Using Participatory Film Practices to Investigate the November 2018 Lasalin Massacre in Haiti

The film will provide a platform for survivors to express their views to the UN and international audiences and for these to be taken into account in planning responses.


Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Awarded: 145,000 GBP
Staff involved: Siobhán Wills and Cahal McLaughlin (QUB)

The Port-au-Prince neighbourhood of Lasalin was attacked in November 2018. Investigations by the UN Mission for Justice in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), the Haitian Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) and the National Lawyers Guild (USA), concluded that the attack was undertaken with the complicity of the Haitian government and that the attackers include senior police officers - but the government denies responsibility. RNDDH interviewed 439 Lasalin residents as well as the police, judiciary and local political leaders, and concluded that at least 71 people were killed. Houses and the hospital were destroyed and the water supply poisoned which means that residents cannot continue living there and some are camping on the beach.

Wills (Professor of  Law) and McLaughlin (Professor of Film Studies) will collaborate with survivors, using participatory practices, to produce a research film that will engage their experiences in the analysis of the responsibilities and responses of the Haitian government and of the UN to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The film will provide a platform for survivors to express their views to the UN and international audiences and for these to be taken into account in planning responses. Also, it is well known that coauthoring one's story helps return agency to survivors of trauma.

The research will assess the UN's responsibilities, challenges, and lessons learned, in light of the UN's Human Rights Due Diligence Policy and the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 16 to 'promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.' MINUJUSTH is mandated to use all necessary means to protect civilians from violence and to support the government to protect human rights. It will draw-down in Oct. 2019. A temporary UN Integrated Office, BINUH, will operate in Haiti from Oct. 2019 to Oct. 2020.