NEW YORK, United States – A US federal judge has thrown out the last class-action lawsuit that had been filed against the United Nations (UN) over the 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti.
The suit had contended that the UN should take responsibility for the outbreak because the illness was introduced by its peacekeepers from Nepal.
But in her ruling yesterday, Federal District Court in Brooklyn, Judge Sandra Townes said the UN could not be sued in US courts. On August 18 last year, a federal appeals court in New Year also upheld that immunity argument in the other class-action lawsuit.
According to the New York Times, the lead lawyer for the Haitians who had filed the lawsuit, James Haggerty, said he was “certainly likely” to appeal.
A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had indicated that UN peacekeepers from Nepal, where cholera is endemic, were the likely cause of the outbreak which killed more than 10,000 of the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who were infected.
The disease had not been present in Haiti before the peacekeepers arrived from their homeland where an outbreak was underway.
The UN has not legally accepted responsibility for the outbreak, but last year, the then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a statement at the General Assembly in which he apologized for the UN’s role in the outbreak.
“We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti,” he said at the time.