U.S. State Department Releases 2010 Human Rights Report for Haiti

  • Posted on: 11 April 2011
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
News: 

Each year, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor  is mandated to release country specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2010 Human Rights Report for Haiti, attached and copied below, indicates much remains to be done.  Protecting human rights is a critical element of governance and one which the new administration must take on as institutions and infrastructure are reformed and reconstructed.   Protecting human rights will help Haiti become a country that is more fair and just for the whole population, not just the rich and powerful.

Haiti is a constitutional republic with a population of approximately 9.9 million. On January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the country, killing an estimated 230,000 persons and directly affecting approximately three million others. The country has a multiparty political system. Presidential and legislative elections occurred on November 28. Allegations of fraud and irregularities raised questionsregarding the preliminary tally and prompted the president and the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to request a review by the Organization of American States. The CEP subsequently announced the final first round results; since none of the candidates received a majority of the vote, a runoff election between the two leading candidates was scheduled for March 2011. Elements of the security forcesoccasionally acted independently of civilian control. Human rights problems included allegations of extrajudicial killings by Haitian National Police (HNP) officers, findings of excessive use of force againstprisoners, overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons, prolonged pretrial detention, an inefficient judiciary subject to significant influence by the executive and legislative branches, severe corruption in all branches of government, violence and societal discrimination against women, child abuse, human trafficking, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights. 

 

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - Section 1: Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:  a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life: The government or its agents did not commit any known politically motivated killings; however, there were allegations of HSP involvement in extrajudicialkillings. HNP officers killed several persons who were armed and resisting arrest. Some cases of arbitrary killings were referred to the Office of the Inspector General for investigation: On January 19, in the aftermath of the earthquake, inmates in Les Cayes prison rioted. Officers from the departmental riot control police (UDMO) intervened, killing 12 inmates, while 22 others escaped and scores of others were injured. Three investigations were launched: one by the chief inspector general of the HNP, a second by the government with the UN, and a third by the investigating judge in Les Cayes, in cooperation with the government's Office of Citizen Protection (OPC). The chief inspector general concluded that the action of the joint departmental SWAT team and corrections officers caused the deaths of 10 of the 12 inmates. Two other prisoners died of unrelated causes. The report noted that "if the intervention was legitimate, the force used was excessive anddisproportionate," and that "a measured use of force was possible under the circumstances." The inspector general issued six recommendations, including the dismissal of prison warden Sylvestre Larack and the suspension of Les Cayes Police Chief Olrich Beaubrun. A joint HNP-UN report called the killings a grave violation of human rights and urged the justice system to prosecute those responsible. On May 27, the HNP placed Larack in preventive detention, as it reopened the chief inspector general's investigation and recommended that Frantz Dehonnet, the deputy administrator of prisons, resign. Authorities charged Beaubrun and ten other officers with homicide. At year's end their cases had yet to be tried, Beaubrun had not yet been arrested, and Dehonnet still held his post as deputy administrator of prisons.  On January 21, police shot and killed Gentile Cherie for stealing rice. Foreign journalists saw police stop two men who had taken a bag of rice that had fallen from a truck; witnesses claimed that the officers shot the men in the back and left them on the sidewalk. The Office of the Inspector General had not received an official complaint nor opened an investigation into the matter. On December 6, unknown assailants shot and killed former inspector general of the HNP Etienne Saint Gourdin. Officials opened an investigation into his death. There were no further developments in the 2009 case concerning sevenindividuals, including two active police officers and one former police officer, who were arrested for killing the manager of a money-exchange outlet during an armed robbery in Port-au-Prince. The case was under investigation by the court at year's end. The HNP Internal Investigations Unit completed its investigation of the 2008 death of Renece Charon while in police custody and sent the case to the criminal court, which found that other prisoners beat Charon to death. Residents in some areas resorted to vigilante justice. In November and December mobs attacked and killed Vodou (voodoo) practitioners accused of spreading cholera by placing contaminated powder into rivers and waterways. According to the HNP, 31 people were confirmed killed by the end of the year. Credible sources reported an additional 22 possible killings. Two ministerial-level officials publicly denounced the killings, and local police confiscated 16 firearms, but made no arrests. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) also reported vigilante incidents includingshootings, beatings, and lynchings in rural areas, where effective judicial and law enforcement institutions largely were absent. Police statistics documented 83 vigilante incidents through the end of the year, but police made no arrests. Observers attributed the majority of vigilante justice incidents to accusations of theft, witchcraft, or kidnapping. 

 

Disappearance: There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances by governmentagents. Current and former HNP officers were accused of participation in kidnappings. The number of reported kidnappings nearly doubled from the previous year. There were 121 reported kidnapping victims during the year, compared with 66 through October 2009. Gonaives Police Commissioner Ernst Dorfeuille Bouquet, who was arrested and charged for the 2008 kidnapping and killing of Monica Pierre, escaped from the National Penitentiary on January 12, but later turned himself in to police inPetionville. At year's end he was awaiting trial after being returned to prison. There were no known developments in the following cases: The January 2009 abduction of Joseph Francois Robert Martello, the director of the National Commission of Public Markets (CNMP). The 2008 arrests of three Cap-Haitien police officers for allegedly heading a gang responsible for multiple kidnappings. 

 

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:  The law prohibits such practices, but there were some reports of degrading treatment, most notably in prisons, during the year. The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense provided an update in 2009 on the status of 23 Sri Lankan UN peacekeepers who were convicted in late 2008 of sexually exploiting and abusing children while they were stationed in Haiti under UN auspices in 2007: 20 of them were discharged, demoted, formally reprimanded, or otherwise punished; and the other three were killed in military action.

 

Prison and Detention Center Conditions: Prisoners reported physical abuse by correctional officers; prisons also suffered from corruption and neglect. Due to insufficient staffing, equipment, and security officers avoided some cellblocks. At times officials used lethal force against prisoners to quell inmate uprisings (see section 1.a.). Prisons and detention centers throughout the country remained overcrowded, poorly maintained, and unsanitary. Overcrowding was severe; in some prisonsdetainees slept in shifts due to lack of space. The earthquake, which damaged several prisons, intensified the existing problems. The earthquake damage compromised the holding capacity at facilities in Carrefour, Delmas, Jacmel, and the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince. Over 5,000 detainees escaped in the wake of the earthquake, including all 4,215 persons held at the National Penitentiary. Some prisons had no beds for detainees; some cells had no access to sunlight. Many prison facilities lacked basic services such as medical services, water, electricity, and medical isolation units for contagious patients. Many prisoners and detainees suffered from a lack of basic hygiene, malnutrition, poor quality health care, and illness caused by the presence of rodents. Some prisons did not allow prisoners out of their cells for exercise. On October 17, prisoners at the National Penitentiary overpowered guards in an attempted prison break, taking seven persons, including UN Police (UNPOL) officers and visiting Swedish police officers, hostage for several hours. The authorities regained control of the penitentiary, but three prisoners were killed in the process; two were shot, and one was reportedly trampled by other prisoners. In some prisons the incidence of preventable diseases such as AIDS, malaria, and drug-resistant tuberculosis remained a serious problem. The cholera outbreak alsoaffected the prisons. Within the first week of the outbreak, five detainees in the Mirebalais Prison died. The Bureau of Prisons responded by limiting outside contact. At year's end the total prison population, including both pretrial detainees and sentenced prisoners in the country's 17 prisons, was more than three times the planned capacity of the country's prisons. Pretrial detention and its effect onovercrowding remained a serious problem during the year (see section 1.d.). The overburdened prison system had insufficient holding facilities. The Civil Prison of Port-au-Prince (CPPP) contained approximately half of the country's prisoners and pretrial detainees in its intake room. Provincial authorities, in particular, incarcerated many convicted prisoners for terms of months or evenyears in temporary holding cells. Severely overcrowded police stations served as prisons in the cities of Gonaives and Petit Goave, whose prisons were destroyed in 2004. Gonaives, for example, held 140 long-term prisoners in its local police station in October. Port-au-Prince maintained separate penitentiaries for adult men and women, but in other prisons, there were instances of male and female prisoners being held together due to space constraints. Children 16 and older were confined with adults. Minors and adults sometimes occupied the same cells due to lack of available space. Pretrial detainees were held together with convicted prisoners in the women's prison. When space was available, boys were held in a separate cell of a facility in Port-au-Prince. By law that facility may hold only boys ages 13 to 15, although a few child inmates claimed to be as young as age 10. Girls were not held separately from women at the Petionville Women's Penitentiary. For most of the year, prisoners and detainees had reasonable access to visitors, who were allowed to bring them food and clothing. Inmates also were permitted religious observance and could request to see a Protestant minister, a Catholic priest, or a Vodou (voodoo) leader. However, these policies were suspended at the end of October in response to the nationwide cholera outbreak. The Administration of Prisons barred any outsider from entering prisons, in an attempt to curb the spread of cholera. Prisoners and detainees were permitted to make a written or verbal complaint regarding their conditions to the facility supervisor. If their complaint was regarding the supervisor, they were given the option to refer it up the chain of command for investigation. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the local NGO National Human Rights Network for Haiti, and the OPC monitored prison conditions in cooperation with the Department of Prison Administration. Authorities freely permitted the ICRC, the Haitian Red Cross, and human rightsgroups to enter prisons and police stations, monitor conditions, and assist prisoners and detainees with medical care, food, and legal aid. Primary concerns for most groups monitoring the conditions in the prisons related to adequate water, food, and sanitation. Although some programs, such as efforts to improve sanitation and health care delivery at the CPPP reported success, the government did notimplement many changes recommended by NGOs and donor governments. Authorities took some measures to improve prison conditions. In response to the prison killings in Les Cayes, Minister of Justice Paul Denis began a series of unannounced prison visits, beginning with the Women's prison in Petionville followed by the National Penitentiary. In addition, the government started releasing defendants who had been held in preventive detention for unacceptably long periods, pending formal charges and trial. Officials implemented a pilot project at the Petionville Women's Prison, establishing a special correctional tribunal to deal with the 257 detainees awaiting formal charges. Between June 8 and 14, the tribunal heard 15 cases, including three involving juveniles; 14 defendants were released, including an inmate who had served her sentence but remained incarcerated. The Ministry of Justice held hearings in August and September to reduce the pretrial detention backlog in the National Penitentiary, and the court committee released 30 inmates as a result. Still, since most of the 1,570 detainees awaiting trial in the Penitentiary were held for serious crimes that warranted a jury trial, they were effectively denied the right to a prompt trial. An estimated 15 percent of detainees in the National Penitentiary had been convicted by year's end. The ICRC, in collaboration with the Prison Authority, renovated and refurbished the earthquake-damaged civil prison in Jacmel. 

 

Arbitrary Arrest or Detention:  The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the constitution stipulates that a person may be arrested only if apprehended during the commission of a crime oron the basis of a warrant by a legally competent official such as a justice of the peace or magistrate. The authorities must bring the detainee before a judge within 48 hours of arrest. Officials frequently did not comply with these provisions in practice. Role of the Police and Security Apparatus:  MINUSTAH, deploying 8,766 soldiers, 3,082 police officers, and 481 civilian UN officials, trained and supported the national police force, provided disasterrecovery assistance, and assisted the government in suppressing gang-related violence. The approximately 8,500-member HNP has sole responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order; there are no military forces. The UN has estimated that the country needs a force of at least 14,000 police officers, although it recommended 18,000 to 22,000. Women make up less than 10 percent of the total police force, however the HNP established a recruiting drive for female officers in2008, and 350 of the 2,755 recruits hired in the past four years were women. The HNP is officially an autonomous civilian institution under the authority of a director general and includes police, corrections, and coast guard functions in separate units. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security, through its minister and the secretary of state for public security, provides oversight. The HNP lost 142 officers in the January earthquake (72 confirmed deceased and 70 missing), and an additional 253 were injured. Approximately 40 police stations and offices were damaged. The HNP worked with UNPOL and MINUSTAH to provide security for aid operations and to patrol internally displaced person (IDP) camps. The Inspector General's (IG) Office of the HNP accepts and investigates allegations from any complainant of police wrongdoing, including human rights violations, complicity in criminal acts, and other violations. IG investigations revealing criminal activity were referred to the regional prosecutor. The IG also conducted vetting with MINUSTAH to certify that members of the HNP had noserious disciplinary violations or accusations of human rights abuses pending against them. Reform and professionalization of the HNP continued as international programs and foreign governments provided human rights and other training and equipment for new recruits and for existing officers; police station upgrades; security and humanitarian improvements to prisons; vehicles, computers, communications equipment; and other technical assistance. Some units, notably the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, made significant improvements. Although the HNP's efforts resulted in significantly increased levels of physical security and policing effectiveness, the HNP often could not prevent or respond to gang-related and other societal violence, such as vigilante justice, due to an insufficient number of officers and inadequate equipment or training. 

 

Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention: The law permits police officers to make arrests when a suspect is caught during the commission of a crime, or later with a court-authorized warrant. Police sometimes apprehended persons without warrants or with warrants not issued by a duly authorized official. The authorities occasionally detained individuals on unspecified charges or pending investigation. The government frequently did not observe the legal requirement to presentdetainees before a judge within 48 hours, and prolonged pretrial detention remained a serious problem. Many detainees were held in pretrial detention for extended periods--in some cases up to five years--without being informed of charges against them. Investigative judges granted bail at their discretion. Bail hearings were not routine, and judges usually granted bail only for minor cases and based on compelling humanitarian grounds, such as a need for medical attention. Detainees generallywere allowed access to family members and a lawyer of their own choosing. Many detainees could not afford the services of an attorney, and the government routinely did not provide free counsel. Some returnees, some of whom spent substantial portions or most of their lives abroad, alleged corruption, widespread discrimination, and social abuse after returning home. Reported discriminatory practices included arbitrary arrests, false accusations about their activities to local police, and extortion attempts against them and their families abroad during the initial detention phase, in exchange forquicker release from administrative quarantine. Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem during the year. By the end of the year, of the 5,331 persons in custody, only 1,722 had been tried and sentenced, while 3,609 awaited trial. Approximately one third of those awaiting trial had been incarcerated for a year or longer. Prison population statistics did not include the large number of persons held inpolice stations around the country in prolonged pretrial detention (without a hearing or filed charges) for longer than the constitutionally mandated 48-hour maximum detention period. Inadequate record keeping and data entry at the police stations made it difficult to estimate the number of persons held in prolonged detention. 

 

Denial of Fair Public Trial:  The justice system sustained significant losses in the January earthquake. The Ministry of Justice and the Palais de Justice (Supreme Court) were destroyed, and 27 court and tribunal buildings were damaged. A subsequent fire at the Palais de Justice destroyed all the records, including records of cases pending trial. Although the law provides for an independent judiciary, in practice the executive and legislative branches exerted significant influence on the judicial branch. Judges assigned to politically sensitive cases complained about interference from the executive branch. Credible reports of judicial corruption were commonplace (see section 4). Pervasive and long-standing problems--including a shortage of funding and adequately trained and qualified justices of the peace, judges, and prosecutors as well as failure to convene court sessions on the schedule provided by law--contributed to the large backlog of criminal cases, and many detainees waited years for a court date. The government took steps during the year to reduce the pretrial backlog (see section 1.c.). The code of criminal procedure does not assign clear responsibility for criminal investigations and divides authority among police, justices of the peace, prosecutors, and investigative magistrates. Authorities often failed to question witnesses or complete investigations and rarely conducted autopsies, and examining magistrates often received incomplete files. An outdated juridical fee scale created another barrier for crime victims requesting investigation of their cases. After a citizen reported being the victim of a crime,some justices of the peace charged varying "fees" to initiate criminal prosecutions based on their perceptions of what a service should cost. Long distances and limited transportation between citizens' residences and the courts also limited access to the judicial system. In most regions judges lackedbasic resources and professional training. The School for Magistrates was the temporary seat of the Supreme Court after the January earthquake. The school continued in-service training for justices of thepeace, and the majority of justices from all 18 jurisdictions had completed the intensive six-week training program. However, the school had not had a class of magistrates in more than five years. An internationally funded program continued to provide training for judges, prosecutors, and other court personnel; furnished technical assistance in drafting rules and procedures; and assisted in curriculumplanning for the school. The Judicial Strengthening Program begun by the National Center for State Courts provided assistance with training and curricula for judges and court personnel. 

 

Trial Procedures:  The judicial apparatus follows a civil law system based on the Napoleonic Code,largely unchanged since 1880. In practice authorities widely ignored the constitutionally provided right to a fair public trial. The constitution also expressly denies police and judicial authorities the right to interrogate suspects unless legal counsel or a representative of the suspect's choice is present or they waive this right. Most accused persons could not afford legal counsel for interrogation or trial, and the law does not require that the government provide legal representation. Defendants who could not afford representation were more vulnerable to interrogation without counsel. However, some defendants had access to counsel during trials. With the support of the national government and the local legal community, international groups provided funds to indigent defendants for professional legal representation. While the constitution provides defendants with a presumption of innocence, theright to be present at trial, the right to confront witnesses against them, and the right to present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf, judges frequently denied defendants these rights. The lack of a witness protection program and widespread impunity discouraged some witnesses from testifying at trials. Defendants and their attorneys had access to government-held evidence before trial. Defendants had the right to appeal. Political Prisoners and Detainees:  There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.  Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies: Victims of alleged human rights abuses are able to bring their cases before a judge for cessation of the violation. Damages can be awarded if the claim is brought as acivil suit and the judge convicts the perpetrator. Seeking legal remedies for human rights abuses is difficult, especially in the aftermath of the January earthquake, since very few organizations had the resources to start and maintain a case through its duration in the system. 

 

Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence:  The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: Freedom of Speech and Press: The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government and elected officials generally respected these rights in practice. However, there were afew incidents of local government officers and elected officials harassing or threatening journalists. On September 16, several agents in the Cite Soleil police station shoved and beat female journalist, Orpha Dessources, from Radio Boukman. She was there to attend a press conference by Cite Soleil police on the arrest of a notorious gangster. The journalist filed a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General of the HNP. The motivation for the attack was unknown. The HNP spokesperson, Commissar Leurebours, said that the incident was being investigated and made recommendations to journalists about how to behave in police stations. However, the HNP Internal Investigations Unit (IG) stated at year's end that they had never received a complaint on the issue and never opened an investigation.There were no further developments in the case of radio journalist Sainlus Augustin, who was publicly harassed, struck, and threatened by the brother and other supporters of senatorial candidate Wilot Joseph, allegedly because they objected to Augustin's attempt to interview supporters of the political opposition in 2009. Repeated anonymous death threats forced Augustin into hiding. In December 2009, HNP officers in Port-au-Prince beat journalist Edwige Joseph Watson and destroyed his equipment when he attempted to take photographs of a peaceful student demonstration. Following an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General, one police officer was given an administrative sanction of 40 days' suspension without pay. His case was then referred to the criminal court for investigation. There were no further developments in the 2008 attack on news correspondent Joachim Marcel by the deputy mayor of Cap-Haitien and his bodyguards, allegedly in retaliation for Marcel's investigation of voting corruption.  Internet Freedom:  There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that thegovernment monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Approximately 30 percent of the population had routine access to the Internet during the year, primarily via Internet cafes. Lack of infrastructure limited public access to the Internet. 

 

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events:  There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events. 

 

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association: The law provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. Citizens must apply for a permit to hold legal demonstrations; the HNP regularly issued permits. Demonstrations were infrequent during the first part of the year, but starting in August, political parties, displaced persons, and students staged protests. An uptick in protests and demonstrations occurred in the days preceding the November 28 election and continued into December. Demonstrators fired shots, threw rocks, and blocked roadways. On October 8, Jean Philbert Louis was injured during a demonstration for quality education when a tear gas canister fired by a police officer hit him in the head. The next day, Louis died in the hospital. Authorities arrested the officer who shot the canister, and the case was investigated by the IG, who found wrongdoing and forwarded the case to the parquet (prosecutor's office). At year's end the incident remained under investigation at the parquet. On December 9, a group of four armed men began firing openly on supporters of presidential candidate Michel Martelly in the Champ de Mars area. The Martelly supporters were planning a demonstration as President Preval's motorcade passedthrough the area. Authorities arrested the four men but then released them without charge by order of the prosecutor's office. In June 2009 bystander Kerel Pascal was killed during a public funeral, allegedlyby peacekeeping forces. Television cameras recorded a force member discharging a weapon in the general direction of Pascal. MINUSTAH began an investigation and conducted an autopsy. At year's end MINUSTAH Human Rights section reported that the inquiry was inconclusive as to whether MINUSTAH forces fired the shot that killed Pascal. 

