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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 38 min 55 sec ago
A new 11 minute-long documentary called Needed But Unwanted: Haitians in the Dominican Republic came out on February 10th. It was directed by Susan Farkas and is focused on the recent deportations resulting from the Dominican government’s decision to take citizenship away from certain Dominicans of Haitian descent. The short documentary exposes the discrimination faced by people of Haitian descent in DR, their daily fear of deportation and the precariousness of the camps of refugees at the border.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.FILM – Needed but Unwanted: Haitians in the Dominican Republic
Susan Farkas, IRIN News
February 10, 2016
SANTO DOMINGO, 10 February 2016 (IRIN) – Hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic are at risk of arbitrary deportation or of becoming stateless. Even though many were born in the Dominican Republican or have lived there for decades, tens of thousands have either been forcibly deported or have fled the crackdown and legal uncertainty.
In this film, Producer/Director Susan Farkas tells the stories of people like Wendy Batista, a 17-year-old of Haitian descent who can’t comprehend why, since he was born in the Dominican Republic and has lived there all his life, the government won’t give him papers and allow him to become a citizen. Evelin Perez Matos describes how her Haitian-born husband was abruptly deported last summer, leaving her to raise six children alone. “I don’t know if he’ll return,” she says. “I know nothing.” Others, like Edowane Pierre-Paul, fled to Haiti when the Dominican Republic began clamping down on those without formal status last June and now raise their families in tents in squalid border camps. Experts say the Dominican Republic’s policy amounts to a gross human rights violation, while the government says it has every right to control who is allowed to live in the country.
Click HERE for the original article
The Organization of American States (OAS) recently decided to hold its 46th General Assembly meeting in the Dominican Republic (DR), despite the ongoing human rights abuses against people of Haitian descent happening there. As members of OAS, CARICOM has the power to stand against OAS’ decision. In this letter, 120 organizations and individuals urge CARICOM to oppose holding the meeting in DR. They also ask CARICOM to once again stand up against DR’s discriminatory practices by making the current situation there a topic on the meeting agenda.
Part of the letter is below. Click HERE for the full text.
February 10, 2016
His Excellency Irwin LaRocque
Ambassador Colin Granderson
Assistant Secretary General
RE: OPEN LETTER – Community Response to the Organization of American States Holding the 46th General Assembly Meeting in the Dominican Republic
Dear Secretary General LaRocque and Ambassador Granderson:
It has come to our attention that the 46th General Assembly meeting of the Organization of American States (“OAS”) will be held in the Dominican Republic in 2016. Given that the member states of the Caribbean Community (“CARICOM” or “the Community”) are also members of the OAS and given CARICOM’s condemnation of the Dominican Republic’s antiimmigrant and xenophobic policies against people of Haitian descent, we write to express our vociferous protest and opposition to the Dominican Republic serving as the host country of the OAS General Assembly.
As you are aware, on September 23, 2013, the Dominican government, through a Constitutional Tribunal ruling (“TC 168-13”), summarily and retroactively stripped away the citizenship of several generations of Dominicans, predominantly of Haitian descent. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, this ruling created the largest stateless population in the Americas and the fifth largest in the world; the vast majority of whom are children.1 In early December 2013, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “Commission”) conducted an on-site visit to the Dominican Republic to observe the situation regarding, among other things, rights to nationality and identity. The Commission determined that the Constitutional Tribunal ruling “implies an arbitrary deprivation of nationality” and that the ruling “disproportionately affects individuals who are already subject to many forms of discrimination, particularly discrimination based on race and poverty.”2
Click HERE for the full text.
For months, Haitians have been taking to the streets to demand fair and democratic elections. Finally, deeply flawed elections were cancelled two days before the final round was to be held. But Haitians are still taking to the streets. Why? In this blog post, IJDH volunteer Nancy Young explains how foreign interference is still heavy on Haiti’s elections, and is causing Haitians to mistrust the process.
Part of the post is below. Click HERE for the full text.Why I didn’t write this story about the democracy protest in Haiti…
Nancy Young, Medium
February 10, 2016
So, I was sitting down to write this story about the protest in front of the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
The protesters had gathered, for the third Thursday in a row, to protest foreign interference in Haiti’s electoral process and its democracy.
The location, the US Embassy, was symbolic.
“We chose the United States Embassy to fight against United States imperialism and interference because the USA leads the Core Group,” said Guy Laurore Rosenez, one of the protesters and a member of the student group MELA (Mouvman Etidyan pou Libere Ayiti ).“The Core Group supports (President Michel) Martelly, who is a tool of the imperialists.”
It is the kind of language that once would have made me a little uncomfortable because I would have found it strident; now I just found myself nodding in agreement.
Click HERE for the full text.
WHAT:Join Haiti Action Committee to mark the 12th anniversary of the February 29, 2004 U.S.-backed coup d’état that overthrew the progressive, democratically-elected Lavalas government headed by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.Meanwhile, check out this August 2003 publication, Hidden from the Headlines: The U.S. War Against Haiti which exposed how – leading up to the coup, after the 2000 election of President Aristide – the United States undertook to sabotage Haiti’s fledgling democracy through an economic aid embargo, massive funding of elite opposition groups, and support for paramilitary coup attempts. Hidden from the Headlines exposed the highly organized U.S. propaganda offensive against the Aristide government aimed at progressive activists who might otherwise have defended Haiti’s democratically elected government committed to social change.These events inform the current critical moment as Haitians demonstrate in the streets nearly every day demanding free and fair elections, facing tear gas and live ammunition. The power of this movement has forced postponement of a fraudulent presidential “run-off” scheduled for January 24th. The response from the Obama Administration? Condemn the protestors .The term of “Haiti-is-Open-for-Business” President Michel Martelly ends Sunday, February 7. The popular movement demands that he leave office. The US, OAS, and Martelly are maneuvering to keep him, or his surrogates, in office.This is a critical moment to stand with Haiti, to denounce U.S. attacks on Haiti’s sovereignty and dignity, and to defend Haiti’s popular movement – one of the world’s most important struggles for human rights.
