The Following is an appeal from Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the BAI.
My country of Haiti has a long history of fighting for justice. We won independence and emancipation in 1804 by beating the strongest military in the world, Napoleon’s army. We threw out the Duvaliers in 1986, and resisted the 1991 and 2004 coup d’état regimes.
But it is hard for us to fight injustice created by decisions made in New York, Washington and other cities far away. We can win those fights, but we need your help. We need solidarity from allies like you who can reach the seats of power, amplify Haitian voices, use the tools of your citizenship and help finance the fight.
This solidarity helped Haitians who have been killed and sickened by the United Nations’ cholera have their day in U.S. federal court earlier this month. The judges asked good questions about how the UN can claim immunity based on one treaty paragraph, while refusing to provide cholera victims the justice mechanisms required by another paragraph of the same treaty. The judges have not yet issued their decision, but their questions, and the courtroom packed with supportive Haitians, international law experts, human rights advocates and journalists promise that regardless of the decision, the UN is clearly walking towards the end of absolute immunity. The UN will be much better able to work towards its own mission as a defender of human rights once it is accountable.
In 1800, no one thought we could force Napoleon to give us freedom, and in 2011, no one thought we could force the UN to give us justice for introducing cholera. We beat Napoleon, and we are beating the UN, in the press, on the streets, in the UN Human Rights apparatus, in the U.S. Congress, in academia and on the internet.
We will win the final victory of obtaining compensation for the victims and the water and sanitation infrastructure to stop cholera, because we will not stop fighting until we do. Please join us: Help the BAI and IJDH spearhead this and other fights for justice with a heroic contribution.
BAI managing attorney
Mario Joseph has been referred to as “Haiti’s most prominent human rights lawyer” He the managing attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti since 1996. Mario Joseph and the BAI collaborate with the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). The IJDH are a partnership of Haitian and US human rights advocates, supporting the Haitian people in their grassroots struggle for a just system of law, a society without violence, social justice, and a democratic government.