Special Two Month Edition:
August – September 2011
At the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), we fight for the human rights of Haiti’s poor in court, on the streets, and wherever decisions about Haitians’ rights are made. We represent victims of injustice, including earthquake victims, victims of gender-based violence, and the unjustly imprisoned. Together with our Haitian affiliate, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), we have sixteen years of demonstrated success enforcing Haitians’ human rights in Haiti and abroad. Visit haitijustice.org. Follow @IJDH on Twitter.
Universal Periodic Review (UPR):
Throughout August and September, IJDH-BAI worked extensively with Haitian grassroots partners to raise awareness about Haiti’s UPR and the opportunity it presents for Haitian civil society to self-advocate at the highest international level.
IJDH-BAI also worked to ensure that the voice of Haitian civil society was heard before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on October 13th. Thanks to the generous support of the American Jewish World Service, IJDH was able to bring Mario Joseph, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) Managing Attorney, to Geneva, joining Nathalie Nozile, a Jolie-Pitt Foundation Attorney working out of the BAI, as two of the only Haitian civil society voices at the hearing.
The initial hearing of Haiti’s UPR took place before the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 13th, and was a process in which the Haitian government’s compliance with existing human rights law obligations was reviewed. The process provides a unique opportunity for civil society and grassroots groups to engage with the Haitian government and international community on human rights issues. IJDH-BAI hoped to bring members from many different grassroots groups to the conference in Geneva, but strict and often unfair travel requirements made this difficult for Haitian activists. The BAI’s Managing Attorney, Mario Joseph, was able to attend on behalf of our Haitian grassroots partners, ensuring that the voice of Haiti’s civil society were heard at the U.N.
In preparation for the UPR this month, IJDH-BAI spent several months collaborating with 57 grassroots groups, internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions to compile 13 human rights reports for submission to the UNHRC. Council members took these reports into account when making their recommendations to the Haitian government on ways to improve the status of human rights in Haiti. Among other human rights issues, these reports highlighted the right to education, women’s rights, gender-based violence, trafficking, restaveks(unpaid child servants), prison conditions, arbitrary detention, the prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier, and the need toprovide basic services in IDP camps, such as water, housing, health and protection from forced evictions.
IJDH-BAI was active in raising awareness about the UPR process by organizing conference calls with Haitian human rights advocates and other partners, putting out press releases and podcasts about the UPR, and utilizing different national and international media outlets to draw attention to the upcoming meeting.
Click here to read IJDH-BAI’s Press Release: The UN Should Hold MINUSTAH Personnel Accountable for Human Rights Violations to Haitians.
Click here to read IJDH-BAI’s report submission to the UPR (including our report on MINUSTAH’s human rights abuses in Haiti).
Housing Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP):
On October 26th, Mario spoke at an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) hearing to discuss forced evictions — and where IACHR Commissioner Dinah Shelton would ask the Government of Haiti to agree in writing to a set of actions.
*More details to come in upcoming October Month in Review
The week prior, on October 18th, Mario spoke at the Je Nan Je (Eye to Eye) Conference in Port-au-Prince hosted by Action Aid. Mario explained to the audience–members of Haitian civil society and international organizations–that thereis Haitian law that governs the eviction process. When Haitian law is followed, the rights of the internally displaced are respected. Mario urged the audience members to demand that all actors follow the law and to refuse to silently witness violations of the law. This would be a step in the right direction, a motion towards joining the BAI’s fight to represent the rights of those who continue to live under tents.
In partnership with the Center for Law and Global Justice at the University of San Francisco School of Law (USF), IJDH released a briefing paper, Haiti’s Housing Crisis: Results of a Household Survey on the Progress of President Michel Martelly’s 100-Day Plan to Close Six IDP Camps. The paper shows that Martelly’s plan has not presented durable solution to the housing crisis. The paper documents peoples’ lack of access to information and consultation on resettlement options available under the plan, one camp closure where families watched law enforcement destroy their tents, and the insufficient cash payments distributed as housing assistance.
In late September, Mario returned to Court to represent two camps that face eviction. Due to his advocacy, neither camp has been evicted.
Rape Accountability & Prevention Project (RAPP):
In July, and most recently in mid-September, RAPP personnel and partners participated in consultations to critique and improve the proposed law on violence against women with Haiti’s Ministry on the Status of Women and Women’s Rights.
Health and Human Rights in Prisons Project (HHRPP):
BAI on-site lawyers continued to fight for the rights of those unjustly imprisoned, continuing with the intake of new clients.
On August 24th, IJDH’s Haitian affiliate the BAI, held a well-attended press conference focused on criminal justice. It was well received by the media, with long excerpts on Haitian television. Focus points of the conference included:illegal arrests, chronic prison conditions, and unjustified and prolonged pre-trial detention.
IJDH-BAI also finished processing data for the April/March censuses in the cities of St. Marc and Hinche and have started with the analysis for the official 2011 Data Report.
Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP):
IJDH efforts advocating for a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program continues gaining support, state-by-state, in the U.S.
