Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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Why 70 Presidential Candidates in Haiti?

May 21, 2015 - 15:51

This article breaks down what it means that 70 potential candidates have registered for Haiti’s presidential elections, including the thought process that led to many of these decisions. Among the 70 candidates is Haiti’s controversial former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who was forced to resign in December 2014 amid political unrest.

Haiti confronts avalanche of presidential candidates

Amélie Baron, Yahoo News
May 21, 2015

Port-au-Prince (AFP) – A three-year political crisis that delayed local and parliamentary elections has done nothing to dampen Haiti’s enthusiasm for democracy, judging by the avalanche of hopefuls now running for president.

Taking charge of an impoverished Caribbean nation still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake and a cholera epidemic might seem a tough challenge, but no fewer than 70 candidates think they’re up to the job.

The incumbent, former pop star Michel Martelly, is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term in a country still scarred by the cruelty of former “presidents for life” Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier.

So with the field open to new ideas and new faces, scores of pretenders registered with the Provisional Election Council for the October 25 vote, some waiting until Wednesday night’s deadline to lodge a last-minute bid.

But the number of late arrivals was not a sign of indecision or humility — the candidates seized on the administrative formality to make a first public show of their support.

In a carnival atmosphere, candidates arrived to deposit their paperwork leading crowds of noisy supporters through Port au Prince’s streets, some of them on horseback.

More than half of the 70 hopefuls waited until Wednesday to make themselves known and their rival rallies effectively blocked traffic on one of the city’s major thoroughfares.

Haitians are used to this kind of electoral extravaganza and many laugh about what locals call the “candidatitis” that grips their more ambitious citizens as polling day looms.

Martelly was a popular carnival singer, but his lightning rise through the political ranks to the top job has inspired many to believe that they have a similar chance.

There are some who grumble, however, that the overloaded ballot paper makes a mockery of what should be a solemn process of choosing the leader of a troubled nation.

- ‘Why not me?’ -

Thierry Mayard-Paul served as Martelly’s interior minister between 2011 and 2012 and credits his former boss with opening the eyes of Haitians to their democratic potential.

But he also complains of a “popularization” of the process, warning: “An ordinary nobody can say to himself, ‘Why not me?’ without realizing the importance of what’s at stake.”

Mayard-Paul is one of the 70 candidates looking for a way to distinguish himself from the pack.

He will be competing against political debutants such as Clarens Renois, who, like many here, has watched frustrated as generations of leaders failed to tackle Haiti’s ills.

“As a journalist, I have seen so much and lived real moments of despair,” the former AFP reporter told the agency.

“You start to wonder if you haven’t, yourself, the vision needed to change things. But it’s not an easy choice because we know that Haiti is a political minefield.”

Many of the candidates have fought on this field before — a number of former parliamentarians and ministers have signed up.

Wealthy businessman and close Martelly ally Laurent Lamothe, who resigned as prime minister in December amid fierce opposition street protests, has made his presidential ambition official.

His return to frontline politics has been followed closely and is controversial — his opponents allege he is not even eligible to run.

Under Haitian law, a former senior official such as the ex-premier who wants to stand for elected office must be granted a dispensation from parliament attesting that he or she has not mismanaged public funds.

But because of the political crisis that led to his resignation, Haiti has been unable to organize parliamentary elections and in January there was no official body qualified to approve him.

So Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council, itself a contested body, will have to decide how many of the 70 would-be candidates will see their names printed on ballot papers.

The decision is expected around the end of May.

- Hurdles -

Those who are ruled out will lose the 500,000 gourdes (or around $10,500) that they have paid as a deposit to make their candidacies official — a small fortune in Haiti, where 70 percent of the population survive on less than $2 a day.

And those who pass the first hurdle will have to mount a nationwide campaign across 10 counties and print enough leaflets with a candidate photo and party symbol to impress a mainly illiterate electorate.

The sheer cost of the electoral process is one of the factors that tempts Haitian leaders towards corruption, in a country where power has always been synonymous with wealth.

“Money will always, unfortunately, be at the heart of elections,” lamented former senator Edmonde Beauzile.

“Some people always want to buy everything, even votes,” she told AFP.

“For someone like me, who refuses to lower myself to such tactics, the campaign will be a hard one, but it’s a battle I want to lead, for my country.”

Click HERE for the original article.

Qui rapporte les données réelles sur le choléra en Haïti?

May 20, 2015 - 11:10

Il est de notoriété publique que les statistiques choléra sont généralement incorrectes en raison de la sous-déclaration, en particulier dans les lieux où il est difficile de se rendre à un hôpital. Mais dans l’article ci-dessous, le ministre de la Sante d’Haïti accuse M. Rojas de dénaturer intentionnellement les données. Pedro Medrano Rojas est le coordinateur principal de l’ONU pour la réponse au choléra en Haïti. Récemment, Rojas a donné un interview a RFI, dans lequel il a exprimé sa préoccupation à l’augmentation des cas de choléra en Haïti. Guillaume pense apparemment que Rojas a dit “n’importe quoi sur [Haiti] dans le but de remplir un mandat.”
Partie de l’article est ci-dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Choléra : Pedro Medrano Rojas désavoué par Florence Duperval Guillaume

