Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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Center for Gender & Refugee Studies Now Hiring

February 20, 2017 - 19:08

CGRS is looking for a highly motivated development professional who wants to channel their activism and energy toward supporting refugee rights. Please send the job posting to anyone you know who is passionate about the art of creative fundraising. This newly restructured position will lead their team in efforts to expand and diversify their funding base during these critical times.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Typical duties and responsibilities consist of, but are not limited to, the following:

 Develop and execute CGRS’s annual and long-term fundraising plan to meet organizational
and programmatic goals;
 Explore and pursue new funding opportunities from a broad range of sources that include
institutional prospects as well as individual donors;
 Coordinate strategic participation of key staff and board members in all development
activities;
 Steward existing donors, develop and implement a major gifts campaign;
Coordinate with communications staff to generate content for CGRS website, newsletters,
and other public forums, executing a messaging and communications strategy for building a
sustained base of annual individual donors;
 Take the lead in drafting letters of inquiry, grant proposals, and other solicitation materials;
work with staff to prepare reports to funders and other donor appreciation communications;
 Manage the law firm giving campaign;
 Develop and implement a corporate funding/partnership initiative;
 Ensure systems and infrastructure readiness; direct the upgrade and maintenance of
existing development databases;
 Oversee and assist with the preparation of budgets and financial reports.

The position is open until filled.

 

Find the full job posting here.

Pretrial Detention and Malnutrition in Haiti’s Prisons

February 20, 2017 - 07:10

Haiti’s prisons are the most crowded in the world, with 454% occupancy. This leads to many kinds of preventable diseases, as well as malnutrition from the strain on resources at the prisons. Malnutrition has become even more of a problem recently, as Haiti faces a food shortage. Many of the inmates have not been before a judge yet: Pretrial detention is a rampant problem in Haiti’s justice system. As IJDH Director Brian Concannon describes, there is not much incentive for this to change because even the families of innocent inmates are roped into paying bribes to get their loved ones out of prison.

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

AP Exclusive” Malnutrition killing inmates in Haiti jails

David McFadden, The Washington Post

February 20, 2017

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Dozens of emaciated men with sunken cheeks and protruding ribs lie silently in an infirmary at Haiti’s largest prison, most too weak to stand. The corpse of an inmate who died miserably of malnutrition is shrouded beneath a plastic tarp.

Elsewhere, prisoners are crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in cellblocks so overcrowded they have to sleep in makeshift hammocks suspended from the ceiling or squeeze four to a bunk. New arrivals at Haiti’s National Penitentiary jostle for space on filthy floors where inmates on lockdown 22 hours a day are forced to defecate into plastic bags in the absence of latrines.

“Straight up: This is hell. Getting locked up in Haiti will drive you crazy if it doesn’t kill you first,” said Vangeliste Bazile, a homicide suspect who is among the about 80 percent of those incarcerated who have not been convicted of a crime but are held in prolonged pretrial detention waiting for their chance to see a judge.

Click HERE for the full article.

Advocacy helped win cholera justice, but more needs to be done

February 18, 2017 - 20:54

This article outlines the cholera epidemic in Haiti in terms of the advocacy around justice for the victims and our accompanying lawsuit in U.S. courts. After years of downplaying its responsibility for causing the epidemic and dodging accountability, then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally apologized to Haitians on December 1, 2016. The UN also promised a new $400 million plan to address the epidemic and provide material assistance to the victims but more remains to be done: The money needs to truly be made available while consultations with the victims occur to ensure that their needs are finally met. The UN must take better precautions to ensure that something similar doesn’t happen again in the future. And the UN must accept legal responsibility for the epidemic, as a means to ensure that justice will finally be served.

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

UNstoppable: How Advocates Persevered in the Fight for Justice for Haitian Cholera Victims

Adam Houston, Health and Human Rights Journal

February 18, 2017

In 2016, December 1st—already an occasion to highlight the importance of health and human rights as World AIDS Day—took on new significance as a landmark in one of the highest-profile health and human rights cases of the 21st century. This was the day that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally issued an apology on behalf of the organization for its role in causing the Haitian cholera epidemic that has claimed close to 10,000 lives and made another 800,000 fall ill.1 This simple apology is something that victims of the epidemic have been waiting to hear for years, ever since cholera-infected feces from a United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) peacekeeping base were allowed to enter the river system relied on by tens of thousands of Haitians back in October 2010. That the apology took this long to receive highlights the struggles that advocates continue to face in getting the UN to make things right for victims of the epidemic.

Haitians devastated by cholera—through their own illness or the deaths of breadwinners and loved ones—first petitioned the UN for remedies in November 2011, a year after the epidemic began. The obligation to provide remedies for “personal injury, illness or death arising from or directly attributed to MINUSTAH” is explicitly contemplated in the Status of Forces Agreement between the UN and the government of Haiti, itself rooted in the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (CPIUN), which makes the mandatory settlement of claims a reciprocal duty in exchange for broad immunity from suit in court.2 Nonetheless, the UN did not dignify the request with a response until 15 months had gone by, at which point the request was tersely dismissed on the grounds that it was “not receivable” since “consideration of these claims would necessarily include a review of political and policy matters.”3 No explanation was given as to how negligent sanitation was a political or policy matter, or how the injuries suffered by Haitians differed from others the UN has compensated as a matter of course in the past.

 

Read the full article here.

Procedural abuses and increased deportations affect thousands of Haitians

February 17, 2017 - 20:22

Haitians continue to be deported at a rapid rate from the country at which they arrived seeking refuge and safety. From November through the end of January, ICE deported 2,186 people to Haiti. Only about 9% of these individuals had criminal records. The deportations pose many problems; detained Haitians lack access to legal counsel and Creole translators, creating miscommunications and limited opportunity for individuals to claim their rights. Additionally, Haiti is still extremely unstable in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, a cholera epidemic and a devastating 2010 earthquake. The number of Haitians crossing the Mexican border is increasing daily, subjecting even more vulnerable individuals to detention, procedural abuses and unstable futures.

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

U.S. accelerates deportation of Haitian migrants

Daniel González, The Arizona Republic

February 17, 2017

A detention officer handed Lemoine Denera a cardboard lunch tray. The 32-year-old migrant from Haiti took a look at the food and slid the tray away.

He hasn’t felt like eating since being locked up in a federal immigration detention center in the desert near Eloy, an hour’s drive south of Phoenix.

Because of his stomach problems, medial staff have placed him on a low-sodium, low-fat, high-fiber diet, which Denera finds unappetizing. That day he was served a slice of ham and American cheese between a hamburger bun, along with green beans, apple sauce and coleslaw.

Click HERE for the original article.

San Francisco Lawyers Guild Denounces Haiti Election Process, Voter Repression

February 15, 2017 - 12:49

The San Francisco branch of the National Lawyers Guild is speaking out against the voter repression and attacks on the right to assemble seen during Haiti’s most recent round of elections. Though Haiti’s new president was sworn in early this month, these lawyers  call on the U.S. government (which makes many decisions in Haiti), the United Nations and the Organization of American States to end their support for this new administration..

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

National Lawyers Guild of San Francisco Stands in Solidarity With Haitian Grassroots MovementWe Say No! To Stolen Elections

National Lawyers Guild – San Francisco

February 2017

For well over a month, tens of thousands of Haitians have been demonstrating daily to protest yet another stolen election and another denial of their right to determine their own destinies. Despite this popular outcry and numerous reports of large-scale fraud and voter suppression the Electoral Council in Haiti, backed by the U.S. State Department, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations occupying forces (MINUSTAH), has just officially anointed Jovenel Moise as the next president of Haiti. Moise is a protégé of right-wing former President Michel Martelly, whose regime was marked by corruption, wholesale repression of political opposition, and the selling of Haiti’s land and resources to foreign corporations.

As Haitians demonstrate courageously to resist the imposition of an undemocratically selected regime, they have been met with repression from Haitian police and UN soldiers. In one incident, police attacked the community of La Saline, a stronghold of Fanmi Lavalas, for decades the party of the poor majority in Haiti. The police fired round upon round of tear gas and killed three infants. In another instance, police attacked a non-violent march using water hoses, tear gas, and a skin irritant that caused severe burns.

Click HERE for the full text.

Political “Stability” Over True Democracy in Haiti

February 13, 2017 - 17:24

Haiti just elected a new president, Jovenel Moïse, after over a year of delays and even a rerun of the elections that originally placed Moïse as the front-runner. Unfortunately, and to the concern of many, Moïse was chosen by less than 10% of the electorate with only 20% of voters even participating at all. The complicated reasons for this lack of voter participation have been decades in the making, including consolidation of power on the right; coups against a popular Haitian leader; and interference by the international community. As IJDH Director Brian Concannon describes, much of the weaknesses and limitations on the left “can be explained by the undermining and overthrowing of the Lavalas governments, which prevented them from demonstrating how democracy can work, and the killing, jailing, and exiling of important leaders.” Frustrated with all this, most Haitians cannot picture their votes resulting in positive changes in their country. How do we restore faith in Haiti’s broken democratic process?

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

Haiti’s Eroding Democracy

Jake Johnston, Jacobin

February 13, 2017

After more than a year of delays, Haiti finally elected a new president this past November. Jovenel Moïse — nicknamed the Banana Man — scored a first-round victory in a sprawling field of twenty-seven candidates, taking over 55 percent of the vote. The banana exporter, who has never held public office, was inaugurated on February 7.

The previous president, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, seemingly plucked Moïse out of nowhere last year, making him the new face of the Haitian Bald-Headed Party (PHTK). Moïse’s win is an extraordinary achievement for a political neophyte, but it has one glaring problem: only 20 percent of Haiti’s voters showed up on election day. Moïse became president with less than 10 percent of registered voters ― only about 600,000 votes — supporting him.

Haiti stands as a stark reminder of the fragility of electoral democracy amid rising inequality and exclusion. After the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti’s poor majority turned out en masse for general elections, but that cycle appears to be broken. Today, Haiti ranks among the lowest worldwide in terms of voter participation.

Click HERE for the full text.

Thousands of detained Haitians unsure of future in the U.S. or Haiti

February 12, 2017 - 10:46

Resumed deportations of Haitians pose immeasurable challenges for individuals who made the perilous journey to seek refuge in the United States. Between October 2016 and mid-January 2017, the U.S. deported 1,513 Haitians and thousands more remain in detention awaiting an uncertain future.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Haitians’ dreams dashed after costly US voyage

Gulf Times

February 12, 2017

John Stevens Val borrowed 3,000 from friends and family and trekked through 10 countries to make his way to the United States, where he hoped life would be better than in Haiti, his impoverished homeland.

But in the end he landed in a US immigration detention centre and was deported back to Haiti, deep in debt and struggling to integrate, like so many other Haitians.

Val, 28, left home after a devastating 2010 earthquake that wrecked the economy of the Caribbean nation, the poorest in the Western hemisphere.

Click HERE for the original article.

Congresswoman Clarke works to protect Haitian nationals from deportation

February 10, 2017 - 09:21

In the aftermath of recent legislation affecting U.S. immigration policy, many refugees and undocumented immigrants fear for their lives as they face potential deportation to their country of origin. Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette Clarke is now advocating for new legislation to protect Haitian refugees from returning to a country still rebuilding after Hurricane Matthew. The Haiti Emergency Relief Act of 2017 would apply to Haitian nationals who were in the U.S. before November 4, 2016 and extend Temporary Protected Status to these eligible individuals for 18 months.

