Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Cholera Case Featured on Swedish Radio

Our very own Staff Attorney, Beatrice Lindstrom, was featured on Swedish radio explaining whether we think that Ban’s ‘moral responsibility’ statement signals a change in their position vis-a-vis the lawsuit. Below is a rough translation. (The segment starts at 16:45.)

Sveriges Radio
July 15, 2014

Reporter 1: Right now, the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is visiting Haiti. The UN is still not accepting legal responsibility for the cholera epidemic that was spread by UN troops four years ago, but several organizations have sued the UN. One of them is the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, where Beatrice Lindstrom is a lawyer.

Beatrice: More and more people who work within the UN are speaking out against the way that the Organization has handled this catastrophe. So we hope that the UN will eventually change its position. The ultimate end goal for us is of course not a trial in itself, but to obtain justice for the families that have been sickened and those who have lost family members.

Reporter 2: It was in January 2010 that Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake. Ten months later a cholera epidemic spread across the country, which until now has killed 8,000 people. The cholera came via UN soldiers, who carried the disease which then spread into Haiti’s largest river.

When Ban Ki-moon arrived in Haiti yesterday, he visited a few of the country’s cholera impacted families. Before the trip, he said that the UN has a moral responsibility to help Haiti end the epidemic. But this does not mean that the UN accepts any legal responsibility. Instead, they are pointing to international immunity enjoyed by the UN.

Ola Engdahl, who is an expert in human rights, says the UN could waive it’s immunity so that the case be tried legally and liability assigned.

Ola: This would be a step in the right direction, I think, because until now, we have seen a dearth of good practice on UN responsibility for acts undertaken in peacekeeping operations.

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