Thursday, November 24, 2011

Please support Li, Li, Li! reading storybooks in Haiti's tent camps

While we are giving thanks for family, friends, home, & country, let us also give thanks for our capacity to love, feel compassion and our ability to act on our concerns for others -- here and abroad.

Our trained teams of readers continue to read storybooks in 25 tent camps per week, reaching more than 3,000 children per month. Li, Li, Li! brings joy, stimulates imagination, ignites hope, and models literacy and the power and diversity of books. And, while cholera continues to rage and take lives, we brief children, and their families, on precautions and treatment.

Please continue to support  the unique and empowering work of Li, Li, Li! Read. Please donate today. Your gift of $25 or more will make a difference. 
Donate through our secure Paypal button at 
Look for Li, Li, Li! Reading on Facebook!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Samantha Black's Appeal Letter on Behalf of Li, Li, Li! Read

Dear Friends,

If you are receiving this mass email you know it is historic.  I don't send out mass communications ever except for work of course!   I have a wonderful thing to tell you about and a favor to ask you.  Amelia Burgess has written you about the benefit for Li Li Li, an amazing organization started by our incredible friend, Michelle Karshan.  Amelia is a board member as well as a huge supporter of the organization.  Let me tell you a bit about why the organization has moved me to not only become involved but to truly believe in their mission and purpose.  In a nutshell, Li Li Li is about putting Haiti back to work several meaningful jobs at a time while inspiring the imaginations of the most vulnerable -- the children living in tent camps all over Haiti. 

Officially,  Li, Li, Li! (which means Read, Read, Read! in Haitian Creole) is a storybook reading out loud program in Creole for Haiti's children who became homeless or displaced because of the catastrophic January 12, 2010 earthquake. Founded in February 2010, Li, Li, Li! is based in Haiti and has been reading in the camps since April 2010. Li, Li, Li! Read, Inc. is a not-for-profit program registered in the State of New York.

Li, Li, Li! provides an engaging, interactive, and fun hour-long activity for children displaced by the earthquake that addresses the trauma and anxiety children are suffering, encourages literacy, creates a model for parents to read to their children, reinforces Creole, and contributes to job creation. (Plus, it gives crucial time to parents who need a break from cramped quarters with their kids and we all know how important that is for parental sanity.)

In addition to reading books written in Creole, Li, Li, Li! translates other language storybooks into Creole and often uses puppets and dolls to animate the stories as well.

Personally, I think Edwidge Danticat who is reading at Saturday's benefit says it best when she asked the readers why they read.  "In the midst of such sadness and turmoil, why read to displaced children who live in tents and fear the rain, like the passionate Haitian readers of the Port-au-Prince-based Li, Li, Li! (Read, Read, Read!) program do every week?

"We read to these children for the same reason people read to all other children," the readers say. "We read to them to help them grow their imaginations, to teach them about the world around them. And beyond them. We also read to them to learn from them."

So here is the favor part.  Will you consider coming to the Li Li Li Reading/Benefit Cocktail Party with celebrated author Edwidge Danticat this Saturday in Brooklyn?  All details are on the home page of the website and if you can't make the reading, despite the fact that Sabrina and I will be there with other friends, ... will you consider giving a donation.  Every donation goes to supporting this amazing program and to creating desperately needed jobs in Haiti.  We all know what an important place in our education reading aloud had not to mention what a magical space it created.  Our parents gave us this joyous gift of reading and encouraging our imaginations.  Will you pass that wonderful advantage on by contributing to this fantastic organization?  Hit the donate button on the website above and I will be eternally grateful for your support of this cause.

Thanks a million for reading this and for being the wonderful supportive friends you are.

Samantha Black

New York, New York

Please feel free to pass this along to other friends all are welcome at the Benefit and donations are always needed.  This is a very grassroots organization.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Evening with Author Edwidge Danticat to Benefit Li, Li, Li! Read

Photo of Edwidge Danticat/Copyright Nancy Crampton

An Evening with Author Edwidge Danticat to Benefit Li, Li, Li! Read

Intimate Reception with Author Edwidge Danticat on Saturday, October 22, 2001 in Boerum Hill, downtown Brooklyn. Intimate Reception with Edwidge Danticat from  6:30-7:30pm followed by General Event from 7:30-10:30pm at Belarusian Church, 401 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, New York 11217.

