Partner, HRA Laureate Jozef addresses U.N. about human rights abuses to Black migrants
On Tuesday, Aug. 9, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Human Rights Award laureate Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, addressed the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, one of the few international human rights treaties the country has signed on to.
A key partner, Jozef presented evidence of human rights abuses committed against Black migrants and responded to the July 2022 Del Rio internal investigation report from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which did not capture the whole story of what took place.
Below are her remarks, which have been edited for brevity:
“First, I would like to have a moment of silence to acknowledge the lives lost during the journey – at the Darien gap, at the US-Mexico border, at sea – while trying to find safety in the US and in Europe.
We want to thank the Representative of the Secretariat, Wan-Hea Lee for her acknowledgment of the various human rights issues impacting our immigrant communities worldwide, exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic, including pushbacks, and collective expulsions, criminalization, and non-refoulement.
My name is Guerline Jozef, I am the Executive Director and co-founder of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. Haitian Bridge Alliance, the only Black-led organization based at the US-Mexico border, provides legal and humanitarian services to thousands of Black migrants a year. I came to this work in 2015 after I received a call from someone who told me that we have Haitians at the border, since you are Haitian come take care of your people. I also co-founded the only Black Immigrants Bond Fund and the Cameroon Advocacy Network.
Our statement today is on behalf of a coalition of organizations, including Human Rights First, RAICES, BAJI, Communities United for Status and Protection and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and is endorsed by many organizations.
The US has implemented a series of policies at its borders that disparately impact and violate the human rights of non-white asylum seekers, particularly individuals from Black-majority countries such as Haiti.
Local, state, and federal officials have repeatedly used the rhetoric of the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory to characterize non-citizens at the US-Mexico border, describing the arrival of Haitians as an “invasion.”
In September 2021, a photo went viral of Mirard Joseph, a Haitian asylum seeker who was being chased and lashed at by an armed border patrol officer on horseback at the border. The image captured international media attention as a stark callback to the US’s legacy of slavery and racism.
Mr. Joseph was one of at least 15,000 asylum seekers, overwhelmingly Haiti