for the mass lead poisoning even as human rights groups and medical experts including the World Health Organization, a United Nations agency, repeatedly recommended immediate relocation of camp inhabitants. The camps were finally demolished in 2010, and the inhabitants were resettled elsewhere.

In an opinion dated Feb. 26 but not issued until this week, a human rights advisory panel that is part of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, the peacekeeping operation known as Unmik, found that the mission had failed to protect the Roma families who had been moved into the camps after war broke out in 1998 between Serbia and ethnic Albanian separatists seeking an independent Kosovo.

The panel, which was created in 2006 to examine civilian complaints about Unmik, also found that the mission had acted negligently in leaving the Roma in the camps for years, even as the inhabitants were getting ill, sometimes fatally, from their poisonous surroundings.

“Consequently, the panel finds that, through its actions and omissions, Unmik was responsible for compromising irreversibly the life, health and development potential of the complainants that were born and grew as children in the camps,” the panel concluded in the 79-page opinion.

It urged the mission to acknowledge a “failure to comply with the applicable human rights standards in response to the adverse health condition caused by lead contamination” that had sickened the camp inhabitants, and to make a “public apology to them and their families.”

The opinion also urged “appropriate steps toward payment of adequate compensation,” without specifying how it should be calculated.

The advisory panel is not a court, and its findings are not binding. But its opinion, coming after protracted wrangling by lawyers and advocates for the Roma, was seen by them as a surprising victory against the United Nations, an organization that critics say does not often hold itself accountable for wrongdoing.

“The decision is the long-awaited morsel of justice for the hundreds of Kosovo Roma community members who were herded into lead-poisoned land after the war in 1999 and then abandoned for 10 years as Unmik ignored the pleas of the Roma,” said Dianne Post, an American lawyer who represents the camp inhabitants. Ms. Post, who spent years petitioning the United Nations for redress, said high levels of lead among camp residents had led to miscarriages, stillbirths, premature births and developmental disorders. “An entire generation of Roma children was lost,” she said.

Nick Birnback, a spokesman for the United Nations Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, emphasized that the panel’s recommendations “are of an advisory nature.” He said they would be evaluated by Zahir Tanin, the Kosovo mission’s top official.

“He will carefully study the panel’s opinion and recommendations and will issue a decision in due course on all its aspects, according to established procedure,” Mr. Birnback said in a statement.

There is no dispute over the source of the health problems that afflicted the hundreds of Roma who were placed in three camps administered by the United Nations in the north part of Mitrovica, Kosovo, at the end of the war, when ethnic Albanians seized their homes.

All three camps were within 200 yards of enormous piles of industrial waste from a lead-smelting factory. Soon after the Roma moved in, many inhabitants, but especially older people, expectant mothers and children, began getting sick from contaminated soil and dust.

Paul Polansky, an American expert on the Roma who is a longtime resident of Serbia and has helped lead the advocacy for former camp residents, said more than 500 survivors could be affected by the Roma opinion, which he had not been expecting.

“I was absolutely surprised,” he said Thursday in a telephone interview. “My experience is that the U.N. doesn’t pay attention to anybody and they think they’re in a world of their own.”

Mr. Polansky, who helped produce a 2005 documentary about the poisonings, “Gypsy Blood,” said the news of the opinion had not yet spread among the camp survivors. “I don’t think the Roma will believe it,” he said. “We’ve always had promises and promises.”

The United Nations is facing other accountability problems related to its peacekeeping efforts, most notably a sexual abuse scandal involving accusations against peacekeepers in Africa and lawsuits over the spread of cholera in Haiti, which medical studies have linked to infected peacekeepers deployed there after the 2010 earthquake. The organization has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the cholera lawsuits, asserting that it has diplomatic immunity from them.

Advocates for the Haitian victims, who have been following the Roma dispute, said they saw important parallels.

“Although the specific facts of the cases are different, both ultimately concern situations where the U.N. knowingly and directly exposed the population they were meant to protect to abhorrent dangers to their health and life,” said Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, which is assisting in the lawsuits.

Mr. Concannon said the Roma opinion “drives home that the U.N. has an obligation to respond to the ongoing health emergency in Haiti by taking the swift and urgent action that the situation demands.”

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Somini Sengupta contributed reporting from the United Nations.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

60 Haitian Diaspora Groups and Leaders Urge U.S. Support for Elections Verification

April 7, 2016 - 10:56

Wednesday, Haiti’s interim president Privert announced the formation of a commission that will verify the results of Haiti’s elections. While many Haitians and human rights groups have been demanding a verification for months, the international community has categorically disapproved of such a commission. Sixty Haitian diaspora organizations and individuals wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the U.S. to stop opposing a verification. According to the letter, “going forward with the final round of elections without first examining the impact of fraud on the results would cast a ‘cloud of political illegitimacy’ over Haiti’s next government.”

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

Haitian Americans to Kerry: Stop opposing Haiti elections recount

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 7, 2016

Sixty Haitian-American leaders and diaspora organizations are calling on the Obama administration to end its staunch opposition to a recount in Haiti’s disputed presidential elections, charging that it is undermining democracy in the Caribbean nation.

The letter, addressed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, comes a day after provisional President Jocelerme Privert announced that he will soon form an independent verification commission to look into allegations of ballot tampering and multiple vote-buying in the Oct. 25 presidential first round. Privert said the commission is “indispensable” to political stability and putting confidence back in the interrupted electoral process.

The diaspora community is calling for the administration to support such a commission in hopes of salvaging the country’s electoral process. Haiti has been in a paralyzing political and electoral crisis since its presidential elections. Official results pit former president Michel Martelly’s hand-picked successor, Jovenel Moïse, against opposition candidate Jude Célestin. Moise garnered 32.76 percent of the votes, while Célestin had 25.29 percent.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

UN’s Own 2010 Review Undermines Its Position on Haiti Cholera

April 7, 2016 - 09:59

The United Nations’ “position looks increasingly shaky with the emergence of its own internal review exposing dire sanitation conditions at its camps.” A leaked report shows that a month after the cholera epidemic erupted in Haiti, the UN received a damning review of its sanitation practices in Haiti. Despite this added evidence of the UN origin of the epidemic, UN officials continued to deny responsibility and remain unaccountable to this day, hiding behind immunity in courts. According to the leaked report, just $3.15 million would have solved most of the sanitation problems noted in November 2010. Now that cholera is likely endemic in Haiti, eradication is estimated to cost more than $2 billion.

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

Leaked UN report on Haiti’s cholera outbreak slams sanitation at its bases

Caribbean360

April 7, 2016

 

NEW YORK, United States, Thursday April 7, 2016 – A leaked report has revealed that the United Nations found serious sanitation flaws in its Haiti peacekeeping mission just a month after the deadly cholera outbreak erupted, killing thousands in the impoverished Caribbean country.

The report, which was commissioned in November 2010, found a series of shocking problems at several UN peacekeeping bases, including sewage being dumped out in the open and a disturbing lack of bathroom facilities.