Activities include a Reading & Q&A with Edwidge Danticat, Video of Li, Li, Li! reading storybooks in Haiti's tent camps, entertainment, Haitian art & culture, refreshments & light food, autographed books for sale, silent auction including painting donated by Jonathan Demme.

Li, Li, Li! Read is a not-for-profit literacy program reading storybooks out loud in Creole to more than 3,000 children per month in earthquake-victim tent camps in Haiti. The program promotes literacy, eases stress, and creates jobs for Haitians.

Advisory Board member Edwidge Danticat is actively engaged in the Li, Li, Li! program and regularly participates in its storybook reading sessions in Haiti.

For Pricing and Tickets:
Phone: 212-613-6033

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Photo by Alice Speri. Reginal Janvier reads to children at a tent camp in Tabarre


August 20, 2011


Please donate through our secure Paypal link at

Our storybook reading out loud program helps ease the trauma, the stories inspire hope, and we provide cholera education & supplies. Li, Li, Li! is still very important to the children. It provides relief from the misery and frustration of living in torn tents amongst mud and floods and tropical storms. We provide a model for literacy -- more than half of Haiti's children do not have access to school. We demonstrate to the children that we (you included) truly care and are there for the long haul -- but we need your support to continue this important work.

Our program is still as necessary as it was a year ago!

More than 650,000 people still live in approximately 1,000 horrible tent encampments in and around Haiti's capital. Most of these camps have no resources, no water, no food, no medical care. Human rights & development organizations have criticized the slow response to this humanitarian disaster. A deadly cholera epidemic is still raging causing more deaths and suffering. 

Finally, our readers, all Haitian and victims of the earthquake, receive a monthly salary that is critical to the wellbeing of their own families -- each supporting approximately 6 other people.

Thank you. (Look for us on Facebook as well)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

PDHRP applauds ABA Support of the Right of Deportees to Reopen their Immigration Cases

August 17, 2011

PDHRP applauds ABA Support of the Right of Deportees to Reopen their Immigration Cases

The Post-Deportation Human Rights Project commends the American Bar Association (ABA) for adopting a resolution calling for the elimination of the “post-departure bar” on filing motions to reopen or to reconsider removal proceedings. The “post-departure bar” prevents individuals who have been removed from U.S. soil from legally challenging their deportation cases, even when they later discover that major errors had occurred or they were deported based on legal theories that the Supreme Court has overturned. We estimate that thousands of long-term legal residents have been wrongly deported or denied the opportunity to ask courts to consider their family ties, rehabilitation, and other factors.

The ABA is the largest voluntary professional association in the world, with nearly 400,000 members and, as part of its mission, it strives to advance just laws and to assure meaningful access to justice for all persons. The ABA’s resolution is particularly timely, as over the course of recent years a majority of federal courts have invalidated the post-departure bar, and a petition for rulemaking to eliminate the post-departure regulation is pending before the Department of Justice. Despite these developments, the Board of Immigration Appeals continues to hold that it lacks authority to review motions filed by individuals who have been deported, finding instead that such individuals have simply “passed beyond our aid.”

Boston College

Law School Prof. Daniel Kanstroom - Co-Director of the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project - worked in conjunction with Prof. Rachel Rosenbloom of Northeastern University School of Law and formerly of the Project, and Prof. Jill Family of Widener University School of Law to achieve support from the ABA. A link to the ABA Resolution (Resolution 104A) is available here:

Challenging the post-departure bar through federal litigation and advocacy has been at the core of the work of the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project. In light of the passage of the ABA Resolution and the recent federal court decisions invalidating the regulation, we call on the appropriate government agencies to eliminate the post-departure bar regulation and to allow proper legal and discretionary consideration of these compelling cases.

Note from LaughingMaze: Michelle Karshan, Alternative Chance/Chans Altenativ sits on the Advisory Board of the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project of Boston College Law School.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Erzulie Freda by the late master flag artist, Lalanne

Click on image to see details of Erzulie's jewels and wealth.
Erzulie Freda by the late master flag artist, Lalanne (Private collection of Michelle Karshan)

Erzulie Danthor by the late master flag artist, Lalanne

Click on image to see it larger.
Erzulie Danthor by the late master flag artist, Lalanne

Detail from Erzulie with paper face by Maxon

Click on image to see it larger.
This is a detail from the flag below.

