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“Haiti is worse than this” – EyeWitness News



NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS – After surviving deadly Hurricane Dorian, and now stuck in limbo in cramped shelters across New Providence facing deportation threats amid worsening ethnic tensions, Haitian migrants insisted yesterday, “Haiti is worse than this”.

“There are a lot of people not sleeping in there,” said Joseph Baptiste outside the Kendal G. L. Issacs Gymnasium.

“They are not eating. They have a lot of stress and worry. People are crying throughout the night. A lot of them lost their children.”

Migrants interviewed by Eyewitness News Online spoke in Haitian Kreyol, and their words were translated by Rights Bahamas President Stephanie St Fleur and member Rosie Bethel. They were all undocumented and their names have been changed to protect their identities.

It’s been one month since the Category 5 storm washed away the life they all knew.

Their comments came as police reported that another body had been found in The Peas, bringing the number of confirmed deaths to 61.

Ahead of the storm, officials went into shantytown communities to warn residents to evacuate due to the severity of the storm.

Casandra Jacques said she evacuated The Peas with her husband and son when they were told.

They went to an apartment complex in Central Pines.

However, they were forced out into the storm when the roof caved in. Jacques said those who knew how to swim pushed a refrigerator while she and her child sat atop it.

She said her son hasn’t seen his father since the storm, but he cries for him all the time.

Her husband had legal residency, and reportedly applied for her status before the storm.

She claimed her documents are ready but believes she will no longer be granted status due to his death.

Asked about her family in Haiti, Jacques said: “They crying because of the situation. The tragedy that happen, especially because how I’m here and my husband passed in the storm.

However, she added: “Haiti is worse than this”.

On Thursday, several migrants said this was not the life they envisioned when they took the perilous seven-day boat trip to the country.

For 23-year-old mother Jennie Pierre, the storm has now put her back where she was nearly two and half years ago.

Pierre said she paid a boat captain $2,500 in 2017 to bring her to The Bahamas, along with 30 other Haitian migrants.

She left her first child behind in Haiti in the care of relatives, and now has a one-year-old infant who was born in The Bahamas.

Pierre said they were dropped off in Eleuthera and she made her way to Abaco, where her husband was already working and living.

“God brought me here,” Pierre said.

“The sea was rough and you had to be squashed in the boat.

“I’m afraid to go back. They having riots all the time and burning the country down.

“It doesn’t make any sense going back home. There’s nothing there, only more problems.”

Pierre worked in Hope Town as a housekeeper before the storm, and claimed she had started her work permit process.

Immigration law mandates the application process for a work permit must be filed from the applicant’s home country.

Pierre said her employer survived the storm, but she is unsure whether her application will be continued.

Her husband – who is also undocumented – is still in Hope Town assisting clean up efforts, she said.

On Thursday, scores of storm victims could be seen milling around, just trying to pass the time.

Many of them were evacuated from Abaco after their shantytown homes were flattened by Dorian.

The preliminary Abaco Shantytown Assessment Report, 2018, revealed that 41.1 percent of residents in shantytowns on Abaco reportedly held work permits as the legal ground for being in The Bahamas.

The report stated 70 percent of respondents in shantytowns in South Abaco had identified themselves as undocumented.

Rumors that immigration officials will begin sweeping shelters for undocumented migrants has intensified anxiety in the displaced community, Eyewitness News Online was told.

Pierre said she cannot go back to Abaco because she fears her baby will get sick without any functioning clinics or hospitals there.

She said she did not know what to do because she has no where to go and does not want to get caught.

If deported, Pierre believes her infant daughter will not be able to apply for Bahamian citizenship at 18.

She said she spends her days worrying and praying for herself and her child.

As of September 27, there were 1,041 evacuees being housed at the gym and three tents erected on the grounds.

However, migrants interviewed claimed numbers are slowly dwindling as they believe people who leave the property are being picked up by immigration and taken to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

“I am afraid to leave the property,” said Wilson Jean.

“People go missing from the shelter everyday. Once they leave, they don’t come back.”

