Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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Why did the IOM remove deportations from its DR press release?

July 22, 2015 - 12:57

In a recent press release, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) investigated and found that 408 people has been deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. Following a statement from U.S. Special Coordinator for Haiti Thomas Adams which said that deportations hadn’t yet begun, the IOM replaced the press release with one that mentioned no deportations. Instead, the new release talked about “returns” to Haiti. This article investigates what may have motivated these changes.

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

Deportations from the Dominican Republic: The IOM Changes its Tune

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch, Center for Economic and Policy Research

July 22, 2015

On July 14, 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a statement regarding the situation on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. The IOM interviewed some 1,133 individuals who had crossed the border between June 16 and July 3, finding that “408 persons (or 36.0 per cent) said that they had been deported by different entities, including the military, police, immigration officials and civilians.” These findings directly contradicted statements from the Dominican Republic and U.S. officials that no deportations had occurred.

However, within two days the press release was pulled from the IOM website and on July 21, IOM issued a new press release making no mention of deportations.

U.S. Special Coordinator for Haiti Thomas Adams, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 15, 2015, stated, “They — they [the Dominican Republic] have assured us that there will be no mass deportations and none have begun yet.” He added: “There were reports of others that when they investigated, they found out that they weren’t — they weren’t really deportees.” A day later the IOM press release had been pulled from the website.

Click HERE for the full text.

Elected Officials Speak Out: End the Silence

July 22, 2015 - 12:35

North Miami, Florida has the largest Haitian population in the U.S. This past week, the city’s elected officials called a press conference to voice their anger over the Dominican Republic’s actions and the Obama administration’s silence over the issue.  They emphasized the direct link between the ongoing crisis in the Dominican Republic and experiences in the States, as North Miami residents’ family and friends will likely be affected. The city council also unanimously approved a resolution to urge President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Kerry to publicly acknowledge the human rights abuses and to utilize political and economic leverage to remedy the situation.

Click here for the original article and a video.

North Miami city council condemns Dominican Republic

Janey Tate, The Miami Times

July 22, 2015

North Miami elected officials are calling out the Dominican Republic for the act of approving a law that will make citizens of Haitian descent be deported if they cannot prove their Dominican ethnicity. The city council is also calling out the Obama Administration for keeping silent on the matter they call a human rights issue.

The charge, led by councilman Alix Desulme, is to bring attention to matter happening on the island nation, where the councilman and many of North Miami residents have family and friends who will be affected.

On Thursday morning, July 16, Mayor Smith Joseph, Vice Mayor Carol Keys, and council members Scott Galvin, Phillipe Bien-Aime, and Desulme, held a press conference on the plaza in front of the Museum Of Contemporary Art to speak on the issue.

Click here for the original article and a video.

IJDH Webinar on Elections in Haiti

July 21, 2015 - 20:59

BAI and IJDH work to protect the right of Haitians to select their government through fair elections. A key aspect of that work is ensuring that the international community has credible information about Haiti’s political situation. In our July 21 web conference, Jacqueline Charles, Jake Johnston, and Wesley Lainé analyzed the key issues currently being discussed in Haitian and international media. Afterwards, we answered participants’ questions. Below is the outline for the webinar.

Click HERE for the full text.

IJDH Webinar on Elections in Haiti

July 21, 2015

-Jake Johnston, Research Associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, provides background on elections in Haiti, focusing on how the 2010 elections set the stage for the current crisis.

-Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean Correspondent of Miami Herald, discusses the main issues in the current elections, and the challenges she faces in reporting on elections.

-Wesley Lainé, IJDH Legal Intern, analyzes the décharge issue which has disqualified a few candidates. This includes the controversial disqualification of Jacky Lumarque, former coordinator of a presidential commission on education.

-Question and Answer Session


Click HERE for the full text.

IJDH Legal Intern Analyzes Dominican Republic Crisis

July 21, 2015 - 14:22

What is going on at the Haiti-Dominican Republic border and why is it such a big deal? In this interview, Rodline Louijeune, an Ella Baker Legal Intern at IJDH, discusses what she witnessed in a delegation to the border at the end of June. She also explains why, despite many arguments to the contrary, forced expulsions and retroactively stripping citizenship from hundreds of thousands of people are both illegal.

BNN News Interviews Rodline Louijeune, IJDH

BNN News

July 21, 2015

Click HERE for the original recording.

New documents show, Red Cross doesn’t know where half billion dollars of Haiti aid were spent

July 21, 2015 - 13:04

In new internal Red Cross documents released by ProPublica and NPR on their continued investigation into the spending of post-quake aid, lack of oversight and slow response are outlined as main contributors to why the Red Cross is unaware of where the nearly $500 million has gone. Of the half a billion dollars raised, a large portion was passed on to other groups contributing to aid in Haiti. However, the Red Cross kept almost no oversight of these groups, at least one of which has been proven to have mismanaged funding. Due to a lack of assessment of the effectiveness of projects and poor management from American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., the spending has not been tracked, leaving everyone to wonder where the donations have gone.

