Internship Update: Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

This is a guest post by Sophie Greene and Henry Neuwirth, who are Haiti Justice Alliance-sponsored interns for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).  Both are students at Carleton College—a sophomore and junior, respectively. They’ll be giving us periodic updates throughout the summer.

Henry Neuwirth (top left) and Sophie Greene (bottom right) with IJDH's director, Brian Concannon (top right) and other friends of IJDH.

IJDH is a non-profit legal organization with a collaborative approach similar to that of the Haiti Justice Alliance. It works extensively with its sister organization in Haiti, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), and many other grassroots partners. What follows is a brief summary of IJDH’s current projects, as well as a discussion of our roles in promoting these efforts.

 

1.     Prison Project

A joint project with Partner’s in Health, the Prison Project seeks to address the medical and legal needs of Haitian prisoners. They seek to address inhumane prison conditions and rights violations, such as pre-trial detentions, through representing prisoners and advocating system-wide reform.

2.     Rape Accountability and Prevention Project (RAPP)

An IJDH-BAI project, the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project provides know-your-rights training, facilitates women’s rights groups, and assists survivors in navigating the legal system.

3.     Housing Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP)

An IJDH-BAI project to advocate against illegal evictions taking place in Haiti’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. IJDH and BAI defend earthquake victims’ right to emergency housing, with the goal of ensuring adequate alternatives are available before evictions take place.

4.     Haiti Asylum Information Project and Family Reunification Program

An IJDH-BAI project to protect the rights of Haitian immigrants. The Family Reunification Program would grant approved beneficiaries the ability to reunite with their families here in the U.S., expediting the visa waiting process.

5.     Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) Prosecution

An IJDH-BAI project to bring the former dictator of Haiti to justice for his crimes against humanity.

 

Henry:

There’s a lot going on at IJDH-BAI and the interns get to do a lot of important work. I’m a development intern this summer at IJDH, which means that I’ve mostly been doing a lot of writing. For the past three weeks I’ve been writing grants and letters for the organization. Currently, I’m writing a draft of IJDH’s Annual Report, scheduled for mailing in late July. The experience has also let me reflect on the role of writing in my life. Until now all of the writing I’ve ever done has been for myself; I write essays for classes and creative pieces for my own enjoyment. One of the more personally rewarding parts of my internship has been the opportunity to use the skills I’ve learned in an academic setting and utilize them for something of actual importance.

Nevertheless, the most exciting part of the internship has been learning about IJDH-BAI’s work from conversations and emails with Brian and the IJDH-BAI team in Haiti. Most of the writing I’ve done so far has related to the RAPP and HRAP projects. Both projects have responded to the 2010 earthquake with admirable integrity and showcase IJDH-BAI’s commitment to a rights-based approach. You can read more about these two projects at the following links: http://ijdh.org/projects/rapp; http://ijdh.org/projects/housing.

 

Sophie:

 As a social media intern, I have been mostly working on improving IJDH’s presence online.  I post on Twitter and Facebook, update the website, and send emails to our constituents.  Although I’m not working directly on any of IJDH’s projects, I feel that my work as a messenger of information from our Haiti offices to the general population is an important contribution to IJDH’s mission.

 One project that I have been very involved in recently is the start of an IJDH-BAI podcast.  We hope to get on-the-ground narratives from Haiti to our donors, helping them feel both up-to-date and engaged in IJDH-BAI’s ongoing projects.  You can hear IJDH Director Brian Concannon’s introduction to the podcast here: http://ijdh.org/archives/19422.

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