Mario Joseph in January 2010
|Alma mater||École Normale Supérieure
Gonaives Law School
|Organization||Bureau des Avocats Internationaux|
|Known for||human rights work|
|Awards||Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award (2009)
Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize (2009)
Mario Joseph is a Haitian human rights lawyer. Since 1996, he has led the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, which represents political prisoners, poor people, and victims of political violence. In 2006, The New York Times called Joseph "Haiti's most prominent human rights lawyer".
Joseph received degrees from Haiti's École Normale Supérieure and Gonaives Law School. He then worked on human rights cases for the Catholic Church's Peace and Justice Commission before joining the BAI in 1996.
Joseph was the lead lawyer for the victims in the prosecution of the BAI's most successful case, the Raboteau Massacre trial. The trial was described by a United Nations expert as "the longest and most complex" in the history of the Haitian judicial system. After six weeks of trial ending in November 2000, the Raboteau Massacre jury convicted 53 defendants for a 1994 attack on a pro-democracy neighborhood, 37 of whom were convicted in absentia. The Court also ordered that the defendants pay civil damages of 1 billion gourdes (roughly $43 million USD).
Three former members of the military high command were later deported from the U.S. to Haiti to face charges in Raboteau, including former Assistant Commander-in-Chief Jean-Claude Duperval, who had worked at Disney World for five years after leaving Haiti. According to the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Duperval was the highest-ranked soldier ever deported from the U.S. to face human rights charges.
Joseph helped the Center for Justice & Accountability pursue other perpetrators of the Raboteau Massacre in U.S. courts. On 16 May 2008, these efforts resulted in a damage recovery of more than $400,000 USD from former Col. Carl Dorélien, who had recently won the Florida State Lottery. The same year, Joseph also provided an affidavit against Emmanuel Constant, a former paramilitary leader and convicted Raboteau perpetrator, when Constant was on trial for mortgage fraud in New York.
United Nations cholera lawsuit
In 2012, Joseph and IJDH Director Brian Concannon filed suit against the United Nations on behalf of victims of the 2010–2011 Haiti cholera outbreak, allegedly introduced to Haiti by UN troops in October 2010. According to the Haitian Health Ministry, as of August 2012, the outbreak had caused 7,490 deaths and caused 586,625 people to fall ill. Investigations by the New England Journal of Medicine and the US Centers for Disease Control pointed to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti base in Mirebalis as the source of the cholera outbreak. The UN denied responsibility, though epidemiological and genome studies appeared to have conclusively established the peacekeeping force's role, and UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton described the force as "the proximate cause of cholera". By challenging the legal immunity of peacekeepers, The Economist described the suit as a landmark case that could "affect peacekeeping operations worldwide". In August 2012, a Pulitzer Center reporter described the case as going "nowhere fast", though Joseph and Concannon intended to continue pursing it.
Joseph represented Catholic Priest and human rights activist Fr. Gérard Jean-Juste, who was designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International following his multiple arrests in 2004 and 2005.
In January 2007, Joseph testified before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica, in the case of Yvon Neptune v. Haiti, the first Haitian case that the Court had considered. On 6 May, the Court ruled that the Haitian government had violated 11 provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights by keeping Neptune, a former prime minister, in detention and failing to try his case with sufficient speed.
In January 2012, Joseph spoke out against a ruling by a judge that former dictator Jean Claude Duvalier would be tried only for embezzlement and corruption charges, rather than human rights abuses. Joseph represents eight Duvalier victims in their civil complaint against Mr. Duvalier.
Threats and intimidation
Under Haiti's interim government (2004–2006), Joseph represented alleged political prisoners, including top former government officials, journalists and grassroots organizers. His advocacy generated frequent threats; his family was forced to leave the country, and Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action alert out of concern for his safety in November 2004. His family received political asylum from the U.S. and now resides in Miami.
