Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

Writing in the Toronto Star, Catherine Porter reports on revelations from former Haitian President René Préval in Raoul Peck’s documentary film Fatal Assistance that UN head Edmond Mulet tried to remove him from the country on election day in November 2010:

“I got a phone call from Mr. (Edmond) Mulet, who was head of MINUSTAH, saying: ‘Mr. President, this is a political problem. We need to get you on a plane and evacuate you,’” Préval says in the documentary, Fatal Assistance. “I said: ‘Bring your plane, collect me from the palace, handcuff me, everyone will see that it’s a kidnapping.’”       

The comments from Préval echo those made at the time by Organization of American States special representative Ricardo Seitenfus, who told BBC Brasil in January 2011 that Mulet and other representatives of the “core group” of donor countries, “suggested that President Rene Préval should leave the country and we should think of an airplane for that. I heard it and was appalled.” The forced departure of Préval wouldn’t have been the first time a Haitian president was spirited out of the country, as former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was flown out of Haiti in 2004 on a U.S. airplane and taken to the Central African Republic in what he described as a “kidnapping” and “coup d’etat.” There is no doubt that it was a coup d’etat – the New York Times, among others, documented the U.S. role in bringing about the coup.  And Aristide’s charges that it was a kidnapping are credible and backed up by witnesses.

In response, Edmond Mulet told the Star, “I never said that, he [Préval] never answered that,” adding “I was worried if he didn’t stop the fraud and rioting, a revolution would force him to leave. I didn’t have the capability, the power or the interest of putting him on a plane.”

The first round of voting for president in November 2010 was plagued by irregularities. A CEPR statistical analysis found that some three-quarters of Haitians did not vote, over 12 percent of votes were never even received by the electoral authorities and that more than 8 percent of tally sheets contained irregularities. Perhaps most importantly, Haiti’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, was excluded from the election. At the time, 45 Democratic members of Congress wrote to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warning that political party “exclusion[s] will undermine both Haitians’ right to vote and the resulting government’s ability to govern.” These warnings fell on deaf ears, but diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveal the international community’s thinking at the time. At an early December 2009 meeting, Haiti’s largest donors concluded that “the international community has too much invested in Haiti’s democracy to walk away from the upcoming elections, despite its imperfections.”

These imperfections proved even greater than anticipated. Based on the pervasiveness of the irregularities and the close results, we concluded at the time that “it is impossible to determine who should advance to a second round” and that if “there is a second round, it will be based on arbitrary assumptions and/or exclusions.”

After intense international pressure to exclude the government-backed candidate for the second round and to include now President Martelly, the Haitian government agreed to let a group from the OAS come to the country to review the results and determine who should advance to the second round. As Porter notes in the Star, Préval alleges that the UN and U.S. rigged the results and overturned the first round, leading to Martelly’s inclusion in the second round and eventually winning the Presidency.

In the film, Préval states that after they agreed to let the OAS review the results:

“I summoned him [Mulet] to come: ‘Problem solved?’ He said: ‘No, it isn’t. If the OAS isn’t in line with the American mission’s recommendations we won’t accept the election results,’” Préval says in documentary.

“I told him whatever candidate wins, wins. And he replied that they wouldn’t accept those results. I asked: ‘So why hold elections?’”

Indeed, a CEPR statistical analysis of the OAS decision to replace the government candidate with Martelly in the second round found that the OAS “had no statistical evidence to do so,” and that in fact the “results showed that Célestin [the government-backed candidate], not Martelly, was by far the most likely second place finisher in the first round.”

The director of the documentary in which Préval makes these comments, Raoul Peck, explains to Porter the history and rationale of international meddling in Haiti’s politics:

“You have a bunch of ambassadors who feel they are governors of Haiti…They are the ones crafting politics in Haiti. They are the ones creating government there. We have a long history of this. They’d rather have a dictator, if he’s our man and we can control the country.”

Porter notes in her article that:

Foreign powers, notably the United States, have a long record of meddling with Haitian politics. The country was occupied for 19 years by American marines, ending in 1934. More recently, an American plane whisked away dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier during the popular uprising of 1986 and, 18 years later, president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was facing a coup. Afterward, Aristide called his evacuation a “kidnapping.”

Tomorrow marks two years since Martelly came to office. Legislative elections, delayed for over a year, have yet to be scheduled. Former President Aristide, who spoke publicly last week for the first time since his return from exile in South Africa in 2011 stated that “if there are free, fair and democratic elections,” then “there is a good chance” that Fanmi Lavalas “can win the majority of posts that are in play.” The international community is expected to pick up the tab on the forthcoming elections, as they did in 2010. Though elections have yet to be scheduled, the United States has already awarded over $2 million to the National Democratic Institute and the International Federation for Electoral Systems – U.S. government-linked institutions with a problematic history [PDF] in Haiti and other countries — to “support” the electoral process

Meanwhile, Fanmi Lavalas supporters have voiced concern that a new attempt to exclude the party from the upcoming elections could be underway, via the renewed investigation into the murder of radio journalist Jean Dominique, who like Aristide was a fierce critic of Haiti’s wealthy elite, the Haitian army, and other powerful interests. Although some have suggested that attempts to link Aristide to the murder are a political smear, Aristide was called before a judge for questioning in the case last week. The AP’s Trenton Daniel wrote:

An open case against Aristide, the official leader of the Lavalas party, could make it difficult for candidates to register under the party in elections that are supposed to be held before year’s end.

“We hope this isn’t political, that the government isn’t using the Jean Dominique case so Lavalas can’t qualify for the elections,” an Aristide supporter, Jean Cene, said while pressed against a barricade.

 

Writing in the Toronto Star, Catherine Porter reports on revelations from former Haitian President René Préval in Raoul Peck’s documentary film Fatal Assistance that UN head Edmond Mulet tried to remove him from the country on election day in November 2010:

“I got a phone call from Mr. (Edmond) Mulet, who was head of MINUSTAH, saying: ‘Mr. President, this is a political problem. We need to get you on a plane and evacuate you,’” Préval says in the documentary, Fatal Assistance. “I said: ‘Bring your plane, collect me from the palace, handcuff me, everyone will see that it’s a kidnapping.’”       

The comments from Préval echo those made at the time by Organization of American States special representative Ricardo Seitenfus, who told BBC Brasil in January 2011 that Mulet and other representatives of the “core group” of donor countries, “suggested that President Rene Préval should leave the country and we should think of an airplane for that. I heard it and was appalled.” The forced departure of Préval wouldn’t have been the first time a Haitian president was spirited out of the country, as former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was flown out of Haiti in 2004 on a U.S. airplane and taken to the Central African Republic in what he described as a “kidnapping” and “coup d’etat.” There is no doubt that it was a coup d’etat – the New York Times, among others, documented the U.S. role in bringing about the coup.  And Aristide’s charges that it was a kidnapping are credible and backed up by witnesses.

In response, Edmond Mulet told the Star, “I never said that, he [Préval] never answered that,” adding “I was worried if he didn’t stop the fraud and rioting, a revolution would force him to leave. I didn’t have the capability, the power or the interest of putting him on a plane.”

The first round of voting for president in November 2010 was plagued by irregularities. A CEPR statistical analysis found that some three-quarters of Haitians did not vote, over 12 percent of votes were never even received by the electoral authorities and that more than 8 percent of tally sheets contained irregularities. Perhaps most importantly, Haiti’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, was excluded from the election. At the time, 45 Democratic members of Congress wrote to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warning that political party “exclusion[s] will undermine both Haitians’ right to vote and the resulting government’s ability to govern.” These warnings fell on deaf ears, but diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveal the international community’s thinking at the time. At an early December 2009 meeting, Haiti’s largest donors concluded that “the international community has too much invested in Haiti’s democracy to walk away from the upcoming elections, despite its imperfections.”

These imperfections proved even greater than anticipated. Based on the pervasiveness of the irregularities and the close results, we concluded at the time that “it is impossible to determine who should advance to a second round” and that if “there is a second round, it will be based on arbitrary assumptions and/or exclusions.”

After intense international pressure to exclude the government-backed candidate for the second round and to include now President Martelly, the Haitian government agreed to let a group from the OAS come to the country to review the results and determine who should advance to the second round. As Porter notes in the Star, Préval alleges that the UN and U.S. rigged the results and overturned the first round, leading to Martelly’s inclusion in the second round and eventually winning the Presidency.

In the film, Préval states that after they agreed to let the OAS review the results:

“I summoned him [Mulet] to come: ‘Problem solved?’ He said: ‘No, it isn’t. If the OAS isn’t in line with the American mission’s recommendations we won’t accept the election results,’” Préval says in documentary.

“I told him whatever candidate wins, wins. And he replied that they wouldn’t accept those results. I asked: ‘So why hold elections?’”

Indeed, a CEPR statistical analysis of the OAS decision to replace the government candidate with Martelly in the second round found that the OAS “had no statistical evidence to do so,” and that in fact the “results showed that Célestin [the government-backed candidate], not Martelly, was by far the most likely second place finisher in the first round.”

The director of the documentary in which Préval makes these comments, Raoul Peck, explains to Porter the history and rationale of international meddling in Haiti’s politics:

“You have a bunch of ambassadors who feel they are governors of Haiti…They are the ones crafting politics in Haiti. They are the ones creating government there. We have a long history of this. They’d rather have a dictator, if he’s our man and we can control the country.”

Porter notes in her article that:

Foreign powers, notably the United States, have a long record of meddling with Haitian politics. The country was occupied for 19 years by American marines, ending in 1934. More recently, an American plane whisked away dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier during the popular uprising of 1986 and, 18 years later, president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was facing a coup. Afterward, Aristide called his evacuation a “kidnapping.”

Tomorrow marks two years since Martelly came to office. Legislative elections, delayed for over a year, have yet to be scheduled. Former President Aristide, who spoke publicly last week for the first time since his return from exile in South Africa in 2011 stated that “if there are free, fair and democratic elections,” then “there is a good chance” that Fanmi Lavalas “can win the majority of posts that are in play.” The international community is expected to pick up the tab on the forthcoming elections, as they did in 2010. Though elections have yet to be scheduled, the United States has already awarded over $2 million to the National Democratic Institute and the International Federation for Electoral Systems – U.S. government-linked institutions with a problematic history [PDF] in Haiti and other countries — to “support” the electoral process

Meanwhile, Fanmi Lavalas supporters have voiced concern that a new attempt to exclude the party from the upcoming elections could be underway, via the renewed investigation into the murder of radio journalist Jean Dominique, who like Aristide was a fierce critic of Haiti’s wealthy elite, the Haitian army, and other powerful interests. Although some have suggested that attempts to link Aristide to the murder are a political smear, Aristide was called before a judge for questioning in the case last week. The AP’s Trenton Daniel wrote:

An open case against Aristide, the official leader of the Lavalas party, could make it difficult for candidates to register under the party in elections that are supposed to be held before year’s end.

“We hope this isn’t political, that the government isn’t using the Jean Dominique case so Lavalas can’t qualify for the elections,” an Aristide supporter, Jean Cene, said while pressed against a barricade.

 

Lawyers seeking justice on behalf of thousands of cholera victims announced their next steps after the U.N. rebuffed their claim in February, citing immunity. Saying that they were offering the U.N. its “last opportunity to accept its legal responsibility,” attorneys with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) announced in a press conference today (video here) that the U.N.’s response opens doors to trying the case in national courts, and that they will pursue this option if the U.N does not reply with “an appropriate response” in the next 60 days. The BBC’s Mark Doyle reported that “The lawyers say they will file claims for $100,000 (£64,000) for the families of those who have died and $50,000 (£32,000) for every one of the hundreds of thousands who have fallen sick,” which would total billions of dollars.

The attorneys described the U.N.’s rationale for rejecting the claim as being on “flimsy grounds.” They also placed the case in a broader context of impunity for abuse, which has included sexual assaults by U.N. troops and officers, and extrajudicial shootings in Haiti and other countries where U.N. troops have been stationed.

Attorney and IJDH board member Ira Kurzban slammed the U.N.’s justification of dumping of sewage into rivers as a matter of “policy,” even though this would clearly go against U.N. principles. Kurzban also noted that the U.N.’s failure to establish a standing claims commission that would allow Haitians to seek redress for U.N. wrongs goes against its responsibility to the world.

Also speaking at the press conference, Dr. Jean Ford Figaro, MD, MPH, and Health Education Coordinator at Boston Medical Center detailed various recommendations that the U.N.’s own Independent Panel of Experts have made that have yet to be implemented. Among these are the screening of U.N. troops, the distribution of prophylaxis, and on-site treatment of human waste. Figaro cited a new Physicians for Haiti paper that states that all three of these “recommendations could be implemented at either no or minimal cost to the UN.” In its paper, Physicians for Haiti also notes, “Two year later, the UN has not responded publicly to the [Panel’s] report, made public any proceedings from the task force, or made any of the changes in its medical or sanitation protocols recommended by the report.”

Physicians for Haiti notes that the U.N. has not admitted responsibility for causing the cholera epidemic that has killed over 8,100 people and sickened some 654,337 so far. “Despite data from the International Vaccine Institute that demonstrated cholera strains  from Nepal and Haiti epidemics were an ‘exact match’” and other studies that identified U.N. troops from Nepal as the source.

In a letter responding to the U.N.’s claim of immunity from prosecution, IJDH spells out legal arguments to explain why the U.N. is liable for the cholera victims’ claims, including “treaty obligations under the [Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations] and [Status of Forces Agreement]” and “the fundamental right to an effective remedy, which has been recognized in major human rights instruments, including those adopted by the UN itself.” But, the letter also notes

The UN’s obligation to accept and respond to claims of liability for third-party personal injury and death attributable to the organization extends beyond the CPIUN and SOFA. Your predecessor as UN Legal Counsel stressed that “[a]s a matter of international law, it is clear that the Organization can incur liabilities of a private law nature and is obligated to pay in regard to such liabilities.”

And that

In 1996, the Secretary-General observed that “the United Nations has, since the inception of peacekeeping operations, assumed its liability for damage caused by members of its forces in the performance of their duties.”

The IJDH team also noted that the efforts the U.N. is supposed to be making to eradicate cholera – namely their plan announced at the end of last year – has yet to receive significant funding. This was also noted in a Miami Herald article on Friday, which reported that:

Five months after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon promised to “use every opportunity” to push for funding to eliminate cholera from Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, government officials in both nations are still waiting on donors to open their wallets.

The feet-dragging comes as the rainy season begins and a new French study says the disease could quickly be eliminated from Haiti if investments are made to restrain transmissions.

“Cholera is only shrinking and has not yet disappeared. But it can disappear if the fight is correctly managed,” said Dr. Renaud Piarroux, who has studied the deadly waterborne disease in Haiti since it first appeared in October 2010.

The Herald’s Jacqueline Charles goes on to note

More than three years after the international community pledged $5.4 billion to help Haiti rebuild after its devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, more than $2?billion remains outstanding. Meanwhile, emergency cholera funds in Haiti are quickly drying up.

Charles quotes HRRW’s own Jake Johnston: “This is now the third year that funding for cholera has diminished prior to the rainy season when cases will predictably spike, leading to more easily preventable and unnecessary deaths.”

As we have been pointing out repeatedly, there have been many more deaths from cholera so far this year than in the same time period last year, and the rate could become worse once the rainy season starts.

Lawyers seeking justice on behalf of thousands of cholera victims announced their next steps after the U.N. rebuffed their claim in February, citing immunity. Saying that they were offering the U.N. its “last opportunity to accept its legal responsibility,” attorneys with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) announced in a press conference today (video here) that the U.N.’s response opens doors to trying the case in national courts, and that they will pursue this option if the U.N does not reply with “an appropriate response” in the next 60 days. The BBC’s Mark Doyle reported that “The lawyers say they will file claims for $100,000 (£64,000) for the families of those who have died and $50,000 (£32,000) for every one of the hundreds of thousands who have fallen sick,” which would total billions of dollars.

The attorneys described the U.N.’s rationale for rejecting the claim as being on “flimsy grounds.” They also placed the case in a broader context of impunity for abuse, which has included sexual assaults by U.N. troops and officers, and extrajudicial shootings in Haiti and other countries where U.N. troops have been stationed.

Attorney and IJDH board member Ira Kurzban slammed the U.N.’s justification of dumping of sewage into rivers as a matter of “policy,” even though this would clearly go against U.N. principles. Kurzban also noted that the U.N.’s failure to establish a standing claims commission that would allow Haitians to seek redress for U.N. wrongs goes against its responsibility to the world.

Also speaking at the press conference, Dr. Jean Ford Figaro, MD, MPH, and Health Education Coordinator at Boston Medical Center detailed various recommendations that the U.N.’s own Independent Panel of Experts have made that have yet to be implemented. Among these are the screening of U.N. troops, the distribution of prophylaxis, and on-site treatment of human waste. Figaro cited a new Physicians for Haiti paper that states that all three of these “recommendations could be implemented at either no or minimal cost to the UN.” In its paper, Physicians for Haiti also notes, “Two year later, the UN has not responded publicly to the [Panel’s] report, made public any proceedings from the task force, or made any of the changes in its medical or sanitation protocols recommended by the report.”

Physicians for Haiti notes that the U.N. has not admitted responsibility for causing the cholera epidemic that has killed over 8,100 people and sickened some 654,337 so far. “Despite data from the International Vaccine Institute that demonstrated cholera strains  from Nepal and Haiti epidemics were an ‘exact match’” and other studies that identified U.N. troops from Nepal as the source.

In a letter responding to the U.N.’s claim of immunity from prosecution, IJDH spells out legal arguments to explain why the U.N. is liable for the cholera victims’ claims, including “treaty obligations under the [Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations] and [Status of Forces Agreement]” and “the fundamental right to an effective remedy, which has been recognized in major human rights instruments, including those adopted by the UN itself.” But, the letter also notes

The UN’s obligation to accept and respond to claims of liability for third-party personal injury and death attributable to the organization extends beyond the CPIUN and SOFA. Your predecessor as UN Legal Counsel stressed that “[a]s a matter of international law, it is clear that the Organization can incur liabilities of a private law nature and is obligated to pay in regard to such liabilities.”

And that

In 1996, the Secretary-General observed that “the United Nations has, since the inception of peacekeeping operations, assumed its liability for damage caused by members of its forces in the performance of their duties.”

