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Haiti Election Verification Commission Finally Installed

April 28, 2016 - 18:57

After months of Haitians calling for an election verification because of massive fraud in the first two rounds of elections, a verification commission has finally been put in place. The opposition to a verification is still fierce though, from both the international community and supporters of PHTK, former president Martelly’s party. PHTK supporters have been protesting in the streets to demand that the elections proceed as they are. US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned that the US is losing patience with the election delays. Haiti’s interim president and those in support of a verification, however, are clear that this is an important step in making sure the elections are democratic.

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

New Haiti commission has 30 days to verify elections results

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 28, 2016

Acknowledging the opposition by some Haitians and foreign diplomats to any recount of last year’s disputed elections, Haiti’s interim president on Thursday installed a five-member commission to help determine who should serve in parliament and who should head into a presidential runoff.

“The commission is indispensable to assure the credibility of the electoral process,” President Jocelerme Privert said during a ceremony at the National Palace.

The former head of the Haitian Senate, Privert was elected by a joint session of parliament on Feb. 14 to resume Haiti’s interrupted elections by April 24 and transfer power to a new president on May 14. But the failure to meet either of those deadlines has made him a target of criticism from foreign diplomats, the international community, the opposition, and former President Michel Martelly. Martelly, who did not hold one election during his four years in office, stepped down on Feb. 7 without an elected successor because of the disputed vote.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

CALL CONGRESS TO STOP PEANUT DUMPING IN HAITI BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE!

April 27, 2016 - 11:47
ACTION ALERT

CALL CONGRESS TO STOP PEANUT DUMPING IN HAITI BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Please join the Haitian diaspora in demanding action against this initiative: As part of its “Stocks for Food” program, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to ship 500 metric tons of peanuts to Haitian schools, which could destroy Haiti’s peanut market and the livelihood and income of 150,000 peanut farmers and their families. This is the latest in a long history of U.S.-sponsored programs which have destabilized Haiti’s agricultural sector, further impoverishing the nation and increasing its dependence on foreign aid. President Clinton had to apologize for one such misguided program in the 1990’s.

Please call Congress today to ask your congressperson to urge the USDA to immediately cancel this plan to dump U.S. peanuts on Haiti despite the devastating consequences!

Take Action: Calling is easy!

  1. 1. Dial the Capitol Switchboard – 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected with your Representative’s office. (Click here to find your Representative by name or zip-code).
  2. 2. You will be connected with Your Representative’s receptionist. Ask to speak to the staff person who handles foreign affairs.
  3. 3. Whether you speak to that staffer in person, or just leave a message on their voicemail, here’s what you can say:

“My name is ___________ and I am a constituent from __(your city)___.  I am calling to ask that Representative ___________ urge US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to immediately cancel USDA plans to ship 500 metric tons of peanuts to Haiti’s schools as part of its “Stocks for Food” program.  Peanut production is key to the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people (particularly women) in Haiti, creating wealth, activity, and income which the proposed program threatens to destroy, with devastating consequences for Haiti’s people and economy.”

Please use your own words if you prefer and keep it brief. You needn’t be prepared for a long discussion; the staff member will just take your message without asking for more details.

  1. 4. If for any reason the receptionist can’t connect you with the staff person who handles Haiti, simply ask the receptionist to take your message and relay it to both the staff person and to your Representative.
  2. 5. Be sure to thank everyone for their time.

 

Please call!  This issue is very important to the Haitian diaspora and to development leaders. Please also tell your friends and family to call, and share this with others!  Thank you!

Triple Murder of Disabled Haitian Women Highlights the Need for Change

April 25, 2016 - 11:21

People with disabilities are often stigmatized and vulnerable in society, particularly in developing countries. Haiti is no exception and this was recently highlighted by the brutal murders of three deaf women who were walking home together at night. This triple murder has sparked protests and other advocacy from disabled rights groups who are trying to change the perceptions of disabled people in Haiti. Nicole Phillips, an IJDH Staff Attorney who is now working on this case, is quoted in this article.

Slaying of 3 deaf women in Haiti highlights vulnerability

David McFadden, AP

April 25, 2016

LEVEQUE, Haiti (AP) — The three friends had spent the day stocking up on food in the Haitian capital when they left for their village, setting off on the 20-mile trip home by foot because the minibuses known as tap-taps weren’t running after a bridge collapse.

Their bodies were found the next morning in a ditch along the way. They had been beaten, stabbed and burned, and relatives who identified them in a morgue said their tongues were cut out in an apparent act of ritualistic savagery.

The women’s family and friends suspect they were targeted because they were deaf in a country where experts say a pervasive stigma isolates people with disabilities such as deafness and can spark superstitions leading to horrific cruelty. Disabled women and girls are particularly vulnerable.

Due to cultural prejudices and the weakness of the justice system, past crimes against disabled citizens have been largely ignored. But the slayings of Jesula Gelin, Vanessa Previl and Monique Vincent have galvanized Haitians with disabilities and prompted rare public protests by their advocacy groups.

Outrage is particularly acute in the village of Leveque, where the women lived in a community of 168 homes established by U.S. religious organizations for deaf people displaced by the 2010 earthquake. Gelin’s husband, Micheler Castor, now struggles there to raise their six kids alone.

“I can’t understand it,” Castor, also deaf, said in sign language of his 29-year-old wife’s killing. “She served the Lord and was a good wife and mother.”

