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UN refuses to take responsibility for cholera in Haiti

October 29, 2014 - 11:38

This article was written for Omvärlden, the Swedish Development Agency’s magazine. The title is “UN refuses to take responsibility for cholera in Haiti”, and the subtitle asks “can an organization that works for human rights refuse people to have their rights adjudicated? The question will now be decided by a New York court”

They interviewed Beatrice Lindstrom (IJDH Staff Attorney), Krister Thelin, Hans Corell, Margot Wallstrom (new Swedish foreign minister), Carl Bildt (former Swedish foreign minister and prime minister), and Jan Eliasson. None of the last three would really speak about the case.

The article concludes: If the same reasoning holds true for the UN as an organization, that could have decisive implications for Lisette Paul and the thousands of her affected countrymen.

The pdf is linked below.

FN vägrar ta ansvar för koleraspridning på Haiti

Karolina Andersson, OmVärlden
November 2014

Here’s the pdf.

Immunity or Impunity

October 28, 2014 - 14:00

Haitian Student Unity’s panel on the cholera suit, in Boston.

WHAT: 

Join Haitian Student Unity, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, and others for a panel discussion on the groundbreaking lawsuit against the United Nations over the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

WHEN:

Tuesday, 10/28/2014 at 5pm

WHERE: 

Northeastern University School of Law
Dockser 42
65 Forsyth Street
Boston, MA

Author Talk With Bryan Stevenson

October 27, 2014 - 15:00

At Boston Public Library, hear about Bryan Stevenson’s new book on America’s criminal justice system.

WHAT:

IJDH board member and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson, will speak about his new book, Just Mercy. The book tells the story of Walter McMillian, a black man sentenced to die for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit, along with many others facing America’s criminal justice system. It is available now from Random House.

The release of Bryan Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy” was preceded by an exemplary TED talk, a recent appearance on The Daily Show, and an interview on NPR. Don’t miss this chance to hear Bryan speak.

WHERE:

Commonwealth Salon
Central Library in Copley Square
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

WHEN:

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 6-7pm

 

Click HERE for more on this event.

Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Comes to US Court

October 27, 2014 - 12:20

This article describes the cholera epidemic in Haiti, as well as the October 23 oral arguments on the question of UN immunity. It also compares the cholera epidemic to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, both of which are exacerbated (or even allowed) by poverty. Ebola is very difficult to combat but cholera is, fortunately, easy to fight and prevent. What would help most is the UN taking responsibility for the epidemic it caused and helping Haiti build the water and sanitation infrastructure it needs to be cholera-free.

An excerpt is below. Click HERE for the full text.

There’s an Epidemic on Trial in New York — But It’s Not Ebola

Lauren Carasik, VICE News
October 27, 2014

The UN has declined to appear in court on its own behalf. Instead, Assistant US Attorney Ellen Blain argued that as both the host nation to the UN and a party to treaties governing UN affairs, the US is obligated to respond on the UN’s behalf. Blain urged the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds of absolute immunity, claiming that allowing the case to go forward would open the floodgates for suits against the UN that would impair its ability to advance its mission.

Beatrice Lindstrom, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti argued that the immunity conferred by the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations depends on the provision of an appropriate settlement mechanism for private law claims, which the UN has not done. Moreover, the UN committed to set up a Standing Claims Commission in its Status of Forces Agreement with Haiti. It has not. Victims’ lawyers point out that they are asking for a narrow ruling of liability, based on the egregious facts of this case alone: the catastrophe unleashed by the UN and its refusal to provide any forum for victims to seek a remedy. Impunity, advocates argued, does not advance the UN’s role in fostering peace and upholding the rule of law.

Judge J. Paul Oetken engaged with both sides, evincing a nuanced understanding of the issues and the stakes involved. But he cautioned that the plaintiffs had “a steep hill to climb,” citing previous decisions by the court in upholding the UN’s immunity. As Yale Law School’s Muneer Ahmad lamented, “Haitian people are all too familiar with the court expressing sympathy to their plight but closing doors to them.” A ruling could take months.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Many Set to Immigrate Through Haitian Family Reunification

October 26, 2014 - 07:09

This article describes a couple who were part of just a small Haitian community when they first moved to Fort Pierce, FL. Now, the growing population of Haitians will likely grow even more as the Obama administration has agreed to implement a Haitian Family reunification program starting in 2015. IJDH Immigration Policy Coordinator Steve Forester, and others, describe why this program is so important for both Haiti and the US.

