30 April 2019
Approximately 100 people from international cooperation, the Haitian judicial sector, civil society organizations and the press attended the launch of the Cabinet spécialisé en litige stratégique des droits humains (CALSDH) on April 26. Composed of professionals of Haitian law, this law firm, the first of its kind, is a vector for the promotion and defense of human rights through strategic litigation.
“CALSDH has no claim to have the magic wand capable of tipping the balance of Haitian justice for the benefit of social change. We have come, independently and autonomously, to make our contribution in this arduous fight against impunity and in favor of the accessibility of justice.”
Patrice Florvilus, CALSDH’ Director
A survivor of a massacre that took place on July 23, 1987 in his hometown of Jean-Rabel, in the Northwest Department, the human rights defender reaffirms his commitment to the defense of human rights. “With our eyes blindfolded, with our conscience still, we devote ourselves to this task against all odds, without any a priori relating to religion, politics or sexual orientations,” he said.
Civil society, between pride and expectations
Having already benefited from the services of the director of CALSDH, Alachka Milien hides neither his interest nor his satisfaction. A spokesperson for the association Konbit fanm Leve, located in Cité Soleil, a poor neighborhood of Port-au-Prince plagued by violence after three years of lull, he says that Mr. Florvilus “has always been a convinced human rights defender who does not market his services. Knowing that we now have a whole firm at our disposal makes us happy,” he adds. “The people in vulnerable situations we serve know that they can finally access quality legal services that are, in addition, free.”
Sitting at the other end of the room, François Frantz also wants to give his opinion, because for this other resident of Cité Soleil, a founding member of the organization Konbit Popilè, this firm is an asset. “We are proud of this achievement, which will strengthen our fight for real access to justice,” he said.
Strategic litigation, “the future of human rights in Haiti”
The creation of this Haitian law firm specialized in the field represents for several actors of the judicial system “the future of human rights in Haiti.”
“This is an original strategy that I encourage other firms to join. CALSDH’s mission is distinguished by the services offered, such as free consultations and referrals, the use of emblematic cases as a springboard to bring about change, create precedents favorable to human rights and encourage public debate and civic education.”
Jean Robens Théagène, lawyer
However, Mr. Théagène encourages firm members to find allies to achieve their goals.
“They will face many challenges such as fighting violence against women and all the pitfalls that accompany it, such as women’s financial dependence, stereotypes, etc. But the biggest challenge remains the fight against impunity and corruption”
Lawyers Without Borders Canada’s (ASFC) strategic litigation tool was introduced in Haiti through the Access to Justice and the Fight Against Impunity in Haiti (AJULIH) project, supported by Global Affairs Canada. “The adoption of this tool by several countries in which ASFC operates, such as Colombia or Guatemala, has allowed to establish a committed and sustainable firm,” recalls the head of mission of ASFC in Haiti, Mr. Appolinaire Fotso. “We hope that the same will be true for CALSDH.”
“The adoption of this tool by several countries in which ASFC operates, such as Colombia or Guatemala, has allowed to establish a committed and sustainable firm. We hope that the same will be true for CALSDH.”
Appolinaire Fotso, head of mission of LWBC in Haiti
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