Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

A Disappointing Ruling on Cholera in Haiti

While the UN is leading (unsuccessful) efforts to eradicate cholera from Haiti, it has still not accepted responsibility for causing the epidemic and continues to dodge accountability in court. On January 9, 2015, a judge ruled that the UN is absolutely immune from suit unless it expressly waives immunity. IJDH and BAI lawyers leading this case plan to appeal the decision. Two other lawsuits against the UN are pending.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

U.N. immune from accountability for cholera in Haiti, says U.S. court

Tom Murphy, Humanosphere
January 12, 2015

A demonstrator holds up a sign that reads in Creole "Cholera of U.N. is a crime against humanity" during a protest against the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Credit: AP)

Victims of the cholera outbreak brought to Haiti by U.N. peacekeeping troops from Nepal cannot sue the body in U.S. courts, a district judge ruled. Judge J. Paul Oetken of U.S. District Court in Manhattan agreed with the U.N.’s own assessment that it was immune from such a lawsuit, at the end of last week.

Oetken cited the issue of immunity and concerns that allowing the case could open the door to more lawsuits against the U.N. as reasons for throwing out the case.

“Where such an express waiver is absent, the U.N. and (its operation in Haiti) are immune from suit,” he wrote in his decision.

Human rights activists and lawyers with the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, IJDH, brought forward the lawsuit saying that the U.N. did not fulfill its obligation to allow victims of the cholera outbreak to seek justice. They plan to appeal.

“We are disappointed that the U.S. government and the Court accepted this position, but more disappointed that the U.N. would take it. It goes against everything the U.N. is supposed to stand for,” said Brian Concannon Jr., director of IJDH and counsel for the plaintiffs, in a statement.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

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