Nationality

Haiti

Education

Master's Degree in Development Sciences, Faculté d’Ethnologie de Port au Prince, Haiti

Bachelor's Degree in Law, Ecole de Droits et des Sciences Economiques des Gonaives, Haiti

Certificate in International Human Rights, International Human Rights Institute, Strasbourg, France

Certificate in International Human Rights Law, Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom

Languages

French, English, Creole

I started working for the United Nations in 2002 as a United Nations Volunteer in Kindu - east Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a Human Rights officer, my job was really challenging because we faced an unstable environment full of risks to communal and personal safety, and we had to intervene and advocate for the release of Congolese people who had been wrongfully arrested.

We worked with the local population in the field every day and this made me feel part of something important. I frequently went to military offices with requests for their intervention in a wrongful arrest or to advocate for the release of an individual who was illegally detained by the military or local police forces. I was there so often that one day an officer jokingly asked if it would not be easier if I just got an office in their building.

Aside from advocating on behalf of the wrongfully arrested, I conducted trainings on human rights monitoring and reporting for the military and police, as well as non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society. This included creating a cultural understanding of the nature of Human Rights and how are they violated; as well as how to document such monitoring and to whom to report findings.

In 2004, I got a job with the High Commissioner for Human Rights so I left the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Geneva, where I became part of a working group on Human Rights for eight months. I missed the field and the great feeling of satisfaction after having helped someone directly, so, in August of 2004, I decided to leave my desk job and go to Burundi, where I spent the next two years.

On paper, the work in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was similar, in Burundi however, citizens were much less likely to report human rights violations. A challenge to me was to figure out how to reach people and encourage them to speak out. I regularly visited police holding cells and prisons and went to villages and provinces to see and talk to people directly about how they were treated by authorities.

In 2006, I returned to Geneva, but this time as a Desk Officer for Burundi and Uganda. I interacted with colleagues in the field on a daily basis and my job was to support them with policy guidance, advice and direction. I traveled to my areas of responsibility three to four times a year doing field investigations and following up on recommendations we had made in previous reports to the respective governments regarding human rights issues.

After two years in Geneva, I joined the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), where I am currently the Team Leader of the Human Rights Office in Abyei, south of Sudan’s capital Khartoum. We have had to start all our work from scratch as any documentation that existed prior to the war has been destroyed or is no longer available. We designed a new training programme with the local police on human rights issues. Our team has regular discussions with the local authorities on integrating human rights into their work and infrastructure. Life functions here under traditional law, where the traditions are often at odds with human rights. It is a challenge to argue with officials of the courts because there are no written laws and our work requires a very delicate and diplomatic approach.

When I was first interviewed to be a United Nations volunteer, I thought the Organization would offer great exposure to Africa. It has turned out to be much more than just that. I remember one incident, when I advocated for the release of a person who had been illegally arrested. The next day he came to my office and told me that had I not freed him, he would have been executed. At that moment I realized I was not only doing interesting and intellectually challenging work, but was saving lives. I wanted to continue saving lives, so I continued my career path in the United Nations.

When I am not in the office I like to integrate myself into the local community. I love to play soccer and in Burundi we had a United Nations team. Once I remember playing a game against the local authorities. Some people on that team had always been very hard to talk to and to convince. After playing together on the field they would listen to me and worked with me more in the future. It was a breakthrough, and it was not conventional. Serving the communities I am working in is always on my mind.

This work is inspiring and that inspiration is contagious. I am motivated because when I try to empower voiceless and powerless people, I can see the difference it makes. That impact spreads from victims to their families and communities and so on. This work makes a difference.

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