 

Freedom of Religion:  For a complete description of religious freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/rpt

 

Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons: The law provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. Persons deported from other countries were sometimes subjected to amendments in their Haitian passports by the Immigration office, denoting the infraction for which they were deported. The government coordinated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other governments and humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons. The law prohibits forced exile, and there were no reports of its use. However, according to anecdotal reports, former government officials sometimes abandoned the country with their families for fear of retaliation or prosecution by political enemies. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): More than a million people were displaced by the January 12 earthquake. Approximately 500,000 IDPs left for other parts of the country to stay with familyor friends, and an estimated 20 percent of those who fled the city remained in the provinces, severely straining provincial and other resources. By the end of December, approximately one million earthquake-affected individuals remained displaced in more than 1,150 spontaneous and planned settlement sites in and around Port -au-Prince, with temporary housing and difficult living conditions. The government worked with domestic and international humanitarian organizations, through a combination of mechanisms, to coordinate the oversight of and the provision of assistance to IDPs. The government continued to work with foreign government agencies, international organizations, the UN, and NGOs to coordinate humanitarian efforts and to facilitate the transition from emergency relief activities to recovery and reconstruction. To provide displaced persons with the opportunity to return to their former residences, the Ministry of Public Works assessed approximately 400,000 buildings for habitability and safety. The assessment found that 51 percent of houses were safe for habitation, with another 26 percent classified as dwellings that could be made safe with repairs, and the remaining 23 percent deemed unsafe for habitation and requiring major repairs or demolition. IDPs were encouraged to return to safe houses, and humanitarian groups completed repairs on some near-safe houses. Reconstruction focused on enabling earthquake-affected families to return to their neighborhoods of origin where they maintained family and social ties and employment possibilities. However, those whose homes were destroyed or uninhabitable remained in IDP camps. The problem of resettlement has been magnified by lack of land tenure and contradictory land registry records, as well as a slow government response. MINUSTAH estimated that more than 8,000 displaced individuals have beensubject to forced evictions (especially from land that was the location of ongoing concerns such as schools, places of worship, and businesses) by private property owners or gang members who seek to resume pre-earthquake operations. More than 11,000 others remained in situations that place them at risk of involuntary evictions and secondary displacement by private property owners. Protection of Refugees: The law provides for the granting of refugee status or asylum, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, usually through missions or consulates abroad, handled asylum and refugee requests. In practice the government provided protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to a country where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; however, the government did not routinely grant refugee status or asylum. 

 

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights - The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government:  The law provides citizens the right to change their government peacefully, however in practice citizens were not always able to exercise this right. The November elections were marred by fraud, flawed voter registration lists, ballot stuffing, intimidation, and some violence at the polls.  Elections and Political Participation: Multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections in November were marked by irregularities and criticism from multiple sources. Several presidential candidatesdenounced the elections as fraudulent before the voting concluded. Independent election observers and NGOs noted irregularities at many polling stations. The preliminary results released on December 7 called into question the legitimacy of the electoral process, resulting in public protests and prompting the CEP to review the vote tally. On December 29, as part of an agreement between the governmentand the Organization of American States, electoral and legal experts began reviewing the results of the first-round elections. Some restrictions were placed on certain political parties. In November 2009 the CEP considered 69 political parties for the 2010 parliamentary elections and approved 53. The CEP rejected 16 parties, including, for the second time during the year, former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party, Fanmi Lavalas, for documentation that was inconsistent, lacked notarization, and did not conform to legal requirements. Other rejected major parties included Union, Popular Solidarity Alliance, Struggling People's Organization, and Fusion. The latter two groups allied under a new party banner, Alternative, which officially boycotted the elections, although many of the party's legislative candidates participated in the elections. The constitution requires that following local and municipal elections, local officials must hold a series of indirect elections to staff departmental organs of self-government and an interdepartmental council to advise the national government and nominate candidates for the CEP. The law requires that the three branches of the national government select from among these nominees the council's nine members. Since these indirect elections have not taken place since the constitution was written, the country continued to operate with the presidentially appointed CEP. The electoral legislation mandated that political parties nominating at least 30 percent female candidates and electing 20 percent of those nominated receive twice as much public financing for those same positions in the next election. None of the political parties met these criteria in the November election. On November 28, two women ran as candidates for president, eight for the Senate, and 55 for deputy seats. Of the deputy candidates, two won their seats outright in the first round, and seven qualified to run in the second round. Mirlande Manigat, one of the female presidential candidates, won approximately 30 percent of the vote, qualifying her to run in the second round. The monetary deposit required of female candidates for political office (if sponsored by a recognized party) was one-half that required of male candidates. Six women served in the outgoing Senate and Chamber of Deputies, which had a combined membership of 129 legislators; three women served in the 18-member cabinet; and no women served on the Supreme Court.

 

Section 4 - Official Corruption and Government Transparency. The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. According to the World Bank's worldwide governance indicators, government corruption was a severe problem. Corruption remained widespread in all branches and at all levels of government. The constitution mandates that high-level officials and parliament members accused of official corruption be prosecuted before the Senate, not within the judicial system. However, the Senate brought no such prosecutions. In July the government's Anti-Corruption Unit (ULCC) investigated charges of corruption against Jean Enel Desir, a member of the CEP who represented the Catholic Church. He resigned from his position, and the ULCC's investigation revealed evidence to support the charges. The prosecutor's office had the file but put the investigation on hold because Desir was deemed too ill to stand trial.In October the Ministry of Justice replaced two judges in Les Cayes who were accused of corruption. There were no further developments in the case at year's end. There were reports of corruption in the HNP. For instance, affluent prisoners at times obtained favorable conditions of detention. The HNP investigated allegations of police malfeasance, leading to the arrest or termination of employment of some officers. For example in September, the HNP arrested seven officers for alleged involvement in kidnapping and drug gangs. The HNP, with the assistance of UN civilian police, continued efforts to eliminate corruption within its ranks, and the government continued to investigate individuals in the business sector and in government for corruption but brought no charges. The Center for Pleas and Legal Assistance offered judicial assistance to victims and witnesses of government corruption and widely disseminated telephone and e-mail contact information.  Authorities arrested or detained a few low-level public servants, mainly customs officials, on corruption or corruption-related charges. The director of the Social Security Agency, Sandro Joseph, who was arrested in May 2009 on charges of misuse of funds within the social security system, escapedfrom prison on January 12. His case had not yet gone to trial. The ULCC investigation into the use of approximately HTG7.9 billion ($197 million) of humanitarian assistance provided to the country by Petrocaribe in the aftermath of the 2008 storm season continued at year's end. The Financial Control and Information Office has responsibility for combating financial crimes. By law the president, the prime minister, cabinet ministers, other high-level public officials, and members of the HNP must declare assets. The ULCC reported in December that 444 public officials had observed the law and filed disclosure statements by the August 30 deadline. This number includes only four senators and 27 deputies, and accounts for less than 10 percent of all public officials. Public officials who do not fulfill this obligation are subject first to a 50 percent reduction in salary, followed by suspension, until they file their statements. However, by the end of the year the government sanctioned no officials for failureto file the disclosures. The National Commission for Public Markets is charged with certifying andadjudicating public procurement contracts. In September 2009 the law was amended by presidential decree to raise the threshold of contracts subject to oversight. The certification requirement applies for supplies contracts in excess of 300,000 Haitian gourdes (HTG, or approximately $7,440), public works contracts in excess of HTG800,000 (approximately $19,840), and services contracts in excess of HTG2,500,000 (approximately $62,000). No law requires public access to government information, but there were no reports that the government prevented public access to government information. 

 

Section 5 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights:  A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. The government cooperated with the various human rights observation missions and generally acknowledged their views but lacked the capacity to implement their recommendations. The government permitted special missions and the continued presence of UN bodies and other international organizations such as the ICRC. The OPC is mandated to protect individuals against any form of abuse by the government. The OPC offered free legal assistance to any citizen who appearedbefore a court regarding a filed complaint. The OPC took an active role in investigating allegations of government abuse, and worked collaboratively with international organizations. The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate each had a human rights committee; however, neither committee published any reports or introduced any legislation during the year. 

 

Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons: The law does not specifically prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, disability, language, or social status. It does provide for equal working conditions regardless of gender, beliefs, or marital status. However, no effective governmental mechanism administered or enforced these provisions.

 

Women: The law prohibits and provides penalties for rape but does not recognize spousal rape as a crime. The penalty for rape is a minimum of 10 years of forced labor, increasing to a mandatory 15 years if the victim was less than 16 years old. In the case of gang rape, the maximum penalty is lifelong forced labor. Prosecution was often not pursued due to lack of reporting and follow-up on victims' claims. Actual sentences were often less rigorous, with sentences for convictions in the past year averaging approximately three years. The criminal code excuses a husband who kills his wife or her partner found engaging in an act of adultery in his home, but a wife who kills her husband under similar circumstances is subject to prosecution. Anecdotal evidence suggested that some younger women were detained afterviolently resisting sexual attackers, who were sometimes family members. Kidnappers often raped their female abductees. Reported sexual assault cases increased significantly. HNP statistics showed that 974 rapes were reported by the end of the year, compared with 218 through October 2009. Of these, 84 victims were minors. NGOs noted alarming increases in sexual violence against women in IDP camps. In addition, the increase in the number of reported rapes may be in part a result of the referral and awareness campaign initiated by the UN, in partnership with the HNP and NGOs. On December 22, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommended that the government adopt "urgent measures" to prevent, report, and address violence against women and girls in the IDP camps of the Port-au-Prince area. By year's end, the government had not addressed the commission's recommendations. In Saint-Marc the Federation for Women of the Lower Artibonite reported that itprovided shelter services for 516 women and girls and assisted 909 victims of violence during the year. Rape was especially common in areas with minimal police presence. Many credible NGOs and government sources believed that urban gangs used rape as a systematic instrument of intimidation. Women's shelters and organizations reported that armed gangs frequently raped and harassed girls and women. Rape was often treated in society as a relatively minor infraction or a family or community matter instead of a prosecutable offense. Substantial disincentives discouraging victims from reporting rapes included: victims' desire to protect themselves from the social or physical consequences of bringing accusations against the perpetrators, who often lived in the community; tacit culturalacceptance of sexual assault; the lack of sufficient facilities or services at police stations to aid rape victims; the long distances between homes and qualified tribunals; and finally, the slow-moving judicial system that fosters a perception of impunity. However, cases that were heard in court, particularly in Port-au-Prince and Port-de-Paix, sometimes resulted in convictions and stiff penalties. In the 12-month period between October 2009 and October 2010, 48 individuals were convicted for rape. Their sentences ranged from a fine to a life sentence of forced labor. The average sentence was three to 10 years. MINUSTAH's Gender-Based Violence (GBV) unit, in partnership with the HNP, mapped GBV referral services to identify organizations providing GBV services by type, assessed the quality of services, and provided more complete information for GBV referral cards. The unit distributed referral cards to community workers and local and international NGOs to facilitate survivor access to appropriatemedical, psychosocial, and legal services. MINUSTAH also provided an 18-officer Gender Mobile Unit, staffed mostly with female UNPOL Officers. The two HNP referral centers for victims of sexual violence were damaged by the earthquake. They remained operational, but worked out of limited space in a tent, which they shared with a collocated police station. The HNP does not have a sexual assault or domestic violence unit. The Criminal Unit investigates violence against adult women and the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM) investigates assaults on children. In Saint-Marc the local government commissioner worked closely with the only local NGO offering comprehensive services to sexual assault victims in the region to protect victims' safety and access to the justice system. The law prohibits and provides penalties for domestic violence against minors, but does not classify domestic violence against adults as a distinct crime. Instead, the Criminal Unit processes crimes of domestic violence against adults (e.g. assault, rape, harassment, etc.). Police figures reported 30 incidents of domestic violenceagainst minors during the year (compared with 38 incidents from January to October of 2009). Women's rights groups and human rights organizations reported that domestic violence against women remained commonplace and underreported. Police rarely arrested the perpetrators or investigated the incidents, and the victims sometimes suffered further harassment and reprisals from perpetrators, sometimes prompting secondary displacement of victims within IDP camps. Corrupt judges often released suspects arrested for domestic violence and rape. The government, with the support of international donors, sponsored a program for victims of violence that provided medical and legal assistance for victims, as well as a campaign denouncing violence against women. The law does not specifically prohibit sexual harassment, although the labor code states that men and women have the same rights and obligations. Data concerning sexual harassment in the workplace were not available, although observers suggested that sexual harassment was common. Such incidents went unreported because of high unemployment and because citizens had little confidence in the ability of the judicial system to protect them. Couples and individuals have the legal right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children. UNICEF data indicated that 32 percent of women ages 15-49 used modern contraceptive methods in 2008. Despite high levels of generalknowledge of contraceptive methods, women had few opportunities to acquire additional information on family planning methods. The UN Population Fund estimated the maternal mortality ratio in 2008 at 300 deaths per 100,000 live births. Although UNICEF reported that 85 percent of pregnant women received prenatal care at least once during their pregnancy, only 26 percent had a skilled attendant atdelivery in 2008. The vast majority of women delivered their babies at home without the benefits of a skilled birth attendant or the ability to find adequate care in the event of complications. Women and men had equal access to diagnostic services and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Women did not enjoy the same social and economic status as men. In some social strata, tradition limited women's roles. The majority of women in rural areas remained in the traditional occupations of farming, marketing, and domestic labor. Very poor female heads of household in urban areas also often faced limited employment opportunities, working in domestic labor and sales. Government and private sectors seldom promoted women to supervisory positions. 

