Haitian human rights attorney to present Carleton convocation

October 19, 2015

Haitian human rights attorney Mario Joseph will present the weekly Carleton convocation address Friday, Oct. 23 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Joseph’s presentation, which will highlight his work advocating for victims of political violence, is free and open to the public. Carleton convocations are also recorded and archived for online viewing at go.carleton.edu/convo/.

The New York Times has called Joseph Haiti’s “most respected human rights lawyer,” representing the disadvantaged, victims of political violence, and political prisoners since 1996 as the leader of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, a partner organization of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (www.ijdh.org).

The BAI has pio­neered a “victim-centered approach,” that com­bines tra­di­tional legal strate­gies with empow­er­ment of vic­tims’ orga­ni­za­tions and polit­i­cal advo­cacy. BAI lawyers argue in court, but also help vic­tims engage judi­cial and gov­ern­ment author­i­ties through media advo­cacy, writ­ing let­ters, meet­ings with offi­cials and even orga­niz­ing demon­stra­tions. The office helps its clients advo­cate on a global level as well, through inter­na­tional courts, media appear­ances, and help­ing orga­nize inter­na­tional cam­paigns in sup­port of its clients. BAI lawyers advo­cate beyond the con­fines of their cases in sup­port of the rule of law in Haiti.

Having grown up poor in rural Haiti himself, Joseph learned firsthand how the inability to enforce fundamental political, civil, economic and social rights condemns poor people to generations of poverty.  Once he was able to obtain a legal education – through hard work, sacrifice, and good fortune – Joseph resolved to put his new privileges at the service of his country’s poor, to help them enforce the rights they need to climb out of poverty.  Now he serves as the voice of people who have no voice, oftentimes at great physical risk. 

As a lawyer, organizer, activist, educator and spokesperson, Joseph also empowers others who work for justice in Haiti – giving some people the courage they need to act, and others the patience they need to act non-violently. By helping Haitians enforce their civil rights, including their rights to organize, to send their children to school, and to free and fair elections, Joseph is making profound social changes.

This event is sponsored by the Carleton College Convocations Committee. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on the corner of First and College Streets in Northfield.