WHERE:Eastside Arts Alliance2277 International Blvd.Oakland, CA 94606
WHEN:Sunday, February 28, 20163-5PM
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a report denouncing the deprivation of nationality Dominicans of Haitian descent faced as a result of judgement 168/13. The report also focuses on the increasing discrimination and violence faced by Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic. The commission urged the Dominican government to cancel the effects of judgement 168/13, and at the same time announced that it was willing to assist the government in addressing these issues.
IACHR Publishes Report on the Human Rights Situation in Dominican Republic
February 9, 2016
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) publishes today the “Report on the Human Rights Situation in Dominican Republic,” which analyzes the situation of the right to nationality, juridical personality, equality and non-discrimination, as well as other human rights violations that resulted from judgement 168/13 of the Constitutional Tribunal, as well as the measures implemented in the aftermath by the Dominican Republic, such as Law 169/14 and the National Plan of Regularization of Migrants.
The report particularly focuses on the serious situation of persons of Haitian descent born in Dominican territory or persons perceived as being of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, especially after the delivery of judgement 168/13 of the Constitutional Tribunal. The said ruling retroactively redefined the criteria for acquiring citizenship by the application of the principle of jus soli since the Constitution of 1929. The criteria adopted by the Constitutional Tribunal disproportionally affected persons of Haitian descent and retroactively deprived them of nationality, relegating them to the status of stateless persons.
In the last few decades, the Central Electoral Board refused to register the birth of a large number of persons born in the Dominican Republic. It was a widespread practice to refuse to deliver identity cards. These persons were then arbitrarily deported and collective expulsions were also recorded. Even persons to whom the Dominican State had recognized their Dominican nationality, to whom authorities had issued birth certificates, identity cards and passports, were expelled from the country. It was in this context that the Constitutional Tribunal issued judgement 168/13, advancing the process of de-nationalization which had been taking place for decades through practices and administrative decisions of the Central Electoral Board of the Dominican Republic.
“This situation takes place in a context of historical discrimination that, in different spheres, face Dominicans of Haitian descent,” said the Rapporteur on the Rights of Afro-Descendants, Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay. “This historical discrimination has been evident in policies, laws, judgements and practices that tend to deprive them of their right to Dominican nationality on the basis of criteria such as the colour of their skin, the national origin of their parents or grandparents, their last names or their linguistic ability to speak Spanish. This constitutes a violation of the right to equality and non-discrimination, which generates the violation of other rights,” she said. During the visit, the IACHR confirmed the conditions of poverty, exclusion and discrimination of the habitants of the bateyes, who are Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent.
On her part, the IACHR Rapporteur for Dominican Republic, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, said: “The lack of recognition of the juridical personality of the affected persons has placed them in a situation of disadvantage in the exercise of some of their human rights, as well as the situation of extreme vulnerability to be victims of violations of other multiple human rights. This sentence has caused the retroactive de-nationalization of hundreds of thousands of persons, denying them the capacity to have rights.”
On his part, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants, under whose mandate is the protection of the rights of stateless persons, Commissioner Enrique Gil Botero, said: “The situation of statelessness generated by judgement 168/13 that has not yet been completely corrected after the measures adopted by the Dominican State, is of a magnitude never before seen in the Americas.”
The report also analyzes the actions taken by the Dominican Republic to address the consequences of judgement 168/13, in particular Law 169-14. The Commission rejects the fundamentals that gave rise to this law, but it recognizes the practical importance of restoring Dominican nationality to the persons who had been registered, and who afterwards retroactively lost their nationality due to the judgement. However, the report rejects the stance that persons born in Dominican territory who, according with Dominican legislation were entitled to Dominican nationality, are treated as foreigners,” and that there is still no mechanism available to completely restore such nationality to them and to their descendants.
Finally, the IACHR is concerned over the levels of violence that resulted from an increase of intolerance and racist discourse in the Dominican Republic, as well as the public threats and the acts of aggression against persons that publicly criticized judgement 168/13.
Among the recommendations of the report, the Commission urges the Dominican State to adopt the necessary measures to prevent judgment 168/13 from continuing to have legal effects and to fully restore the right to nationality to all those affected by the said judgment. In addition, the State must void all legal effects the provisions of Law 169-14 which are based on considering as foreigners people who were born in the Dominican Republic as children of irregular migrants, born when the principle of jus soli was still applicable in the Dominican Republic. This is mandatory because the current law implies a retroactive deprivation of nationality. The IACHR also urges that an end be put to the practices of denying Dominican nationality to persons born in the territory based on the origin of their parents or ancestors, or the migratory status of their parents.
The Commission reiterates its commitment to collaborate with the Dominican State in the search for solutions to the problems identified, and to assist with the implementation of the recommendations made by the present report, drafted in a constructive and co-operative spirit. The IACHR is at the disposal of the State to, within its mandate and functions, co-operate with the Dominican Republic to ensure that the current legal framework and its implementation by Dominican authorities will guarantee the effective exercise of human rights for all persons, pursuant to the international human rights obligations of the State.
The Commission thanks the government of President Danilo Medina and the people of Dominican Republic for facilitating this visit. In particular, the Inter-American Commission values and appreciates the support and information provided by government authorities, affected persons, and civil society organizations, as well as the information provided before, during and after the visit. The Commission regrets the Constitutional Court’s decision to refuse to meet with the Commission during the visit. Finally, the Commission especially appreciates and thanks the 3,342 persons who met with the delegation to present their testimony, petitions and information.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.
Click HERE for the original article
In a thought-provoking piece, Jonathan Katz compares Martelly’s (whose presidential mandate ended on February 7th) campaign in 2011 to the current Donald Trump campaign. In addition to both being pop stars before turning to politics and being considered “jokes” at the start of their campaigns, Martelly and Trump garner their support from frustrated men who feel dismissed by establishment politics. Katz suggests that there might be disastrous consequences if Trump accesses power, based on Martelly’s calamitous record as a president between 2011 and 2015.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.What Happens When a Celebrity Becomes President
Jonathan M. Katz, The Atlantic
February 9, 2016With his country descending into its worst political crisis since a 2004 coup d’etat, and thousands of people demanding his resignation in the streets, Haiti’s embattled outgoing president, Michel Martelly, went back to basics last week: He released a new song.Before Martelly became head of state five years ago, he was a pop star known as “Sweet Micky.” Micky was famous for saying or doing anything to get a rise out of a crowd. He would provoke them, insult them, or seduce them with his velvet baritone and bad-boy charm. A lot of it was your typical rock or rap rebel shtick—bragging about sex, drugs, and generally being an outlaw. But Micky’s genius move was combining that with the unleashed, upside-down spirit of kanaval, the Haitian Mardi Gras. Sometimes that meant Martelly performed in a halter-top and miniskirt. Sometimes he’d just go naked.If the transformation of audacious showmanship and fame into political power reminds you of a certain real-estate mogul turned celebrity candidate in the United States, well, it should. Martelly presaged Donald Trump in a lot of ways. Before his election, Martelly’s supporters liked to say that, because he was already so rich and famous, their candidate couldn’t be bribed or bought. Every time he’d insult other candidates or critics, or just say what other politicians wouldn’t, disaffected, angry voters—especially young, unemployed men furious about their endless poverty and the failed response to the 2010 earthquake—just loved him more. In one recording, purportedly made days before the 2011 presidential runoff, Martelly informed a crowd that members of the rival left-wing Lavalas party of ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were “ugly” and “smell like shit.” “Go fuck your mother, Lavalas. … Go fuck your mother, Jean-Bertrand Aristide,” he said, over cheers and peals of laughter. (The phrase is even dirtier and meaner in Haitian Creole.) Then he challenged them to come to his house and kill him.The competition dismissed Martelly’s candidacy as a joke, at first. The press did too, but that didn’t stop us from covering him—he made great copy.Martelly eventually became a more sober candidate with the help of political advisors who had previously worked on campaigns with Mexico’s former president Felipe Calderon and John McCain in the United States. That polish, and his full-throated support of foreign investment, won him the key backing of the Obama administration, which continued right up until the end of his presidency.But after five years of stalled and canceled elections, rising insecurity and poverty, political violence, and accusations of corruption, Sweet Micky’s novelty has long since worn off. In his last weeks in power, before protesters forced him to step down at the end of his term on Sunday, any vestiges of presidential restraint had worn off too.
Click HERE for the full text.
Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS), a highly respected feminist nonprofit organization, seeks an Executive Director who is passionate about women’s health and social justice to lead its essential work.
The Executive Director will be responsible for overall management, including infrastructure development, fundraising, and program oversight. The ideal candidate will be a dynamic and skilled communicator who can serve as the organization’s primary public spokesperson and fundraising leader. The position requires the ability to balance visioning and strategic planning with day-to-day supervision of staff as well as coordination with the Board and OBOS founders.
All applicants should have familiarity with the content and philosophy of OBOS (the books as well as the organization’s work as reflected on its website and in its programmatic activities) and possess a strong commitment to expanding OBOS’ involvement with all women, including women from communities of color, immigrant and refugee women, women in prison, and women with disabilities. Applicants should also be sensitive to issues surrounding gender identity and gender expression, and, preferably, have a background in women’s health.
The application deadline is March 1, 2016.
Click HERE for the full position description.
During the month of January 2016, IJDH director Brian Concannon taught a week-long, 1 credit course called Human Rights Advocacy: How and Why at Whitman College. The liberal arts format course was focused on NGO accountability, the disturbance caused by foreign NGOs in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and the necessity for sustainability in foreign intervention. In addition to the course he taught, Concannon also delivered a public lecture on the deportation of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for full text.
Haiti expert and human rights lawyer Brian Concannon leads timely seminar at Whitman
Gillian Frew, Whitman.edu
February 8th 2016
This year is off to a turbulent start for the small island nation of Haiti, site of a deadly 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera epidemic. As the deadline to elect a new president officially passes, protests in the capital of Port-au-Prince persist and a runoff election scheduled for late December has been postponed twice.
It’s a complex and ever-shifting situation, but someone who knows all about it is Brian Concannon, Jr. He’s an international human rights lawyer and activist based in Boston, who also serves as director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, a group that drew attention for attempting to sue the United Nations for their role in inadvertently introducing cholera into the country.
In the past year, Concannon has been quoted in The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald and PRI, among other news outlets reporting on the ongoing crisis. In late January, he took up a brief residency at Whitman as an O’Donnell Visiting Educator, offering a one-credit course called Human Rights Advocacy: How and Why.
Click HERE for the full text.
By Nancy Young
February 7, 2016
The Saturday afternoon presentation on the human rights report at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux did not proceed as planned.
The plan was for Meena Jagannath to do a training for the representatives from Haitian civil society groups on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). After that, they were to break up into smaller groups to discuss individual topics further.