Erzulie with paper face by Maxon

Click on image to see larger image

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jayne Fleming's March 4, 2011 letter on her work in Haiti with rape survivors, KOFAVIV, FAVILEK, etc.

Jayne Fleming* receives Maricia Jean of FAVILEK in New York for a multi-state speaking tour
Photo by Michelle Karshan

NY1News interview
* Jayne Fleming is an attorney with the Reed Smith law firm working on pro bono cases. Through a foundation in the name of her late mother, Jayne runs a unique program for rape survivors and their families in Haiti. To donate, see link below.

March 4, 2011

Hi everyone,

I'm sorry for the long silence. I just arrived home from our beloved Haiti. This makes my sixth trip in twelve months. I delivered another hundred pounds of your donations to our families, including baby clothes and supplies for our tiny cherubs, a hundred stuffed teddy bears for the sweet children, and belated Valentines for their courageous mothers and grandmothers. Toys and chocolates may not be as practical as flashlights and water purification tablets, but they are a rare indulgence and bring priceless smiles.

I did my usual round of interviews at KOFAVIV and the Bureau of Advocates International, met with the leaders of FAVILEK, visited our safe houses, spent time talking with women living in the camps, and met with UNHCR. I talked to more than a hundred people over six days and conducted thirty-two in depth interviews. Long days, sobering stories, courageous women.

Two of our mothers told me that police officers wielding clubs attacked them at their camp in Champs Mars (across from the National Palace), ordering them to clear out. Of course they would if they could, but they have nowhere to go. The assault on them was part of a sweeping police raid on their whole camp and it reflects the ever-increasing problem of forced evictions, even at the hands of government officials. The attack is no secret, but there has been no government accountability. I asked our clients if they made a police report. They said they were too afraid to do so because the perpetrators are part of the police, but they agreed to speak with a team of IJDH advocates working on wrongful eviction issues.

Housing is not the only problem. Rape of women and girls in camps continues to be an under-addressed crisis. On Saturday one of our clients told me about a 45-year old woman who had been so brutally raped she could not walk. She could not get to the BAI because she had no money for a cab. We sent a car to pick her up. The woman told me she was trying to rescue her teenage daughter from rapists. Her daughter escaped, but then they turned on her. After I interviewed her, the driver and a KOFAVIV agent took her to the General Hospital with her brave teenage sons. She was hospitalized (still is) and the boys slept in the hospital courtyard, taking turns sitting at her bedside. Despite all of the promises from the head of the hospital and Ministry of Health, her care was not free. We paid over $200 (US) for x-rays, prescriptions and exams.

Hers was not the only tragic story. I interviewed a 22-year old rape victim who is an orphan and has no place to go, an 18-year old victim who gave birth and is too malnourished to nurse, an orphan with malaria and no money for medicine, a dozen elderly women with no access to food, housing or medical care. We gave all of them money for food and medicine, but our safe houses are full so we could not provide shelter.

Although the challenges are enormous, the women and children I interviewed showed remarkable resiliency. They are survivors. Still, the light has gone out of their eyes. They have suffered hunger, homelessness and brutality for more than a year. Many had suffered harsh conditions and violence before the earthquake. They have not given up, but I felt a deepening sense of despair this week, a wearing down of the inner reserves needed for survival. Where is hope?

While it's easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of their suffering, my philosophy has always been "one woman, one child". If we can give one woman the tools to reclaim her life, we will have taken one step forward on the path to social justice and we will have made a difference in the world.

With this idea in mind, I met with a small group of 18 women on Sunday afternoon and brainstormed about how they could move beyond tragedy towards empowerment, from a situation of dependence to one of self-support. The reaction was initially grim. They have nothing, they said, no more than a dollar in their pocket. Where would they get the resources needed to rebuild their lives? My offer to help build bridges

to resources was met with skepticism. They'd been victims of false promises for too long. I swore I would not betray or mislead them. I confessed I don't have millions, or anything even remotely close, but I promised to advocate for them for as long as it takes. I have become very close to all of these women over the last year because they are in my safe houses. They decided to give me a chance.