 

Children: Citizenship is derived through an individual's parents; only one parent of either sex is necessary to transmit citizenship. Citizenship can also be acquired through a formal request to the Ministry of the Interior. The government did not register all births immediately and did not keep statistics concerning the number of births unregistered each year. One government reportestimated births of more than 10 percent of Haitians were not registered. Birth documents are legally necessary to register for school, open a bank account, apply for credit, gain admission to a hospital, and vote. Individuals without required birth documents were not denied emergency medical services or educational opportunities on that basis. Many official documents were destroyed in the earthquake. The National Archives saw its requests for certified copies of documents more than triple upon reopening after the earthquake, and the Office of National Identification faced long lines for months as people sought to replace lost or damaged identification cards. Both institutions were overwhelmed by thedemand, but addressed the backlog incrementally. Primary and secondary education was not compulsory, free, and universal. Before January 12, only half of school-age children were enrolled in classes. Almost 5,000 school buildings in the earthquake zone were destroyed or damaged on January 12. Hundreds of teachers and thousands of students were killed. After the earthquake, most schools remained closed through the summer, and reopened in early October. International donors and NGOs worked to build and repair schools. Many families who were not able to get their children into a public school paid for their children to attend private schools, which were generally unaccredited and unregulated. Credible sources reported that over 200,000 domestically trafficked children worked as indentured household servants, or "restaveks" (see section 7.c.). Approximately 65 percent of these children are girls, and nearly three quarters of them work as servants in the home of relatives. Governmental agencies and programs promoted children's rights and welfare, but the government lacked sufficient resources to support or enforce existing mechanisms adequately. Children also reportedly worked on the street/in IDP camps in prostitution. Recruitment of children for sexual exploitation, pornography, and illicit activities is illegal. The law prohibits the corruption of youth under the age of 21 years, including by prostitution, with penalties ranging from six months' to three years' imprisonment. The minimum age of consensual sex is 18. Inefficiencies in reporting and investigating allegations of rape contributed to uncertainties regarding penalties, if any, for statutory rape. The January earthquake created a large number of displaced children and left many as orphans. In cooperation with the government, NGOs and international donorsestablished health clinics and child-friendly spaces in many of the camps; nevertheless, security issues posed a risk as many children were left on their own during the day. Port-au-Prince's population of several thousand street children included many who were dismissed from or fled employers' homes or abusive families, but also some children who lost parents or caretakers in the earthquake. Almost 75 percent of street children were boys, according to estimates. NGOs reported that street children were likely to be sexually or otherwise abused, received little or no education, and were easily exploited by trafficking recruiters. Criminal gangs also reportedly enlisted minors to commit illegal acts. The Ministry of Social Affairs provided some assistance, such as food and temporary shelter, to street children.In the aftermath of the January earthquake, many orphans were evacuated to other countries for expedited adoption. The Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBERS), which oversaw adoptions and orphanages, resumed operations in March. Because IBERS had limited resources, many orphanages remain unregistered and unmonitored. Lack of sanitation, overcrowding, insufficient food, an absence ofeducation, and poor adult supervision characterized many facilities. The country isn’t a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. For more info, please see the Department of State's annual report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/resources/congressreport/congressrepor...  Anti-Semitism: The Jewish community was very small. There were no reports of anti-Semitic actsor other societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. 

 

Trafficking in Persons: For information on trafficking in persons, please see the Department of State'sannual Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/g/tip

 

Persons with Disabilities: The constitution and laws do not explicitly prohibit discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities, and there were no reports of discrimination by the government against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. However, because of widespread and chronic poverty, a shortage of public services, and limited educational opportunities, persons with disabilities were severely disadvantaged. According to the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH),approximately 805,000 persons lived with a physical disability during the year. The earthquake exacerbated the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities, with the RNDDH reporting that 6,000 persons were left with an amputated limb as a result of the earthquake. Only 3 percent of children with disabilities have access to schools. The Secretariat of State for the Integration of Handicapped Persons (SEIPH) is the lead government agency responsible for providing assistance to and ensuring thatthe concerns of the disabled are taken into account, especially during the reconstruction phase. SEIPH worked with the UN Health Cluster to coordinate the Injury, Rehabilitation, and Disability working group, which coordinated all activity concerning the rehabilitation of injured persons, the fitting of orthopedic devices, and the provision of assistance to persons with disabilities. SEIPH also signed anagreement with foreign donors to enable the construction in the coming year of a rehabilitation center for persons with disabilities. The center will train teachers and technicians and will provide prostheses and hearing aids. SEIPH's broader mandate is to improve the living conditions of persons with disabilities, raise public awareness on national and international disability issues, strengthen the response capacity of associations or institutions that work on disability issues, and to establish a legal framework for persons with disabilities. There were no reports of abuse in mental health facilities. 

 

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual/Orientation and Gender Identity: There was a minimal presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) advocacy NGOs operating within the country. There were no officially confirmed reports of discrimination against the LGBT community, but local NGOs reported that LGBT persons faced widespread societal discrimination including social stigma, targeted physical violence, sexual assault,and employment insecurity. NGOs also reported that such persons did not report human rights violations due to fear of reprisal.  Other Societal Violence or Discrimination:  Societal discrimination occurred against persons with HIV/AIDS, particularly women, but educational programs sponsored by foreign donors and efforts byHIV/AIDS activists attempted to change that stigma. 

 

Section 7 Worker Rights/The Right of Association: The law allows some workers, excluding public-sector employees, to form and join unions of their choice. The law also prohibits employers, management, and anyone who represents the interests of employers from joining a union. Freelance workers and workers in the informal economy are not covered under the Labor Code. The law requires that a union must have a minimum of 10 members and register with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs within 60 days of its formation. Any association with more than 20 members must obtain prior authorization from thegovernment in order to be recognized. In practice most unions were not independent organizations, but extensions of political parties. There were nine principal labor federations representing approximately 5 percent of the labor force. The labor code provides for the right to strike, with restrictions, and workers exercised this right in practice. The Haitian Labor Code considers four types of strikes legal: workers striking while remaining at their posts; striking without abandoning the institution; walking out and abandoning the institution; and striking in solidarity with another strike. Managers, administrators, other heads of establishments, public utility service workers, and public sector enterprise workers may not strike. The labor code defines public utility service employees as essential workers who "cannot suspend their activities without causing serious harm to public health and security." A 48-hour notice period is compulsory for all strikes, and strikes may not exceed one day. Despite the prohibition there were a few public sector strikes, usually related to the government's failure to pay staff. On April 20, bailiffs and clerks went on strike to demand higher wages from the Ministry of Justice. On July 1, teachers from both public and private schools struck to oblige the Ministry of Education to maintainits commitment to subsidize schools damaged by the earthquake. On July 22, transport workers called for a general strike and urged President Rene Preval to replace the CEP and to satisfy key demands of Haitian drivers and workers. They also protested a "toll" imposed by Haitian authorities at the Malpasse/Jimani border with the Dominican Republic. 

 

The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively: While the law protects trade union organizing activities and stipulates fines for those who interfere with this right, in practice the government made little effort to enforce the law. High unemployment rates and antiunion sentiment among somefactory workers and most employers limited the success of union organizing efforts. Collective bargaining was nonexistent, and employers set wages unilaterally. Although workers had access to labor courts established to resolve common labor management disputes, the courts' judgments were not enforced, and as a result labor courts were considered weak and ineffective. Under the supervision of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the courts are responsible for adjudicating minor conflicts; however unions stated that the process was ineffective. Seven labor courts operated in Port-au-Prince, and in the provinces, plaintiffs utilized municipal courts. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers, who are liable to a monetary fine for each individual violation. Although illegally fired workers have the right to recoup any compensation to which they are entitled, the law does notspecify that employers must reinstate workers illegally fired for union activity. There are no special laws or exemptions from regular labor laws in the export processing zone in Ouanaminthe, a town on the Dominican border. 

 

Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor: The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including of children; however, there were reports that such practices occurred, namely instances of forced laboramong child domestics or restaveks. Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.  d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment:  The minimum employment age for employment in industrial, agricultural, or commercial companies is 15. The minimum age for apprenticeships is 14. There is no minimum age restriction for work in domestic service and there are no legal penalties for employing children in domestic labor unless the nature or condition of domestic service harms their health, safety, or morals. The law prohibits the exploitation of children, which includes servitude and forced or compulsory labor. The law also prohibits minors from working under dangerous conditions and prohibits night work in industrial enterprises for minors under 18. Fierce adultcompetition for jobs ensured child labor was not a factor in the industrial sector. However, children under the age of 15 commonly worked in the informal sector to supplement family income. Activities and sectors in which children commonly work include domestic work, subsistence agriculture, and street trades, such as selling goods, washing cars, serving as porters in public markets and bus stations,and begging. Children also commonly worked with parents on small family farms, although the high unemployment rate among adults kept children from employment on commercial farms in significant numbers. Parents unable to care for their children have traditionally sent them to relatives orstrangers, who were expected to provide the children with food, shelter, and an education in exchange for housework. Such children were known as restaveks. The practice was so entrenched that even poor families routinely kept one or more restaveks who came from even poorer families. Parents often offered their children as restaveks when they were six years old or younger. Domestic work as a restavek was the primary form of child employment, and there was no legal penalty for families that employed restaveks. While some host families cared for restaveks and sent them to school, most restaveks were subjected to abuse and involuntary domestic servitude. Also see the Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/g/tip. Government and NGO estimates of the number of restaveks ranged between 90,000 and 300,000. A 2009 survey estimated 225,000 children work as restaveks in urban areas of Haiti alone. The majority of restaveks were girls between the ages of six and 14. Host family exploitation of restaveks typically included forcing the children to work excessive hours on physically demanding tasks without pay or adequate food, not sending them to school, and subjecting them to physical and/or sexual abuse. Girls were generally placed in domestic servitude in private urban homes, while boys more frequently were exploited for labor on farms. Restaveks who did not run away usually remained with the host family until age 14. Labor laws require employers to pay domestic workers over 15 years old, so many host families forced restaveks from the household before that age. Others ignored the law, which was not well enforced. Abandoned and runaway restaveks constituted a significant proportion of the large population of children living on the street, where many were forced into prostitution or street crime by criminal gangs, while others became street vendors or beggars. The thousands of individuals displaced and/or orphaned as a result of the January earthquake likely increased the number of bothrestaveks and street children. Although the government charged it with implementation and enforcement of child labor laws and regulations, the Institute of Social Well-Being and Research (IBESR) lacked adequate funding to investigate exploitive child labor cases effectively. Other factors contributing to ineffective investigation and lack of judicial recourse were border permeability and lack of an adequately trained and equipped police force. Since the January 12 earthquake, there has been improved collaboration between IBESR and the BPM, the 35-person HNP unit responsible for child protection, to remove children from child labor and other dangerous and violent situations. Prior to January 12, the Government of Haiti also established a program in Carrefour to provide basic education, lodging, and food to street children.  