The authors of the review, which was titled the Minustah Environmental Health Assessment Report, warned UN leadership that failure to dispose of sewage safely at a time when the cholera epidemic was raging “will potentially damage the reputation of the mission.”

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Diaspora Groups and Leaders Ask Kerry to Drop U.S. Resistance to Haiti Vote Fraud Inquiry

April 7, 2016 - 07:52

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Kermshlise Picard, Communications Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti; media@ijdh.org, 617-652-0876

Diaspora Groups and Leaders Ask Kerry to Drop

U.S. Resistance to Haiti Vote Fraud Inquiry

Boston, April 7 – 28 Haitian-American diaspora organizations and 32 political, religious and community leaders wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry today calling on the U.S. to support an inquiry into electoral fraud during the 2015 elections in Haiti. American officials have staunchly opposed the establishment of a verification commission to examine fraud allegations, a stance which has “undermined democracy while harming the United States’ credibility in Haiti,” according to the letter.

Haiti’s electoral process has been stalled since January 22 when massive street protests forced the suspension of the vote. After singer-turned-politician Michel Martelly stepped down as president on February 7, a transitional government was put in place and a new electoral council formed, tasked with restarting the democratic process. The creation of a verification commission is currently under consideration by the interim authorities.

“Haiti needs a vote verification commission,” said Pierre Imbert, former Director of the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants and an endorser of the letter. “It is the only way to help restore Haitian voters’ confidence in the electoral process.” Haitian observer groups documented extensive fraud during previous rounds of voting, and a January 2016 public opinion survey showed that Haitians were extremely sceptical of the validity of the official results.

Going forward with the final round of elections without first examining the impact of fraud on the results would cast a “cloud of political illegitimacy” over Haiti’s next government, the letter warns. Presidential, legislative and municipal elections held on August 9 and October 25 were marred by fraud, violence and grave irregularities, which many claim favoured candidates close to former President Michel Martelly. “Haiti’s elections to date have been unacceptable by any reasonable democratic standard,” the letter states.

Among the 28 endorsing organizations are the Alliance of Haitian Professionals (AHP), the National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals (NAAHP), the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York (HALA-NY), and the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (HALA-NJ).

U.S. officials have dismissed allegations of fraud and insisted that the final round of elections proceed based on the current, strongly-contested vote totals. In an April 4 interview, Ambassador to Haiti Peter Mulrean stated unequivocally that the U.S. was opposed to the creation of a verification commission and urged the interim government to quickly complete the electoral cycle.

“The arrogance is breathtaking!” said City of North Miami Vice-Mayor Alix Desulme, one of the endorsers of the letter, reacting to Mulrean’s comments. “The U.S. ambassador has no business dictating to Haitians how to manage their political affairs.”

Other individual endorsers include Florida State Representative Daphne D. Campbell, Florida Commissioner Mack Bernard, former Consul General of the Republic of Haiti in New York Harry Fouche, former City of North Miami Vice-Mayor Philippe Derose (the first Haitian-American elected to public office in the United States), Archdeacon J. Fritz Bazin of the Episcopal Diocese of South East Florida, Boston religious leader Pastor Dieufort Jean Fleurissaint, and Jocelyn McCalla, former Executive Director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights.

The letter calls on the U.S. to support “the broad consensus of Haitian political and civil society” demanding a verification. The State Department’s priority “should be elections done well rather than simply quickly.” The U.S. government has contributed over $33 million to Haiti’s elections.

The letter also urges Kerry to “break the State Department’s silence” about the spectre of paramilitary violence threatening the transitional government as it deals with the electoral crisis. While acts of vandalism by street protestors have been publicly denounced by U.S. officials, ex-paramilitary leader Guy Philippe’s calls to ex-soldiers telling them to “prepare for war” against the interim government have received no such condemnation. Lamenting this “egregious double-standard,” the letter implored U.S. officials to “loudly and clearly denounce this electoral intimidation rather than ignoring it.”

The Haitian diaspora in the U.S. has spoken out repeatedly in favour of a fraud investigation. On January 19, 43 Haitian-American organizations, 34 political, religious, and community leaders, and 66 other individuals wrote to Secretary of State Kerry urging U.S. support for an independent, Haitian-led investigation into electoral fraud. This followed similar calls for a verification of the vote in a December 2 statement by a coalition of Haitian-American organizations and a Congressional call-in day organized by Haitian-Americans on December 23. The editors of the Miami Herald and the New York Times have likewise urged the United States to support an inquiry into the electoral fraud.

These demands have been backed by several members of Congress who have written urging the same course. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) wrote to Kerry on October 5 and again on January 21 warning of the dangers of trying to push ahead with deeply flawed elections. U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) also wrote you urging free and fair elections in Haiti. “Many of my Haitian-American constituents and their families are deeply concerned about fraud in Haiti’s electoral process,” wrote Clark.

 

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Letter from the Haitian-American Community to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Elections in Haiti

April 7, 2016 - 07:37

Click HERE for the pdf version of this letter.

April 7, 2016
Letter from the Haitian-American Community to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Elections in Haiti

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We respectfully urge the State Department to chart a far different and better course in Haiti than it has so far. We believe that the Department’s positions to date have undermined Haiti’s democracy while harming the United States’ credibility in Haiti. We request that the United States adopt a policy that prioritizes respect for Haitians’ democratic rights, not political expediency.

Recent U.S. policy towards Haiti has contributed to a dangerous process of political polarization. On December 26, the day before an election evaluation commission was set to review allegations of irregularities, U.S. Ambassador Peter Mulrean announced to the Haitian press that there were no irregularities. This undiplomatic interference in Haiti’s internal affairs generated outrage across Haiti’s political and social spectrums. In January, U.S. diplomats pressed for second-round presidential and legislative elections to be held on the basis of dubious official results, even though the Catholic and Protestant Churches, the Chamber of Commerce, most political parties, electoral observation organizations and human rights groups, and tens of thousands of protestors were calling for better elections. Fortunately, the January 24 vote was postponed, giving Haiti some much-needed political breathing room. An interim leadership took over when President Michel Martelly’s term expired on February 7 and is working to restart the stalled electoral process.

This transitional period gives Haiti a chance to correct deep flaws in the election process and create a stable foundation moving forward. Haiti’s elections to date have been unacceptable by any reasonable democratic standard. Widespread violence, disorder, and fraud characterized the August elections, while in October the results were badly skewed by fraudulent votes cast using over 900,000 political-party accreditations in circulation. Historically-low turnout and corruption scandals within the CEP further undermined the vote’s credibility.

Haiti’s leading electoral observation bodies for these reasons consider a full and independent investigation into voting fraud to be an indispensable condition for re-establishing confidence in the electoral process. This demand is supported by a broad spectrum of human rights leaders, opposition parties, and civil society groups, and by tens of thousands of Haitians who have taken to the streets repeatedly in the past few months.

