Carleton Students Help IJDH Fight Illegal Evictions

We’ve received another update our interns! We’re incredibly excited about HJA’s program of facilitating student internships with our partner groups. Last summer we test ran this model when Natalie Miller interned at the What If? Foundation. This summer, two Carleton students are in Boston working for another partner group, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).

By connecting informed, passionate students with amazing organizations, and by providing the funding for them to spend a summer working for those organizations, HJA accomplishes several objectives. We enhance the work of our partner organizations; we provide incredible opportunities for students; and we strengthen the knowledge and connections of the local activist community. In the future, we look forward to expanding this program to include more students from both St. Olaf and Carleton, and to working with more partner groups in this capacity.

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By Sophie Greene and Henry Neuwirth

Sophie and Henry, IJDH Interns from Haiti Justice Alliance

Greetings to the Haiti Justice Alliance and the World Wide Web! As development interns at IJDH this summer, we’ve been working hard to boost IJDH’s social presence, fund-raise, and coordinate events.

One project we’ve been working on is IJDH’s new podcast. While still in its early stages, the podcast has been met with enthusiasm by IJDH staff and constituents. We’ve collected recordings from many IJDH/BAI (Bureau des Avocats Internationaux) lawyers, including Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon, and we’re working to compile the highlights into a short audio file to give IJDH’s constituents a clear picture of what we’ve been up to recently.

Coordinating the podcast has been a challenge.  BAI, IJDH’s sister organization in Port-au-Prince, is (as far as we can tell) always swamped.  The Internet can be spotty and the electricity often cuts out, leaving the office to rely on noisy generators that make finding a quiet place to record impossible.  Even other staff members have a hard time drafting out podcasts – they’re often traveling around the world to advocate on behalf of Haiti’s poor.   Nevertheless, we’re excited to have six podcasts up online and many more in the works!

Recently, our social media work has shifted its focus to twitter.  Although it is difficult to explain our legal work in 140 characters or less, Twitter has proven a very useful tool for our staff to communicate live updates in Haiti’s recent eviction epidemic. IJDH currently has 832 followers on Twitter.

The forced evictions taking place right now in Haiti are illegal – the Con­sti­tu­tion of Haiti rec­og­nizes “the right of every cit­i­zen to decent hous­ing, edu­ca­tion, food and social secu­rity.”  Furthermore, the Con­sti­tu­tion states that ownership “entails obligations,” and that “uses of prop­erty can­not be con­trary to the gen­eral inter­est.”

Moreover, the manner in which they’ve been carried out violates the rights and dignity of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who reside there.  There have been many instances of beatings and illegal detentions.  There are also cases of Haitians with forged documents, or no documents at all, who are claiming ownership over land used for IDP camps and evicting residents.  Meanwhile, safe and affordable housing options do not exist.

We hope that keeping our constituents up to date with information and photos of the evictions will bring attention and support to the situation.

Follow @IJDH and look for #noevictions on Twitter!

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