Three lawyers in Haiti are reporting an increase of threats and intimidation against them in recent months. They believe they may be targeted for their activism and criticisms against the Haitian government.
On 28 September, the Chief Prosecutor of Port-au-Prince, Jean Renel Sénatus, was interviewed at local radio station, where he discussed his dismissal by the Ministry of Justice because he refused to implement a ministerial order to arrest 36 political opponents. It is not clear on which grounds these arrests had been ordered. The Ministry of Justice denied having given such orders.
Among the 36 political opponents were the names of lawyers Mario Joseph, Newton St-Juste and André Michel. Mario Joseph is a prominent human rights lawyer who is involved in sensitive judicial cases such as proceedings against former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, complaints against the UN for their alleged involvement in spreading the cholera epidemic in Haiti, and cases of forced evictions of people made homeless after the earthquake. As head of the International Lawyers Office (Bureau des Avocats Internationaux), he addressed the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights last July, requesting to visit Haiti to investigate human rights violations. Newton St-Juste and André Michel, also lawyers, recently filed criminal grievances against the wife and the son of the President of the Republic of Haiti for corruption and embezzlement of public funds.
Mojes, a cholera victim who spent five days in the hospital to survive the diarrheal bacterium, and the UN, a conglomeration of 193 countries that will spend $793 million on MINUSTAH this year, might appear to be a mismatch. But Mojes is not alone.
With over 7,000 dead and annual epidemics after the rainy season, more than 15,000 cholera-affected Haitians joined together to file a legal complaint against the UN on November 3, 2011. The case asserts that UN troops from Nepal brought cholera to Haiti when their sewage contaminated a tributary of the Artibonite River in October 2010. Asked what he hopes for from the case, Mojes said, “Make the damages better.”
Now, seven months after the complaint was filed, their case sits idle because the UN denies responsibility for bringing cholera to the country. So, where will Mojes and his fellow Haitians go now? When it comes to the largest international organization in the world, one built on the shoulders of almost every country in the world, there is no appeals court: there is no higher governing body.
Baseball in the Time of Cholera is a powerful 29-minute documentary that tells the true story of 14 year-old Joseph Alvyns and the ways in which the cholera epidemic changed his young life forever. Baseball also prominently features BAI’s managing attorney, Mario Joseph’s tireless work to achieve justice for victims of cholera. This film will bring Haitians’ fight for justice to the world stage.
By making this film freely available online, our partners at Ryot, led by Directors David Darg and Bryn Mooser and Executive Producer, actress Olivia Wilde, are igniting a global campaign to share the message with as many people as possible: it’s time for the UN to “UNdeny.”
Ryot decided to feature our work in their film because they recognized that the fight for justice is an essential part of the solution to Haiti’s cholera epidemic. As IJDH supporters, you are an important part of this opportunity. Social media is changing the face of advocacy, and showing the UN that huge numbers of people support our clients’ fight.
The film includes many good moments with Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon.
One of the important points that Concannon makes in the film is that the UN is quick to find funding for an elaborate and long-term MINUSTAH presence in Haiti, but that it’s comparatively sluggish about finding funding to halt the spread of a disease that it caused.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the IJDH takes donations to support their case to hold the UN accountable for its role in the cholera epidemic. Sadly, the IJDH is not a registered charity in Canada, so Canadians can’t get a tax deduction. But the IJDH’s work is incredibly important and they can use anything you can offer.
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-541-263 0029 (English, French, Creole)
Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti), email@example.com, +509 3701-9878 (French, Creole, English)
Monday, March 5, 2012
Boston, Port-au-Prince — In a statement to the United Nations (UN) Security Council last week, U.S. Permanent Representative Susan Rice stressed the importance of UN accountability for its role in bringing cholera to Haiti, calling on the UN to “redouble its efforts to prevent any further incidents of this kind and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.”
The UN has not accepted responsibility for the outbreak despite extensive evidence, including by the UN’s own panel of experts, that cholera was brought to Haiti by troops from the UN peace-keeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and introduced into Haiti’s largest river system through negligent waste disposal practices. The epidemic has killed over 7,000 Haitians and sickened over 500,000 since October 2010. It is expected to worsen as the rainy season begins. Continue reading Press Release: Human Rights Groups Applaud U.S. Call for UN Accountability for Haiti Cholera
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) sharply criticized Haiti’s current and former governments for their treatment of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune in its first-ever case involving Haiti. It found Haiti responsible for violating 11 different provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights and ordered the government to pay Mr. Neptune $95,000 in damages and costs.
For Immediate Release
Contact outside Haiti: Brian Concannon, Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti 541-432-0597, 541-263-0029 (U.S.), brian [at] ijdh.org
Contact in Haiti: Mario Joseph, Esq., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, + 509 3701-9879, mariohaiti [at] aol.com
Inter-American Court of Human Rights Declares Haiti is Violating Former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune’s Human RIghts; Orders $95,000 in Damages and Costs
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 10, 2008—The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) sharply criticized Haiti’s current and former governments for their treatment of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune in its first-ever case involving Haiti. It found Haiti responsible for violating 11 different provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights and ordered the government to pay Mr. Neptune $95,000 in damages and costs.