 

Acceptable Conditions of Work:  On October 1, the daily minimum wage increased from HTG125 (approximately $3.00) to HTG150 (approximately $3.60) in the textile sector and remained at HTG200 (approximately $4.80) in the commercial and industrial sectors. Workers paid at a piecework rate received a minimum of HTG200 per day. For all other industrial and commercial establishments, the daily minimum wage was fixed at HTG200 for eight hours of work. The minimum wage would put a household's income at about twice the average in Haiti, but still provided for only a minimalstandard of living. Minimum wage levels were often not effectively enforced. Most citizens worked in the informal sector and subsistence agriculture, in which minimum wage legislation does not apply, and daily wages of HTG15 ($0.37) were common. Many women worked as domestic employees, an area of work also exempted from minimum wage legislation. The law sets the standard workday for industrial, commercial, and agricultural establishments at eight hours and the workweek at 48 hours, with 24 hours of rest. It also provides for the payment of overtime and prohibits excessive compulsory overtime. However, the law grants exemptions to health care, lodging, food and beverage, and entertainment establishments; managerial positions; and family establishments that employ only family members. The Labor Directorate may grant exemptions for other employers not specifically exempted by the law. These laws were not effectively enforced. The law is also silent concerning public sector employees. Due to staff shortages and special events, salaried HNP officers sometimes worked 12-hour shifts six days per week and received no overtime, although they received standardized bonuses at year's end. HNP officers had also not been incorporated into the standardized government schedule of benefits aftertheir initial three-year probationary contracts. In severely understaffed regions, officers sometimes worked longer hours to serve the needs of their communities. The law also establishes minimum health and safety regulations. The industrial and assembly sectors largely observed these guidelines, but the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs did not effectively enforce them. No group collected formal data, but unions alleged job-related injuries occurred frequently in the construction and public works sectors. Although they have the legal right to do so, in practice workers could not exercise the right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardizing their continued employment.

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By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
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A 50-year-old pop star with a penchant for provocative stage antics seems, at first, just what Haiti doesn't need as its next president. But Michel Martelly, who won last month's runoff election with an estimated 67% of the vote, may have more to offer his country than meets the eye. At the very least, he is not connected to the establishment politicians who have looted the hapless nation for the last two decades. If Mr. Martelly does nothing in the next four years except live up to his campaign pledge to get the earthquake recovery process going, and if he is able to employ an honest cabinet, history is likely to judge him well. If he gets the right advisers—and that's a big if with Bill Clinton and the U.S. Agency for International Development playing outsized roles in his country—he might accomplish even more.
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Before anyone writes off Mr. Martelly for his résumé, consider that at least one past president looked far better on paper. Jean Bertrand Aristide had a seemingly virtuous past as a Catholic priest who advocated for the poor. We all know how that turned out. Mr. Aristide was filled with anger and envy—and each time he got to power, in 1991, in 1994, and again in 2001, he tore his country apart. His successor, and one-time ally, René Preval, didn't have the courage or will to challenge the mafia-style government that he inherited in 1996 and again in 2006. When a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, the country found itself bereft of leadership. President-elect Michel Martelly
Mr. Martelly didn't finish college, and he seems to have made his share of missteps in his personal life, such as his admitted drug use. No one would mistake him for the messiah that Haitians took Mr. Aristide for when he came on the scene in the late 1980s. Yet the president-elect is not without admirable qualities, and his successful music business suggests management skills that may be useful in his new job. In a telephone interview during his campaign for the runoff, I asked Mr. Martelly how one goes from entertainment entrepreneur to Haitian president. He argued that it wasn't going to be such a big transition. It is true, he told me, that he was a musician for 22 years. But he pointed out that he has also been involved in humanitarian work in Haiti over the years. Most recently, he and his wife Sophia founded the nonprofit Rose et Blanc foundation in 2008 to do charitable work.
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This experience heightened his awareness of government ineptitude in the aftermath of the earthquake. As time went on, Mr. Martelly said, he "realized it was a problem of leadership. Millions of dollars were coming to Haiti and we were seeing no results." This wasn't, he argued, because the wrong actions were taken. Rather, he said, it was because "no one has been interested in doing anything" from inside the government. On the subject of relocating victims, he said, "You have the land and people waiting to move" but the state has been seemingly paralyzed. Though the plan for many months has been to relocate the victims to temporary shelter, Mr. Martelly told me that he would like to see them go directly from the tent cities "to permanent, prefabricated homes." I asked Mr. Martelly if he would continue the long Haitian tradition of keeping Haitian expatriates out of positions of power. He told me he doesn't much care about where the human capital to run his government will come from. "It's a matter of competence," he told me. "We are going to look for honest and willing people."
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When I pointed out that even with the best human capital, he will inherit a mess, he agreed. But he quickly added that he would begin by "governing by example," and that would mean restoring the independence of the country's judicial branch. He pointed out that the Supreme Court currently is short three judges, including its president. The net effect of this has been that "no one in the country [has been able to] appeal a decision made by the [executive]." If Mr. Martelly is serious about this, it could mark a turning point for a nation that has known little but arbitrary, all-powerful government supported by dubious meddling from abroad. A controversial industrial park slated for construction in the northern Caracol Valley, funded in part with money from the InterAmerican Development Bank and backed by Hillary Clinton's State Department, makes the point.
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Critics charge that the government has chosen to build it on good farmland, which is rare in Haiti, instead of a site more in need of development. If Haiti had property rights and a functioning price system, the market would determine the highest value for this and all other real estate. Instead, central planners are in charge. Haiti cannot develop without property rights and the rule of law. Mr. Martelly's job is to break this news to the Haitian political establishment, Mr. Clinton and the aid bureaucrats who are accustomed to doing business the old-fashioned way.

About Mary Anastasia O'Grady: Mary Anastasia O'Grady is a member of the editorial board at The Wall Street Journal and writes editorial columns on Latin America, trade and international economics. She is also editor of "The Americas," a weekly column that appears every Monday and deals with politics, economics and business in Latin America and Canada. Ms. O'Grady joined the paper in August 1995 and became a senior editorial page writer in December 1999. She was appointed an editorial board member in November 2005. She previously worked as an options strategist, first for Advest Inc. and then for Thomson McKinnon Securities in 1983. She moved to Merrill Lynch & Co. in 1984 as an options strategist and was also a product manager and a sales manager for Merrill Lynch Canada and Merrill Lynch International during her 10 years with the company.
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In 2009 Ms.O'Grady received the Thomas Jefferson Award from The Association of Private Enterprise Education. Recipients of this award are selected because they represent the best that the free enterprise system produces. In 2005 Ms. O'Grady won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism awarded by the International Policy Network for her articles on the World Bank, the underground economy in Brazil and the bad economic advice the U.S. often gives to Latin American countries. The Bastiat Prize was developed to encourage and reward writers whose published works promote the institutions of a free society. In 1997 Ms. O'Grady won the Inter American Press Association's Daily Gleaner Award for editorial commentary, and in 1999 she received an honorable mention in IAPA's opinion award category. Ms. O'Grady, who was born in Bryn Mawr, Pa., received a bachelor's degree in English from Assumption College and an M.B.A. in financial management from Pace University.

4/14/2011
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A human rights group is urging Haiti to prosecute former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier to the fullest extent of the law, saying such a trial would be a chance to make history. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch Thursday released a 47-page report, calling on Haiti to try Duvalier for what it calls grave violations of human rights. Human Rights Watch counsel Reed Brody also called on the international community to support Haiti's justice system, to make sure Mr. Duvalier gets a fair trial. Known as "Baby Doc," Duvalier took power in 1971 at the age of 19 following the death of his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who had ruled Haiti since 1957 and was accused of brutality. Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled Haiti between 1971 and 1986, when he was ousted in a popular uprising. Human rights groups have long accused the younger Duvalier of human rights abuses, including the torture and killings of thousands of people. He also is alleged to have stolen millions of dollars in public funds. Duvalier made a surprise return to Haiti in January after 25 years in exile. He has already been charged with corruption, embezzlement and other abuses of power. Human Rights Watch says Duvalier also could be held liable under Haitian law as an accomplice for any crimes carried out by those under his command. Last month, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on Haitian authorities to pursue all legal and judicial avenues in Mr. Duvalier's case.

Agence France-Presse
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Haiti’s president-elect Michel Martelly has vowed to impose a legal crackdown after his May 14 inauguration amid a lingering dispute over legislative election results. ‘Starting May 14, Haiti will change. The state of law, like it or not, will become a reality. No person, no institution, will be above justice,’ the popular former carnival singer told reporters in the capital on Thursday. Martelly, who insisted the ‘rule of law will become a reality’, appeared to be referring to the Provisional Electoral Council and its refusal to annul the results of March 20 elections in several districts where there have been allegations of fraud. In 19 districts, the outcome of the elections changed from the initial returns to the final count, each time favouring candidates close to outgoing president Rene Preval and his Unity Party. An international expert mission from the Organisation of American States and the Caribbean Community has demanded that the victories of the 19 ruling party candidates be annulled. The lingering political bickering threatens to further hobble efforts to rebuild Haiti following a catastrophic earthquake in January 2010 that killed some 2,20,000 people and left some 1.5 million homeless.

