"Change is often slow within the field of law enforcement, but little by little we started to notice that the judicial process for several pre-trial detainees was speeding up, and that minors kept in detention were less frequently encountered."
Three months after joining the Justice Section of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as a UN Volunteer in 2010, Miriam Talah was assigned to coordinate the regional office in Gonaives. As a UNV Judicial Affairs Officer, she conducted daily visits in the Peace Court, Court of First Instance, Court of Appeals and detention centre, where she witnessed the prevailing injustice many Haitians face.
The support of Miriam and her colleagues to the Court of First Instance in Gonaives led to better recordkeeping and regularly held meetings between the Dean, the Investigating Judges, the Chief Prosecutor and the President of the Gonaives Bar Association in order to monitor and evaluate the legal situation of the detainees in the overcrowded detention centre.
Change is often slow within the field of law enforcement, but little by little we started to notice that the judicial process for several pre-trial detainees was speeding up, and that minors kept in detention were less frequently encountered.
-- Miriam Talah, UNV Judicial Affairs Officer
A specific change was the establishment of a new Court of Appeals in the city of Gonaives through a quick impact project funded by MINUSTAH. Previously accommodated in a cramped private building lacking basic facilities, many cases were repeatedly postponed, resulting in an increasing number of people on prolonged pre-trial detention, and overcrowded prisons.
Back in Port-au-Prince, Miriam had the opportunity to participate in the review of a national draft law against the trafficking of persons, a crucial instrument to fight the phenomenon happening inside the country and across its borders.
Landowners have had their property expropriated by the state for the new town planning of Port-au-Prince and, currently, Miriam is carrying out research concerning their compensation. Because of the inefficiency of the legal procedures for indemnification, loss of documents proving ownership of land, and lack of knowledge amongst landowners on how to proceed in order to demand their rights, not one single landowner has yet received compensation for expropriation of their land.
The work as a UN Volunteer is often challenging, both professionally and personally, but Im grateful for the opportunity to contribute and to learn something every day, Miriam says.
Bio: Miriam Talah, from Sweden, is a UNV Judicial Affairs Officer with the Justice Section of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Miriam coordinates the regional office in Gonaives, monitoring decisions of the Courts and evaluating the legal situation of detainees in the overcrowded detention centres.