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From: Merrie Archer <MArcher@nchr.org>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE	Contact:  Merrie Archer, NCHR, (954) 462-8231
April 18, 2002


Miami, April 18, 2002 - Slavery is alive and well in Haiti, birthplace
of the world's only successful slave revolt, says the National Coalition
for Haitian Rights (NCHR). The year-long examination of the situation of
Haitian children in domestic servitude debunks the myth that restavčk
servitude is practiced in the best interests of the child.
"Many Haitians maintain that they are acting in the best interests of
the child when giving her away to a family who is sometimes only
slightly better off in the hopes that she will have access to better
opportunities in life. Many of those who take in restavčk also believe
that they are helping them out of poverty," explains Mr. Jocelyn
McCalla, co-author of Restavčk No More: Eliminating Child Slavery in
Haiti, "The evidence suggests otherwise as the practice fuels the cycle
of poverty rather than breaking it."
Restavčk No More exposes the restavčk practice in light of international
and Haitian standards on children enshrined in the UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child and shows how it embodies a number of other
traditions and practices that constitute tacit support for a wide array
of human rights abuses that, nurtured during childhood, retard Haitian
development and fuel its chronic socio-economic and political crises.
"Estimates reveal that as many as one out of every ten children in Haiti
is a child domestic servant, known in Creole as a restavčk," said Merrie
Archer, co-author of the report and Senior Policy Associate at NCHR,
"and there is evidence that this practice has been carried over to the
US and other places where Haitians have migrated."
To order a copy of the report, please see our website at www.nchr.org or
send an e-mail to marcher@nchr.org.
* * * * *
The National Coalition for Haitian Rights is a nonprofit
non-governmental organization that seeks to promote and protect the
rights of Haitian refugees and Haitian-Americans under US and
international law, and to advance respect for human rights, the rule of
law and support for civil and democratic society in Haiti. It has
offices in New York and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Study condemns child labor

By Madeline Baro Diaz
Miami Bureau

April 13, 2002

MIAMI -- The National Coalition for Haitian Rights released a study on
Friday that estimates one in 10 children in Haiti is a domestic servant
and said the Haitian government has not done enough to end the
traditional practice.

The system is known as "restavek," from the French rester avec, meaning
to "stay with." Some poor parents living in rural parts of Haiti turn
their children over to a family, usually one in an urban area, that
agrees to care for the child and provide schooling, food and shelter in
exchange for domestic labor. Most restavek children, however, end up as
house slaves who are treated worse than the family's children, are
denied education and are abused, the study says.

"I believe to a certain extent Haiti's ills, political and otherwise,
are closely linked with the way children in Haiti are being abused,"
said Jocelyn McCalla, the study's co-author, who said the acceptance of
the restavek system leads to the acceptance of human rights abuses in

The yearlong study, conducted through monitoring and interviewing
restaveks, makes recommendations to the Haitian government, Haitian
civil society and the international community. The study says Haiti
should enact tougher child labor laws, outlaw the practice of restavek
and toughen enforcement. It also asks the international community to
step up pressure on the Haitian government to end the practice and calls
on Haitian human rights and other organizations to increase awareness of
and end the restavek practice.

The Haitian government said it is trying to address the problem by
combating the conditions that force parents to give away their children.
Minister of Social Affairs Eude Saint-Preux Craan said Haiti recently
passed a law to combat violence against children. She also said the
government is encouraging peasant cooperatives, providing literacy
training and expanding school access for children in rural areas.

"We welcome the recommendations of the NCHR report, and in fact their
recommendations are along the lines of what the government of Haiti is
already doing," she said.

The study's authors and other community leaders expressed concern that
the restavek practice might have made its way in some form to the United

In 1999, Haitian-American leaders expressed outrage over the case of a
12-year-old girl who said she was kept as a maid in the home of a
Pembroke Pines family and sexually abused by the 20-year-old son in the

Leonie Hermantin, of Sant La, the Haitian Neighborhood Center in Miami,
said she is unaware of other restavek cases in South Florida. Her
organization, however, recently helped the family of a dying woman whose
three children were undocumented immigrants. The organization was
concerned that the children might end up in the hands of non-relatives,
but the children's grandmother was appointed as their guardian instead,
Hermantin said.

Merrie Archer, co-author of the report, said the Immigration and
Naturalization Service has tried to be on the lookout for immigrants who
might have restavek children with them.

Madeline Baro Diaz can be reached at mbaro@sun-sentinel.com or

Copyright (c) 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel