Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Monthly Review: December 2011

Month in Review:

December 2011

 

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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 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.
 
This interview followed a December 15th BBC Special Report on Haiti’s cholera epidemic, which featured 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 hereOr, listen to a shortened version of the radio piece here (5 minutes).

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.

 

Rape Accountability & Prevention Project (RAPP):

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;
  • Helping facilitate a “Know-Your-Rights” training session sponsored by the international women’s human rights group,MADRE, and the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law;
  • 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 photoMembers 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:

Universal Periodic Review (UPR):

NEED DECEMBER 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.
 
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

Above Photo: Letter from 87 U.S. Congresspersons urging President Obama to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.

To read the December 15th letter to President Obama, click here.

To read the December 22nd letter to Secretaries Clinton and Napolitano, click here.

Click here to read more about these two congressional sign-on letters in Jennifer Kray’s article, “Help Sought to Get More Haitians Visas to the U.S.” (AP).

 Click here to learn more about our Immigration Advocacy Efforts.

 

Jean-Claude Duvalier Prosecution: 

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.

To read Jeena Shah’s article, “Nunca Mas,” click here.

To learn more about IJDH’s work on the Duvalier Prosecution, click here.

Staff and Volunteer Update:

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 facebookfollowing 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!

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

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.

 

IJDH in the News:

Two Years After the Earthquake, Where Did the Money Go? Human Rights Groups Urge Immediate Changes in the Recovery Effort

Release of MINUSTAH Peacekeepers Filmed Raping Haitian Youth Is Latest Outrageous Incident of Peacekeeper Impunity(IJDH-BAI Press Release)

Struggle Continues in Post-Quake Haiti (Intlawgrrls.com)

Haiti Earthquake 2 years later: Homeland Security Has Failed Haitian Families (Thegrio.com)

Tectonic Shifts: What Haiti’s Massive Earthquake Exposed About the Country’s Past and Tells Us About the Present

IJDH Director Brian Concannon “Haitians Battle for Restitution from U.N. for Cholera Outbreak” (CNN Newsroom)

Haiti: United Nations Mission Denounced by Human Rights Organization

Haiti Aid Groups See Steady Decline in Number of Cholera Cases (Washington Post)

MINUSTAH Must Take Responsibility for Causing Cholera Epidemic That’s Killed 7,000 People, CEPR Co-Director Says(Center for Economic and Policy Research)

Assignment: Cholera in Haiti (BBC News)

Haiti’s Cholera Row with UN Rumbles On (BBC News)

Cholera Fallout: Can Haitians Sue the U.N. for the Epidemic? (Time)

Haitians Protest for UN Cholera Compensation (BBC News)

Haitian Cholera Victims to U.N.: Practice What You Preach (The Indianapolis Star)

MINUSTAH by the Numbers (Center for Economic and Policy Research)

Haitian Victims of UN Cholera Tell UN: “Universal Means Haitians Too” (IJDH-BAI Press Release)

Haiti Cholera Case Raises Questions About U.N. Accountability (World Politics Review)

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.

666 Dorchester Avenue | South Boston, MA 02127 | (617) 652-0876 | http://ijdh.org | info@ijdh.org

  

Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
15 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (617) 652-0876
General Inquiries: info@ijdh.org
Media Inquiries: media@ijdh.org

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