Human rights lawyers sue UN over Haiti cholera outbreak

[JURIST] The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) [advocacy website] on Wednesday filed a complaint [press release] against the UN [official website] for compensation of Haiti's cholera victims and their families. The complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] and comes amid the UN's refusal to compensate the victims earlier this year. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] stated [press release] that the claims brought on behalf of victims of the cholera outbreak in Haiti cannot be received. Ban relied on Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN [materials] that requires the international body to "make provisions for appropriate modes of settlement" in which the UN is a party. The epidemic [CDC backgrounder] has killed more than 8,300 Haitians and sickened more than 650,000 since its introduction in 2010.

JURIST Guest Columnists Maria-Elena Kolovos and Beatrice Lindstrom of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux stated [JURIST op-ed] that for the Haitian cholera victims to be properly compensated for their injuries, the UN must respect its own rules and take accountability for its malfeasance instead of attributing the epidemic to "a confluence of circumstances" beyond its control. In January 2011, Ban announced that he would appoint an independent panel [press release] to investigate the source of the cholera outbreak in Haiti. The panel's final report [text, PDF], published in May, stated that the outbreak was likely caused by "human activity," but also concluded the resultant epidemic was caused by a "confluence of circumstances" and was "not the fault of ... a group or individual." In November 2011, IJDH had filed petition [JURIST report] that alleged UN is liable for failing to screen its representatives as they entered Haiti, dumping untreated waste into Haiti's most important river, the Artibonite, and failing to adequately to respond to the epidemic.

 

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