The IJDH team also noted that the efforts the U.N. is supposed to be making to eradicate cholera – namely their plan announced at the end of last year – has yet to receive significant funding. This was also noted in a Miami Herald article on Friday, which reported that:

Five months after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon promised to “use every opportunity” to push for funding to eliminate cholera from Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, government officials in both nations are still waiting on donors to open their wallets.

The feet-dragging comes as the rainy season begins and a new French study says the disease could quickly be eliminated from Haiti if investments are made to restrain transmissions.

“Cholera is only shrinking and has not yet disappeared. But it can disappear if the fight is correctly managed,” said Dr. Renaud Piarroux, who has studied the deadly waterborne disease in Haiti since it first appeared in October 2010.

The Herald’s Jacqueline Charles goes on to note

More than three years after the international community pledged $5.4 billion to help Haiti rebuild after its devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, more than $2?billion remains outstanding. Meanwhile, emergency cholera funds in Haiti are quickly drying up.

Charles quotes HRRW’s own Jake Johnston: “This is now the third year that funding for cholera has diminished prior to the rainy season when cases will predictably spike, leading to more easily preventable and unnecessary deaths.”

As we have been pointing out repeatedly, there have been many more deaths from cholera so far this year than in the same time period last year, and the rate could become worse once the rainy season starts.

On April 25th, Representative Barbara Lee of California introduced H.R. 1749, the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, which would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a detailed and comprehensive report on U.S. aid programs to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.  The bill, which has 24 original co-sponsors, reflects the growing concern in Congress about the lack of tangible progress in U.S. post-quake relief and reconstruction efforts, and the lack of transparency around how U.S. aid money is being used.

An earlier version of this bill was passed in the House of Representatives in May of 2011 and later was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but never made it to a vote on the Senate floor.  The legislation has been significantly revised and, whereas the old bill (which can be viewed here) had general reporting requirements, the new bill (which can be viewed here) has very specific and probing reporting language that should help shed light on how USAID funds are being used on the ground in Haiti.  Among other things, the legislation calls for:

·         An assessment of the “amounts obligated and expended on United States Government programs and activities since January 2010 (…) including award data [read: financial data] on the use of implementing partners at both prime and subprime levels, and disbursement data from prime and subprime implementing partners.”

·         A description of “goals and quantitative and qualitative indicators to evaluate the progress, or lack of achievement of such goals…”

·         An “assessment of the manner in which the Department of State and USAID are working with Haitian ministries and local authorities, including the extent to which the Government of Haiti has been consulted on the establishment of goals and timeframes and on the design and implementation of new programs…”

·         An “assessment of how consideration for vulnerable populations, including IDPs (Internally Displaced Populations), women, children, orphans, and persons with disabilities, have been incorporated in the design and implementation of new programs and infrastructure”

·         An “assessment of how agriculture and infrastructure programs are impacting food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Haiti”

Last month CEPR published a report titled “Breaking Open the Black Box” describing the lack of transparency of U.S. aid programs in Haiti, particularly at the contracting level, and recommended USAID reporting requirements similar to those found in H.R.1749.  The report noted that the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Haiti has been questioned by the GAO, the USAID Inspector General and other government watchdogs. 

At a mid-April congressional hearing on the U.S. Department of State FY 2014 budget, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about Haiti by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. In her question, Rep. Lee mentioned that she will be introducing legislation to promote U.S. aid transparency and accountability:

REP. LEE: And finally, just with regard to Haiti, you know, many of us are concerned about the lack of tangible results for vulnerable communities in Haiti after billions were pledged in the wake of the 2010 tragic earthquake. We’ve been calling for greater transparency and accountability, and of course I have legislation that I’m introducing once again to call on the State Department to really let us know how this money has been spent.

And so I wanted to know if there was any way administratively, because you know sometimes this legislative process can be very cumbersome — but if you can administratively figure out a way to let us know how the money is being spent. It’s my understanding that just over 50 percent of the funds made available for Haiti reconstruction through fiscal year 2012 have been dispersed — only 50 percent. And given the overwhelming needs of the country, why haven’t we moved faster or why haven’t they moved faster?

As Kerry was in fact a co-sponsor of the Assessing Progress in Haiti bill while a Senator, his position as Secretary of State could help bolster support for the forthcoming reintroduction of the bill.  Kerry’s response to Lee, however, was ambivalent and vague:

SEC. KERRY: Well, on Haiti — let me begin with Haiti. I think — as you know, the administration put a lot of effort into Haiti in the last four years — a lot of money, a lot of effort — the Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton himself, others — and Secretary Clinton put enormous focus on it. Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills personally was shepherding it, et cetera — still is helping us, actually. She’s doing that part time right now.

And you know, the great complication that I have observed — I’m not doing a general policy thing here — but I think is just capacity to absorb; governance combined with sort of sustainability issues that are very challenging there. And then — and also a lack of coordinated approach. I think more than anything, if I had to find a thing to say to you has been a challenge, it’s how to coordinate. It’s not lack of effort. It’s just very, very difficult.

So you asked the question. I think that’s been the hardest thing to achieve.

We’re going to stay at it. You know, it’s vital to us in lots of ways. I had — I represented — I had the privilege of representing a huge Haitian community up in Boston and I know after the earthquake we gathered that very night and we — you know, we talked about how we’d try to make this go-around different in terms of the aid and the focus and attention.

I probably need — you know, you’ve jogged my needs on this, and I probably need to get the team together and sort of take stock of exactly what our broader judgment is, comparing it with all the agencies involved and maybe get back to you even further. But that’s my quick take on it.

Kerry might be pleased to know that his concern about “a lack of coordinated approach” in Haiti is addressed in Lee’s bill.  The legislation’s seventh reporting requirement calls for “an assessment of recovery and development coordination among United States Government agencies and between the United States Government and other donors.”

On April 25th, Representative Barbara Lee of California introduced H.R. 1749, the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, which would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a detailed and comprehensive report on U.S. aid programs to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.  The bill, which has 24 original co-sponsors, reflects the growing concern in Congress about the lack of tangible progress in U.S. post-quake relief and reconstruction efforts, and the lack of transparency around how U.S. aid money is being used.

An earlier version of this bill was passed in the House of Representatives in May of 2011 and later was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but never made it to a vote on the Senate floor.  The legislation has been significantly revised and, whereas the old bill (which can be viewed here) had general reporting requirements, the new bill (which can be viewed here) has very specific and probing reporting language that should help shed light on how USAID funds are being used on the ground in Haiti.  Among other things, the legislation calls for:

·         An assessment of the “amounts obligated and expended on United States Government programs and activities since January 2010 (…) including award data [read: financial data] on the use of implementing partners at both prime and subprime levels, and disbursement data from prime and subprime implementing partners.”

·         A description of “goals and quantitative and qualitative indicators to evaluate the progress, or lack of achievement of such goals…”

·         An “assessment of the manner in which the Department of State and USAID are working with Haitian ministries and local authorities, including the extent to which the Government of Haiti has been consulted on the establishment of goals and timeframes and on the design and implementation of new programs…”

·         An “assessment of how consideration for vulnerable populations, including IDPs (Internally Displaced Populations), women, children, orphans, and persons with disabilities, have been incorporated in the design and implementation of new programs and infrastructure”

·         An “assessment of how agriculture and infrastructure programs are impacting food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Haiti”

Last month CEPR published a report titled “Breaking Open the Black Box” describing the lack of transparency of U.S. aid programs in Haiti, particularly at the contracting level, and recommended USAID reporting requirements similar to those found in H.R.1749.  The report noted that the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Haiti has been questioned by the GAO, the USAID Inspector General and other government watchdogs. 

At a mid-April congressional hearing on the U.S. Department of State FY 2014 budget, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about Haiti by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. In her question, Rep. Lee mentioned that she will be introducing legislation to promote U.S. aid transparency and accountability:

REP. LEE: And finally, just with regard to Haiti, you know, many of us are concerned about the lack of tangible results for vulnerable communities in Haiti after billions were pledged in the wake of the 2010 tragic earthquake. We’ve been calling for greater transparency and accountability, and of course I have legislation that I’m introducing once again to call on the State Department to really let us know how this money has been spent.

And so I wanted to know if there was any way administratively, because you know sometimes this legislative process can be very cumbersome — but if you can administratively figure out a way to let us know how the money is being spent. It’s my understanding that just over 50 percent of the funds made available for Haiti reconstruction through fiscal year 2012 have been dispersed — only 50 percent. And given the overwhelming needs of the country, why haven’t we moved faster or why haven’t they moved faster?

As Kerry was in fact a co-sponsor of the Assessing Progress in Haiti bill while a Senator, his position as Secretary of State could help bolster support for the forthcoming reintroduction of the bill.  Kerry’s response to Lee, however, was ambivalent and vague:

SEC. KERRY: Well, on Haiti — let me begin with Haiti. I think — as you know, the administration put a lot of effort into Haiti in the last four years — a lot of money, a lot of effort — the Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton himself, others — and Secretary Clinton put enormous focus on it. Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills personally was shepherding it, et cetera — still is helping us, actually. She’s doing that part time right now.

And you know, the great complication that I have observed — I’m not doing a general policy thing here — but I think is just capacity to absorb; governance combined with sort of sustainability issues that are very challenging there. And then — and also a lack of coordinated approach. I think more than anything, if I had to find a thing to say to you has been a challenge, it’s how to coordinate. It’s not lack of effort. It’s just very, very difficult.