Confidential Documents: Red Cross Itself May Not Know How Millions Donated for Haiti were spent

Justin Elliot, ProPublica, and Laura Sullivan, NPR

July 21, 2015

The American Red Cross is under pressure this week to answer detailed questions from Congress about the spending of nearly half a billion dollars it raised after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

But internal documents newly obtained by ProPublica and NPR call into question whether the Red Cross itself has an accurate accounting of how money was spent.

The reports, assessments from 2012 of some of the group’s health and water projects, conclude that the charity failed to properly track its own spending, oversee projects, or even know whether or not they were successful. The documents also cast doubt on the accuracy of the Red Cross’ public claims about how many Haitians the group has helped.

An internal evaluation of one of the group’s water and sanitation projects found there was “no correct process for monitoring project spending.”

Another report concluded that the Red Cross’ figures on the number of people helped in a hygiene promotion project were “fairly meaningless.”

The findings parallel ProPublica and NPR’s earlier reporting about the Red Cross’ troubled Haiti program. The group has so far not given details of how it spent the almost $500 million in donations for Haiti.

Asked about the internal reports and what the Red Cross did in response to the concerns they raised, spokesperson Suzy DeFrancis said in an email that the group would no longer respond to questions from ProPublica and NPR. (Read the email.)

The consultant who wrote one of the evaluations, Bonnie Kittle, told us the Red Cross followed up by hiring her to train staff in Haiti how to work more effectively.

Click HERE for the full article.

Red Cross Failed to Track Millions Spent in Haiti

July 21, 2015 - 09:20

Last month, the Red Cross came under fire after an investigation revealed severe mismanagement of about $500 million donated to the organization after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. Now, the Red Cross faces even more scrutiny as Congress demands detailed replies to questions the Red Cross may not be able to answer about where all that money went. Internal Red Cross reports reveal that the organization often failed to monitor spending, oversee projects, and even monitor projects’ success, despite the organization’s public claims of success in Haiti. Experts blame the mismanagement on incompetence in the areas where the Red Cross was supposed to help, and overly centralized decision-making.

Documents Show Red Cross May Not Know How It Spent Millions In Haiti

Justin Elliott, NPR

July 21, 2015

The American Red Cross is under pressure this week to answer detailed questions from Congress about how it spent the nearly half-billion dollars it raised after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Some of those answers might be difficult to come by. New documents obtained by NPR and ProPublica reveal that the Red Cross may not have an accurate accounting of how all the money was spent.

The reports — internal assessments from 2012 of the group’s health and water projects — found the charity failed in many cases to monitor its own spending, oversee its projects and even know whether the projects were successful. The documents also cast doubt on the accuracy of some of the Red Cross’ public claims of success.

One report found the Red Cross had “no correct process for monitoring project spending.”

Another pointed to $10 million the charity gave to other nonprofits to fight the spread of cholera. The review found the Red Cross did not evaluate any of the work by these other nonprofits, did not seem to know if any of the objectives had been achieved and wasn’t aware that one of the nonprofits mismanaged its funds.

The review concludes: “It is too late to tend to this.”

“It is very heartbreaking,” says Bonnie Kittle, who was one of the independent reviewers hired by the Red Cross and author of one of the reports. She described her findings in an interview with NPR: “The only real advantage that the American Red Cross had over other organizations was that it had this huge amount of money. Otherwise it was very handicapped.”

The Red Cross declined NPR and ProPublica’s request for comment on the reports. In a statement, Red Cross spokeswoman Suzy DeFrancis said NPR and ProPublica have “mischaracterized” the Red Cross’ work, stating “we will no longer respond to your requests.”

The findings parallel NPR and ProPublica’s earlier reporting about the Red Cross’ troubled efforts to help Haiti recover from the 2010 earthquake. The charity has so far declined to explain how the almost $500 million was spent, what programs it ran and what its expenses were.

In explaining the troubles in its Haiti program, the Red Cross haspreviously cited the challenges of operating in one of the world’s poorest countries, particularly confusion over land ownership and title.

But the internal assessments also lay blame on American Red Cross headquarters in Washington. The report on health projects found: “In large part because of the centralized decision-making, most if not all of the directly implemented projects in Haiti arebehind schedule.”

The report also found that Red Cross figures about how many people it claims to have helped on one project were “fairly meaningless.”

Kittle says the Red Cross provided Haitians with important skills and Red Cross workers on the ground were passionate and dedicated. She also says local Red Cross managers in Haiti implemented training after her report to try to correct some of the problems.

Additionally, according to one report, one aspect of the Red Cross’ response went well — a hygiene promotion project that was already underway and was quickly refocused on battling cholera: “The rapid scale up of cholera prevention activities in the camps likely helped save many lives.”

But overall, Kittle says the Red Cross was unable to shift from its expertise — emergency relief — to rebuilding in a developing country and was unable to properly manage the programs it implemented. She pointed to one $24 million neighborhood project in Campeche, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, where residents were once promised new homes but have not received them.

“It’s really easy to be very disappointed when you hear those numbers — the amounts of money,” she says. “And the little it seems that they were able to accomplish.”