Jean continued: “They are apprehended in the streets, even ones who have bands on from the shelter. When they don’t have stuff, they would go to the market to try to get some stuff and they get taken.”

In an address to Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he told the International Organization for Migration the country’s laws on “illegals” will be carried out in a humane manner.

Minnis warned migrants to leave or be forced to leave

A few days earlier, Attorney General Carl Bethel advised work permit holders who have lost their jobs due to the storm to “go home”.

But with intense poverty in Haiti and ongoing political unrest, migrants told Eyewitness News Online going “home” is not an option.

Cynthia Henry, a mother of one and grandmother of two, said she understands her nephew was apprehended, and there’s nothing anyone can do for him.

Henry said she hasn’t had a work permit since 2013 when her former boss died.

His daughter had promised to apply for one after he passed but the family suffered financial challenges and Henry was left to figure it out on her own.

Henry’s 32-year old daughter only holds a work permit and a promise from her Abaco employer that she can come back to work when conditions normalize.

As for Samuel Dacius, he said his work permit expired on Thursday.

“The storm just happened and we lost everything,” Dacius said.

“If the government could at least give us a chance to function before they deport us. We were living and surviving in Abaco, but now we have nothing.

“I have no problem going back to Haiti because that’s my home. But it’s just that I don’t have any support or anything to take back home.”






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Former Antigua Regulator Appears in US Court on Fraud Charges Days After Being Extradited




Leroy King is now in jail in the US on fraud charges.

HOUSTON, Texas, Wednesday November 13, 2019 – The former chief of Antigua and Barbuda’s
Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) Leroy King has made his first
court appearance in the United States, days after being extradited from the
twin-island nation to face charges for his alleged role in connection with the
Stanford International Bank (SIB) US$7 billion investment fraud scheme.

King, 74, was the last remaining defendant in the SIB Ponzi scheme. He had been fighting his extradition since he was charged in June 2009.

He appeared before US
Magistrate Judge Dena Hanovice Palermo in Houston, Texas, yesterday. 

King was charged along with Allen Stanford and several others. The indictment charges him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and securities fraud; seven counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of mail fraud, one counts each of conspiracy to obstruct and obstruction of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation; and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

It is alleged that King
accepted more than US$100,000 in bribes from Stanford in exchange for ignoring
the actual value of SIB’s assets. He also allegedly assisted Stanford and
others in obstructing the SEC’s investigation into the bank.

A federal jury found
Stanford guilty in June 2012 for his role in orchestrating the 20-year
investment fraud scheme in which he misappropriated US$7 billion from SIB to
finance his personal businesses. He is serving a 110-year prison sentence.

Five others were also convicted for their roles in the scheme and received sentences ranging from three to 20 years in federal prison.

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Haïti – FLASH : Séisme au large de Saint-Marc




Haïti – FLASH : Séisme au large de Saint-Marc
15/11/2019 13:35:50

Haïti - FLASH : Séisme au large de Saint-Marc

Ce vendredi 15 novembre 2019, un séisme de magnitude 3.4 sur l’échelle de Richter a été enregistré à 10h24 et 50 secondes du matin, à 37 km au large de Saint-Marc, 32km au Nord de l’île de la Gonâve, 115 km au Nord-Ouest de Port-au-Prince, avec un épicentre à une profondeur de 31.1km.

Rappelons qu’Haïti est situé au milieu d’un vaste système de failles géologiques résultant du mouvement des plaques tectoniques des Caraïbes et de l’Amérique du Nord, ce qui explique les fréquentes secousses sismiques au pays.

HL/ HaïtiLibre

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Understanding the turmoil in Haiti – JURIST – News




Haiti has experienced many protests this year. The protests have primarily focused on a myriad of economic concerns and were initially sparked by a fuel crisis within the country. The underlying impetus of these protests, however, are allegations that many senior officials in the Haitian government, including President Jovenel Moïse, have been implicated in the misappropriation of 2 billion USD in profits from an oil deal between Venezuela and Haiti.

The intensity of these protests has been exacerbated in recent weeks by a series of domestic and international catalysts.