Roberson Alphonse, Le Nouvelliste
20 mai 2015

Pour RFI, Pedro Medrano Rojas, coordinateur principal de l’ONU pour la réponse au choléra en Haïti, a confirmé que 11 721 nouvelles infections au choléra ont été recensées. Entre le 1er janvier et le 28 mars de cette année, 113 morts ont été dénombrés. « Il y a deux raisons principales. La première est la saison pluvieuse. Il y a toujours une hausse des cas durant cette saison. Durant les huit premiers mois de l’année dernière, il y a eu mille nouveaux cas de choléra par mois. Après ces huit mois, le taux a grimpé à cinq mille nouveaux cas par mois. Ce taux de nouvelles infections n’a pas baissé depuis. Cela fait mille nouveaux cas chaque semaine », a­t­il confié.

« L’autre raison, c’est qu’Haïti a la couverture la plus basse en infrastructures sanitaires et eau potable de toute la région. Et le choléra est principalement transmis par la nourriture et l’eau. Plus d’un tiers de la population vit sans sanitaires, et moins de la moitié a accès aux soins médicaux. Le choléra est très lié à la pauvreté », a expliqué Pedro Medrano Rojasà Stéphanie Shuller, pendant l’étape française d’une tournée qui l’avait conduit dans plusieurs pays pour sensibiliser et obtenir des fonds, de l’aide dans la lutte contre le choléra auprès de partenaires internationaux ayant détourné le regard d’Haïti.

Pedro Medrano Rojas a qualifié « d’inacceptables » la diminution des ressources et le fait que le « choléra en Haïti n’est pas considéré par la communauté internationale comme une urgence ». « Pour nous, c’est inacceptable. N’importe quel pays avec plus de 30 000 nouveaux cas de choléra par an considérerait cette situation comme une urgence. Comme il n’y a pas d’enveloppe humanitaire, nous ne pouvons plus gérer ni le traitement ni la prévention », a­t­il dit.

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Lamothe, Former Haiti Prime Minister, Enters Presidential Race

May 20, 2015 - 07:57

Laurent Lamothe, Haiti’s former Prime Minister who was forced to resign prematurely in December 2014, has entered the presidential race. He joins dozens of others vying for the spot and his registration further complicates Haiti’s already-unstable elections process for a major reason: Haiti’s parliament has to grant a décharge for former government officials to run for president but parliament has been non-functional since January. The Provisional Electoral Council has already disqualified several legislative candidates due to lack of a décharge so many are watching to see if Lamothe will get the same treatment.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Former Haiti PM Lamothe joins presidential race along with dozens of others

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
May 20, 2015

Haiti’s controversial former prime minister has joined a crowded arena of contenders in the race for the country’s next president.

Laurent Lamothe is among at least 35 people who dropped off documents at the elections office before the registration closed Wednesday night.

Those vying for the seat hail from across the country and vary from opposition politicians to academics to entrepreneurs.

Lamothe’s much-anticipated and to some extent, surprise move, came less than three hours before the midnight deadline and after a day of legal scrambling, U.S. congressional lobbying and personal soul searching.

“En route” Lamothe tweeted at about 8:30 p.m. while en route to the regional electoral offices on Route des Frères in Port-au-Prince. “The work has just begun.”

As the former head of President Michel Martelly’s government as well as minister of planning and foreign affairs. Lamothe is required to have a décharge to run for president under Haiti’s electoral law. The certificate is necessary to show he didn’t misused government funds. However, only parliament can grant a décharge, which is based on the findings of government auditors from the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes (CSCCA).

Since January, Haiti has been without a functioning parliament, leaving Martelly to rule by decree. Martelly, however, promised the international community he would not use his emergency powers broadly and has until now refused to issue a decree allowing those without a décharge, including Lamothe, to enter the race.

Early in the process, the CSCCA announced that only parliament could grant décharges and the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) reenforced that position last week when it disqualified a number of former government officials from running in the scheduled Aug. 9 legislative elections even though they had favorable audits.

Click HERE for the full text.

Cholera Justice Update 2014-2015

May 19, 2015 - 12:08

2014 and 2015 (so far) have been a time of great strides in the fight for cholera justice, from Ban Ki-moon making his first visit to Haiti for cholera, to the first ever Allegation Letter written against the UN–for violating human rights in its response to Haiti’s cholera victims. Our update on these developments was featured in the May issue of the Boston Haitian Reporter.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou: Moving closer to justice for cholera victims

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Boston Haitian Reporter
May 2015

This past year has been an exciting one for the fight for justice for the victims of the UN cholera in
Haiti. Although there is still much work to be done, a network of people and organizations- in Haiti and abroad– joined their hands together to make historic progress towards forcing the UN to install water and sanitation infrastructure in Haiti, compensate the victims and apologize to all Haitians. The next year has the potential for even more progress, but to realize that potential even more people will need to join in.
Background: UN Responsibility for Cholera in Haiti
Cholera appeared in Haiti in October 2010, and has since killed over 8,900 Haitians and sickened over 737,000 others. Even the UN’s own Panel of Experts concluded that the disease was introduced to Haiti through reckless disposal of human waste from a UN peacekeeping base. Despite overwhelming evidence, and a legal obligation to compensate people harmed by its operations, the UN refuses to take responsibility for the epidemic. Meanwhile, the cholera keeps on killing: in the first three months of 2015, the Haitian Government recorded 10,000 new cases, triple the number of cases during the same period last year.

