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For Immediate Release

Resuming Deportations to Haiti Violates US Commitments to Health and Human Rights

PHR Calls on Government to Protect Health of Deportees

Cambridge, Mass - 12/15/2010

PHR today denounced the decision of The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to lift the ban on deportations to Haiti for persons with criminal convictions.

Deportations to Haiti had ceased following the January 12, 2010 earthquake in the country, but on Friday ICE announced that undocumented Haitian nationals with criminal records would be sent back to Haiti. The US government will begin deportations in January in coordination with Haiti’s government, despite the country’s political unrest, cholera outbreak, and lack of access to medical care.

"The US State Department issued a travel warning recommending against any non-essential travel to Haiti, but they are willing to send people to Haitian prisons where they are at high risk of contracting cholera and are unlikely to receive medical care,” said Physicians for Human Rights’ CEO, Frank Donaghue. "We cannot knowingly put people in harm’s way by exposing them to contagious disease.”

According to Haiti's Ministry of Health (MSPP), there have been 2,193 deaths and 46,749 hospitalizations due to the cholera outbreak, a number rapidly approaching the number of cases reported in last year’s outbreak in Zimbabwe.

"When we issued a report last year on the failed health system in Zimbabwe, there was a similar outbreak. Then, the Obama administration made combating cholera a foreign policy priority; now, they are consciously putting people at risk,” said Donaghue.

PHR is calling on the US government to honor its commitment to the health and human rights of all people and reverse this irresponsible and harmful decision.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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