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.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) conditions in Port-au-Prince were not good even before the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Perversely, the poor often paid the most for drinking water. Against this backdrop, a number of international organizations and non-governmental organizations are working with the Haitian government to help establish a more effective and equitable water system. One of these non governmental organizations, International Action, has been involved with water related issues in Haiti since 2006. Below is an update as to their latest activities.
The credibility of any government is determined in large part by its capacity and willingness to provide basic services. Health care can bring people together when there is equal access, or divide people when there is not. Before and after the earthquake, quality health care in Haiti was/is primarily provided by non-governmental and international organizations (NGOs/IOs). The NGOs and IOs have been instrumental in keeping disease outbreaks at bay and access to health care for many residents in Port au Prince, at least for now, is better than it was before the earthquake. While significant accomplishments, much more remains to be done before we can say that the health care system is truly being reconstructed.
In the weeks to come, I’ll provide updates on recovery efforts in Haiti sector by sector. Why start with education? After an emergency or a natural disaster, schools provide an opportunity to protect children physically and psychologically. It re-establishes a sense of routine, stability, and above all, hope for a better future. Technical and vocational education will be critical for developing a new generation of skilled workers and leaders. Without educational reform, Haiti’s recovery and long term development will be held back.
Haiti is forever changed. At least 150,000 people, equivalent to the population of Tallahassee, have died. At least 600,000, more than the population of Seattle, are without homes. Over 130,000, approximately the population of Syracuse, have left Port au Prince for the countryside. After a disaster of this magnitude, life does not go back to normal. Still, even in the face of great uncertainty, life goes on. Telecommunications are mostly up and running, some banks are opening, more gas stations are functional, markets and factories are re-openening. Neighborhood committees are meeting and people are attending church services. All agree it will take many years to rebuild. The question is how Haiti can recover and be built back better than it was before?
Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald wrote a very interesting piece on the UNDP facilitated program in Carrefour Feuilles that turns trash into an alternative, affordable fuel source in the form of briquettes. This initiative, featured in the BBC 2009 World Challenge, cleans up Port au Prince while creating jobs, including for former charcoal vendors. Simply put, there is no solution for rural deforestation without addressing Port au Prince's energy needs. Until that time, cargo truck after cargo truck of wood charcoal will travel to Haiti's largest city every day. This program is ripe for expansion, and eventually, replication. Click here for the article and videos.
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has been working with the Haitian Government to reform its sorely outdated criminal laws, more suited to the needs of 19th Century France than Haiti at present. For this reason, Haiti's justice system has not been able to address moden crimes which include trafficking in persons, drug trafficking, and violations of human rights. President Preval has initiated a comprehensive reform process with the participation of civil society, the United Nations, and think tanks such as USIP. This process could help bring about a new chapter in Haitian history where criminal laws protect rights instead of violating them, and serve all the people of Haiti, including the poor and vulnerable.
Haiti Pro is new website for entrepreneurs interested in private sector solutions to Haiti's developmental challenges. Haiti Pro Members can easily share videos of their ideas and efforts. There are already a number of interesting clips on topics including dairy franchising, wood charcoal alternatives, reforestation, and women's groups. Below are summaries of the clips that are in Kreyol and/or French. Consider joining if you are interested in small business development in Haiti.
Usually when you read an article about peacekeepers in Haiti, it concerns how many are on the ground. In a bit of a role reversal, the Miami Herald reported that the United Nations will deploy a group of Haitian police as peacekeepers to Chad. The yearlong assignment involves monitoring Chadian police responsible for refugees from the war in neighboring Darfur.