Half-Hour for Haiti: Help Keep IJDH and BAI Fighting for Haitians’ Human Rights
Update: We have some very disturbing news: Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council has excluded 14 parties from the Parliamentary elections scheduled for February and March 2010, including Haiti’s most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas. The Council has not fully explained these exclusions, but the explanations given so far are almost all completely baseless. We believe this exclusion is the most severe blow to Haiti’s democracy since the restoration of democracy in 2006. We have a special website section on this exclusion, where we will continue to post relevant materials as they become available. See our Miami Herald Op-Ed, and a good AP article in last week’s Washington Post. Our colleagues at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Haiti are working with a broad spectrum of political parties and human rights groups to implement a legal response. We will have an action alert on this issue next week. In the meantime, please sign the Haitian People’s Appeal for Fair Elections, an on-line petition issued by a coalition of Haitian organizations, and circulate it to your network.This week’s action is to keep IJDH and BAI fighting on the front lines for justice in Haiti and the U.S., by contributing to our year-end fundraising campaign.
When Haitian political leaders from across the spectrum found their human rights violated by the exclusion of their party, they contacted the BAI’s Mario Joseph. Many of them had other choices — they can afford other lawyers — but they sought Mario out because he is the most skilled and most determined human rights lawyer in Haiti. The BAI’s other clients – political prisoners, victims of political violence, prisoners held illegally, children unable to attend school, etc. – do not have other choices because they cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. But thanks to our supporters, they still get Haiti’s most skilled and determined human rights lawyer, supported by IJDH and the law school clinics, volunteers, allies and other resources that we bring to every case.
Over the past year, this approach has won several victories for Haiti’s poor, including:
- Helping Haiti obtain $1.2 billion in debt cancellation, freeing up $1 million per week for national priorities;
- Launching the Health and Human Rights in Prisons Project with Partners in Health, which has led to medical treatment and legal services for hundreds of prisoners;
- Launching the Human Right to Education Project, to enforce Haitian children’s right to free primary education;
- Helping victims of torture in Haiti obtain safety in both Haiti and the U.S.;
- A de-facto suspension of non-criminal Haitian deportations from the U.S.; and
- Success in political prisoner and political asylum cases.
We have also been able to expand our legal team in Haiti, adding three Haitian and one U.S. lawyer, which will allow us to help even more people in 2010. For more information about our recent accomplishments, see our 2009 Fall Newsletter.
We work long hours and keep salaries and expenses very low in order to make our donors’ generosity go as far as possible. We run two offices with six lawyers and support staff, plus travel, a website, court fees and office expenses, for just $300,000. Over half of this budget comes from individuals like you, much of it from the annual request we make each fall. None comes from any government or political party.
Please help keep the BAI and IJDH fighting on the front lines for justice for Haiti’s poor, by donating now. You can click here or on the “Support IJDH’s Work” box on (top of right-hand column) on www.HaitiJustice.org, or send a check to: IJDH, PO Box 745, Joseph, OR, 97846.
IJDH is a recognized charitable organization under IRS Code Sec. 501(c)3. All contributions are tax-deductable to the full extent of the law.