An excerpt is below. Click HERE for the full text.

More Haitians make Tampa Bay area their home

José Patiño Girona, The Tampa Tribune
October 26, 2014

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will oversee the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unify Haitians who are here and their families who stayed behind.

The program makes it easier for Haitians living in the United States who are legal citizens or legal permanent residents to petition to have their relatives come legally to the U.S. The change, long lobbied for by Haitian advocates, makes it easier for Haitian relatives to come to the United States, but the process still will be slower than many Haitians would like.

Once a petition is approved, the relatives still will usually remain in Haiti under a waiting period for two to 12 years, said Steven Forester, immigration policy coordinator for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.

Haitians approved under the new program will be able to receive work permits. Advocates expect many will send money back to Haiti to help relatives there, many of whom are still suffering from the 2010 earthquake, Forester said.

“These people are coming anyway,” Forester said. “Family reunification is the backbone of our entire immigration system.”

 

Click HERE for the full text.

First Annual Haitian Creole Month Celebration

October 25, 2014 - 07:00

Celebrate Haitian Culture in Cambridge’s first Haitian Creole Month.

Transcript of Cholera Litigation Oral Arguments

October 24, 2014 - 12:53

October 23, 2014

Part of the transcript is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome. We are here for
oral argument on the pending motions in this case. As you
know, the complaint in the case was filed in October 2013, just
a little over a year ago. Plaintiffs allege that the United
Nations and entities affiliated with the United Nations caused
a cholera epidemic, beginning in October of 2010, in Haiti, and
they bring claims for negligence and related claims against the
United Nations and associated entities and individuals of the
United Nations. They have sought to serve those entities, the
defendants.
The United Nations defendants have resisted service,
and we are here for oral argument really on just the issue of
whether this Court should deem service to have been made and
the related issue of whether the action should be dismissed, as
the United States Government has argued, on the ground of

United Nations immunity, that is, under the applicable legal
governing authorities, whether the United Nations and the other
defendants are immune both from service and from the lawsuit
itself, the claims in the lawsuit. So we are here to address
specifically those issues.
On October 17th, I indicated I would give plaintiffs
and the United States 15 minutes each for argument. I don’t
have red and yellow lights like the Second Circuit does, so
I’ll just cut you off when you’ve reached your time, unless I
don’t want to. Then I’ve also allowed each of three groups of
amici to speak for ten minutes each, first, the amici FANM and
Haitian Women of Miami and the Haitian Lawyers Association,
then a group of international law scholars and practitioners,
and finally a group of European law scholars and practitioners.
I’ve read all the papers, so you don’t really have to repeat
what’s in the papers, but you’re welcome to highlight any
issues that you’d like to raise, and I’ll question you as
appropriate.
So, unless there are any preliminary matters — oh,
yes, there is one pro hac vice motion on behalf of Muneer
Ahmad, and that application is granted.
MR. AHMAD: Thank you, your Honor.
THE COURT: So we will begin with the original
movants, counsel for plaintiffs, Ms. Lindstrom?
MS. LINDSTROM: Thank you, your Honor.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Why is US Arguing for UN Absolute Immunity?

October 24, 2014 - 12:43

This article explores the US government’s interest in the case against the United Nations for bringing cholera to Haiti. At yesterday’s oral arguments on the question of UN immunity, a US attorney argued in favor of absolute immunity for the UN, though the US isn’t a party to the litigation. The US has also submitted two statements in support of UN immunity in 2014.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

The U.N. Caused Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic. Now the Obama Administration Is Fighting the Victims.

Jonathan Katz, New Republic
October 24, 2014

Four years ago this month a battalion of United Nations soldiers, fresh from a cholera outbreak in Nepal, allowed their sewage to flow into Haiti’s biggest river and, scientists say, sparked the deadliest acute epidemic of the century. An estimated 9,000 people have died—nearly double the death toll of the current Ebola outbreak—and an estimated 700,000 people have been infected. On Thursday, embattled victims finally got a day in court. What was most remarkable about the hearing in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan was not the lawyers’ arguments or Judge J. Paul Oetken’s pointed questions, but who was doing the arguing. The opposition to the thousands of Haitian cholera victims did not come from the U.N., which did not send a representative, but the United States government.

In private conversations with U.N. officials, there seems to be a grudging acceptance—and even more pervasive sense of shame—that the peacekeepers were responsible for the massive epidemic, which not only caused tremendous loss of life but set back the Haitian economy and civil society that so many at the U.N. have pledged to help build. (Cholera’s corrosive power on Haiti’s medical infrastructure and society has been echoed in reports from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. In a coincidence, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in New York City was admitted to nearby Bellevue Hospital Center hours after the hearing.) Ban traveled to Haiti this summer for the first time since the outbreak, where he affirmed a“moral responsibility” to end the cholera epidemic. As the U.S. takes the lead fighting the case in the courts, time will tell if the U.N. leader has the power or will to accept actual responsibility as well.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Reflections from the Bolt Bus: Cholera, Collaboration and Justice

October 24, 2014 - 10:43

Brian Concannon
October 23, 2014

Three years ago next week I was on a nighttime Fung Wah Bus from New York back to Boston, feeling exhilarated and terrified.  That morning we had announced the filing of a claim with the United Nations on behalf of 5,000 victims of the UN cholera in Haiti. I was exhilarated because we had taken an important first step towards justice for those killed and sickened by the epidemic, and the installation of the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to stop cholera’s killing. I was terrified because I feared that a small organization—without even a paid staff lawyer besides the Director—could not contend with the United Nations that boasted some of the best international lawyers in the world and millions of dollars for outside lawyers and public relations work.

Three years later I am on a nighttime Bolt Bus from New York back to Boston. I am again feeling exhilarated, and this time less terrified.  My fears were actually justified—there is no way that our small organization could contend with the UN’s vast resources. But we have since learned that a small organization, combined with our colleagues at the BAI, Haitian and Haitian-American activists, a prestigious and generous law firm, an army of volunteer lawyers and students, doctors, more doctors, UN insiders, law school Deans, Board Members, writers, filmmakers, more filmmakers, journalists, Bar Associations, petition-signers, Universities, political leaders, international law scholars, retweeters, Facebook friends, editorial boards,  NGOs, advisors, inspirations and our essential financial supporters, plus many others—sorry for the omissions—can more than match the UN’s resources.

Today we took another important step towards justice with a hearing in Manhattan Federal Court, on whether the UN could hide behind immunity if it refused to uphold its end of the bargain by providing the victims an alternate mechanism for justice (transcript here). IJDH Staff Lawyer Beatrice Lindstrom, who drafted the 2011 petition as a volunteer, masterfully presented the victims’ case, aided by lawyers representing Haitian-American organizations, international law scholars and European law scholars. The Judge was prepared, engaged, and clearly considering our arguments carefully. The courtroom was packed with supporters of the cholera victims’ fight for justice, and journalists. It will take time for the court to issue its decision, and the case may end up on appeal. But for now it has been demonstrated that there is a strong legal case for overcoming UN immunity, with broad and deep public support.

Along the way, all of us together have reframed the debate. Three years ago, most observers gave credence to the UN’s denial of responsibility for bringing in cholera. Now, the UN does not seriously contest that fact. Films exposing the injustice of the UN response have won Emmy and Peabody Awards and been featured at film festivals. Over 100 members of the US Congress have sided with justice, as have the UN’s own expert panel on cholera and many UN Human Rights experts.

There is no guarantee that we will win the lawsuit. But I do promise that the legal team at the BAI and IJDH will keep fighting, taking busses, riding boats and hiking trails as long as we need to. And I am confident that sooner or later, with or without a court order, we will convince the UN to respond justly to cholera!

Beatrice Lindstrom Courthouse Interview on Cholera Hearing

October 24, 2014 - 09:13

In this brief interview, Beatrice Lindstrom, attorney for the plaintiffs, explains why the October 23 hearing took place. Democracy Now! also gives some brief background information.