So you asked the question. I think that’s been the hardest thing to achieve.

We’re going to stay at it. You know, it’s vital to us in lots of ways. I had — I represented — I had the privilege of representing a huge Haitian community up in Boston and I know after the earthquake we gathered that very night and we — you know, we talked about how we’d try to make this go-around different in terms of the aid and the focus and attention.

I probably need — you know, you’ve jogged my needs on this, and I probably need to get the team together and sort of take stock of exactly what our broader judgment is, comparing it with all the agencies involved and maybe get back to you even further. But that’s my quick take on it.

Kerry might be pleased to know that his concern about “a lack of coordinated approach” in Haiti is addressed in Lee’s bill.  The legislation’s seventh reporting requirement calls for “an assessment of recovery and development coordination among United States Government agencies and between the United States Government and other donors.”

Over the last decade the fight for accountability in Latin America for crimes committed by past dictatorships has seen a tremendous number of successes. In Peru, Alberto Fujimori is in jail. In Argentina dozens of defendants have been convicted in just the last year. But two ongoing cases continue to drag on, Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti. Both Ríos Montt and Duvalier enjoyed support of all kinds from the U.S. government, but the U.S.’s response to the cases illustrates the ongoing hypocrisy of the U.S. in the region.

In Guatemala, as numerous media outlets have described it, Ríos Montt is “the first former head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide in a national court.” While the case was recently suspended, after a week of legal maneuvers, it appears that it may be set to resume this week.  After the trial was suspended on April 18, investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported that “Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala’s president, General Otto Pérez Molina.” Nairn, who investigated atrocities in Guatemala in the ‘80s – including Pérez Molina’s involvement in them — was supposed to testify at the trial.

But less than a week later, the U.S. sent Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J. Rapp to Guatemala to “meet with U.S. Government and Embassy officials, local victims groups, and other international officials.” Last Friday, as the trial continued to be suspended, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson  Patrick Ventrell stated:

So we urge the Government of Guatemala to ensure that this legal case is conducted in accordance with Guatemala’s domestic and international legal obligations, and we expect the process and outcome will advance the rule of law.

The statement from the State Department came the same day that Rapp concluded his trip to Guatemala. Over the weekend, president Pérez Molina also seemed to partially walk back his previous statements criticizing the trial, calling the trial “historic” and pledging to not personally intervene.

In Haiti, on the other hand, the U.S. has been entirely absent.

The case against Duvalier is currently making its way, slowly, through an appeals court after an investigative judge had ruled he could not be tried for crimes against humanity. As is the case with Guatemala, the former dictator on trial appears to enjoy the support of the central government. As Amnesty International wrote last week:

The Public Prosecutor, instead of fulfilling her role of defending the public interest, has aligned with the defence and does not miss any opportunity to dismiss the complainants’ arguments.

The current administration, several members of which reportedly held positions of power in Jean-Claude Duvalier’s government, has shown no interest in bringing Duvalier to justice. On the contrary, it has granted him a diplomatic passport.

Last week was supposed to be the ninth hearing in the case, yet it was cancelled “as one of the judges needed to attend a funeral.” Amnesty points out that “Only five of the 20-plus complainants have been heard” and that Duvalier “has been evading the courts for some time,” having not appeared since February.

Yet, in contrast to Guatemala, the U.S. is silent. In March, Fran Quigley argued that the U.S. held the keys to the Duvalier trial, and noticed that Rapp, and other U.S. human rights officials (some with specific backgrounds in Haiti) were “sitting this one out.”

Instead, as Quigley wrote from the courtroom in late February, “the U.S. is represented today by just one embassy official, who does not participate in the hearing and does not want to speak for the record.” Rather than calling on the Haitian government to “ensure that this legal case is conducted in accordance with Haiti’s domestic and international legal obligations,” as they did for the Ríos Montt trial, the U.S. government has repeatedly stated that with regards to the Duvalier case “a decision about what is to be done is left to the government and people of Haiti.”

Update 5/01: A previous version of this post referred to an article from March by Bill Quigley, it was actually written by Fran Quigley.

Over the last decade the fight for accountability in Latin America for crimes committed by past dictatorships has seen a tremendous number of successes. In Peru, Alberto Fujimori is in jail. In Argentina dozens of defendants have been convicted in just the last year. But two ongoing cases continue to drag on, Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti. Both Ríos Montt and Duvalier enjoyed support of all kinds from the U.S. government, but the U.S.’s response to the cases illustrates the ongoing hypocrisy of the U.S. in the region.

In Guatemala, as numerous media outlets have described it, Ríos Montt is “the first former head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide in a national court.” While the case was recently suspended, after a week of legal maneuvers, it appears that it may be set to resume this week.  After the trial was suspended on April 18, investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported that “Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala’s president, General Otto Pérez Molina.” Nairn, who investigated atrocities in Guatemala in the ‘80s – including Pérez Molina’s involvement in them — was supposed to testify at the trial.

But less than a week later, the U.S. sent Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J. Rapp to Guatemala to “meet with U.S. Government and Embassy officials, local victims groups, and other international officials.” Last Friday, as the trial continued to be suspended, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson  Patrick Ventrell stated:

So we urge the Government of Guatemala to ensure that this legal case is conducted in accordance with Guatemala’s domestic and international legal obligations, and we expect the process and outcome will advance the rule of law.

The statement from the State Department came the same day that Rapp concluded his trip to Guatemala. Over the weekend, president Pérez Molina also seemed to partially walk back his previous statements criticizing the trial, calling the trial “historic” and pledging to not personally intervene.

In Haiti, on the other hand, the U.S. has been entirely absent.

The case against Duvalier is currently making its way, slowly, through an appeals court after an investigative judge had ruled he could not be tried for crimes against humanity. As is the case with Guatemala, the former dictator on trial appears to enjoy the support of the central government. As Amnesty International wrote last week:

The Public Prosecutor, instead of fulfilling her role of defending the public interest, has aligned with the defence and does not miss any opportunity to dismiss the complainants’ arguments.

The current administration, several members of which reportedly held positions of power in Jean-Claude Duvalier’s government, has shown no interest in bringing Duvalier to justice. On the contrary, it has granted him a diplomatic passport.

Last week was supposed to be the ninth hearing in the case, yet it was cancelled “as one of the judges needed to attend a funeral.” Amnesty points out that “Only five of the 20-plus complainants have been heard” and that Duvalier “has been evading the courts for some time,” having not appeared since February.

Yet, in contrast to Guatemala, the U.S. is silent. In March, Fran Quigley argued that the U.S. held the keys to the Duvalier trial, and noticed that Rapp, and other U.S. human rights officials (some with specific backgrounds in Haiti) were “sitting this one out.”

Instead, as Quigley wrote from the courtroom in late February, “the U.S. is represented today by just one embassy official, who does not participate in the hearing and does not want to speak for the record.” Rather than calling on the Haitian government to “ensure that this legal case is conducted in accordance with Haiti’s domestic and international legal obligations,” as they did for the Ríos Montt trial, the U.S. government has repeatedly stated that with regards to the Duvalier case “a decision about what is to be done is left to the government and people of Haiti.”

Update 5/01: A previous version of this post referred to an article from March by Bill Quigley, it was actually written by Fran Quigley.

In February, the United Nations confirmed that a Canadian serving with the United Nations Police contingent of MINUSTAH had been accused of sexually and physically assaulting a Haitian woman. Yesterday, Marie Rosy Kesner Auguste Ducena, a lawyer with the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network, told CBC news that, though the victim reported the assault to police, “nothing will happen… Women who will go to complain, you will see that maybe somebody will take the complaint and will say to her you will be called after. But in fact, the case will just be closed.” CBC notes that the “day after the incident, the man boarded a flight back to Canada, where he remains.”

This is but the latest in a series of sexual abuse allegations leveled against MINUSTAH personnel in Haiti. According to U.N. data, since 2007 there have been 70 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation against MINUSTAH members, but as CBC news points out, “not one has ended up in a Haitian court.”

The lack of accountability of U.N. military and police personnel in Haiti has “undermined” the organizations reputation and its ability to carry out its mandate, according to Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group (ICG). “The UN should ensure that in the agreement with the troop-contributing countries, that there is an understanding of what will happen if an abuse occurs — that there will be a full investigation, and that there will be appropriate action taken,” Schneider added.

According to the CBC, the current case is complicated by the fact that the Canadian was serving as a UN Police agent. The CBC reports:

Soldiers can be tried in a military court, but under UN rules, civilian staff — including police officers — are immune from criminal prosecution in the country where the alleged offence occurred. Once back in Canada, they cannot be charged for a crime committed abroad.

Since 2007, the majority of sexual abuse allegations have involved civilian (including police) staff, while 40 percent of allegations involved military personnel. While police are granted immunity from local courts, military personnel are also afforded a layer of protection. In fact, the UN has little control over investigating and punishing military personnel accused of wrongdoing. According to an ICG interview with a senior official in the Conduct and Discipline Unit of MINUSTAH, “The UN reviews cases and urges countries to provide faster follow-up but does not investigate to determine if discipline or punishment is needed.” The U.N.’s lack of ability to investigate or hold accountable those accused of wrongdoing flies in the face of the organization’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.

Looking further at the data, MINUSTAH’s track record looks even worse. Since 2008, 31 percent of the allegations involved minors, while another 30 percent involved individuals of an “unidentified” age. Also, while allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation across all U.N. missions has decreased over the last 6 years, the number of allegations involving MINUSTAH increased each year from 2009-2011, and there have been 5 such allegations already in 2013, which puts the mission on pace for more than ever before. Despite accounting for 10 percent of U.N. “peacekeeping” staff worldwide, MINUSTAH accounted for over 20 percent of the allegations of sexual abuse in 2011 and nearly 40 percent so far in 2013.

In February, the United Nations confirmed that a Canadian serving with the United Nations Police contingent of MINUSTAH had been accused of sexually and physically assaulting a Haitian woman. Yesterday, Marie Rosy Kesner Auguste Ducena, a lawyer with the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network, told CBC news that, though the victim reported the assault to police, “nothing will happen… Women who will go to complain, you will see that maybe somebody will take the complaint and will say to her you will be called after. But in fact, the case will just be closed.” CBC notes that the “day after the incident, the man boarded a flight back to Canada, where he remains.”

This is but the latest in a series of sexual abuse allegations leveled against MINUSTAH personnel in Haiti. According to U.N. data, since 2007 there have been 70 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation against MINUSTAH members, but as CBC news points out, “not one has ended up in a Haitian court.”

The lack of accountability of U.N. military and police personnel in Haiti has “undermined” the organizations reputation and its ability to carry out its mandate, according to Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group (ICG). “The UN should ensure that in the agreement with the troop-contributing countries, that there is an understanding of what will happen if an abuse occurs — that there will be a full investigation, and that there will be appropriate action taken,” Schneider added.

According to the CBC, the current case is complicated by the fact that the Canadian was serving as a UN Police agent. The CBC reports:

Soldiers can be tried in a military court, but under UN rules, civilian staff — including police officers — are immune from criminal prosecution in the country where the alleged offence occurred. Once back in Canada, they cannot be charged for a crime committed abroad.

Since 2007, the majority of sexual abuse allegations have involved civilian (including police) staff, while 40 percent of allegations involved military personnel. While police are granted immunity from local courts, military personnel are also afforded a layer of protection. In fact, the UN has little control over investigating and punishing military personnel accused of wrongdoing. According to an ICG interview with a senior official in the Conduct and Discipline Unit of MINUSTAH, “The UN reviews cases and urges countries to provide faster follow-up but does not investigate to determine if discipline or punishment is needed.” The U.N.’s lack of ability to investigate or hold accountable those accused of wrongdoing flies in the face of the organization’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.

Looking further at the data, MINUSTAH’s track record looks even worse. Since 2008, 31 percent of the allegations involved minors, while another 30 percent involved individuals of an “unidentified” age. Also, while allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation across all U.N. missions has decreased over the last 6 years, the number of allegations involving MINUSTAH increased each year from 2009-2011, and there have been 5 such allegations already in 2013, which puts the mission on pace for more than ever before. Despite accounting for 10 percent of U.N. “peacekeeping” staff worldwide, MINUSTAH accounted for over 20 percent of the allegations of sexual abuse in 2011 and nearly 40 percent so far in 2013.

The IOM reported this week that over the last three months, some 27,000 people have left IDP camps, bringing the total amount remaining to around 320,000. The IOM credits the vast majority of this reduction, some 74 percent, on relocation programs – most often a one-year rental subsidy. The report’s “highlights” section says that “Evictions accounted for a 6% decrease in IDP household population.”  Yet the data in the report directly contradicts this. Of a reported reduction of 6,401 households, the IOM says 977 were forced to leave due to evictions, representing over 15 percent of the total reduction.

But even this is most likely an underestimate. Over previous months, there has been “a dramatic new wave of forced evictions,” according to the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). One camp which has been under the threat of eviction, and from which some families have already been evicted, is Camp Gaston Margon. On March 22, Amnesty International released a statement, warning that:

Approximately 650 families living in Gaston Margon displacement camp in the Port-au-Prince municipality of Carrefour are currently under the threat of forced eviction. Already, on 15 February, 150 families were forcibly evicted from the camp by police officers and a group of men carrying machetes and knives who were accompanied by a local justice of the peace. The armed men began destroying the families’ shelters, while some people were still inside, and attacked individuals that attempted to stop them. The police also shot their firearms into the air to intimidate the families. One infant was reported to have suffered injuries when armed men and police damaged a shelter with the child still inside. The men reportedly threatened to burn down the entire camp and to kill the children of families who did not move.

During the previous IOM reporting period, Camp Margon had a population of 3,376. During the most recent reporting period, the population had decreased to 2,327. Given the reports of threats of eviction, and at least a partial eviction, it is clear that this reduction is not simply a case of “spontaneous return,” as the IOM report implicitly states.

In videos posted earlier this week by Let Haiti Live, residents of Camp Gaston Margon talk about the threats:

We have been living in this camp for three years and two months since the earthquake. We have faced a lot of threats from the landowner because we are on private land. One time they came to destroy the camp and they ripped our tents, we rebuilt the tents again. I used to live in a first part of the camp and when they forced us to leave I came here. The landowner wants the land to build his business.

We stay here because we have nowhere to go. When it rains we have a lot of problems and in the night it’s as though we live under streetlights because our tarps are no good. If the government relocates us from the camps it would be a miracle.

As the IOM’s own report notes, of those remaining in the camps, some 27 percent are facing the threat of eviction. This compares to 18 percent who stand to benefit from planned return programs. In the meantime, IDPs continue to be targeted with violent threats of eviction. Amnesty International, which will be releasing a report on the issue of evictions next week, issued a statement on Wednesday urging an investigation into “[a]llegations that a man died after being beaten by the police as he took part in a protest against an arson attack on a camp for displaced people in Haiti’s capital.” Amnesty notes that the “attack occurred less than 48 hours after the alleged owner of a portion of the land where the camp is located told the residents that he would “use all possible means to evict them.””

Javier Zúñiga, a special adviser for Amnesty International, said, “Unfortunately this incident is emblematic of the situation of powerlessness in which thousands of people still living in displacement camps find themselves.” Adding, “This terrible event is proof of the consequences of continuing forced evictions in Haiti.”

 

The IOM reported this week that over the last three months, some 27,000 people have left IDP camps, bringing the total amount remaining to around 320,000. The IOM credits the vast majority of this reduction, some 74 percent, on relocation programs – most often a one-year rental subsidy. The report’s “highlights” section says that “Evictions accounted for a 6% decrease in IDP household population.”  Yet the data in the report directly contradicts this. Of a reported reduction of 6,401 households, the IOM says 977 were forced to leave due to evictions, representing over 15 percent of the total reduction.

But even this is most likely an underestimate. Over previous months, there has been “a dramatic new wave of forced evictions,” according to the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). One camp which has been under the threat of eviction, and from which some families have already been evicted, is Camp Gaston Margon. On March 22, Amnesty International released a statement, warning that:

Approximately 650 families living in Gaston Margon displacement camp in the Port-au-Prince municipality of Carrefour are currently under the threat of forced eviction. Already, on 15 February, 150 families were forcibly evicted from the camp by police officers and a group of men carrying machetes and knives who were accompanied by a local justice of the peace. The armed men began destroying the families’ shelters, while some people were still inside, and attacked individuals that attempted to stop them. The police also shot their firearms into the air to intimidate the families. One infant was reported to have suffered injuries when armed men and police damaged a shelter with the child still inside. The men reportedly threatened to burn down the entire camp and to kill the children of families who did not move.

During the previous IOM reporting period, Camp Margon had a population of 3,376. During the most recent reporting period, the population had decreased to 2,327. Given the reports of threats of eviction, and at least a partial eviction, it is clear that this reduction is not simply a case of “spontaneous return,” as the IOM report implicitly states.

In videos posted earlier this week by Let Haiti Live, residents of Camp Gaston Margon talk about the threats:

We have been living in this camp for three years and two months since the earthquake. We have faced a lot of threats from the landowner because we are on private land. One time they came to destroy the camp and they ripped our tents, we rebuilt the tents again. I used to live in a first part of the camp and when they forced us to leave I came here. The landowner wants the land to build his business.

We stay here because we have nowhere to go. When it rains we have a lot of problems and in the night it’s as though we live under streetlights because our tarps are no good. If the government relocates us from the camps it would be a miracle.

As the IOM’s own report notes, of those remaining in the camps, some 27 percent are facing the threat of eviction. This compares to 18 percent who stand to benefit from planned return programs. In the meantime, IDPs continue to be targeted with violent threats of eviction. Amnesty International, which will be releasing a report on the issue of evictions next week, issued a statement on Wednesday urging an investigation into “[a]llegations that a man died after being beaten by the police as he took part in a protest against an arson attack on a camp for displaced people in Haiti’s capital.” Amnesty notes that the “attack occurred less than 48 hours after the alleged owner of a portion of the land where the camp is located told the residents that he would “use all possible means to evict them.””

Javier Zúñiga, a special adviser for Amnesty International, said, “Unfortunately this incident is emblematic of the situation of powerlessness in which thousands of people still living in displacement camps find themselves.” Adding, “This terrible event is proof of the consequences of continuing forced evictions in Haiti.”

 

In a press release yesterday, DynCorp International announced that the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) had awarded the company with a $48.6 million contract. The purpose of the contract is to “recruit and support up to 100 UNPOL and 10 U.N. Corrections Advisors. DI will also provide logistics support to the Haitian National Police (HNP) Academy and each academy class. In addition, DI will supply five high-level French and Haitian Creole speaking subject matter experts to advise senior HNP officials.”

While the press release went out yesterday, the contract was actually awarded to DynCorp a year ago, and the first funding through the award was given to DynCorp in November 2012 in the amount of $12.9 million. DynCorp is one of the largest government contractors, receiving well over $3 billion in 2012.

As the company points out, its previous work in Haiti began in 2008 and involved the training of over 400 police officers. That work, part of the Haiti Stabilization Initiative, also entailed increasing the size of the U.N. military base in Cite Soleil. DynCorp, which continues to receive funds through that task order, has received over $23 million since 2008 for its work in Haiti.

One of the primary tasks of the U.N. military mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is to recruit and train members for the Haitian National Police, so that they could eventually take over for the foreign troops. With this latest contract, DynCorp has gone from training police to take over for MINUSTAH, to simply supplying troops directly to MINUSTAH.

But the awarding of the contract to DynCorp is also problematic given the company’s terrible track record in the same exact program areas where they will now operate in Haiti. 

In Bosnia in the late ‘90s, DynCorp was contracted by the State Department to provide “peacekeepers” for the U.N. police there, just as in Haiti now. One employee, Kathryn Bolkovac, was eventually fired after blowing the whistle to her superiors at DynCorp on the participation of her colleagues in sex trafficking, among other abuses. The case was the basis for the 2011 Hollywood movie, The Whistleblower.

Unfortunately, these types of abuses have been all too common in Haiti since the arrival of U.N. troops in 2004. And similar to the situation in Bosnia, there have been only sporadic and piecemeal efforts to hold those responsible, accountable.

Additionally, DynCorp has a history of waste, fraud and abuse, including under U.S. government contracts to provide police training in Afghanistan and Iraq, similar to their program in Haiti. In 2010, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued a report which found that the State Department and DynCorp could not account for $1 billion dollars spent training the Iraq police. At the time, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said “[INL has]been managing this contract in Iraq since 2004 and, according to this report, they have no idea where any of the money went… What’s even worse is that these are the same people responsible for police training in Afghanistan, so I don’t have any confidence that they’re doing a better job there.”

Sure enough, in 2011 DynCorp was slammed by a joint audit from the State Department and Department of Defense over their work training the Afghan police.  It wasn’t the first time. Also In 2011, according to the Project on Government Oversight’s Contractor Misconduct Database, DynCorp paid $7.7 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit after a whistleblower alleged that the company had inflated claims under a “contract with the State Department to provide civilian police training in Iraq.”

In a press release yesterday, DynCorp International announced that the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) had awarded the company with a $48.6 million contract. The purpose of the contract is to “recruit and support up to 100 UNPOL and 10 U.N. Corrections Advisors. DI will also provide logistics support to the Haitian National Police (HNP) Academy and each academy class. In addition, DI will supply five high-level French and Haitian Creole speaking subject matter experts to advise senior HNP officials.”

While the press release went out yesterday, the contract was actually awarded to DynCorp a year ago, and the first funding through the award was given to DynCorp in November 2012 in the amount of $12.9 million. DynCorp is one of the largest government contractors, receiving well over $3 billion in 2012.

As the company points out, its previous work in Haiti began in 2008 and involved the training of over 400 police officers. That work, part of the Haiti Stabilization Initiative, also entailed increasing the size of the U.N. military base in Cite Soleil. DynCorp, which continues to receive funds through that task order, has received over $23 million since 2008 for its work in Haiti.

One of the primary tasks of the U.N. military mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is to recruit and train members for the Haitian National Police, so that they could eventually take over for the foreign troops. With this latest contract, DynCorp has gone from training police to take over for MINUSTAH, to simply supplying troops directly to MINUSTAH.

But the awarding of the contract to DynCorp is also problematic given the company’s terrible track record in the same exact program areas where they will now operate in Haiti. 

In Bosnia in the late ‘90s, DynCorp was contracted by the State Department to provide “peacekeepers” for the U.N. police there, just as in Haiti now. One employee, Kathryn Bolkovac, was eventually fired after blowing the whistle to her superiors at DynCorp on the participation of her colleagues in sex trafficking, among other abuses. The case was the basis for the 2011 Hollywood movie, The Whistleblower.

Unfortunately, these types of abuses have been all too common in Haiti since the arrival of U.N. troops in 2004. And similar to the situation in Bosnia, there have been only sporadic and piecemeal efforts to hold those responsible, accountable.

Additionally, DynCorp has a history of waste, fraud and abuse, including under U.S. government contracts to provide police training in Afghanistan and Iraq, similar to their program in Haiti. In 2010, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued a report which found that the State Department and DynCorp could not account for $1 billion dollars spent training the Iraq police. At the time, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said “[INL has]been managing this contract in Iraq since 2004 and, according to this report, they have no idea where any of the money went… What’s even worse is that these are the same people responsible for police training in Afghanistan, so I don’t have any confidence that they’re doing a better job there.”

Sure enough, in 2011 DynCorp was slammed by a joint audit from the State Department and Department of Defense over their work training the Afghan police.  It wasn’t the first time. Also In 2011, according to the Project on Government Oversight’s Contractor Misconduct Database, DynCorp paid $7.7 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit after a whistleblower alleged that the company had inflated claims under a “contract with the State Department to provide civilian police training in Iraq.”

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Obama administration plans to change the way U.S. food assistance to other countries is conducted. The reforms, according to the Times’ Ron Nixon, would notably focus on local procurement of food rather than shipping U.S.-grown crops overseas. This is something we and other groups have proposed be done to both assist Haitian farmers and food insecure people in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Despite some interest from some congressional offices, the proposal never went anywhere.

Nixon notes that current U.S. food aid practices are unique: “The United States spends about $1.4 billion a year on food aid and is the only major donor country that continues to send food to humanitarian crisis spots, rather than buying food produced locally.” A recent op-ed by the Center for Global Development’s Charles Kenny in Bloomberg Businessweek noted additionally that “The U.S. food aid program… spends roughly an additional $1 billion transporting the crops overseas, in most cases using U.S.-flagged ships.”

U.S. food aid to Haiti is emblematic of the program as a whole. As we have previously noted, in roughly the first year after the 2010 earthquake, USAID signed nine contracts with three shipping companies to send 73,000 metric tons of rice and other commodities in Title II emergency food aid to Haiti, at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of over $18 million dollars.

The Associated Press’ Mary Clare Jalonick reports on other controversial aspects of the U.S. food aid regime:

Particularly controversial is the process of what is called “monetization,” or selling the food once it arrives overseas to finance development projects. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office found monetization cost the U.S. an extra $219 million over a three years, money that could have been used for other development projects.

Aid groups are split on the point, since some finance their activities through monetization. But major aid groups like Oxfam and CARE say the process can destroy local agriculture by dumping cheap crops on the market at a price too low for local farmers to compete.

Nixon noted that “A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm, also concluded that the system of supplying food to charities to sell for cash was “inherently inefficient.” The G.A.O found that nearly $300 million was lost because of inefficiencies in the program.”

The Obama administration’s proposed changes, however, could greatly increase the number of people helped by U.S. food assistance overseas, while also supporting local farmers in recipient countries. Jalonick reports that “Gawain Kripke of Oxfam says his group estimates that by spending the same amount of money [as the U.S. currently spends on food aid], the United States could provide assistance for 17 million more poor people by changing the way the aid is distributed.”

Food insecurity in Haiti is currently a significant and growing concern. The U.N. reported this week that “that more than more than 1.5 million of Haiti’s people are at risk of malnutrition because of crops lost in [Hurricane Sandy,” AP noted. This means that “At least one in five households faces a serious food deficit and acute malnutrition despite efforts to reduce hunger.”

But as with past efforts to reform U.S. food assistance, the proposed changes are strongly opposed by vested interests. Nixon writes:

In a letter to members of Congress and the Obama administration, more than 60 organizations like the USA Rice Federation and the American Maritime Congress defended the way the program is currently run and called on lawmakers and the Obama administration to resist changing it.

“Growing, manufacturing, bagging, shipping and transportation of nutritious U.S. food creates jobs and economic activity here at home, provides support for our U.S. Merchant Marine, essential to our national defense sealift capability, and sustains a robust domestic constituency for these programs not easily replicated in foreign aid programs,” the groups wrote. [That full letter is available here.]

AP describes the opposition to food aid reform within the U.S. Senate:

Worried that an overhaul of the Food for Peace program could come in Obama’s budget, a bipartisan group of 21 senators wrote a letter to the president in February asking him not to make changes.

“American agriculture is one of the few U.S. business sectors to produce a trade surplus, exporting $108 billion in farm goods in 2010,” the senators wrote. “During this time of economic distress, we should maintain support for the areas of our economy that are growing.”

The letter was signed by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, the Democratic chairman of the Senate subcommittee that controls agriculture spending. The top Republicans on both of those panels signed the letter as well, as did Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. [The full letter is available here.]