Advocates for the disabled in Haiti say they hope what happened can chip away at the obstacles to justice and social inclusion faced by these most vulnerable citizens of the hemisphere’s poorest nation.

Around the globe, treatment of the disabled varies widely from country to country, but discrimination and barriers to inclusion are commonplace. Those problems are most severe in the developing world, where the World Health Organization says 80 percent of disabled people live.

“This case is very important. The disabled have made advances in Haiti, but there’s still far, far too much stigma and impunity,” Michel Pean, a blind activist who was Haiti’s first secretary of state for the integration of disabled people.

With pressure from that government agency, police have arrested three members of a family suspected of murdering the deaf women. Investigators say two women and a man are in custody, while the two men who are the main suspects are still being sought.

“We won’t rest until we get them all,” said Jentullon Joel, police commander in Cabaret, where the women were butchered in a cinderblock house off the main road.

The three women often prayed together, sold rice and popcorn in their community and regularly went to Port-au-Prince to buy supplies. Gelin and her two unmarried neighbors, both in their 20s, might have stayed overnight in the capital if they had known the bridge was out. But as darkness fell, they tried walking home instead.

Neighbors around the Cabaret property where they were killed said they didn’t hear any commotion that night. Associated Press journalists found the house locked from the outside, a skinny dog growling in the yard.

Joel said one suspect told investigators that the deaf women were killed by her husband because the family feared that they were werewolf-type creatures called “lougawou,” their disabilities the product of a hex.

Nicole Phillips, a human rights lawyer representing the victims’ families, said the trio only felt safe approaching the house in Cabaret that night because one of the deaf women was apparently a distant relation of a person who lived there.

There’s another suspected superstitious motive that detectives are investigating. Some soothsayers claim they can mystically increase chances at winning bets at ubiquitous Haitian lotteries if they are brought body parts like tongues from fresh corpses.

“I believe they picked them to cut their tongues to play the lottery,” Castor signed in his tiny home, shaking his head beneath a poster of the Ten Commandments and holding a well-worn family photo showing his wife.

Whatever the motive, the killings have left many shocked and shamed in Haiti, where advocates estimate that roughly 10 percent of the population, or about 1 million people, have some disability.

Although life has never been easy for Haiti’s disabled, the 2010 earthquake that toppled buildings across Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas increased awareness and empathy for amputees as it greatly expanded the disabled ranks with those who lost limbs. There has been some progress making more public buildings accessible to disabled people and strengthening rehabilitation therapy.

But some Haitians believe other disabilities are contagious or caused by a hex. Those who are deaf, blind, or developmentally or mentally disabled are still marginalized and face neglect and abuse. They are routinely called “cocobe” — a Haitian Creole insult that implies they are worthless.

Haiti has legal protections for the disabled on paper, but the laws are poorly implemented. Disabled Haitians have few opportunities to work and too many youngsters with disabilities languish out of sight at home instead of going to school. Some impoverished parents abandon disabled kids outside state institutions or farm them out as domestic servants.

Kathryn Montoya, a U.S. woman who founded a ministry called the Haiti Deaf Academy, said locals initially protested the relocation of deaf families to Leveque in 2012. Since then, hearing villagers have learned some sign language and interactions have improved.

“The greatest challenge is to have Haitians understand that deafness is not a curse or a disease, that deaf people are just as intelligent as hearing people and often even smarter,” Montoya said from the U.S. state of Idaho.

Deaf residents of Leveque feel so vulnerable after the women’s slayings that a number are considering abandoning their homes. They now sleep with machetes by their beds.

“I’m afraid that what happened to them could happen to me,” hearing-impaired Fedeline Saint Previl said below a hilltop church where other deaf residents prayed in near silence.

Click HERE for the original article.

UN Ordered to Take Responsibility for Roma Deaths. Haitians Next?

April 25, 2016 - 07:39

In 2010, United Nations peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti. That is the same year that UN camps for Romas in Kosovo were demolished because the toxic land was making the residents sick. Thousands of Haitians and Romas have died or become ill through UN negligence and the UN is now beginning to take responsibility for what happened in Kosovo. Does this mean it will soon take responsibility for what happened in Haiti as well? There are many parallels between the two cases, as this article describes.

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

Will the UN ever accept responsibility for Haiti’s devastating cholera epidemic?

Rosa Freedman & Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, The Conversation

April 25, 2016

What happens when a humanitarian organisation meant to protect people instead causes them grave harm? That has long been the question where it comes to the UN’s peacekeeping operations. From sexual violence to looting, from deaths caused by drink-driving to property damage, a great many individuals have been harmed by peacekeepers, and the structures to provide protection and remedy range from threadbare to non-existent.

But it’s another thing altogether when the harm done is attributable not to individual peacekeepers, but to UN operations in general. Two of the gravest examples of this have occurred in recent years: the Haiti cholera epidemic, and the poisoning of Roma in displaced persons camps in Kosovo.

For years, there have been fights to secure justice for both sets of victims. But while Haiti’s struggle goes on, in the Kosovan case, it looks like a major breakthrough has been made.

….

 

Click HERE for the full text.

As Haiti Preps for Election Verification, PHTK Plans Protests

April 23, 2016 - 14:19

Haiti’s final round of elections has been postponed once again as the interim government prepares to verify the previous rounds. Former president Martelly’s party, PHTK, has joined the international community in standing against a verification with Martelly going so far as to write a letter to interim president Privert. In response to Martelly’s condemnation of the continued election delays, Privert’s supporters reminded Martelly that he played a major role in the elections being so badly delayed in the first place.

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

As Haiti misses presidential runoff deadline, protests scheduled

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 23, 2016

Once more, Haiti is missing an election deadline Sunday — and will not have an elected president in office by May 14, the date stipulated in a Feb. 5 political accord to transfer power from the country’s current caretaker government to an elected one.

According to the political accord, Haiti’s 5.8 million voters should be heading to the ballot box. But a weeks-long political battle over the formation of the interim government, the late seating of a new elections body and the calls for a vote recount led to no official scheduling of the date by the Provisional Electoral Council, and no presidential decree officially calling voters to the polls.

“Today for the elections to happen you have to ask ‘Do the conditions exist?’ ” provisional President Jocelerme Privert told the Miami Herald during a visit to the United Nations where Haiti was among 175 countries Friday that signed the Paris climate agreement. He expects an elections calendar to be published by the end of May, he said.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Certains conflits au sujet de la commission de vérification des élections en Haïti

April 22, 2016 - 09:36

Enfin, il y aura une commission de vérification des élections, que de nombreux Haïtiens demandent depuis des mois. Le président du conseil électoral (CEP), cependant, dit que la commission ne peut pas ordonner à la CEP de mener à bien ses recommandations. Selon lui, il appartient à la branche exécutive, et la formation de la commission est une décision politique, donc le CEP travaillera séparément pour exercer ses fonctions.

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

« Aucune recommandation n’est imposable au CEP », a tranché Léopold Berlanger

Le Nouvelliste

22 avril 2016

Contrairement aux termes de référence portant création de la Commission de vérification électorale, le président du Conseil électoral provisoire a déclaré que le CEP n’était pas tenu d’appliquer les recommandations de cette structure. A l’issue d’une rencontre vendredi au Parlement avec les sénateurs, Léopold Berlanger a fait savoir que le BCEN allait vérifier la véracité des recommandations de la commission avant que l’institution électorale décide de l’appliquer ou pas.

« Personne ne peut faire des injonctions au CEP qui est une instance indépendante », a fulminé le président du CEP à l’issue de sa rencontre avec les sénateurs. Selon Léopold Berlanger, on ne peut pas demander à l’institution électorale d’exécuter le travail de la commission de vérification électorale. Avec cette déclaration, M. Berlanger rejette la dernière partie de termes de référence disant que la commission de vérification recommandera « des mesures d’ordre exécutoire au pouvoir exécutif et au CEP susceptibles de rétablir la confiance dans le processus électoral et de garantir la sincérité des résultats ».

Pour Léopold Berlanger, de même que n’importe quel citoyen peut faire des recommandations, la commission de vérification peut faire aussi des recommandations. « Une fois que le président de la République fait acheminer le rapport de la commission au CEP, l’institution électorale va actionner un BCEN qui aura à vérifier la véracité du travail », a déclaré le numéro un du CEP. Le BCEN, a­t­il ajouté, délibérera sur le travail de la commission avant de le transmettre à nouveau au Conseil électoral.

 

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

As Haiti Preps for Election Verification, International Community Threatens to Reduce Aid

April 21, 2016 - 09:06

Once again, Haiti’s final round of presidential elections has been delayed. This time, the delay is meant to allow a verification of the results from previous rounds of elections, which supporters of a verification deem absolutely necessary for Haitians to regain confidence in the electoral process. The international community on the other hand, led by the United States, has been consistently anti-verification and has begun to withhold aid to Haiti in hopes of speeding the electoral process.

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

Haiti Update: The Political Impasse That’s Delaying the Presidential Runoff

Elizabeth Gonzalez, Americas Society/Council of the Americas

April 21, 2016

Sunday, April 24, marks the third time that Haiti’s presidential runoff election will be postponed. On April 17, the country’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) officially announced that the elections for the presidential runoff, six senatorial seats, and 27 congressional deputies will be delayed indefinitely, after earlier attempts to hold them on December 27 and January 24. Meanwhile, an interim government headed by President Jocelerme Privert and Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles has 120 days, as of February 7, or until June 6, to carry out elections.

At the same time, international supporters are growing weary, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made clear this month: “The Haitian players, the so-called leaders, need to understand there’s a clear limit to the patience and the willingness of the international community to condone this process of delay.”

The Political Impasse

At the heart of the political impasse is Privert’s call to create a verification commission, a move that some international and domestic players oppose. With ongoing protests since the first round of the presidential election on October 25, 2015, Privert says a review of the original results is necessary to regain voters’ trust.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Key Member of International Community Supports Haiti Election Verification

April 20, 2016 - 08:19

Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the United States and the OAS, made a statement to the Miami Herald earlier this month, in support of an election verification in Haiti. Now, he’s added an op-ed to the conversation, further explaining how the legitimacy of Haiti’s next government is at stake if the verification doesn’t happen. Sanders makes a valid point that: “If Jovenel Moïse and Jude Célestin, who emerged from the first round as contenders, have faith in their electability, they should have no fear of verification.”

