Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Judge Defers Decision in UN Cholera Case

A quick update from the New York Times on October 23’s oral arguments on the question of UN immunity. IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom argued on behalf of the plaintiffs and US attorney Ellen Blain argued on behalf of the UN.

Hearing in Haitians’ Cholera Case

Rick Gladstone, New York Times
October 23, 2014

A federal judge in Manhattan heard arguments on Thursday in the first court proceeding over Haitian cholera victims’ lawsuit against the United Nations. They contend that infected peacekeepers were responsible for the outbreak, which has killed more than 8,000 people since 2010. Representatives of the United Nations did not attend the hearing convened by Judge J. Paul Oetken of Federal District Court. It concerned whether the United Nations must answer subpoenas served by the plaintiffs. Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which helps represent the victims, said the judge “took very seriously” his group’s arguments for why the subpoenas should be honored. A lawyer for the United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, Ellen Blain, argued for a dismissal because of the United Nations’ “absolute” immunity under diplomatic treaties. Judge Oetken did not issue a ruling, and Mr. Concannon said it could be months. A separate lawsuit against the United Nations by Haitian cholera victims is pending in Brooklyn federal court.


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