Recent Feature Articles

By Azad Essa, Al Jazeera, August 9, 2017

UN peacekeepers are sent to some of the most war-ravaged countries on Earth, ostensibly to help them transition to peace. But some stand accused of committing crimes against the very people they are supposed to protect. 

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press (AP), between 2004 and 2016, the United Nations received almost 2,000 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against its peacekeepers. 

The UN says it has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, but survivors, activists, lawyers and human rights organisations say such crimes have been allowed to continue with impunity. 

Through conversations with UN peacekeepers and officials, gender experts, academics, researchers and activists, as well as through an investigation of UN data, in this four-part series, we try to navigate these competing accounts to answer the question: How did some peacekeepers become predators? 

By Travis Ross, CHAN Co-editor, August 7, 2017

On August 6, approximately 300 people attended a rally outside the Olympic Stadium to welcome refugees to Montreal.

The rally, named the “Rassemblement de bienvenue aux réfugiés haïtiens” (Rally to welcome Haitian refugees)  was organized as a counter-rally to a planned event by Quebec-based white supremacist groups La Meute, Storm Alliance, and Soldiers of Odin. This anti-immigrant rally was canceled less than 24 hours before it was scheduled to begin. As of 4pm August 5, the event had only attracted 29 attendees on Facebook.

The rally was organized by two organizations, Comité d'action des personnes sans statut et Cité sans frontières / Solidarity City / Ciudad Solidaria (Montréal). Translated: The Action Committee of Non-status People & Solidarity Across Borders.

Several people spoke at the event including: Maguy Métellus, a Montreal-based radio host; Jean Saint-Vil, an Ottawa-based Haiti Solidarity activist and Radio host; Serge Bouchereau, a Montreal based community organizer; Jaggi Singh, an activist and organizer for No One is Illegal Montreal, and Claire Fatima Oriol, a Haitian refugee facing deportation.

By Nick Duffy, Pink News, August 3, 2017

The Haitian Senate has approved a law that makes it a crime to “publicly demonstrate support” for gay rights.

The law, greenlit by lawmakers in the Caribbean country this week, would make it a crime to take part in or be witness to a same-sex union.

People who take part in same-sex weddings can also face criminal charges, with a maximum of three years in prison for “the parties, co-parties and accomplices” to a same-sex marriage. However, it goes a lot further than simply outlawing banning gay weddings, by also attempting to stamp out all public support for equality.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, August 2, 2017

Declaration of Haiti Liberté
As a part of the PetroCaribe alliance, Haiti imports gas from Venezuela. The alliance was created on Sep. 7, 2005, and, along with Venezuela, it includes 19 countries (among them the Caricom countries): Antigua and Barbuda , Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Suriname, St. Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines. Haiti joined the group in May 2006 after the election of President René Préval. Honduras followed in December 2007, followed by Guatemala in July 2008.
Through the largest Haitian daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, we have suddenly learned that the quality of the fuel sold in Haiti is bad, this according to a purportedly scientific study by some anonymous expert who has just made a great discovery, like Christopher Columbus.
What lies behind this article? It is important to try to pinpoint the precise objectives when a major Haitian importer of vehicles anonymously states that: "The state, by ordering petroleum of poor quality through PetroCaribe, and oil companies by agreeing to sell the bad quality gas as good, are carrying out a scam. We are nominally sold gasoline which is 95 octane, however it is 86 or even 84 octane which is available."

By Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian, August 2, 2017

A recent surge in asylum seekers arriving from the United States has prompted Canadian authorities to open a temporary welcome centre in one of Montreal’s best-known landmarks.

Since the start of the year, the numbers of asylum seekers entering Canada from the US has soared. More than 4,000 of them – many of them driven by fears of Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants – have entered Canada at remote, unguarded locations along the border. By doing so, they aim to skirt a 2004 agreement between Canada and the US that forces most migrants to apply for asylum in the first country in which they arrive.

In recent months, the province of Quebec has become a major entry point. More than than 3,300 asylum seekers have crossed into the province from the US, sending authorities scrambling to set up additional welcome centres.

On Wednesday, the province began bussing asylum seekers – who including children and pregnant women – to the site of its latest welcome centre: Montreal’s Olympic stadium, a 56,000-seat arena normally used for sporting events, rock concerts and trade shows.

By Tristan Clavel, InSight Crime, July 28, 2017 

Haiti is reconstituing its previously disbanded army after more than two decades, amid concerns about growing insecurity as a United Nations peacekeeping force is set to withdraw later this year. And while politicians have justified the move as a step toward combating contrabandtrafficking, the real motivations behind the decision may be political.

The recruitment effort for the new army was announced by the Defense Ministry in early July and has seen more than 2,200 candidates sign up in the first round, reported Haiti Libre. Due to budget constraints, the force will have fewer than 500 members.

Defense Minister Hervé Denis said the army's mission would be to fight against contraband smuggling and provide relief in case of natural disasters, according to the Miami Herald. The minister argued that the cost of the force will be outweighed by its impact on smuggling from the Dominican Republic, which he estimated causes lost tax revenues for Haiti of between $200 million and $500 million per year.

However, critics have said that the recruitment process has lacked transparency and has been conducted in the absence of a command structure for the force, reported AlterPresse.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, July 26, 2017

For the fourth time, a large international delegation has traveled to the United Nations headquarters in New York to file a formal protest on Jul. 20 against the continuation of the UN’s illegal military occupation of Haiti and to demand that it pay reparations to the victims of UN-imported cholera.

Ten delegates from Haiti, Brazil, Guadeloupe, and the United States met with the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations El Ghassim Wane and William Gardner, the UN’s lead Political Affairs officer, to deliver a joint letter in French (see English translation below) condemning the continuation of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) under a new name starting in October: the UN Mission to Support Justice in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).

The “follow-on peacekeeping mission,” as it is called in the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2350 of Apr. 13, 2017, will be made up of about 1,300 policemen to “support political stability, [and] good governance, including electoral oversight and reform,” wrote UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a Mar. 16 report.

“After 13 disastrous years of sowing violence, sexual abuse, waste, and disease, the UN still thinks it can just trample the Haitian Constitution and UN Charter and anoint itself to supervise and direct sovereign Haitian affairs like elections and governance,” said unionist Ray Laforest of the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), one of the delegates. “These UN officials are simply the handmaidens of Washington, Paris, and Ottawa, Haiti’s neo-colonial masters presently, but not for much longer we hope.”

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, July 17, 2017

Haiti opened recruitment for its new army Monday, attracting a long line of young Haitians who want to be part of the revived force.
The five-day recruitment drive runs until Friday, and is a significant public step in rebuilding the force, which was dismantled more than two decades ago by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Since the 1994 disbandment of the Haitian Armed Forces, or FAd'H, there has been a lingering desire by a significant part of the political class and the business community to re-establish the force. The first steps toward re-establishment, however, weren’t taken until former Haitian President Michel Martelly came to power in 2011. He created a commission and sent several dozen Haitians to Ecuador for training. Today, there are about 150 trained individuals.
“I don't see it as an army,” Haiti Defense Minister Herve Denis said. “I see this more as a defense rather than a security force that we want to create.”

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.