Beatrice Lindstrom is a human rights lawyer who has been fighting for UN accountability in Haiti for the past 5 years. Growing up in Korea and Sweden, she has always viewed her community as global rather than local, but she only became involved with social justice work when she went to Thailand after the tsunami. During her time in Thailand, Beatrice became aware of the many structural injustices that plague the international community.
She attended the NYU School of Law to learn about human rights but never planning on taking the bar examinations. Through her studies and her experiences in Haiti, she realized that litigation was a complement to social justice work and continued with the profession. Beatrice went to Haiti as part of an NYU fellowship where she worked with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). She had only been there only a couple of weeks when the cholera epidemic broke out. Investigations revealed UN peacekeepers were responsible for the outbreak. The UN base was overflowing with waste that leaked directly into Haiti’s main river stream. Beatrice started working on the legal team for IJDH and BAI, trying to develop a strategy to hold the United Nations accountable. She and her team first filed 5,000 claims from Haitian cholera victims seeking compensation. When the UN dismissed these claims, they filed a law suit in the U.S. District Court of New York, which is still underway.
Beatrice is inspired by her mom, the women in Haiti who fight for justice, managing BAI attorney Mario Joseph, and executive director of IJDH Brian Concannon.
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Beatrice Lindstrom: Human Rights Lawyer Fighting for Accountability for Cholera in Haiti
Bill Quigley, Huffington Post
August 2nd, 2016
“Immunity does not mean impunity,” argued social justice lawyer Beatrice Lindstrom before a packed courtroom to three judges of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Lindstrom, a 2010 graduate of NYU Law School, has spent most of her career fighting for human rights for and with the people of Haiti. She appeared before the court as a lawyer with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti(IJDH) and Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). She argued that the United Nations (UN) must be held accountable for its personnel introducing and spreading cholera in Haiti which has killed more than 9,000 and infected another 800,000 to date. While there is little question that UN personnel brought and spread cholera to Haiti, the UN continues to argue it is immune from suit. The court has not yet decided whether the victims are going to get their day in court or not.
Lindstrom, who speaks, to varying extents, English, Swedish, Korean, French and Haitian Creole, has always had a global vision. She grew up in Sweden and Korea, “two of the least diverse countries in the world, and always felt like somewhat of an outsider. In Korea especially, the national identity doesn’t include a space for biracial people, and so I was often treated like a foreigner by default. Because of this, I’ve always defined my community and interests as more global than local, and I think that may also be what draws me particularly to accountability for powerful international actors.
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