Click HERE for the full text.

L’ONU préoccupé par la hausse choléra, mais toujours pas responsable

May 18, 2015 - 16:30

Dans cette interview, Pedro Medrano, coordinateur principal de l’ONU pour la réponse choléra en Haïti, se déclare préoccupé par l’augmentation du choléra en Haïti. Mais quand la journaliste lui pose une question sur la responsabilité de l’ONU pour l’épidémie, Medrano esquive la question. Peut etre l’ONU a tellement de difficulté à lever des fonds en raison de son manque de responsabilité pour l’épidémie?
Partie de l’article est ci dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Choléra en Haïti: l’ONU alerte sur la détérioration de la situation

Stefanie Schüler, RFI
18 mai 2015

Avec près de 740 000 malades et plus 8 800 morts depuis 2010, l’épidémie de choléra en Haïti est l’une des pires au monde. Depuis plusieurs mois, le nombre de nouvelles infections est en forte hausse. La raison : beaucoup d’ONG ont quitté le pays, des centres de traitement ont fermé alors que débute dans quelques semaines la prochaine saison pluvieuse. Face à ces chiffres alarmants, l’ONU tire la sonnette d’alarme. Entretien avec Pedro Medrano, coordinateur principal de l’ONU pour la réponse choléra en Haïti.

RFI : L’épidémie de choléra connait une nette recrudescence en Haïti. Les Nations unies ont recensé 11 721 nouvelles infections et 113 morts rien qu’entre le 1er janvier et le 28 mars de cette année. Et les perspectives pour les prochains mois ne sont guère plus optimistes. A quoi est due cette nouvelle et forte hausse de cas de choléra dans le pays ?

Pedro Medrano : Il y a deux raisons principales. La première est la saison pluvieuse. Il y a toujours une hausse des cas durant cette saison. Durant les huit premiers mois de l’année dernière, il y a eu mille nouveaux cas de choléra par mois. Après ces huit mois, le taux a grimpé à cinq mille nouveaux cas par mois. Ce taux de nouvelles infections n’a pas baissé depuis. Cela fait mille nouveaux cas chaque semaine. L’autre raison, c’est que Haïti a la couverture la plus basse en infrastructures sanitaires et eau potable de toute la région. Et le choléra est principalement transmis par la nourriture et l’eau. Plus d’un tiers de la population vit sans sanitaire, et moins de la moitié a accès aux soins médicaux. Le choléra est très lié à la pauvreté.

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

France Needs Open Dialogue on Haiti Debt Restitution

May 18, 2015 - 10:54

On May 12, calls for France to restore Haiti’s “Independence Ransom” were renewed when Haiti saw its 2nd ever visit by a sitting French president. Instead of addressing the restitution issue directly, French presidents have cancelled Haiti’s debts and promised to help Haiti with development. Given the terrible price Haiti has paid France for its independence, many are adamant that these concessions are not enough for justice to be served.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Dialogue on reparations for Haiti is long overdue

Nathalie Baptiste, Latin Correspondent
May 18, 2015

On May 12, French president Francois Hollande made history by becoming the first president of France to make a formal state visit to the former colony, Haiti.

Rather than a welcome parade, however, President Hollande was greeted by 200 protesters and renewed calls for reparations.

Calls for reparations are not brand new. After a devastating earthquake ripped through the capital city of Port-au-Prince in 2010, then-president Nicolas Sarkozy made the first visit by a sitting French president to Haiti—though it was not considered a formal state visit. More than 90 academics and scholars from Haiti, Canada, the United States, Europe and beyond signed an open letter to President Sarkozy urging the French government to pay the restitution Haiti is due.

Click HERE for the full text.

15th Annual Haitian-American Unity Parade

May 17, 2015 - 10:00

Celebrate Haiti in this Boston, MA parade down Blue Hill Avenue.

Every year since 2000, Haitian-Americans United, Inc. has organized a huge parade down one of Boston’s major roads, Blue Hill Avenue. Anyone from students to human rights organizations both attend and walk in the parade.

Starts from Mattapan Square
Proceeds down Blue Hill Avenue all the way to Harambee Park

Departs at 1pm
Sunday, May 17, 2015

For more information, visit

Un grande quantité de candidats rejetés par le CEP

May 15, 2015 - 16:32

Cette année, un nombre record de partis et de candidats ont enregistrés pour les élections en Haïti. Cette semaine, environ un quart des candidats ont été rejetés par le Conseil Électorale Provisoire (CEP). Dans la majorité des rejets, le candidats n’avaient pas de certificat de nationalité, selon une membre du CEP. Des membres du plusieurs partis politiques sont mécontents de ces décisions et veulent le conseil d’expliquer plus.