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

Don’t rush Haiti’s presidential vote

Sir Ronald Sanders, Miami Herald

April 20. 2016

Peace and development will be endangered in Haiti if the United States and other nations insist that the interim government holds the second round of a truncated election for president without a verification process of last October’s round of voting.

The secretary-general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, who visited Haiti last week, was right to say that the Haitian authorities should be given time to organize the elections. He had invited me to accompany him to Haiti because I had led an earlier OAS mission that oversaw an agreement between the political players that led to the creation of an interim government after former President Michel Martelly left office in February when his term expired. Although I could not join him on this visit, I fully endorse his statement.

Among the observer groups at the Oct. 25 elections was the OAS. At the time, we faced continuous claims from Haitians that the OAS contributed to foisting flawed election results by declaring them acceptable. Of course, this allegation was robustly resisted not only because it was absolutely untrue, but also because we knew it had become a convenient political crutch for all the candidates who had performed badly at the polls.…Click HERE for the full text.

Does the UN Security Council resolution on sexual abuse by peacekeepers achieve accountability?

April 19, 2016 - 12:28

In March, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution meant to respond to the growing scandal of peacekeepers raping and sexually abusing civilians. Unfortunately, the resolution only seems like a band-aid on the problem, given that it is not legally binding, relies on those who are responsible for the current culture of impunity to take action, and has vague terms that likely won’t lead to justice. It might be time for the UN to look for outside help to solve this problem.

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

Predatory Peacekeepers: The UN Responds to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in CAR

Kathleen Bergin, The Disaster Law Page

April 19, 2016

In March, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2272 in response to ongoing revelations that French and west-African peacekeepers raped and sexually exploited civilians they were deployed to protect in the Central African Republic.  The Resolution endorses a proposal by the Secretary General to return home the peacekeeping contingent of a country whose peacekeepers sexually abuse civilians.

Hold your applause.

The problem of predatory peacekeepers is decades old, having plagued operations in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Cambodia, Haiti, the DRC, and Liberia – to name just a few countries.  More than a thousand accusations have surfaced since 2007 alone.  It’s easy then, to shrug off the Resolution as a last-minute attempt to restore the UN’s damaged reputation – at least until it delivers concrete results.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

7 Important Questions for the Next UN Secretary General

April 15, 2016 - 13:30

For the first time, the United Nations is trying to make the process of choosing a new Secretary General more transparent by welcoming public questioning of the candidates. This article lists some crucial questions for the candidates to think about regarding UN accountability for sexual abuse and the Haitian cholera epidemic brought by peacekeepers, climate change, having the first-ever female Secretary General, and more.

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

7 questions we want the candidates for U.N. secretary-general to answer

Tom Murphy and Lisa Nikolau, Humanosphere

April 15, 2016

Yesterday wrapped up the first-ever public questioning of the candidates vying for the post as the next head of the United Nations. The once completely opaque process is changing thanks to public campaigns and pressure from member countries. Declared candidates fielded questions from members of the U.N. General Assembly over the past three days.

Given the fact that the U.N. is taking steps to open up, we thought it might be worth sharing a few of the questions we’d like to see the next U.N. secretary-general answer. Weigh in with your questions in the comments.

What will you do to stop the problem of sexual abuse among peacekeeping units?

There is a pretty major problem with the U.N.’s peacekeeping missions, especially in the Central African Republic.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

CDC Promotes “Revisionist History” of Cholera in Haiti

April 14, 2016 - 13:09

The CDC’s in-house museum has a graphic comparing the cholera epidemic brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers with the 1854 cholera epidemic in London. The problem with the graphic is that it ignores both the source of the cholera epidemic, and the still-ongoing deaths and illnesses from cholera five and a half years later. Towards the beginning of Haiti’s cholera epidemic, the CDC claimed that finding and citing the source of the epidemic was counterproductive. Now that the UN has spent five and a half years dodging accountability to its victims, why is the CDC still loath to mention the UN role?

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

The Killer Hiding in the CDC MapWhat caused Haiti’s cholera epidemic? The CDC museum knows but won’t say.

Jonathan M. Katz, Slate

April 14, 2016

Last Friday, a friend doing research at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta sent me a photo of a display at the CDC’s in-house museum. She thought I’d be interested because it had to do with the cholera epidemic in Haiti, which I lived through at its beginning and have been reporting on ever since.

She was right. It blew my mind:

To understand what’s so insane about it, you need to know a little about two of the maps in that image and the CDC’s history with the epidemic.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

UN Could Have Prevented Haiti Cholera for Under $2000

April 14, 2016 - 12:10

Researchers from Yale Schools of Law and Public Health have found that for a total of under $2,000, the United Nations could have prevented the cholera epidemic that has killed at least 9,000 people in Haiti. The simple prevention measures include antibiotics, vaccines, and a screening test. Now that cholera has been rampant for five and a half years, it will cost over $2 billion to eradicate. If matters can get any worse, the UN still hasn’t implemented these preventive measures when deploying troops from regions where cholera is endemic. This means that there’s a very real potential for UN peacekeepers to spark another deadly cholera epidemic somewhere else in the world.

UN could have prevented Haiti cholera epidemic with $2,000 health kit – studyResearchers find screening tests and antibiotics could have warded off illness, which has taken thousands of lives and will cost more than $2bn to eradicate

Ed Pilkington and Joe Sandler Clarke, The Guardian

April 14, 2016

The devastating Haiti cholera epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives and will cost more than $2bn to eradicate could have been prevented if the United Nations had used a basic health kit for a total of less than $2,000, scientists have found.

