A number of members of the NYU Law community have been monitoring legal and human rights issues in Haiti’s camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Recently, Greger Calhan ’12, who is working this summer at Haiti’s Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), recorded a podcast recounting the dramatic events he witnessed during a visit to Sylvio Canto Stadium in Port-au-Prince. The stadium parking lot has served as a camp for people left homeless by the catastrophic earthquake that stuck Haiti in January 2010. But on July 18, bulldozers leveled the camp as part of a government plan to evict large numbers of IDPs from various locations. In the podcast, Calhan and a fellow intern describe the chaotic scene at the stadium. “Dejected families were standing around the wreckage of their former shelters,” Calhan reports,  “gathering their belongings, trying to figure out where to go next so that they would have somewhere to sleep that night.” They also report on the deplorable conditions at a site to which some of the IDPs were relocated, where security was scarce and access to potable water and housing facilities were extremely limited.

Through an internship with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Calhan is working for BAI and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). The organizations say the evictions are illegal, and are mobilizing to halt them. Others from NYU Law, including Beatrice Lindstrom ’10, an Arthur Helton fellow, and Jeena Shah ’07, are also involved in challenging evictions throughout Haiti for the IJDH. As part of a separate project underway since September 2010, Professor of Clinical Law Margaret Satterthwaite ’99 and students in her Global Justice Clinic have been looking at how access to food and water in Hati’s IDP camps may make IDPs more vulnerable to gender-based violence. “The work current and former NYU students are doing to advance the human rights of Haitian IDPs is an embodiment of what we strive to teach in our clinical programs,” Satterthwaite said.  “Working as partners to grassroots groups, these young advocates are providing high-quality legal accompaniment and advocacy where it is needed most.”

Posted on August 5, 2011