Their "homework" for Sunday night was to come up with a personal plan of how they could reclaim their independence. I urged them to dream, but cautioned that pragmatism is an important ingredient to success. I suggested that each woman come up with a business concept that could be launched with a modest investment (around $1500) - a small beginning,

but very significant in Haiti. We reconvened the next day. It seems that once the idea started to sink in, their creative juices started to flow.

Everyone arrived with an outline of their plan on paper. At first people were quite shy, a bit uncertain of what was expected of them. I could see they had worked hard on their "homework." Rather than calling on anyone, I asked for volunteers. One young woman who has been terribly discouraged for the last few months timidly raised her hand. I urged her to tell us her idea. This talented young widow and mother of two said she wants to open a beauty shop. She described the types of products she would sell, wigs and hair extensions and cosmetics. She also envisioned styling hair and doing nails at her shop. Turns out she already has a degree from a beauty school. She had a shop before, but it collapsed in the earthquake. She has a booth reserved at the downtown market, but no merchandise. All she needs is a helping hand to get re-launched. We all gave her our full attention. Some of the women offered ideas and words of encouragement. I can honestly tell you I have never seen this woman smile before. As she talked, I watched her eyes light up. She broke into the most radiant smile. We all praised her vision and talent. We were off to a good start.

After our bold beautician broke the ice, we went around the table. Four women said they want to resume vocations as shopkeepers selling groceries and household items, something they feel confident they can do with a bit of help getting started because they did it before the earthquake. Two women said they want to be chefs and open their own restaurants. I learned they are celebrated cooks within their circle of families and friends. Another young woman wants to open a fashion boutique. Her sister wants to open a cafe. The girls are orphans raising their four younger siblings.

And so it goes ...

The most beautiful thing about our meeting was how animated everyone became. I have become so used to the flat expressionless demeanor that goes hand in hand with chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was taken aback by their change of mood- from darkness to light. As we shared ideas and brainstormed about how to make their plans a reality, I watched the women's expressions soften, their eyes become brighter, their shoulders lift as they sat taller in their chairs and felt validated. It was moving beyond words.

I grew up with very little, but I was always told I could achieve my dreams if I worked hard. I feel the same is true of these courageous women. They just need someone (us) to believe in them. The goal now, and our responsibility, is to give them the tools and resources they need to achieve their dreams.

My plan is to identify 18 mentors for these 18 women. The role of a mentor is to cheer them on, kind of like a pen pal. I'll provide an interpreter for the mentors as needed. Mentors can be from anywhere, in the U.S. or Haiti or elsewhere. The only qualification required is compassion and enthusiasm.

I also plan to work with an NGO called "We Lead" to help the women develop their business plans and fine-tune their skills as small business owners. We Lead is based in Haiti, but affiliated with Heartland Alliance in Chicago, an organization my firm has worked with for a long time. I'll also work with Lisa Davis of MADRE in NYC. Lisa is a women's advocate with enormous talent and wisdom. Finally, I'll do everything I can to raise enough money to allow each woman to start her business and fulfill her dream. If you'd like to work with us on this project, in any capacity (mentor, supporter, expert), please let me know. I would deeply appreciate your support.

I know this email has become long, so I will conclude with a happy story. Three of our young clients have given birth since the earthquake.

The babies were conceived through violence, but received into the world with open hearts and tremendous love. On Sunday morning we celebrated the baptism of the three newborns at the chapel at St. Damien's Hospital. I had the honor of becoming the Godmother to one of the babies. They are so precious, our tiniest miracles. Not one baby cried.

They were all awake and alert and wholly mesmerized with the priest.

They were angelic in their white baptism gowns. These precious ones deserve all that life has to offer. I pray we will do our utmost to honor and protect them.

In closing, thank you for your ongoing support and friendship. I am blessed to have such a wonderful circle of friends and colleagues. I can't do this work without your emotional support. I hesitate to ask for more than this, but know you will not fault me for inviting financial support for our families, too. You all know by now that the guardian angel of this project is my mom. If you wish to make a contribution to her foundation, you may do so here:

This is what makes the work possible.