That was the plan.
It started off right on schedule. Mario Joseph, managing attorney of the BAI, introduced Meena, who is now with the Community Justice Project in Miami, but had previously worked for the BAI – importantly, at the time the last UPR was done in 2011. The previous day, she had done a similar training with BAI’s lawyers and grassroots groups.
Mario put the pressure on Meena immediately by telling Saturday’s participants that she spoke Kreyol like a rat. This, believe it or not, is pretty much the highest praise one can get – especially coming from Mario. (The basic idea, a friend explained to me once, is that speaking like a rat means that the words scurry off your tongue like a rat scurries – or something like that. It has only ever been said jokingly when referring to the way I speak Kreyol.)
Meena, in all seriousness, really does speak Kreyol like a rat. And so she explained to the participants – backed up by a PowerPoint presentation also in Kreyol – just what the UPR is.
Essentially: Every five years, each country’s human rights record is reviewed by the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva. Governments can submit reports about what they’ve done to protect human rights. But if, as in the case of Haiti’s government, there is more in the way of abuse of human rights than protection, it’s unlikely the government’s story will match up closely with reality.
But governments are not the only ones who can submit information so the lawyers at the BAI will submit a report as well. They hope to gather information – and recommended solutions – from the civil society groups on topics including political, social, and economic rights as well as gender discrimination and access to justice for victims of gender based violence; LGBT rights; and the situation of the refugees from the Dominican Republic.
As Meena briefly went over the topics, her voice had to compete with the chanting and music of an elections protest going down nearby John Brown Avenue. It was the day before President Michel Martelly was to step down — after five years of constitutional abuses had led to a genuine constitutional crisis. There was no elected president to take over from him because years of no elections were followed by deeply fraudulent ones – fully supported by the US — in 2015.
Tens of thousands of people have been protesting in the streets and, most disturbingly, the day before the presentation, former army soldiers – or perhaps those who just identified with them – showed up in the streets, brandishing weapons. The UN peacekeeping troops and Haitian National Police pretty much let them have their way.
It is a decided understatement to say the situation surrounding the participants in the UPR group was dicey and the sounds of the protest were a reminder of that. But that’s not why the presentation did not go as planned. Some cocked their heads to listen to the protest, most leaned in to listen to Meena.
A few minutes later, there was the sound of what I’m pretty sure were three or four gunshots in the distance. (I say pretty sure, because I have been blessed by a life where I have not heard a lot of gunfire.)
But that’s also not why the presentation didn’t go as planned either. At most, a few people raised an eyebrow at the sound.
No, the presentation took a different path at the point in the program when they were going to break up into smaller groups to start work on the different topics.
Instead, there was a respectful debate over whether they should engage in this work at all.
The sticking point for some was that this was a process overseen by the United Nations – supposedly a defender of human rights, but, in Haiti, perhaps the biggest abuser of human rights.
There is the cholera epidemic sparked in October 2010 by negligent waste disposal at a UN base that contaminated Haiti’s main water system. In the years since, while the UN has stonewalled and evaded responsibility at every turn, more than 750,000 people have been sickened by the disease and more than 9,000 have died.
There are the cases of sexual abuse, exploitation and rape by UN troops and staff in Haiti – which have largely gone unpunished as well.
There is the propping up of corrupt regimes, like Martelly’s, since the UN “peacekeeping” mission began in 2004, after the coup against Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Instead of spending the billions of dollars on needed water and sanitation infrastructure, making sure all Haitian kids have access to a good education, and true human rights enforcement, the UN has opted to spend it on “security” in Haiti. Security for who? Not for the people gathered at the BAI that day.
So, why, some asked, should they even give any credence to such an institution by engaging in its process as if the UN was the paragon of human rights enforcement which it clearly is not?
Yet another reason why I wish I spoke Kreyol like a rat is that while I got the jist and the spirit of the debate I did not always catch the eloquence and wit of the words.
Likewise, with the answers as to why engage with the UN – given by Mario Joseph and others – I can’t tell you the exact words. But, as I listened to the debate, I was reminded of something I heard Joseph say in a video made shortly after the earthquake called “A Soapbox in Haiti.” He was describing why the BAI fought for justice for the victims of the Raboteau Massacre, despite having only a deeply dysfunctional and corrupt Haitian justice system to work with:
“We did not work on the case because we thought the system was good, but as if it were good.”
The presentation on the human rights report did not go exactly as planned because thoughtful debate and careful listening take time that cannot always be scheduled.
The participants planned to come back the following week to offer expertise on the human rights situation and their ideas for solutions to the problems they face. It’s not work that can be done in an afternoon, especially when evidence of the active opposition to their struggle could be found all around them.
But they are in this for the long haul; something that was brought home to me at the end of the meeting. The man sitting next to me had been holding a small white paperback book in his lap. When he got up to go, I saw the cover: It was the 1987 Haitian Constitution, created after the fall of the Duvaliers when the latest long struggle for democracy and freedom began.
With all of the attention on the presidential elections that began in October 2015, many seem to have forgotten about the fraud and violence that decided the August 2015 elections. The analysis below describes how those with the most money and power were able to take key spots in Haiti’s legislature during and following Haiti’s first round of elections.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Power and Money Rules in Artibonite Legislative Elections
Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch, Center for Economic and Policy Research
February 7, 2016
Months before the August legislative elections last year, a small scandal erupted in the electoral bureau of Haiti’s Artibonite department. Nine months later Haiti remains mired in a political crisis, but how this came to be has faded from the headlines.
Tracing the election’s flaws from the beginning, in the Artibonite Valley, reveals just how corrupt the electoral process has been and how the politics of power and money have subverted the democratic will of the Haitian people and the elections’ credibility from day one.
