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28022: Varma: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial (news) IACHR Hearing on Haiti this Friday (fwd)

From: Monika Kalra Varma <monika@rfkmemorial.org>

For Immediate Release February 28th, 2006

Jeffrey Buchanan, 202-463-7575 ext 241
Monika Kalra Varma, 202-463-7575 ext 228

Hearing Investigating Human Rights Abuses in Haiti and Role of UN
Mission 				and OAS Member States

RFK Memorial, Partners in Health and NYU Law to testify on March 3, 2006
at 3:00pm at the Padilha Vidal Room B, GSB Building of the Organization
of American States in Washington, DC.

Washington, DC -- The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR)
will hold a general interest hearing on March 3, 2006 to examine
economic and social rights violations in Haiti. The hearing will include
testimony from members of the Haiti-based Zanmi Lasante (Partners in
Health www.pih.org), The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human
Rights (www.rfkmemorial.org) and New York University School of Law
International Human Rights Clinic.

The groups will present testimony demonstrating gross human rights
violations against the Haitian people (focusing on the rights to health,
water and food) since the arrival of the United Nations Stabilization
Mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH). They will highlight the international human
rights obligations of Organization of American States (OAS) Member
States. MINUSTAH is primarily staffed by OAS member states with Brazil
leading the mission.

"We, as Haitians, know that we have rights to health, to food, to water,
to life. But these rights are being violated every day. We are asking
the OAS to finally recognize our rights and to let its Members know
exactly what their responsibilities are to the Haitian people," asserted
Loune Viaud, Director of Strategic Planning and Operations of Zanmi
Lasante and recipient of the 2002 RFK Memorial Human Rights Award.

Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. It has
the highest HIV prevalence rate outside of Sub-Saharan Africa. Haiti
shares, together with Afghanistan and Somalia, the worst daily caloric
deficit per inhabitant in the world (460 kcal / day).

"The international community has acted recklessly in Haiti for years
without any accountability, " says Dr. Paul Farmer, Medical Director at
Zanmi Lasante. "MINUSTAH, which has a greater annual budget than the
entire nation of Haiti, must share responsibility for the human rights
violations that have been occurring under its watch. Now, as a popularly
elected government prepares to take office in Haiti, the international
community must acknowledge its responsibility and redirect its resources
to helping the Haitian people and their elected leaders assert and
attain their rights."

Testimonies will lay out the human rights obligations of OAS Members and
urge the OAS to actively engage in ending these violations. They will
particularly focus on the UN intervention, which began its mandate in
June 2004. The groups will also ask the Commission to visit Haiti to
examine the human rights violations currently occurring.

"Member States and UN bureaucrats think human rights law does not apply
when organizing their interventions", says Todd Howland, former UN human
rights official currently serving as Director of the RFK Memorial Center
for Human Rights. "Good intentions are not enough. UN Member States who
intervene in a country like Haiti must be held accountable if their
actions do not promote human rights."

The hearing will take place at the location below on March 3rd 2006 at
3pm and is open to the press.

Padilha Vidal Room B, GSB Building of the Organization of American
1889 F. St, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Committed to achieving Robert Kennedy's goal of a more peaceful and just
world, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights is a
non-profit non-governmental organization that engages in long-term
partnerships with activists who win the RFK Human Rights Award. The
Center has 36 laureate partners in 21 countries and advocates for their
social justice goals using a broad array of innovative tools.