5/25/2011
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IOM has escorted a group of eight Haitian child victims of trafficking returning home from the Dominican Republic in coordination with Dominican and Haitian child protection authorities. The return is the second in a series of family reunifications carried out to assist a group of 44 child victims of trafficking discovered in a raid by Dominican authorities last February. The children were transferred from a shelter managed by the Dominican child protection authority (CONANI) and assisted by IOM staff to the border at Jimaní/Malpasse. There, IOM staff in Haiti and security personnel joined the convoy to ensure their transfer to a shelter near the capital, Port au Prince, where they are receiving psycho-social assistance and medical check-ups. The children will be reunited with their families in the coming days. Family tracing was carried out by IOM in cooperation with the Haitian child protection authorities based on essential information given to IOM staff through individual interviews with the children.
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Once the parents/caretakers of the children are identified, they are visited by IOM to assess the family situation and the conditions for a possible return. Return arrangements are made only in cases where return conditions were deemed suitable by IOM and the Haitian authorities. The families identified so far have received sensitization training on the risks and consequences of human trafficking and will receive business training and reintegration grants to start small businesses, or expand existing ones. This is aimed at minimizing the economic push factors driving child trafficking and re-trafficking in Haiti. Support will also be provided for the children's school fees and materials in order to ensure their educational integration.
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The children had been trafficked to the Dominican Republic prior to the earthquake in January 2010 to beg on the streets of Santo Domingo or to carry out menial tasks. All money earned was taken by their traffickers. Many children facing similar conditions of exploitation remain on the streets of Santo Domingo and other localities in the Dominican Republic. A first group of six boys returned home in mid-April. The rest of the children remaining in CONANI shelters will be reunited with their families when conditions are suitable. IOM has been supporting CONANI to provide direct assistance, including food, clothing, medical and psycho-social care, recreational activities and transportation, to all the children rescued in the February raid.
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The Organization is also providing technical and operational assistance to the Dominican authorities to strengthen their counter-trafficking response and management of child victims of trafficking. "IOM will continue to assist in the reunification of as many child victims of trafficking as possible, wherever the conditions allow," explains Cy Winter, Chief of Mission for IOM Santo Domingo. IOM assistance to these child victims of trafficking has been made possible by support from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP).

5/17/2011
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Annual report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2010: Follow-up report on the situation of human rights in Haiti
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I. INTRODUCTION
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1. The aim of this report is to provide joint follow-up on the recommendations made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Inter-American Commission” or “the IACHR”) in its report The Right of Women in Haiti to be Free from Violence and Discrimination of March 10, 2009, (hereinafter, also, “the 2009 Report”), in the Observations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights upon conclusion of its April 2007 visit to Haiti, published on March 2, 2008 (hereinafter, also, “the 2008 Observations”), and in Chapter IV of the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2009 (hereinafter, also, “Chapter IV”). The Republic of Haiti (“the State” or “Haiti”) has received particular attention from the Inter-American Commission during 2010. The IACHR notes certain signs of progress in Haiti before the devastating earthquake that hit the country on January 12, 2010. As a consequence of that unprecedented catastrophe, the existing challenges were compounded by new problems of a unique nature. Because of that, and bearing in mind the particular situation Haiti is facing, the IACHR has decided to analyze the situation of human rights in the country through joint follow-up of the 2009 Report and the 2008 Observations.
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2. In its 2009 Report, the Commission analyzed the situation of discrimination and violence against women in Haiti and the legislative, institutional, and judicial response given to that problem. That report also states that although the public security situation began to improve in 2007 with the stabilization of the country’s political situation, the IACHR continued to receive information on the continued commission of physical, sexual, and psychological violence and acts of discrimination against women in Haiti. The 2009 Report therefore describes acts of violence against women as a particularly extreme and serious manifestation of the discriminatory treatment suffered by Haitian women. It also states that society’s tolerance of that discrimination perpetuates a climate of impunity and encourages the repetition of such incidents. Finally, in its 2009 Report, the IACHR notes that one of the areas of greatest concern were the shortcomings identified within the Haitian judicial system. The report therefore noted with concern that most cases of violence against women are never formally investigated, prosecuted, or punished, which creates a pattern of systematic impunity. The recommendations offered propose the design of a national state policy that would address the existing manifestations of violence and discrimination against women and the inclusion of women’s specific needs on the national agenda.
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3. The 2008 Observations were published following the IACHR’s visit to Haiti on April 16 to 20, 2007. The purpose of that visit was to receive information on the human rights situation in Haiti, in particular with respect to the administration of justice, the situation of women, children, and adolescents, and other matters. The Observations highlighted the Inter-American Commission’s main areas of concern regarding long-term stability in Haiti, namely: the need to develop an exhaustive strategy to address the root causes of violent crime and the activities of organized criminals and gangs; the need to allocate resources for the long-term reform of the justice system and for measures to address deficiencies in the administration of justice; and the need to implement programs aimed at providing essential social services to meet the basic needs of the Haitian population, particularly the serious shortcomings in access to decent housing, drinking water, health, education, and employment. The recommendations to the Haitian State addressed such areas as the adoption of various measures in the field of public security, the judicial system, the prison regime, and the adoption of public policies that recognize the specific needs of women and their right to a life free of violence and discrimination.
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4. In Chapter IV, the IACHR noted that the year 2009 was characterized by relative stability in Haiti and a general improvement of the security situation. Despite specifically identified advances, the IACHR expressed its concerns about the problems it had observed in previous years, including, among others, the administration of justice and impunity. In particular, the Commission stressed that the lack of an efficient judicial system, the prevalence of corruption, and the lack of significant financial and human resources all contribute to the creation of an environment of general impunity that affects the capacity of the State to guarantee the fundamental rights of its inhabitants. In this regard the Commission highlighted the importance of developing strategy and policy of long-term reform to address structural and legislative weaknesses in these areas. Finally, the Commission recommended the Republic of Haiti take steps to ensure, inter alia, that the courts are able to assume their role, in particular the duty to investigate, prosecute, and punish the persons responsible for the violations of human rights, and that the prevention and punishment of violent crimes strengthen accountability mechanisms to effectively hold offenders accountable for their crimes.
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5. On November 30, 2010, the IACHR requested the Haitian State to provide information on the measures adopted to implement the recommendations contained in the 2009 Report and the 2008 Observations. Additionally, the preliminary version of this report was transmitted to the Republic of Haiti on February 11, 2011, with a request to submit its observations before March 1, 2011. At the date of the publication of this Annual Report, the Commission has not yet received a response to the requests.
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6. In the following sections, the Inter-American Commission will briefly describe the main developments that took place in Haiti during 2010. Due to the emergencies that Haiti faced during 2010 and the challenges posed by the reconstruction process, the Commission will not offer a detailed analysis of the State’s compliance with each recommendation; instead, it will focus on a number of particular issues to which the IACHR has been paying special attention. As described in the corresponding sections, these topics are related to various recommendations made in the 2009 Report, in the 2008 Observations, and in Chapter IV. The information used in this chapter was obtained from several different sources, including United Nations agencies, academic papers, reports by international organizations and civil society, and press reports. The IACHR hopes that the conclusions and recommendations set out in this report will assist the Haitian State and the international community in identifying appropriate, effective solutions for dealing with some of the problems in the current situation of the country.
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7. Finally, the IACHR reiterates its willingness to make itself available to the Haitian authorities and the international community to cooperate, within the framework of its functions, with the initiatives being undertaken to overcome the critical situation faced by the people of this OAS member state. The Inter-American Commission acknowledges the efforts of the Haitian government in dealing with the emergency caused by the unprecedented earthquake of January 2010. The IACHR is also aware of the essential role played by the international community through the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission and other international agencies in the implementation of international human rights obligations during the reconstruction process.

6/16/2011
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
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Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), You.Me.We., and TransAfrica Forum jointly filed a request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to take further action on the increasingly urgent issue of forced evictions taking place in Haiti’s displacement camps housing hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors. The rights groups’ request follows up on the precautionary measures issued by the IACHR to the Government of Haiti in November 2010 calling for a moratorium on evictions in displacement camps, among other measures to protect those rendered homeless by the January 12, 2010 earthquake. The groups’ original request, filed on behalf of victims from five displacement camps, came amidst widespread evidence of government brutality, threats and coercion that accompanied forced evictions of the makeshift settlements of displaced persons.
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Forced evictions in camps – often carried out by state agents – have risen in the seven months since the measures were to be implemented, and the situation has grown even more urgent since Haiti’s new President Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly took office in May. Martelly has faced criticism for his pledge to close all camps within six months without providing a concrete plan for re-housing those currently living in camps. In his first few weeks in office, government officials have already unlawfully closed at least three camps, forcing 1,000 residents out of their provisional shelter without providing them with any alternative housing. On May 19th, President Martelly announced to a settlement of 100,000 residents on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince that they would be evicted in the coming weeks in order to make room for a factory. He made no mention of alternative housing. The Haitian government’s failure to comply with the original precautionary measures and the new government’s continuation of inhumane and illegal practices prompted the rights groups to file for an update to the original measures. “The Haitian government has an obligation to implement the Commission’s directives,” explained Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of Bureau des Avocats Internationaux. “The failure to do so demonstrates the government’s disregard for its obligations under international law.”
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The update includes the original measures, which called for a moratorium on all evictions – lawful and unlawful – until a comprehensive housing policy is implemented. It also calls for new directives, such as training for government officials on the illegality of forced evictions and their responsibility to protect internally displaced persons, along with eight other recommendations. Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “Internally Displaced Persons have the right to live in the camps while a comprehensive housing plan is put into practice. We are talking about a population that has no-where else to go. The evictions taking place are illegal under both Haitian law and international law, and we hope the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will intervene and urge this new government of Haiti to enact a moratorium on evictions immediately.” The update also requests the IACHR to urge the government to build the capacity of its public housing agency to ensure the needs of its displaced population are met. “The Haitian government can best protect displaced persons from forced evictions by facilitating their access to adequate and affordable housing,” said BAI attorney Jeena Shah. Nicole Lee, President of TransAfrica Forum, stated, “Eighteen months later, people remain in camps because they still have no other options. These most recent forced evictions remind us of the need for a comprehensive housing strategy that involves Haitian civil society organizations and includes safe and secure long-term housing, job opportunities, access to markets and infrastructure development.”
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The groups also point out the role that the U.S. administration can play to help Haiti avoid evictions. “The U.S. has disbursed about a quarter of the funds pledged to rebuild Haiti,” said Nicole Phillips, Staff Attorney at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. “We must make good on our financial commitment so that reconstruction can begin and Haitians can have a place to live besides dilapidated camps. We must also ensure that the assistance we do provide does not support forced evictions or other harassment of displaced people.”
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The filing can be seen in its entirety here: http://ijdh.org/archives/19215.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Founded in 1995, the Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux (BAI) is the only pub­lic inter­est law firm in Haiti. With the support of the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti, the BAI uses lit­i­ga­tion, advo­cacy, doc­u­men­ta­tion and grass­roots empow­er­ment to advance the rule of law and chal­lenge the unjust struc­tures that vio­late the human rights of Haiti’s poor major­ity. Visit HaitiJustice.org. Fol­low @IJDH. Founded in 1977, TransAfrica Forum is the oldest and largest African American human rights and social justice advocacy organization promoting diversity and equity in the foreign policy arena and justice for the African World. TransAfrica works with human rights, labor and women’s organizations in Haiti to ensure more just and equitable U.S. foreign policy towards all Haitians. You.Me.We is disaster relief organization that defends human rights in the aftermath of sudden on-set disasters.