According to the reports, many of the managers had little meaningful interaction with local residents. One senior manager couldn’t speak French or Creole, hindering efforts to interact with the community. One report found turnover was so high among senior staff that at one point 20 out of 24 managers in Haiti decided not to renew their contracts.

Francois Pierre-Louis, an associate professor at Queens College in New York who works closely with community organizations in Haiti, says the findings in the reports echo many of the complaints he has heard as well. He says reading through the reports shocked him.

“Given the expertise of the American Red Cross and given the amount of money that it had, they were so incompetent,” he says. “One of the things you can see in these reports … I don’t see anywhere where they had community meetings to ask the local organizations, ‘How can we do this differently?’”

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley has asked the Red Cross to respond by Wednesday to more than a dozen detailed questions about how it spent the money in Haiti and what exactly that money achieved.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit  HERE  for the original article.

Haiti Fund shows, slow and steady grassroots growth produces lasting results

July 20, 2015 - 13:48

In the years following the earthquake, Haiti has been on the receiving end of a massive amount of aid. However, despite the efforts of the many thousands of NGOs, non-profits, and governmental groups in Haiti, much of the philanthropy has not been sustainable or successful due to fast growth and lack of direction. Groups such as The Haiti Fund of the Boston Foundation have found that funding grassroots organizations who will demand accountability, and placing Haitians and diaspora in leadership roles, produces lasting results.

Big and Fast is Not Better

Daniel Moss, Stanford Social Innovation Review

July 20, 2015

With questions surfacing in the media about the Red Cross’ housing program and Sean Penn rising to the organization’s defense, the debate about how best to help Haiti is in full swing. And this is before the press on Hillary Clinton’s campaign scrutinizes her foundation’s multi-million dollar investments in Haiti’s recovery from the 2010 earthquake.

The Haiti Fund of the Boston Foundation was born the day after that quake, a time of great torment but potential promise as well. Without careful rethinking, we knew aid could worsen social and economic inequalities, just as it has in previous disasters. Over five years, the Haiti Fund granted over $2 million to more than 100 Haitian grassroots organizations. Big and fast? Slow and steady? National staff or foreign consultants? We spent much time chewing on these difficult choices.

The Haiti Fund began its work in a noisy auditorium, debating principles of reconstruction to guide development, among a broad coalition of Haitian organizations (from the island and the diaspora) and the National Association of Haitian Elected Officials Network. Former Massachusetts State Representative and Haiti Fund Chair Marie St. Fleur took those principles of transparency and social inclusion to the floor of the United Nations. They guided the fund’s decisions about which grassroots organizations to support over the course of five years.

Our co-founders at the Boston Foundation asked: How can we ensure that the Haitian community leads the fund? To stay true to its principles of accountability to Haitians and strengthening Haitian leadership, it would have to make decisions differently. Who better to lead the fund than the Haitian diaspora community right here in Boston?

Click HERE for the original article.

Les missions d’observations de l’UE et l’OEA reviennent pour superviser les élections

July 20, 2015 - 13:17

Récemment, l’Union européen et l’Organisation des Etats américains ont commencé leurs missions d’observations pour les prochains élections en Haïti. Selon ces organisations et le gouvernement haïtien, leur rôle dans les élections est l’observation et la surveillance, comme ils ont fait pendant les derniers élections en 2010. Cependant, à cause de l’échec et de la corruption des derniers élections, les missions ont perdu leur crédibilité et donnent la question, quel est la vraie raison pour leur présence?

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

Peu crédibles, les missions d’observations reviennent

Louis-Joseph Olivier, Le Nouvelliste

20 juillet 2015

Après les révélations accablantes sur le comportement des observateurs internationaux durant les élections de 2010, la communauté internationale en Haïti revient sur la pointe des pieds. L’OEA et l’UE en premier se dotent d’un protocole d’accord avec le gouvernement Martelly/Paul pour observer les prochaines joutes.

« La mission d’observation électorale de l’UE est indépendante de toute institution de l’UE ou de ses États membres. Elle est soumise à un code de conduite qui ne permet aucune ingérence dans le processus, impose sa neutralité et le respect des lois d’Haïti », ce sont les déclarations de Manuela Riccio, chargée d’affaires de l’Union européenne en Haïti. Madame Riccio a donné ces garanties après la signature d’un protocole d’accord avec le Premier ministre Évans Paul sur l’observation du processus électoral par une mission de l’instance européenne.

L’Union européenne ainsi que l’Organisation des États américains (OEA) ont officiellement déployé leur mission d’observation électorale en Haïti. Cette fois, c’est le président de la République lui­-même qui a invité les organismes internationaux à venir observer le processus électoral et le déroulement des scrutins. Et un protocole d’accord a été signé avec ces deux institutions.

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Report-back on Border Health Mission and Discussion with Journalist Marino Zapete

July 19, 2015 - 10:00

This is part of the National Week of Action against the current citizenship crisis in the Dominican Republic.