In April, Louis Frantz Dort replaced Ralph Ederson Dieuconserve in the departmental electoral bureau of the Artibonite. “This suspicious change is evidence that an electoral coup is being prepared for the Parti Haitien Tet Kale (PHTK) in the Artibonite,” political activist, Délice Jacques, told the local press. The PHTK is the party of current president Michel Martelly, whom human rights organizations, religious leaders and the political opposition have accused of manipulating the elections for his own benefit and that of his allies. But in the Artibonite, this takes on a unique dynamic.
Click HERE for the full text.
An agreement was finally reached on how Haiti will proceed through its current political crisis. Michel Martelly agreed to step down as President on February 7, as mandated by Haiti’s Constitution. In his place, Parliament will select an interim president from an opposition party. After that president is in place, a consensus prime minister will be chosen and then the October round of elections will be reviewed. What still remains to be seen is who will lead the interim government, and whether the original October election results will be overturned or some other solution sought.Michel Martelly, Haiti’s President, Departs Without a Successor
Frances Robles, The New York Times
February 7, 2016
Thirty years to the day after Haiti’s last dictator fled the impoverished nation as it took its first wobbly steps toward democracy, another leader stepped down Sunday, without a successor to take his place.
Mr. Martelly departed at the end of his five-year term, thanks to a last-minute agreement that laid out steps to choose a provisional government to take his place. Although the agreement left major doubts about who will govern the nation in the months to come, experts hailed it as an important move toward at least temporarily resolving a political impasse that had put hundreds of protesters on the streets.
At least one person was beaten to death Friday, as former army soldiers supporting Mr. Martelly hit the streets to counter protests that demanded his ouster.
“I said I would not hand over power to those that don’t believe in elections, but the Parliament guaranteed that they will do everything to make sure the process carries on,” Mr. Martelly said in his last speech to Parliament, before handing the presidential sash to the leader of the National Assembly. “I am leaving office to contribute to constitutional normalcy.”
Mr. Martelly, a former pop music star, was criticized for failing to hold elections during his five years in office and for surrounding himself with cronies, some of them criminals. He never shed his garish style and was considered an autocrat who let Parliament expire during his tenure.
But Mr. Martelly said he had “faced the impossible” when he “inherited pain and misery” five years ago, a year after a huge earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of people and toppled sections of the capital.
Haiti’s latest political crisis resulted from a presidential election held in October with 54 candidates and that critics said was riddled with fraud. Political operatives were able to vote multiple times, and the president’s handpicked successor came in first despite being a virtual unknown, leaving the 52 candidates who did not make the runoff vote to question the results.
The runoff was delayed twice as protesters demanded clarity.
Mr. Martelly insisted that there had been no fraud and that the runoff should take place, urging voters to choose his candidate, Jovenel Moïse, a banana exporter. But a former government official who officially came in second, Jude Célestin, refused to participate in the runoff until a new electoral council was chosen and a thorough review of the first round was conducted.
Under the accord reached this weekend, the prime minister will stay until an interim president is chosen by both chambers of Parliament. Once the interim president is in place, a consensus prime minister will be chosen, and a verification commission will review the October balloting.
“The headline should read: ‘A blood bath was avoided,’ ” said an official at the Organization of American States, which sent a special delegation to Haiti to help resolve the crisis. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic delicacy of the matter.
The official said 28 meetings had been held to reach an agreement, many into the early hours of the morning. Mr. Martelly agreed to allow a member of an opposition party to be selected as interim president, an important concession.
The agreement stipulates that an election will be held by April 24, and a new president installed May 14. John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, said the agreement was a step toward ensuring “the continuity of governance and the completion of the ongoing electoral process.”
Robert Fatton Jr., a political scientist at the University of Virginia who follows Haiti closely, said, “It’s all nice and jolly, but there are real problems.”
He said disputes could arise if the commission verifying the last election determined that different candidates should proceed to the runoff, or if the election results should be scrapped altogether.
“The old military people that are out on the streets are sending a clear signal to opposition groups: ‘If you don’t accept this compromise, we are out here, with weapons,’ ” Mr. Fatton said. “No one knows who was in charge of these people. Everyone assumes they are in fact armed people and armed by the Michel Martelly regime, otherwise they would not be so free to go to the streets.”
Click HERE for the original article.
An agreement has finally been reached regarding Haiti’s interim government after Michel Martelly’s departure from the presidential post. Many are asking, however, if the terms of the agreement will satisfy disillusioned Haitians who have been protesting in the streets for months. It is also unclear whether the interim government will review the votes from previous fraud-tainted elections before holding the final round. The agreement, though, seems a step in the right direction.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Provisional government to rule Haiti after Martelly departs
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
February 6, 2016
Haiti President Michel Martelly says a last-minute agreement on how a caretaker government will be installed in Haiti after he leaves office Sunday is intended to help the country get out of its ongoing political impasse.
“But the problems are still here, the problems are real, the problems are serious,” said Martelly, who gathered the press, foreign diplomatic corps and members of his government and parliament to the presidential palace to witness the official signing of the accord.
Martelly and leaders of both chambers of parliament reached the deal hours before his term ends with no elected successor to pass the presidential sash to. Martelly, recognizing the support of the international community, noted that this was a “solution out of the crisis” that was decided upon by Haitians after three weeks of negotiations. Those negotiations, often stalled and frustrating, finally concluded in the early hours of Saturday morning with a deal. Prime Minister Evans Paul was notably absent from the signing ceremony.
Click HERE for the full text.
