While Haiti’s Poor Pay the Price: The UN and Haitian Government Each Want Impunity for Themselves

UN troops marching down a Haitian road. "The Haitian State waited six years, until just after the declaration of the UN Secretary General recognizing the UN’s responsibility in the introduction of cholera in Haiti, to make a public statement in favor of cholera victims.”

Port-au-Prince, March 5, 2018 – The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), who represent the victims of cholera imported by the United Nations Mission Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH), urge the Haitian government and the United Nations to set aside their diplomatic games in order to meet their legal obligations and respect the rights of the Haitian people, especially cholera victims.

Attorney Mario Joseph of the BAI encourages “the Haitian government to curb foreign interference in Haiti’s internal affairs,” while hoping that “the government does not use the cholera case for diplomatic purposes to hide corruption allegations of those close to President Jovenel Moïse and other former high ranking officials.”

MINUJUSTH is right to insist on an investigation into the squandering of PetroCaribe funds. But the UN will have no credibility to insist that Haiti respect the rule of law until it complies with its own legal obligations to a million victims of the UN’s cholera.

On Feb. 26, 2018, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) expressed a favorable opinion on the appointment of an investigating judge to a case involving the squandering of $3 billion that Haiti had received under an oil agreement with Venezuela (known as “PetroCaribe”), which implicated former senior state officials and close associates of President Moïse. In response, the Haitian government withdrew its ambassador to the UN and cancelled its participation in a high-level meeting on cholera at the UN in New York on Mar. 1 and 2, 2018. The meeting, which was to have been chaired by President Moïse and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and assisted by several donors, addressed the financing of water and sanitation systems to eliminate cholera in Haiti.

“The Haitian State waited six years, until just after the declaration of the UN Secretary General recognizing the UN’s responsibility in the introduction of cholera in Haiti, to make a public statement in favor of cholera victims” said Attorney Joseph. “So far, the government has taken no serious steps to ensure that the UN respects the rights of these victims. By contrast, this Haitian government took only two days to position itself firmly against MINUJUSTH’s note concerning the PetroCaribe issue”.

According to Joseph: “This is proof that the Haitian government is anti-national, serving the interests of the strongest to the detriment of the weak.”

“MINUJUSTH is right to insist on an investigation into the squandering of PetroCaribe funds,” said IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon. “But the UN will have no credibility to insist that Haiti respect the rule of law until it complies with its own legal obligations to a million victims of the UN’s cholera.”

Jovenel Moïse agreed to commit the Haitian government to the transformation of MINUSTAH into MINUJUSTH, disregarding the more than one million victims of cholera, as well as women victims of sexual abuse and exploitation who are still fighting for justice and reparations. As a result, MINUJUSTH damages not only Haiti’s image, but the dignity of the Haitian people, being an occupation force legitimized by the signature of Jovenel Moïse.

Attorney Joseph concludes: “The public confrontation between the Haitian government and MINUJUSTH is a diplomatic distraction because they both know that they are not credible to address the claims of cholera victims, the fight against corruption, or the massive repression perpetrated by National Police of Haiti (PNH) officers against Haitian civilians.”

            Therefore, Attorney Mario Joseph encourages “the Haitian people to continue their fight for social emancipation, understanding that the fight against corruption is a struggle for the recovery and reorientation of public spending for the benefit of human rights.”

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