As members of the Haitian diaspora in the U.S., we have spoken out repeatedly in favour of a fraud investigation. On January 19, 43 Haitian-American organizations, 34 political, religious, and community leaders, and 66 other individuals wrote you urging U.S. support for an independent, Haitian-led investigation into electoral fraud. This followed similar calls for a verification of the vote in a December 2 statement by a coalition of Haitian-American organizations and a Congressional call-in day organized by Haitian-Americans on December 23. The editors of the Miami Herald and the New York Times have likewise urged the United States to support an inquiry into the electoral fraud.

Members of Congress have urged the same course. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) wrote you on October 5 and again on January 21 warning of the dangers of trying to push ahead with deeply flawed elections. U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) also wrote you urging free and fair elections in Haiti. “Many of my Haitian-American constituents and their families are deeply concerned about fraud in Haiti’s electoral process,” wrote Clark.

But U.S. diplomats continue to disregard the broad consensus of Haitian political and civil society and of Haitian-Americans in favor of an investigation. U.S. officials, contrary to all the evidence, have insisted that the electoral results are credible and that the runoff should proceed based on the current, strongly-contested vote totals. They do so despite the cloud of political illegitimacy this would cast over Haiti’s next government. We find this near-fixation with holding quick elections deeply troubling, given the interim authorities’ mandated responsibility to conduct “an evaluation of the phases already completed.”

U.S. diplomats have said their priority is to have a stable government in place quickly, but in the past our government’s prioritization of “stability” over the most basic requirements of democracy has only led to further instability. We therefore strongly urge you to make the following specific changes to U.S. policy to facilitate restarting the democratic process:

The U.S. should support investigations into the flaws and deficiencies of the August and October elections and any and all consequent recommended corrections to them. Investigating the massive fraud in the elections and re-running races will take time and money but is far preferable in the medium and long term to an illegitimate legislature and presidency disrespected by most Haitians.

The U.S. priority should be elections done well rather than simply quickly. The transitional government should be replaced as soon as possible by a constitutional government, but for Haiti to progress the next government must be fairly elected and perceived to be legitimate. It will take time to get that right. The U.S. must let Haitians decide what steps need to be taken to rebuild trust in the elections and how much time is needed to accomplish these tasks.

Rushing the transition government’s work would predictably have the same effect as did rushing the previous Evaluation Commission and the second round: it would make it impossible to establish the credibility of contested election results and to restore popular faith in the balloting. If there is a lesson to be learned from the recent past, it is that Haitians will reject the U.S. dictating the pace and direction of their political process.

State Department officials should publicly and forcefully condemn calls by Martelly supporters, especially drug dealer and 2004 coup leader Guy Philippe, to violently oppose the transitional government. State Department envoy Kenneth Merten has denounced opposition protests during which incidents of vandalism occurred as “electoral intimidation” that was “not acceptable.” But neither Merten nor any other U.S. representative in Haiti has so far spoken out against the far more serious threat of armed rebellion by pro-Martelly paramilitary forces or the inflammatory calls to insurrection made by Guy Philippe (now a Senate candidate) on January 24, February 29 and March 7. Persisting in this sort of egregious double-standard is inherently dangerous and feeds the broad mistrust that many Haitians already feel toward U.S. motives and policy.

We urge you to break the State Department’s silence on these disturbing recent developments. When you visited Haiti on October 6, you declared that “violence and intimidation have no place in the election process.” The threat of paramilitary violence is hanging over the head of the transitional government as it attempts to restore fairness and credibility to the electoral process. Given Philippe’s role in overthrowing Haiti’s elected government in 2004, his known involvement in drug trafficking (Philippe is on the DEA’s Wanted list), and his close ties to former President Martelly and the right wing, U.S. officials should loudly and clearly denounce this electoral intimidation rather than ignoring it. The weapons of illegally-armed groups cannot be allowed to determine or in any way influence the solutions adopted to resolve Haiti’s electoral crisis.

Having narrowly avoided being saddled with a President of dubious legitimacy for the next five years, Haiti now has a chance to remedy the credible and well-documented fraud allegations that have dogged the 2015 elections. Haiti’s interim authorities have made progress toward forming a government, and a political dialogue has been opened with many different sectors of Haitian society. But the crisis is far from resolved due to disputes over the application of the political accord and real and credible threats of right-wing paramilitary violence. We hope that the United States will change its approach to Haiti’s elections, becoming a force for compromise and democratic principle rather than polarization and conflict.

Sincerely,
Organizations

1. 1804 Institute, Prospère Charles, President, Washington, D.C.

2. Association of Haitian Professionals (AHP), Joseph Depestre, President, Washington, D.C.

3. Center for Self-Sufficiency, Edeline B. Mondestin, RN, BSN, Executive Director, Miami, FL

4. Diaspora In Action, Joel Leon, Executive Director, Philadelphia, PA

5. Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami, Inc (FANM), Marleine Bastien, MSW, LCSW, Executive Director, Miami, FL

6. Global Haitian Diaspora Federation, Bernier Lauredan, M.D., Executive Vice President, Irvington, NJ

7. Haiti Solidarity Network of the North East (HSNNE), Jersey City, NJ

8. Haitian American Grassroots Coalition (HAGC), Jean Robert Lafortune, Chairperson, South Florida

9. Haitian American Lawyers Association of New Jersey, Karen Nazaire, Esq., President

10. Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York, Annel-Stephan Norgaisse, Esq., President

11. Haitian Diaspora for Democracy and Development, Jimy Mertune, President, Orlando, FL

12. Haitians for Democracy in Haiti, Etzer Lalanne, Secretary General, Leesburg, FL

13. Haitian Professionals of Philadelphia (HPP), Stephanie Sylvain, Board Chairperson, Philadelphia, PA

14. Haitians Unified for Development and Education (HUDE), France Casseus, Chair/Executive Director, Jersey City, NJ

15. Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Brian Concannon, Executive Director, Boston, MA

16. National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals (NAAHP), Serge Renaud, President, Hillside, NJ

17. National Haitian Student Alliance, Lucson Joseph, President, Fort Lauderdale, FL

18. Positive Women United, Sylvia Cothia, Founder and President, New York, NY

19. Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center, Inc., Gepsie M. Metellus, Executive Director, Miami, FL

20. The Haitian League, Bernier Lauredan, M.D., President, Irvington, NJ

21. Voice of Haitian Americans in the Diaspora (VHAD), Daniel Eugene, President, Boca Raton, FL

22. Centre International de Documentation & d’Information Haitienne, Caraïbéenne & Afrocanadienne (CIDIHCA), Frantz Voltaire, Board President, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

23. Haiti Support Group, Shodona Kettle, Chair, London, United Kingdom

24. 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Monica Russo, Executive Vice President, Florida Region

25. Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Opal Tometi, Executive Director, Brooklyn, NY (Ms. Tometi is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter.)

26. SEIU Florida State Council, Monica Russo, President

27. South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, Rev. Jeanette Smith, President, Coral Gables, FL

28. South Florida Progressive Jewish Action, Jack Lieberman, President, North Miami, FL

Individuals

29. Daphne D. Campbell, State Representative, Florida House of Representatives (District 108), State of Florida; Vice Chair, National Haitian American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON)

30. Alix Desulme, Vice Mayor and Councilman, City of North Miami, FL (representing District 4)

31. Mackenson Bernard, Commissioner, Florida Election Commission (2014-2015); Member, Florida House of Representatives, District 84 (2009-2012); Commissioner, City of Delray Beach, FL (2008-2009)

32. Philippe Derose, former Councilman and Vice-Mayor, City of North Miami Beach, and former Mayor, City of El Portal, FL (Mr. Derose was the first Haitian American elected to public office in the United States.)