A team of Yale epidemiologists and lawyers has looked at how the cholera bacterium was introduced to Haiti by United Nations peacekeepers relocated there in the aftermath of its 2010 earthquake. Yale’s startling finding is that simple screening tests costing $2.54 each, combined with preventive antibiotics at less than $1 per peacekeeper, could have avoided one of the worst outbreaks of the deadly disease in modern history.

The Yale experts warn that the catastrophe in Haiti could be repeated as the UN appears to have failed to learn the lessons of its lack of preventive screening of peacekeepers. Some 150,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed from cholera-endemic countries each year but there is still no routine procedure to ensure they are free of the infection before being moved.

At least 9,000 Haitians, and possibly many more, have died in the continuing cholera epidemic that erupted in October 2010, it is thought as a result of untreated sewage from UN peacekeeping camps being dumped straight into a river. It was the first outbreak of the disease in Haiti in 150 years, and was almost certainly caused by the relocation of UN peacekeepers from Nepal, where cholera is present, to Haiti for emergency earthquake assistance.

In a study published in the open-access research website PLOS, the team from Yale’s school of public health and law school looked at a variety of interventions that could have been used to counteract any infection before the UN peacekeepers were brought from Nepal to Haiti. By its reckoning, the epidemic could have been prevented for less than $2,000 – a tiny drop of the $2.2bn that estimates suggest must be spent over the next decade before the disease is eradicated.

Administering a basic screening test using rectal swabs together with antibiotics and vaccination could have reduced the probability of an outbreak by 98%, the epidemiologists concluded.

“Screening and prophylaxis are inexpensive, in addition to being among the most effective options at our disposal. The costs of implementing these strategies in the future are negligible when compared against the economic and social costs cholera has inflicted upon Haiti,” said Joseph Lewnard, the lead author of the Yale study.

The participants in the Yale study fear that another disaster on the scale of Haiti’s is potentially waiting to happen, as the UN has still not adopted screening and preventive antibiotics as routine treatments in relocating peacekeepers. The world body does vaccinate its troops, but the researchers found that vaccines alone have a much lower efficiency rate in counteracting the cholera bacterium.

“We can’t predict the future, but unless UN policy changes, the conditions for sparking another cholera epidemic still exist,” said Virginia Pitzer, a senior author of the Yale study. “Our research suggests that screening and/or prophylaxis of peacekeepers are the most effective ways of preventing the inadvertent spread of cholera, but the UN has yet to implement either of these policies. Nor have they been transparent about the reasons why they are reluctant to do so.”

In a statement to the Guardian, the UN said that it followed the recommendations of the World Health Organization’s global taskforce on cholera control in terms of prevention involving the deployment of its civilian, police and military staff.

“The secretary general and the organization remain committed to do all that can be done, with the government of Haiti and the international community, to help overcome the spread of cholera. Progress has been made already in combating the disease in the short term and we do our utmost to rally the resources necessary to support the government’s longer term efforts to eliminate the disease and improve water and sanitation in the country.”

Over the past few years the UN has consistently refused to accept responsibility for compensating the victims of the epidemic and their families, and is being sued by thousands of Haitians. Yet earlier this month, the Guardian disclosed a leaked report that had been drawn up by the UN’s own experts a month after the cholera outbreak that found alarming sanitation problems on the peacekeeping bases of the UN stabilisation mission in Haiti (Minustah).

Click HERE for the original article.

Haiti’s President Announces Election Verification Despite International Opposition

April 14, 2016 - 11:38

Haiti’s interim President, Privert, has announced that the electoral verification commission Haitians have been demanding for months will be created. This is despite pressure from the United States and other international donors to hold the final round of elections as soon as possible, including withholding much-needed funds from the Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank. Haitian human rights and civil society groups have emphasized that a government seated without a verification process will be seen as illegitimate.

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

Haiti President Calls for Electoral Verification Mission Opposed by International Donors

Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch

April 14, 2016

Interim President Jocelerme Privert has announced his intention to move forward with the creation of an electoral verification commission. But the commission faces significant pushback from both international actors who provide the bulk of the funding for Haiti’s elections and Haitian politicians connected to former president Michel Martelly.

Responding to the “unanimous expression” of civil society and political leaders, Privert declared on Monday that a new round of consultations would be held this week, aimed at establishing common terms of reference and identifying potential members for a verification commission. The body, which has yet to be formally organized, would be tasked with reviewing previous election results and electoral court decisions before moving forward with the as-yet-unfinished electoral process. A verification process is necessary, Privert said, to establish confidence and encourage “players to trust the [electoral council] and to participate in the upcoming elections.”

Political and civil society leaders have long demanded a verification commission, after earlier elections in 2015 were marred by violence and widespread reports of fraud. Official results from the first round of voting put then-President Martelly’s handpicked successor, Jovenel Moise, in first place, followed by Jude Celestin in second place. Celestin joined with other opposition candidates, demanding a verification and other changes to the electoral system before agreeing to participate in a runoff. On April 6, the coordinator of Celestin’s party LAPEH told the Haitian press that they would not participate in any second-round election without a verification commission first being established.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Haitian Activist Discusses Imperialism in Haiti’s Elections, MINUSTAH

April 14, 2016 - 08:58

As Haitians push for a verification process to ensure democratic elections, the international community pushes for elections to be completed as soon as possible. In this interview, a Haitian human rights activist discusses the elections issue, as well as the broader issue of MINUSTAH’s interests in Haiti. Camille Chalmers, the activist, describes MINUSTAH as an imperialist and colonizing force in the country and demands both compensation for MINUSTAH’s cholera victims, and a departure of these UN troops.