Part of the text is below. Click HERE for the full text and video (start at 7:34).

U.S. Judge Considers U.N. Immunity in Haiti Cholera Case

Democracy Now!
October 24, 2014

Beatrice Lindstrom: “We argued today that the United Nations cannot enjoy immunity in this suit when the United Nations is responsible for the death of over 8,500 people and over 700,000 people who have been injured. And the United Nations has clear legal obligations under their own treaties to provide remedies for people who have been harmed by the United Nations, and that is uncontested by the U.N. itself.”

 

Click HERE for the full text and video (start at 7:34).

Cholera Plaintiffs and US Attorney Debate UN Immunity

October 24, 2014 - 04:52

This article provides a great description of the October 2014 hearing on the question of UN immunity in the case of Georges et al. vs. United Nations et al. Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom, arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs, contended that the UN cannot enjoy immunity when it has violated its obligations to provide alternate remedies to the victims. The US attorney, Ellen Blain, argued that the UN enjoys immunity regardless of any violations.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text and video.

US Court Hears Pleas for Justice over UN Role in Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic

Makini Brice, PanAm Post
October 24, 2014

Haitian cholera victims finally had their day in court on Thursday: a hearing at the US District Court in the Southern District of New York on a gray, rainy New York morning. About 50 official observers and other interested parties watched, as lawyers for theInstitute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, the US Attorney’s Office, and other attorneys debated over whether the case would continue.

It centers on a cholera epidemic that seized Haiti in the aftermath of its staggering 2010 earthquake. Over the past four years, the epidemic has sickened about 700,000 and killed 8,500, in a country that had not had a cholera case in about 150 years.

A number of scientific studies have pointed to a UN peacekeepers’ camp about 35 miles from Port-au-Prince as the source of the outbreak. Further, they have stated that a sewage pipe from the facility leaked into a river used for drinking water in the community.

Beatrice Lindstrom argued on behalf of IJDH, while Jennifer Ellen Blain argued on the side of the United States, though Blain made sure to state that the United States was not a party inGeorges et al. vs. United Nations et al. Both spoke for 15 minutes, while friends of the court each spoke for 10 minutes. That included Kertch Conze from the Haitian Women of Miami and the Haitian Lawyers Association; Muneer Ahmad, a Yale Law School professor and supervisor for the Yale project behind a report on the epidemic last year; and Monica Iyer, a human-rights attorney.

The court adjourned with the judge announcing he would make his decision later.

The United Nations has refused legal responsibility for the cholera outbreak. Lindstrom said that, by November 2012, 5,000 families had filed claims with the institution, and for 15 months, their claims went unanswered. In July 2013, the United Nations said the claims were “not receivable.”

Pressure on the international organization has not subsided, however. Two other groups have also filed lawsuits against the United Nations.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti this summer and did say that the United Nations has a “moral responsibility” for the country. The United Nations has also called for a US$2.2 billion fund for cholera eradication, but most of it has gone unfunded. Since 2010, cholera incidences have declined by 75 percent throughout the country.

 

Click HERE for the full text and video.

Haiti’s Cholera Victims Seek Justice in Court

October 23, 2014 - 15:09

This article briefly describes the latest news on the cholera epidemic in Haiti, including the October 23 oral arguments on UN immunity. It includes quotes from Ban Ki-moon, Mario Joseph (BAI Managing Attorney), and Beatrice Lindstrom (IJDH Staff Attorney who argued on behalf of the plaintiffs).

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti Cholera Victims Seek Damages from UN in US Court

Margaret Besheer, Voice of America
October 23, 2014

A U.S. District Court judge heard oral arguments Thursday in a lawsuit brought by victims of Haiti’s cholera outbreak, who are seeking compensation from the United Nations.

The plaintiffs blame a contingent of Nepalese peacekeepers for bringing the disease to their nation after the 2010 earthquake.

The suit was filed on behalf of five Haitians and Haitian-Americans whose family members died of the water-borne disease or who were infected with it.

They allege that U.N. peacekeepers who were sent to the country after the devastating 2010 earthquake contaminated a branch of the Artibonite River with cholera. The river is the country’s main water source for tens of thousands of Haitians.