With friendship and my deepest gratitude, Jayne
Jayne Fleming

Saturday, February 5, 2011

On my return to Haiti …, The Guardian, Feb. 4, 2011

On my return to Haiti

by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Friday 4 February

"A profit-driven recovery plan, devised and carried out by outsiders, can not reconstruct my country."

2011 20.00 GMT o

Haiti's devastating earthquake in January last year destroyed up to 5,000 schools and 80% of the country's already weak university infrastructure. The primary school in Port-au-Prince that I attended as a small boy collapsed with more than 200 students inside. The weight of the state nursing school killed 150 future nurses. The state medical school was levelled. The exact number of students, teachers, professors, librarians, researchers, academics and administrators lost during those 65 seconds that irrevocably changed Haiti will never be known. But what we do know is that it cannot end there.

The exceptional resilience demonstrated by the Haitian people during and after the deadly earthquake reflects the intelligence and determination of parents, especially mothers, to keep their children alive and to give them a better future, and the eagerness of youth to learn – all this despite economic challenges, social barriers, political crisis, and psychological trauma. Even though their basic needs have increased exponentially, their readiness to learn is manifest. This natural thirst for education is the foundation for a successful learning process: what is freely learned is best learned.

Of course, learning is strengthened and solidified when it occurs in a safe, secure and normal environment. Hence our responsibility to promote social cohesion, democratic growth, sustainable development, self-determination; in short, the goals set forth for this new millennium. All of which represent steps towards a return to a better environment.

Education has been a top priority since the first Lavalas government – of which I was president – was sworn into office under Haiti's amended democratic constitution on 7 February 1991 (and removed a few months later). More schools were built in the 10 years between 1994, when democracy was restored, and 2004 –
when Haiti's democracy was once again violated – than between 1804 to 1994: one hundred and ninety-five new primary schools and 104 new public high schools constructed and/or refurbished.

The 12 January earthquake largely spared the Foundation for Democracy I founded in 1996. Immediately following the quake, thousands accustomed to finding a democratic space to meet, debate and receive services, came seeking shelter and help. Haitian doctors who began their training at the foundation's medical school rallied to organised clinics at the foundation and at tent camps across the capital. They continue to contribute tirelessly to the treatment of fellow Haitians who have been infected by cholera. Their presence is a pledge to reverse the dire ratio of one doctor for every 11,000 Haitians.

Youths, who through the years have participated in the foundation's multiple literacy programmes, volunteered to operate mobile schools in these same tent camps. In partnership with a group from the University of Michigan in the US, post-traumatic counselling sessions were organised and university students
trained to help themselves and to help fellow Haitians begin the long journey to healing. A year on, young people and students look to the foundation's university to return to its educational vocation and help fill the gaping national hole left on the day the earth shook in Haiti.

Will the deepening destabilising political crisis in Haiti prevent students achieving academic success? I suppose most students, educators and parents are exhausted by the complexity of such a dramatic and painful crisis. But I am certain nothing can extinguish their collective thirst for education.

The renowned American poet and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote that "we learn geology the morning after the earthquake". What we have learned in one long year of mourning after Haiti's earthquake is that an exogenous plan of reconstruction – one that is profit-driven, exclusionary, conceived of and implemented by non-Haitians – cannot reconstruct Haiti. It is the solemn obligation of all Haitians to join in
the reconstruction and to have a voice in the direction of the nation.

As I have not ceased to say since 29 February 2004, from exile in Central Africa, Jamaica and now South Africa, I will return to Haiti to the field I know best and love: education. We can only agree with the words of the great Nelson Mandela, that indeed education is a powerful weapon for changing the world. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Alfred-Georges Hoen, 1925, magazine cover portrait of my Irish grandmother

Large portrait of my Irish grandmother, Marie Nichols, by
Alfred-Georges Hoen, 1925
This portrait was on the cover of a magazine. My mother had the magazine cover but it is now lost and I cannot recall the name of the magazine. I believe this was part of the cover girl series. This is a flapper portrait from the Roaring Twenties period. If you know the name of the magazine or want to correspond about this painting or artist, please write me at  Thanks

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Statement, January 19, 2011

Dr Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Former President of Haiti

19 January 2011

I would like to thank the government and the people of South Africa for the historic hospitality, deeply rooted in Ubuntu, extended to my family and I.