Some farmers’ organizations were candid about other goals currently served by traditional U.S. food aid practices. As Jalonick reported:

Farm groups say the program is also a public relations tool for the United States.

“Bags of U.S.-grown food bearing the U.S. flag and stamped as “From the American People” serve as ambassadors of our nation’s goodwill, which can help to address the root causes of instability,” several farm and shipping groups wrote in a February letter to Obama.

“These are the kinds of things you don’t want to make dramatic quick changes to,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, one of the groups that signed the letter.

But it is questionable what sort of positive PR is achieved when Haitian farmers lose their livelihoods because they are undermined by cheap imported rice “bearing the U.S. flag.”

Considering that 1.5 million people in Haiti are at risk of malnutrition, according to the U.N., the U.S. Senators, farmers’ organizations and agribusinesses that oppose food aid reform may want to reconsider their priorities. Should the U.S. help to end hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in Haiti and other countries, or will it continue to put the interests of big agribusinesses, food producers and shipping contractors first?

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Obama administration plans to change the way U.S. food assistance to other countries is conducted. The reforms, according to the Times’ Ron Nixon, would notably focus on local procurement of food rather than shipping U.S.-grown crops overseas. This is something we and other groups have proposed be done to both assist Haitian farmers and food insecure people in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Despite some interest from some congressional offices, the proposal never went anywhere.

Nixon notes that current U.S. food aid practices are unique: “The United States spends about $1.4 billion a year on food aid and is the only major donor country that continues to send food to humanitarian crisis spots, rather than buying food produced locally.” A recent op-ed by the Center for Global Development’s Charles Kenny in Bloomberg Businessweek noted additionally that “The U.S. food aid program… spends roughly an additional $1 billion transporting the crops overseas, in most cases using U.S.-flagged ships.”

U.S. food aid to Haiti is emblematic of the program as a whole. As we have previously noted, in roughly the first year after the 2010 earthquake, USAID signed nine contracts with three shipping companies to send 73,000 metric tons of rice and other commodities in Title II emergency food aid to Haiti, at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of over $18 million dollars.

The Associated Press’ Mary Clare Jalonick reports on other controversial aspects of the U.S. food aid regime:

Particularly controversial is the process of what is called “monetization,” or selling the food once it arrives overseas to finance development projects. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office found monetization cost the U.S. an extra $219 million over a three years, money that could have been used for other development projects.

Aid groups are split on the point, since some finance their activities through monetization. But major aid groups like Oxfam and CARE say the process can destroy local agriculture by dumping cheap crops on the market at a price too low for local farmers to compete.

Nixon noted that “A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm, also concluded that the system of supplying food to charities to sell for cash was “inherently inefficient.” The G.A.O found that nearly $300 million was lost because of inefficiencies in the program.”

The Obama administration’s proposed changes, however, could greatly increase the number of people helped by U.S. food assistance overseas, while also supporting local farmers in recipient countries. Jalonick reports that “Gawain Kripke of Oxfam says his group estimates that by spending the same amount of money [as the U.S. currently spends on food aid], the United States could provide assistance for 17 million more poor people by changing the way the aid is distributed.”

Food insecurity in Haiti is currently a significant and growing concern. The U.N. reported this week that “that more than more than 1.5 million of Haiti’s people are at risk of malnutrition because of crops lost in [Hurricane Sandy,” AP noted. This means that “At least one in five households faces a serious food deficit and acute malnutrition despite efforts to reduce hunger.”

But as with past efforts to reform U.S. food assistance, the proposed changes are strongly opposed by vested interests. Nixon writes:

In a letter to members of Congress and the Obama administration, more than 60 organizations like the USA Rice Federation and the American Maritime Congress defended the way the program is currently run and called on lawmakers and the Obama administration to resist changing it.

“Growing, manufacturing, bagging, shipping and transportation of nutritious U.S. food creates jobs and economic activity here at home, provides support for our U.S. Merchant Marine, essential to our national defense sealift capability, and sustains a robust domestic constituency for these programs not easily replicated in foreign aid programs,” the groups wrote. [That full letter is available here.]

AP describes the opposition to food aid reform within the U.S. Senate:

Worried that an overhaul of the Food for Peace program could come in Obama’s budget, a bipartisan group of 21 senators wrote a letter to the president in February asking him not to make changes.

“American agriculture is one of the few U.S. business sectors to produce a trade surplus, exporting $108 billion in farm goods in 2010,” the senators wrote. “During this time of economic distress, we should maintain support for the areas of our economy that are growing.”

The letter was signed by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, the Democratic chairman of the Senate subcommittee that controls agriculture spending. The top Republicans on both of those panels signed the letter as well, as did Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. [The full letter is available here.]

Some farmers’ organizations were candid about other goals currently served by traditional U.S. food aid practices. As Jalonick reported:

Farm groups say the program is also a public relations tool for the United States.

“Bags of U.S.-grown food bearing the U.S. flag and stamped as “From the American People” serve as ambassadors of our nation’s goodwill, which can help to address the root causes of instability,” several farm and shipping groups wrote in a February letter to Obama.

“These are the kinds of things you don’t want to make dramatic quick changes to,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, one of the groups that signed the letter.

But it is questionable what sort of positive PR is achieved when Haitian farmers lose their livelihoods because they are undermined by cheap imported rice “bearing the U.S. flag.”

Considering that 1.5 million people in Haiti are at risk of malnutrition, according to the U.N., the U.S. Senators, farmers’ organizations and agribusinesses that oppose food aid reform may want to reconsider their priorities. Should the U.S. help to end hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in Haiti and other countries, or will it continue to put the interests of big agribusinesses, food producers and shipping contractors first?

Today, CEPR released a new report authored by Jake Johnston and Alex Main on USAID in Haiti. The paper looks at the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, what we know about how it is being administered, to what extent it is adhering to the USAID Forward reform agenda and what steps can be taken to ensure more effective and transparent delivery of aid to Haiti. While one can see who the primary awardees are, the lack of more detailed data creates the impression that U.S. foreign assistance goes into a “black box” where it becomes nearly impossible to tell what happens afterwards.

The report notes that the few audits and evaluations of USAID’s programs in Haiti since the earthquake present a “troubling picture of the manner in which U.S. relief and reconstruction efforts have been conducted so far.” Contractors have hired far fewer Haitians than promised, Haitian businesses were largely excluded, goals were not met, there was inadequate supervision of grantees, and USAID had not conducted internal financial reviews of contractors.

The paper makes several recommendations for how to improve transparency and accountability around the $1 billion in outstanding obligated U.S. aid funds for Haiti, as well as around any additional aid funding in the future. These include making data available on subcontractors; ensuring awardee compliance with federal regulations and contract requirements; reducing reliance on large, multi-year contracts that favor traditional partners while increasing direct contracting to Haitian entities; strengthening USAID’s capacity to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation of assistance programs; making all evaluations publically available; ensuring the involvement of local populations; and making all available information on assistance programs accessible to Haitians – including via translations to Haitian Creole.

“Without transparency, not only is it impossible for U.S. taxpayers to know what is being done with their money, but the Haitian government and the Haitian people have little opportunity to ensure that U.S.-funded projects actually assist Haiti in rebuilding and dealing with ongoing urgent humanitarian needs,” paper co-author Alex Main said.

Below are a series of graphs from the report, illustrating what we do know and the limitations of the data available.

Total USAID Obligations in Millions of USD

alt

Since the earthquake in January 2010, USAID has awarded $1.15 billion in contracts and grants. 

Top Ten USAID Awardees (in Millions of USD)

alt

More than half of the $1.15 billion have gone to the top ten recipients of USAID awards. Chemonics, the largest single recipient of USAID funds, has received more than the next three largest recipients combined.

2010-2012 USAID Funds for Haiti: Planned, Obligated, Spent (in millions of USD)

alt

While one can ascertain overall levels of funding, more detailed breakdowns are not provided. As can be seen above, of the $2.15 billion in planned spending, just 25 percent has been spent.

Sectorial Breakdown of USAID Spending in Haiti, 2010-2012

alt

USAID provides a sectorial breakdown of spending from 2010-2012, but little information on specific projects within these sectors.

Percent Breakdown in Location of USAID Prime Awardees

alt

Across all of USAID’s grants and contracts, just 0.7 percent has gone directly to Haitian organizations or firms. This is despite the USAID Forward reform program, which envisions increasing local procurement. Over 56 percent went to organizations or firms located in the Beltway area (Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia).

Share of Haiti Contracts that Have Gone to CIDC Firms

alt

More than half of all contracts awarded by USAID have gone to firms belonging to the Coalition for International Development companies, a lobbying group which is pushing back against USAID’s Forward reform agenda.

Percent of USAID Prime Awardees Reporting Subawards

alt

To truly assess where USAID funds go, and what percent is spent locally, it is vital to have information on subawards as well as on prime awards. Unfortunately, only 1 percent of all awards have publically reported information on subawards.

To read the entire report, click here

 

 

Today, CEPR released a new report authored by Jake Johnston and Alex Main on USAID in Haiti. The paper looks at the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, what we know about how it is being administered, to what extent it is adhering to the USAID Forward reform agenda and what steps can be taken to ensure more effective and transparent delivery of aid to Haiti. While one can see who the primary awardees are, the lack of more detailed data creates the impression that U.S. foreign assistance goes into a “black box” where it becomes nearly impossible to tell what happens afterwards.

The report notes that the few audits and evaluations of USAID’s programs in Haiti since the earthquake present a “troubling picture of the manner in which U.S. relief and reconstruction efforts have been conducted so far.” Contractors have hired far fewer Haitians than promised, Haitian businesses were largely excluded, goals were not met, there was inadequate supervision of grantees, and USAID had not conducted internal financial reviews of contractors.

The paper makes several recommendations for how to improve transparency and accountability around the $1 billion in outstanding obligated U.S. aid funds for Haiti, as well as around any additional aid funding in the future. These include making data available on subcontractors; ensuring awardee compliance with federal regulations and contract requirements; reducing reliance on large, multi-year contracts that favor traditional partners while increasing direct contracting to Haitian entities; strengthening USAID’s capacity to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation of assistance programs; making all evaluations publically available; ensuring the involvement of local populations; and making all available information on assistance programs accessible to Haitians – including via translations to Haitian Creole.

“Without transparency, not only is it impossible for U.S. taxpayers to know what is being done with their money, but the Haitian government and the Haitian people have little opportunity to ensure that U.S.-funded projects actually assist Haiti in rebuilding and dealing with ongoing urgent humanitarian needs,” paper co-author Alex Main said.

Below are a series of graphs from the report, illustrating what we do know and the limitations of the data available.

Total USAID Obligations in Millions of USD

alt

Since the earthquake in January 2010, USAID has awarded $1.15 billion in contracts and grants. 

Top Ten USAID Awardees (in Millions of USD)

alt

More than half of the $1.15 billion have gone to the top ten recipients of USAID awards. Chemonics, the largest single recipient of USAID funds, has received more than the next three largest recipients combined.

2010-2012 USAID Funds for Haiti: Planned, Obligated, Spent (in millions of USD)

alt

While one can ascertain overall levels of funding, more detailed breakdowns are not provided. As can be seen above, of the $2.15 billion in planned spending, just 25 percent has been spent.

Sectorial Breakdown of USAID Spending in Haiti, 2010-2012

alt

USAID provides a sectorial breakdown of spending from 2010-2012, but little information on specific projects within these sectors.

Percent Breakdown in Location of USAID Prime Awardees

alt

Across all of USAID’s grants and contracts, just 0.7 percent has gone directly to Haitian organizations or firms. This is despite the USAID Forward reform program, which envisions increasing local procurement. Over 56 percent went to organizations or firms located in the Beltway area (Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia).

Share of Haiti Contracts that Have Gone to CIDC Firms

alt

More than half of all contracts awarded by USAID have gone to firms belonging to the Coalition for International Development companies, a lobbying group which is pushing back against USAID’s Forward reform agenda.

Percent of USAID Prime Awardees Reporting Subawards

alt

To truly assess where USAID funds go, and what percent is spent locally, it is vital to have information on subawards as well as on prime awards. Unfortunately, only 1 percent of all awards have publically reported information on subawards.

To read the entire report, click here

 

 

Earlier this week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favor of the 567 families that have been under constant threat of eviction in the Grace Village camp. Given the “imminent” threat to those in the camp, the IACHR urged the Government of Haiti:

1. To adopt the necessary measures to avoid the excessive use of force and of violence in any eviction.  In particular, to guarantee that the public authorities’ actions as well as those of private parties pose no risk to the life and personal integrity of the camp residents;

2. To implement effective security measures, in particular, to ensure that there is an adequate patrol around and inside the camp and to install police stations close to the camp. To this effect, the IACHR asks the Government to provide special protection to women and children;

3. To ensure that the residents have access to the potable water required for basic needs;

4. To consult with the beneficiaries and their representatives regarding the measures that need to be taken.  In particular, ensure that the camp residents’ committee as well as grassroots women’s groups can fully participate in the planning and execution of the measures implemented for the benefit of residents, including measures focused on the prevention of sexual violence and other forms of violence in the camp; and

5. To inform [the public] regarding the adopted measures so as to investigate the events that justifies the adoption of precautionary measures

As we have written previously, the residents of Grace Village have faced significant and on-going harassment, which has included government complicity at both the local and national level. The alleged owner of the land is Pastor Joel Jeune, the founder of a Florida based 501(c)(3) organization, Grace International Inc. As the request for precautionary measures points out, the pastor’s close “ties to the mayor’s office and the local police force him to enlist the help of Haitian police to carry out illegal evictions. With his private security forces and the Haitian police, Pastor Joel Jeune has orchestrated and participated in violent, forced evictions of displaced families living inside Grace Village.”

Amnesty International had warned earlier this month that the camp was “under threat of forced eviction” and that there was a “list of people from the camp” that the police were going to arrest. Amnesty urged the Haitian government to “ensure that residents of Grace Village camp are not evicted without due process, adequate notice and consultation, and that all those affected have access to adequate alternative accommodation.”

In requesting the precautionary measures, human rights lawyers Mario Joseph, Patrice Florvilus and Nicole Phillips argue that:

the Haitian government’s failure to protect a vulnerable group, while simultaneously assisting non-state actors in brutalizing this vulnerable group, violates the Equal Protection clause enshrined in Article 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights. Finally, the Haitian government’s failure to protect displaced families in Grace Village from forced evictions interferes with these individuals’ exercise of fundamental rights, including the right to life, personal liberty, privacy, family, property, and judicial protection, as guaranteed by the Inter-American Convention.

The recommendations by the IACHR “reconfirm that forced evictions from displacement camps not only add trauma to earthquake victims, but also violate Haitian and international human rights standards,” said Nicole Phillips of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. She added, “landowners should raise their concerns with the Haitian government and international community who have not provided adequate housing to earthquake victims, rather than waging violence against displaced communities desperate to find a safe home.”

Meanwhile, in Haiti today, hundreds perhaps thousands of displaced persons are marching for adequate housing and against forced evictions. Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, which is tweeting updates from the march, notes that, “Each time the IDP protest passes a camp the number of people grows; was several hundreds, now thousands.” According to the UN, over 70,000 people (20% of the total displaced population) are facing threats of eviction in 2013.

 

Earlier this week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favor of the 567 families that have been under constant threat of eviction in the Grace Village camp. Given the “imminent” threat to those in the camp, the IACHR urged the Government of Haiti:

1. To adopt the necessary measures to avoid the excessive use of force and of violence in any eviction.  In particular, to guarantee that the public authorities’ actions as well as those of private parties pose no risk to the life and personal integrity of the camp residents;

2. To implement effective security measures, in particular, to ensure that there is an adequate patrol around and inside the camp and to install police stations close to the camp. To this effect, the IACHR asks the Government to provide special protection to women and children;

3. To ensure that the residents have access to the potable water required for basic needs;

4. To consult with the beneficiaries and their representatives regarding the measures that need to be taken.  In particular, ensure that the camp residents’ committee as well as grassroots women’s groups can fully participate in the planning and execution of the measures implemented for the benefit of residents, including measures focused on the prevention of sexual violence and other forms of violence in the camp; and

5. To inform [the public] regarding the adopted measures so as to investigate the events that justifies the adoption of precautionary measures

As we have written previously, the residents of Grace Village have faced significant and on-going harassment, which has included government complicity at both the local and national level. The alleged owner of the land is Pastor Joel Jeune, the founder of a Florida based 501(c)(3) organization, Grace International Inc. As the request for precautionary measures points out, the pastor’s close “ties to the mayor’s office and the local police force him to enlist the help of Haitian police to carry out illegal evictions. With his private security forces and the Haitian police, Pastor Joel Jeune has orchestrated and participated in violent, forced evictions of displaced families living inside Grace Village.”

Amnesty International had warned earlier this month that the camp was “under threat of forced eviction” and that there was a “list of people from the camp” that the police were going to arrest. Amnesty urged the Haitian government to “ensure that residents of Grace Village camp are not evicted without due process, adequate notice and consultation, and that all those affected have access to adequate alternative accommodation.”

In requesting the precautionary measures, human rights lawyers Mario Joseph, Patrice Florvilus and Nicole Phillips argue that:

the Haitian government’s failure to protect a vulnerable group, while simultaneously assisting non-state actors in brutalizing this vulnerable group, violates the Equal Protection clause enshrined in Article 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights. Finally, the Haitian government’s failure to protect displaced families in Grace Village from forced evictions interferes with these individuals’ exercise of fundamental rights, including the right to life, personal liberty, privacy, family, property, and judicial protection, as guaranteed by the Inter-American Convention.

The recommendations by the IACHR “reconfirm that forced evictions from displacement camps not only add trauma to earthquake victims, but also violate Haitian and international human rights standards,” said Nicole Phillips of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. She added, “landowners should raise their concerns with the Haitian government and international community who have not provided adequate housing to earthquake victims, rather than waging violence against displaced communities desperate to find a safe home.”

Meanwhile, in Haiti today, hundreds perhaps thousands of displaced persons are marching for adequate housing and against forced evictions. Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, which is tweeting updates from the march, notes that, “Each time the IDP protest passes a camp the number of people grows; was several hundreds, now thousands.” According to the UN, over 70,000 people (20% of the total displaced population) are facing threats of eviction in 2013.

 

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