There is no justice without a functioning judicial system and Haiti's is broken. Prisons are sorely over-crowded in part due to 80% of inmates being held for years with no trial. In addition, activists report a distrubing increase in illegal preventive detentions. Judges are few, overwhelmed, and often threatened. Haiti remains a fragile democracy and will remain so without justice and the rule of law. If the judicial system improves, then we will know that Haiti is, at last, changing for better. The full article by AP journalists Evens Sanon and Danica Coto is linked and follows below.
Linked and copied below is a BBC article about yet another effort by the Haitian government to re-create a military force. The reasons given are job creation, disaster response, and border patrol. Costa Rica also does not have a military and is able to patrol its borders and respond to disasters through civilian institutions. In addition, Costa Rica creates jobs by encouraging investment. Given the sordid history of the Haitian military, donors would much prefer that Haiti continues to focus on strengthening the national police force. Recreating the military could very well result in more instability and uncertainty - as was the case in the past.
Anastasia Moloney (Reuters) reports that Haitian police have arrested nine people, Americans and Canadians, in connection with sex trafficking at the Kaliko Beach Club near Port au Prince. In 2016, Haiti was downgraded to the lowest grade (level three) in the 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report meaning that no progress had been made before and that foreign assistance from the United States could be reduced in certain areas. Haiti does have a national TIP action plan but it has yet to be resourced or implemented. The arrests may be a welcome sign that the government is beginning to take TIP more seriously.
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is mandated to release annual country-specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2015 report for Haiti is linked and copied below. There have been some modest improvements from last year - for example in improving oversight of the police. However, there is a long way to go in reforming the justice system, corrections, and protecting the rights of women, children, and the disabled. Post your thoughts about human rights in Haiti below.
Below is the latest semi-annual report from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) covering the period from August 31st - March 15th. The report provides an overview of key developments during this time, especially police capacity, rule of law, and human rights promotion - all of which need to be strengthened significantly before MINUSTAH can fully transition its responsibilities to the Haitian government.
Since 2004, MINUSTAH has played a central but controversial role in maintaining stability in Haiti. However, MINUSTAH should not and is not going to be in Haiti forever. The International Crisis Group (ICG) describes steps that can prepare Haitian authorities for when they are fully in the lead without MINUSTAH support. Key to this effort will be doubling the number of police, with adequate vetting and training, so greater responsibility can be transferred to them over time. Until then, all plans for reconstituting the army should be tabled. A summary follows below.
The International Crisis Group has released a report on the importance of police reforms for security in Haiti, meaning freedom from intimidation and abuse, conflict and violence, and crime and impunity. The release comes during a time in which Brazil and other partner nations are increasingly contemplating a gradual drawdown of MINUSTAH staffing. This provides the Haitian government and its partners a window of opportunity to continue reforms that will make the Haitian National Police more effective and accountable. The full report is attached and a summary is copied below.
Thank you to Lindsay Poulton for sending us this investigative video footage by the London Guardian concerning sexual violence in Haiti. The piece notes how gender based violence has often been used as a weapon, especially in the slums and during periods of conflict. Protecting women and children is absolutely essential for countering a culture of impunity and promoting a society that respect human rights - not just for some of us, but for all of us.