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

Plus de 500 candidats écartés des élections législatives sur les 2 039 inscrits

Robenson Geffrard, Le Nouvelliste
15 mai 2015

Sur les 1 777 candidats inscrits à la députation, les candidatures de plus de 440 ont été rejetées par le
CEP. Sur les 262 candidats au Sénat, 76 n’ont pas été agréés. Plusieurs anciens députés et sénateurs ont vu leur
candidature rejetée. Aucune explication de la part du CEP. Une situation qui soulève la colère des candidats écartés. Dans plusieurs villes du pays, comme à Port­au­Prince notamment, les candidats écartés et leurs partisans ont organisé des mouvements de protestation.

La liste publiée par le CEP est définitive, selon la conseillère électorale Marie Carmelle Paul Austin. « Le CEP a fait son travail en toute équité et dans l’application de la loi », a­t­elle avancé. La loi est une pour tous, il ne peut y avoir d’exception, a­t­elle dit vendredi sur les ondes d’une station de radio de la capitale, 24 heures après la publication de la liste. La conseillère électorale a souligné que le décret électoral est
imposable à tous. Dans la majorité des cas non agréés, les candidats n’avaient pas de certificat de nationalité, a-t-elle précisé.

La tension monte d’un cran après la publication de la liste définitive des candidats habilités à prendre part aux élections législatives, dans la nuit de jeudi à vendredi 15 mai. Les candidats écartés montent au créneau. Ils dénoncent la décision du CEP et cherchent à savoir la raison de leur mauvais carnet. Devant les bureaux du CEP à PétionVille, ils ont improvisé une manifestation. Même situation dans des communes comme Petit­Goâve, La Vallée de Jacmel, Mirebalais, entre autres.

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Caribbean Arts Gallery Special Exhibition

May 15, 2015 - 15:00

Attend the Caribbean Arts Gallery’s special exhibition in honor of the Nigerian artist, Samson John. Samson is a modern artist visiting the United States to exhibit at the Art Expo in New York. Samson paints rare pieces that are unique to his style and can be found elsewhere in the world. The artist will be presenting thirty works from his collection.
Guest Speaker: Mr. Edmund Barry Gaither.
Most of the gallery’s work is by Haitian artists, from Boston and Haiti.

Caribbean Arts Gallery
155-A Washington Street
Dorchester, MA 02121

Friday May 15, 2015
10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Mr. Edmund Barry Gaither will present at 10:30 a.m.

20th Annual Haitian Flag Raising Ceremony

May 15, 2015 - 09:00

Join HAU, Inc. in Boston for their Haitian flag raising ceremony.


Each year, Haitian-Americans United, Inc. celebrates the Haitian flag with a ceremony that includes speeches from government officials, and performances.


Boston City Hall Plaza
Boston, MA


Friday, May 15, 2015
noon to 2pm


For more info, call  617-298-2976.

Haitian Family Reunification Webinar

May 13, 2015 - 13:30

Attend our expert panel webinar on Haitian Family Reunification.

In October 2014, after years of advocacy by IJDH and partners, DHS announced it would implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole program (HFRP) in early 2015. The HFRP will expedite the entry into the U.S. of approved beneficiaries whose visas are within 2 years of becoming current.
In this webinar, you will hear about our road to getting the HFRP established, who qualifies for HFRP and how they can apply, next steps to get a full HFRP established, and how you can help with applications and advocacy for a full HFRP. We will leave lots of time for Q&A at the end.
Anywhere with internet access!
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Click HERE for more info, and to RSVP.

Will the UN address impunity for sexual abuse?

May 13, 2015 - 12:21

The United Nations recently came under scrutiny for suspending an employee who blew the whistle on sexual abuse by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. According to the UN, the employee was fired for leaking an internal report on the situation to the French government. A judge ecently ruled, however, that the suspension was illegal and should be lifted immediately. Today, human rights advocates are discussing the issue of UN impunity for sexual abuse at a special conference. This article discusses their comments, as well as attempts to get UN spokespeople to comment on the situation.

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

On CAR Rapes, Graca Machel Says DPKO Worse, Boss Ladsous & Scribes

Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press
May 13, 2015

UNITED NATIONS, May 13, updated — French soldiers in the Central African Republic allegedly sexually abused children, as exposed in a UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report leaked to the French government by longtime OHCHR staffer Anders Kompass.

The UN did not, however, give the report to the host country authorities in CAR. And according to UN documents, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous then urged that the whistleblower Kompass be made to resign. (Ladsous denied this, video here, but then took no questions.)

On May 13 at a press conference appropriately called “Code Blue” held at the Ford Foundation half a block from the UN, Graca Machel said UN Peacekeeping has gotten worse. In the back, a staffer from Ladsous’ DPKO took note. The UN scribes who have protected and spun for Ladsous were present: what would they write?

Click HERE for the full text.

Code Blue Campaign Launched to Prevent UN Impunity

May 13, 2015 - 11:32

Recently, the United Nations has come under fire once again for covering up instances of sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, this time French troops in the Central African Republic.
When the UN suspended the official who leaked the report for allegedly breaking protocol, many were outraged. Now, AIDS-Free World and other advocates have launched a campaign to try to prevent such scenarios by limiting peacekeeper immunity. As one advocate for this campaign, Code Blue, explained “When immunity becomes an excuse for impunity, it’s time to change the system.”

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


Jennifer James, Social Good Moms
May 13, 2015

An international expert panel of leaders convened today in New York City to launch the Code Blue campaign demanding an end to sexual abuses by UN peacekeeping forces and the automatic immunity they are afforded when abuses occur.

In recent weeks a scathing, formerly classified, report: Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces, was leaked revealing French peacekeeper soldiers sexually abused boys as young as nine during their Central African Republic Sangris operation between December 2013 and June 2014. The report, which was ultimately leaked by a senior UN aid worker and director of operations, Anders Kompass, states that mostly homeless and orphaned boys were sexually exploited. The sexual exploitation, including sodomy and rape, by French peacekeepers occurred in exchange for food and money. The abuses allegedly occurred at the renown M’Poko airport in Bangui where thousands retreated to relative safety during the height of the ethnic violence between Muslims and Christians in Central African Republic’s near genocide.

Click HERE for the full text.

Is it time that France repay Haiti’s “Independence Debt”?

May 13, 2015 - 09:56

When Haitian slaves won their independence from France in 1804, neither France nor Haiti’s neighbor, the US, recognized it. In 1825, under threat of invasion and re-institution of slavery, France forced Haiti to repay it for the loss of plantations and other property. Haiti has paid the price long after this “debt” was repaid and with France’s President Hollande visiting, many have reignited calls for restitution of this “independence debt.”

Is it time for France to pay its real debt to Haiti?

Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post
May 13, 2015

In 1791, the slaves of France’s most profitable Caribbean colony, Saint Domingue, revolted. The uprising was kindled by the appalling exploitation and abuse of the colony’s enslaved African population, and stoked by the same Enlightenment values championed by white anti-monarchic revolutionaries in the United States and France itself.
But the independent republic of Haiti that eventually emerged in 1804 was never an equal among the brotherhood of Western nations. To the north, the United States, a nation of slaveowners, regarded Haiti, a nation of free blacks, with unvarnished horror and boycotted its merchants.
Meanwhile, France, the spurned former colonial ruler, fumed at its losses. In 1825, with a French flotilla threatening invasion, Haiti was compelled to pay a king’s ransom of 150 million gold francs — estimated to be ten times the country’s annual revenues — in indemnities to compensate French settlers and slaveowners for their lost plantations. The sum would be later reduced to 90 million gold francs, but that was little consolation: Haiti, in effect, was forced to pay reparations for its freedom.
This history is not as distant as it may seem. It set the stage for many decades of Haitian economic misery and underdevelopment to come—the country, one of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere, did not finish repaying its 19th century debts to France and the U.S. until the middle of the 20th century.
And the legacy of the past was very much alive this week, as French President Francois Hollande landed on Tuesday on a historic visit to Haiti.
On Sunday, Hollande had made remarks in the Caribbean island of the Guadeloupe that he would “settle the debt that [the French] have” with Haiti—a declaration that was rapidly back-tracked by aides, who insisted Hollande was referring to a “moral” debt, not an actual financial one.
In Haiti, Hollande promised large-scale French assistance, including a plan to help modernize the country’s education system. He acknowledged that a “moral debt exists,” but skirted whether the wrongs of the 19th century would be more directly addressed through reparations.
“You’re not asking for aid, you want development,” Hollande said, addressing an audience of Haitian dignitaries in Port-au-Prince. “You’re not asking for welfare, you want investment.”
But many in Haiti want more than that, including a group of protesters who greeted Hollande’s arrival with placards and chants.
While France belatedly offered public apologies for the history of slavery that shaped the Caribbean, and also canceled Haiti’s $77 million debt following the cataclysmic 2010 earthquake, activists say that the indemnities unjustly forced on Haiti more than a century ago must be reversed. Some calculate that returning all those 19th century gold francs would add up to about $17 billion.
Separately, a bloc of 15 Caribbean nations has embarked on a joint quest to obtain reparations from Europe’s slave-trading and owning empires, and optimistically seek to win accords with the British, French and Dutch governments.
But such an understanding regarding reparations from Europe is still distant, not least because of the tricky politics that would follow for the former colonial power. There are many skeletons in the closets of Europe’s lapsed empires, and one formal act of reparation would likely beget calls for others.
Haiti’s President Michel Martelly appeared to recognize this. “No negotiation, no compensation can repair the wounds of history that still mark us today,” he told Hollande on Tuesday. “Haiti has not forgotten, but Haiti is not stubborn.”
An article in Haiti’s main newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, cited by France 24, shrugged off the question of reparations. France, concluded editor Frantz Duval, will have to reckon with its own demons for many years to come:
The moral debt that is owed is for having enslaved the blacks who were uprooted from Africa to transform every drop of their sweat and blood, and each parcel of land on Saint Domingue, into wealth for the imperial center. For this moral debt, Haiti does not seek compensation. We agree that it is irreparable. We leave it to be a stain on the civilized world.

Click HERE for the original article.