Since my forced arrival in the Mother Continent six and a half years ago, the people of Haiti have never stopped calling for my return to Haiti . Despite the enormous challenges that they face in the aftermath of the deadly January 12, 2010 earthquake, their determination to make the return happen has increased.

As far as I am concerned, I am ready. Once again I express my readiness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time. The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education.

The return is indispensable, too, for medical reasons: It is strongly recommended that I not spend the coming winter in South Africa ’s because in 6 years I have undergone 6 eye surgeries. The surgeons are excellent and very well skilled, but the unbearable pain experienced in the winter must be avoided in order to reduce any risk of further complications and blindness.

So, to all those asking me to return home, I reiterate my willingness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time. Let us hope that the Haitian and South African governments will enter into communication in order to make that happen in the next coming days.

United to the Haitian people, once again my family and I express our sincere gratitude to the government and the people of South Africa .

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rights Groups File Emergency Human Rights Petition to Stop Imminent Deportations to Haiti


January 6, 2011

CONTACT: Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Rights Groups File Emergency Human Rights Petition to Stop Imminent Deportations to Haiti
Earthquake, Cholera And Violence Is Death Sentence
MIAMI AND WASHINGTON - January 6 - Today six civil and human rights groups filed an emergency petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to halt the roundups, detention, and imminent deportations of hundreds of Haitian nationals by the United States government. The petition, submitted by the University of Miami School of Law Human Rights and Immigration Clinics, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Alternative Chance and the Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice, argues that deporting people at this moment to Haiti, which is still reeling from the devastating January 2010 earthquake and is burdened with a massive cholera epidemic, political unrest, and rampant street violence, will result in serious human rights violations, including deprivations of the rights to life, family, and due process, and freedom from cruel or unusual punishment.

Deportations from the U.S. to Haiti have been stayed on humanitarian grounds since the January 12, 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti. Advocates and community members were shocked when, on December 9, 2010, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unexpectedly announced that it was lifting the ban on deportations to Haiti for individuals with criminal convictions and that it would resume deportations in January 2011, the one-year anniversary of the earthquake.

"The U.S. Government is violating important human rights obligations," said Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Director of the Human Rights Clinic at University of Miami School of Law. "These deportations will compound a catastrophic public health and humanitarian crisis in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It is simply unconscionable to resume deportations to Haiti on the one-year anniversary of one of the most devastating natural disasters in world history, especially as a cholera epidemic rages across the country."

"The upshot of this abrupt change in policy," said Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, "is that the Obama administration plans to deport Haitian nationals, many living and working in the community here with their families, to a country in the midst of a cholera epidemic. Since 2006, Haiti has detained people like the petitioners in overcrowded police holding cells without toilets, sinks or access to safe drinking water. The government's actions will only put more people at risk of death."

The petition asks the IACHR to order the U.S. to adopt precautionary measures to prevent irreparable harm to the Haitians subject to imminent deportation. Specifically, the petition asks the U.S. to continue its stay of deportations, release the petitioners and grant "deferred action" status to all people facing removal. In addition, the petition asks that the U.S. government publicly release information about its decision to resume deportations to Haiti, and that the government publicly engage with the Haitian-American community before instituting policy changes that will dramatically affect community members.

The petition relies on information gathered from interviews by the Loyola Law Clinic & Center for Social Justice and Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center with Haitians detained in Louisiana. It also includes declarations from Michelle Karshan, the Director of Alternative Chance, and two doctors with extensive practice in Haiti, Dr. John May and Dr. Arthur Fournier. Together, these declarations paint a distressing picture of the disastrous consequences of these planned deportations.

Romy Lerner, Supervising Attorney at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center said, "We are deeply concerned that this policy is tearing apart the Haitian community. Our petition alleges that the United States has violated the human rights of the Haitians who are at risk of imminent deportations by separating them from their families without considering their ties to the United States or the welfare of their U.S. citizen children. In Miami, the community is terrified of what is about to happen."

