On International Day for People of African Descent, Haitian Bridge Alliance honors Toussaint Louverture

San Diego, California, August 31, 2022 – On International Day for People of African Descent, the Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) honored the contributions of Toussaint Louverture, the leader of Haiti’s revolution that ended slavery and started the fight for Black liberation, and calls on all people and organizations to use every forum available to advance the human rights of people of African descent.  

On August 18, 2022, Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance visited and honored the gravesite of Toussaint Louverture in Fort de Joux, France. She stood in Mr. Louverture’s prison cell in Château de Joux where Mr. Louverture was imprisoned after he led the successful revolutionary war against France, and she contemplated his life and legacy. 

Before traveling to Fort de Joux and Mr. Louverture’s final resting place, Ms. Jozef had presented and advocated before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva, Switzerland. HBA led a coalition report to the CERD about the U.S. laws, policies, and practices that result in racist and xenophobic treatment against Black non-citizens—migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. 

In addition to the CERD report in July 2022, HBA has been focusing more on international accountability mechanisms, including a report in August 2021 to the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism and Xenophobia, a report in January 2022 to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, where it then spoke up on behalf of Black people and others being subject to rights violations and sexual and gender-based violence in Panama’s Darien Gap. 

The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Human Rights First (HRF), The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK Human Rights) co-authored the report to CERD, and both BAJI and RFK Human Rights presented before CERD. The report and advocacy were endorsed by the Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP) and Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). On Tuesday, the Committee issued Concluding Observations that took up many of the concerns and recommendations that this coalition raised to it. 

“HBA continues to fight for Mr. Louverture’s legacy every day through our work with Black migrants stuck along the U.S.-Mexico border or locked in immigrant detention centers, and we know many great people and organizations do the same,” said Ms. Jozef. “It is up to us, with the knowledge we gain through this work, to ensure that global governance systems know the truth about what is happening to Black people and to assert our inalienable human rights in the face of States that trample upon them–just like Toussaint Louverture and our ancestors did before us. We ask for all willing to join us in making the record on the international stage about State abuses to use the international human rights governance and monitoring structure to ensure States fulfill their duties to Black people and other groups harmed by the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonial imperialism.”  

“As someone who has lived through all the issues that Black people face in the Americas through my own journey to the States,” said Daniel Tse, HBA staff member and founder of the Cameroonian Advocacy Network. “It is powerful to see these issues addressed on the international stage and to see the clear calls for accountability for State abuses against People of African Descent.” 

“Though it can be hard to see sometimes, the struggles of People of African Descent all across the world are interconnected,” said Erik Crew, the Staff Attorney at the Haitian Bridge Alliance who has spearheaded HBA’s international advocacy. “My African ancestors came up through slavery in the United States, and people helping them when they were fleeing State-sanctioned violence in the South is one of the reasons I am here today. We honor them and those that stepped up to help them every day with our work at HBA.” 

The Bridge celebrates this collaboration and is inspired by the heroes of the Haitian Revolution, who had to find ways to make bonds and forge alliances out of African nations that had been thrown together as a monolith in slavery, speaking different languages, practicing different religions, having different customs, but who could unite to be the first to end slavery in the Americas.