The Riverside Church of NYC

91 Claremont Avenue, Room 430 MLK


Sunday July 19, 2015


Dominican Policies Cause Tension Among MA Politicians

July 18, 2015 - 11:21

The ongoing citizenship crisis in the Dominican Republic has sparked various responses among Massachusetts politicians. They must find the balance between acting on their opinions, their constituents’ demands and the good of the greater international community. For some, this issue is much more personal; State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, for example, was born to Haitian parents who immigrated to the U.S. For Dorcena Forry and others, the response is clear: boycott the DR to pressure the Dominican government into ending the humanitarian crisis. However, other politicians argue that a boycott will hurt the Dominican economy and the Dominican population living in the U.S. This source of opposition may be decisive in future elections.

Click HERE for the original article.

Caribbean issue divides Mass. lawmakers

Maria Sacchetti, The Boston Globe

July 18, 2015

State Representative Frank Moran and Senator Linda Dorcena Forry are almost always on the same team. They are Democrats and the children of immigrants whose families hail from the same small island in the Caribbean.

So when Dorcena Forry called for a boycott on travel to the Dominican Republic amid fears that the nation planned to deport thousands of residents of Haitian descent, she naturally turned to Moran for support. But he refused. Moran was born in the Dominican Republic, the state senator’s parents are from Haiti.

“I totally disagree with her,” he said. “We need to find a solution, not to add more fuel to the fire.”

Dominicans and Haitians are among the largest immigrant communities in Massachusetts, and over the years they have built alliances on issues such as education, immigration, and jobs. But now the conflict roiling the Dominican Republic is testing those loyalties and pushing Massachusetts politicians to take sides in the international fray.

In Boston, tensions escalated in recent weeks amid widespread confusion over the effect of the Dominican Republic’s plans for enforcing its immigration laws. Dorcena Forry said she received death threats after she called for the travel boycott last month. On July 9, dozens of flag-waving protesters on both sides clashed in front of the Dominican consulate in Boston. The next day, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh called a special meeting to say he did not support the boycott, after an aide had publicly said he did.

In a highly unusual move, this week a Dominican diplomat, Dominico Cabral, attacked Massachusetts politicians who support the boycott. In comments to Spanish-language media here and overseas, he called the travel boycott a “dirty campaign” that would hurt Dorcena Forry and others with Dominican-American voters. Massachusetts is home to more than 120,000 people of Dominican descent, including immigrants and their US-born children, and 77,000 Haitian-Americans, according to the census.

“We’re going to make the difference in the next elections,” Cabral, the former consul general in Boston, said in an interview. “And if she persists in this, she’s going to lose. And the mayor, too.”

Dominican officials insist that nobody has been deported from the country since late 2013, after their nation’s highest court, reinterpreting a constitutional provision, ruled that Dominican-born children of undocumented immigrants were not entitled to citizenship. The ruling effectively revoked the citizenship of as many as 200,000 native-born Dominicans, mainly children of Haitian immigrants to the Dominican Republic. The order was retroactive to 1929. Amid international outcry, the country passed a law allowing those affected to apply for citizenship.

Separately, also in response to the court ruling, the president cleared the way for people in the country illegally to apply for legal residency by June 17 or face possible deportation. The deadline reignited the international debate and generated fears of deportations, even for those born in the country.

“No one born in the Dominican Republic will be deported,” Jose Tomas Perez , the Dominican ambassador to the United States, wrote in a July 11 column in El Nuevo Herald.

But lawyers and others say the situation is more complex. They say the citizenship application process is so bureaucratic — demanding notarized documents that many native-born Dominicans do not have — that most have been shut out. About 55,000 native-born Dominicans with foreign parents have been approved, while another 9,000 applications are pending.

“We need to find a solution, not to add more fuel to the fire,” said Rep. Frank Moran, who opposes the boycott.

US Senator Edward J. Markey called the application process “overly burdensome” in a letter to the State Department earlier this month, and Secretary of State John Kerry expressed similar concerns in a statement. US Senator Elizabeth Warren did not respond to requests for comment.

Wade McMullen, managing attorney at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, a Washington nonprofit representing stateless Dominicans, said many people of Haitian descent fear they will face deportation once the controversy dies down.

“Many of them are multigeneration Dominican. They only speak Spanish,” he said. Haitians speak French or Creole. “They have never been outside of the country. They’ve never traveled to Haiti.”

And although Dominican officials say nobody has been deported, media reports have documented some deportations, and tens of thousands of people have left on their own accord, some fearing violence if they don’t. In his letter to the State Department, Markey said the Dominican government was “brazenly” encouraging the departures by providing free rides to the border.

“This is a humanitarian crisis,” said Dorcena Forry, the Boston-born daughter of Haitian immigrants and the only Haitian-American lawmaker on Beacon Hill. “We get that the Dominican Republic is a sovereign nation,” she said, but she believes authorities there should not strip citizenship from native-born residents. “That is the big piece that everyone has concerns with.”

Cabral, the former Boston consul, said the Dominican Republic is simply trying to bring order to its immigration laws after years of lax enforcement. After the 2010 earthquake, he noted, the Dominican Republic allowed many Haitians to enter.

He said officials are concerned that escaped prisoners also slipped across the border, adding to the need to register immigrants.

In Massachusetts, the debate is testing immigrants and their children — particularly lawmakers such as Dorcena Forry and Moran, who straddle two worlds. They are bilingual and speak English with Boston accents, and are far more familiar with Massachusetts.

Former Boston lawmaker Marie St. Fleur, a Haitian-American who favors the boycott, said many immigrants and their children do not know the long history between the countries. Dominicans have recruited Haitians to work there for over a century, but many were often mistreated. One horrific example was the 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians by Dominican soldiers.

In 2010, the Dominican Republic amended its constitution to bar Dominican-born children of illegal immigrants from obtaining citizenship. In the United States, people born in the country are citizens at birth.

“There needs to be a better job of pulling people together, and having conversations and really sharing the history so that it’s about fixing the problem,” St. Fleur said.

Moran, the state representative from Lawrence, said he has struggled over the conflict in recent weeks. Though his city is largely Dominican-American, he left the Dominican Republic when he was 8. He read news reports about what’s happening in his home country and called his father for guidance. “I am trying to defend something I don’t know,” he said.

After some research, Moran decided to remain neutral. He said the Dominican Republic has the right to set its immigration policies, but he did not approve of deporting people who were born in the country.

And he definitely does not support a travel boycott, which he said could hurt the Dominican Republic and businesses in cities such as Lawrence.

“I’m not taking any sides in this. I want to find a solution,” said Moran. “I don’t want to be part of the problem.”


Click HERE for the original article.

The CEP and Elections in Haiti: Décharge Is the Price of the Ticket

July 17, 2015 - 14:16

Wesley Lainé, Legal Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, provides an in-depth analysis of the impact of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP, for Conseil Électoral Provisoire)’s decision to exclude candidates from the 2015 elections, based on the lack of a décharge.

Part of the briefing paper is below. Click HERE to read the full text.

The CEP and Elections in Haiti: Décharge Is the Price of the Ticket

Wesley Lainé, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

July 17, 2015

“The biggest story so far in Haiti’s 2015 election process is the exclusion of fourteen out of seventy presidential candidates—many of them prominent figures—most for lack of an audit certificate, known in French as a décharge. The exclusions have been met with predictable criticism from the disqualified candidates and their supporters, but they also raise broader questions about the fairness of the elections scheduled for this year.”

Click HERE to read the full text.

Dominicans Face Statelessness, and the U.S. Remains Silent

July 15, 2015 - 09:59

Politicians, activists and lawyers are increasing the pressure on the Obama administration and U.S. State Department to defend those stripped of citizenship in the Dominican Republic. This is not an immigration issue, they say; many of the potential deportees are Dominicans, who were considered citizens until a 2013 court ruling applied retroactively to 1929 a constitutional amendment that limited citizenship to Dominican descendents. This excludes hundreds of thousands of immigrants and Dominicans born to foreign parents in the past 9 decades. Despite claims that Secretary of State John Kerry is engaging in talks with Dominican President Danilo Medina, many argue that these communications must be publicized and U.S. government officials should break their silence on this important issue.

Click HERE for the full article.

Obama silent on stateless Dominicans

Carolyn Guniss, The Miami Times

July 15, 2015

The silence from Congress, the U.S. State Department and President Barack Obama is troubling on civic and human rights violation by the Dominican Republic against Haitian-descendents living in Dominican Republic, said politicians, human rights activists and lawyers.

On a conference call Thursday, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and human rights activists told representatives from the state department that stripping aways citizenship from Haitians by the Dominican Republic is not an immigration issue as it is presented but a human rights violation and they wanted to know why Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama himself have not condemned the action.

Click HERE for the full article.

Pres. Martelly Supporters Received Contribution from US Government

July 15, 2015 - 06:44

Amid new claims about US influence in Haiti’s fraudulent 2010 elections, Al Jazeera has obtained evidence that documents the US’ substantial financial support for a political movement closely aligned with current President Michel Martelly. The US government contributed approximately $100,000 to Mouvement Tét Kale (MTK) through a branch of USAID. Although USAID defines MTK as a “network of community-based organizations,” former and current MTK members clarify that it is, in fact, a political movement and was integral in putting Martelly in power.

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

Revealed: USAID funded group supporting Haitian president in 2010

Jake Johnston, Al Jazeera

July 15, 2015

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The U.S. Agency for International Development gave nearly $100,000 to a Haitian political movement with close ties to President Michel Martelly in the country’s 2010 elections, documents obtained by Al Jazeera show. The money was allocated shortly after Washington helped overturn the election results to thrust Martelly into power.

On the afternoon of Haiti’s Nov. 28, 2010, elections, 12 of 18 presidential candidates took the stage at the glamorous Karibe Hotel, high up in the mountains that surround the capital. The elections were a fraudulent mess, they told the gathered press, and the only way out was to cancel the poll and start over. Chaos soon engulfed Port-au-Prince and other cities, as thousands of young Haitians, many clad in the pink synonymous with Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, took to the streets to simultaneously denounce electoral fraud and herald the victory of their candidate, many days before any official results would be announced.

