Another Recipient of CIDA Largesse
By Richard Sanders, editor, Press for Conversion!
The Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH) is a coalition of eight groups,1 including NCHR-Haiti. They are bound together by a fervent opposition to Aristide and by financial ties to the foreign governments behind Haiti’s 2004 coup. During Latortue’s regime, at least five POHDH members received CIDA funding totalling almost a quarter of a million dollars.2 One member, the National Commission on Justice and Peace (JILAP), also belonged to the Group of 184 (G184).
In its 2004 human rights report, the U.S. State Department highlighted POHDH and CARLI (see pp.46-47) as “major human rights organizations”3 in Haiti. This view was certainly not shared by the Center for the Study of Human Rights, which did not even mention POHDH in its report for that year. (As for CARLI, the CSHR and other sources were harshly critical of this G184 member, which it called a “small, volunteer-based organization.”4
The State Department, however, saw things differently. It cited POHDH in the context of Haitian groups that were “active and effective in monitoring human rights issues, meeting frequently with government officials.”5 The State Department did not clarify which “government officials” POHDH was in the habit of “meeting frequently” with. But, whether they were “officials” in the Haitian dictatorship or their U.S. counterparts seems more indicative of a subservience to power than a willingness to confront it. Showered praise upon POHDH, NCHR, the Ecumenical Center of Human Rights, CARLI and JILAP), the State Department said they “made frequent media appearances and published objective reports on violations.”6
Although POHDH’s objectivity is obviously suspect, its media access was undeniable. This was thanks in no small part to CIDA which bestowed $300,000 for a media project run by POHDH and Haiti’s Social Development and Communications Co. (SAKS).7
POHDH’s friendly relations with the Canadian government were also evident during the pre-coup period. When Rights and Democracy—a multi-million dollar government agency—drew up its predictably anti-Aristide report praising the G184 as a neutral organization making a “highly useful”8 contribution to the crisis, POHDH was on the list9 of elitist, CIDA-funded Haitian organizations that were consulted.
But despite receiving high marks from the U.S. and Canadian governments, CUPE researcher Kevin Skerrett does not see POHDH as “substantially independent” of NCHR-Haiti. He notes that POHDH
“did not appear to publish material or reports and is essentially an appendage of NCHR. In fact, NCHR Director Espérance...also serves as POHDH treasurer, creating an inter-connection that casts doubt on any claims of independence.”10
1. POHDH webpage <www.pohdh-haiti.org/present-eng.php3>
2. POHDH members getting CIDA funds include: NCHR, ICKL, PAJ, CRESFED, JILAP. See sources 1 and 3 in tables, "Projects Funded by CIDA" and "CIDA-Funded G-184 Member Groups," Press for Conversion!, Sept. 2007, p.39. <http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/61/33-41.pdf>
3. "Haiti," Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2004. U.S. State Department, February 28, 2005. <www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41764.htm>
4. Thomas Griffin, "Haiti: Human Rights Investigation: Nov. 11-21, 2004," p.29. <www.ijdh.org/CSHRhaitireport.pdf>
5. "Haiti," Country Reports. Op. cit.
7. Canada-Haiti Cooperation - Interim Cooperation Framework Result Summary April 2004 - March 2006 - Final Report. <www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/CIDAWEB/acdicida.nsf/En/NIC-61993852-HZU>
8. "Haiti: A Bitter Bicentennial," January 2004, p.15 <www.dd-rd.ca/site/_PDF/publications/americas/haiti_en.pdf>
9. Ibid. p.55.
10. Kevin Skerrett, "Faking Genocide in Haiti," ZNet, June 23, 2005 <www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=8142>
This article was published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade in Press for Conversion! (issue #61) September 2007.
HTML version: http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/61/21.htm
PDF version, as it appears in the magazine: http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/61/20-22.pdf
This issue of Press for Conversion! is entitled: "CIDA's Key Role in Haiti's 2004 Coup d'etat: Funding Regime Change, Dictatorship and Human Rights Atrocities, one Haitian 'NGO' at a Time." Here is the table of contents: <http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/61/61-TOC.htm>
The previous issue
of Press for Conversion! (#60) was called:
"A Very Canadian Coup d’état in Haiti: The Top 10 Ways that Canada’s Government helped the 2004 Coup and its Reign of Terror."
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