IJDH-BAI Continues Working to Bring Justice to Haiti’s Cholera Victims
On December 27th, IJDH Director Brian Concannon appeared on CNN Newsroom to discuss the continuing progress on our cholera case against the UN. By using our budget of thousands to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in water projects in Haiti, IJDH-BAI is working to prevent the spread of the waterborne disease and stop what is now the worst cholera epidemic in the world.
IJDH-BAI Fights Back Against MINUSTAH and UN Impunity:
Throughout December, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, proved its outrageous impunity problem still persists. Just this month, on January 9th, it was announced that 5 Uruguayan MINUSTAH soldiers caught on video raping a Haitian youth last summer were released.
This incident follows a long pattern of injury and injustice. On December 14, UN soldiers from Brazil illegally arrested and brutally beat three men who were guarding their broken-down water truck in Cite Soleil. Both events came on the heels of the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti, which was introduced by MINUSTAH troops and continues to kill hundreds of Haitians each month.
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.
On December 10th, IJDH-BAI teamed up with grassroots partner KOFAVIV and other members 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 addition to these two events, IJDH-BAI spent much of December collaborating with women’s groups on various local, national and international efforts to end gender-based violence in Haiti. RAPP highlights include:
Helping draft a House Resolution urging the Haitian government to address gender-based violence (GBV) and discrimination in Haiti;
Updating the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the situation of GBV in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and on Haiti’s progress in implementing the IACHR December 2010 Precautionary Measures order, which instructed the Haitian government to take concrete steps to confront GBV;
Organizing a women’s group meeting with research teams from the CUNYand NYU law clinics on transactional sex and sexual exploitation;
Participating in a panel sponsored by Reed Smith LLP and the Haitian press association, S.O.S. Journalists, which sought to raise awareness of gender-based violence in Haiti and develop the best practices for media reporting on GBV;
Providing support to a representative of the BAI’s Women’s Network, which participated in a sit-in outside of the MINUSTAH base in St. Marc in order to deliver a declaration on behalf of Haitian women demanding justice and reparations; and
Launching weekly BAI Victim-Client Empowerment Workshops, with sessions on floral art and psycho-social support activities. Further activities include sewing, crochet and jewelry-making.
The RAPP team also assisted Haitian grassroots women’s groups in organizing multiple press conferences and demonstrations throughout late November and early December, including an event with KONAMAVID that urged Haiti’s new Minister of Women’s Affairs to include grassroots women’s groups in discussions on gender-based violence, as well as an event with GCFV on November 24th which commemorated the upcoming International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and displayed different artisan products made by members of GCFV and other women living in IDP camps.
Above photo: 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.
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:
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.
One goal of the BAI’s housing work is to provide a forum for camp residents to communicate and strategize together. Based on the needs that the meeting attendees identified, the BAI then followed up and conducted Know-Your-Rights trainings in certain camps.
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.
Above photo: Protesters at the January 12 demonstration, which was organized by camp residents in December
Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRPP):
IJDH efforts to secure a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program won new allies in December, and played a key role in two congressional sign-on letters.
On December 15, U.S. Senators Durbin, Cardin, Kerry and Gillibrand and 83 U.S. House members, including four Republicans, signed a letter to President Obama urging him to have DHS create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program; and
IJDH-BAI continues to pursue prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier as the case passes through the Juge d’Instruccion stage.Obstacles in Haiti’s justice system have contributed to delays in the appeal process, but IJDH remains committed to assisting Haitian prosecutors throughout the trial.
In an article published this month by the Center for International Policy’s Americas Program, former BAI International Staff Attorney, Jeena Shah, discusses many of the ongoing challenges in the Duvalier prosecution. Shah explains how certain actions taken by Haiti’s president, Michel Martelly, and the U.S. government’s silence on the issue, among other factors, have contributed to the difficulty in bringing “Baby Doc” Duvalier to justice.
December has been a month of many warm welcomes and bittersweet goodbyes for IJDH.
At the end of the month, we welcomed two new interns to IJDH’s Boston-based team. Tahina Vatel joins us for the month of January as a Communications and Administration intern before she returns to Amherst College to finish up her final semester. Jaewon Lee also joined our Boston office in December, where she will work as a Development and Administration intern for the next six months. We are very excited to have them both on board!
As we welcomed Tahina and Jaewon to the team, we also said goodbye to two of our social media interns, Ethan Markham and Tim Shin, who helped make 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!
Just this last week, we also said “bon voyage” to Director of Development and Communications, Andrea Jamison, as she left IJDH to pursue her dream of moving back to live in Costa Rica. Over the last 18 months, Andrea has revamped IJDH’s fundraising and communications infrastructure, expanding and improving both by leaps and bounds. We will miss Andrea, but thank her for all of her tremendous work, and wish her nothing but the best as she begins this new and exciting adventure!
Don’t forget to check out the 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. You can find the podcasts on our website under the section Messages from Haiti.
For more information about the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux(BAI) or human rights in Haiti, see our website, http://ijdh.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts (monthly),subscribe here. To keep us fighting on the front lines for justice in Haiti, donate here.
IJDH is an approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
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