Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

International Fellow: Haiti needs legal order, justice

Brandeis Now

Concannon working to strengthen human-rights protections

Brian Concannon Jr., director and founder of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, will explain why justice and legal order are crucial to the effort to rebuilding Haiti from the devastating earthquake that struck in January. His talk and a subsequent discussion will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, in room G4 at the Heller School.

The event is sponsored by the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life.

“This university is one with deep roots in the legal community,” Concannon says. “I look forward to discussing how all of us, from students to professors, can use our legal knowledge and a passion for protecting human rights to help one of the most vulnerable nations in the world.”

Concannon’s organization and its Haiti-based affiliate, Bureau des Avo cats Inter na tionaux, have created a growing group of human rights lawyers who work to educate citizens about the power of constitutional justice and legal human rights protections.

“While the world sits by and witnesses the turmoil and instability in the Haitian government and the low confidence of its people, the need to advocate and defend the legal order is stronger than ever,” said Leigh Swigart, director of the Ethics Center’s International Justice and Society Program.

The Institute’s main objectives are to advocate human-rights protections with grassroots organizations, record and track human rights abuses and provide legal assistance for victims.

In the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 Haitians, the nation is suffering a still-spreading cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 1,000 lives so far this fall.

“Haiti has so many competing problems, yet in addition to relief and aid, the growing role of a strong and established legal system will ensure that this country has a path to a sustainable future,” said Jon Ostrowsky ’13, Co-President of the Brandeis Haiti Initiative (BHI).

Haiti recently held presidential elections, but most candidates complained that the balloting was tainted by fraud.  Election officials said the vote will stand and results are expected to be released Dec. 7.

A Brandeis International Fellow, Concannon was a co-manager of Bureau des Avo cats Inter na tionaux from 1996-2004 and worked for the United Nations in 1995 and 1996 before assisting with the prosecution during the trial of the famous human rights case of Raboteau Mas sacre in 2000.

“Brian Concannon exemplifies the type of leader we hope to educate here at Brandeis,” said, Napoleon Lherisson ’11, co-president of the Brandeis Haiti Initiative.  “He has applied his intellectual skill to help transform the most daunting injustices.”

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