The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Stephanie Küng, MADRE (212) 627-0444,
Jen Nessel, CCR (212) 614-6449,;
Annie Gell, BAI Port-au-Prince, Haiti +509-3610-2882;
Brian Concannon, IJDH (617)-652-0876

Inter-American Human Rights Commission Sets Unprecedented Recommendations for Haitian Government to Address Wave of Sexual Violence in Displacement Camps


Issuing unprecedented recommendations to the Haitian government, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has granted a legal
request submitted in October by a group of advocates and attorneys for
displaced Haitian women including MADRE, the Institute for Justice &
Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI),
the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and CUNY School of Law. The
IACHR's groundbreaking recommendations request that the Haitian
government take immediate measures to prevent sexual violence against
women and girls in displacement camps.

"Conditions in the displacement camps, following the January 12
earthquake, have exacerbated women's vulnerability to rape," said Malya
Villard-Apollon, a founding member of the women's grassroots advocacy
organization KOFAVIV (Commission of Women Victims for Victims). "Women
and girls live in constant fear for their safety."

Said Lisa Davis, MADRE's Human Rights Advocacy Director and CUNY Law
Professor, "The IACHR set an important precedent in taking decisive
steps to set concrete recommendations before the Haitian government:
increase security patrols, improve lighting in the camps, provide
medical care and ensure legal accountability. These measures have become
more urgent than ever."

In addition to calling for increased security and lighting, the IACHR's
sweeping recommendations advise the Haitian government to provide
medical care, including emergency contraception, for rape survivors in
displacement camps. In response to the request, the IACHR has also
recommended that the Haitian government ensure the full participation
and leadership of grassroots women's groups in anti-violence policies
and practices in the camps.

"The IACHR ruling is an important and powerful tool in the fight against
gender-based violence in Haiti," said Annie Gell, the BAI's Rape
Accountability and Prevention Project Coordinator. "The Haitian
government and non-governmental organizations must heed the IACHR's
concrete and practical recommendations to protect and empower Haitian
women and girls who continue to suffer shocking levels of violence and

"The IACHR decision is a big much needed step towards providing safety
for all women," said CCR Legal Director Bill Quigley. "It is time for
the US, the UN and the international community to support the courageous
women of Haiti who are providing for families in the most trying
conditions. Talk is fine, but only a tiny percentage of the money
promised by the US for the rebuilding effort has made it to Haiti. It
is time for action."

Erica Richards, an attorney with Morrison & Foerster LLP, said, "We
commend the IACHR for listening to the calls of displaced Haitian women
whose lives are daily jeopardized by the abject lack of security in the
camps. Nearly one year has passed since the earthquake, and these
recommendations arrive not a moment too soon. They must now be brought
to life."

Meanwhile, evidence has mounted that recent political instability has
drastically undermined women's safety in the camps. KOFAVIV reports that
women lined up at its women's center for days after the November
presidential election. They recounted incidents of rapes and beatings,
including cases in which armed men entered some of the camps and shot
people at random.

As part of international advocacy efforts demanding accountability and
security for women living in the camps, the petitioners to the IACHR
denounce the continuing and escalating threat of rape and calls for
immediate security measures to be implemented to end the violence.

To read the request, click here:

Available for interviews:

Lisa Davis, Esq. (MADRE and the International Women's Human
Rights Clinic at CUNY School of Law) was the primary author of the
request for precautionary measures and currently serves as the
Coordinator for the Lawyers' Earthquake Response Network (LERN) Gender
Working Group. She is a member of the New York City Bar Association's
International Human Rights Committee and the National Lawyers' Guild
Haiti Subcommittee. Lisa is an Adjunct Professor of Law for the
International Women's Human Rights Clinic at CUNY Law School. (Contact:
Stephanie Kung 212-627-0444)

Annie Gell, Esq. (Legal Fellow at the Bureau des Avocats
Internationaux) is a human rights attorney and the Rape Accountability
and Prevention Project (RAPP) coordinator at the BAI in Port-au-Prince,
(Contact: Annie Gell +509-3610-2882)

Katherine Romero (Women's Link Worldwide) directs Women's Link's technical assistance projects in Latin America.
(Contact: Katherine Romero

For more information about MADRE, visit our website at