33. Pierre Imbert, Senior Advisor on Haiti, The Barr Foundation (2010 to present); Deputy Director, Department of Social Services, State of California under Governor Schwarzenegger (2008-2010, three years); Director, Office of Refugees and Immigrants, Commonwealth of Massachusetts under Governor Romney (2005-2007); and Executive Director, Catholic Charities Haitian Multi-Service Center, Boston, MA (1994-2005), Cutler Bay, FL

34. Jocelyn McCalla, human rights advocate and former Executive Director, National Coalition for Haitian Rights, New York, NY

35. Harry Fouche, economist and former Consul General for Haiti in New York; Chicago, IL

36. Myrtha Desulme, Assistant Vice-President for Advocacy and Public Policy, Haitian Diaspora Federation (HDF); President, Haiti-Jamaica Society

37. Ven. Archdeacon J.Fritz Bazin, Episcopal Diocese of S.E. Florida, Miami, FL

38. Rev. Dieufort Jean Fleurissaint, Executive Pastor, Voice of the Gospel Tabernacle Church, Mattapan, MA and Strategy Team Member, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), Boston, MA

39. Guerda Nicolas, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Educational & Psychological Studies, School of Education and Human Development, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

40. Georgette Delinois, Chair, Saint Anastasia Haiti Support Group (SAHSG), Teaneck, NJ

41. Marie N Lamothe, Executive Director of BANJ Health Center, a community health facility in Los Angeles, CA; candidate for Mayor of Carrefour, Haiti in the October 25, 2016 elections; owner of Radio Communaute Haitienne 2000 (aka RCH2000), a radio station in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Los Angeles, CA

42. Luckner Bayas, PE, General Secretary, Congres des Ingenieurs, Architectes, Scientifiques et Technologues Haitiens (CIASTH), Boston, MA

43. Marie Marthe Saint Cyr, Board member, YAM Community Resource Center, Inc., Huntington, NY

44. Dabouze Antoine, City Councilman, Forest Park, GA

45. Moise Garcon, President, Plan D’Action Citoyenne (PAC, Citizens Action Plan), and Vice-President, Ayiti Demain (Haiti Tomorrow), Miramar, FL

46. Jean-Claude Roy, CFP, ChFC (retired), formerly consultant to Haitian Prime Minister Jean Jacques Honorat; long active in politics in Haiti; in charge for the CEP in 1987 of the first attempt to computerize election results, aborted due to the massacre; Boca Raton, FL

47. Ford Eloge, President, Leve Haiti Piwo (Raise Haiti Higher), West Palm Beach, FL

48. Eddy Toussaint Tontongi, Editor-in-chief, Review Tanbou, Boston, MA

49. Larousse Desrosier, political analyst at Radio ImageFM (Boston), Randolph, MA

50. Jacques P. Bingue, Ph.D, Lexington, KY

51. Professor Yves. A. Isidor, Executive Editor, Wehaitians.com, a journal of democracy and human rights; formerly affiliated with the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, where he taught economics, and Lesley University among other institutions of higher learning; Cambridge; MA

52. Charlot Lucien, Public Health Administrator, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, MA

53. Thomas F. Luce, Coordinator, Human Rights Accompaniment in Haiti (HURAH.org), Berkeley, CA

54. Romane Petit Joseph, Labor Union Organizer, UniteHere-Local 355, Miami, Florida

55. Yvelt Daniel, political activist, Linden, NJ

56. Orisseau Acelas, Pharm.D, Rph, West Palm Beach, FL

57. Harry Comeau, Freeport, NY

58. Fritz Jean Baptiste, law school graduate in Haiti (Gonaives); Los Angeles, CA

59. Dumas M. Simeus, Southlake (part of the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex), TX

60. Maydjine Louis Charles, Bay Harbor Islands, FL

Click HERE for the pdf version of this letter.

Leaked Report Highlights UN Recklessness and Cover up on Haiti Cholera

April 6, 2016 - 13:12

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact: Kermshlise Picard, Communications Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, media@ijdh.org; +1-617-652-0876 (Interviews available in English, French & Kreyòl).)

Leaked Report Highlights UN Recklessness and Cover up on Haiti Cholera

Advocates Deplore Culpable Officer’s Continued Senior Position at UN

April 6, 2016, Boston — A leaked report shows that senior UN leadership covered up evidence of serious, uncorrected sanitation failures on its peacekeeping bases in Haiti, and continued to deny responsibility for the cholera epidemic it brought to Haiti long after an internal investigation documented a systemic practice of discharging untreated toilet and kitchen waste directly into Haiti’s environment.

“This new report makes clear that the reckless sanitation that caused the cholera outbreak was part of a systemic sanitation failure,” said Brian Concannon, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), which advocates for remedies for victims of the UN cholera, including through a U.S. lawsuit. “And the sanitation failure is part of a systemic refusal of the UN to hold itself or its staff accountable to the organization’s principles, the vulnerable populations that host peacekeeping missions or the taxpayers that fund them.”

The internal review commissioned a month after the October 2010 cholera outbreak found that over 10% of the bases for MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, were discharging untreated toilet waste “directly into the environment,” while over 70% were discharging “grey water”- effluent from kitchens and showers, which can also contain disease.  Numerous scientific studies have established that cholera was introduced by waste discharged from the Mirebalais MINUSTAH base into Haiti’s largest river system. The epidemic has officially killed over 9,200 people and sickened 800,000, but a recent scientific study estimated that the actual death toll could be 40,000 or more.

At the time of the cholera outbreak, MINUSTAH was headed by Edmond Mulet. Despite the review’s documentation of system-wide sewage dumping, Mr. Mulet repeatedly denied any link between peacekeeping troops and the cholera outbreak, accusing Haitians who pointed the finger at the UN of “wasting time and costing lives.”  As recently as 2014, Mr. Mulettold an interviewer that the peacekeepers did not bring cholera to Haiti, that “all those precautions had been taken and had been taken all along” to prevent cholera, and that all the peacekeepers at the base had been tested for cholera.

Even after the leaked report became public, Farhan Haq, the Deputy Spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, responding to reporters’ questions on April 5, maintained that “regarding wastewater management, the [Mirebalais] camp was compliant” in November 2010. Television footage from October 27, 2010 shows peacekeepers “working furiously to contain what looks like a sewage spill” leaking from the base’s toilets to the nearby river. The UN’s own panel of independent experts subsequently concluded that the peacekeepers were the most likely source of the cholera.