On Friday, a group of former soldiers had an altercation with anti-government protesters which resulted in one ex-soldier’s death. While president Martelly has long promised to revive Haiti’s army, opponents are concerned about the army’s past involvement in repression and toppling governments.Former Soldiers Clash With Protesters in Haiti; 1 Dead
David McFadden, AP, ABC News
February 5, 2016
A band of former Haitian soldiers clashed Friday with a far larger gathering of anti-government demonstrators in the troubled country’s capital, resulting in the killing of an ex-member of the abolished military amid an ongoing political crisis.
About 100 veterans of Haiti’s disbanded military and some younger supporters paraded through downtown streets of Port-au-Prince on Friday. A number wore faded green uniforms and carried rifles and pistols.
When the ragtag group of ex-soldiers in pickup trucks passed near an anti-government protest with a couple thousand participants the two sides shouted insults. Some protesters hurled rocks at them, prompting a few former soldiers to fire their weapons. It was not clear if any protesters were wounded.
A group of young men rushed the ex-soldiers, who sped off. But one veteran, identified as former army captain Neroce Ciceron, was caught and battered repeatedly with rocks. As he lay dying on the street, Associated Press journalists saw a couple of anti-government protesters remove his boots, lace them together and throw them up on a utility line. They also took his rusty .38 caliber pistol.
The deadly protest comes as President Michel Martelly is scheduled to leave office Sunday. He has no successor since elections were postponed indefinitely amid violent opposition protests and suspicions of electoral fraud. Politicians have been trying to negotiate an interim government to replace him, but nothing has been agreed upon so far.
Groups of excited young men lingered around the blood-stained pavement for up to an hour after an ambulance took the ex-soldier’s body away.
“This soldier got what he deserved. They used to kill the people. Today, it was him,” said Wilsen Bell, a protester who had a card with a photo of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide stuck to his forehead.
Haiti’s military was abolished in 1995 under Aristide because of its history of toppling governments and crushing dissent. Small groups of veterans have long complained that they’re owed money in pensions and lost wages and have occasionally taken to the streets in protest in recent years.
Martelly repeatedly pledged to revive Haiti’s military to protect the border, coastlines and the country’s few remaining forests. It would require a vote by Parliament to officially reconstitute an army.
On the street where the ex-soldier was killed, a passerby said the former army members were foolish for ramping up tensions during the unresolved political crisis.
“It’s really not necessary for them to be out here. We have enough going on as it is,” said Wilsone Derival, a security guard who was walking home from work.
Click HERE for the original article.
A paper recently published by Yale University researchers shows that for less than $1 per peacekeeper, the United Nations could have prevented the cholera epidemic that continues to ravage Haiti five years later. The UN actually received similar recommendations–like administering a prophylactic dose of antibiotics to peacekeepers from countries with cholera–in 2011 but has not followed most of them. The UN claims that fear of creating antibiotic-resistant strains of cholera is what keeps it from implementing this basic life-saving recommendation. Scientists say that this concern is unfounded.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.A $1 Pill That Could Save Thousands Of Lives: Research Suggests Cheap Way To Avoid U.N.-Caused Cholera
Richard Knox, WBUR
February 5, 2016
Here’s a way to get a big bang for a buck:
If a few hundred United Nations peacekeeping troops had taken a $1 antibiotic pill five years ago before they were deployed to Haiti, it may well have prevented a cholera outbreak that has so far sickened 753,000 Haitians and killed more than 9,000.
That’s the takeaway of a new study by Yale University researchers in the journal PLoS.
The authors believe their evidence should prompt the U.N. to adopt a simple and incredibly cost-effective strategy: Make sure all the 150,000 peacekeepers it sends out into the world each year from cholera-afflicted countries get preventive doses of antibiotics before deployment.
Click HERE for the full text.
In discussing the statistics of people of Haitian descent rendered stateless by the Dominican Republic (DR), it can be easy to overlook the individual human stories. This article reminds us how these discriminatory laws have put many dreams and futures on hold through the story of a young boxing champion whose identity is no longer recognized by DR.Dominican Republic: Meet the stateless boxer who dreams of being the next Floyd Mayweather
Josefina Solomon, International Business Times
February 3, 2016
When Adonis Peguero Louis won the pre-selection test to join the Dominican Republic’s national boxing team, the young man’s future played before him. As if watching a film, he saw himself headlining fights across the country, travelling to arenas in cities he had only visited through the small TV screen that rests in the corner of his crammed living room, coming face-to-face with his childhood heroes.
He vividly imagined becoming a hero himself – the kind that starts life with empty pockets but then manages to save all those around him from poverty. And it was not daydreaming. From the first time Adonis slipped on his blue boxing gloves, he had shown the kind of talent only stars are born with. The collection of medals that decorate his bedroom’s walls show just how good he is.
“Boxing has been my passion since I was a kid. I always watch my heroes fight and I want to be like them: Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard, Abejón Fortuna, Mohammad Ali, Óscar de la Hoya. I know I have the talent to go far and help my family,” said Adonis.
But there is a problem. Adonis’ parents were born in Haiti and just like thousands of others who have been living in the Dominican Republic for decades, they were not allowed to register their son’s birth. This prevents the young boxer from having an identity card and claiming his Dominican nationality.
This small multi-coloured piece of plastic became the sharp needle that burst Adoni’s bubble. Without it, he is prevented from studying, seeing a doctor, finding a proper job and continuing the process of joining the national boxing team and pursuing his passion. In the Dominican Republic, talent is no longer enough for young people to pursue a better future. By all accounts, Adonis is a ghost.
“I had great hope. I know I have the talent to be part of the national boxing team, but because I don’t have identity documents I cannot go after my dreams. It was an amazing opportunity but I had to see it pass me by,” Adonis said.
The young boxer speaks quietly, with a shy tone. He glances through a small window in a grey-walled room to the dusty road that separates his humble home from a large piece of green land where young boys run, laugh and play baseball. Adonis sees himself in them. Just as he did as a young boy, they all dream of the day they will be discovered by an American coach (the Dominican Republic is renowned for exporting athletes to the USA) and given the chance to shine.
But for many of them, just as for Adonis, hard work is not enough. Also born to Haitian parents or grandparents, many are also likely to be denied any form of identification that recognizes their Dominican nationality. Just like Adonis, they are sentenced to a life of discrimination, marginalisation and poverty.Legal maze
The Dominican Republic has a long and disturbing record when it comes to the treatment of Dominicans of Haitian descent, like Adonis. Since the early 1990s, Dominican-born people of Haitian descent have become the target of a number of administrative, legislative and judicial decisions aimed at restricting their access to Dominican identity documents and ultimately to Dominican nationality. This, in turn, prevents them from accessing basic services such as formal jobs, healthcare and higher education.
In September 2013, the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that children born in the country since 1929 to undocumented foreign parents are not entitled to Dominican nationality. The ruling arbitrarily [and retroactively] deprived tens of thousands of people of their nationality and effectively left many of them stateless. The vast majority are the descendants of migrants who came from Haiti, the neighbouring country with whom the Dominican Republic shares the same island in the Caribbean.
The authorities tried to mitigate the effects of this discriminatory judgement but, along the way, have created a number of intricate processes and categories of people that most find impossible to navigate. A six-month naturalization programme, which expired a year ago this week, on 1 February 2015, has proven inadequate.
Hundreds of people say that they never received information about the programme and only learnt of its existence after it had already expired. Many claim that the list of papers they were required to show was impossible to comply with. This included a signed declaration by a midwife or seven witnesses who could testify that they were born in the country.
Now, people are forced to face a legal labyrinth so intricate it is almost incomprehensible. Authorities in the Dominican Republic fiercely contest the fact that tens of thousands of people in the country have been rendered stateless, but a recent Amnesty International report into the issue debunks this myth.
The government said people had many opportunities to regularize their situation, a claim Amnesty International has also found groundless. Some nationalist sectors even suggested Dominicans born to Haitian families should go “back” to Haiti, even though most do not have any direct links to the country of their ancestors and have lived all their lives in the Dominican Republic.
“I have never been to Haiti. I do not know anyone there. If I was sent there I would not know what to do, how to survive,” said Adonis.
Across Guanuma, in the outskirts of the Dominican capital Santo Domingo, dozens of others share his story. A mother of six who cannot access proper medical care, the shop owner whose daughter cannot pursue higher education despite her remarkable grades, the many who struggle to find a proper job.
But despite everything, Adonis refuses to give up. He puts on his trainers and gets ready to go for his second long run of the day. He still hopes one day he will be able to take up the offer to join the national boxing team and, when the day comes, he wants to be ready.
Click HERE for the original article.
MORAVIAN COLLEGE NEWS
Bethlehem, Pa., January 20, 2016—Moravian College will bestow an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree to Mario Joseph, widely regarded as Haiti’s leading human rights lawyer, on Tuesday, February 9. Joseph will present a film; “Baseball in the Time of Cholera,” at 7 p.m. in Prosser Auditorium (Haupert Union Building) and lead a discussion along with Brian Concannon, executive director, Institute for Justice & Democracy, Haiti. The honorary degree will be conferred at the conclusion of a program. The public is welcome to attend and admission is free of charge.
Joseph has led the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince since 1996, During more than 20 years of human rights work, Mr. Joseph has spearheaded historic human rights cases, including the Raboteau Massacre trial in 2000, hailed as one of the most important human rights cases ever in the Western Hemisphere, and Yvon Neptune v. Haiti, the first Haitian case ever decided by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Joseph’s advocacy has come at great risk, and he has twice been the subject of Amnesty International alerts, driven by concern for his safety. He has received many death threats; has witnessed the arrest and murder of many of his friends, colleagues, and clients; and has seen his country devastated by the 2010 earthquake and the cholera outbreak that followed in the earthquake’s aftermath.
Joseph grew up poor in rural Haiti; his house had no electricity, and the water for his home came from an irrigation ditch that is now infected with cholera. He learned first-hand how the inability to enforce fundamental political, civil, economic, and social rights condemns poor people to generations of poverty. Despite constant dangers and threats, Joseph has remained steadfast in his dedication to the poor and under-served citizens of his homeland, where he persists in the fight against poverty, inequality, and political violence.
“Baseball in the Time of Cholera,” a powerful 29-minute documentary that tells the true story of 14 year-old Joseph Alvyns and the ways in which the cholera epidemic changed his young life forever. Baseball also prominently features Mario Joseph’s tireless work to achieve justice for victims of cholera. This film has brought Haitians’ fight for justice to the world stage. It won the 2012 Best Documentary Short Special Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Prosser Auditorium is located in the Haupert Union Building (HUB) near the corner of Monocacy and Locust Streets in Bethlehem, Pa. Moravian College encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. Anyone needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided please contact Intercultural Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the event.
The event is part of Moravian College’s IN FOCUS program for 20-15-16 which is examining issues related to poverty and inequality. It is sponsored by the Moravian College English Department, IN FOCUS program, Office of Intercultural Advancement & Global Inclusion, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of the President.
Moravian College is a private coeducational liberal arts college, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. For over 274 years, the Moravian College degree has been based on a liberal arts curriculum where literature, history, cultural values and global issues, ethics, and aesthetic expression and the social sciences are infused with multidisciplinary perspectives. Visit www.moravian.edu to learn more.
This statement discusses the European Union’s role in pressuring Haiti to go forward with elections widely recognized as fraudulent and illegitimate, especially by average Haitians. It emphasizes the importance of fair elections in Haiti and the need for the EU to consider and respect the concerns of Haitian civil society.
Part of the statement is below. Click HERE for the full text.
Cliquez ICI pour la version française.
Brussels, February 3, 2016Statement
Towards a Haitian solution of the current political crisis
The Coordination Europe-Haiti has taken note of the decision taken by the Electoral Council on Friday 22 January to, again, postpone the second round for the presidential elections in Haiti. This decision did not come as a surprise, given the continued and mounting criticism at the validity of the results of rounds on 9 August and 25 October, as formulated by Haitian observation missions. Because of serious and widespread irregularities brought to light by the Commission d’Évaluation Électorale Indépendante, the Haitian people has lost faith in the possibility of organising transparent and fair elections.
In this regard, the Coordination Europe-Haiti observes that the European Union’s Electoral Observation Mission, has taken the position to defend the legitimacy of the 25 October election outcome, even after the Government of Haiti’s decision to postpone the second round indefinitely. The EU’s observation mission was the only international mission to do so explicitly.1
The current situation gives reason for concern, not only from a political point of view, but also in social and economic terms, Note the climbing rate of the local currency against the US dollar, the impact of cholera and the Zika virus, and the food security situation (see the latest analyses of of Haiti’s Coordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire.) A response to the most basic needs of the Haitian population will only be possible through the election of responsible politicians, whose legitimacy would not be contested by broad segments of Haitian society.
Click HERE for the full text.
Cliquez ICI pour la version française.
The letter below is from Canada Haiti Action Network activist Jean Saint-Vil to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. The letter recommends that Canada change its stance on Haiti, particularly as pertains to the current fraud-filled elections that the international community has been supporting. The letter makes other recommendations pertaining to respecting Haiti’s sovereignty, such as changing commercial relations with Haiti and Canada leaving the Core Group.
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0A2
Honourable Prime Minister Trudeau,
For over 12 years now, your predecessors have received persistent requests to operate a major shift in Canadian policy towards Haïti. Unfortunately, these calls by Canadians and by Canadian-Haitians have consistently been ignored. The consequences are immensely negative for Haitian lives as well as the reputation of Canada. Fortunately, we do have time, opportunity and means to permanently redress this situation.
Today, the People of Haiti are struggling to recover from a decade of disastrous foreign occupation. The weak institutions they had prior to the February 29, 2004 Coup d’État are all in shambles. Incredibly expensive foreign-controlled “elections” have consistently failed to bring about political stability to the People of Haiti, the stated justification for the illegally-deployed, now totally discredited, UN mission (MINUSTAH).
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, our requests to you are plain and, with adequate political will, they are easily attainable:
1. Support normal commercial relations with Haiti, whereby Canadian mining companies would negotiate with democratically-elected officials who demand fair and environmentally-sound exploitation of Haiti’s natural resources. End Canadian support to coup d’État and foreign-controlled puppet regimes!
2. Withdraw all Canadian military and police from Haiti;
3. Redirect Canadian public funds currently being misused in repressive action by Haiti’s backward oligarchy and their foreign allies against the People (the impoverished Black masses) towards science-based, institution and infrastructure building initiatives – areas of recognized Canadian strength and evident Haitian needs;
4. Support the Haitian People’s legitimate claims for reparations from the United Nations (on behalf of over 1 million victims of Cholera contagion brought about by UN troops who are illegally deployed on the island, since 2004);
5. Leave the Core Group (of foreign entities meddling and messing in Haitian politics since over a decade): Send a clear signal that Canada recognizes the need for radical change in our relationship and that we respect the Haitian People.
Prime Minister Trudeau, we count upon your positive response to this urgent plea, because we trust that you are, indeed, a rare post-colonial leader who realizes “it is 2016”!
Ottawa, February 3, 2016
In the first session of the series, human rights lawyer and activist Brian Concannon, Jr. will be discussing the cholera epidemic in Haiti and the litigation that has stemmed from it. Part two will be on the Dominican Republic’s deportation of Haitians. Part three will be on Haitian elections and the political process.
Online live stream
Part one: Thursday, February 4 at 12:50-1:50pm EST
Part two: TBA in February 2016
Part three: TBA in March 2016
Click HERE for the original posting and webinar link.
Many who want Haiti’s elections to proceed with the two candidates who were named as front-runners have cited the Organization of American States’ quick count as proof that the elections were legitimate. The problem is that the quick count only verifies that the votes counted were consistent with the votes cast. It doesn’t say anything about whether the original votes cast were legitimate to begin with. Most people following the elections agree that they weren’t, as a massive number of party officials were allowed to vote and often voted multiple times.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Why the OAS Quick Count Doesn’t Mean What They Want You to Think it Means
Center for Economic and Policy Research, Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch
February 1, 2016
With less than a week left in Haitian President Michel Martelly’s term, and no elected successor to take office, Haiti remains mired in political uncertainty. As negotiations take place over what comes next, one key issue will be whether to go back and investigate the first round results before moving forward.
Many within the international community and the Haitian government are seeking to move forward as quickly as possible with the same two candidates that were scheduled to participate in the January 24 runoff. On the other hand, protesters and many within civil society are advocating a further investigation and verification of the vote. The Organization of American States (OAS) dispatched a special mission to Haiti yesterday to facilitate dialogue on next steps.
The main argument against further verification has relied on the “quick count” conducted by the OAS on election day that was based on a sample of tally sheets observed from polling centers throughout the country.
Click HERE for the full text.