NoName

 

 

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

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

 

These deportations have left these persons stateless.

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

 

International legal instruments related to statelessness include:

• 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 15

 

• 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons

• 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

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

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

• 1997 European Convention on Nationality

 

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

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

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

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

Haiti Elections

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

Below is an excerpt from their June 20th article:

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

 

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

How Can Haiti Really Commit to Battle Climate Change?

Haiti is strategically positioned to attract innovative energy and infrastructure projects that are in keeping with its commitment to battle climate change. We saw that commitment formalized last week when Haiti signed unto the historic United Nations (UN) Paris Climate Agreement with 174 other nations. The aims of the Agreement  is described in Article 2 of the same:

“(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;

(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

Last year, Haiti submitted (well ahead of the international climate agreement reached then) its new climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the form of a Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

Haiti’s lack of extensive infrastructure is an opportunity to build a system of roads, bridges, public transportation, and utilities that keep with its stated goals in its INDC. We hope that these unprecedented moves by Haiti and the international community translate into an innovation hub for the type of large scale projects that change the everyday lives of Haitian citizens.

Lovely Bonhomme Headshot-LG

 

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

Disability Law in Haiti

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digicel Initiative

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

Interview with Honorable Secretary Oriol:

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

Barriers to Business in Haiti

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

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

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

 

 

Lovely Bonhomme Headshot-LG

 

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

Voudou and the Law

 

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

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

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

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

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A review of the book is available here:

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

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

Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles

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

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

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

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

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

Who is the honorable Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles?

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animal Rights Legislation in Haiti

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Jaime Aquino, founder of the Haiti Ocean Project.

BBC spent three days filming Haiti Ocean Project for an upcoming “Caribbean” series in February 2015 hosted by Simon Reeve.

Ms. Aquino has come across many legal obstacles in her goal of protecting the marine animals in Haiti’s waters.

Legislation was nearly passed under the former Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, but efforts have restarted once again under new officials.

Meanwhile, the marine animals in Haiti are constantly being taken advantage of. Fisherman from other countries capture the unprotected animals and sell them for profit knowing that they cannot do this in other waters such as in the United States. Big companies will purchase captured live dolphins for 100,000 dollars or more for use in their “swim with dolphins” programs. This illegal fishing continues in Haiti due to a lack of legislation proclaiming that this type of fishing is illegal.

Also, with outdated permits, some fisheries have a right to capture a certain quantity of the marine life, and this ability is often manipulated through bribery. The inadequacy of current law is reflected in their mentioning of animals, such as mantis and seals, who have already been killed to extinction in Haiti. Walruses are also protected under current legislation but there are no walruses in Haiti.

Impoverished fishers and children are paid to collect protected marine life for a nominal price, an affront to the economy of the country, its people, and the beautiful marine life that are at home in Haiti’s waters.

Working together with marine biologists, Haiti Ocean Project has created an updated sanctuary decree for the specific species of Haiti’s waters relevant to the needs of the marine life today.

The project is all about the conservation of these animals, some of which are near extinction. Ms. Aquino gradually transitioned in her career as a teacher in Fort Lauderdale to pursue the protection these animals full time. Concerns for the animals were brought to her attention by the Haitian students in her class at that time. Now, Haiti Ocean Project also serves to educate children in Haiti but bringing to their attention the importance of marine animals.

Many of the students involved in Haiti Ocean Project have gotten scholarships for higher education, an opportunity that otherwise would not have been within a ready reach.

The ultimate goal of the Haiti Ocean Project is to construct a marine sanctuary in Haiti that will undoubtedly bring protection to these animals, allow for important research and increase tourism and employment to the country.

Ms. Aquino once believed that the legislation had received the push it needed to be enacted when a humpback whale had been harpooned on a beach and died. But the attention on the incident faded away.

Hopefully, the Haiti Ocean Project will receive the support and attention needed to properly present the proposed updates to the appropriate legislative bodies in Haiti so that they may be swiftly enacted.

Like Haiti Ocean Project on Facebook!

http://www.haitioceanproject.net

Talks Over Unified Exchange Platform for Government Data Commence in Haiti

Government leaders in Haiti have begun discussion over the Unified Exchange Platform (also known as UXP). This platform has been used by other developing nations. Some describe this software as revolutionizing the exchange of information among governmental entities. For example, data can be shared much more rapidly within the government. Proponents of this system also boast that it provides a level of security that meets the industry standard. What has not been elaborated on, however, is what type of data will actually be shared and how this system plans on protecting the privacy interests that lurk in personally identifiable information. This brings to mind the essential questions, “Is it security or privacy that we want?  If we want both, how do we balance these interests?”

Source: Pilot phase of implementation of the UXP platform, Haitilibre.com (Feb. 11, 2016), http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-16576-haiti-technology-pilot-phase-of-implementation-of-the-uxp-platform.html.

 

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