There is no evidence that anyone within the UN has faced any consequences for the sanitation failures that caused the cholera crisis or the public misinformation that exacerbated the crisis and tarnished the UN’s reputation in Haiti or abroad. The organization steadfastly refuses any institutional accountability for the harm caused by the cholera. Although the organization claims to have made improvements in its sanitation practices, internal reviews of other peacekeeping missions, as recently as 2015, have documented similar systemic discharge of human waste into the local environments there.

Mr. Mulet was promoted to the position of Chef de Cabinet of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, one of the most senior roles in the UN Secretariat, in November 2015.

 

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Un Peacekeepers Father Children, Leaving Haitians in Increased Poverty

April 6, 2016 - 12:30

Despite protocols and rules saying that United Nations peacekeepers should not have sexual relations with local people when they’re deployed, sexual abuse and exploitation has become a major problem in UN missions worldwide. An even bigger problem is when those relations result in fatherless children and leave the mothers even poorer than before the peacekeepers arrived. Since 2010, at least 15 children were fathered by peacekeepers in Haiti.

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

Quebec police officers engaged in sexual misconduct in Haiti

Jean-Philippe Robillard, CBC News

April 6, 2016

Several Quebec police officers engaged in sexual misconduct while working as UN peacekeepers in Haiti, including at least two who had children with Haitian women during the course of their mission, Radio-Canada has learned.

“There’s a code of silence. The cases that are not reported are kept secret. People come back and continue their activities,” said a former police officer with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

According to CBC’s French-language service Radio-Canada, at least two Montreal police officers fathered children while working with MINUSTAH.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Leaked Report Adds to Embarrassment of UN Impunity [audio]

April 6, 2016 - 12:05

The denial of justice to Haiti’s cholera victims is becoming increasingly embarrassing for the United Nations, as a report has been leaked which shows that the UN knew that it was the source of cholera in Haiti, even as it continued to deny responsibility. While most people knew that the UN base near the top of Haiti’s main water source was the origin of the epidemic, this report reveals that the sanitation problems seen at that base were systemic across UN bases. This revelation comes on the heels of another report which estimates that the true death toll for cholera is likely four to ten times higher than what’s officially reported. Brian Concannon, IJDH Executive Director, explains these developments beginning at about 45:25.

Haiti’s Cholera Crisis

Sojourner Truth Radio

April 6, 2016

Click HERE for original posting.

UN Waste Dumping in Haiti and US Support of Impunity

April 6, 2016 - 09:01

A leaked UN report shows that a month after the cholera epidemic erupted in Haiti, the UN was told about unsanitary practices across its bases: Over 10% of bases were dumping sewage into the local environment and 70% were dumping gray water (shower and kitchen water) that could also cause infections. Despite this strong evidence that peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti, the UN continued denying it and to this day, has never formally acknowledged its culpability. Our case against the UN for failing to provide the cholera victims access to justice is currently in the appeals process, with US government attorneys arguing the UN’s case in court. As the largest contributor to the UN, the US government could do so much to push the UN on justice and accountability. Instead, it is supporting UN impunity.

Part of the transcript is below. Click HERE for the full text and recording.

Leaked Report Reveals Unsanitary Conditions At UN Bases During Haitian Cholera EpidemicThe United States is actively discouraging countries from holding the UN accountable for bringing cholera to Haiti, says Brian Concannon, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

The Real News Network

April 6, 2016

JESSICA DESVARIEUX: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. The UN is back in the hot-seat. A leaked UN report is exposing how the World Body knew about unsanitary conditions at bases in Haiti a month after a cholera epidemic erupted in the country. It’s wildly acknowledged that the UN peacekeepers from Nepal brought cholera to Haiti. DNA tests prove that the cholera strain in Haiti was a perfect match to the strain active in South Asia. The UN has consistently denied being responsible for the outbreak, but now with this leaked report, it could provide more evidence for 1500 Haitian cholera victims and families who are suing the UN for negligently bringing cholera to Haiti months after a earthquake devastated the country. Now joining us is one of the attorneys for the victims, Brian Concannon. He’s the executive director of the institute of justice and democracy in Haiti. Thanks so much for joining us, Brian

BRIAN CONCANNON: Well thanks so much for having me Jessica. It’s good to be with you.

DESVARIEUX: So Brian, let’s start out by discussing some of the alarming findings in the report. A month after the cholera outbreak began, more than one in 10 UN camps were still disposing of sewage directly into local environments. So we were talking about dumping into rivers, do accounts corroborate some of your own findings?

CONCANNON: It corroborates but it’s much worse than we thought. We knew that the UN base in Meille where the cholera broke out, that that was dumping their waste into the river, we didn’t know that it was system wide, that 10 % of all camps were doing this. It’s also important to know that 10% of the camps were dumping their toilet water. 70 % were dumping what they call “gray water,” which is a mixture of shower water, kitchen water, that can also contain infectious diseases.

 

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Final Haiti elections will be delayed but verification still not yet decided

April 5, 2016 - 14:28

As many had predicted due to the amount of time left to do so, elections won’t be held on April 24 as stipulated in a Feb 5th accord. Berlanger, the head of Haiti’s latest Electoral Council did not set a new date for the next round, explaining that the problems with Haiti’s electoral process need to be solved before that can happen. While this implies a verification of the previous election rounds, which many have been demanding since October, Berlanger stopped short of announcing a verification. The United States, along with others in the international community, is against a verification because they want the elections to be completed as soon as possible.

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

Haiti presidential runoff elections headed to another delay

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 5, 2016

It’s not yet official, but the head of Haiti’s newly revamped Provisional Electoral Council made it clear Tuesday that the country’s repeatedly postponed final round, scheduled for the last Sunday of this month, won’t happen that day.

Léopold Berlanger, a media executive who was appointed president of the nine-member council after members were sworn in last week, said they couldn’t talk about an election calendar until they first figure out what’s ailing the nation’s electoral process.

He also punted on the politically thorny issue of a recount. Berlanger said the formation of a verification commission to address the allegations of “massive” fraud and determine who belongs in the second round “is a political decision” best left to others.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

UN Maintained Poor Sanitation Even After Causing Cholera Epidemic

April 5, 2016 - 07:44

A leaked UN report shows that even a month after the cholera epidemic had begun in Haiti, more than 10% of UN bases continued their poor sanitation practices, leaking sewage and dirty water near and into Haitian water sources. This is despite the UN having five waste-water treatment plants, which were never used because they weren’t seen as a priority. If the UN had treated its sewage in the first place, that would have cost way less than the UN will have to spend to compensate cholera victims and install comprehensive water and sanitation in Haiti.

Leaked UN report faults sanitation at Haiti bases at time of cholera outbreak

Joe Sandler Clarke and Ed Pilkington, The Guardian

April 5, 2016

The United Nations uncovered serious sanitation failures in its Haiti peacekeeping mission just a month after a deadly cholera outbreak erupted in the country, killing thousands, a leaked report has revealed.

The UN has consistently refused to accept that it is responsible for compensating victims of the disaster. But the report, which was commissioned a month into the cholera crisis in November 2010, found a series of alarming problems in several UN peacekeeping bases including sewage being dumped in the open as well as a lack of toilets and soap.