Haitians were originally granted TPS after the 2010 earthquake so that they could seek refuge in the United States and also send remittances to Haiti to support family members still there. Clarke believes that the money generated from remittances of TPS grantees would play a major role in helping Haiti recover.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE to read the full article.

Brooklyn Congresswoman Moves to Shield Haitian Refugees From Deportation After Trump Order

Madina Toure, Observer

February 10, 2017

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette Clarke—co-chairwoman of the House Caribbean Caucus—has put forward legislation to protect undocumented Haitians from deportation in the aftermath of President Donald Trump‘s executive orders aimed at expelling millions of immigrants.

The Haiti Emergency Relief Act of 2017 would significantly expand the Temporary Protected Status program—which shields refugees from being deported to dangerous homelands—to include all Haitian nationals who were in the United States before November 4, 2016. Clarke pointed to extreme weather events on the island nation as reason to grant 18 months of TPS to every eligible individual.

“Those needs have increased since Haiti suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Matthew last year, when hundreds of people were killed and thousands of families were displaced,” Clarke said. “Congress must act.”

Click HERE to read the original article.

02/24/17: Art-For-Change Black History Conference [EVENT]

February 10, 2017 - 06:53

Black History Month 2017 in United States of America will start on Wednesday February 1 and will end on Tuesday February 28.

To discuss the central role of African Americans in U.S. history, Art-For-Change will host a conference and reception at the Caribbean Art Center. Please join them in participating in this event.

The Caribbean Art Center marks Black History Month 2017 with an exhibit of paintings and photographs focusing on black American leaders.

WHERE:

Caribbean Art Center
155-A Washington Street
Dorchester, Boston, MA

WHEN:

4:00-8:00 p.m. *Note the time change*
Friday, February 24

 

For more information, contact Jean Sénat Fleury, the Director and Founder, at jeansenatfleury@gmail.com.

02/16/17: Strengthening Haitian – Dominican Relations [EVENT]

February 9, 2017 - 21:38

Join the DC Afro Latino Caucus in discussing historical facts and current affairs to build trust and create solutions between Haitian/Dominican communities.

WHERE:

Mount Pleasant Library

3160 16th St, NW

Washington, DC 20010

WHEN:

6:30 to 9:00pm

Thursday, February 16, 2017

 

RSVP here.

U.N. may remove MINUSTAH military peacekeepers from Haiti

February 9, 2017 - 14:33

A United Nations official has said that the MINUSTAH peacekeeping operation in Haiti is under review, and this might lead to the removal of military peacekeepers from Haiti. The U.N. mission has been heavily criticized since its arrival in Haiti, from issues involving sexual abuse to the introduction of cholera in Haiti. The U.N. Security Council is expected to make its decision in April.

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

U.N. considering removing military peacekeepers from Haiti: official

Makini Brice, Reuters

February 9, 2017

The United Nations is considering removing military personnel from its peacekeeping mission in Haiti, a U.N. official said on Thursday, indicating a possible scaling back of one of the body’s longest-running and widely-criticized missions.

The U.N. mission in Haiti, often locally called by its French acronym MINUSTAH, has been in the country since 2004, when a rebellion led to the ouster and exile of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

It is the only U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Americas.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

President Moise sworn in as Haiti’s 58th president

February 8, 2017 - 09:13

President Jovenel Moise was sworn in to office, filling a void left by a delayed electoral process. In his inaugural address, Moise reaffirmed his commitment to economic development and supporting the diaspora community. However, Moise’s ascension to power is accompanied by many inherited long-term challenges facing the country, including the devastating impacts of the recent Hurricane Matthew and the 2010 earthquake, poverty, and decelerating economic growth.

The article is shown below in its entirety. Click HERE for the original article.

Haiti’s new President sworn in after yearlong political stalemate

Dalila-Johari Paul, CNN

February 8, 2017

It took almost a year, but Haiti’s new President has finally been sworn in.

Jovenel Moise inherits a government still reeling from an electoral crisis that had left the presidency vacant since early 2016 — but during Tuesday’s inauguration he vowed to uplift a nation devastated by earthquakes, poverty and a history of elections marred by unrest.

“Together, we are going to carry out the national project to develop the country. As you all know, agriculture is my priority. You all know this, I have just said it. Agriculture needs to be modernized so as to give work to youth, women and men from the country,” Moise said at the presidential palace in the capital of Port-au-Prince, Reuters reported.

The banana exporter, who has never held political office, was declared the winner in January of an election initially held in 2015. Yet allegations of voter fraud led to a presidential runoff that was postponed twice over what authorities called threats and “security concerns.”

Moise succeeds Michel Martelly, who left office in February 2016 at the end of his constitutional mandate. Without an elected successor, lawmakers chose Jocelerme Privert, the former head of Parliament, as the interim President — and a transitional government led the country up until Moise’s first day in office.

Challenges ahead

Moise, 48, is the country’s 58th president and has pledged to create thousands of jobs by stimulating the textile industry and providing duty-free preferences for certain manufactured goods.

According to the World Bank, Haiti’s economic growth continues to “decelerate due to lower investments, uncertain political environment and a modest recovery of the agricultural sector after a severe drought.”

The Caribbean nation is also still recovering from October’s devastation of Hurricane Matthew, which killed up to 1,000 people and left 1.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance. And with a population of about 10.6 million people, the country still bears the impact of the 2010 earthquake that killed between 220,000 and 316,000 people.

Last year, the United Nations acknowledged its role in a cholera outbreak in 2010 that killed at least 10,000 people. In the seven years since the 7.0 magnitude quake, longer term economic development has been a campaigning point for leaders such as Moise.

A history of leadership woes

Moise’s new chapter as President ends a prolonged electoral process that had created a power gap since last year, but political unrest has been a constant since Haiti’s independence in 1804.