Click HERE for the original article.

109 US law professors urge President Obama to lead on DR crisis

July 14, 2015 - 12:29

On July 14, 2015, over 100 professors and fellows from all over the United States sent a letter to President Obama demanding action on what’s happening in the Dominican Republic. They express concern at the racial motivations behind the 2013 Constitutional Court ruling that resulted in statelessness for thousands of Haitian-descent Dominicans, creating an analogy between that and their own status if the US were to implement similar laws. They urge the President not to leave these people powerless, but to use its influence to improve their situation.

Click HERE for the full text.


Miami, July 14, 2015

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

The undersigned law professors write to you to express our collective concern and request you to take action to stop the ongoing mass deportation of Dominicans of Haitian descent by the government of the Dominican Republic. As legal experts and concerned members of our society, we consider this a human rights emergency, and we call upon you to act on the impending threat to the lives of hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters. The deportation policy of the Dominican Republic violates three interrelated and fundamental norms of international, human rights and Dominican Constitutional law. It is a renunciation of the principle of birthright citizenship; it threatens an entire class of people with the status of statelessness, claimed by neither the Dominican Republic nor Haiti; and it is implemented through a policy of racial profiling.

As is the case for most of us, the fact that we were born in this country allows us to possess certain rights–we are protected by our Constitution, and among other things, can vote, and certain liberties are not to be disregarded without due process. Sadly, that birthright is being denied in the Dominican Republic. Hundreds of thousands of our neighbors in that land recently learned that their rights as citizens vanished in large part because of the color of their skin. It is, for instance, as if someone arbitrarily determined that because our forefathers and mothers were brought here on slave ships, or perhaps because we are here because our ancestors were invited by a lax immigration system, we are no longer welcome.

What would we be expected to do?

What if both political leaders and our court system decided we had to leave this country? Now let’s add to our problems–we were also part of your country’s poorest people, a people with virtually no political clout and certainly little economic force. We would have immediately become stateless, and would have nowhere to turn to for redress. It couldn’t happen, could it?

But as we are sure you know, in a 2013, decision widely decried as racially motivated, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court (“DRCC”) decided, despite the language of its relevant constitution, citizenship was no longer conferred by birth on Dominican soil. The DRCC, however, did not stop there; it held that its decision applied retroactively for nearly 100 years. In other words, despite the language of its constitution, human rights norms, and decades of reasonable practice, in one stroke of a pen, the DRCC held generations of Dominican citizens, who have only known the Dominican Republic as their home, are now stateless. The DRCC couched its decision as an attempt to gain control of a growing immigration problem; however, this is not an immigration issue as these individuals were citizens, and no legal perversions should have ever changed that reality.

Click HERE for the full text.

Has international pressure stopped mass deportations from DR?

July 13, 2015 - 14:19

While the Dominican Republic (DR) has yet to make good on its promise of deporting people who failed to meet near-impossible registration requirements, advocates caution that deportations may still happen. Many fear that the only reason DR hasn’t kept the promise is because of the international outcry against it. Though outright deportations haven’t yet begun, many of Haitian descent are living in fear of violence, harassment and sudden forced deportations from DR.

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

Opinion: Ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic deserves condemnation

Raul A. Reyes, Fox News Latino

July 13, 2015

Last week, the Dominican Republic halted its plan to expel tens of thousands of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent from the country. According to U.S. News & World Report, pressure from the international community and a wave of negative press led the Dominican government to “pause” their proposed mass deportations. Human rights groups have warned that this is only a temporary respite from a humanitarian crisis.They are correct, because the situation in the Dominican Republic is far from settled. Press and public attention must continue to be focused on the scapegoating of Haitians by the Dominican government. It is barbaric, inhumane, and deserves condemnation.This controversy reflects the intertwined economies and history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. For decades, Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic to work in the agricultural and service sectors, and their Dominican-born children were always considered Dominican citizens. Then in 2010, the Dominican Republic passed a constitutional amendment limiting citizenship to children of legal immigrants, or those with one Dominican parent. A 2013 court ruling made the law retroactive to 1929, which left thousands of people in a legal limbo.Last year, the Dominican government passed another law designed to restore citizenship to people whose births were in the national registry, and which promised an opportunity for others to naturalize their status. While in theory that sounds like a solution, the reality is far different. This path to citizenship requires documents that many Haitians in the Dominican Republic simply do not have. Many people born in poor rural areas, for example, lack birth certificates and other proof of identity. Bureaucracy, fees, and a lack of assistance from the Haitian government have also put this proposed fix out of reach for those who need it most.Meanwhile, the Dominican government set a June deadline for people to register and adjust their status, and has been making plans for forced repatriations. Only the resulting international outcry seems to have put the brakes on their plans – for now.

Click HERE for the full text.

Why are Haitians still dying from cholera?

July 12, 2015 - 09:33

In October 2010, United Nations (UN) peacekeepers carried cholera from Nepal, where an outbreak had begun in September, to Haiti. For the first time in at least 100 years, Haitians became ill with and died from cholera at very high rates until the epidemic slowed down in 2014. In 2015, it has re-surged and people are asking whether cholera can really be eliminated from Haiti when water and sanitation infrastructure remains abysmal and the government struggles to improve it. The UN has launched several iterations of a cholera elimination plan but potential donors have turned to other crises. Perhaps the UN accepting responsibility for the epidemic would help?

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

Haiti’s Unstoppable Outbreak

Rose George, The Atlantic

July 12, 2015

In early February, when Jenniflore Abelard arrived at her parents’ house high in the hills of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, her father Johnson was home. (Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of patients and family members.) He was lying in the yard, under a tree, vomiting. When Jenniflore spoke to him, his responses, between retches, sounded strange: “nasal, like his voice was coming out of his nose.” He talked “like a zombie.” This is a powerful image to use in Haiti, where voodoo is practiced and where the supernatural doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it might elsewhere. Her father’s eyes were sunk back into his head. She was shocked, but she knew what this was, because she has lived through the past five years in Haiti. She has lived through the time of kolera.

On October 18, 2010, Cuban medical brigades working in the areas around the town of Mirebalais in Haiti reported a worrying increase in patients with acute, watery diarrhea and vomiting. There had been 61 cases the previous week, and on October 18 alone there were 28 new admissions and two deaths.

That was the beginning. Five years on, cholera has killed nearly 9,000 Haitians. More than 730,000 people have been infected. It is the worst outbreak of the disease, globally, in modern history. Hundreds of emergency and development workers have been working alongside the Haitian government for five years, trying to rid the country of cholera, and millions of dollars have been dispensed in the fight to eradicate it. But it’s still here. Why?

* * *

In 1884, the scientist Robert Koch sent a dispatch from Calcutta to the German Interior Ministry about the bacterium that he had been studying. It was “a little bent, like a comma,” he wrote. He was sure that this organism was causing the cholera that had been ravaging the world since 1817, when it laid waste to Bengal. Its onslaught there was shocking, even for a region that had had cholera—or something similar—for so long that there was a specific cholera goddess, Ola Beebee (translated as “our Lady of the Flux.”)

Ola Beebee was meant to protect against this mysterious affliction, which terrified people. Who would not be scared by seeing “the lips blue, the face haggard, the eyes hollow, the stomach sunk in, the limbs contracted and crumpled as if by fire?” Although 1817 is the official starting date of the first cholera pandemic, humans and cholera have almost certainly coexisted for far longer: That description of cholera’s distinct symptoms was inscribed on a temple in Gujarat, India, over 2,000 years ago.

The world is currently living through the seventh and longest cholera pandemic, which began in Indonesia in 1961 and, before Haiti, was most famous for an outbreak that devastated South America in 1991, killing 12,000 people in 21 countries.

People with access to clean water and sanitation probably think of cholera as being as old-fashioned as smallpox, and long gone. Surely the problem now is Ebola? Away from headlines, though, the gram-negative, rod-shaped bacillusVibrio cholerae has been consistently murderous. It is currently present in 58 countries, infecting 3 to 5 million people a year and killing 100,000 to 120,000. This latest pandemic, wrote Edward T. Ryan of Harvard University, “as opposed to burning out after 5 to 20 years as all previous pandemics have done… seems to be picking up speed.”

Click HERE for the full text.

Humanitarian Crisis Worsens on DR-Haiti Border

July 11, 2015 - 13:39

The migrant and Haitian-descended populations in the Dominican Republic are rife with fear. These individuals face potential deportation after a 2013 Supreme Court ruling retroactively stripped citizenship from children born to illegal immigrants during or after 1929. Thousands have fled the Dominican Republic for fear that they would undergo even more hardships at the hand of Dominican authorities if discovered. The US and other countries must intervene to alleviate this humanitarian crisis.

Click HERE for the full article.

End the misery on Hispaniola

Miami Herald Editorial Board

July 11, 2015

The deportation and forcible removal of people that the government of the Dominican Republic identifies as Haitian has created a severe humanitarian crisis along its shared border that must be halted before it creates greater misery.

The Dominican ambassador to the United States makes a welcome declaration today — see his message on the Other Views page — that no one born in the Dominican Republic will be deported, and that no one entitled to legal Dominican nationality will be deprived of it. His government adamantly maintains that it is merely trying to fix a broken immigration and citizenship system that brings everyone in the country into a “legal framework.”

But credible reports from journalists and human-rights organizations describe forcible deportations by the military, streams of people fleeing the country out of fear that they, too, will be kicked out without any right to appeal and rough treatment by Dominican authorities at every turn. It flies in the face of reality to pretend that large numbers of people are not being uprooted and leaving involuntarily.

The Dominican claim of a sovereign right to regulate all matters within its borders regarding immigration and citizenship — which no one questions — does not justify sowing panic among those who lack the right documentation.

Click HERE for the full article.

