Recent Feature Articles

By Makini Brice, Reuters, August 19, 2016

A Haitian Senate report has called for charges to be brought against two former prime ministers and several ministers for alleged embezzlement, abuse of authority and forgery stemming from the use of funds in a Venezuelan oil loan program.

The executive summary of the report, dated Wednesday, said heads of ministries granted multimillion-dollar projects to firms while bypassing the public bidding process and signed contracts that were not under their authority. The full report has not been released.

The Senate report will add to concerns about billions of dollars of aid promised to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Much of the money went to directly to aid organizations, with results on the ground mostly unimpressive. Aid flows have slowed as memories of the devastation fade.

Venezuela's PetroCaribe program, by contrast, funneled money directly to the Haitian government’s coffers. The program, which Haiti joined in 2006, allowed Caribbean nations to pay low prices for oil from Venezuela, part of which would be financed upfront, with the balance put in a fund to finance social and economic projects.

By Stefan Labbé, OpenCanada, August 18, 2016

Canada’s military exports have come under increasing scrutiny over the past year, with criticism of the Canadian government’s rewording of human rights checks and, more recently, questions over deliveries to South Sudan and Libya.

As The Globe and Mail reported late last month, the Trudeau government recently released two years of data outlining the export of Canadian military goods to foreign buyers and, in a series of edits, quietly thinned its commitment to avoid deals overshadowed by shady human rights records.

New wording states Global Affairs Canada “may include” a previously required step of “wide-ranging consultations” meant to address human rights, international security and defence on any given deal. “The devil is in the details,” said Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of Project Ploughshares, a non-government organization that promotes disarmament and peace-building. “Every word matters in these things.”

The report follows the controversial $15 billion sale of over 900 light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia — a country with an abysmal human rights record aggravated by evidence suggesting it has used LAVs to not only quash dissent at home but in neighbouring Bahrain and Yemen as well.

By Jonathan M. Katz, New York Times, August 18, 2016

A United States federal appeals panel has upheld the argument that theUnited Nations cannot be sued in American courts, dealing a setback in a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of thousands of cholera victims inHaiti.

The ruling by the three-judge panel in New York was released on Thursday, a day after a spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged for the first time that the United Nations played a role in the outbreak, which killed thousands of people.

In the decision for the panel, Judge José A. Cabranes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit wrote that the United Nations did not lose its legal immunity even if it failed to give the plaintiffs a chance to seek a settlement, as required by an international convention.

By Jonathan M. Katz, New York Times, August 17, 2016

For the first time since a cholera epidemic believed to be imported by United Nations peacekeepers began killing thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago, the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the United Nations played a role in the initial outbreak and that a “significant new set of U.N. actions” will be needed to respond to the crisis.

The deputy spokesman for the secretary general, Farhan Haq, said in an email this week that “over the past year, the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.” He added that a “new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, August 10, 2016

(Parts two and three of a three part series)

Almost two years after the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d’état, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez had a 75-minute meeting with U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Patrick Duddy on Jan. 11, 2006.

“Fernandez inquired about the circumstances surrounding the death of Brazilian Army General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar,” reported U.S. Ambassador Hans Hertell in his Jan. 17, 2006 cable, classified “Secret,” on the meeting. Bacellar, the military chief of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), was found dead in his hotel room at the Montana Hotel on Jan. 7, 2006 with a bullet in his head. “Duddy confirmed that all indications pointed to suicide. Fernandez expressed skepticism. He had met General Bacellar; to him, suicide seemed unlikely for a  professional of Bacellar's caliber. Fernandez said he believes that there is a small group in Haiti dedicated to disrupting the elections and creating chaos; that this group had killed MINUSTAH members in the past (a Canadian and a Jordanian, and now the Brazilian General); and that there would be more violence against MINUSTAH forces as the election date approaches. The President said he knew of a case in which a Brazilian MINUSTAH member had killed a sniper.”

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, July 27, 2016

(The first of three articles)

Former “rebel” leader Guy Philippe and politician Evans Paul (Konpè Plim) are today leading the charge against interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert, playing much the same roles they did 15 years ago in the prelude to the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d’état against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

From 2001 to 2004, Philippe headed the opposition’s military wing, waging a guerrilla war, mostly from the Dominican Republic, against Aristide’s government with a few dozen “rebels” known officially as the Front for Liberation and National Reconstruction (FLRN). During the same time, Paul became a prominent leader of the U.S.-supported political opposition front known as the “Group of 184,” headed by assembly industry owners Andy Apaid, Jr. and Charles Henri Baker and backed by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Today, the Haitian government has issued a warrant for Philippe’s arrest following a deadly May 16 paramilitary attack on the Aux Cayes police headquarters, which killed one policeman and wounded five others. Philippe has publicly defied the warrant, mocking and taunting President Privert and the Haitian police in a radio and internet message.

By Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), July 28, 2016

37 Groups launch 5-part pledge on sexual exploitation and abuse, cholera

Thirty-seven civil society groups are calling on candidates for the next UN Secretary-General to take an Accountability Pledge that signals their commitment to building a more accountable and transparent United Nations.

“The next Secretary-General faces the challenge of ensuring that the UN responds justly when its peacekeepers and staff abuse or harm the very people they are sent to protect. We ask all candidates vying to become the UN’s next leader to commit to championing accountability by publicly taking this pledge,” said Beatrice Lindstrom, Staff Attorney with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, which advocates for remedies for victims of the UN’s cholera outbreak and was one of the groups to initiate the Accountability Pledge.

By Alex Boutilier & Kathleen Davis, The Toronto Star, July 30, 2016

The federal government is considering support for victims of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers after a damning UN report brought the number of Canadian offenders — whose names are being kept secret — to five, the Star has learned.

The news of potential victim support comes just days after it was revealed two Quebec provincial police officers retired before they faced disciplinary hearings for alleged sexual exploitation or abuse while on a UN mission in Haiti. By leaving, the officers avoided being disciplined by the force.

By Milo Milford, Haiti Liberté, July 20, 2016

On Jul. 25, Dominican Sen. Felix Bautista will testify before the Haitian Senate’s Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission in the context of its investigation of the management of Haiti’s Petrocaribe program. The Commission’s controversial President, Sen. Youri Latortue, of the Artibonite, a former advisor to former President Michel Martelly, announced the hearing on Jul. 18.

"We wrote different people, including Sen. Bautista, who is the CEO of the Dominican [construction] firms Hadom and ROFI,” Latortue said. “We received a response from Bautista, who requested a postponement of eight days. He replied and assured us that he will come."

Dominican firms and construction companies have received contracts for many projects financed by the Petrocaribe fund, which is a multi-billion-dollar, low-interest, long-term loan account made possible by the sale of Venezuelan oil products. The Senate Commission is investigating why and how many contracts signed with Dominican companies were breached or canceled by the Haitian government because the projects were abandoned or the companies were unable to complete the projects.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, July 13, 2016

Guy Philippe, the leader of the so-called “rebels” who helped overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, challenged Haiti’s interim President Jocelerme Privert to have his police force try to capture him.

“Everybody knows where I am,” Philippe taunted Privert in a nine-minute recorded audio statement distributed last weekend to radio stations and on the Internet. “Everyone knows that as I’m speaking to you, I’m at the Carib Hotel in Pestel. And if Privert doesn’t know the address, let me give the address. It’s across from the hospital in Pestel, by the National Highschool.... If Privert wants me, he can come get me.”