The United States occupied the country from 1915-1934. From 1946, Haiti’s military took control of the government. In 1957, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier was elected President, and in 1964 he declared himself President for life. His son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc,” succeeded him after his death in 1971, but the younger Duvalier fled the country after a revolt in 1986. What followed was 30 years of ousted leaders, coups and US intervention.

Moise supporters hope the country’s fortunes will improve. His next task will be to appoint a prime minister.

Click HERE for the original article.

UN Partners with Haitian Government and Relief Groups for Long-Term Disaster Plan

February 7, 2017 - 16:43

Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in October 2016 and Haitians are still struggling to rebuild. The United Nations, the Haitian government and some relief organizations just announced a $291 million plan to address this, including long-term solutions to reduce Haitians’ vulnerability to future disasters. The plan’s objectives also mention response to cholera and other waterborne diseases, and dealing with Haitians coming back from the Dominican Republic.

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

Haitian Government, UN and partners launch two-year plan aimed at saving lives, building resilience

UN News Centre

February 7, 2017

The United Nations together with relief organizations in Haiti have launched a two-year, $291 million response plan with the Government to reach more than 2.4 million people across the island that was struck by a devastating hurricane last October.

“With more than 98 per cent of Haitians exposed to two or more types of disasters, and over half of its population living in poverty, Hurricane Matthew has once more demonstrated Haiti’s weakened ability to cope, recover and adapt to shocks from natural disasters,” noted Mourad Wahba, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, in the plan’s foreword.

The two-year Haiti Humanitarian Response Plan. launched yesterday, is built on lessons learnt that the island that the transition from a relief-focused type of operation – like one that follows a disaster like an the earthquake – to a longer-term development approach in fragile countries should be seen as a convergence process rather than sequential since the humanitarian and development needs occur simultaneously.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Money Laundering and Voting Problems Cloud Haiti’s Presidency

February 7, 2017 - 15:08

After coming in first place for Haiti’s president the first time around, Jovenel Moïse had to compete for the spot again when the elections were redone due to fraud. The second time around, Moïse apparently came won in the first round by capturing over 50% of the votes. Many questions about his legitimacy remain, however, due to extremely low voter turnout in the election and a continuing money-laundering case against Moïse. If the judge investigating the case does not try to prosecute Moïse, there are questions of whether Moïse will follow in the footsteps of former president Michel Martelly in surrounding himself with affiliates of former dictator Duvalier. Moïse has also indicated his willingness to collaborate with U.S. President Trump, as two businessmen.

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

Haiti Inaugurates a New President Dogged by Money Laundering Charges, Low Voter Turnout

Jake Johnston, Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch 

February 7, 2017

Jovenel Moïse will be inaugurated as Haiti’s new president today as the country returns to constitutional order after a one-year extra-constitutional period of interim rule due to electoral delays.  Moïse had previously come in first in an October 2015 election, only to have the results thrown out due to fraud. Rerun in November 2016 under the interim government that replaced former president Michel Martelly, the elections had Moïse securing more than 50 percent of the vote, winning in the first round.

But serious questions continue to dog Moïse as he takes office. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reports:

Since his win, Moïse has been on a countrywide tour, celebrating his victory, endorsing candidates for the recently held local elections — and battling money-laundering suspicions.

Moïse has dismissed the suspicions as the work of political opponents. The probe began in 2013 under Martelly’s administration when the anti-financial crimes unit was tipped off about a suspicious bank transaction, the current head of the unit, Sonel Jean-François, has said.

Over the weekend, an investigative judge assigned to the case sent his findings to the government prosecutor, but the judge’s order has not been made public. Government prosecutor Danton Léger has yet to say whether he will dismiss the case, send it back to the judge for further review, or prosecute Moïse.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Read excerpt of Moise’s first speech as President

February 7, 2017 - 11:00

Jovenel Moise made his first Presidential speech at the National Palace after taking the oath of office. To read an excerpt of his speech, click the HERE for the original article.

Part of the article is shown below.

“We will build a single Haiti for all Haitians” – Jovenel Moise

HaitiLibre

February 7, 2017

This Tuesday at the National Palace before a crowd of several thousand people, Haitian and foreign political personalities, the 58th President of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse addressed his first speech to the Nation in which he preaches among other things the union between the Haitians for the progress of the country. The President has also pledged to work to ensure that the people of the diaspora who want to return to the country can do it without problems and to work today so that in five years the balance is positive…

Click HERE for the original article.

IJDH Is Now Hiring!

February 7, 2017 - 08:29

We are now hiring a Communications Coordinator and a Legal Fellow.

The Communications Coordinator will manage our advocacy on the internet, in the press and with our supporters. This will be a key member of IJDH’s innovative 8-person team, based in our Boston office. We seek a dynamic individual with strong communication skills, a passion for justice and an appreciation for the power of advocacy. Experience with Haiti and spoken Haitian Creole are crucial. Please apply by March 1, 2017.

Communications Coordinator Description

The Legal Fellow will start September 1, 2017 and work two years. We seek an emerging lawyer passionate about supporting justice struggles in the Global South. The Fellowship at IJDH will focus on developing skills necessary for lawyers from the Global North to support social change movements and progressive lawyers in the Global South and build effective transnational advocacy movements. The Fellow will work closely with IJDH and BAI teams in the U.S. and Haiti on advocacy and legal work, including our groundbreaking project holding the UN accountable for introducing cholera to Haiti. Please apply by April 1, 2017.

Legal Fellow Description

 

Executive Summary of NLG-IADL Report: Haiti’s Unrepresentative Democracy

February 6, 2017 - 12:15

Haiti’s Unrepresentative Democracy: Disenfranchisement and Disillusionment in the November 20 Elections

February 6, 2017

Executive Summary

(Résumé Exécutif ici.)