Code Blue Aims to End UN Sexual Abusers’ Impunity

May 13, 2015 - 09:29

AIDS-Free World, along with a few experts and an ambassador, have launched the Code Blue campaign to try to end peacekeeper impunity for sexual abuse. Recently, the UN has faced criticism for sexual abuse by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and the suspension of a whistleblower on this issue. But this isn’t the first time peacekeeper sexual abuse has been made public: The UN is pretty notorious for failing to bring perpetrators of sexual abuse to justice when they are affiliated with the organization. Code Blue aims to put an end to that.

Code Blue
May 13, 2015

Coimbra Sirica: +1 301-943-3287,
Wanda Bautista: +1 301-280-5760,
Gill Mathurin: +1 646-924-1710,

Experts launch ‘Code Blue,’ demand end to UN immunity when peacekeepers commit sexual exploitation and abuse

— AIDS-Free World’s campaign calls for removal of immunity and Commission of Inquiry
into UN’s handling of sexual violence in peacekeeping missions —

New York, May 13, 2015 — Speaking just steps from UN headquarters today, celebrated experts Ms. Graça Machel, Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, Ms. Theo Sowa, and Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury joined international advocacy organization AIDS-Free World to launch Code Blue, a campaign to end immunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers.

Recent revelations of child sexual abuse by French and other troops in the Central African Republic, the UN’s documentation of those crimes, and its failure over the next year to report the perpetrators or to protect the victims, are just the latest in a shameful litany of tolerance for sexual abuse and subsequent UN cover-ups.

For more than two decades, the media and non-governmental organizations have uncovered depraved acts by UN peacekeepers, including human trafficking in Bosnia, sex-for-food scandals in West Africa, and the rapes of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With each new exposé, the UN re-asserts its policy of ‘zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse.’

In practice, the UN’s zero tolerance policy amounts to zero justice for victims.

With Code Blue, AIDS-Free World is determined to change that. As a first crucial step, it will seek the removal of any possibility of immunity for the UN’s own personnel1 — the UN’s non-military staff, police, and experts on mission2 — when they are accused of sexual exploitation or abuse, sending a powerful message to countries that supply military peacekeepers. Code Blue will also call for the creation of an entirely independent, external Commission of Inquiry to examine every facet of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations, and to investigate the way the UN system is handling the problem: from its missions on the ground, right up through the chain of command to the Secretary-General.

“UN immunity is a protective cloak that allows peacekeepers to commit atrocities knowing how unlikely it is that they will ever be stopped, investigated or punished for their crimes,” said Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World. “The presumption that UN peacekeeping personnel may be immune from legal process triggers a chain reaction that most often ends in gross miscarriages of justice. Instead of prompting immediate action, reports of abuse are caught up in a tangle of red tape while the Secretary-General decides whether to waive immunity. Meanwhile, suspects and their accomplices have time to destroy evidence, silence witnesses, and threaten or pay off victims or their families, making justice virtually unattainable.”

The scale of sex abuse among UN peacekeepers, both military and non-military, is shocking, and the United Nations is well aware that it does not know the true extent of its own problem. In a suppressed 2013 report3 commissioned by Ban Ki-moon, an Expert Team found that “the official numbers mask what appears to be significant amounts of underreporting,” and that “UN personnel in all the missions we visited could point to numerous suspected or quite visible cases of [sexual exploitation and abuse] that are not being counted or investigated.”

Among incidents that are recorded, an appalling number of UN peacekeeper sexual exploitation and abuse allegations are marked “unsubstantiated,” and cases are closed by the UN because any evidence that might have led to a conviction has disappeared. Sexual abusers among the UN’s staff, experts, and police remain within the system, undetected, unpunished, and eligible for posting to the next peacekeeping mission.

“When I released [the landmark UN study] The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children in 1996, we highlighted the rise of child sex abuse associated with UN peacekeeping operations,” said Graça Machel. “At the time, we found that the investigation and punishment of peacekeepers for sexual exploitation and abuse was the exception rather than the rule. Nearly two decades later, vulnerable women and children remain at unacceptable risk. Today a new chapter begins.”


AIDS-Free World is an international advocacy organization that exposes injustice, abuse and inequality, the social ills that underpin and continue to sustain HIV. We apply high-level advocacy, targeted legal strategies and creative communication to work for a more just world.
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1. For more on UN immunity and how it applies, please read the fact sheet on AIDS-Free World’s Code Blue Campaign website at
2. The term ‘peacekeepers’ applies not only to soldiers, but also to the thousands of UN police, officials, and experts who staff peacekeeping missions around the world. For more information on UN peacekeepers and sexual exploitation and abuse, please see the fact sheet on the Code Blue website:
3. Final report. Expert Mission to Evaluate Risks to SEA Prevention Efforts in MINUSTAH, UNMIL, MONUSCO, AND UNMISS [Expert Team’s Report].