The authors of the review alerted the UN leadership that the failure to dispose of sewage safely at a time when the cholera epidemic was raging “will potentially damage the reputation of the mission”.

They also warned that the way the UN stabilisation mission in Haiti (Minustah) had managed waste disposal “and the poor oversight of contractors carrying out this work has left the mission vulnerable to allegations of disease propagation and environmental contamination”.

The existence of the internal UN review, which has been seen by the Guardian, will add to pressure on the world body to face up to the role it played as the source of the cholera epidemic. The UN is currently facing a lawsuit from 1,500 Haitians who blame the world organisation for negligently allowing peacekeepers from Nepal to carry the disease into the country, months after Haiti was devastated by an earthquake.

Until the epidemic started in October 2010, Haiti had been free of cholera for at least 150 years. Mounting evidence suggests that the Asian strain of cholera was unwittingly imported by the peacekeepers from Nepal when they were relocated to Haiti to help with emergency work in the aftermath of the earthquake.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that the UN failed to screen peacekeepers from Nepal for cholera, where the disease is common, and that a private contractor hired by the UN failed to ensure sanitary conditions and adequate infrastructure at the UN military camp in Mirebalais. They allege that this led to sewage and other waste being pumped straight into the Meille river, a tributary of Haiti’s biggest river, the Artibonite.

Despite clear evidence, the UN continues to refuse to accept any responsibility for the disaster, claiming immunity from any claims for compensation. The former head of Minustah, Edmond Mulet, has repeatedly stated that UN peacekeepers were not responsible for the outbreak.

The UN’s controversial position looks increasingly awkward now that the world body’s own internal review exposing dire sanitation problems at its camps has come to light. In the leaked report, UN researchers led by the former chief of special support services at the department of field support, Melva Crouch, gave their immediate assessment of the state of sanitation in the peacekeeping bases in Haiti just weeks after the epidemic broke out.

In the most devastating finding, Crouch’s team found that a month after the cholera outbreak, more than one in 10 of the UN camps were still disposing of sewage – known as “black water” – “directly into local environment”. In addition, more than seven in 10 of the camps disposed of their “grey water” – that is water from showers and kitchens – into the “local environment”.

Some camps were found to have open drains with “grey water” running right through them, while several camps flooded due to “inadequate drainage after rains”. “Most disposal sites” where private contractors were paid by the UN to take away the sewage and dirty water from the camps were found to be “too close to water sources and/or population centres and without adequate fencing”.

To add insult to injury, the leaked review, titled the Minustah Environmental Health Assessment Report, notes that the UN mission owned five self-contained waste-water treatment plants that were on site in Haiti and could have been used to make sure the peacekeepers’ camps were sanitary and safe. Two of them were found to be faulty, and as for the other three “the mission had intended to install these plants in the current financial year, however due to competing priorities none of them have yet been installed”.

A study by Médecins sans Frontières published this month in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases found that the official count of about 9,000 deaths from Haiti’s cholera epidemic is likely to be a gross understatement. The researchers pointed out that most of the official fatalities were recorded through hospitals and medical centers, thus ignoring thousands of deaths that occurred in rural areas miles away from any formal medical provision.

In March, the Guardian revealed that the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, had been personally chastised by UN’s own human rights experts for the organisation’s failure to compensate Haitian victims of the cholera outbreak.

In a letter addressed to Ban, five special rapporteurs said the UN’s handling of the cholera epidemic “undermines the reputation of the United Nations, calls into question the ethical framework within which its peace-keeping forces operate, and challenges the credibility of the organization as an entity that respects human rights”.

The leaked report reveals the relatively tiny amount of money the UN could have spent to clean up its camps and prevent sewage disposal into the river. The officials estimated that an investment of just $3.15m would have covered most of the sanitation issues they had identified.

Now that cholera has taken hold in Haiti, a program to eradicate the disease is estimated to cost well over $2bn.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

How will the next UN Secretary General address cholera?

April 4, 2016 - 17:43

Secretary General (SG) Ban Ki-moon’s term will be over at the end of this year and a new SG will take his place. While discussions currently center on what country the next SG will come from, whether it will be a woman, and whether she/he will bend to political pressures, questions of UN accountability will be very important as well. The UN is currently facing an accountability crisis due to sexual assault by peacekeepers and UN responsibility (and also impunity) for Haiti’s cholera epidemic.

U.N. Strives for Transparency in Picking New Secretary General

Somini Sengupta, The New York Times

April 4, 2016

UNITED NATIONS — For the first time in the history of the United Nations, those vying to be the next secretary general have to post their résumés, subject themselves to open hearings and declare publicly why they want this plummy — and thankless — job.

Three of the eight men and women seeking the post this year are former presidents or prime ministers. Half are women, reflecting a push by civil rights groups for the organization to be led by a woman for the first time in its 70 years. Four are from countries that were once part of Yugoslavia, and two now serve as chiefs of United Nations agencies, making it incumbent on them to show that they are not exploiting agency resources to run their campaigns.

In the end, the selection will be made by the five permanent members of the Security Council, who will send that person’s name to the 193-member General Assembly for approval. As in the past, the deliberations are likely to be shaped more by diplomatic jockeying between Moscow and Washington than what the candidates say or do in public hearings that start next week. The Russian ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, made this clear to diplomats who asked him about the new pressure for transparency.

All of this only sharpens the fundamental dilemma for the next secretary general: Will she or he be more of a secretary or a general, and how much of each role will the world powers tolerate?

Critics say that the secretary general has become far too beholden to the wishes of the world’s most powerful countries, so much so that it has become customary for the most senior positions in the secretary general’s office to be divvied up among permanent members of the Security Council. The last four peacekeeping department chiefs have been French, the last three humanitarian chiefs have been British, and the United States has commandeered the top job for political affairs for nearly a decade.

As if to underscore the sensitivity of these appointments, Helen Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand, who declared her candidacy on Monday evening, demurred. “The last thing I’m going to do is pronounce on appointments now,” she said with nervous laughter, adding in an interview that she had been “fair” in the appointments she made as head of the United Nations Development Program.

Danilo Turk, a former president of Slovenia, emphasized his own impartiality, saying in an email that he would make appointments based on “efficiency, competence and integrity,” not what countries the candidates came from.

Continue reading the main story

Vesna Pusic, a former foreign minister of Croatia, described herself as a leader who could bring people together and said the protocol could not be changed overnight.

Calls for the Council to submit more than one candidate’s name to the General Assembly seem to have fallen on deaf ears, as have proposals for the next secretary general to stick to one seven-year term, so as not to have to curry favor with the world powers for reappointment to a second, five-year term, as is the case now.

In other words, while the candidates will have to publicly audition for the first time, there is no indication that the veto-wielding P-5, as the permanent members are known, are about to abdicate any power over whom they choose for the job — and hence, how far the next secretary general will bend to the wishes of the world powers.

The current secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is to step down at the end of the year, completing two five-year terms. His successor will have to maneuver through a thicket of difficult global challenges, such as holding countries accountable to the promises they made on climate change, finding new ways to help people displaced by war and resolving conflicts fueled by powerful countries.