(Here’s the full report.)

After almost two years of an electoral crisis, Haitian voters returned to the polls on November 20, 2016, for a third time to elect a president, 16 senators and 25 deputies. The presidential election was a long-awaited rerun of the voided, fraudulent October 2015 elections. Procedurally, the November 20 vote was significantly better than the 2015 elections. But despite many improvements in security and electoral administration, Haitians largely stayed away from the polls. Official voter turnout was 21 percent (and as low as 17 percent according to some calculations), a disturbingly low figure that indicates the poor health of Haiti’s democracy today.

The November 20 elections faced a number of political, financial and logistical hurdles. The elections were organized by an interim government that lacked constitutional legitimacy and was tasked with re-establishing trust in the country’s discredited electoral institutions. The interim government’s decision to annul the fraudulent October 2015 presidential election was supported by the Haitian media, human rights organizations, most opposition political parties, and one of the two winning presidential candidates slated for run-off elections, among others. But the cancellation was vigorously contested by the other winning candidate and the international community. The United States and other leading countries in the international community questioned the validity of the decision and cut funding to the electoral process.  The interim government announced it would finance the elections from its own internal revenues, a step that many Haitians applauded as a showing of greater autonomy.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle of all was Hurricane Matthew, which forced yet another postponement a few days before the elections were scheduled to happen on October 9, 2016. The storm destroyed 284 voting centers and washed out many roads. Serious doubts about the preparedness of the country, particularly the devastated South and South West Departments, remained until election day. In such a context, the fact that the November 20 elections happened at all was an accomplishment.

According to election observers, election day was marked by some irregularities and fraud attempts but relatively devoid of disruptions, violence or widespread fraud. Glaring deficiencies in Haiti’s electoral system revealed by the October 2015 vote – such as the lack of safeguards against multiple voting using political party or observer accreditations – were corrected. Well-trained polling station workers, higher-quality electoral materials and a more manageable number of political party monitors were other notable positive changes. In the hurricane-affected areas of the south, citizens were able to go to the polls in most places despite the devastation after the government made emergency road repairs and distributed tents for use as makeshift voting centers.

A large (but hard-to-quantify) number of Haitians did not vote on November 20, not because they did not want to, but because they were unable due to difficulties in obtaining electoral cards, registering to vote and finding their names on electoral lists. Enduring problems with Haiti’s civil registry and the organization responsible for managing it disenfranchised many would-be voters, particularly among the poor and in rural communities. Deficiencies with the civil registry also opened the door to fraud via trafficked identity cards.

Preliminary results were announced on November 28, placing Jovenel Moise of PHTK in first with 55.67 percent of the vote and Jude Celestin of LAPEH in second with 19.52 percent. Several parties requested verification of the November 20 vote based on the possibilities of National Identification Card (CIN) fraud and observations that the tabulation center had accepted votes cast using a fraudulent CIN.  Verification was ordered, but the contesting parties and human rights observers boycotted the review citing the review panel’s failure to follow electoral procedures and lack of transparency.  When the final results were announced on January 3, confirming the preliminary results, many voters had lingering doubts about the results’ veracity.

The November 20 elections are indicative of a profound crisis in Haiti’s electoral system. Following the 1986 overthrow of the Duvalier dictatorship, political participation in general elections was consistently high. Voter turnout in the presidential elections of 1990 and 2000 was 50 percent and 60 percent, respectively.[1] Following the 2004 coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, participation began to decline; the November 20, 2016 turnout represented the lowest in Haiti’s history.[2] After the high hopes of the post-Duvalier years, electoral violence, vote-rigging, disenfranchisement, and repeated foreign interventions have bred a deep disillusionment with democracy.

Paradoxically, falling participation rates have occurred alongside massive investments by the international community in Haiti’s electoral apparatus. The millions spent by the U.S. and other Core Group countries on democracy promotion programs in the post-Aristide era have produced an electoral system that is weaker, less trusted and more exclusionary than what came before.

The November 20 elections, in addition to long-overdue commune and municipal elections held on January 29, 2017, have helped Haiti to return to a constitutional government after a several year hiatus.  While Haiti may obtain some much-needed political stability in the short term, a president elected by less than 10 percent of eligible voters faces serious limits to his popular mandate. Even more serious questions remain about the democratic credentials of many senators and deputies, who owe their seats more to the violence, disruptions and fraud of the 2015 elections that put them into office than to the will of Haitian voters. The incoming government, political parties, and the international community are encouraged to take corrective measures to gain the popular trust of the electoral system and improve voter participation, which will allow for a fully democratic mandate of elected officials.

 

[1] National Lawyers Guild, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Report of the National Lawyers Guild and Association of Democratic Lawyers Delegation on the October 25, 2015, Presidential and Legislative Elections in Haiti 4 (Nov. 2015) available at https://www.nlg.org/nlg-and-iadl-election-observers-establish-flaws-in-haitis-october-25-vote-call-for-independent-investigation/.

[2] Jake Johnston, Breakdown of Preliminary Election Results in Haiti, Center for Economic and Policy Research Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch (Dec. 6, 2016), available at http://cepr.net/blogs/haiti-relief-and-reconstruction-watch/breakdown-of-preliminary-election-results-in-haiti.

 

Résumé Exécutif ici.

Here’s the full report.

Report: Troubling Weaknesses in Electoral System Overshadow Return of Constitutional Rule in Haiti [Français Inclus]

February 6, 2017 - 10:56

    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Nicole Phillips, Esq., Staff Attorney, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Nicole@ijdh.org, +001 510 715 2855 (in U.S., speaks English and French)

Report: Troubling Weaknesses in Electoral System Overshadow Return of Constitutional Rule in Haiti

(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, February 6, 2017) – On the eve of President-elect Jovenel Moïse’s inauguration, a new report by international legal observers argues that Haiti’s democratic institutions are suffering a profound crisis of confidence. Low turnout, voter disenfranchisement and lingering concerns about fraud raise troubling questions about the breadth of the incoming president’s mandate, according to the report, entitled Haiti’s Unrepresentative Democracy: Disenfranchisement and Disillusionment in the November 20 Elections.

