Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Open Letter from Haitian Diaspora to President of Haiti for Standing Claims Commission

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The Haitian diaspora condemns the negligence of the United Nations on the matter of the cholera epidemic and requests that the Haitian government obtains justice for the victims. The diaspora calls for the creation of a commission to gather claims for compensation for the epidemic. They write to the President of Haiti for swift action in obtaining justice for the cholera victims. 
Your Excellency,
We write to you as leaders in the Haitian diaspora to highlight a critical opportunity for the
Haitian Government to ensure that cholera victims finally obtain justice for the harms they have
suffered as a result of the United Nations’ negligence. The Haitian Government has a time
sensitive opportunity to initiate a standing claims commission to hear cholera victims’ claims
related to injury, illness and death, and determine compensation by October 14, 2018 (the one
year deadline after the expiration of MINUSTAH’s mandate, as set forth in the Status of Forces
Agreement between the Haitian Government and MINUSTAH). We urge you to take the
unprecedented opportunity of announcing the appointment of a commissioner during your
upcoming intervention at the UN General Assembly this September 2018.
As you know, cholera has claimed at least 9,700 lives and sickened a further 800,000 people in
Haiti since UN troops introduced the disease in the country in October 2010. After years of
advocacy by government actors, by Haitian victims of cholera, by the Haitian diaspora, and other
allies in Haiti and elsewhere in the world, the UN Secretary-General finally recognized the UN’s
role in the cholera outbreak and launched a New Approach to Cholera in Haiti (“New
Approach”) on 1 December 2016. While this New Approach promised to “place victims at the
center” and provide “material assistance to those Haitians most affected” by cholera, over a year
later it is not translating into anything approximating justice. Our fight for cholera victims has
led to important progress, with our latest efforts leading to the U.S. congress allocating 10
million dollars to cholera in their 2018 omnibus spending bill, but there exist serious concerns
about the UN’s ability to mobilize substantial funds to make meaningful progress on
implementing the New Approach. There are also increasing concerns that the UN is abandoning
compensation despite constant calls from both the Haitian Government and cholera victims that
the UN must deliver.
We welcome the Haitian Government’s statements on the need for justice and compensation for
cholera victims. In particular, we welcome the Haitian Government’s Statement to the General
Assembly in September 2016: “We trust that the urgent appeal of the Secretary General for the
implementation of a substantially strengthened program to combat cholera and provide material
assistance to victims and their families will be heeded and will fully meet the expectations of the
people of Haiti.” We further welcome the more recent statement of President Moïse in
September 2017 that: “The money should go to the victims of cholera. That is why I am going to
order the Prime Minister to start working on identifying the victims of the cholera epidemic.”
The UN has, nevertheless, de-prioritized securing material support for victims despite no robust
assessment of victims’ needs.
We now urge the Government to consider initiating a commission to receive claims for
compensation for cholera. Given the UN’s broad immunity from lawsuits in national courts and
the lack of implementation of the New Approach, a commission may be the only meaningful
way to ensure justice for victims. By taking the first step of appointing a commissioner to
establish a commission, the Haitian Government can oblige the UN to work with it to create a
commission to hear these claims. However, the Government must act fast: the commission must
be set up to receive claims within one year after the expiration of MINUSTAH’s mandate (14
October 2018). Your upcoming speech at the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2018 is
an unprecedented opportunity to announce the appointment of a commissioner, which initiate
this important process.
We are attaching a briefing that provides additional information on the UN’s legal obligation to
create a commission, the reasons why the establishment of a commission at this stage could serve
as an important mechanism to deliver compensation to cholera victims, and the time-sensitive
steps that the Haitian Government can take to establish one.
Mr. President Moise, the deadline for the claims commission to be set is near (October 14, 2018)
and the unjust unpleasant fate of the cholera victims is looming. It is imperative that you take
actions swiftly that will ensure that the cholera victims are not forgotten, ignored, ridiculed,
exploited and victimized again by their own government and president as previous governments
have done. The Haitian diaspora, surely our brothers and sisters in Haiti and the cholera victims
wish to see a president worthy of his duty compelled to defend the interest of his country, armed
with courage, determination and conviction to stand up to demand reparations and compensation
for the victims of cholera.
Mr. President, you have an unprecedented opportunity to follow the glorious course of history
that still immortalizes the statesmen who have listened to their people, have put themselves at
their service and have placed their interest above their own.
Hoping that you will give significant attention to this correspondence, please accept, Excellency,
Mr. President, the distinguished greetings of the Haitian diaspora.
 Collective Solidarity Towards Cholera Victims
Florida, Jimy Mertune – President
Florida, Minister Olicier Pieriche
 New York, Dr. Kesler Dalmacy and Yveline Dalmacy
 Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center, Inc
Florida, Ms. Gepsie M. Metellus – Executive Director
 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Florida, Monica Russo – Executive Vice President
 Lesley University – Division of Creative Arts in Learning
Massachusetts, Danielle Legros Georges – Poet Laureate, Professor
 The Michel Law Firm, LLC
Florida, Soeurette Michel, Esq., LL.M – CEO
 Haitian-American Leadership Council (HALEC)
Philadelphia, Quener Joseph – Board
 Diaspora in Action
New Jersey, Joel Leon – President
 Coffeyville Orthopedics
Kansas, Maxime Coles – President
 TWU Local 100 (NYC transit retired)
New York, Marty Goodman – Former Executive Board member
 Vwa Ayiti
Florida, Sainca Jean – Conseiller
Massachusetts, Tina Lorquet – President
 American For Immigrant Justice
Florida, Adonia Simpson – President
Florida, Smith Lamothe – Board Member
 Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce (GHACC)
Florida, Dr. Idler Bonhomme – President
 Ingenieurs, Architectes, Scientifiques et Technologues Haitiens (CIASTH)
Massachusetts, Luckner Bayas – General Secretary

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