1. Shortages

The protestors were initially spurred by a national shortage of fuel earlier this year. Haiti’s primary fuel source for many years has been imports from Venezuela. As Venezuela’s political stability started to deteriorate, Haiti began to rely on imports from other international sources. The US-based company Novum Energy Trading Corp, soon became the primary fuel source for the country, supplying 80 percent of Haiti’s fuel last year.

As the western hemisphere’s poorest country, Haiti has fallen behind on its payments to Novum. In February, Novum anchored a vessel containing 150,000 barrels of gasoline, half of Haiti’s monthly usage, outside of Port-au-Prince, and refused to deliver the cargo until the Haitian government made payment. The Haitian government stated that “fuel distribution companies in Haiti had not paid the government for gasoline and diesel it purchased on their behalf from Novum.” As a result, the government could not make their payments, and Novum held the fuel for over a month before diverting the shipment to Jamaica on April 4th.

The cost of fuel in Haiti skyrocketed and caused many other necessities to rise with it. As the nation’s fuel supply diminished, electrical blackouts increasingly occurred throughout the country. Many Haitians frustrated with their inability to access basic necessities, and the apparent lack of government response to the problem took to the streets in protest. These continuing energy shortages are also accompanied by deficiencies of other vital resources, including food and medicine throughout the country.

2. International Aid:

There has been international support seeking to provide aid and relief to Haiti. The World Food Programme recently conducted a study in Haiti that found “more than one in three people need urgent food assistance,” or nearly 3.7 million people. The US has therefore pledged “$20 million in emergency food assistance from USAID” as well as releasing “2,000 metric tons of emergency food stocks prepositioned in Haiti for distribution via the United Nations World Food Programme.” Despite this increased aid, many of the suppliers have had issues in their distribution to the Haitian people. “Fuel shortages, roadblocks, protests, and violent incidents are severely restricting the movement of USAID staff and implementing partners” and preventing them from adequately disseminating supplies.

The recent chaos has also effected many domestic and international medical programs. Several Hospitals have closed, many have surpassed capacity, and many more are running low on or out of critical medical supplies. The USNS Comfort arrived in Haiti, on November 4th, to carry out a ten-day medical mission in the country. This stop is part of the “U.S. Navy’s Enduring Promise operation,” in which “Medical teams from USNS Comfort will be working alongside host nation medical professionals in providing a variety of medical services to adults and children.” This mission appears to have been well received by those who were able to attain access, but the presence of a single ship cannot abate the increasing need for medical supplies.

Despite widespread issues in getting aid to where it is needed most, there has also been a domestic backlash against the current role of the international community as a whole. One area of concern derives from what many Haitians believe is a tacit endorsement of the Haitian government. Many protestors feel that the US not condemning the Haitian government is tantamount to an endorsement of their actions. The US supply of aid is also seen as merely treating the symptoms rather than the sickness itself. Additionally, the US calls for a dialogue between the two sides is viewed by many protestors to undermine the validity of the protests themselves and the long history behind them. Finally, although the aid provided by foreign powers is needed by many, there are concerns that this aid will over saturate the Haitian market and destroy local markets as it did after the earthquake in 2010.

3. End of UN Peacekeeping Mission:

Amid Haiti’s current instability, the UN has ended its 15-year peacekeeping mission to Haiti and withdrawn. The last of the UN peacekeeping forces departed at the end of September. This departure turned the sole control of the military forces and their oversight back into the hands of the Haitian government. There has been sharp criticism that this move was timed poorly, and that considering the pressure the government is currently facing this new lack of oversight may allow the government to revert to other tactics.

UN troops in Haiti have faced several legal challenges since their arrival in 2004. These include allegations that the UN brought cholera to Haiti and that some troops sexually abused Haitians. The cholera outbreak in 2017 killed thousands of people and is widely believed to have been brought by peacekeepers from Nepal. Despite this belief, international courts have widely refused to hear the issue over jurisdictional concerns. Many of the allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers remain unresolved, and several paternity cases are pending in international courts.