Demand for Cholera Justice Continues to Increase

July 10, 2015 - 13:29

Professor Fran Quigley, of Indiana University’s Robert H McKinney School of Law, reflects on the enormous outpouring of support for the cholera victims’ appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In total, 86 legal practitioners, organizations, academics and former UN officers submitted 6 briefs before the court in support of the cholera victims’ struggle for justice. In this IndyStar article, Professor Quigley commends the broad coalition of support, noting that the briefs should certainly ‘make UN leadership sit up and take notice.”

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

Quigley: UN has promises to keep in Haiti

Fran Quigley, Indy Star

July 10, 2015

The announcement by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti was only a slight exaggeration: “Everyone Tells UN to Fulfill Its Legal Obligations to Haiti Cholera Victims.”

The statement referred to those who signed on to amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs asking the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals to allow a class action claim by Haiti cholera victims to go forward. And the list does seem to encompass nearly “everyone” that has an interest in justice and the rule of law, in Haiti and beyond: human rights experts, Haitian-American leaders, constitutional law scholars, and even a line-up of former UN officials.

All are calling for justice for victims of the 2010 epidemic triggered by human waste recklessly discharged from a UN base in rural Haiti. The death toll stands at a shocking 9,000; over 700,000 more have been sickened.

I should note that I am happy to be included as part of “everyone” in this case. On behalf of our law school Health and Human Rights Clinic, I helped draft and signed on to the brief submitted by international law scholars and attorneys.

Click HERE for the full text.

Who’s Running a “Misinformation Campaign” About the DR Crisis?

July 10, 2015 - 11:42

When a registration deadline passed in June, the Dominican Republic (DR) promised to deport those who failed to meet the requirements. DR faced an international outcry from human rights advocates and other Caribbean nations, but so far, no significant response from the US government. Since June, DR has maintained that international media and human rights groups are misrepresenting what’s really going on. The article below provides evidence that DR may be doing the misleading. DR apparently hired a lobbying firm, Steptoe & Johnson, to help stem the negative reactions to their inhumane policies. Steptoe & Johnson was asked to place opinion pieces in mainstream US media and meet with members of the foreign affairs committee, among other duties. Perhaps that has something to do with the US government’s delayed public response to the crisis?

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

Dominican Republic Spending Big Bucks on DC Lobbyist to Pushback on Criticism of Migration Policy

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch, Center for Economic and Policy Research

July 10, 2015

In September 2013 the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court ruled that those born to undocumented foreigners would not be able to maintain citizenship, mainly impacting Dominicans of Haitian descent. The deadline to formalize one’s legal status passed in June, with many thousands left unable to do so because of a lack of documentation. Already nearly 40,000 have “voluntarily” self-deported to Haiti, fearing a looming crackdown in the country many of them have never left. At a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) Wednesday, Haitian foreign minister Lener Renauld accused the Dominicans of leaving Haitians at the border “like dogs.”

But just three months after the court’s ruling, before the world’s attention turned to the island of Hispaniola and the humanitarian crisis on the border, the Dominican Republic hired a D.C.-based lobbying firm to assist with “consolidating and strengthening the image of the Dominican State in the eyes of the [sic] international public opinion,” according to documents filed as part of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The documents show that the Dominican Republic paid the lobbying firm Steptoe & Johnson over $820,000 between January and August of 2014. The relationship appears to be ongoing however, and it is likely that those costs have only increased with the spotlight now firmly on the Dominican Republic and the firm bringing in hourly rates of around $1,000.

Click HERE for the full text.

Boston Haitian Community Stands Against DR Deportation Crisis

July 9, 2015 - 15:46

In 2013, a Dominican Republic (DR) Constitutional Court issued a ruling that stripped citizenship from people who were formerly considered Dominican, all the way back to 1929. The majority of people affected by this ruling are Dominicans of Haitian descent. On July 9, 2015 the Boston Haitian community held a protest to denounce this ruling and threatened deportations by DR’s government but were greeted by a group of Dominicans at the DR Consulate. This article covers the protest and ensuing standoff, including IJDH legal intern Wesley Lainé’s observations at the DR-Haiti border.

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

WATCH: Bostonians React to Hispaniola Migration Crisis

Adam Reilly, WGBH News

July 9, 2015

There was an intense standoff in downtown Boston yesterday between members of the city’s sizable Haitian American and Dominican American communities. Both groups gathered outside the Park Plaza Hotel, near the entrance to the Dominican Consulate, waving flags and hoisting signs as a watchful contingent of Boston police looked on.

The protesters’ grievances go far beyond Boston. Recently, the Dominican Republic stripped citizenship from some 200,000 residents of Haitian descent—and it’s threatening to deport those who don’t register as foreigners.

In fact, some international observers say deportations have already begun, and that people who should be allowed to remain in the Dominican Republic are being forced out.

Wesley Laine is a legal fellow at Dorchester’s Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. He just returned from a fact-finding trip to the Dominican-Haitian border—and says that while the people he spoke with hadn’t been formally deported, they were fleeing under duress.

“The clients I interviewed really spoke to me about persecution, having to leave their homes, seeing their homes being burned down,” Laine said. “Being harassed by soldiers, being harassed by policemen, even being harassed by their neighbors.

Click HERE for the full text and video.