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

MINUSTAH is not a humanitarian mission; it is present in Haiti to achieve a re-colonization of the entire region.

Mario Hernandez, Resumen Latinoamericano

April 14, 2016

M.H.: Communication in Montevideo with the Haitian Human Rights activist, Camille Chalmers. I would like to know your comments on your country’s situation and what are your reasons for the visit to the Eastern Republic of Uruguay.

C.Ch.: We are going through a very difficult time in Haiti as a result of 12 years of occupation by the MINUSTAH forces, allegedly to maintain peace that has had a large negative effect.In this situation we are in the midst of an electoral crisis that led to popular movements of protest in Haiti against attempts to manipulate the election and block expression of a popular vote.

There have been two elections in 2015; the last on October 9 in which there was a democratic majority and reports and evaluations revealed they were totally fraudulent with gross manipulation, including cartoons of a ballot with only one candidate. This was because the second place winner refused to present himself considering it a total farce.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Calls Ban Ki-moon Inept

April 13, 2016 - 17:24

Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a hearing on United Nations accountability, particularly regarding sexual abuse by peacekeepers. Senator Bob Corker, the chair of the Committee made a strong statement  on the issue and even called UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inept, as it took the UN so long to start responding to sexual abuse allegations. For example, the UN General Assembly has only just begun to implement recommendations in a report on this issue that was published in 2005!

U.N. chief ‘inept’ on peacekeeper sex abuse: key U.S. senator

Louis Charbonneau, Reuters

April 13, 2016

An influential U.S. senator accused United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of ineptitude on Wednesday for failing to halt sexual exploitation and abuse by blue-helmeted peacekeepers.

The criticism from Senator Bob Corker, a Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, comes as candidates to replace Ban when he leaves the post at the end of the year after 10 years have been holding town hall meetings with diplomats from U.N. member states this week.

Ending U.N. peacekeeper abuse has been a major topic of discussion during the meetings at U.N. headquarters in light of a slew of rape allegations leveled against international peacekeepers in Central African Republic.

Corker asked a committee hearing on ending sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers why some recommendations included in a 2005 report on the problem to the U.N. General Assembly were only now being implemented.

“What is wrong with the secretary-general of the U.N.?” Corker asked at the hearing, which was broadcast live. “This report … the one that you refer to, is 10 years old.”

“How do we put up with such inept leadership at the United Nations?” he said, adding that he was “disgusted” by the abuse.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban was “determined to continue to shine a spotlight on the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and hold those responsible accountable.”

“However, this is a fight that no one person can lead alone,” Dujarric added. “Member states are the only ones who have the power to swiftly bring to justice those who have committed crimes and to impose the strongest possible disciplinary and criminal sanctions.”

Ambassador Isobel Coleman, who oversees U.N. management and reform issues at the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said countries that contribute U.N. troops were often unwilling to hold those who commit abuses accountable.

“I don’t think it’s ineptitude,” Coleman said. “I think it is a reluctance to take on the opposition of troop contributing countries that don’t want to deal with this issue in the transparent way that it must be dealt with.”

She added that the United States was monitoring follow-up actions in troop-contributing countries to ensure people accused of sexual abuse are prosecuted.

Republicans are traditionally more critical of the United Nations than Democrats. The United States contributes 27 percent of the U.N.’s $8.3 billion peacekeeping budget.

Ban has pushed the U.N. to “name and shame” countries whose troops are accused of sexual abuse. Some 800 Congolese peacekeepers were repatriated earlier this year over alleged sex crimes.

In December, an independent review panel accused the United Nations and its agencies of grossly mishandling allegations of child sexual abuse by international peacekeepers in Central African Republic in 2013 and 2014.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell and Tom Brown)

 

 

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Do US/UN think “bad elections are better than no elections” in Haiti?

April 13, 2016 - 06:52

Although an estimated 90% of Haitians believe that the reported results of the first round of presidential elections are fraudulent, the United States and United Nations continue to push for the final round of elections to happen as soon as possible. It seems that their mantra is “bad elections are better than no elections” but this overlooks the potentially devastating consequences of having a government that Haitians don’t trust for five years. The U.S. claimed to intervene in the 2011 electoral process because of fraud by the government at the time so why is it silent when the Martelly government is accused of rampant fraud?

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

Without a full recount, Haiti’s presidential elections are a scam

Jacques Jonassaint, The Hill

April 13, 2016

The United States and the U.N. continue to push for elections to take place as soon as possible, operating by the mantra “bad elections are better than no elections,” but they have it backwards: Building Haitians’ confidence in the electoral process is vital to Haiti’s stability. Therefore, there must be a thorough and transparent investigation of fraud prior to the runoff elections. Stability, democracy and confidence in government cannot be built on a rotten foundation.