7/5/2011
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Statement by the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang at the end of her mission to Haiti
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Good afternoon. Thank you for attending this press briefing. I would like to thank the Haitian authorities for their warm welcome and for the cooperation extended during my first visit to this beautiful and hospitable country. Over the past three days I have held discussions with President Martelly, the President of the lower Chamber and other key members of Parliament, the Protectrice du Citoyen, human rights defenders and civil society organisations. I have also held meetings with the new Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mariano Fernandez, other UN colleagues, and with the diplomatic corps. I thank all of my interlocutors for their frank views and open discussions on the situation of human rights in Haiti. I now have a much better picture of the challenges faced by Haitians in their everyday lives.
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The President has recently taken office. I was greatly heartened by the deep commitment of President Martelly to realising the fundamental rights of the Haitian people, including economic and social rights, such as education, health and adequate housing, as conveyed during our very fruitful meeting. The President’s strong and sustained leadership on human rights is central to addressing systemic failings of the rule of law and providing solid progress on economic development and reconstruction efforts.
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Eighteen months after the January 2010 earthquake, the massive destruction that has affected Port-au-Prince and other cities in Haiti is still very visible. I commend the efforts of the Haitian government and of the international community to protect the population during the humanitarian crisis that followed the earthquake. These interventions saved many lives, especially among the most vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities. They provided shelter, food, water and sanitation for persons displaced by the tragedy and who had lost everything, including their loved ones. The humanitarian crisis is not completely over. People still live in precarious conditions in organized or spontaneous tented camps, and are very vulnerable to severe weather, especially hurricanes. When I visited the Corail camp and the Canaan and Jerusalem informal settlements, I heard desperate pleas for water, jobs and economic development.
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But the aid effort did not, and indeed could not, address the major deficiencies in Haitians’ access to all their basic rights. We cannot expect the humanitarian response to provide solutions to complex human rights issues that have prevailed in Haiti for such a long time. Nor could it address issues relating to access to justice and protection from violence. Those obstacles predated the earthquake, and still exist today, with the destruction of so many state buildings, and the death of so many officials, further maiming the capacity of the State to fulfil its responsibility to protect human rights. The realization of economic and social rights is key to long-term stability in Haiti. I welcome the plans of the new authorities to work together with the international community to advance the sustainable return of the residents of six camps and the reconstruction of their homes, as well as the provision of improved services in their neighbourhoods of origin. But I firmly believe that the initiative needs to form part of a broader plan to increase access to adequate housing in both camps and impoverished neighbourhoods. Only a comprehensive housing plan combined with major job creation can break the cycle of extreme poverty and the failure to realise economic and social rights in which Haiti has been trapped for so many years.
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Greater emphasis should be placed on human rights in the context of development and within the reconstruction process. This means using human rights standards to evaluate reconstruction plans and ensuring non-discrimination, transparency and the participation of beneficiaries when taking decisions about reconstruction. And it means addressing the rights of all Haitians, especially the most vulnerable, when designing reconstruction projects. Several interlocutors raised with me their concern at the cholera epidemic, including concerns that it may have been inadvertently introduced to Haiti by personnel working under the UN. From the voices that I heard many people would like more information about the epidemic, its origins and prevention efforts. This is something of deep concern to me that I will transmit to competent authorities within the UN.
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There are serious civil and political rights concerns. On Sunday, I visited the border area in Ouanaminthe. I heard state agents and civil society partners describing the trafficking of children across the border with the Dominican Republic, in violation of their most fundamental rights, and in total impunity. I welcome the work carried out by national and local authorities, as well as NGOs, to stem the flow of human trafficking. However, there is an urgent need for greater resources to be devoted to the institutions charged with the protection of children, and also for the legal framework to be tightened so that incidents of human trafficking can be investigated and the traffickers held legally responsible. I raised this with parliamentarians and I was encouraged by their determination to put this initiative high on the legislative agenda.
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I am concerned about the dire situation of many women in this country and in particular the high levels of violence they endure, including domestic violence and rape. I welcome the existence of a national plan of action to combat domestic violence, and encourage all State entities to collaborate closely and increase their efforts to tackle these endemic and abhorrent practices which cause so much suffering to so many women in Haiti The Haitian National Police carries the enormous responsibilities of law enforcement. I commend efforts to strengthen the HNP. But I would also draw attention to the vetting process that began in 2007 to evaluate and certify police officers for integrity and respect for human rights. To date, no decisions have been taken on any of the 3,400 files that have been presented to the General Inspectorate. It is time to act. I welcome the efforts of the judiciary to reduce the very high levels of prolonged preventive detention and encourage further such initiatives. The reforms of the judiciary that were approved four years ago have to be implemented if the judiciary is to gain greater capacity and autonomy. The new President should promptly appoint a president of the Cour de Cassation. There needs to be greater investment in the judiciary, not just in buildings, but in adequate working conditions for its staff. It is imperative that transparent, fair, and timely procedures be established for the selection as well as for the removal of judges.
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In January 2010, a week after the earthquake, several inmates were killed in the Les Cayes prison. A joint investigation was carried out, and the resulting report was given to the Prime Minister last September. A number of prison and police officials have been detained following a criminal investigation. However, no trial has been held, leaving victims’ families without justice and accused defendants without a judgement of guilt or innocence. It is high time that a trial is held so that the evidence can be reviewed and responsibilities established. In Fort Liberté, I visited the prison and holding cells in the police station, where inmates have an average living space of just 0.6 square meters. The crowded and degrading conditions, the very poor sanitary facilities, and insufficient nutrition and access to medical services were shocking. That 60% of inmates have been in pre-trial detention, some for years, is also of serious concern. That minors, some as young as 13 years old, are held in prisons, against provisions in Haitian laws, is unacceptable. I welcome the investment in rebuilding destroyed prisons and building new facilities in order to increase capacity and reduce overcrowding, but it is clear that much more needs to be done to address this violation of human rights.
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Impunity for past violations remains a major concern. In January of this year, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, reminded the Haitian authorities of their obligation to investigate the serious human rights violations that took place during the rule of Jean Claude Duvalier, and for which no statute of limitations exists under international law. Today, I reiterate the High Commissioner’s offer of support and technical assistance to the authorities of Haiti and I hope to work with the new authorities in this regard. In addition to the judicial process, I fully support the initiative to establish a Truth Commission. I hope it will thoroughly examine this period of Haitian history as well as others, promote memory and reconciliation, and raise awareness of the need to protect and promote human rights, particularly among young persons. The Haitian State is responsible for respecting, protecting and realizing human rights in Haiti. It is only through national institutions that solutions to these problems can come. A new government will soon be formed. Together with Parliament and the judiciary, they hold the key to transforming Haiti and fulfilling the aspirations of its people. Yesterday I met with Florence Elie, the head of Haiti’s national human rights institution. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is supporting the Office de Protection du Citoyen (OPC) in its efforts to become fully independent and effective in its ability to protect and promote the human rights of all Haitians. I was encouraged by her determination in fighting impunity and ensuring accountability for violations of human rights, and I call on all three branches of the state to extend her their full cooperation. In this regard, it is vital that an enabling law is passed by parliament, to ensure the OPC complies fully with the provisions of the Paris Principles.
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I would like to refer to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Haiti which will take place on 13 October 2011 in the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The UPR is an international mechanism focusing on supporting national processes. Yesterday, the Haitian Government submitted its report, and we have already received many submissions by Haitian civil society and other stakeholders. The UPR recommendations will assist Haiti formulate a comprehensive national action plan for human rights. The implementation of this plan, which will be fully owned by Haitians, will be key to ensuring the success and sustainability of reconstruction and development efforts. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, together with Haiti’s many UN and other international partners, stands ready to support the authorities in the implementation of these recommendations. In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge the courage and the resilience of Haitians. I recall the flowers and the crops I saw growing in the small gardens of people living in camps; the rebuilding, and starting of new businesses, and creation of new jobs. The reconstruction effort, and indeed the new construction in places where it never existed before, is a Haitian effort to meet Haiti’s human rights responsibilities. Let me reiterate what I said to President Martelly and the many others with whom I was privileged to meet: the UN and OHCHR are here to support the people of Haiti and their Government and to advocate for the realization of their human rights.

7/21/2011
Associated Press
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Eighteen months after a devastating earthquake, life is finally getting a little better for at least one group of Haitians: prisoners. While tens of thousands of quake survivors still live in makeshift, flood-prone shelters amid stalled efforts to clear rubble and rebuild homes, some of the impoverished country’s jails are receiving major makeovers. The United States, Britain, Canada, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have launched projects aimed at improving conditions in prisons that have been described as some of the worst in the world. Some of the international action was already in progress prior to the January 2010 earthquake, from which the rest of the country has yet to recover. But the deplorable conditions and Haiti’s weak justice system were underscored by the quake, during which National Penitentiary prisoners set fire to their cell blocks and more than 4,200 men escaped. Police and U.N. peacekeepers have recaptured more than 930 prisoners. Some of those still at large include alleged gang members and serious criminals. About 70 percent of the inmates had never even been charged with a crime, however, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2010 human rights report. Because of Haiti’s corrupt and clogged judicial system, they had been held in indefinite pretrial detentions, with most prisoners languishing longer than they would have had they been sentenced for a crime.
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Defendants awaiting court hearings and a verdict are confined to rat-infested, stifling-hot cells where disease is rampant. Cholera alone killed dozens of men in the National Penitentiary over the past year, said Dr. John May, a south Florida doctor who has delivered medical supplies to the penitentiary for a decade. Overcrowding is so bad that the inmates sleep in dirty hammocks suspended from the ceiling, or resort to sleeping on the floor in shifts. “The stronger inmates sleep all night. The weaker ones don’t,” said Riccardo Conti, chief of delegation for the ICRC, which monitors prison conditions. Prisons have been bad in Haiti for as long as anyone can recall. Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier, the father and son dictators who ruled Haiti for 29 years until 1986, were notorious for using the facilities’ horrific conditions to torment political opponents. Subsequent governments either had no interest in improving conditions or lacked the resources. Many of those in lockup are accused of minor offenses that in a functioning system would get them barely any jail time at all, said Mario Leclerc, a Canadian police and prison adviser for the U.N. Development Program. “Everybody can make a mistake in their life. You know, if you are in jail for five years because you stole a goat because you were hungry or had to feed your family, I don’t think you have to stay in jail.” In 2008, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered Haiti to bring its “inhuman” prisons in line with minimum international standards within two years. The January earthquake tabled those efforts.

