Two Month Edition:
December – January 2012
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.
IJDH-BAI Continues the Fight Against UN Impunity:
On December 9th, cholera victims and other Haitians organized a protest outside of the MINUSTAH base in St. Marc, demanding that the UN respond justly to the cholera epidemic that the United Nations’ own report concedes was introduced to Haiti by UN troops.
Exactly one month later, on January 9th, it was announced that 5 Uruguayan MINUSTAH soldiers caught on video raping a Haitian youth last summer were released, proving that the UN’s impunity problem continues to persist. This incident follows a similar pattern of injury and injustice, established over the seven years of MINUSTAH’s presence in Haiti.
IJDH-BAI is fighting back against UN impunity through its historic cholera case, which not only seeks compensation for our client’s losses, but also demands that the UN provide the water and medical infrastructure necessary to control the cholera epidemic. On a broader scale, IJDH-BAI is helping to lift the impunity that allows UN Peacekeepers around the world to get away with rape, torture and even murder every day.
You can also check out the December 15th BBC Special Report on Haiti’s cholera epidemic, which discusses IJDH-BAI’s lawsuit against the U.N. for negligence in starting the epidemic. To listen to the extended recording of this BBC report (25 minutes), click here. Or, listen to a shortened version of the radio piece here (5 minutes). To see a complete list of all articles, press releases and interviews about IJDH-BAI’s cholera case, click here.
Rape Accountability & Prevention Project (RAPP):
On December 10th, IJDH-BAI teamed up with grassroots partner, KOFAVIV, and other member of the BAI’s Women’s Network to organize a sit-in outside of the Haitian Parliament in commemoration of International Human Rights Day. This event followed the November 25th sit-in and march from Haiti’s Ministry of Justice to the Champ de Mars, which was held in honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
In January, IJDH-BAI helped draft a House Resolution on gender-based violence in Haiti, which was introduced to Congress on January 23rd with 51 signatories.
Other December and January highlights include:
Above photos: (Top) Members of the BAI’s Women’s Network take part in a floral art workshop for victims of gender-based violence, the first portion of a Saturday program held at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Haiti; (Bottom) BAI International Attorney and RAPP Coordinator Meena Jagannath (middle) talks with California Congresswoman Maxine Waters (right) at the Haiti Advocacy Working Group meeting in Washington D.C.
Since February 2011, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), our Haitian affiliate the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the Goldin Institute and grassroots Haitian women’s group KOFAVIV, implemented a Community Security and Sensitization Project in the Place Petion Camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Since then, there have been no reported rapes in the area, and domestic violence has decreased. Watch this documentary, produced by our partner and supporter, the Goldin Institute,discussing the project’s success and both women’s and men’s empowerment through the program:
Universal Periodic Review (UPR):
NEED DECEMBER/JANUARY UPDATES
Housing Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP):
On December 1st, the BAI hosted a meeting of over 50 representatives from over 20 camps. The camp leaders came to the BAI to update one another on their housing situation—whether their camp faces a threat of eviction and if so, by whom—and to plan a press conference to broadcast that their right to housing continues to be violated.
A week following the December 1st meeting, representatives from camps in Carrefour and in Cite Soleil, neighborhoods just outside of Port-au-Prince, held a press conference. Camp residents also planned protests and sit-ins for the week following the two year anniversary of the earthquake.
Visit from IJDH Staff Attorney Nicole Phillips:
In December IJDH Staff Attorney Nicole Phillips spent three weeks at the BAI office. Nicole worked with BAI Legal Fellow Ellie Happel to update the IACHR and encourage them to continue to pressure the Haitian government to declare a moratorium on forced evictions. Nicole held meetings with a number of Haitian partner organizations and with IOM and UN officials.
Kan Mozayik Facing Eviction Threat:
Camp Mozayik, where BAI began offering legal assistance in March of 2011, faces a continued threat of eviction. The Mayor of Delmas has demanded that the families leave, offering them $125 to vacate the land they have called home since the earthquake. The BAI is working with the camp committee to plan a press conference and assess the possibility to commence legal action.