Haitian elections have historically been rife with irregularities and violence, but government-backed fraud reached a new height — or low — during the first round of presidential elections that took place on Oct. 25:

  • President Michel Martelly‘s chosen successor, Jovenel Moïse, was reported by the Haitian election commission, or CEP, to be in first place with 33 percent of the vote, but an exit poll found that only 6 percent of responders voted for him.
  • An audit of 78 tally sheets showed fraud or irregularities in all 78 — and Haitian officials refused to investigate further.
  • Over 900,000 “accreditation cards” were handed out to political party representatives who were allowed to monitor polling sites to ensure impartiality of voting officials. In practice, thousands of these cards were sold to political parties with the most money, and those holding the cards may have accounted for 50 percent of votes cast.

 

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UN impunity for sexual abuse in CAR is indicative of a larger problem

April 12, 2016 - 19:23

For a few years, allegations of sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers around the world have been surfacing. One country where the problem has seemed particularly rampant is the Central African Republic (CAR), particularly as allegations have continually surfaced for the past year. This article discusses one of the most recent cases, in which a peacekeeper tied four girls up and forced them to have sex with a dog. Women and girls from CAR have endured many such gruesome scenarios at the hands of the peacekeepers who are meant to protect them and it is only after a whole year of accusations that the United Nations has begun to take action.

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

The UN’s Good vs. Bad Narrative Clears the Way for Sexual Violence and Impunity

Maya Goodfellow, Media Diversified

April 12, 2016

A Blue Helmet’s job is, quite literally, to keep the peace. The UN peacekeepers whose nickname comes from their characteristic headwear, are supposed to protect people in countries torn apart by war. However a steady drip of accusations coming out of the Central African Republic (CAR) suggests it’s Blue Helmets who are the threat to civilian safety.

Three girls in the CAR have told a harrowing tale, in which a French peacekeeper tied them up, along with their friend, stripped them and then forced them to have sex with a dog. This sickening abuse of power is not isolated. Soldiers from France, Gabon, and Burundi have allegedly committed atrocious acts of sexual abuse against women and girls in the CAR. Just last year, peacekeepers reportedly forced refugee children to perform sex acts on them, telling them it was the only way they’d receive food.

The UN mission, which goes by its French acronym MINUSCA, went into the CAR in 2014 with the aim of protecting civilians after a coup d’etat: soldiers and staff have done the opposite. The allegations against MINUSCA are piling up; in the three short months since we saw in 2016, 25 separate accounts have been lodged against peacekeepers.

 

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Former OAS Official Says Election Verification Necessary

April 8, 2016 - 16:31

For months, Haitians and outside advocates have been calling for a verification of the October 25 and August 9, 2015 rounds of elections, which were filled with fraud. The international community, led by the United States, has strongly opposed a verification; pushing instead for the final round of elections to be held as soon as possible. Now Ronald Sanders, the former head of the Organization of American States’ special mission to Haiti, has spoken out in support of a verification, calling it a “necessary evil” for the electoral process to regain credibility.

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

Former head of OAS Haiti special mission favors vote verification

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 8, 2016

The Antiguan diplomat who led an Organization of American States’ special mission to Haiti after the country’s delayed presidential runoff set off a constitutional crisis earlier this year says verifying the disputed elections is vital to avoiding a deepening political crisis.

“It is a necessary evil in order to have long-term peace,” Ronald Sanders told the Miami Herald in an exclusive interview. “The verification process must take place. There is an awful lot of suspicions that there was fraud in that election process, and it would not suit any government that is elected without a verification process because there would always be that suspicion.”

But verification, Sanders said, should be swift in order for Haiti to quickly get back to political stability by transferring power from its current caretaker government to an elected one. Sanders’ support of a Haitian-owned investigation into the country’s disputed Oct. 25 presidential first round differs from the position of many other foreign diplomats engaged in the crisis.

 

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UN Advisors Recommend Apology, Compensation for Roma Poisoned by UN Negligence

April 7, 2016 - 18:02

A UN-led panel found that the United Nations compromised the lives and health of inhabitants of camps in Kosovo, which were built on a toxic wasteland and had high levels of lead. The camps house Roma, who were forced to live there in light of the war between Serbia and ethnic Albanians, and immediately began experiencing health problems because of the camps’ toxicity. Despite these illnesses and deaths, and recommendations from human rights groups, the WHO and medical experts, the UN kept the Roma in these camps for over ten years. The panel’s recommendation of an apology and compensation has important parallels to the cholera case, which also involves UN negligence leading to unnecessary and prolonged illness and deaths.

Roma Poisoned at U.N. Camps in Kosovo May Get Apology and Compensation

Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

April 7, 2016

Hundreds of Roma families in Kosovo, who were forced to live for more than a decade in squalid United Nations camps built on toxic wasteland that leached lead and poisoned their children, have long become accustomed to frustration and despair.

Now the Roma, also known as Gypsies, may be close to receiving compensation — and a public apology — from the United Nations, which has not acknowledged any responsibility for the mass lead poisoning even as human rights groups and medical experts including the World Health Organization, a United Nations agency, repeatedly recommended immediate relocation of camp inhabitants. The camps were finally demolished in 2010, and the inhabitants were resettled elsewhere.

In an opinion dated Feb. 26 but not issued until this week, a human rights advisory panel that is part of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, the peacekeeping operation known as Unmik, found that the mission had failed to protect the Roma families who had been moved into the camps after war broke out in 1998 between Serbia and ethnic Albanian separatists seeking an independent Kosovo.

