Recent Feature Articles

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, July 20, 2017

Second of two articles

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse illegally fired former judge Sonel Jean-François as the head of Haiti’s autonomous anti-money-laundering Central Financial Intelligence Unit (UCREF) on Jul. 6 and the next day replaced the head of its cousin agence, the Anti-Corruption Unit (ULCC), supplanting both men with his cronies.

In an interview with Haïti Liberté, Jean-François laid out the various ways in which he sees these developments as a grave threat to Haitian democracy. “ Mr. [Joseph Oldy] Bellegarde is linked to several high-ranking people in Jovenel Moïse’s regime,” said Jean-François, referring to the man who replaced him. “That’s all I feel comfortable saying.”

Nonetheless, he elaborated by explaining that “UCREF is an agency which must work in the greatest secrecy. If you’re doing a money-laundering investigation, you must not tell anyone, especially not the person who is being investigated. That person should only become aware after you’ve finished preparing the report and submitted it to an investigating judge. The subject should learn about the investigation when he’s informed by the judge.”

Obviously, a regime creature like Bellegarde would be unlikely to maintain such discretion, much less carry out investigations of those in power like President Moïse.

By Jake Johnston, World Politics Review, July 18, 2017

After 13 years and more than $7 billion, the “touristas” — as the United Nations soldiers that currently occupy Haiti are commonly referred to — will finally be heading home. Well, sort of. While thousands of troops are expected to depart in October, the UN has authorized a new, smaller mission composed of police that will focus on justice and strengthening the rule of law. But the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH, is not just thousands of foreign soldiers “keeping the peace.” It is the latest and most visible manifestation of the international community’s habit of intervening in Haiti, a habit that is unlikely to change. 

By Naomi Larsson, The Guardian, July 14, 2017

Charitable givers from the US who believe they are helping Haitian orphans are instead funding the abuse and neglect of children at orphanages in the Caribbean country, a report from the NGO Lumos has found.

At least 30,000 children live in privately-run orphanages in Haiti, a country that has suffered multiple natural disasters displacing many families.

More than a third of Haiti’s 752 orphanages are funded by donations from abroad amounting to $70m (£54m), 92% of which comes from philanthropic and charity givers in the US.

But an estimated 80% of the children living in these facilities are not actually orphaned: they have one or more living parent, and almost all have other relatives, according to the Haitian government.

By BBC News Latin America, July 11, 2017

Haiti's government has launched a campaign to re-establish its army, dissolved more than 20 years ago. It wants to recruit about 500 men and women to help deal with natural disasters and to patrol borders.

The recruitment drive follows the announcement by the United Nations mission that it would be leaving Haiti in October. But critics say the island's small budget should be spent on the national police force of about 15,000 officers.

A Ministry of Defence statement said the recruitment drive is open to both men and women between the ages of 18 and 25, who have passed their secondary education exams. The UN Security Council agreed in April to withdraw their security forces, the blue helmets, and leave only a small police presence to support the Haitian police.

The UN departure has sparked a debate over whether Haiti should or should not form a new army. Many politicians support the idea arguing it would provide jobs for young people.

But the government's critics say a military force could quickly become politicised, becoming a weapon in the hands of whoever is the president or prime minister.

For much of Haiti's history, the army has been used to crack down on political dissent by a series of authoritarian presidents.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, July 12, 2017

First of two articles

Last week, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse named two political allies to take over Haiti’s two anti-corruption offices. One of the anti-corruption units alleges in a report last year that Moïse laundered millions of dollars through his banana-exporting agribusiness between 2007 to 2013, while the other issued a confidential report investigating irregular banking activity by Moïse.

On Jul. 6, Moïse illegally fired for the second time Sonel Jean-François, the director general of the Central Financial Intelligence Unit (UCREF), an office set up in 2001 to investigate money-laundering. In August 2016, UCREF published a 68-page report which charged that Jovenel Moïse, then the CEO of Agritrans, had likely laundered some $6 million through his company. The report led to an indictment which is supposedly still being pursued by the Haitian justice system.

By Claudia Blume, Médecins Sans Frontières Canada (MSF), July 12, 2017

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched a new report today – Against Their Will – that draws attention to an overlooked issue  affecting an alarmingly high number of girls and young women in Haiti: sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

By Jamie Vernaelde, Miami Herald OP-ED, July 3, 2017

The youngest of six children, Christine was placed in an orphanage when her mother died, and her father could not care for another baby. She then spent the next 10 years in orphanages just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

In conducting research for the report, Funding Haitian Orphanages at the Cost of Children’s Rights, released during Haiti’s first national conference on Child Trafficking last month, I spoke with her and more than 40 other children and young adults with similar experiences.

By Milo Milford, Haiti Liberté, June 27, 2017

The workers in Port-au-Prince’s assembly industries have not given up. Under a blazing sun, alternating with heavy rain, surrounded by heavily-armed police units, Haiti’s working class took to the streets to continue demanding that the minimum wage be increased to 800 gourdes ($12.71) per day.

After a few days of truce, broken promises by state authorities, police violence, and despite firings, blackmail, and pressure from the bosses, several thousand workers again took to the streets of the capital on Mon., Jun. 26 to demand a salary hike and better working conditions in factories.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, June 27, 2017

Following a plea deal struck in April, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga on Jun. 21 in Miami sentenced former Haitian soldier, police officer, paramilitary leader, presidential candidate, and Senator-elect Guy Philippe, 49, to 108 months in U.S. Federal prison for laundering up to $3.5 million in drug money between 1999 and 2003.

If he had gone to trial and been convicted of the other two charges against him for drug trafficking and “Engaging in Transactions Derived from Unlawful Activity,” Philippe could have been sent to jail for life. Instead, those charges were dropped, and, as recommended by prosecutors, he received the minimum sentence allowed in a plea bargain on the remaining charge of money laundering. With good conduct, he could get out of jail in seven and a half years, or 2024. Judge Altonaga said that Philippe would be on probation for three years after serving his sentence but will almost surely be deported back to Haiti.

By IJDH, June 27, 2017

Following the United Nations Security Council’s visit to Haiti last week, public pressure on the UN to fund cholera elimination efforts has risen sharply. Yesterday, The New York Times published a piece chronicling the organizations failure to fund cholera eradication efforts. Beatrice Lindstrom an IJDH staff lawyer, summed up the U.N.’s current predicament:  “Until the UN makes good on its promise to fund cholera elimination and remedies for victims, it will keep having to contend with legal challenges and public relations nightmares.”

Tell the U.N. it’s time to deliver. Join our Time2Deliver campaign and urge your country to contribute to the cholera fund.