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  While Lawyer Suing UN Is Threatened in Haiti, MINUSTAH Is "Aware" But Nothing More

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 8, updated Oct. 9 -- Long after Mario Joseph and other lawyer had petitioned the UN for introducing cholera to Haiti, six months ago a block from the UN Inner City Press asked Joseph what he thought of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's responsiveness.

  Joseph replied, surprisingly diplomatic given the delay, that immunity should not mean impunity.

   Last week the UN's top envoy in Haiti Mariano Fernandez told Inner City Press that he could not answer on cholera, since a legal claim-- Joseph's -- remains pending.

   Now, Mario Joseph and other lawyers including Newton St-Juste and Andre Michel are facing death threats in Haiti for their work.

  So Inner City Press on Monday asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN's mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, had within its mandate to offer protection to human rights lawyers under threat in the very city the UN has hung around in for years, Port au Prince. Video here, from Minute 8:24.

Nesirky replied that "we're certainly aware of the report" -- it would be hard not to be -- but "if I have anything further on that, I'll let you know."

  Is that a sufficient response from the UN, given its presence and deeds in Haiti?

Update of October 9: 23 hours after the question, the UN sent Inner City Press the below, slightly expanding on its answer - the UN is "looking into the situation" --

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Oct 9, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Subject: Your question on Haiti
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

Concerning your question from yesterday, the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, is aware of the reports and is looking into the situation.

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