The International Association of Democratic Lawyers included two Haiti updates from IJDH in its latest bulletin – one on cholera, and one on elections. This bulletin covers United Nations activities around the world, in preparation for the November meeting of representatives to the UN.
Part of each IJDH update is below. Click HERE for the full bulletin.
JUSTICE FOR CHOLERA VICTIMS IN HAITI
(Report by Shannon Jonsson, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti [IJDH])
In a breakthrough for victims seeking to hold the United Nations (UN) accountable for causing the cholera epidemic in Haiti, the organization has finally acknowledged its role in introducing the disease to Haiti, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently announced a new plan to combat the epidemic and provide material assistance to victims and their families. In his September opening statement to the General Assembly, Ban expressed “tremendous regret and sorrow at the profound suffering of Haitians affected by cholera” and called on member states to provide political and financial support for the new package in order to “meet [the UN’s] obligations to the Haitian people.” Ban also appointed Dr. David Nabarro, previously head of the UN’s response to ebola, to lead the new cholera response.. At the end of September, Nabarro announced that the UN is mobilizing $180 million for cholera response, and “at least an equal amount” for the victims. The details of the UN plan are to be released at the end of October.
The announcement signals a momentous change in the UN’s approach to calls for accountability, and came as pressure mounted for the organization to provide a just response to cholera victims. Prior to the announcement, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, submitted a report highly critical of the response to the epidemic. In the powerful document, Mr. Alston stated: “The UN’s policy [in response to the Haiti cholera epidemic] is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible, and politically self-defeating.” He urged the Secretary-General to issue an apology and take responsibility for the cholera epidemic, as well as create a plan for compensation of the victims.
UPDATE ON ELECTIONS IN HAITI
THE CONTROVERSIAL ROLE OF OAS AND EU OBSERVERS IN HAITI’S FAILED 2015 ELECTIONS
(Report by Nik Barry-Shaw and Nicole Phillips, IJDH)
IADL members, led by Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and its U.S.-based affiliate, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), have been working with Haitian human rights groups to defend the right to vote.
Last October, a delegation of election monitors from IADL and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) spent two weeks in Haiti observing the 2015 electoral process. The elections were to elect the country’s next President, two-thirds of the Senate, all 119 members of the House of Deputies, and all local mayors. First-round legislative elections that had taken place on August 9, 2015 were denounced by Haitian observers due to widespread violence, fraud and disruptions at polling places. Despite protest from opposition parties and civil society, the government went ahead with the second round of legislative elections, along with the first round of Presidential and mayoral elections, on October 25, 2015. The IADL/NLG delegation observed the vote at 15 voting centers in the greater Port-au-Prince region.
Echoing the conclusions of Haitian civil society electoral observers, the IADL/NLG delegation found that the October 25 elections were more orderly than the August 9 vote but still fell far short of minimum standards for fair elections. The vast majority of registered voters—over 70 percent—did not vote; many expressed fear or lost confidence in the electoral process. Forty percent of ballots were cast using political party and other observer accreditations, which allowed fraudulent, multiple voting outside the rules applicable to regular voters and had a decisive influence on the electoral results. A lack of transparency in the tabulation process also raised significant questions about whether votes were properly counted and verified for fraud. Ordinary voters frequently faced undue influence and violations of privacy at polling places.
Click HERE for the full bulletin.