Òganizasyon Dwa Moun Di Prezidan François Hollande: Ayiti pa bezwen charite, li bezwen jistis ak reparasyon

May 12, 2015 - 11:17

Kominike de près

Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti),, +509-3701-9878
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-541-263-0029

Òganizasyon Dwa Moun Di Prezidan François Hollande: Ayiti pa bezwen charite, li bezwen jistis ak reparasyonYo rele òf pou efase dèt Ayiti a “derizwa” konpare ak sa la Frans dwe Ayiti

Pòtoprens ak Boston, 12 Me, 2015—Avoka defans dwa moun fè apèl a prezidan fransè a, Fraçois Hollande, pou li etabli yon plan aksyon pou li peye plis pase 21 milya dola ameriken ke la Frans dwe Ayiti nan zafè “dèt endepandans” ke la Frans te fòse Ayiti peye pou endepandans li an 1825. Avoka yo refize òf ke Prezidan Hollande fè ayiti pou li redwi dèt ke Ayiti dwe la FraNS Jodi a. Selon avoka yo, òf sa ensinifyan si nou konpare l ak sa la Frans vrèman dwe RESTITITYE Ayiti.

“Si Prezidan Hollande te pran la jistis o serye, li tap ranbouse, nan nom Repiblik la Frans ke li reprezante, dèt endepandans lan konfòmeman ak prensip dwa entènasyonal”, selon Mèt Maryo Joseph, ki se avoka e responsab yon kabinè avoka k ap defann dwa moun “Bureau des Avocats Internationaux” nan pòtoprens. Mèt Joseph kontinye e li eksplike ke, “la Frans vòlè kòb sa nan men Ayiti sou menas gwo zam e sou menas pou li retabli esklavaj nan peyi d’Ayiti nan epòk sa, e se pou sa ke la Frans dwe remèt kòb sa.”

An 1825, pou la Frans te rekonèt endepandans peyi d’Ayiti, yo te mande e Ayiti te aksepte pou li peye la Frans yon sòm kòb de 150 milyon fran lò, avèk enterè, pou satisfè revandikasyon sitwayen fransè ki te pèdi byen yo pandan guè endepandans la. Nan sa yo te kalifye kòm “byen”, te gen tou esklav ki t ap sèvi kolon yo ki te jwenn libète yo an 1804. Finalman Ayiti aksepte demand sa aprè la Frans te voye bato lagè sou lanmè ayisyen pou menase peyi a ke lap vinn retabli lesklavaj. Menm si la frans te toujou ap mennen yon politik ki te rekonèt lesklavaj a lepòk, li te kan mèm siyen kèk akò ki te entèdi esklavaj sou teritwa kote li te aboli deja. Se an 1947 ke Ayiti te finn peye dèt sa e sa te vinn fè yon gwo enpak negatif sou ekonomi peyi a. Ayiti te chwazi pou li kenbe angajman sa pou, li peye dèt la menm sis a te gen gwo konsekans sou devlopman ekonomik nan pwòp zafè pa li; sitou nan enfrastrikti ak edikasyon, 2 gwo sektè ke li te oblije neglije. An 2003, si nou konte enterè, yo te evalye ke dèt sa te plis pase 21 milya dola ameriken.

“La Frans ofri yon kòb ensinifyan sou yon pretèks ke lap fè charite”, selon deklarasyon Brian Concannon Jr., ki se Direktè Ekzekitif Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, “Tandiske la jistis ta mande li peye yon kòb ki te ka menmn transfòme povrete an Ayiti.”

Pou gen aksè ak yon analiz jiridik ak yon kòmantè sou dosye dèt ke peyi la Frans dwe Ayiti, konsilte Restitution of Haiti’s Independence Debt from France.

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Click HERE for the English version.

Les organisations de défense des droits de l’homme s’adressent au Président François Hollande : Haïti n’a pas besoin de votre charité, elle réclame justice et réparation

May 12, 2015 - 11:03

Communiqué de presse

Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (en Haïti),, +509-3701-9878
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-541-263-0029

Les organisations de défense des droits de l’homme s’adressent au Président François Hollande : Haïti n’a pas besoin de votre charité, elle réclame justice et réparation

L’offre pour l’effacement de la dette Haïtienne est dérisoire comparée à la somme due à Haïti

Port-au-Prince et Boston, le 12 mai 2015—Des avocats engagés dans la défense des droits de l’homme ont réclamé au Président de la République Française, M. François Hollande, la création d’un plan d’action pour le remboursement des 21 milliards de dollars dus à Haïti. En 1825, la France avait extorqué cette somme de son ancienne colonie à titre de sa « dette d’indépendance ». Les avocats concernés refusent la proposition du Président Hollande de restructurer et de réduire la dette actuelle contractée auprès de la France par la République d’Haïti en échange de la rançon de l’indépendance. Cette offre, selon eux, est insignifiante quand on la compare à la somme réelle que la France doit à Haïti.

