Haiti’s Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.  It provides an opportunity for States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights.

Hait’s most recent periodic review occurred in 2011. The National Report document the prominent legal framework in Haiti and their application. A right to food, freedom of expression and further human rights concerns are reviewed.

Below is an excerpt:

Corruption 69. The use of public office for personal gain has existed on a worrying scale in Haiti for several years and has contributed significantly to the lack of respect for the rights of Haitians as a result of the misappropriation of certain resources. Aware of this situation, the Haitian authorities reacted by establishing, in 2004, an anti-corruption unit and by ratifying the United Nations and Inter-American conventions against corruption. This led to the arrest and indictment of two directors-general of autonomous public institutions in 2008 and 2011. H. The housing problem 70. The question of housing, already a serious problem, particularly in large towns, has loomed larger since the earthquake of 12 January 2010. Political instability, lack of urban planning and rural exodus have led to an increasing proliferation of shanty towns in the capital and main provincial cities. Established in the 1980s, the Public Enterprise for the Promotion of Social Housing (EPPLS) has built low-rent housing blocks in several communes, but in insufficient quantity because of its limited resources.

The housing problem 70. The question of housing, already a serious problem, particularly in large towns, has loomed larger since the earthquake of 12 January 2010. Political instability, lack of urban planning and rural exodus have led to an increasing proliferation of shanty towns in the capital and main provincial cities. Established in the 1980s, the Public Enterprise for the Promotion of Social Housing (EPPLS) has built low-rent housing blocks in several communes, but in insufficient quantity because of its limited resources.


Read about the Transnational Legal Clinic who took responsibility for drafting a report on labor rights to be used in Haiti’s UPR:





What are the legal ramifications for having no home country? and I don’t mean this in the mystifying way exhibited in Games of Thrones character, Arya Stark.

“More than 40,000 people – including several hundred unaccompanied children — have been deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti between August 2015 and May 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Haitian civil society organizations.”


These deportations have left these persons stateless.

A stateless person is someone who, under national laws, does not enjoy citizenship – the legal bond between a government and an individual – in any country. While some people are de jure or legally stateless persons (meaning they are not recognized as citizens under the laws of any state), many people are de facto or effectively stateless persons (meaning they are not recognized as citizens by any state even if they have a claim to citizenship under the laws of one of more states.)


International legal instruments related to statelessness include:

• 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 15


• 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons

• 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

• 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 24

• 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 7

• 1997 European Convention on Nationality


The 1954 Convention entered into force on June 6, 1960 provides the definition of a “stateless person” and is the foundation of the international legal framework to address statelessness.

The 1961 Convention is the leading international instrument that sets rules for the conferral and non-withdrawal of citizenship to prevent statelessness.

The Dominican Republic is not a signatory to this treatise and neither is Haiti.

The Documentary: STATELESS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLICtells the stories of statelessness in the Dominican Republic and issues along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.


DriButts launched the #StopTheCrap Movement to raise awareness and funds to help reduce the amount of children that die from fecal related diseases and has been at work in Haiti. This is especially relevant in Haiti as there have been calls for increased regulation and enforcement of local and federal waste laws. (See Haiti in the Time of Trash, available at http://revista.drclas.harvard.edu/book/haiti-time-trash).  Products such as these, alongside government efforts, will assist in the progress of waste management and reduction of the health and environmental concerns that follow behind excessive and improper waste disposal.

They are achieving this goal through the use of cloth diapers. These cloth diapers are hi-tech and highly absorbent, using bamboo material. Bamboo cloth diaper inserts are very soft and are known to quickly heal diaper rash. Cloth diapers are also helpful in eliminating plastic diaper waste. 

This is no news to crunchy mothers in the United States who have chosen to use cloth diapers to also save money. The diapers are an investment that can be shared from child to child when washed and cared for properly.

Dributts diaper works in extreme environments with hot climates and where there is no running water or electricity. It is breathable and lightweight, allowing air to flow. It absorbs urine and wicks away moisture.

“The bamboo insert has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, so it helps prevent infection. It is adjustable and designed to fit a newborn through age two, and it may fit a small three years old. The diaper can be washed in a bucket with soap and water and should be hung up to dry. The outer shell dries in about twenty minutes and the insert dries in about forty-five minutes. The diaper is reusable and lasts the baby through three years of age and, it can be used for multiple babies.”




Disability Law in Haiti

 Tweeted that the “Murders of 3 deaf women highlights vulnerability of disabled in Haiti, where stigma & superstition isolates many.”



Haiti’s first Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities was created in 2012,  following the earthquake.

Secretary Oriol, who himself has overcome muscular dystrophy, was graduated Cum Laude from the University of Florida, completed a Master of Liberal Arts degree with a concentration in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University, and ran for congress in Haiti in 2006. He is the personification of rising above one’s physical limitations. Drawing on his own experiences, the Secretary is looking to implement initiatives to provide education, employment opportunities and the necessary assistance services to ensure that this group of Haitians is not left behind. Working with his team as well as the Ministries of Labor, Education, Health, and Public Works, the Secretary will institute a diverse set of programs, including collaborating with:

  • The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor to develop access to employment, as well as directly with the private sector in Haiti;
  • The Ministry of Education to advocate for better access for persons with disabilities to specialized facilities and to mainstream schools;
  • The Ministry of Public Health to ensure that individuals whose disability requires care have access to needed services;
  • The Ministry of Public Works to ensure that accessibility is a priority during the reconstruction period;


Haiti has had the “Loi sur les invalides” or “Law of the disabled,” since the 26th of April 1808.

The ministry recently made a joint venture for funding from Digicel:

“Le Bureau du Secrétaire d’Etat à l’Intégration des Personnes Handicapées vient de signer un Protocole d’Accord avec la Fondation Digicel pour le financement d’un ou de plusieurs projets à hauteur de 30 000 dollars américains.”

” The Secretary of State for the Integration of Handicapped Persons has signed an accord with the Foundation Digicel for 30,000 american dollars in financing.”

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Further information on the killings is available at the link below (David McFadden’s Article). David McFadden is a “Caribbean reporter and editor, among other things. News tips on region, particularly Haiti, are welcome.” You can email David at dmcfadden@ap.org


Digicel Initiative


Interview with Honorable Secretary Oriol:


Garden of Eden



“Community, school and employer-sponsored gardens play an important role in improving health and reducing obesity.  Gardens increase access to fresh vegetables, provide opportunities for physical activity, teach both adults and children about the origins of their food, and promote healthier eating behaviors.  As gardening opportunities increase, advocates must often address legal and policy issues that affect the development and maintenance of gardens.  These issues include access to water, composting efforts, land use planning and zoning considerations, liability issues, and the organizational structure of the gardens.

Haiti has it own community garden.

Daniel Tillias, co-founded SAKALA in 2002 with 9 other young people in an effort to promote peace, reconciliation, tolerance and truth for a new Haiti.

The Community Centre for Peace Alternatives (Kreyol acronym is SAKALA) leads the Garden of Hope. The produce from the garden is used by the locals and the rest is sold at market.

Mr. Tillias worked as a law trainee in one of the most prominent law firms in Haiti (that represented the victims of the 1991 coup in Haiti) and attended a University of Pittsburg legal exchange program.  Daniel left law school amidst violent uprisings in Cite Soleil, to focus on building his organization.  He created a program to promote peacebuilding and to benefit the less fortunate, especially children and youth. While a director at Pax Christi Ayiti, Daniel introduced sports as a means of peacebuilding, through the SAKALA youth empowerment program, which now incorporates athletics, agronomy, and educational activities for 250 youth from different neighborhoods in Cite Soleil.  Daniel is a well-respected community leader and the recipient of several awards for his peace efforts.

Read an interview of Mr. Tillias at augustadwyer.com

Photo: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/08/world/americas/urban-oasis-offers-hope-haiti/


Comcast Brings Gains in Digital Literacy for Boston’s Haitian Community

Digital literacy is a pervasive problem in American society still, even though iPhones and other smart devices seem to be increasingly the norm. In particular, digital literacy is more of a problem in poorer communities, and communities with large immigrant populations. President Obama has pointed this out in July of 2015 with the ConnectHome initiative.

The ConnectHome Initiative seeks to “reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home.” This is certainly not just a federal program but also one that uses “[i]nternet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector [to provide] . . . broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.”

Seemingly, a program started by Comcast’s senior vice president, Steve Hackley, about three years ago in Boston, Massachusetts, was ahead of the game. As the story goes, Mr. Hackley spurred a relationship with a non-profit in an under-serviced area of Boston, with a large Haitian immigrant population when he bought lunch for his sales and marketing employee Bukia Louis Chalvire. Chalvire was head of a local non-profit called the Mattapan/Greater Boston Technology Learning Center, dedicated to the needs of the Haitian community. More specifically, Mattapan sought to “bridge the digital divide and bring technology to people in the community, many of whom did not have access to internet in their homes.”

After speaking to representatives from Comcast about the needs of the particularized needs of the Haitian community and Mattapan, an “enduring” partnership arose:

Today, Mattapan Tech annually offers free and low-cost training and job placement to about 1,200 adults of all ages from 14 ethnic backgrounds – about 40 percent with Caribbean heritage. As an Internet Essentials partner, Mattapan Tech has so far provided about 50 digital literacy training sessions for about 750 students. In addition, Comcast helped air public service announcements about Mattapan classes and the availability of Internet Essentials to the community.

Clearly, gains have been made towards the aims inherent in President Obama’s ConnectHome initiative, and the Haitian community has been among the winners.

To read more about Chalvire’s story and Comcast’s partnership click here for the original article.


Magdala is a second year law student at the University of Illinois College of Law. She is the first generation of her family to be born in the United States!

The Time to Act is Now: Drone Delivery Systems in Haiti and Lessons from the Developing World

In light of recent discussions over the cholera epidemic and a pending class action law suit against the U.N. for “bringing cholera to Haiti,” this necessitates a discussion of preventative measures. More specifically, the use of drones in healthcare, and how they could have helped to lessen the blow dealt to the people of Haiti, almost 10,000 – but likely more – that have died due to the cholera epidemic since 2010.

According to the BBC, drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”), are often “used in situations where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult.” More generally, these agents have been used more frequently in combat offensives, often to target specific individuals with deadly fire or for the purpose of gaining intelligence on opposition forces. Commercially, drones have also caught the eye of companies like Amazon and Uber that have shown interest in using drone technology.

In the healthcare context, drones might be considered an untapped resource. This, however, is being addressed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (“UNICEF”) and the Malawi government to help streamline the often slow wait times and lack of medical supplies necessary to conduct HIV testing. Similarly, another African nation, Rwanda, has a similar program meant to remedy the issues with getting medical supplies to remote areas where infrastructure is not fully developed. Furthermore, the costs associated with drone delivery are relatively low; “[t]he UN agency is spending up to $1.5-million (U.S.) annually on the delivery of HIV blood samples in Malawi. The drones, by contrast, cost only a few thousand dollars each, and operating costs are low because they are battery-powered.”

Looking back to Haiti and the cholera epidemic, seemingly the moment to act is now. A program that uses drone technology to diagnose and ship medical supplies to the ill will be no doubt a large improvement to the status quo. Many areas of Haiti still are considered remote. More specifically, many roads leading out of the capital are not developed, making travel to a medical facility often an arduous task. For example, some healthcare practitioners state that:

Drones are likely to enhance healthcare delivery in developing countries and remote or impoverished areas of the U.S. While drones may not drop packages at the entrances of Chicago high-rises, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have delivered supplies to earthquake victims in Haiti and to places like Papua New Guinea.  Mayo Clinic predicts increased use of drones to transport blood products and drugs in response to mass casualty incidents and critical access hospital needs. Consider the benefits of drone-delivered defibrillators, organs, medications and medical supplies.

Thus, though the use of drones might bring up issues in the future regarding patient privacy, in the short-term,  there is hope that drone delivery systems could be instrumental in saving lives.


Magdala is a second-year law student at the University of Illinois College of Law. She is the first generation of her family to be born in the United States!

Did you know?:Who is Ban Ki-moon?

Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Mr. Ban took office in January of 2007. His major initiatives since that time have been the  2007 Climate Change Summi and the creation of  UN Women.

