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 . . .

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Alternative Dispute Resolution

People are opting to employ alternative avenues of justice such as the Gacacafor used following the Rwandan Genocide. In Haiti, there is the Chamber of Conciliation and Arbitration of Haiti.

In Dallas, Texas, The Islamic Tribunal aims to resolve conflicts and disputes according to the principles of Islamic Law in a manner that is reasonable and cost effective, taking on serious family problems, divorces,  and business disputes among some of the cases.  Options such as this are rare in the United States, but they are growing in access. The Tribunal seeks to support and guidance from consultants and counselors to its attorneys to ensure that local, state and federal law are strictly conformed to, and decisions that originate from the Tribunal are by said laws. IT offers free legal consultations.

And similar alternatives are available and have been for a long time, for other faith-based dispute resolutions such as Christian mediation.

The following links are taken from CLS.net  lead to the Institute for Christian Conciliation (ICC), a division of Peacemaker® Ministries, to explain Christian conciliation and court-tested conciliation clauses in more detail:

 

Questions arise concerning the legality of these methods, and whether an impartial application of justice is being applied. Are women being treated subjectively, as is usually assumed of religious teachings?  Would children be submitted to reasoning of parents? What about cases of rape, incest, or child molestation? Are the perpetrators and victims receiving justice? Can criminal charges legally be addressed in these alternative methods?

Answers to these questions vary but ADR for criminal matters is growing in demand with a majority of programs  “identifying themselves as victim-offender mediation programs.”

Carryn Wolfe in her article for Fordham Law Review shares the following:

It is undeniable that ADR is often faster and cheaper than litigation. Congress in 1925 passed the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), establishing that a written agreement of arbitration “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” Then the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws drafted the Uniform Arbitration Act (UAA) in 1955, and the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (RUAA) in 2000 which are currently in place.

Persons may feel obligated to use faith-based alternative dispute resolutions out of conviction. For example, according to “halakhah”, followers of Judaism may hold that they are not allowed to turn to secular courts. The decision to not use secular courts is also found in Christian and Islamic faith. Turning to religious ADR may lead to the preservation of minority cultures and community values but could come at the cost of what modern society has come to understand as justice. This begs the question of whether justice is to be sought for the victim or for the victim and society at large.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caryn Litt Wolfe, Faith-Based Arbitration: Friend or Foe? An Evaluation of Religious Arbitration Systems and Their Interaction with Secular Courts, 75 Fordham L. Rev. 427 (2006). Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol75/iss1/11

http://islp.org/content/promoting-alternative-dispute-resolution

 

 

Too Poor to Afford Freedom

Is being poor punishable by imprisonment? Should only those who can afford it be allowed freedom?

Neil Sobol, Associate Professor at Texas A&M University School of Law, explores the topic of imprisonment for debt in the article, “Charging the Poor: Criminal Justice Debt & Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons.”

In colonial times in the United States, individuals were commonly imprisoned for their debt. Now, despite prohibitions against it,  poor and needy individuals are regularly incarcerated for unpaid debts. 

These “modernday debtors’ prisons” have been the subject of at least ten lawsuits in 2015 against municipalities who used them, primarily for criminal justice debt. 

 

For example, January 2015, in Georgia:

The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging debt collection practices that have resulted in the jailing of people simply because they are poor. The case was brought on behalf of Kevin Thompson, a black teenager in DeKalb County, Georgia. The ACLU charges that DeKalb County and the for-profit company Judicial Corrections Services teamed up to engage in a coercive debt collection scheme that focuses on revenue generation at the expense of protecting poor people’s rights.

The ACLU tells us that “State and local courts have increasingly attempted to supplement their funding by charging fees to people convicted of crimes, including fees for public defenders, prosecutors, court administration, jail operation, and probation supervision. And in the face of mounting budget deficits at the state and local level, courts across the country have used aggressive tactics to collect these unpaid fines and fees, including for traffic offenses and other low-level offenses. These courts have ordered the arrest and jailing of people who fall behind on their payments, without affording any hearings to determine an individual’s ability to pay or offering alternatives to payment such as community service.”

The effects of this system are daunting. Prof. Sobol states:

“The impact of criminal justice debt is especially severe on the poor and minorities as they are frequently assessed “poverty penalties” for interest, late fees, installment plans, and collection. Often they have to decide between paying criminal justice debt and buying family necessities. The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore have prompted renewed calls for investigation of the adverse treatment of the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system. The fear of arrest, incarceration, and unfair treatment for those owing criminal justice debt creates distrust in the system.”

Neil L. Sobol, Charging the Poor: Criminal Justice Debt & Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons, 75 Md. L. Rev. 486 (2016).
Available at: http://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/facscholar/727

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/

 

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

THE WOMEN QUOTA

As mentioned in the post “Who is Haitian,” there were many recent amendments to the Haitian Constitution. One of those changes is the requirement that at least 30% of representatives in public life and elected posts of the Government be women. Article 17.1, 31.1.1. There is not much information on this change and its effect in Haitian politics. According to a recent Miami Herald article written by Jacqueline Charles, the government has yet to achieve the 30% quota but is allegedly trying to. What are the legal consequences if they are unable to reach that quota? If the quota is a constitutional requirement for the Government to operate, can it function without it? The constitution leaves those questions unanswered.

For more information about the Miami Herald article, please click here. 

 

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Author- Valerie 

Valerie is a second-year law student at Brooklyn Law School with a concentration in Business law and was raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Read more about Valerie on our members page

Valerie on LinkedIn

Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles

“A longtime presidential adviser and administrative law professor has won approval from Haitian lawmakers to take full control of the country as prime minister, and lead Haiti to the election of its next president.

Lawmakers approved Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles’ general policy statement and new government during back-to-back confirmation hearings that began Thursday in the Senate and ended before sunrise on Good Friday in the Lower Chamber of Deputies.

The favorable votes in both chambers end one chapter of political uncertainty but open another, as it increasingly looks likely the country won’t be able to meet next month’s April 24 deadline to transfer power from an interim president to a democratically elected one.”

In his policy statement, Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles acknowledges the political frailties of Haiti but states his knowledge that there is a great promise for improvement.

He presents much respect to the people of Haiti and the Honorable Parliament. He touches on topics of the stability of the country, jobs, transparency, and bringing about the results of the February 5th elections.

Who is the honorable Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles?