Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Attorney Mario Joseph explains to cholera victims the status of their case at a Federal Court of the United States

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux

May 31, 2016 

Mario cholera Sodo
In Saut d’Eau, Mario Joseph, managing attorney of BAI, hosts an exchange with representatives of victims of cholera from the local community

This Wednesday, May 25, 2015, attorney Mario Joseph conducted a field trip to the communes of Saut d’Eau and Boucan Carré, to inform victims of cholera on the progress of their case against the United Nations in the 2 nd Circuit Federal Court in New York, including the recent appeals hearing held in the court in March. Mario Joseph is the head of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), and has been representing victims of cholera in Artibonite department since 2010, when the deadly disease was released into Haitian waterways from a United Nations camp.

In simple language, Mr. Mario Joseph broke down the process to victims, explaining their role in supporting the arguments in the hearing by demonstrating the relevance of the court’s decision, through their recent campaign to deliver more than 2000 letters to US authorities at the Embassy of the US in Haiti on the 12 th of May. The same letters have already been submitted to the United Nations Security Council, and have explained, in the victims’ words, the disastrous consequences of this disease on their physical and mental health.

A group of victims in Boucan Carré gather around the tomb of a woman who died from cholera

Several victims took the opportunity to engage in the exchange. At Boucan Carre, Fernand Joseph, a young man of 25 years, mentioned his deteriorating mental state since contracting this disease, the severity of which has made recovery difficult, as he notes, “The disease has destroyed my memory because I cannot remember my school lessons. I am very worried about my future.” Maciane Moon, a 58-year- old woman, describes her condition, saying, “This epidemic infected me and members of my family, and since then I have no energy because my limbs were completely weakened. I cannot work to take care of my children – that is why the United Nations needs to compensate us.”

In Saut d’Eau, Noel John, a man of 70, requested the floor to express his indignation, stating that “It is necessary that the United Nations take account of their actions, they have to compensate us for all these wrongs they committed by releasing this epidemic. For this, we will continue to fight, with BAI leading our legal action, to get us compensation and restitution from the United Nations.”

At the end of the exchange both at Boucan Carré and Saut d’Eau, Mario Joseph was received with applause by the victims as he reiterated the will of the BAI to continue to fight the immunity of the United Nations mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, an immunity which is being employed to absolve the UN of its responsibility in the release of the cholera epidemic into Haiti.

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