Subsequently more than 8,500 people died of the disease, which can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, and hundreds of thousands more were sickened.

The United Nations has never taken responsibility for the crisis and is claiming immunity in this lawsuit.

Mario Joseph of the International Lawyers Bureau in Haiti told reporters the government will not say the U.N. is responsible for the outbreak, and has forbidden public hospitals from giving cholera victims their medical records.
appealed directly to the U.N. chief.

“The United Nations stands for the promotion of human rights for all, and that should include Haitians.  So we ask the secretary-general to listen to Haitians when they ask for justice in this case,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Lindstrom.

The United Nations said it has worked to improve water, sanitation and health in Haiti, and that its efforts are paying off as cholera cases are down 75 percent over last year.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

IJDH Ella Baker Fellow Wins Scholarship

October 23, 2014 - 14:30

Attend Lawyers Weekly’s Top Women of Law event in Boston.

WHY:

One of our legal interns, Ella Baker Fellow Mayumi Grigsby, has won a Lawyers Weekly Leadership Scholarship. This is awarded for high academic achievement, exceptional leadership qualities and involvement with community service. We look forward to her future achievements.

WHAT:

The Top Women of Law event celebrates outstanding achievements made by exceptional women. Each year Lawyers Weekly honors women who have made tremendous professional strides and demonstrated great accomplishments in the legal field, which includes: pro bono, social justice, advocacy and business. The awards highlight women who are pioneers, educators, trailblazers, and role models.

WHERE:

Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel
138 St. James Avenue
Boston, MA 2116

WHEN:

Thursday, October 23, 2014
5:30 to 8pm

 

Click HERE for more on the event and Lawyers Weekly.

Will UN Be Granted Immunity in Cholera Case?

October 23, 2014 - 14:06

France24 describes the scene outside the Manhattan Federal Courthouse on Thursday, October 23, 2014, when Haitians and Haitian-Americans gathered in driving rain to continue discussing the ongoing case against the United Nations. Oral arguments had just taken place on the issue of UN immunity between the Plaintiffs and the US Government, which has intervened in the case and argued for dismissal on immunity grounds. Judge J. Paul Oetken has deferred a decision on whether that immunity will be granted in this case, where the UN has refused to provide cholera victims any access to a remedy despite their many attempts to engage the organization. Mario Joseph, a lead attorney for Plaintiffs, pointed out the UN’s double standards in addressing this crisis, noting how different things would have been had the outbreak occurred in the US.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

US judge wavers on UN immunity in Haiti cholera case

Jessica Le Masurier, France24
October 23, 2014

A US judge on Thursday deferred a decision on whether the United Nations can be sued by thousands of Haitian families over a deadly cholera outbreak that is widely believed to have been caused by negligence at the hands of the world body.

Dozens of Haitians braved driving rain outside the Manhattan courtroom to call for the UN to be stripped of its immunity so that thousands of plaintiffs who lost family members to the devastating cholera outbreakcan proceed in their suit against the organisation.

More than 8,500 people were killed and 700,000 sickened after human waste, allegedly from a UN peacekeeping base, leaked into a central Haitian river.

Federal Judge Paul Oetken presided over the hearing, which reviewed the technical interpretations of a 1946 convention which has so far been understood to offer the UN immunity in the case.

Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom argued that the UN had forfeited its right to immunity by refusing the right to out-of-court settlements under section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.

The United Nations has stringently declined to comment on the cases. When questioned on the UN’s role in the cholera epidemic by FRANCE 24 in July, former head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Edmond Mulet, denied that there was any proof linking the Nepalese UN peacekeepers to the outbreak, despite several epidemiological reports proving otherwise.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

 

Hearing Held in UN Cholera Case

October 23, 2014 - 10:56

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact:

Shannon Jonsson, Legal Fellow, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, media@ijdh.org, +1-617-652-0876

Kermshlise Picard, Communications Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, media@ijdh.org, +1-617-652-0876

Hearing Held in UN Cholera Case

Plaintiffs argue against UN claim to absolute immunity from justice

(New York, October 23, 2014)—Marking the first court proceeding in Georges v. United Nations, oral argument took place this morning in front of Judge J. Paul Oetken at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Counsel for Plaintiffs and amici curiae presented arguments on whether the UN can invoke immunity when it refuses to comply with its international law obligation to provide  victims of the UN cholera in Haiti access to justice.

