Letter to IDB President: On behalf of Haitian supporters
Enrique V. Iglesias
Dear Mr. Iglesias,
I am writing to you on behalf of a number of human rights organizations, including Harvard-based Partners in Health, Haiti Reborn and my own organization seeking a meeting on the 18th of November 2002 for Loune Viaud, the winner of the 2002 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
The purpose of the meeting is to inform you of the human rights violations suffered by the Haitian people, especially in the area of health, which are directly linked to the lack of disbursement of Inter-American Development Bank loans since January 2001. Haiti has deemed health to be a fundamental human right in its Constitution (Article 19, 1987 Constitution of Haiti). Ms. Viaud, in addition to providing her first hand account of these violations, will offer the Inter-American Development Bank an opportunity to hold a joint press conference at 8:00 am on the 19th of November confirming that Inter-American Development Bank loans will begin to be disbursed by the end of 2002. The Haitian Government has already committed to attending this press conference and announcing it will do everything in its power to facilitate the Inter-American Development Bank disbursement. Should the Bank decline this invitation, Ms. Loune Viaud will be joined by a number of organizations, celebrities, and concerned individuals in a protest of the Inter-American Development Bank on that same date.
No country is poorer or in greater need of true development assistance in this hemisphere than is Haiti. The general indicators are horrendous. People die every day of treatable and preventable diseases. Ms. Loune Viaud's project demonstrates that there is not only a need for money in Haiti, but also a good reason to believe that money can be productively invested. This is your challenge.
Inter-American Development Bank loans could have and should have been disbursed to support the Haitian health sector as early as January 2001. They were not. Eventually your organization, through its lack of action, created an excuse not to act. Human rights violations are committed by both commission and omission.
Every day the Haitian Government violates the rights of the Haitian people. The Government's attempts to progressively implement its obligations have fallen far short, but the Inter-American Development Bank is one vehicle the Haitian Government has attempted to use to help it move toward compliance. The Inter-American Development Bank is participating in a de-facto sanctions regime that violates human rights law. [See United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, "The relationship between economic sanctions and respect for economic, social and cultural rights," E/C. 12/1997/8, CESCR General comment 8 (General Comments) (stating that the entity participating in a de-jure or de-facto sanctions regime "has an obligation to take steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical in order to respond to any disproportionate suffering experienced by vulnerable groups within the targeted country.")]
We are asking you to devise a means to resolve this impasse. The Inter-American Development Bank, its member states, and the Haitian Government have an obligation to overcome the mistakes of the past and to minimize further human rights violations. Successor regimes are forced to pay for the past mistakes of the Inter-American Development Bank and former regimes. Let's make no mistake; it is the Haitian people who pay. They have paid enough.
There is no other institution that can quickly send funds to the Government of Haiti. Your Bank has done crucial work over the years and in many cases has led the way in respecting the rights of citizens in many countries. We want to reaffirm this very important mandate and we have faith that you will do everything necessary to devise a plan to help the Haitian people. It is for this reason that we are calling a meeting. We look forward to hearing from you.
Todd Howland, Director
Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy
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