UN is sued for cholera killed thousands of Haitians, Dominicans
NEW YORK. – For what is believed to be the first time ever, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was served with a complaint this morning in Midtown Manhattan – both personally and in his capacity as the chief executive of the United Nations – as part of a Brooklyn federal lawsuit against Moon and the United Nations brought on behalf of more than 1,500 Haitian over the massive cholera contagion that has killed more than 8,000 Haitians and sickened hundreds of thousands more.
Moon was entering an event at the Asia Society in Midtown Manhattan when he was handed the court papers by a process server.
“This is a significant development in the fight to hold the United Nations responsible for the tragic events in Haiti,” said Stanley Alpert, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. “Moon and the United Nations have been ducking service in these lawsuits for months. That evasion ended this morning.”
With clear evidence that the United Nations is responsible for the massive Haitian cholera contagion, the plaintiffs sued the United Nations in March in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. The lawsuit seeks to force the UN to take responsibility, compensate victims, and bring critical sanitation to the devastated Haitian communities the UN was sworn to protect.
Court filings include evidence that clearly shows that the UN expressly waived its sovereign immunity – including in its 2004 agreement concerning the status of forces in Haiti, as well as another document that reveals the UN General Assembly specifically “assumed its liability for damage caused by members of its forces in the performance of their duties.”
“The United Nations now must directly respond to the fact that they have repeatedly waived immunity for their actions in Haiti,” said Tim Howard, another lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “The UN explicitly agreed to set up a compensation process when they entered Haiti. They now must face a U.S. federal judge and explain why they feel they are immune from fulfilling that agreed-upon responsibility.”
United Nations Caused Haitian Cholera Contagion Outbreak
According to the lawsuit, the United National hired a private contractor to ensure proper sanitation in Haiti, where nearly all get their water directly from wells. But the UN engineer-in-charge failed to properly manage the sanitation contractor, and in the end the contractor did nothing to provide an adequate sanitation system. This resulted in the dumping of cholera-infested feces from Nepalese peacekeepers into Haiti’s main river.
Investigations by the New England Journal of Medicine and the US Centers for Disease Control point to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti base in Mirebalis as the source of the cholera outbreak. Epidemiological and genome studies have conclusively established the peacekeeping force’s role, and United Nations Special Envoy former President Bill Clinton described the Stabilization Force as "the proximate cause of cholera.”
The United Nations’ Independent Expert on Human Rights, Gustavo Gallon, a respected Columbian jurist, in his 2014 Human Rights in Haiti annual assessment, admits that the UN must take responsibility and compensate victims. Mr. Gallon called for “diplomatic difficulties” to be resolved to “stop the epidemic” and to “compensate victims fully.” “Silence is the very worst response,” Gallon added. The UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay, also stated that “someone need[s] to pay up for the suffering and havoc wreaked by cholera.” Retired officials, including Canada’s ambassador to the UN, Stephen Lewis, have publicly agreed.
The cholera epidemic also killed at least three Dominicans shortly after the outbreak spread in Haiti, and forced Dominican Republic authorities to spend millions of dollars in prevention measures and control at the border with Haiti.