The panel, which was created in 2006 to examine civilian complaints about Unmik, also found that the mission had acted negligently in leaving the Roma in the camps for years, even as the inhabitants were getting ill, sometimes fatally, from their poisonous surroundings.

“Consequently, the panel finds that, through its actions and omissions, Unmik was responsible for compromising irreversibly the life, health and development potential of the complainants that were born and grew as children in the camps,” the panel concluded in the 79-page opinion.

It urged the mission to acknowledge a “failure to comply with the applicable human rights standards in response to the adverse health condition caused by lead contamination” that had sickened the camp inhabitants, and to make a “public apology to them and their families.”

The opinion also urged “appropriate steps toward payment of adequate compensation,” without specifying how it should be calculated.

The advisory panel is not a court, and its findings are not binding. But its opinion, coming after protracted wrangling by lawyers and advocates for the Roma, was seen by them as a surprising victory against the United Nations, an organization that critics say does not often hold itself accountable for wrongdoing.

“The decision is the long-awaited morsel of justice for the hundreds of Kosovo Roma community members who were herded into lead-poisoned land after the war in 1999 and then abandoned for 10 years as Unmik ignored the pleas of the Roma,” said Dianne Post, an American lawyer who represents the camp inhabitants. Ms. Post, who spent years petitioning the United Nations for redress, said high levels of lead among camp residents had led to miscarriages, stillbirths, premature births and developmental disorders. “An entire generation of Roma children was lost,” she said.

Nick Birnback, a spokesman for the United Nations Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, emphasized that the panel’s recommendations “are of an advisory nature.” He said they would be evaluated by Zahir Tanin, the Kosovo mission’s top official.

“He will carefully study the panel’s opinion and recommendations and will issue a decision in due course on all its aspects, according to established procedure,” Mr. Birnback said in a statement.

There is no dispute over the source of the health problems that afflicted the hundreds of Roma who were placed in three camps administered by the United Nations in the north part of Mitrovica, Kosovo, at the end of the war, when ethnic Albanians seized their homes.

All three camps were within 200 yards of enormous piles of industrial waste from a lead-smelting factory. Soon after the Roma moved in, many inhabitants, but especially older people, expectant mothers and children, began getting sick from contaminated soil and dust.

Paul Polansky, an American expert on the Roma who is a longtime resident of Serbia and has helped lead the advocacy for former camp residents, said more than 500 survivors could be affected by the Roma opinion, which he had not been expecting.

“I was absolutely surprised,” he said Thursday in a telephone interview. “My experience is that the U.N. doesn’t pay attention to anybody and they think they’re in a world of their own.”

Mr. Polansky, who helped produce a 2005 documentary about the poisonings, “Gypsy Blood,” said the news of the opinion had not yet spread among the camp survivors. “I don’t think the Roma will believe it,” he said. “We’ve always had promises and promises.”

The United Nations is facing other accountability problems related to its peacekeeping efforts, most notably a sexual abuse scandal involving accusations against peacekeepers in Africa and lawsuits over the spread of cholera in Haiti, which medical studies have linked to infected peacekeepers deployed there after the 2010 earthquake. The organization has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the cholera lawsuits, asserting that it has diplomatic immunity from them.

Advocates for the Haitian victims, who have been following the Roma dispute, said they saw important parallels.

“Although the specific facts of the cases are different, both ultimately concern situations where the U.N. knowingly and directly exposed the population they were meant to protect to abhorrent dangers to their health and life,” said Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, which is assisting in the lawsuits.

Mr. Concannon said the Roma opinion “drives home that the U.N. has an obligation to respond to the ongoing health emergency in Haiti by taking the swift and urgent action that the situation demands.”

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Somini Sengupta contributed reporting from the United Nations.

 

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60 Haitian Diaspora Groups and Leaders Urge U.S. Support for Elections Verification

April 7, 2016 - 10:56

Wednesday, Haiti’s interim president Privert announced the formation of a commission that will verify the results of Haiti’s elections. While many Haitians and human rights groups have been demanding a verification for months, the international community has categorically disapproved of such a commission. Sixty Haitian diaspora organizations and individuals wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the U.S. to stop opposing a verification. According to the letter, “going forward with the final round of elections without first examining the impact of fraud on the results would cast a ‘cloud of political illegitimacy’ over Haiti’s next government.”

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

Haitian Americans to Kerry: Stop opposing Haiti elections recount

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

April 7, 2016

Sixty Haitian-American leaders and diaspora organizations are calling on the Obama administration to end its staunch opposition to a recount in Haiti’s disputed presidential elections, charging that it is undermining democracy in the Caribbean nation.

The letter, addressed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, comes a day after provisional President Jocelerme Privert announced that he will soon form an independent verification commission to look into allegations of ballot tampering and multiple vote-buying in the Oct. 25 presidential first round. Privert said the commission is “indispensable” to political stability and putting confidence back in the interrupted electoral process.

The diaspora community is calling for the administration to support such a commission in hopes of salvaging the country’s electoral process. Haiti has been in a paralyzing political and electoral crisis since its presidential elections. Official results pit former president Michel Martelly’s hand-picked successor, Jovenel Moïse, against opposition candidate Jude Célestin. Moise garnered 32.76 percent of the votes, while Célestin had 25.29 percent.

 

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