The report notes that despite many improvements in security and electoral administration over the 2015 elections, the 21 percent voter turnout represents the lowest participation rate for a national election in the Western Hemisphere since 1945. “Many Haitians did not vote, not because they did not want to, but because they were unable due to difficulties in obtaining electoral cards, registering to vote and finding their names on outdated electoral lists,” said attorney Nicole Phillips, delegation leader and co-author of the report.

The report documents how many would-be voters were disenfranchised on November 20, due to pervasive errors on electoral lists, difficulties accessing identity cards, and lack of voter education. Haitian electoral authorities also failed to take adequate measures against fraudulent voting. Prior to the election, the head of the National Identification Office (ONI) admitted that 2.4 million activated but undistributed cards had gone missing, which opened the door to fraud via trafficked identity cards.

A decade of elections marked by violence, vote-rigging, disenfranchisement, and repeated foreign interventions have dashed the high hopes of the post-Duvalier years and bred a deep disillusionment with democracy, according to the report. Paradoxically, falling participation rates have occurred alongside massive investments by the international community in Haiti’s electoral apparatus. Brian Concannon Jr., Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), notes, “the millions spent by the United States and other Core Group countries on democracy promotion programs have produced an electoral system that is weaker, less trusted and more exclusionary than what came before.”

The report also explains the lack of female political participation as another crisis.  “Only four legislators out of 149 seats are women,” Phillips remarks. “With so few women candidates on the ballots, politics continue to reflect a man’s domain, as reflected in an even lower voter turnout for women (35.67 percent female voters, compared with 64.33 male).” The report notes that women’s and human rights organizations warn that this “catastrophic” lack of representation will have enormous consequences for Parliament; there will be no way of assuring that the needs and interests of women will be taken into account with such a small representation.

President Moïse’s swearing-in will mark a return to constitutional rule after a several-year long hiatus, but there are concerns that he will follow in the undemocratic footsteps of his predecessor. President Michel Martelly surrounded himself with figures tied to the former Duvalier dictatorship and drew criticism from human rights defenders for intimidating journalists and illegally imprisoning opposition political activists.

“With a majority in parliament, the temptation for President Moïse to run roughshod over any opposition will be great,” said Concannon. “But with the backing of only 9.6 percent of registered voters, the incoming president will face serious limits to his popular mandate.” President Moïse is under investigation for money laundering, and has proposed a number of controversial measures, including reviving the Haitian Army and launching ten agricultural free trade zones. The report also notes serious doubts about democratic credentials of many senators and deputies, who owe their seats more to the violence, disruptions and fraud of the 2015 elections that put them into office than to the will of Haitian voters.

The NLG-IADL report calls on the Haitian authorities to clean up electoral lists, eliminate electoral card trafficking, end impunity for electoral violence and fraud, and increase women’s participation in politics.

The NLG and IADL November 2015 report calling for an independent investigation to address widespread allegations of fraud is available at: https://www.nlg.org/nlg-and-iadl-election-observers-establish-flaws-in-haitis-october-25-vote-call-for-independent-investigation/. Also check out their September 2016 report, which details the lack of independence and bias of international observer missions in the 2015 elections, available at: http://www.ijdh.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Democracy-Discouraged-NLG-Report-091916.pdf.

 

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POUR DIFFUSION IMMEDIATE

Contact: Nicole Phillips, Esq., Avocate, Institute pour la Justice & Démocratie en Haïti (IJDH),      Nicole@ijdh.org, +001 510 715 2855

Rapport: Faiblesses Inquiétantes du Système Electoral Ebranlent le Retour de la règle Constitutionnelle en Haïti

(Port-au-Prince, Haïti, 6 Février 2017) – La veille de l’inauguration du Président-élu Jovenel Moïse, un nouveau rapport par des observateurs juridiques internationaux dispute que les institutions démocratiques d’Haïti souffrent d’une profonde crise de confiance. Un faible taux de participation, la privation des droits des électeurs et les préoccupations persistantes au sujet de la fraude soulèvent des questions troublantes quant à l’ampleur du mandat du nouveau président, selon le rapport intitulé Démocratie Non-Représentative d’Haïti: Exclusion et Désillusion dans les Elections du 20 Novembre.

Le rapport note que, malgré de nombreuses améliorations au niveau de la sécurité et de l’administration électorale au cours des élections de 2015, le taux de participation de 21% est le taux de participation le plus bas des élections nationales dans l’hémisphère occidental depuis 1945. «Beaucoup d’Haïtiens n’ont pas voté; non pas parce qu’ils n’ont pas voulu, mais parce qu’ils étaient incapables en raison des difficultés d’obtenir des cartes électorales, s’inscrire pour voter et trouver leurs noms sur des listes électorales périmées, » a déclaré l’avocate Nicole Phillips, chef de délégation et co-auteur du rapport.

Le rapport indique combien d’électeurs potentiels ont été privés du droit de vote le 20 Novembre, en raison d’erreurs omniprésentes dans les listes électorales, des difficultés d’accéder aux cartes d’identité et de manque d’éducation électorale. Egalement, les autorités électorales haïtiennes n’ont pas pris les mesures adéquates contre le vote frauduleux. Avant l’élection, le chef de l’Office National d’Identification (ONI) a admis que 2,4 millions de cartes activées mais non distribuées avaient disparus, ce qui a ouvert la porte à la fraude commise par des cartes d’identités trafiquées.

