Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Mario Joseph’s Visit to Amnesty International USA Washington Office

By Barbara Joe
June 6th, 2013

Haitian HR lawyer Mario Joseph, DC AI office 6-2013 (1)

Mario Joseph, a Haitian human rights lawyer, has been nominated for the Martin Ennals award, named for Amnesty International’s secretary general until 1980. In a reception held for him on June 6 at the at the AI USA Washington office, Mr. Joseph indicated that the nomination has afforded him increased support, protection, and credibility. Earlier that day, he had made the rounds of congressional and government offices and had planned other visits to officials and NGOs the following day. He said he had been born into a poor family and, despite many obstacles, became a lawyer now working on behalf of poor people. He first worked for a Catholic agency and is now with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux. He appeared to be a supporter of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (I was an election observer in 1990 when he was first elected).  In conversation with me, Joseph expressed optimism that Duvalier will be convicted, even though, so far, he has avoided coming to court, claiming illness. (I don’t know if that prediction is wishful thinking or based on reality—many former dictators, such as Pinochet and now Rios Montt, have managed to  avoid serving prison sentences.) He did point out that some military figures associated with Duvalier have been sanctioned. I told him that AI USA’s Haiti specialist, Gladys Melo-Pinzon, was out of the country but that she is fluent in French and may be getting in touch with him in the near future.

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