International Human Rights Hearing on Rape Epidemic in Haiti, March 25, 2011

International Human Rights Hearing on Rape Epidemic in Haiti

Wednesday, March 23, New York, NY--This Friday, petitioners MADRE, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), CUNY School of Law and Women’s Link Worldwide will testify before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, DC on the crisis of sexual violence in Haiti.

In October, the aforementioned group of advocates and attorneys submitted a legal petition to the IACHR, calling for immediate action to address the epidemic of rape in Haiti’s displacement camps (see attached document). In response, the IACHR issued a call for urgent “precautionary measures” to protect women and girls in the camps. As an IACHR member state, the Haitian government is legally obligated to uphold this ruling. These measures include the installation of lighting, the provision of security and the inclusion of grassroots women’s voices in policy-making spaces.

At this Friday’s hearing, the petitioners will underscore the constant threat of sexual violence faced by women and girls in Haiti’s displacement camps and the need for immediate implementation of the IACHR’s recommendations. They will highlight the need for the international community to support the capacity of the Haitian government to meet its human rights obligations. Malya Villard-Appolon, Marie Eramithe Delva and Jocie Philistin, representatives of KOFAVIV, a grassroots Haitian women’s organization founded by and for rape survivors, will participate in this hearing.

This hearing is open to the public. Date of Hearing: Friday, March 25, 2011, Time: 9am-10am. Location: 1889 F Street NW, Washington, DC, Rubén Darío Room (8th floor, GSB).

Malya Appolon-Villard, co-founder of KOFAVIV, said, “Every day, we see women and girls who have been raped. They have no protection in the camps, and their attackers go unpunished. The IACHR’s binding decision for the Haitian government is a first step, and we are ready to work with the IACHR and all of our international partners to ensure that the Haitian government fulfills these demands.”

Lisa Davis, MADRE Human Rights Advocacy Director and Adjunct Professor of Law for the International Women's Human Rights Clinic at CUNY Law School, said, “The situation for women and girls living in displacement camps remains dire. The IACHR decision was triggered by the demands of grassroots Haitian women, and now the international community must commit to support the Haitian government in its implementation.”

Annie Gell, Coordinator of the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project (RAPP) at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, applauded the IACHR for its decisive precautionary measures. “The BAI and its US-affiliate, IJDH, now call on the Haitian government and international community to fully commit to increased cooperation with and support of grassroots Haitian groups and their allies. This must include support for domestic prosecutions of rapists through initiatives in Haiti like the BAI's RAPP initiative. Together, we can end this nightmare.”

Katherine Romero, Staff Attorney for Women’s Link Worldwide, said, “The Inter-American Commission is setting a global precedent by ensuring the rights of victims of sexual violence in contexts of natural disaster and humanitarian emergencies are being duly protected. We expect the rest of the international community to join in.”

CONTACT: Stephanie Küng, MADRE (212) 627-0444, media@madre.org. You can listen to the testimonials at the IACHR hearing here: http://ijdh.org/archives/18086.

A 121-page legal petition submitted to the IACHR in October 2010 is attached to this report, web link here:
http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/content/international-human-rights-hearing-rape-epidemic-haiti-march-25-2011. This report was the basis for the January 4, 2011 decision of the IAHCR issuing orders to the Haitian government to take measures to protect women and children from dangers of sexual violence: http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/content/one-report-one-legal-decision-victims-sexual-violence-0.

The videos of the March 25, 2011 hearing will subsequently be posted on the IACHR website, and high-resolution copies will be available upon request.



Grassroots Groups Present Counter-Perspective on Haiti’s Human Rights Record
Haitian Groups Participate in First Ever Universal Periodic Review


Contact: Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, mario@ijdh.org, +509-3701-9879 (Haiti; Creole, French); Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, beatrice@ijdh.org, +509-3610-2847 (Haiti; English); Nicole Phillips, Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, nicole@ijdh.org, +1-510-715-2855 (U.S.; English, French, Spanish).

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 24, 2011— A coalition of 58 Haitian grassroots groups, internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, human rights organizations, and academic institutions presented a set of 13 reports on human rights in Haiti to the U.N. Human Rights Council this week as a part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

The coalition’s reports covered issues ranging from violations of the right to vote and violence against women to the responsibility to implement a rights-based approach throughout Haiti’s rebuilding after the earthquake. They are designed to provide the Human Rights Council the perspective of civil society as it conducts its review of Haiti’s record from now until the final hearings in October 2011. The reports are available at: http://ijdh.org/projects/universal-periodic-review-upr.

“As a Haitian, I felt it was my responsibility to participate in the UPR process in order to shed light on the human rights situation in Haiti, specifically the right to education. The Haitian Government has failed to meet its obligation to protect human rights and this process is a tool to use to pressure the Government to play a more active role in realizing human rights,” said Esaie Gelin Jules who runs a school in Solino, a poor neighborhood Port-au-Prince, and submitted a report on the right to education.

Collectively, the reports make 147 recommendations to the Government of Haiti and members of the international community active in Haiti on concrete steps they should take to improve human rights over the next four years, when Haiti will be reviewed again.

“While the UPR mechanism focuses on the Government’s duty to recognize and protect the human rights of Haitians, a discussion of rights in Haiti must also include the responsibility of donor countries and international actors that have played a large role in the country, both before and after the January 12 earthquake.” said Nicole Phillips, Staff Attorney at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).

The recommendations will be presented to Haiti at a hearing before the Human Rights Council in October, where the government will explain its actions and policies. The government will be expected to publicly state which recommendations it agrees to implement.

The UPR was established in 2006, and provides an unprecedented mechanism to publicly review UN member states’ human rights records. Haiti is the last country to be reviewed in the first cycle, and the government is obliged to consult with civil society as it develops its own report on its enforcement of human rights.

“The UPR provides a unique opportunity to engage with the Government on human rights, and we plan to advocate for meaningful consultation with civil society. The perspective of grassroots groups representing Haiti’s poor and displaced communities is particularly important, and we hope that the Government and Council will listen to their voices,” said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney at Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI).

The coalition of groups were coordinated by the Lawyer’s Earthquake Response Network (LERN), a network of 400 lawyers, law professors and students that came together after the earthquake to defend human rights in Haiti. LERN is led by the BAI in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and IJDH in Boston, MA.

Their efforts were supported by the U.S. Human Rights Network and You.Me.We, who provided training on the role of civil society in the UPR process.

For more information, visit ijdh.org.

IJDH is an approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

666 Dorchester Avenue | South Boston, MA 02127 | (617) 652-0876 | http://ijdh.org | info@ijdh.org
 

 

IJDH is an approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

666 Dorchester Avenue | South Boston, MA 02127 | (617) 652-0876 | http://ijdh.org | info@ijdh.org

Address postal inquiries to:
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
666 Dorchester Avenue
South Boston, MA 02127