A young Haitian stands up for people with disabilities
16 November 2021
Haiti faces an institutional weakness, which has serious implications for the implementation of the law on the integration of persons with disabilities. This situation is being addressed by Gélimène Petit-Dé, a young lawyer at the Gonaïves Bar who has received support from Lawyers without Borders Canada (LWBC).
Ms. Gélimène Petit-Dé is a seasoned activist. For several years, she has regularly participated in activities to raise awareness of and respect for human rights. She is the founder of the Association of Women with Disabilities of Artibonite, through which she advocates to encourage the Haitian State to guarantee the rights of people with disabilities.
At a very young age, Ms. Petit-Dé was amputated of her left leg as a result of a serious illness. This situation of disability caused her many difficulties, which she overcame with the help of her mother, her main source of motivation. In 2016, she completed her studies in law at the State University of Haiti. Her thesis: “Advocacy for access to education for persons with disabilities in Haiti: specific case of children with disabilities of the commune of Marmelade”.
An internship to build her capacity as a future lawyer
The young woman’s interest in defending the rights of people in vulnerable situations led her to the Gonaïves Bar Association. LWBC supported her in her admission and professional development internship.
“I benefited from the technical and financial support of Lawyers without Borders Canada. They helped me meet the requirements of the internship.”
Ms. Gélimène Petit-Dé
During the internship, together with her colleagues, Ms. Petit-Dé worked on several cases of gender-based violence. In particular, they accompanied women who had been assaulted.
Becoming a magistrate, her biggest dream
The lawyer wishes to bring about changes in the judicial system in favor of respect for and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. She dreams of becoming a magistrate and ensuring better handling of their cases.
At the Civil Court of Gonaïves, Ms. Petit-Dé witnessed the difficulty for people with disabilities to access justice in Haiti. A deaf woman needed legal assistance and no one understood her language.
“The lady was screaming and very upset. This touched me deeply and reinforced my conviction.”
Ms. Petit-Dé seized the opportunity to call on the Haitian State to appoint interpreters of sign language in public spaces, especially in the courts.
Young people, leaders of tomorrow
At the initiative of LWBC, between August 2020 and April 2021, four young lawyers from the Gonaïves Bar Association were supervised by the Joseph et Associés Law Firm. This internship, which took place under the direction of Ms. Youdeline Cherizard, aims to develop a succession of young lawyers engaged in the defense of human rights.
The recipients had initially benefited from a preparatory class that allowed them to join the Gonaïves Bar School. They all passed the final exam and two of them were the first in their promotion. An encouraging omen for the future of women in the legal profession in Haiti.
Follow live achievements of our teams in the field.