Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Monthly Review: March 2011

We Still Need You to Bring Baby Doc to Justice

Your Monthly Update: March 2011

Dear FriendThanks to your contributions, we are almost half-way to our goal of raising $30,000 to support our work assisting in the prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier. We have received an outpouring off volunteer support- worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — from law firms, lawyers,  students, translators, trial consultants and non-profits. But we still need money to effectively coordinate all this generous help. Your donations will pay for:

  • Staff time to coordinate, review drafts, and go to court in Haiti;
  • Travel costs for our lawyers to interview witnesses and bring them to Haiti to testify;
  • Haitian court costs and other costs that will not be donated.

The return of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to Haiti provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for justice. But we need your help to make sure that Duvalier’s victims obtain the day in court they deserve.

Jean-Claude Duvalier was one of the last century’s most notorious despots. For fifteen years, from 1971-1986, he terrorized Haiti. His army and the dreaded Tonton Macoutes death squad systematically beat, imprisoned, tortured and killed Duvalier’s political opponents and anyone who challenged his thugs’ authority. He looted hundreds of millions of dollars while the Haitian people starved.

We need your support now.

Pre-trial proceedings have begun and we need to maintain our critical involvement to get as much evidence as we can into the case file as soon as possible.

Why IJDH?…

We know how to do these cases. For fifteen years BAI and IJDH have represented victims of large-scale human rights violations in Haitian courts. Our most successful case, the Raboteau Massacre case, used the command responsibility principles that apply to Jean-Claude Duvalier to convict the top leaders of the 1991-1994 de facto dictatorship. We obtained the deportation of a Major-General, still the highest ranked officer ever deported from the U.S. on human rights grounds, and over $400,000 in compensation for the victims.

We know this case. Ira Kurzban, IJDH’s Board Chair, won a $500 million verdict against Duvalier from a U.S. Court in 1988, and BAI and IJDH lawyers have worked on cases against Duvalier and other human rights violators over the past 15 years.

But we need your help! We have been working hard, and successfully, on projects addressinggender-based violencedisplacement camp evictionsimmigration advocacyelection rights, andHaiti’s deplorable prisons. In order to maintain this vital work while we take on Jean-Claude Duvalier, we need to expand our legal staff.

We are already working. The day after Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti, the BAI’s Mario Joseph promised that the office would file complaints on behalf of any Duvalier victims who needed our help. Mario did this knowing it would stretch our capacity, but trusting that our supporters would help us meet the challenge.

Please help us ensure justice for victims of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s terror. Donate today to keep the BAI and IJDH on the front lines!

Donate Now to Bring

Baby Doc to Justice

Elections

IJDH advocated for fair elections at Congressman John Conyers’ briefing on Haiti and provided analysis for international media sources Radio Canada International, Al Jazeera and others.

IJDH-BAI staff continue to provide legal analysis of Haiti’s November 28 elections to international media, including appearances on Congressional Black Caucus Radio (CBC), Radio Canada International, and Al Jazeera TV. The statement released by IJDH and nineteen other NGOs urging the U.S. administration to call for immediate fair and free elections was published in a recent article in the South Florida Caribbean News. This statement was included in an article quoting U.S. Congressman John Conyers, who released a statement this month calling for new elections and Haiti. IJDH participated in Congressman Conyer’s Haiti briefing to request the Congressman and the CBC urge the US government to push for new, free, fair and inclusive elections.

Women’s Rights
IJDH and its partner, MADRE, provide training to grassroots women’s groups.

IJDH-BAI have been working with MADRE and Haitian grassroots organizations KOFAVIV and FAVILEK to implement the groundbreaking Inter-American Commission on Human Rights decisioncalling on the Government of Haiti, the UN and donors states to take immediate measures to prevent sexual violence in the displacement camps. For example, in January, IJDH issued a joint reporthighlighting strategies for meeting the Commission’s recommendations. Last month, IJDH and the MADRE team led two international law trainings empowering women to engage with the UN system and educating women about their human rights under Haitian and international law. In March, an IJDH attorney will attend a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concerning the of crisis gender-based violence in Haiti. Meanwhile, the BAI legal team, led by Mario Joseph and Haitian attorney Esther Felix, continue to pursue individual legal cases against perpetrators in Haitian courts with steady progress.

Universal Periodic Review
IJDH and other grassroots groups planning to advocate not to renew MINUSTAH mandate.
Universal Periodic Review in October 2011. The UN Human Rights Council will assess Haiti’s compliance with its human rights law obligations. IJDH-BAI is helping coordinate Haitian grassroots groups to participate in the process and submit ten reports on various human rights issues, including gender-based violence, housing, education, prison conditions, and fair elections. These reports will be issued to the Human Rights Council. Grassroots groups are coordinating a report about the presence of UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) since 2004. Groups are concerned that renewal of Haiti’s mandate with MINUSTAH will continue to waive accountability for human rights violations perpetrated by UN actors in Haiti. Haiti has the choice whether or not to renew their mandate. IJDH and other grassroots groups hope to present this issue to the Human Rights Council to facilitate dialogue with the Government of Haiti regarding the concerns of the Haitian people.

Housing Rights
IJDH helping to educate Haitian government while supporting the people.
IJDH continues to educate the Haitian government on the interim IACHR precautionary measures, and is working on a report in French for a press conference with other grassroots partners detailing the shortcomings of the Haitian government in supporting its displaced citizens. IJDH plans to become more of an intermediary between the existing powers and the people, helping to negotiate with landlords, looking for more effective ways to talk to the media, and visiting the camps. The BAI was quoted in a great Global Post article that discusses IDP camp evictions and the ongoing housing crisis in Haiti.

Immigration
IJDH Decries Renewed Deportations Which Have Already Claimed One Death, Apparently from Cholera.

IJDH decried planned US deportations of “criminal” Haitians because it risks their death from cholera in unhygienic police station holding cells. Wildrick Guerrier, a healthy young man died upon return to Haiti in January after he was deported to Haiti along with 26 others.He died in detention apparently from cholera. IJDH continues documenting and leading the outcry to stop the deportations. As IJDH reported in an article in the Boston Haitian Reporter, at a January 31 Massachusetts’ State House Haiti remembrance event with Governor Deval Patrick, Representative Linda Dorcena Forry eloquently urged President Obama to instruct Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Napolitano to promptly allow into the U.S. at least 55,000 beneficiaries of DHS-approved immigrant visa petitions who senselessly must wait in Haiti up to11 more years before getting their green cards.

Legal Spotlight: Patrice Florvilus

A Re-Introduction 

After nearly six years of tirelessly advocating for the right to education and the rights of children in Haiti, Patrice Florvilus joined the BAI in October as one of the lead attorneys on the Housing Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP) team.  As a practicing attorney with advanced degrees in social work, education, and development, Patrice has been able to tie together two of the most critical components of the BAI’s HRAP program – providing direct legal services to victims of human rights violations and empowering internally displaced communities living in camps to defend their own rights through Know Your Rights trainings.

Through his own life, Patrice experienced first-hand the structural violence inflicted upon Haiti’s poor majority.  As a boy growing up in the rural town of Jean Rabel, he and his family struggled to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to meet their basic needs and access quality education.

Click here to read more.

Staff and Office Update

 

Brian Concannon visited Carleton College in Northfield, MN this February as part of Haiti Human Rights week. Above, Brian talks with interested students at a welcome brunch at the school.

Saran Savane, high school senior-year student chose to spend her spring break volunteering at IJDH.

You helped us get 52% of the way there…donate, forward to a friend,challenge others to give so we get to $30,000.

 

IJDH Board

– Brian Concannon Jr., Esq.

– Paul Farmer, MD, PhD

– Laura Flynn, MFA

– Ira Kurzban, Esq.

– Bryan Stevenson, Esq.

– Irwin Stotzky, Esq.

Best Album of the Year award winners called fans to donate to IJDH on the front page of their blogthe day of the Grammys.

 

UN Dispatch reporter picked up the story, “With Arcade Fire’s Grammy Win, Will Justice for Haiti Go Mainstream?”

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://www.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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