The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) are the only partnership structured to address the six key concerns of people like you who are interested in building justice in Haiti. Our programs are effective because they:
Produce Results: IJDH and BAI have been winning historic victories for justice in challenging contexts in Haiti for seventeen years, including the Raboteau Massacre case (2000), hailed as one of the most important human rights cases ever in the Americas, and Neptune v. Haiti (2008), the first Haiti case decided by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. The Raboteau case led to the deportation of the highest-ranked military officer ever deported from the U.S. on human rights grounds. In Neptune, the court ordered sweeping changes to Haiti’s prison and criminal law systems. In 2012, we won convictions on four (out of four) precedent-setting rape cases, freed dozens of illegally-held prisoners and won a verdict in favor of workers in an illegal mass employee firing case.
Use Innovative Collaboration: The IJDH/BAI model combines the respective skills and perspectives of human rights organizations and lawyers in Haiti and in the U.S. The Haiti-based BAI and Boston-based IJDH collaborate seamlessly on all their cases, ensuring a unified strategy for advocating in the courts and on the streets of Haiti, as well as in the press and power centers in the U.S. and other countries where decisions about Haitians’ rights are made. BAI and IJDH leverage their legal expertise and Haiti knowledge to recruit a vast international network of lawyers, activists, political leaders and scholars to the fight for justice in Haiti.
Are Cost-effective: IJDH and BAI multiply the impact of their limited resources by attracting skilled volunteers (at least two volunteers per paid
staff member in a typical day at IJDH), law school clinics, pro-bono lawyers and collaborators, and by keeping costs low. The organizations run two main offices, with thirty employees in eight cities in Haiti and the U.S. conducting cutting-edge litigation and advocacy for less than $900,000 per year.
Have Strong Leadership: The New York Times called the BAI’s Mario Joseph “Haiti’s most respected human rights lawyer.” IJDH’s Brian Concannon is the pre-eminent expert on human rights in Haiti in the U.S. Both have worked full time on human rights in Haiti for seventeen years, and have won numerous awards and fellowships. IJDH’s Board of Directors includes two MacArthur “Genius” Award winners and nationally-known experts on justice, health and immigration issues.
Build Sustainable Change: IJDH and BAI transform the unjust structures that keep Haitians poor and keep Haiti vulnerable to natural, political and economic disasters. By forcing the justice system to work for the society’s most vulnerable, BAI and IJDH force it to work for all Haitians. A strong, fair justice system provides a predictable, non-violent forum for resolving conflict, thereby reducing crime and increasing economic, political and social certainty. Enforcing rights allows families to earn, learn and vote their way out of poverty. BAI’s training program is creating a generation of Haitian public interest lawyers willing and able to apply top-level skills to a lifetime of promoting the rule of law.
Set precedent for other countries: The IJDH/BAI experience is a model for enforcing human rights and developing the rule of law in poor countries. Their Raboteau case work is used as a case study at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government for classes on transitional justice. The UN cholera case is discussed in high-level conferences and academia as a model for advancing the accountability of international organizations. The BAI/IJDH approach is the principle focus of a book, The Victory is for the People: How Human Rights Can Save Haiti, expected in 2013.
Financial support for IJDH/BAI is essential for maintaining and expanding this vital work. Our clients—many living on $1/day or less—cannot pay legal fees. We receive little support from institutional donors, so we depend on the support of individual donors to keep our lights on and our lawyers fighting on the front lines. Please consider joining our fight with a generous year-end contribution to IJDH.
Brian Concannon Jr.
P.S. Consider giving a gift to IJDH and BAI in honor of one of your friends or family members–we will send them a holiday card to let them know! (Under the gift amount, choose from the “This gift is” dropdown menu.)