The selection process comes at a time when the United Nations is roiled by new crises of confidence. There are widening allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers, and countries have been reluctant to hold their soldiers accountable.

The organization has also struggled to repair its reputation in Haiti, where poor sanitation by its peacekeepers has been linked to a calamitous cholera epidemic that has killed more than 9,200 since 2010. The United Nations has not paid compensation, nor taken responsibility.

In interviews in recent days, the candidates were scant on details of what they would do as the world’s top civil servant.

Asked, for instance, about whether Haitian cholera victims should be compensated, Ms. Pusic initially indicated that they should be, but then said the question should be studied further by expert panels; it has been studied for years, and the United Nations has claimed immunity from prosecution.

Ms. Clark declined to take a position on what she called “legal issues.” Mr. Turk said that he hoped the organization would “provide the victims with a fair process and an effective remedy.”

How to handle refugees is an especially sensitive issue. Ms. Clark shied away from saying what she thought of the latest agreement that the European Union struck with Turkey, saying only that she was for “pragmatic solutions.” Ms. Pusic praised the accord, under which European countries have offered to pay Turkey for taking Syrian refugees back, and went so far as to say that perhaps the 1951 convention on the rights of refugees should be revisited. Mr. Turk said there was no need to tweak the convention, calling only for a better “institutional and policy framework” to cope with the refugee crisis.

The two other prominent contenders — António Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal and, until last year, head of the United Nations refugee agency, and Irina Bokova, a Bulgarian diplomat who heads Unesco — did not respond to emails sent to their offices.

The three other candidates, all relatively unknown, are Natalia Gherman of Moldova; Srgjan Kerim of Macedonia; and Igor Luksic of Montenegro. There is a surfeit of Eastern European names on the list this year because it has become customary for different regions to nominate one of their own for the top job, though nothing in the United Nations Charter requires it.

More names could be floated in the coming months, including a second Bulgarian: Kristalina Georgieva, a former World Bank official who is now a vice president of the European Union.

Then there is Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Her name has been circulating for months, though in recent weeks diplomats have said the prospects are slim. For the head of state of such a powerful country to lead the United Nations would be highly unusual, tipping the scale that Mr. Ban’s successor would be more like a general than a secretary.

Correction: April 5, 2016
An informational box that appeared in an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to Helen Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand. She was the second woman to hold that office, not the first.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

Haiti Needs a Truth, Justice and Redress Commission for UN Cholera

April 4, 2016 - 09:29

Recently, there have been some promising signs that the international community is ready to push the UN on accountability for the cholera epidemic it brought to Haiti. In a Second Circuit appeal hearing, three judges pushed a US attorney representing the UN on justice for the cholera victims; at a Security Council meeting, a few countries spoke out on justice and compensation; and even UN experts recommended a commission on truth, justice and redress. Especially after a recent report revealed that the number of cholera deaths may be three times higher than current figures, the US should push for formation of such a commission to ensure that cholera victims finally have justice.

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

Truth and justice for Haiti

Editorial, The Boston Globe

April 4, 2016

VICTIMS OF HAITI’S raging cholera epidemic got a glimmer of good news recently when a class-action lawsuit seeking recompense from the United Nations for its role in spreading the disease finally got a hearing in a New York courtroom. The three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit panel asked tough questions of both sides — the US government is representing the United Nations — and fortunately seemed determined to focus less on diplomatic protocol and more on the hard reality outside the courtroom walls.

And it’s a hard reality, indeed. New evidence collected by Doctors Without Borders suggests that deaths from the epidemic that devastated Haiti after the 2010 earthquake could be much higher than the 9,200 toll recorded so far. The study, in the March edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found that the surveillance systems in place at the onset of the epidemic weren’t adequate to provide “accurate and timely information.” In four communities, the study found, house-to-house surveys recorded nearly three times more cholera deaths in the first months after the outbreak began. That’s troubling news for a fragile country.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Murder of 3 Deaf Women Sparks Protests in Haiti

April 1, 2016 - 07:12

Three deaf women were tortured and brutally murdered while walking home late at night, sparking a huge protest by disability rights groups and their supporters in Haiti’s capital on April 1. Though the wife of one man implicated in this crime tried to make excuses for him, advocates say that violence against disabled women is all too common. According to IJDH’s Nicole Phillips, deaf women are attacked in particular because they can’t scream.

Haiti protest demands justice for 3 slain deaf women

David McFadden, Yahoo! News

April 1, 2016

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Hundreds of protesters marched in Haiti’s capital on Friday to demand justice following the brutal killings of three deaf women who were tortured, stoned and left in a gully by attackers.

Mickelson Jean, leader of a Haitian association for the deaf, was one of roughly 300 people who marched in Port-au-Prince to call attention to the recent slayings. The women lived in the coastal village of Leveque where scores of homes are reserved for deaf people and their families.

“These murders are an act of absolute barbarism and we must have justice,” Jean said.

The three women were killed as they were trying to return home by foot late at night because a bridge had collapsed, preventing public transport from Haiti’s capital. They all worked as street vendors and went into Port-au-Prince that day to stock up on supplies.

Jentullon Joel, the police commissioner in Cabaret near where the killings took place two weeks ago, said arrest warrants have since been issued for two men, and three women are being held for questioning.

Joel said that one of the female suspects told investigators that her husband killed the deaf women because he feared they were “lougawou,” a Haitian Creole word for vicious supernatural creatures who fly at night.

But Nicole Phillips, a lawyer representing the victims’ families, believes that story is “a false defense to try and justify a heinous crime.” Mob violence is common in Haiti and experts say there is a widespread acceptance of the killing of perceived evil-doers.

Phillips alleged that one of the victims was known by members of the family who attacked the deaf women. “They only came to this house late at night and asked for shelter because one of the victims knew them,” she said.

Phillips, an attorney with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, is hopeful that the case can shine a spotlight on the vulnerability of disabled Haitians and the obstacles to justice they face.

“It’s a case that’s emblematic of violence that occurs against deaf people, particularly women who can’t scream if they are attacked,” she said.

Click HERE for the original article.

U.S. Senator Speaks Out on Haiti Election Issues

March 30, 2016 - 17:58

It is encouraging to see Senator Leahy expressing some skepticism about international observers’ take on Haiti’s elections, which more often than not is in stark contrast to Haitians’ reports. In this Letter to the Editor, Senator Leahy also recognizes that the crucial issue in Haiti’s elections is the badly-damaged credibility of the electoral process.

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

Haiti elections

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, Miami Herald

March 30, 2016

It was interesting to read Roger Noriega’s March 12 opinion piece, Haiti’s politicians are the ones accountable in election chaos, in which he credits Sen. Marco Rubio with leading a “bipartisan group in the U.S. Congress calling for fair and transparent elections,” and that “[a]s a result, Michel Martelly had little choice but to convene elections last October.”

There are at least two problems with this: First, the Congress prohibited U.S. aid to the Martelly government unless it took steps to hold free and fair elections starting back in December 2014, long before Rubio raised his voice.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Will Haiti Interim Government Have Election Verification?