In late 2012, Joseph reported increasing levels of intimidation attempts against him and stated his belief that he was being targeted by the Haitian government. On 28 September, Jean Renel Sénatus, former Chief Prosecutor of Port-au-Prince, stated that he had been dismissed by the Ministry of Justice after refusing to order the arrest of 36 opposition activists, including Joseph. The reports caused Amnesty International to begin another "Urgent Action" letter-writing campaign on Joseph's behalf, calling on authorities to investigate the threats. The alleged intimidation was also protested by the Center for Justice and Accountability, the Center for Economic Policy and Research, the US National Lawyers Guild, US Congressman John Conyers, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Awards and recognition
In 2009, Joseph won the Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize from the Santa Clara University Law School, and the Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award from the Center for Justice & Accountability. He delivered the Judge Leon A. Higginbotham Human Rights Lecture at the University of Pennsylvania in November 2011, and was recognized by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York in June 2012 for his "extraordinary work."
- "Haiti: Aristide's Prime Minister Freed". The New York Times. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Miles, Melinda; Eugenia Charles (2004). Let Haiti live: unjust U.S. policies towards its oldest neighbor. Educa Vision, Inc. p. 389. ISBN 1-58432-188-1. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "Raboteau Verdict in Haiti "A Landmark in Fight Against Impunity", but Case Not Yet Finished, says UN Independent Expert". Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. 20 November 2000. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Haitian Junta Is Sentenced In Absentia". The New York Times. November 19, 2000. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
- "Disney worker deported to Haiti for massacre". CNN. Reuters. 16 January 2004. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "IJDH Haitian Affiliate: Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI)". Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Human Right Legal Victory Leads to Historic Recovery for Massacre Survivors in Haiti". Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. 21 May 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "N.Y. jury: Ex-Haitian paramilitary leader guilty of mortgage fraud". USA Today. 26 July 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- Megan Dhaliwal (18 September 2012). "Haiti: Lawyers Seek Reparations for Cholera Epidemic". Pulitzer Center. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- Megan Dhaliwal (7 August 2012). "Panic Has Subsided, But Cholera Remains in Haiti". Pulitzer Center. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Rishi Rattan (9 August 2012). "Baseball and Science in the Time of Cholera". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Recent Clonal Origin of Cholera in Haiti". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "First, do no harm". The Economist. 28 April 2012. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- "Threats, Harassment and Intimidation Against Attorney Mario Joseph". Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. 4 October 2012. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- "New Doc Brings Worldwide Attention to Cholera Epidemic in Haiti". Tribeca Film Festival. 12 July 2012. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- Wadner Pierre (14 December 2007). "Activist Priest Gérard Jean-Juste in Port-au-Prince Appeals Court". The Dominion. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "Haiti:Arbitrary Arrest/Prisoner of Conscience". Amnesty International. 25 July 2005. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "Yvon Neptune". Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- Jennifer Clibbon (25 November 2010). "Haitian human rights lawyer Mario Joseph slams elections, aid". CBC News. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Baby Doc avoids human rights abuse charges in Haiti". The Guardian. Reuters. 31 January 2012. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Meena Jagannath and Fran Quigley (20–22 July 2012). "This is How Duvalier Started". Counterpunch.org. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- "Haiti: International Legal Network: Human Rights Defenders at Risk: Renan Hedouville and Other Members of Carli, and Lawyer Mario Joseph". Amnesty International. November 2004. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "Lawyers in Haiti Threatened and Intimidated". Amnesty International. 4 October 2012. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
- "Haiti: Human Rights Lawyers Face a Rising Tide of Persecution.". Center for Justice and Accountability. 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- "Public Support Grows for Threatened Human Rights Attorney Mario Joseph.". Center for Economic and Policy Research. 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- "Citing Intimidation, Death Threats, National Lawyers Guild Calls for Protection of Haitian Lawyers to Government Critics.". National Lawyers Guild. 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "Conyers Calls for Protection for Human Rights Advocates in Haiti.". John Conyers. 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- "CCR Urges International Scrutiny of Repression and Persecution of Human Rights Attorneys in Haiti.". Center for Constitutional Rights. 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
- "The Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize". Santa Clara University Law School. 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "The Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award". Center for Justice & Accountability. 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "Higginbotham Human Rights Lecture: "Building a Black Haiti More Justly"". Penn Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- "Brian Concannon and Mario Joseph at CCR Social Justice Throwdown". Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. 11 June 2012. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.