Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Quarterly Newsletter: Winter 2010

IJDH Winter Newsletter                                                                                                                                    December 2010Annual Fundraising Appeal
Letter from the Director
December 2010Dear Friend,There is no denying that 2010 has been a hard year for Haiti, especially the poor. We say  “at leastnow things cannot get any worse,” but then an earthquake is followed by a hurricane, then a cholera epidemic, and just last weekend, deeply flawed elections. So we ask, “is Haiti cursed? ”A “curse” is actually an easy way out for us, because we cannot do anything about a curse. Haiti’s problem is not a curse, but extreme vulnerability to the same environmental stresses that hit other countries.

The U.S. has cholera cases most years, but they are quickly contained by clean water, plumbing and basic healthcare. Haiti has one cholera outbreak and it rages out of control killing thousands. An 8.8.magnitude earthquake in Chile killed 800, while a 7.0 earthquake in Haiti killed 200,000.

Haiti’s extreme vulnerability is the result of policies, set in Port-au-Prince, Washington DC and elsewhere that prevent poor Haitians from exercising their basic human rights. These rights include civil rights like the right to vote in fair elections, the right to be free from illegal imprisonment and the right to enforce contracts, as well as economic and social rights like the right to shelter, education and clean water. Our ability to enforce these same rights ensures we have food to eat and a roof over our head at night.

We have the power to change the policies that generate Haiti’s vulnerability, using the privileges we enjoy from living in powerful countries – our skills, our votes and our money.

IJDH and our Haitian partner, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), address the root causes of Haiti’s vulnerability by fighting those policies, in Haiti and wherever decisions about Haitians human rights are made. In Haiti, we provide organizations and individuals the legal and organizational support they need to transform the unjust structures that keep them poor and vulnerable.  Outside Haiti, we apply pressure on policymakers and provide the information and analysis that true friends of Haiti — legislators, lawyers, students, activists, citizens, journalists and human rights groups – need to help the Haitians’ fight.

The enclosed report highlights the concrete, sustainable progress we have made in helping Haitians enforce their rights, despite this year’s challenges. Thousands of earthquake refugees have fought off illegal eviction. Rape victims are standing up to their assailants, and winning. Unjustly held prisoners are returning to their families. Along the way, marginalized people are finding their voices, organizations are getting stronger and public interest lawyers are honing their skills.

We have had a lot of help- over 100 volunteers contributed their time and skills this year, from lawyer Nicole Phillips volunteering full-time since April to short-term helpers analyzing report data or translating press releases. Thousands of people have signed our petitions, written letters or called their elected representatives to urge more just policies for Haiti. Most of all, the financial support we receive from our donors like you keeps us fighting on the front lines, every day.

Thank you for making our work possible in 2010.

We are confident that we can build on this year’s successes to make 2011 a better year for Haiti, but we will need your help. Please consider investing in a more secure and stable future for Haiti by supporting the work of IJDH and the BAI.

On behalf of everyone at IJDH and the BAI- our staff, Board of Directors and volunteers, thank you!


Brian Concannon Jr.,

Director, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)

P.S.:  We wish you a happy and fulfilling holiday season, and look forward to having you on our team as we fight for a more just 2011 for Haiti.

Law in the time of CholeraWhile we can’t treat patients, we are fighting the conditions that make cholera possible in Haiti.Cholera is a disease of the disempowered: it can only thrive where people cannot enforce their right to basic social services, including clean water and healthcare. It will likely persist in Haiti for years – as long as the conditions that make it thrive do. Those conditions also spawn other crises – extreme vulnerability to hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural stresses, and diarrheal diseases killing children more slowly but just as surely.We’ve fought these conditions for a decade: we opposed the development assistance embargo (2000-2004) that cancelled clean water project loans. We helped win over $2 billion in debt cancellation, which freed up over $1 million per week for the Haitian government to provide social services. Click here to read more.
You can prevent rapes in Haiti…Haitian Police Officer and Accomplice Arrested and Awaiting Trial for Rape of 15 Year-Old Girl.In October, a mother and her fifteen year-old daughter came to our grassroots partner, KOFAVIV, to report that the girl was raped by two men, including a Haitian National Police officer. This was yet one more rape in an epidemic of rapes since Haiti’s earthquake. Almost all of these rapes had gone unpunished. But thanks to our supporters, we were able to mount a response through our Rape Accountability and Protection Project (RAPP).Fabiola, a paralegal with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), took the child  to the hospital, to get treatment but to also obtain a medical certificate that can be used in court. Click here to read more.
Lawyers help communities organize and stop evictions of people already displaced by the earthquake

  • IJDH Halts Forced Eviction of 310 Families at Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp

It seems that life could not get worse than living in an IDP camp – until even that is taken away.Imagine you are evicted and don’t have anywhere else to bring your family, in a city overrun with cholera. Tens of thousands of people – who had already lost almost everything in the earthquake – have suffered this fate.

