Toronto Haiti Action Committee

Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

Toronto Haiti Action Committee - Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

In the News: Secrecy shrouds Canada’s role in Aristide’s ouster from Haiti

by Sue Montgomery. Originally printed in the Montreal Gazette February 28, 2014

MONTREAL — Ten years after Haiti’s first democratically elected president was removed from his country in the middle of the night and dumped in Africa, Canada’s role — and that of Montreal’s current mayor — has been shrouded in secrecy.

Aristide in South AfricaJean-Bertrand Aristide, the former priest from Haiti’s slums who is reviled by the elite minority and revered by the poor masses, claims to this day he was blindfolded and forced to sign a letter of resignation before being airlifted out and dropped in the Central African Republic.

The United States, Canada and France all claim he left voluntarily. They say they told Aristide that no one would come to help him — despite the trio’s signed commitment just four years earlier to do so — and that he, his family and supporters would be killed.

“In some ways, the competing stories are a distinction without a difference,” says Brian Concannon, a lawyer with the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “It is hard to say that in that situation he had a meaningful choice.”

It was another blow to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere — made destitute by two centuries of racism, greed, revenge and a series of inept and corrupt governments backed by the United States. The Caribbean nation, which shares an island with the better-off Dominican Republic, has had 22 constitutions since winning its freedom in 1804 and lived through 32 coups — 33, if one counts the 2004 ouster of Aristide.

Now, Haitians want an apology from Canada, and particularly Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

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In the News: A Hero in Haiti

by Pooja Bhatia. Originally posted at ozy.com

Mario Joseph of BAI

Mario Joseph of BAI

To know Mario Joseph is to wait for Mario Joseph. You will wait for him to return from a last-minute hearing, to stop barking into one of his two mobile phones, to wrap up a meeting that started an hour late. And you will wait because Joseph, managing attorney at the NGO Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, is the best human rights lawyer in Haiti, a country where human rights are honored mostly in the breach. From dawn till dusk, clients gather on his office’s bougainvillea-laced terrace: brave women going after rapists, homeless Haitians evicted from post-quake tent camps, cholera victims seeking reparations.

Joseph’s eyes are often red-rimmed from lack of sleep, but his suits are sharp, his ties are sumptuous and his shoes and fingernails are buffed till they shine. With his percussive Creole and typically stern countenance, Joseph can be intimidating. It’s easy to forget that he was raised in rural poverty by a single mother who couldn’t read, and that he managed to get a law degree only through a series of flukes and his own determination. If fate had had its way, Joseph would have been like the millions of Haitians who never attend school, never see a doctor and live on less than $2 per day.

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In the News: Testimony resumes in Haiti’s ‘Baby Doc’ case

by Evens Sanon. Originally posted at The Miami Herald

Nicole MagloirePORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Testimony in the high-profile case of former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier resumed Thursday, with another alleged victim describing abuses she says were committed under his rule.

Dr. Nicole Magloire told an appellate court about the broad influence wielded by the former leader known as “Baby Doc,” and the alleged violations associated with his 15-year government.

Duvalier “was declared supreme leader of all the armed forces in the country,” said Magloire, an opposition leader who fled into exile during that era. “He was in charge of the National Palace. He was in charge of the army. He was in charge of the country.”

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In the News: Haitians testify about prisons in ‘Baby Doc’ case

by Evens Sanon and Trenton Daniel, Associated Press. Originally posted at The Miami Herald

fort-dimanchePORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Two men testified before a three-judge appeals panel Thursday that they were imprisoned in ghastly conditions for months without charge under the government of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Agronomist Alix Fils-Aime described his time at the Fort Dimanche prison in the 1970s, saying most of the people held with him were tortured and killed.

“I was able to hear people being beaten, dragged in the hallway, and I could hear women screaming as they were being forced to have sexual relations with the guards,” he said.

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In the News: Haiti’s ‘Baby Doc’ summoned to court after no-show

by the Associated Press. Originally posted in the Boston Herald

Jean Claude Duvalier

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti–A Haitian judge on Thursday summoned Jean-Claude Duvalier to appear in court after the former dictator defied an order to attend a hearing to determine whether he should again face charges for human rights abuses committed during the nearly 15 years of his brutal regime. A prosecutor said the judge’s order requires Duvalier to appear in court next Thursday.

In an airless courtroom filled with human rights activists, journalists and other observers, magistrate Jean Joseph Lebrun also dismissed an appeal filed by the defense team that sought to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The rulings in Haiti’s Court of Appeal provided some hope to a group of plaintiffs who are seeking to have the former dictator better known as “Baby Doc” prosecutor for alleged rights abuses. “Today’s decision is an important victory for Duvalier’s victims who never gave up hope of seeing him in court, and for the Haitian people who have the right to know what happened during the dark years of the Duvalier dictatorship,” said Reed Brody, counsel and a spokesman for Human Rights Watch. “It’s now up to the authorities to make sure that this summons is swiftly executed.”

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Press Release: Court’s Order That Jean-Claude Duvalier Appear In Court Is Another Victory For The Victims

Press release from the IJDH.

Court’s order that Jean-Claude Duva­lier appear in court is another vic­tory for the victims

Baby Doc Duvalier returns to HaitiThe Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux (BAI), in its mis­sion to defend Haiti’s poor and the inalien­able rights inher­ent to all human beings, con­sid­ers the appel­late court’s reit­er­a­tion on Feb­ru­ary 7, 2013, of the sum­mons to Jean-Claude Duva­lier to per­son­ally appear in court another vic­tory for his victims.

Addi­tion­ally, this was the first time that the Court rec­og­nized Jean-Claude Duvalier’s sta­tus as the accused, so his per­son­nel appear­ance at a hear set for Feb­ru­ary 21, 2013, will be required or he risks arrest. Accord­ing to lawyer Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux, one of the victim’s lawyers, “the Court’s order is also a vic­tory for the vic­tims claim­ing civil dam­ages because the Court also con­firmed our stand­ing as civil claimants despite efforts from the lawyers for the accused to derail the process. Their strat­egy was to block Duva­lier from appear­ing before the court to be questioned.”

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