USF Honors Haitian Human Rights Lawyer Mario Joseph

SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 13, 2012)

The University of San Francisco (USF) will present an honorary doctorate in humane letters to Mario Joseph, the managing attorney of the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti's Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), this Friday, Dec. 14, at 12:30 p.m.

"As a human rights lawyer in Haiti, Mario Joseph has devoted his career to standing up for victims of injustice," said USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., who will confer the honorary degree during the graduation ceremony for more than 300 undergraduate and graduate students of USF's College of Arts and Sciences. "His deep and personal commitment to providing a legal voice to those silenced by oppression will inspire our graduates and the entire USF community."

Joseph has co-managed or man­aged BAI since 1996, helping to defend political prisoners and victims of political violence, training Haitian lawyers, and speaking out on justice issues. He has prac­ticed human rights and crim­i­nal law since 1993, and prior to joining BAI, Joseph worked on human rights cases for the Catholic Church's Peace and Justice Commission. In 2000, Joseph was the lead lawyer for BAI's most successful case, defending the victims during the Raboteau Massacre trial, in which the jury convicted 53 defendants for a 1994 attack on a pro-democracy neighborhood in Haiti.

Joseph's most prominent case was his defense of Catholic priest and human rights activist, the late Father Gérard Jean-Juste, who was wrongfully imprisoned and forced into exile several times for his opposition to the 2004-2006 interim government of Haiti. Since 2006, the USF School of Law's Center for Law and Global Justice has worked with Joseph and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). The partnership includes an immersion course in which USF law students work in Port-au-Prince at the offices of BAI and in refugee camps. The program aims to assist Haitians in enforcing their basic human rights to housing, food, water, sanitation, health, and personal security.

The graduation ceremony will take place at St. Ignatius Catholic Church on the USF campus—located at 650 Parker Ave. (at Fulton Street) in San Francisco.

To request interviews with Mr. Joseph or USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., please contact Anne-Marie Devine, senior director of media relations at USF, (415) 422-2697 or

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