Click here to read more.

IJDH and the BAI Keep Elections’ Unfairness on World’s Radar Screen• Haiti’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections on November 28 were a well-documented failure, complete with widespread voter exclusion and fraud. IJDH and BAI saw these problems a year ago, and worked hard to call attention to them, click here to read more.
Justice Close to Home…The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has approved 55,000 Haitians to join their families in the U.S., but they are on a waiting list that could take 4 to 11 years.IJDH is leading the effort to convince DHS to bring them in promptly. Click here to read more.
Your Donations Give Patrice Florvilus Training and a Chance to Stop Injustices He Battled His Entire Life…and Give Haiti’s Poor Hope for the Future• You can pay for Haitian lawyers to educate, mobilize, and organize Haiti’s  poor for food, water, and security… and  force the government to take action.“Every time I think about where I came from and how I am now working as a lawyer, I have more strength to continue to fight for the poor people of Haiti, and for everyone in the world who has their human rights violated.”

              -Patrice Florvilus

 In 1987, nine year-old Patrice Florvilus  witnessed the murder of eight of his  friends in Haiti’s notorious Jean Rabel  Massacre. Click here to read more.

For more infor­ma­tion about the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti (IJDH), the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) or human rights in Haiti, see our web­site, To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts (monthly), subscribe here. To keep us fighting on the front lines for justice in Haiti, donate here.

Table of ContentsIJDH BoardStaff UpdateTake Action

Thank You!

Letter from the Director

Law in the time of Cholera

Haitian Police Officer Arrested

IJDH Halts Forced Eviction

Elections: Unfairness on World’s Radar Screen

Immigration Update: Help Reunite 55,000 Families

Profile of BAI Lawyer Patrice Florvilus

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PDF Version of December 2010 Newsletter

IJDH Board– Brian Concannon Jr., Esq.- Paul Farmer, MD, PhD- Laura Flynn, MFA

– Ira Kurzban, Esq.

– Bryan Stevenson, Esq.

– Irwin Stotzky, Esq.

Don’t miss your chance to share your support for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux  (BAI) with loved ones.For a limited time this holiday season, we’d like to give you a small gift demonstrating our appreciation for your supportto give to friends and family members, or keep for yourself.For a suggested donation of $25, you will receive your choice of holiday decorations, designed by IJDH volunteer Erin McDonagh.Click hereto learn more.


Staff UpdateIJDH staff has more than doubled in the last year — including 5 full-time lawyers who are volunteers or fellows!  We stretch every dollar as far as it will go, but need your support to keep our programs running.
Take ActionHaiti is not cursed –just the victim of unjust policies that promote vulnerability. Join us in reversing these policies by enforcing Haitians’ basic human rights. 

Considermaking a donation to IJDH. IJDH and the BAI need your donations to continue our much needed work in Haiti. Please give what you can!


Checks (preferred) should be made payable to IJDH and mailed to 666 Dorchester Avenue, South Boston, MA 02127.


To pay by credit card:

  • Go to
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Sign up for ourHalf Hour for Haiti Action Alerts and spend 30 minutes a month writing to your represen-tative, signing meaningful petitions or reading a thought provoking article.


Volunteer on a project, forward this to a friend, find us on Facebook or Twitterattendeven host an event, or read more about our work!

Thank You!Your Generosity Keeps Us Fighting for Justice

Thank you for being part of the team and helping us bring justice to Haiti’s poor majority. We are excited about the changes you can help us make in 2011. Please consider donating today and continue your support for the critical work you help us do.

            Children in Barbancourt II IDP Camp where IJDH and the BAI have partnered with residents to prevent unlawful forced evictions.
Grassroots Women’s Rights advocates and the BAI staff discuss legal strategy.
 Haitian voter in Cite Soleil defends her right to vote to a United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) soldier.
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