Above photo: Camp residents and other Haitian demonstraters gather to commemorate the January 12, 2010 earthquake, and to protest the Haitian government’s continued failure to provide adequate housing for earthquake victims.
To find out more about IJDH efforts before the IACHR on forced evictions, see the article “Enforcing Remedies from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Forced Evictions and Post-Earthquake Hait,” co-authored by IJDH Attorney Nicole Phillips.
Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP):
IJDH won new allies for creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (FRPP), securing two more congressional letters to add to those from Massachusetts and other leaders:
The Miami Herald’s January 10th editorial was the 14th urging expedited Haitian family reunification inspired by IJDH, and Immigration Policy Coordinator Steven Forester’s January 12 MSNBC.com The Grio article summarized the argument and support.
Partial success came when DHS in January added Haiti to the list of nations whose nationals may receive low-skilled, temporary worker visas; renewed and coordinated efforts are ongoing to win DHS creation of a Haitian FRPP.
Above Photo: Letter from 87 U.S. Congresspersons urging President Obama to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.
Click here to read letters urging creation of a Haitian FRPP from Massachusetts Governer Deval Patrick, Senators Kerry and Scott Brown and other national leaders and learn more about our Immigration Advocacy Efforts.
Jean-Claude Duvalier Prosecution:
To find out more about the many challenges Haitian prosecutors have faced in bringing “Baby Doc” to justice, read former BAI International Staff Attorney Jeena Shah’s article, “Nunca Mas, Never Again.”
Staff and Volunteer Update:
December and January have brought many changes to IJDH.
At the end of December, we welcomed two new interns to IJDH’s Boston-based team: Tahina Vatel joined us for two weeks as a Communications and Administration intern before returning to Amherst College to finish up her final semester, and Jaewon Lee joined us as the new Development and Administration intern, who will be working with IJDH for the next six months. Kelly Geoghegan also joined the Boston office in January, and will be assisting with efforts on the cholera case as IJDH’s newest legal intern. In addition, former IJDH intern, Sonia Weiser, will be rejoining the team as a remote social media intern. We are excited to have them all on board!
Sadly, IJDH has also said many goodbyes over the last two months. In December, two of our social media interns, Ethan Markham and Tim Shin, left the Boston office after making monumental growth in IJDH’s facebook and twitter following. During their four months in the Boston office, Ethan and Tim added 150 new friends to IJDH’s facebook account, and increased our twitter following by 275. If you haven’t done so already, help us continue Ethan and Tim’s momentum by “liking” us on facebook, following us on twitter, and spreading the word about IJDH to your friends and family!
In January, we also said goodbye to Development and Administrative Intern, Ekaterina Bessanova, who returned to Sweden to finish her Masters in Sustainable Development. We are extremely grateful for her three months of hard work that helped keep the Boston office running!
And finally, in January, IJDH said “bon voyage” to Director of Development and Communications, Andrea Jamison, who left the Boston office to pursue her dream of moving back to live in Costa Rica. Over her 18 months with the organization, Andrea revamped IJDH’s fundraising and communications infrastructure, expanding and improving both by leaps and bounds. We will miss Andrea, but thank her for all she has done for IJDH, and wish her nothing but the best as she begins this new and exciting adventure!
Above Photos: (Top) New Development and Administration Intern, Jaewon Lee; (Bottom) New Legal Intern, Kelly Geoghegan.
IJDH needs a new volunteer coordinator and social media intern! To apply, or learn more about either of these positions, click here.
Podcast Series Continues
Check out this January 27, 2012 podcast from BAI Director Mario Joseph! Joseph discusses the situation in Haiti two years after the earthquake, as well as the historical context and root causes that have lead to the deprivation we see in Haiti today.
IJDH in the News: