Haiti, an “Island Luminous”

Black History month has passed but there is no time like the present to learn about the first black independent country through a successful revolution, Haiti.

Since 2004, the Digital Library of the Caribbean (DLOC) has worked with archives and libraries in Haiti to scan and preserve rare books and manuscripts.

DLOC is the creator of “An Island Luminous,” a site to help readers learn about Haiti’s history available to explore in English, French, and Kreyol. Created by historian Adam M. Silvia and hosted online by Digital Library of the Caribbean, An Island Luminous combines rare books, manuscripts, and photos scanned by archives and libraries in Haiti and the United States with commentary by over one hundred (100) authors from universities around the world.

Work on An Island Luminous started in 2009. Initially titled “Endepandan Ankò,” the site only covered the years 1934 to 1946. In 2010, the site expanded to include all of Haiti’s history.  It also took its new name, “An Island Luminous,” from a poem, “Calme,” by Haitian intellectual Jacques Roumain. Since 2010, we have invited over 100 authors to write commentary on various historical texts and photos.

You can start the tour of Haitian history at http://islandluminous.fiu.edu/learn.html. which will walk you through an engaging series of photos and corresponding facts as pictured below. It is a short tour but packed with great information for beginners and experts alike.

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Visit http://islandluminous.fiu.edu/ to learn more. Information taken from the “About” section of the site.

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NoName

 

 

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.

Haiti Elections

Would you like to stay up to date on the elections? Haiti Election Blog has a list of the approved presidential candidates and other resourceful links in their Legal section.

Below is an excerpt from their June 20th article:

The end of interim President Jocelerme Privert’s 120-day term came and went on June 14 without any decision by Haiti’s parliament, leaving confusion in its wake. The disputes over extending Privert’s mandate spilled out into the streets, with some of his opponents hinting at the possibility of his removal by force. The international powers expressed their dismay at the political uncertainty created by this situation. The verification commission’s (CIEVE) report, meanwhile, continued to make waves. The EU withdrew its observers in protest of the decision to rerun the presidential race, while the U.S. also expressed its “regret” over this decision. Another big question for the upcoming elections is where the financing will come from, given the disquiet of the international donors.”

 

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The Haiti Elections Blog is a collaboration of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 1804 Institute, Haiti Support Group, the National Lawyers Guild International Committee, and International Association of Democratic Lawyers. The blog is an indispensable resource for journalists, policy-makers, aid workers and other “Haiti watchers,” providing the latest news, analysis and information on the elections in Haiti and promoting free access to information and accountability with the electoral process. Over the next several months, Haitians are scheduled to vote on virtually every public office in the country; including the President, 119 deputies, 20 senators, and over 5,000 municipal agents.

International Marine Conservation Congress

The International Marine Conservation Congress is the most important international meetings for marine conservation.

Samantha Oester, Society for Conservation BiologyMarine Section president-elect, has studied marine animals and conservation around the globe, as well as freshwater ecology and aquatic microbiology in remote locations. She has also worked in Haiti as a medical volunteer, including after the 2010 earthquake. She has become passionate about helping to reduce poverty and improve public health while also ameliorating habitat for endangered and endemic coastal and marine species.

Research is still in its infancy in Haiti, especially in the Cap-Haïtien region, and Oester’s pilot project is collecting data in the Cap-Haïtien watershed, including marine, freshwater, mangrove and inland riverine wetland data, which will be discussed in her ICCB ECCB 2015 presentation. Working with the Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversité Marine, Haiti’s only marine conservation non-governmental organization, Oester’s research will start a large, long-term research and monitoring project in the region to improve life for all in Cap-Haïtien Bay.

Follow Oester on Twitter: @samoester

http://www.dw.com/en/how-poverty-exacerbates-haitis-environmental-problems/av-18502534

Read more . . .

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

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/5c6a12a592dc426fa56ba89da0f23e54/slaying-3-deaf-women-haiti-highlights-vulnerability

Digicel Initiative

http://www.seiph.gouv.ht/protocole-daccord-entre-la-fondation-digicel-et-le-bseiph-au-profit-des-personnes-handicapees/

Interview with Honorable Secretary Oriol:

http://caribjournal.com/2012/11/07/moving-forward-on-disability-in-haiti/#

Linguistics and the Law

Robert Rodman’s thesis entitled Linguistics and the Law draws from the conviction of a Haitian-born American sentenced to 12 years for dealing cocaine.

“The verdict was based in part on a surreptitious recording of the drug deal. Although the drug dealer on the tape spoke a dialect of American Black English, and the defendant speaks English with a Creole accent, the State persuaded the jury that the Haitian disguised his voice by purposefully dropping his accent. His ability to perform this feat was attributed in testimony to the fact that he had been an interpreter for the United States Army in Haiti, and was therefore a linguist, and therefore understood ‘sound change’, and therefore could disguise his voice by dropping his foreign accent. This absurd chain of non sequiturs, and the resulting miscarriage of justice, is the result of linguistic naivety and would not have occurred if the court knew that an interpreter is not necessarily a linguist, and that sound change refers to the historical development of languages.”

“Language and the law, once a subfield of sociolinguistics, is now a robust, independent area of study, where lawyers and linguists collaborate to deepen their knowledge. It has spawned associations such as the IAFL that sponsor conferences such as the one for which this paper is written. International journals such as Forensic Linguistics, The International Journal of Speech, Language, and the Law have arisen in which an ever-growing body of scholarship explores the multifaceted effect of language on legal matters.

Most of the work in this field approaches the topic from the point of view of the use of language. For example, trial lawyers learn to avoid language usage that introduces unwarranted assumptions, such as “When did you stop beating your wife?” They do not learn about presuppositions and the logical structure of language. That’s linguistics: the science that describes and explains language.”

http://ljp.utk.edu/linguistics-and-the-law/

 

Barriers to Business in Haiti

In a study completed by the World Bank in June 2015, Haiti has a new business density of 0.06. This translates to 383 new businesses created over the course of the year. Out of context, these figures mean very little. However, if we look to Haiti’s nearest neighbor, the Dominican Republic, we see that the Dominican Republic enjoys a new business density of 1.2 and 8,061 new businesses created. Why is this important? We know that entrepreneurship is one of the single biggest indicators of economic growth and power. And the intersection of new firm registration, the regulatory environment, and economic growth may lend credence to the voices that suggest there needs to be a focus not only on physical infrastructure, but also on legal, regulatory, and administrative infrastructures.

What stands in the way of new businesses that can create new jobs and spur the construction of physical infrastructure? Perhaps, one of the greatest and simplest areas of concern is the length of time to become formally incorporated. It takes an average of 97 days to register a new business in Haiti; seventy-eight of those days are simply to register the business with the Department of Commerce and receive an authorization of operations. The average time for new businesses to be operational in Latin America and the Caribbean is 29.4 days. In the Dominican Republic, the average time is 14.5 days. These comparisons are not an attempt to join the seemingly prevailing voices stating that Haiti cannot compete in or contribute to the world economy. These comparisons are made to bring attention to the areas (legal, regulatory, and administrative infrastructures), where innovation is needed to break the cycle of poverty in Haiti.

* This article was created using information from the wonderful World Bank Doing Business database. Any errors are my own.

 

 

Lovely Bonhomme Headshot-LG

 

Lovely  is a first-year student at CUNY School of Law, which graduates public interest attorneys with the motto of practicing “law in the service of human needs”. She is a first generation American of Haitian descent. She has a particular interest in corporate law with a focus on infrastructure and energy projects in emerging markets and developing countries. More broadly, she hopes to contribute to the areas of international rule of law and human rights. 

Voudou and the Law

 

This book is about the intersection of Vodou and the law in Haiti.

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo10454972.html

“Vodou has often served as a scapegoat for Haiti’s problems, from political upheavals to natural disasters. This tradition of scapegoating stretches back to the nation’s founding and forms part of a contest over the legitimacy of the religion, both beyond and within Haiti’s borders. The Spirits and the Law examines that vexed history, asking why, from 1835 to 1987, Haiti banned many popular ritual practices.

To find out, Kate Ramsey begins with the Haitian Revolution and its aftermath. Fearful of an independent black nation inspiring similar revolts, the United States, France, and the rest of Europe ostracized Haiti. Successive Haitian governments, seeking to counter the image of Haiti as primitive as well as contain popular organization and leadership, outlawed “spells” and, later, “superstitious practices.” While not often strictly enforced, these laws were at times the basis for attacks on Vodou by the Haitian state, the Catholic Church, and occupying U.S. forces. Beyond such offensives, Ramsey argues that in prohibiting practices considered essential for maintaining relations with the spirits, anti-Vodou laws reinforced the political marginalization, social stigmatization, and economic exploitation of the Haitian majority. At the same time, she examines the ways communities across Haiti evaded, subverted, redirected, and shaped enforcement of the laws. Analyzing the long genealogy of anti-Vodou rhetoric, Ramsey thoroughly dissects claims that the religion has impeded Haiti’s development.”

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A review of the book is available here:

http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1138&context=div2facpubs

“The Spirits and The Law is by far the most comprehensive historical study on the subject of Vodou to date. Future scholarship on the topic simply cannot ignore this esteemed volume, which received The Berkshire Conference Book Prize for the best first book published in any field of history in 2011.”

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/

 

Economics of Criminal Law

Criminal Law and Economics applies economic theory to explain crime, law enforcement, criminal law and criminal procedure.

Excerpt:

Potential criminals are economically rational. They compare the gain from committing a crime with the expected cost, including the risk of punishment, the possibility of social stigma, and eventual psychological costs. A criminal is an individual for whom the gain from committing a crime more than compensates the expected cost.  . . . Overall, it seems crime rates are responsive to changes in punishment.

The advantage of an economic approach to crime is that it avoids interpersonal assessments and is more of a neutral analysis.”

Nuno Garoupa, Introduction to Criminal Law and Economics, at vii, viii (2d ed. 2009).

Photo-http://www.wichitasedgwickcountycrimestoppers.com