The argument is a pivotal moment in the case seeking to hold the UN accountable for introducing cholera to Haiti in 2010. To date, the epidemic has killed over 8,500 and infected more than 700,000 Haitians. It has become the worst cholera epidemic of modern times.

Arguing for Plaintiffs, Beatrice Lindstrom, Staff Attorney for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), pointed out that even the UN’s own experts concluded that the UN was responsible for the outbreak, and the UN has repeatedly confirmed its obligation to compensate people injured by its operations. Lindstrom explained that the UN’s immunity claim in this case extends far beyond the previous limits recognized by U.S. Courts. “The UN is claiming that one part of the UN’s General Convention prevents any other court from reviewing anything the organization does, no matter how much the UN breaches reciprocal obligations under the Convention, no matter how much bad faith it displays.”

Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, also represents the cholera victims. He noted that “the UN spends lots of time and money telling our officials and citizens to respect the rule of law. Then it refuses to have the law apply to itself after killing thousands of Haitians. Does the UN think Haitians do not notice the double standard?”

Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Director of IJDH, said that “under the law, immunity is a two-way street. The UN has protection from national courts, for good reason, but also has an obligation to provide an alternate mechanism for justice, also for good reason. This principle has been recognized by many courts, especially in Europe. Today’s hearing gets the principle a big step closer towards recognition by U.S. courts.”

 ###

October 23 Hearing on UN Immunity

October 23, 2014 - 07:04

On October 23, 2014, Judge J. Paul Oetken heard oral arguments on the question of UN immunity and whether service of process was effective in the ongoing case against the UN on behalf of Haiti cholera victims.. The following article summarizes the oral arguments made by IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Blain, and one of the three amici who argued in support of Plaintiffs, Kertch Conze. Conze, representing the Haitian Women of Miami and the Haitian Lawyers Association, gave a passionate argument on behalf of the Haitian community, explaining that the UN could not assert immunity after breaching its legal obligations to provide victims access to a remedy.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Court Asked to Intervene in Haiti Cholera Suit

Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service
October 23, 2014

MANHATTAN (CN) – Blaming the United Nations for the “worst cholera epidemic in modern times,” a lawyer for the Haitian victims told a federal judge Thursday that diplomatic immunity has prevented her clients from delivering a lawsuit some 4 miles uptown to the organization’s headquarters overlooking the East River.
While Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the UN’s “moral responsibility” earlier this year for the outbreak that killed 8,000 and infected 700,000 Haitians, he has insisted that the institution should not face legal liability.
The United Nations has dodged a class action lawsuit from the victims for more than a year.
Lawyers for Delama Georges, whose father died during the outbreak, and other Haitians have been unable to serve the federal complaint because UN premises is considered “inviolable.” They asked a federal judge to acknowledge service, or allow for the unprecedented step of mailing, faxing, or emailing their lawsuit to the United Nations.
Hoping to avoid a diplomatic headache, the United States dispatched attorneys from the Justice Department and State Department to prevent that fate.
This first hearing in the high-profile case Thursday drew dozens of spectators to the grand courtroom of New York’s Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, but arguments largely focused on arcane details of international law.
Beatrice Lindstrom, representing the plaintiffs for the Institute of Justice & Democracy in Haiti, said the fundamental facts of the case are “not disputed.”

Kertch Conze, of the Haitian Lawyers Association, became particularly passionate and indignant as he emphasized the thousands of innocent victims claimed by the UN’s alleged negligence.
“These people who have been infected, they did nothing wrong,” he said.
Conze echoed the plaintiffs’ arguments that the UN’s alleged violation of one section of the treaty waived whatever immunity the other portion provided.
“If you breach the contract and you come to court and tell the judge, ‘I have immunity,’ then you come to court with unclean hands,” Conze said.
Such a position also would be “patently unfair,” he added.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Cholera Hearing in NY Federal Court

October 23, 2014 - 07:00

Show support for Haiti’s cholera victims at this NYC hearing in the lawsuit against the UN.