IJDH continues to lead the fight to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, allowing Haitians already approved for visas to join their families in the United states instead of remaining on a 4-11 year waitlist. The over 105,000 beneficiaries of this program would not only be reunited with their families, but would help Haiti’s economy recover by sending money back home. Such a program mirrors the recently renewed one for Cuban beneficiaries. IJDH continues to coordinate with Haitian-American activists in Miami, New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington and elsewhere to recruit champions to urge White House approval.
Our efforts have secured 13 editorials in 10 major papers; resolutions by Philadelphia’s City Council, the US Conference of Mayors, and before New York’s City Council; bipartisan congressional support including letters from Florida, New York, and Massachusetts leaders; and significant Haitian diaspora and NGO collaboration to achieve this common sense goal to save lives, reunite families, and help Haiti recover.
IJDH also leads national grassroots efforts to win creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. Recent highlights include hundreds rallying August 11th in Miami; meeting with members of Congress, local elected officials and religious and community leaders in New York, Massachusetts, Washington and Florida. Most recently, IJDH secured a letter of support for the program from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
Let us know if you would like to help advance the campaign in your area.
Jean-Claude Duvalier Prosecution:
As prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier continues, complaints regarding his political and financial crimes remain before a Juge d’Instruction for consideration.
The BAI has filed three complaints and is in the process of completing several more. These individual complainants were victims of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s repressive regime and seek justice for violations of their human rights. A victims advocacy group, KOSIJID, has also formed with the purpose of increasing public awareness of Duvalier’s crimes and supporting effective prosecution.
Our donor challenge still stands — $6,291.50 until we reach our $40,000 mark –your donation will be matched up to $5,000!
Staff and Volunteer Update:
With the change in seasons and the beginning of a new academic year, IJDH-BAI has welcomed a number of new interns and fellows to its growing team. The Boston office is now joined by 7 new interns:
Development and Administrative Intern
Our Haitian affiliate, the BAI, also welcomes two more international legal fellows:
In September, the BAI hired an apprentice lawyer, Gyna Payen, who provides legal services through the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project (RAPP).
A Full House at IJDH’s Boston Office Opening on September 14th!
On September 14th IJDH held a wonderful office opening celebration for its new Boston branch. The evening was a great success, with over 80 people in attendance, delicious Haitian rum punch, pikliz and more, served and prepared by our amazing team of IJDH interns and volunteers. The celebration also featured some inspiring speeches from:
(All videos are a courtesy of, and were recorded by, Jacques Dady Jean of the Mattapan School of Technology. Access to the other speakers’ video segments will be posted on our website and social media as soon as they become available.)
New Podcast Series Continues
The IJDH Boston Office continued publishing audio clips from IJDH and BAI staff members in Haiti and around the world including from Director Brian Concannon, Managing Attorney Mario Joseph, and legal staff and interns. We hope this new podcast series will keep IJDH-BAI supporters up-to-date with our projects, news and progress. You can find the podcasts on our website under the section Messages from Haiti.
IJDH in the News:
News Articles and Press Releases
From Andrew Square to Port-au-Prince, Brian Concannon Fights For Haiti’s Causes (Boston Irish Reporter)http://www.bostonirish.com/node/15495
Haïti-Logement: L’IJDH et le BAI dénoncent l’éviction des déplacés du stade Sylvio Cator (IAlterPresse, ReliefWeb)
Haitian prisons get overhaul as rest of reconstruction effort lags
IJDH’s Actions aiding Children’s Rights (IJDH-BAI)
The Power of Creole (The Boston Globe)
WikiLeaks show US calling shots in Haiti
Measuring the Way Forward in Haiti: Grounding Disaster Relief in the Legal Framework of Human Rights (Health and Human Rights: An International Journal)
Fanm ayisyen pap kase: Respecting the right to health of Haitian women and girls (Health and Human Rights: An International Journal)
Talks and Radio
Dr. Paul Farmer featured on DemocracyNow
Brian Concannon interviewed about the Duvalier Prosecution
Check out our NEW PODCAST SERIES:
Haiti in the News:
How the world failed Haiti (Rolling Stones)
Overwhelming majority of Haitians living in displacement camps want to leave but have nowhere to go (Relief Web)
Peacekeeping and impunity in Hati ( Counter Intelligence)
Earthquake aid helps Haiti fix prison
Haiti law firm files for probe against PM pick
Haitians ask whether voters or big business chose their singing president
Haiti Wikileaks Spark Political Furor and Elite Drama
Hundreds of Displaced Families Face Violence and Threats of Unlawful Eviction in the Carrefour Neighborhood of Port-au-Prince
Hundreds of Haitian families evicted from earthquake camp
Martelly Proposes Gousse: Wikileaked Cables Testify to P.M. Nominee’s Repressive Past
Martelly’s Pick as Haiti Prime Minister Had Rocky Tenure as Top Cop
The Reporter and the Rape Victim
UN human rights officials voice concern at closure of displaced camp in Haitian capital
Why Bernard Gousse Shouldn’t Be Haiti’s Next Prime Minister