A documentary about the Haiti cholera epidemic won an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a News Magazine on Sept.30. Fault Lines: Haiti in a Time of Cholera, which was produced by Al Jazeera media network, looked at the United Nations’ (UN) refusal to comply with its own legal obligations in the face of overwhelming evidence that it introduced cholera to the small island country.
“This Emmy leaves the UN nowhere to hide from justice,” Mario Joseph, managing attorney for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) said. The BAI has worked with cholera victims in Haiti since 2011. Millions of people including over 100 members of congress and UN human rights officials denounce the UN’s “failure to respond justly to its cholera epidemic.”
The film begins in Haiti, where thousands died after a cholera outbreak. The focus of the film then turns to the United Nations in New York where Al Jazeera journalist Sebastian Walker pursues high-level officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to question them over their organization’s role in the outbreak.
The film, which also won a 2014 Peabody Award in April, follows Walker as he travels from Port-au-Prince to New York examine the UN’s slow response to the epidemic. Walker pursues high-level officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to question them about the UN’s lack of accountability.
“The most pleasing aspect of winning this award is the opportunity to bring the story into greater focus so that more and more people outside Haiti are aware of the devastating impact of this disease and the ongoing fight for justice of those impacted,” he said.
Since the outbreak in 2010, more than 8500 Haitians have died from the disease.
“There is no serious dispute that the UN caused the epidemic, or that it has a legal responsibility to compensate the victims under international law,” Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) said. The IJDH is a Boston-based nonprofit that represents plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the UN. “The only outstanding question is whether the UN will continue to undermine its own credibility by refusing to submit to the rule of law that it so enthusiastically promotes.”
“Al Jazeera tells stories of people that are not often heard, and ‘Haiti in a Time of Cholera’ is an example of such a story,” Walker, who worked as a producer and correspondent on the film said. “This Emmy award is a testament to the team who worked on the program and an opportunity to draw attention to the scale of the cholera crisis in Haiti.”