Haiti’s UN peacekeeping mission has been replaced by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), which was established by the UN security council on October 16th. BINUH is tasked “with advising the Government of Haiti on strengthening political stability and good governance through support for an inclusive inter-Haitian national dialogue.”

4. Excessive use of force:

Amnesty International has recently verified evidence that Haitian police have used excessive force against protesters in Haiti since the departure of UN peacekeepers. Amnesty alleges that police have fired live ammunition at protesters and indiscriminately used less-lethal weapons in violation of international law.

The evidence takes the form of several videos from October, showing a series of incidents in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Amnesty published three videos that it believes prove the indiscriminate use of less-lethal weapons by Haitian police. The videos show police firing tear gas from a moving vehicle into a crowd, firing rubber bullets a close range, and an officer beating a fleeing protestor in the stomach.

Amnesty also alleges that Haitian police have used live ammunition in their attempts to break up protests. The first video shows presidential guards firing combat rifles into the air towards protesters in an attempt to force them to disperse. At least two protesters are believed to have been injured during this incident. However, attempts to verify how they were injured have been unsuccessful. The second incident shows a police officer firing a handgun directly at fleeing protesters. Amnesty believes that the protest was peaceful and that the video shows there was “no evident or immediate risk to the officer.” It should, however, also be noted that not all of the Haitian protests have been entirely peaceful and there have been many violent actions by groups within the demonstrations.

Under international law, “the use of less-lethal weapons – such as tear gas, water cannon, or rubber bullets – should be limited to specific situations after careful consideration and only when it is necessary and proportionate to a legitimate police objective.” Additionally,live ammunition is only [to be] used as a last resort and when strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life or serious injury,” and, “if the use of force is required to disperse violent public assemblies, it must conform to the principles of strict necessity and proportionality.”

The Haitian government has yet to comment on Amnesty’s allegations.

5. The threat to Journalists:

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recently published a statement on the unrest in Haiti. It found that “at least 42 people have died and 86 have been injured” in the most recent round of protests. OHCHR has attributed at least 19 of the 42 deaths to government security forces. It also found that at least one journalist had died, and many others had been injured. OHCHR has urged all actors not to endanger journalists in the country further. “We urge all actors to refrain from targeting journalists and respect the freedom of the media to report on the situation.” The growing danger to journalists in Haiti has diminished the ability of the media to cover the country. Additionally, the murder of Nehemie Joseph, a prominent Haitian journalist and critic of the government has further served to galvanize the momentum of the protestors.

In its statement, OHCHR also acknowledged the recent allegations made against the government forces.

We welcome the launching of investigations by the General Inspectorate of the Haitian National Police into allegations of human rights violations by police and stress the need for investigations to be thorough, transparent and independent, with a view to ensuring accountability, justice and truth for victims and their families – including through judicial action.

The US Embassy in Haiti recognized the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in a press release. The statement said that “the United States remembers those reporters killed while doing their jobs, and calls for an immediate end to all threats, intimidation, and violence against journalists and other media professionals for their work.”

Other Concerns:

There also many other seemingly “smaller” concerns in this sea of political upheaval that in less muddied water might be front-page news.

  • Doctors without Borders has declared that Haiti is facing a medical emergency as new “Antibiotic-resistant infections are a growing problem for burn patients.” As violence grows throughout the country, these far more difficult to treat infections could have deadly implications for those wounded.
  • The USCIS field office in Haiti has announced that it will permanently close its doors on November 29th. This decision was made under a wider Department of Homeland Security (DHS) effort to close 13 offices globally. However, it will restrict access to some immigration services for many Haitians.
  • The future of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for many Haitians living in the US continues to be uncertain. Many are concerned that the end of TPS could result in their deportation back to Haiti despite the current danger inherent in such deportation.

Many other concerns are facing Haiti that its government and people will have to overcome if the country is going to experience stability.

An Uncertain Future:

The protests in Haiti are currently ongoing. Neither side has given significant ground to the other, and tensions have continued to build over the last few months. With no clear path forward and an ever-lengthening political stalemate, the continuation of the protests is seemingly limited only by the willpower of the two sides.

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