March 30, 2016 - 12:31

Haiti’s interim government has just named the new Provisional Electoral Council, which is in charge of organizing the elections. Though the accord that set the terms for the interim government calls for elections by April 24, many experts have said that there is no longer enough time to do that. Many Haitians are also still calling for a verification of the previous rounds of elections. The international community, on the other hand, is calling for elections to be held as soon as possible.

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

Haiti’s presidential elections dilemma: to recount or not?

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

March 30, 2016

A new elections commission took charge of Haiti’s disputed electoral process Wednesday, its nine members taking the oath of office before a panel of judges and members of the country’s newly installed caretaker government.

The swearing in came less than 24 hours after provisional President Jocelerme Privert issued a presidential order re-establishing the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), and nearly two months after the process was postponed for a second time against mounting tensions over allegations of widespread electoral fraud and increasing security concerns.

“What the president of the republic had to do concerning the elections, he has done it,” presidential spokesman Serge Simon said shortly before the ceremony. “Now, it is the CEP that will need to evaluate the situation and see how it will advance.”

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Est-ce que le conseil électoral choisira une nouvelle date pour les élections?

March 30, 2016 - 11:57

Jean Max Bellerive, le chef de cabinet du président Jocelerme Privert confirme ce que beaucoup de gens on dit: Il est impossible d’organiser des élections avant le 24 avril. Bellerive a noté aussi son support pour une évaluation du processus électoral, que nombreux Haïtiens ont exigé. En somme, il explique que ces décisions doivent être prises par le nouveau conseil électoral.

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

Les élections sont impossibles le 24 avril selon Bellerive

Radio Metropole

30 mars 2016

Jean Max Bellerive, chef de cabinet du président Jocelerme Privert, confirme qu’il est impossible que le calendrier électoral prévu dans l’accord du 6 mars soit respecté. Selon l’accord le second tour de la présidentielle et des législatives doit avoir lieu le 24 avril 2016.

M. Bellerive assure que le chef de l’état s’évertue à s’acquitter des ses engagements. Il souligne que le président Privert a déjà accompli une grande partie de sa tache avec l’entrée en fonction du gouvernement de consensus et la formation du Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP).

 

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Les États-Unis fixe ses propres objectifs pour les élections en Haïti

March 30, 2016 - 10:54

Dans peut-être la déclaration la plus claire de la position des Etats-Unis à ce jour, l’ambassadeur Peter Mulrean a publiquement opposé à la création d’une commission de vérification, en disant qu’il pourrait retarder la tenue du second tour et pourrait être «instrumentalisée par des personnalités mal intentionnées.” Mulrean insisté pour que le CEP se limite à mettre en œuvre les “recommandations techniques” de la commission d’évaluation et a affirmé que l’accord 5 Février restait valable, contre les appels pour une renégociation de l’accord. Encore une fois, l’ambassade des Etats-Unis dicte jusque dans les moindres détails comment le processus politique en Haïti devrait se dérouler.

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

Mulrean contre la formation d’une nouvelle commission de vérification électorale

Radio Métropole Haïti

March 30, 2016

L’ambassadeur des Etats unis accrédité en Haïti exprime son opposition à ce que soit créée une nouvelle commission de vérification du processus électoral.

Peter Mulrean explique que deux dangers sont à redouter de la mise en place d’une nouvelle commission ; d’abord, elle pourrait retarder la tenue du second tour ; ensuite cette nouvelle commission pourrait être instrumentalisée par des personnalités mal intentionnées.

 

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Des associations pour les droits des personnes handicapés demandent justice après un assassinat brutal

March 30, 2016 - 09:06

À la suite de l’assassinat abominable de trois femmes sourdes-muettes, des défenseurs des droits des personnes handicapées déploraient une culture qui ne condamne pas assez la violence et la discrimination envers les personnes handicapées. Le 25 mars 2016, Jésula Germain, Vanessa Previl et Monique Vincent, trois femmes sourdes-muettes, furent toutes trois brutalement assassinées alors qu’elles rentraient du travail. Une marche en leur mémoire est organisée à Port-au-Prince ce vendredi 1er avril.

Une partie de l’article est postée ci-dessous. Pour l’article complet cliquez ICI.

Assassinat des trois sourdes-muettes: Le secteur des personnes handicapées exige justice et réparations

L’assassinat de Jésula Germain (Sophonie), mère de six enfants, Vanessa Prévil et Monique Vincent, vendredi dernier à Cabaret, ne cesse de susciter de l’indignation au sein du secteur des personnes handicapées. Lapidées puis renversées dans un canal d’évacuation d’eau de pluie, le départ de ces femmes sourdes­muettes – prises pour des sorcières –, réveille le secteur des personnes handicapées. « La dignité des personnes handicapées n’est pas négociable », déclarent les associations.

Très affecté, le secrétaire d’Etat à l’Intégration des personnes handicapées, Gérald Oriol Jr, a condamné ces meurtres. « Même à l’abattoir, des conditions sont requises pour tuer un animal. C’est inconcevable dans une société que ce crime odieux soit commis », a fustigé M. Oriol, soulignant avoir pris contact avec les autorités judiciaires pour écrouer les coupables de ce forfait. Il appelle à la collaboration de toute la population de Cabaret en vue de faciliter l’enquête.

 

[…]

Pour le reste de l’article cliquez ICI.

International Community Pushes Haitian Elections By Reducing Aid

March 25, 2016 - 14:28

At a time when Haitians are particularly vulnerable due to a drought and ensuing food shortages, the international community is withholding aid and donations. Throughout the electoral process, international actors have been urging Haiti to hold elections as soon as possible, despite rampant fraud and other problems with the elections. Now that Haiti has a transitional government which is set to end on May 14, the international community is upping the pressure to hold elections, even though many Haitians are calling for a verification of the previous rounds. As one Haiti expert puts it, “International assistance has always been ‘political,’ so this is not really new. Dependent countries like Haiti have very limited room to maneuver; their sovereignty is always at bay.”

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

As Haiti Political Crisis Deepens, International Organizations Reducing Aid Just as the Country Needs It MostEconomic growth is stagnant and millions of Haitians are facing food shortages after a series of droughts in the countryside.

Jake Johnston, AlterNet

March 25, 2016

More than a month after his selection as Haiti’s provisional president, Jocelerme Privert finally has a government. His nomination for prime minister, and a 16-member cabinet, was approved by parliament in a marathon session that ended early this morning. It was a necessary first step in getting the delayed electoral process moving again, though no official date has been set. But as the political crisis drags on, international actors are increasing the pressure on the provisional government, reducing aid just as the country needs it most.

Economic growth is stagnant, and millions of Haitians are facing food shortages after a series of droughts in the countryside. With inflation well in the double digits and a local currency that has lost 20 percent of its value in the last six months, many Haitians are scrambling to survive. But, an International Monetary Fund agreement, which could provide funds necessary to stabilize the economy and exchange rate, has stalled. Furthermore, support from the European Union and other donors is contingent upon the IMF agreement, leaving Haiti even worse off.

 

Click HERE for the full text.