Une décennie d’élections marquées par la violence, le gréement des votes, la privation des droits, et les interventions étrangères répétées ont jeté les grands espoirs des années post-Duvalier et élevé une profonde désillusion avec la démocratie, selon le rapport. Paradoxalement, la baisse des taux de participation s’est produite parallèlement aux investissements massifs de la communauté internationale dans l’appareil électoral Haïtien. Brian Concannon Jr., Directeur Exécutif de l’Institut pour la Démocratie et la Justice en Haïti, note que « les millions dépensés par les États-Unis et d’autres pays du « Core Group » sur les programmes de promotion de la démocratie ont produit un système électoral plus faible, moins fiable et plus exclusif qu’avant. »

Le rapport explique aussi le manque de participation politique des femmes comme une autre crise. « Seules quatre législateurs sur 149 sièges sont des femmes, » remarque Phillips. « Avec si peu des femmes candidates sur les bulletins de vote, la politique continue de refléter le domaine d’un homme, comme en témoigne une participation encore plus faible des électeurs pour les femmes (35,67% d’électrices, contre 64,33% électeurs). » Le rapport note que les organisations de défense des droits humains et des femmes ont avertis que ce manque de représentation «catastrophique» aura d’énormes conséquences pour le Parlement; il n’y aura aucun moyen d’assurer que les besoins et les intérêts des femmes seront pris en compte avec une représentation aussi faible.

L’assermentation du Président Moïse marquera le retour à la règle constitutionnelle après une pause de plusieurs années, mais il existe des inquiétudes qu’il suivra les traces antidémocratiques de son prédécesseur. L’ex Président Michel Martelly s’est entouré de personnalités liées à l’ancienne dictature de Duvalier et a été critiqué par les défenseurs des droits humains pour avoir intimidé des journalistes et emprisonné illégalement des activistes politiques de l’opposition.

« Avec une majorité au parlement, la tentation pour le Président Moïse de se déchaîner sur toute opposition sera énorme, » a déclaré Concannon. « Mais avec le support de seulement 9,6% des électeurs, le nouveau président affrontera d’énormes limites à son mandat populaire. » Le Président Moïse fait l’objet d’une enquête pour blanchiment d’argent et a proposé un certain nombre des mesures controversées, y compris la relance de l’armée haïtienne et le lancement de dix zones de libre-échange agricole. Le rapport note également des sérieux doutes quant aux pouvoirs démocratiques de nombreux sénateurs et députés, qui doivent leur place à la violence, aux perturbations et à la fraude des élections de 2015 qui les ont mises en place plutôt qu’à la volonté des électeurs Haïtiens.

Le rapport de la Guilde des Avocats Nationaux et l’Association Internationale des Avocats Démocratiques appelle les autorités Haïtiennes à nettoyer les listes électorales, à éliminer le trafic des cartes électorales, à mettre fin à l’impunité pour la violence électorale et la fraude, et à accroître la participation des femmes à la vie politique.

Le rapport de Novembre 2015 de NLG et IADL demandant une enquête indépendante pour traiter les allégations répandues de fraude est ici: https://www.nlg.org/nlg-and-iadl-election-observers-establish-flaws-in-haitis-october-25-vote-call-for-independent-investigation/. Consultez également leur rapport de Septembre 2016, qui détaille le manque d’indépendance et le parti pris des missions internationales d’observation aux élections de 2015: http://www.ijdh.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Democracy-Discouraged-NLG-Report-091916.pdf.

 

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Press Conference with Mother of 2 Peacekeeper Babies | Konferans pou laprès yon manman 2 pitit “casques bleus”

February 6, 2017 - 05:50
Press Conference with a mother of 2 children United Nations peacekeepers abandoned in Haiti

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux
February 2017
Hats off to all of the media who is present at this press conference, and to Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) for the legal support it is giving me and the other mother who are victims in the case of children who MINUSTAH soldiers conceived and then abandoned in Haiti.

The object of this press conference is to ask the Haitian State, which signed the accord for MINUSTAH to come stay in the country, to help me receive child support for the two children a MINUSTAH soldier left me to take care of, even though I don’t even have two pennies to rub together.

My name is Beatrice Germain and I am living in Jeremie, which is in the Grand Anse department of Haiti. Since 2011, a MINUSTAH soldier in the military contingent of “ALFA” which was in Jeremie got me pregnant and left me empty-handed with two kids to take care of for him.

I went through a lot when I was pregnant, because the man had already left the country. After two and a half years, UN authorities came and asked me to take a DNA test, which I did. According to them, the result was positive. To this day, I haven’t gotten any results from them because what they told me was all words and no actions. And the object of the DNA test was supposed to be giving all of the mothers jobs so that they could respond to their children’s needs.

After three years, they called me and gave me a little job, where I had a nine-month contract. The contract ended and they did not renew it and the job told me it’s because the United States doesn’t want them to give jobs to mothers who were abandoned with children of MINUSTAH soldiers. And there’s even an African in the MINUSTAH office in Jeremie who said a lot of bad things to me because I was asking for an explanation of why the contract wasn’t renewed. In addition, they didn’t give me any more aid and one of my two children had a seizure which sometimes comes as epilepsy when he doesn’t eat. The doctor told me to do a scan for him but I don’t have the means to do it. I don’t have two pennies to rub together.

In this sense, since the largest MINUSTAH base in Port-au-Prince snubbed me and the one in Jeremie snubbed me, I am going to the press to ask the State authority who signed and always signs the accord for MINUSTAH to stay in the country: What will they do for me and the two children the MINUSTAH soldier left on my hands? The children can’t eat, they can’t go to school, one is sick and I can’t take care of him, and I have been sleeping on the street in Jeremie with them in the rain since Hurricane Matthew. So I don’t know which saint to pray to anymore because I am tired, I’m weak, I can’t take it anymore.

