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/#

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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/

 

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?

 

 

 

Low Income Developing Country (LIDC)

MACROECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS IN LIDCS: 2014 REPORT by the International Monetary Fund examining 11 States, including Haiti.

 

Box 1. Falling Behind

While most LIDCs have recorded sustained growth since 2000, there is a sizeable group of countries (almost one-fifth of the total) that did not record any increase in output per capita over the period.

 

The weak performance occurred across several macro and structural indicators. Over 2000–13, these 11 countries have been less successful in reducing inflation, attracting FDI, developing the financial markets, and improving social indicators, such as the level of educational attainment.

 

A common feature to all countries in the group is that they are fragile states—countries either with very weak institutions or significantly affected by conflict over the period. The role of fragility in hampering growth is easy to understand in countries affected by sustained internal conflict and political instability over an extended period (such as Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Comoros, and Yemen). Natural disasters, such as the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti, result in loss of life, can account for sizeable shocks to output, and have persistent effects. Over the long-term, however, weak institutions and recurrent political instability play a key role in explaining Haiti’s weak performance as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. But a review of the country listing shows that bad policy choices, unlinked to fragility, can also produce income contraction over time, as in Zimbabwe (which experienced hyperinflation) and Eritrea (a tightly regulated/controlled economy).

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1 In terms of total GDP growth, all 11 countries had average growth rates in the bottom quartile of the LIDC group (less than 3.5 percent).

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.

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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!