U.N. Claims Immunity in Haitian Cholera Cases

The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti says it now plans to file a formal lawsuit against the U.N.

Posted: 02/22/2013 03:16 PM EST
U.N. Claims Immunity in Haitian Cholera Cases

The United Nations says it will not compensate thousands of Haitians affected by the country’s cholera outbreak that has been traced back to U.N. peace keepers.

According to the international body, a 1946 convention renders the U.N. legally immune to such claims.

“The secretary-general again expresses his profound sympathy for the terrible suffering caused by the cholera epidemic and calls on all partners in Haiti and the international community to work together to ensure better health and a better future for the people of Haiti," said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky.

The petition for damages was brought against Haiti by the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). The organization asked the U.N. to pay a minimum of $100,000 for families and next of kin of those who died from cholera, and at least $50,000 for victims who suffered illness or injury from the disease.

Nearly 7,750 Haitians died as a result of the cholera outbreak and another 620,000 have fallen ill as a result of the disease since October 2010.

Without U.N. cooperation, IJDH now plans to take the case to court in Haiti, the United States or Europe.

IJDH director Brian Cocannon called the rejection “disappointing,” especially given that “it took them 15 months to come up with a basically one line rejection.”

"The U.N. is passing up an opportunity to stop cholera's killing," Cocannon told Reuters. "The U.N. is passing up an opportunity to provide leadership in advancing the rule of law."

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(Photo: Sophia Paris/MINUSTAH via Getty Images)

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