Haiti: IACHR Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

April 4, 2011

Case Description 

The Center for Constitutional Rights has long stood in solidarity with popular and democratic movements in Haiti to address the undemocratic forces at play there and the interests in the United States and elsewhere that have supported them.  As part of the International Haiti Support Network in the early 90’s, CCR spearheaded a campaign to have Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, a notorious death squad leader, extradited to Haiti to face trial for crimes committed during the military dictatorship after the 1991 overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. CCR  later served as co-counsel in a civil case brought on behalf of three women who survived attempted killings, rapes and other forms of torture at the hands of the  paramilitary group led by Constant. Prior to the 1991 coup, CCR sued the former dictator Prosper Avril in a U.S. District Court on behalf of six prominent Haitian political activists for torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and false imprisonment.

CCR’s work in solidarity continues after the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010. Through engaging the media and the international community, CCR has worked to raise the importance of adhering to international human rights standards in the recovery process. CCR has participated in efforts in the U.S. immigration context to end the unnecessary and arbitrary detention of Haitians under orders of removal in light of the impossibility of their return to Haiti given the devastation there.  CCR has also assisted efforts to seek precautionary measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect against the sexual and gender-based violence occurring in the camps and to end the forced evictions of internally displaced Haitians from already-substandard camps.

Earthquake, January 12, 2010 

On January 12, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The country’s infrastructure was devastated and at least 200,000 people died. 1.5 million people are estimated to be living in 1,300 camps for internally displaced persons (IDP camps). Shelter and security in the camps is inadequate and access to food, clean water & hygiene facilities varies from camp to camp and is sometimes nonexistent. Ten months after the earthquake, only approximately twenty percent of the aid pledged by the international community had made its way to Haiti; and none of the aid for reconstruction pledged by the United States had been delivered. 

CCR co-signed a letter in the days after the earthquake that called on donor governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to adhere to international human rights principles in responding to the needs of the people of Haiti.

In the weeks after the earthquake, CCR produced a Know Your Rights flier for Haitian IDPs in Haitian Kreyol, which the Port au Prince-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) distributed in the IDP camps.