Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haitian-Americans’ Amicus Brief Supports Cholera Case Appeal

Although the United Nations (UN) was responsible for a cholera outbreak that began in Haiti in 2010, it has yet to provide a method for the victims to settle their claims. In January 2015, a US judge dismissed our case against the UN, upholding the UN’s immunity. We appealed the decision on May 27, 2015. 11 Haitian-American civil society organizations have submitted the amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief below in support of our appeal.

Click HERE for the full document.


Emmanuel Coffy

June 3, 2015


Amici1 are civil society organizations representing Haitian-Americans in the
United States, some of whose family members were afflicted by the cholera
outbreak that is the basis of the current lawsuit.2 Together, Amici possess firsthand
knowledge of the Haitian-American community and current conditions in
Haiti. Amici have a strong interest in ensuring that victims of the cholera epidemic
are provided access to justice, and submit this brief in support of Plaintiffs-
Appellants’ position that Defendants-Appellees may not benefit from immunity
when Defendants-Appellees have refused to abide by their obligations to provide
victims of their wrongdoing with a mode of settlement.
Amici wish to emphasize how important it is that Plaintiffs be accorded a
prompt day in court for the United Nations (UN) to answer the serious allegations
of recklessness and gross negligence contained in the Complaint. See Pls.’ App. A-


Amici respectfully urge this Court to grant Plaintiffs’ appeal and to reverse
the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
(SDNY), so that the court may decide Plaintiffs’ case on its merits. Amici support
the legal arguments presented in Plaintiffs’ brief in favor of reversal. As members
and family members of the population affected by the United Nations’ (UN)
wrongdoing, Amici wholeheartedly request that this Court also take into
consideration in deciding this appeal, the serious toll that Haiti’s first-ever cholera
outbreak has caused on Haitian society, life, and individuals.
It is particularly important to note that the epidemic has significantly
worsened in 2015 with the number of new cases and deaths reportedly jumping by
300%, as documented in Argument I of this brief and as reported by countless
major news outlets worldwide as recently as June 2, 2015. In effect, the lower
court’s decision denies the opportunity for relief to the more than 700,000
individuals who have already been affected by this outbreak and blocks recovery
of any kind by plaintiffs who will inevitably be added to this class as the crisis
expands, claiming the health and lives of countless more Haitians and Haitian-
Americans. In addition, a decision granting the UN immunity for its tortious
conduct in this case would cement the perception held by many Haitians that the
UN is allowed to operate beyond the bounds of the law, standards that the U.S. and

the UN themselves have both argued must be applied stringently to Haitian
government agencies and political leaders.

Click HERE for the full document.

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