"While the U.S. has often historically shirked its human rights obligations toward Haitian migrants, we hope our government will come to its senses and halt the planned deportations of the individuals whose stories are represented in this petition," said Rebecca Sharpless, Director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law.

To read the request for precautionary measures, go to CCR's legal case page.


The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.


Being Deported to Post-Earthquake Haiti?

Being Deported to Post-Earthquake Haiti?
Life-Threatening, Illegal and Inhuman Detention Conditions will make Newly Deported the Latest Victims of Deadly Cholera Epidemic

December 15, 2010, Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Alternative Chance (Chans Altenativ), a self-help, peer counseling, advocacy program for criminal deportees in Haiti was founded in 1996. For nearly fifteen years, Alternative Chance has been intervening on behalf of Haitian criminal deportees from the United States once they arrive in Haiti and are imprisoned in nightmarish conditions in police station holding cells or prisons. Following the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake, we welcomed the humanitarian gesture of the U.S. government when it announced it would suspend deportations to Haiti. We are shocked by this week’s pronouncements and actions by the U.S. government to resume these deportations at this juncture.

Earthquake conditions have not significantly changed since the U.S. saw fit to suspend deportations. In fact some conditions have worsened. Today there are more than 1.3 million persons still living in tent and tarp encampments with no transition or permanent housing on the horizon. Haiti was hit by a recent hurricane and flooding and its first cholera epidemic brought on by the arrival of a virulent South Asian strain. And, a week ago Haiti became embroiled in election chaos and violence in its streets. Today Haiti's Ministry of Health announced that since October 2010 there have been 2,405 known deaths from cholera and 109,196 persons have been sickened. Health organizations believe the numbers are at least double this. The World Health Organization predicts 650,000 persons will be sickened over the next year with a large percent to occur within the next few months.

Prior to the earthquake, Alternative Chance observed firsthand criminal deportees held in Haiti’s DCPJ police administrative building and in other police stations or prisons in and around the capital. Not charged with any crimes in Haiti, their detention is illegal under Haitian law and international standards. They are not provided any due process, a release date or an attorney. If they have no acceptable family member living in Haiti to apply for their release, the police enforce the Ministry of Interior policy and hold the criminal deportees indefinitely for months.

While in detention criminal deportees are not provided food, treated drinking water, medical or mental health care, and are not provided any necessary medications. Medical files transferred at the time of their deportation for those who have serious medical conditions are confiscated by the Ministry of Interior and never shared with any healthcare providers or hospitals.

Most of the police station holding cells are grossly overcrowded, are intended for short term detention and have no toilets or sinks. The detainees are forced to urinate in a communal bucket and defecate in paper bags. When there is room to lie down, criminal deportees must lay directly on insect, rat infested cement floors. Their cells usually have no lighting, are over 100 degrees, and the criminal deportees are locked in twenty four hours a day.

In pre-earthquake Haiti, criminal deportees have died while in police station detention or shortly after their release from these harsh conditions. In post-earthquake Haiti detention conditions are even more dire. Most prisons and police stations were damaged or destroyed leaving even less detention space per person.

Cholera, a deadly disease primarily caused by bacteria infected water or exposure to feces, can cause rapid dehydration, shock and death within the first few hours of its first symptom. Cholera is raging through prisons and detention facilities taking lives with it. Persons with cholera must be quickly rehydrated and in most cases placed on an IV drip. They must be attended to round the clock by medical personnel in either Cholera Treatment Centers or hospitals. In Haiti’s national prison, for example, it has been observed that many cholera victims died at night in the absence of medical care.

Humanitarian organizations in Haiti are already strained, have shortage of supplies to prevent and treat cholera and a shortage of medical personnel. Health organizations are currently in debate on treatment protocol as they are losing the battle to prevent cholera and to save lives.

We fear for the lives of those who would be deported to Haiti.

Michelle Karshan, Executive Director
Alternative Chance/Chans Altenativ
70A Greenwich Avenue, #373
New York, New York 10011

Answering service: 212-613-6033
Internet FAX: 1-212-202-3992
In Haiti: 011509-3-871-0400
In US: 347-281-2958
Skype: Michelle.Karshan