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CLGJ Report Explores Conditions in Haiti

October 14, 2010

The Center for Law and Global Justice has co-published a report with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and other social justice organizations that explores conditions in Haiti’s displacement camps after the devastating earthquake in January 2010.

Ben Lewis 3L (right) helps interview a resident of a displacement camp in Haiti.

The report, titled “We’ve Been Forgotten,” concludes that daily life remains a struggle for camp residents, who lack access to food, water, and housing.

“The basic needs of residents must be prioritized immediately,” said Nicole Phillips ’99, IJDH staff attorney and lead author of the report. “While the Government of Haiti bears the primary duty to protect the economic and social rights of its citizens, donor states, and relief agencies must also meet certain standards in carrying out assistance to Haiti. This obligation arises from international law but also from the significant role the international community assumed in providing relief services in Haiti.”

The LAMP for Haiti Foundation administered a survey in February 2010 that indicated the basic human rights of residents of the camps were being violated. In July 2010, USF law students participating in the Haiti Externship Program interviewed families a second time to document changes in their living conditions and family circumstances. Professor Dolores Donovan and law alumna Phillips co-directed the program, and Phillips coordinated the team of surveyors, which included Darya Larizadeh 3L, Elizabeth Leone 3L, Ben Lewis 3L, and Ryan Smith 3L.

Nicole Phillips '99 and Professor Dolores Donovan in Haiti.

“The trip to Haiti was an unforgettable experience,” said Donovan, who also participated in the assessment of camp conditions. “The devastation all around us; the courage, the frustration and the anger of the people in the camps, many of them formerly solidly middle-class Haitians who had lost their homes; the little girls emerging from soiled tarp-tents in spotless white full-skirted Sunday best dresses…picking their way through the mosquito-laden filth of the mud to get to church; the law students struggling to remember the standards of international law needed to formulate their survey questions while fending off swirls of clamoring children and gaggles of curious camp kibitzers; the incredible heat, the incredible rain, all of this together comprised the Haiti experience.”

Under the direction of Phillips, law students Larizadeh, Leone, Lewis, and Smith helped write “We’ve Been Forgotten,” which will be filed with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. To read the report, click here.