“The Secretary-General was born in the Republic of Korea on 13 June 1944. He received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Seoul National University in 1970. In 1985, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

At the time of his election as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban was his country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His 37 years of service with the Ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna, and responsibility for a variety of portfolios, including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General of American Affairs.

Mr. Ban’s ties to the United Nations date back to 1975, when he worked for the Foreign Ministry’s United Nations Division. That work expanded over the years, with assignments that included service as Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization and Chef de Cabinet during the Republic of Korea’s 2001-2002 presidency of the UN General Assembly. Mr. Ban has also been actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relations.

The Secretary-General speaks English, French and Korean. He and his wife, Madam Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek, whom he met in high school in 1962, have one son, two daughters and four grandchildren. Since 2007, Mrs. Ban has devoted her attention to women’s and children’s health, including autism, the elimination of violence against women, and the campaign to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.”

“The Secretary-General has sought to strengthen UN peace efforts, including through the New Horizons peacekeeping initiative, the Global Field Support Strategy and the Civilian Capacity Review, a package of steps to improve the impact of the 120,000 United Nations “blue helmets” operating in the world’s conflict zones. A mediation support unit, along with new capacity to carry out the Secretary-General’s good offices, have been set up to help prevent, manage and resolve tensions, conflicts and crises. Accountability for violations of human rights has received high-level attention through inquiries related to Gaza, Guinea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, legal processes in Lebanon and Cambodia, and advocacy for the “responsibility to protect,” the new United Nations norm aimed at prevent and halt genocide and other grave crimes. He has also sought to strengthen humanitarian response in the aftermath of mega-disasters in Myanmar (2008), Haiti (2010) and Pakistan (2010), and mobilized UN support for the democratic transitions in North Africa and the Middle East.”

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)

The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) are a partnership of Haitian and US human rights advocates.

“We support the Haitian people in their struggle to achieve universal human rights, access to a just legal system, social justice, a society without violence, and the right to participate fully in choosing their government. Using models like the US civil rights movement, we are active in the courts, both in Haiti and internationally, in the streets and in poor neighborhoods. We work in partnership with grassroots movements, to transform the structural injustices that stand in the way of stability and prosperity for the majority of Haitians.”

The institute provided counsel for plaintiffs in the Georges v. UN, Haiti Cholera case.

In October 2010, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)  introduced a cholera epidemic that has infected hundreds of thousands (approximately 7% of the population) and killed over 8,600 Haitians. A study from Yale  found that the Haiti Cholera outbreak could have easily been prevented.

On March 1, 2016, oral arguments were heard before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the 2010 Cholera outbreak.

The case was dismissed on January 9, 2015. The court holding that the United Nations, MINUSTAH, Ban Ki-moon, and Edmond Mulet were absolutely immune from suit in that Court. Plaintiffs’ claims against these defendants are were DISMISSED under Rule 12(h)(3) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs’ motion for affirmation that service has been made, or, in the alternative, for service of process by alternative means was DENIED as moot.

The Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, beginning the appeals process on February 12, 2015 and filing a principal appellate brief on May 27, 2015. On June 3, 2015, 86 amici filed six briefs in support of Plaintiffs. On August 26, 2015, the United States filed an amicus brief in support of affirmance of UN immunity. On September 25, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a reply brief. On March 1, 2016, the oral arguments were heard before Hon. Judge Cabranes, Judge Parker, and Judge Lynch.

IJDH is now awaiting the judges’ decision.


Haiti Wages

Someone got paid about 4 dollars a day in Haiti to make your Gildan shirt.
Haiti is one of many countries to establish a minimum wage that varies across employment sectors, with different daily rates established for domestic workers, electricians, bank employees, and other professions.
“As opposed to the bulk of Gildan’s operations, which are vertically integrated, sewing operations in Haiti are subcontracted by Gildan to third parties. Therefore, to address the concerns which were raised regarding the issue of minimum wages in Haiti, Gildan made a commitment in November 2013 to require its third party contractors in the country to comply with the payment of 300 gourdes per day in an eight hour work day to their piece rate workers, based on the expectation that they continue to operate at a reasonable efficiency rate.”