WHAT: 

On September 29th, we received news that the Manhattan Federal Court granted our request for a hearing in the class action lawsuit IJDH filed against the UN last year for introducing cholera to Haiti. The Court’s decision to schedule a hearing is a crucial step towards justice, and shows that the court is taking a serious look at the UN’s international law obligation to provide victims justice. The court has ordered all parties to appear, including several groups who submitted amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in support of IJDH’s clients.

The hearing is open to the public, and we encourage everyone who cares about this issue to be present and show their support. Seating is on a first come first served basis. A government-issued photo ID is required for entry, and electronics use will not be allowed (e.g. cell phones, laptops, cameras).

WHERE:

Courtroom 318
Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse
40 Foley Square
New York, NY, 10007

WHEN:

October 23, 2014 at 10am

 

Learn more about the cholera epidemic and our fight for justice here.

Droits humains, les mouvements populaires, et la justice

October 23, 2014 - 05:07

Travail de droits humains avec un impact: dirigé par ceux dont les droits ont été violés; soutenu et amplifié par un réseau d’avocats engagés, militants, journalistes et étudiants. Cet article utilise notre travail de plaidoyer pour choléra comme une étude de comment le travail pour les droits humains qui renforce les dirigeants de base peut vraiment avoir un impact sur le système. Fran Quigley, auteur de How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, décrit la façon dont nous avons utilisé un “Réseau justice pour choléra” pour créer une dynamique pour la justice pour les victimes du choléra en Haïti.

Partie de l’article est ci dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complète.

Les militants et le droit en Haïti : des campagnes de défense des droits de l’homme multi-niveaux pour obtenir justice

Fran Quigley, openDemocracy
23 octobre, 2014

Chris Jochnick a récemment posé une question éminemment importante lorsqu’il a demandé si les cours de justice, les militants et les avocats pouvaient réellement faire la différence en matière de pauvreté. Je pense que nous pouvons sans crainte dire que c’est le cas. Actuellement, un partenariat entre l’organisation des droits de l’homme haïtienne, le Bureau des avocats internationaux, connue sous le nom de BAI, et leur partenaire basé aux États-Unis, l’Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), constitue le moteur d’une remarquable campagne internationale multi-niveaux et multi-forum visant à obtenir justice pour les victimes de l’épidémie de choléra haïtienne d’octobre 2010.

Il est important de noter que la campagne n’a pas commencé dans les bureaux d’un avocat ou au siège d’une ONG. Elle a été lancée dans les rues d’Haïti. Les haïtiens ont un héritage glorieux en matière de militantisme populaire qui remonte à la seule rébellion d’esclaves réussie dans l’histoire et l’évincement ultérieur de dictateurs comme Jean-Claude Duvalier. Ainsi, dans les jours suivant l’épidémie d’octobre 2010, les haïtiens s’organisèrent et manifestèrentpar milliers à l’extérieur des bases de l’ONU dans le pays, demandant jistis ak reparasyon, justice et réparations, pour les dévastations vécues.

Et il y a en effet des poursuites contre L’ONU pour le compte de milliers de victimes du choléra. Les plaidoiries devraient se tenir le 23 octobre dans l’affaire Georges et al. c. United Nations et al. Les poursuites en justice sont importantes, mais elles n’occultent pas les autres éléments de cette action de plaidoyer. En fait, l’affaire du choléra est seulement une partie de l’ensemble de l’agenda en matière de droits de l’homme qui est poursuivi par le BAI et l’IJDH. Le partenariat a également dirigé les efforts visant à poursuivre en justice l’ancien dictateur Duvalier pour ses crimes contre les droits de l’homme. Il a également été un élément clef de la coalition répondant aux viols dans la période suivant le tremblement de terre, et a constamment fait pression en faveur d’élections libres et justes en Haïti.  

Mon récent livre sur ce partenariat, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, (Comment les droits de l’homme peuvent construire Haïti) illustre la manière dont les actions de plaidoyer en matière de droits de l’homme–à condition que les droits économiques et sociaux soient inclus et que le renforcement des mouvements populaires demeure un soucis constant–peuvent vraiment construire Haïti. Et cela peut également contribuer à construire une vie meilleure pour les pauvres du monde entier.