That is why I will end by asking the authorities and all of the compatriots who are listening to me: Help me because I need to do a $250 scan for my son and I don’t have the means for that. MINUSTAH tells me it is my problem. I am asking the Haitian State to help me so I can get child support from the Uruguayan MINUSTAH soldier who is the father of my two children.

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Konferans pou laprès youn manman 2 pitit « casques bleus » Nasyon Zini yo bandonnen an Ayiti

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux
Fevriye 2017
Mwen wete chapo m byen ba pou m salye tout medya ki prezan nan konferans pou laprès sa, epi Biwo Avoka Entènasyonal yo (BAI) pou sipò jiridik yap ban mwen ak lòt manman viktim yo nan kad dosye timoun sòlda Minista fè epi bandonnen nan peyi a.

Objektif konferans pou laprès sa : se pou mande Leta Ayisyen ki siyen akò pou Minista te vini epi rete nan peyi a, akonpayman pou m jwenn pansyon alimantè pou 2 pitit yon  sòlda Minista lage nan menm pou m okipe pou li, alòske m pap leve ni lou ni lejè e menm dlo mwen pa ka bat pou fè bè.
Non mwen se Beatrice Germain,  mwen ap viv nan vil jeremi ki twouve kò l nan depatman grandans peyi a. Depi lane 2011, yon sòlda Minista  kontenjan militè «  ALFA » ki te nan Jeremi ansent  mwen epi lage m 2 bwa balanse ak 2 pitit pou m okipe pou li.

Mwen te fè anpil demach pendan mwen te ansent lan, paske mesye a te gentan kite peyi a. Sou 2 zan edmi, responsab Nasyonzini yo te vin mande m fè ADN e  mwen te fè l. Daprè sa yo te di m, rezilta a te pozitif. Jis kounya mwen poko jwenn okenn rezilta nan men yo paske se nan bouch, responsab yo te di m sa. E objektif ADN nan se te pou bay tout manman timoun yo travay, yon mannyè  pou yo te ka  reponn ak bezwen timoun yo.

Aprè 3 zan, yo te relem yo banm yon ti djòb, kote m te gen yon kontra 9 mwa. Kontra a vin fini e yo pa t renouvle l paske travay la di m Etazini pa vle yo bay manman pititit sòlda Minista bandonnen yo travay. E gen menm yon Afriken nan biwo Minista jeremi an ki di m anpil pawòl malsen poutèt mwen tap mande eksplikasyon sou kontra a ki pat renouvle a. Anplis,  yo pa banm okenn èd ankò, e mwen gen youn nan 2 timoun yo ki fè yon kriz ki konn pranl sou fòm epilepsi, lè li pa manje. Medsen di pou m fè yon eskanè pou li, men mwen pa gen mwayen pou m fè l. mwen pa gen rele, mwen pa gen reponn; menm dlo mwen pa ka bat pou m fè bè.

Nan sans sa, kòm pi gwo baz Minista nan pòtoprens lan boude m, baz li ki nan jeremi an boude m, mwen pran chimen laprès pou m mande otorite nan leta a ki te siyen e ki toujou siyen akò pou Minista rete nan Peyi a : kisa yap fè pou mwen ak 2 pitit sòlda Minista a lage nan menm yo? Timoun yo pa ka manje, yo pa ka al lekòl,  youn malad e m pa ka pran swen l, mwen ap dòmi nan lari anba lapli nan jeremi ak yo apre siklòn Matye. Kidonk, m pa konn ki sen pou m rele ankò paske m bouke, m pèdi fòs, m pa kapab ankò.

Pou rezon sa, map  fini pou m mande otorite yo ak tout konpatriyòt kap tande m yo : ede m paske mwen dwe fè  yon eskanè 250 dola vèt pou ti gason m nan e mwen pa gen mwayen pou sa. MINUSTAH di m sa se pwoblèm pa m. Map mande leta Ayisyen  akonpaye m,  pou m ka jwenn pansyon alimantè nan men  sòlda MINUSTAH ki soti nan peyi « Uruguey » ki papa 2 pitit mwen yo.

Cholera in Haiti and UN Liability Panel [Video+Article]

February 5, 2017 - 12:13

IJDH Board member Ira Kurzban participated in an esteemed panel on cholera in Haiti and United Nations accountability for causing the epidemic. Since the start of the epidemic in 2010, over 9,000 Haitians have died and over 800,000 have had cholera and the epidemic is still not under control. While then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized for not doing enough to stop the epidemic, Dr. Cadet (one of the panelists) made it clear that “the battle is far from being over.” Though the case against the United Nations may be over in court for now, it continues on the streets through advocacy and spreading the word so the fight for cholera continues until the UN ends the epidemic once and for all.

A partial write-up about the panel is below. Here is the full text.

UN immunity beats back legal claims by Haitian cholera victims, battle continues

American Bar Association

February 4, 2017

Despite a significant legal setback last summer, the fight for reparations for victims of Haiti’s cholera epidemic continues.

Four lawyers and a physician agreed during a panel discussion that the battle has been difficult and disappointing, but they will continue to seek improvements to the nation’s sanitary systems and payments from the United Nations for those who have suffered.

“The battle is far from being over,” said Dr. Joseph Pierre-Paul Cadet of the Polyclinique de West Palm Beach. “We have to keep on fighting for those unfortunate people of Haiti.”

More than 9,000 Haitians have died from cholera and more than 800,000 have been infected since the outbreak, which is still not under control, began in 2010. Experts believe the epidemic began when U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal arrived in Haiti to help with earthquake recovery efforts. The experts say some peacekeepers brought cholera with them, and it spread to Haitians when sewage from the peacekeepers’ camp spilled into a local river.

 

Full write-up about the panel here.

A video of the panel is here.