« Si le Président Hollande était respectueux de la Justice, il s’acquitterait à l’obligation de la France de rembourser cette dette de l’indépendance, conformément aux principes du droit international, » dixit Mario Joseph, avocat responsable du Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, un cabinet d’avocats de défense des droits de l’homme basé à Port-au-Prince. M. Joseph continue en expliquant que « la France a volé cet argent en Haïti sous la menace des armes et du rétablissement de l’esclavage sur l’île. Et elle doit le rembourser. »

En 1825, en échange de la reconnaissance de l’indépendance haïtienne par la France, celle-ci avait exigé d’Haïti une indemnisation de 150 million de francs or, avec intérêts, pour satisfaire les revendications des citoyens français qui avaient perdu leurs biens pendant la guerre d’indépendance haïtienne, offre qu’Haïti avait acceptée. Parmi ces « biens », on pouvait aussi compter des esclaves émancipés. Haïti n’avait finalement accédé à cette demande qu’après que la France eut stationné ses navires de guerre près des côtes haïtiennes et menacé d’envahir son ancienne colonie pour rétablir l’esclavage. Bien que la France admît officiellement l’esclavage à l’époque, elle était pourtant signataire de traités interdisant l’esclavage sur les territoires où la pratique en avait été abolie antérieurement. La dette de l’indépendance n’a finalement été soldée qu’en 1947 et a eu des impacts et du choc déstabilisant l’économie haïtienne pendant toute la période de son remboursement. Haïti a dû choisir de tenir son engagement financier auprès de la France au détriment de sa croissance économique ; elle a négligé d’investir dans ses infrastructures et dans le secteur de l’éducation pour payer sa dette. En 2003, la dette et ses intérêts ont été évalués à environ 21 milliards de dollar.

« La France offre une somme dérisoire comme un acte de charité », selon Brian Concannon Jr., Directeur Exécutif de l’Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, « tandis que la justice requiert qu’elle fournisse une somme suffisante pour transformer la pauvreté en Haïti. »

Pour accéder à une analyse juridique et à un commentaire sur le dossier de la dette de la France envers Haïti, consultez Restitution of Haiti’s Independence Debt from France.

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Human Rights Groups Tell French President François Hollande: Haiti Needs Justice, Not Charity

May 12, 2015 - 08:51


Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti),, +509-3701-9878
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-541-263-0029

Human Rights Groups Tell French President François Hollande: Haiti Needs Justice, Not CharityCall French debt relief offer a “pittance” compared to what France owes Haiti

(Port-au-Prince and Boston, May 12, 2015)— Human rights lawyers called on French President François Hollande to establish a plan to pay the more than $21 billion in restitution France owes Haiti as a result of its forcibly extracting an “Independence Debt” from Haiti in 1825. They dismissed President Hollande’s offer to reduce Haiti’s modern debt to France as inconsequential compared to what France really owes.

“If President Hollande took justice seriously, he would fulfill France’s international law obligation to repay the Independence Debt,” said Mario Joseph, the Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, a human rights law firm based in Port-au-Prince. “France stole that money from Haiti at gunpoint and with the threat of reinstituting slavery, and must pay it back.”

In 1825, Haiti agreed to pay France 150 million gold francs, plus interest, in return for recognition and the satisfaction of French citizens’ claims for property lost as a result of Haiti’s 1804 independence. The “property” included the emancipated slaves. Haiti gave in to French demands for the debt only after France stationed warships off its coast and threatened to invade and reinstitute slavery. Although France still recognized slavery at the time, it had signed treaties prohibiting slavery in places where it had been abolished. The Independence Debt was not paid off until 1947, and in the meantime crippled Haiti’s development by forcing the country to allocate available resources to the debt, rather than to investments like infrastructure or education. In 2003, the Debt, and interest, was calculated to equal more than $21 billion.

“France is offering a pittance in charity,” said Brian Concannon Jr., Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, “when justice requires it to provide restitution—the kind of money that could transform Haiti’s poverty.”

For more legal analysis and commentary on France’s duty to pay restitution to Haiti, see Restitution of Haiti’s Independence Debt from France.

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Why Haiti Needs “Independence Ransom” Paid Back

May 12, 2015 - 07:45

Decades after Haiti gained its independence, France sent war ships to its coast and demanded 150 million gold francs, plus interest, else France would invade Haiti and not recognize its sovereignty. Centuries later, Haiti is still feeling the consequences of that “independence ransom.” That’s why when French President Hollande mentioned France’s debt towards Haiti but didn’t mention reparations, many Haitians and activists were upset and wondered when France will finally be accountable for its actions.

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

Opinion: France’s empty, meaningless morale “obligation” towards Haiti, non merci

Sydney Noel,
May 12, 2015

When France’s president François Hollande last week, said during his inauguration of the Caribbean Center expressions and trafficking memory and slavery (ACT) at Pointe-à-Pitre, in Guadeloupe, that he would fulfill France’s debt towards Haiti, many hopes were aroused, hopes that were soon to be disappointed.

To understand what all this fuss in local, international and social media was all about we need to go back to the very founding a Haiti. The founding of this poor, seemingly irrelevant Caribbean country that continues to be the point of departure for many of this world most important discussions about colonialism, racism, injustice, resistance and revolution.

In 1804, Haiti won its independence from France after 14 years of bloody battles between France’s colonial army; as a result, Haiti not only became the first country in the world to abolish slavery; by force, the Haitian Revolution remains the only successful slave revolt in human history.

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Important Details About Haitian Family Reunification

May 8, 2015 - 13:04

In October 2014, after years of advocacy by IJDH and our allies, the State Department approved a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (HFRP). Only certain visa applicants are eligible for this program. The Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services explains in this short video.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
May 8, 2015