 

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complète.

Fran Quigley Book Tour

October 22, 2014 - 13:30

Catch author Fran Quigley in a city near you, speaking on How Human Rights Can Build Haiti.

WHAT:
Fran Quigley is travelling around the country speaking about his new book, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign. The book covers everything from global and grassroots cholera activism, to the failed post-earthquake recovery, to the Duvalier prosecution, all while demonstrating why a better Haiti will come from the grassroots, up. This book is a must-read if you want to understand the link between poverty and human rights, and how Haiti is ready for change, with lessons that are applicable not just there, but all over the world.

WHEN AND WHERE:

  • September 4th, 3:30 – 5pm; Book Talk with Fran and Brian; Agora Cafe at Mariano’s West Loop location, Chicago, IL; Brian is in Chicago to receive the Debra Evenson Award from the National Lawyers Guild and author Fran Quigley will join him for this talk.  This is a rare opportunity to see both Fran and Brian – all are welcome! Refreshments available. (Open to the Public)
  • September 15th, 7:00-8pm; Bread for the World event; St. Luke’s Methodist Church: 100 W. 86th Street Indianapolis, IN; Fran will share the agenda with author, former Wall Street Journal reporter, and food policy expert Roger Thurow. (Open to the Public)
  • September 20th; Parish Twinning Program of the America’s National Conference; Nashville, TN (Closed Event)
  • September 25th, 6-8pm; Provocate event; The Athenaeum: 407 E Michigan Street Indianapolis, IN; At the event, you can learn how to be part of the effort to create a template for a new and more effective human rights-focused strategy to turn around failed states and end global poverty. (Open to the Public)
  • October 14th, 5pm; Lecture, book signing and reception; Wynne Courtroom and Atrium, Inlow Hall, McKinney School of Law at Indiana University: 530 W. New York Street Indianapolis, IN (Open to the Public, RSVP)
  • October 22nd, 4:30-5:30pm; “How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, and what YOU can do to help”; 235 Blegen Hall, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN; Presented by Haiti Justice Alliance in partnership with the Human Rights Program at the College of Liberal Arts. (Open to the Public)
  • October 23rd, 11am-12:15pm; Lunch with Fran; Sun Ballroom, Buntock Commons 3rd floor, St. Olaf: 1520 St Olaf Ave Northfield, MN; Organized by Haiti Justice Alliance of Northfield, MN (Open to the Public)
  • October 23rd, 4:30-5:30pm; Book talk and discussion with Fran; Leighton 305, Carleton College: 1 N College St Northfield, MN; Organized by Haiti Justice Alliance of Northfield, MN (Open to the Public)
  • November 10th, 7pm; “How Human Rights Can Build Haiti…And How We Can Help“; Laws Room, First Presbyterian Church, 512 7th St. Columbus, IN; Co-sponsored by Friends of Haiti, Konbit Lasante Pou Limonade, Peace & Justice Ministry of St. Bartholomew, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, IN, Columbus Peace Fellowship, Social Justice Committee at First Presbyterian, North Christian Church, Pride Alliance of Columbus, & Art for AIDS. (Open to Public – Books Available for Purchase)
  • More events forthcoming…

 

Contact Kathy Kelly, kathy@ijdh.org if you would like to organize an event in your area.

Click HERE to learn more about the book.

Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program Teleconference

October 22, 2014 - 11:00

Join this teleconference on the implementation of a limited Haitian Family Reunification Parole program.

WHAT:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a teleconference to discuss the implementation of a limited Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) program.

Under this program, certain Haitians in Haiti who are beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions may be considered for parole to come to the United States up to two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current.

During this teleconference, USCIS officials will provide an overview and address questions about the HFRP program.

WHERE:

On the day of the session, please use the information below to join the teleconference. We recommend that you call in 10 to 15 minutes before the start time.

Toll-free call-in number: 1-888-972-4308
Toll number if you are calling from outside of the U.S.: 1-312-470-7184
Passcode: HFRP

WHEN:

Wednesday, Oct. 22, from 2:00 to 2:45 p.m. (Eastern)
If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received a confirmation email within two business days, please email Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.