Still reeling from the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake and subsequent deadly cholera epidemic, Haiti inaugurated Michel Joseph Martelly as president
on May 14, 2011, after a contested electoral process. The government stalled for over four months as parliament failed to ratify two consecutive nominees for prime minister, before confirming Martelly’s third pick, Garry Conille, on October 4, 2011. Weakened by the electoral and political crises, reconstruction efforts made little progress in rebuilding government or private structures. Despite this, the number of people living in informal settlements created after the earthquake
dropped from some 1.3 million people in late 2010 to approximately 550,000 by September 2011. The continuing humanitarian crisis created by the earthquake and cholera epidemic hindered Haiti from addressing many of the chronic human rights problems exacerbated by the quake, including violence against women and girls, inhuman prison conditions, and impunity for past human rights abuses. Moreover, increasing pressure to close camps on both private and public land has led to a growing number of evictions.
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The Justice System: Haiti has been plagued by high levels of violent crime for years, but the United Nations secretary-general noted that trends since the earthquake demonstrate an increase in all major categories of crimes, including murder, rape, and kidnapping. Violent demonstrations and civil unrest related to the extended and contested electoral process contributed to this rise. The weak capacity of the Haitian National Police (HNP) has contributed to overall insecurity in Haiti. The reform and strengthening of police remains a priority of the government and of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). There has been progress in adding to HNP ranks, but obstacles such as the continued employment of compromised officers threaten Haiti’s Police abuses and deaths in detention in select commissariats threaten to taint HNP’s improving reputation of professionalism. In 2011 MINUSTAH and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) investigated several alleged cases of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and ill-treatment of detainees and urged the police and judiciary to make systematic responses to cases of abuse. A trial in the case of alleged police killings in Les Cayes prison on January 19, 2010, began in mid-October. The outcome of the trial was unknown at this writing. Haiti’s justice system, long-troubled by politicization, corruption, resource shortages, and lack of transparency, worked slowly to recover in 2011. Some tribunal buildings were constructed and some magistrates received training in the country, while others did so in France. President Martelly appointed a chief judge and one other judge approved by the Senate to the Supreme Court of Haiti in October, but a political stalemate between President Martelly and the Senate prevented the remaining four vacant positions from being filled.
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Detention Conditions: Haiti’s chronically and severely overcrowded prison system suffered damage in the earthquake, leading to even more limited cell space as well as dire prison conditions. Reconstruction projects increased cell space by 28 percent this year. The percentage of pre-trial and illegal detainees is still very high, but international actors worked with prison and judicial officers to review cases of potential illegally detained inmates, leading to the release of several hundred people. The negative health impact of substandard prison conditions became lifethreatening with the arrival of cholera. In the first month of the epidemic, the HNP announced that 19 prisoners nationwide had died from the disease. In
January a recent deportee from the United States died of cholera-like symptoms after less than two weeks in detention, leading the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights to grant a petition for precautionary measures calling for the
suspension of further deportations from the US.
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Women’s and Girls’ Rights: High rates of sexual violence existed before the arthquake, but the precarious safety and economic situation after the earthquake has left some women and girls even more vulnerable to such abuse. Many women lost their homes and livelihoods in the quake and now live in informal settlements or rely on host families for shelter. The UN and HNP have increased their security presence in some camps, and the UN Population Fund and humanitarian organizations have worked to increase lighting in many camps. Yet Human Rights Watch found that some victims have difficulty accessing post-rape medical services in sufficient time to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Some women and girls in post-earthquake Haiti lack access to family planning and prenatal and obstetric care. Pregnancy rates in camps for displaced people are three times higher than urban rates of pregnancy were before the earthquake. Human Rights Watch found that many women and girls in camps do not know where to get birth control or prenatal care even though these services
exist. Many have given birth in tents or some on the street en route to the hospital because of transportation difficulties. Human Rights Watch also found that women’s lack of access to economic security leads some women to trade sex for food or other necessities without using contraception, compounding the impact of their lack of access to reproductive health services and increasing chances for unintended pregnancy and disease. In particular, pregnant women and lactating mothers face increased hardships, as do women with disabilities and elderly women, due to constrained mobility and greater need for health services, food, and water. Women also have difficulty participating in decision-making about recovery and reconstruction.
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Children’s Rights: Prior to the earthquake, only about half of Haiti’s primary school-age children attended school. The UN Children’s Fund estimates that the quake damaged or destroyed almost 4,000 schools and that 2.5 million children experienced prolonged interruption in their education. Schools resumed several months after the earthquake; however, many experienced a sharp drop in enrollment. President Martelly introduced a plan for free universal education early in his administration, and classes began October 3, 2011, with the first phase of his plan in place. The use of child domestic workers in Haiti, known as restavèks, continues. Restavèks are children, 80 percent of whom are girls, from low-income households sent to live with other families in the hope they will be cared for in exchange for performing light chores. These children are often unpaid, denied education, and physically and sexually abused. UN and civil society organizations
warn that a number of unaccompanied minors remaining in camps are vulnerable to this form of forced labor or to trafficking.
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Accountability for Past Abuses: Former President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti on January 16, 2011, after nearly 25 years in exile. He was quickly charged with financial and human rights crimes allegedly committed during his 15-year tenure. From 1971 to 1986 Duvalier commanded a network of security forces that committed serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, rape, and summary executions. Thousands of Haitians were victims of extrajudicial killings or otherwise died from torture or inhuman detention conditions. Many more were forced to flee the country, building the modern Haitian diaspora. Duvalier’s prosecution faces many obstacles, including the fragility of Haiti’s justice system and the absence of a safe environment for his continued investigation and prosecution. Lack of political will from the international community to support the prosecution leaves the government without the adequate resources or technical assistance needed for a robust judicial process. and their families feel intimidated by Duvalier’s lawyers and supporters, who have interrupted victims’ audiences before the investigative judge, yelled at victims in public markets, and otherwise created an environment that discourages witnesses and victims from coming forward. In September Duvalier’s lawyers disrupted an Amnesty International press conference supporting the prosecution.
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MINUSTAH has been present in Haiti since 2004, playing a prominent role in increasing stability. A contingent of the peacekeeping mission stationed in central Haiti is alleged to be the source of the cholera epidemic, leading to demonstrations against the force during the year. A UN independent investigation found that the cholera epidemic was caused by a confluence of circumstances, while numerous scientific analyses claim evidence that MINUSTAH soldiers most likely introduced the strain. In September media outlets released a video of Uruguayan soldiers harassing an 18-year-old Haitian young man in a sexually explicit manner. The boy alleges he was raped, and members of the Uruguayan contingent were sent home to face a criminal investigation. The incident fueled anti-MINUSTAH sentiments ahead of the renewal of its mandate in October. The Security Council nevertheless extended the mission’s mandate through October 15, 2012, with a reduction in the number of troops to pre-quake levels. The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), provided for in the state of emergency law that parliament passed in April 2010, continued to operate through most of 2011. An extension of the IHRC did not pass parliament before the end of its mandate, making its future uncertain at this writing. The commission’s mandate is to oversee billions of dollars in reconstruction aid and to conduct strategic planning and coordination among multi-lateral and bilateral donors, NGOs, and the private sector. Former US President Bill Clinton remains a cochair
of the IHRC and UN special envoy for Haiti.

Miami Herald
BY MICHEL FORST
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Earlier this month I was in Miami after my 10th U.N. mission to Haiti. While the catastrophic earthquake two years ago has deeply affected the country, ending more than 300,000 lives and impacting millions of others, I remain hopeful that something positive can come from the tragedy. Haiti is now faced with the opportunity to commit to respect for human rights — civil and political; economic, social, and cultural — and to the rule of law. The need for reform of the judiciary, police, and penitentiary systems is of utmost importance if Haiti is to proceed on the road to democracy. With regards to the judiciary and human rights, it is critical that the recent appointments of Chief Justice for the Constitutional Court and the Superior Council of the Judiciary result in institutions that become effective vehicles for justice in Haiti. Reform of the Haitian National Police, many of whom have been accused of severe human rights violations, is also critical. Thus, I have called for a mechanism that will demonstrate accountability in the fight against impunity and corruption within the police force. At least 130 police officers, proven to be corrupt and dangerous, should be immediately dismissed. Conditions in jails and prisons and prolonged, preventative detention must also improve. Conditions in detention centers — where inmates have less than 20 square inches to live and sleep, and lack food, water and health care — are intolerable and constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment under international law. While the new prison in Croix-de-Bouquets holds promise, I have called for a law that would set respect for human rights as the foundation for prison reform by affirming the principle that while prison is a deprivation of liberty, the guarantee of all other rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution and in international texts, shall be respected.
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The recent ratification by the Senate of the U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights sets a strong framework for this and for other reforms that guarantee greater protections for the rights to education, health, water, and food to all in Haiti. The Haitian people need to see their rights taken seriously by their government. In the same vein, I met with victims and families of the human rights atrocities committed under the regime of “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Along with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, I expressed the importance of the fight against impunity. To serve justice and the rules of law in Haiti, accountability mechanisms must be implemented. I support the victims’ decision to appeal the judgment which dropped charges against Duvalier. Approximately 500,000 persons are still living in what were supposed to be temporary settlement camps after the earthquake. I visited the largest camp, in which 7,000 persons reside, and observed the 2 informal camps around its perimeters, where 70,000 persons live because they have nowhere else to go. Such informal camps strain the official camp’s already-limited availability of food and water. I have called for the adoption of a comprehensive strategy allowing displaced persons to return to their communities of origin, in acceptable conditions and not in makeshift shelters.
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Security in camps is still of utmost concern. Rape and sexual violence are serious problems facing women and girls. A more concerted effort by all authorities must be made to prevent such abuse, improve data collection, guarantee security and psychological and medical treatment for those reporting abuses, and prosecute those responsible for such violations. While Haiti continues to face many structural challenges, adherence to the rule of law, human rights, and the fight against corruption and impunity are critical to Haiti’s successful reconstruction and for the development of a strong democratic nation. Michel Forst is a U.N.-appointed official on human rights in Haiti and general secretary of the National Human Rights Commission of France.

9/17/2012
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
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Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, has spoken of “encouraging signs in Haiti today”, but also of risks, at the conclusion of his four-day mission to the country. He cited as promising the recent constitutional amendments that establish a 30 per cent quota for women in public life and a constitutional council, the appointment of a Minister for Human Rights and the Fight against Extreme Poverty, and a significant decrease in the camp population from 1.5 million to 370,000. “Haiti is at a crossroads. If the right steps are taken on a number of key issues, there is potential for progress – but at the same time, there are risks of backsliding. The new Permanent Electoral Council must be credible and have the confidence of the wider political spectrum to ensure that local, municipal, and Parliamentary elections take place without delay and are free and fair and without violence.” During his visit from 12 to 15 September to discuss human rights challenges ahead of the upcoming revision by the United Nations Security Council of the mandate of MINUSTAH, the United Nations stabilization mission in the country, Mr. Simonovic met with senior government officials, including Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, Justice as well as the Director General and the Inspector General of the Haitian National Police. He also met with United Nations officials, the diplomatic corps and representatives of civil society. “The planned recruitment of 5,000 new police officers in the next 4 years carries great potential for a secure Haiti. If they are recruited based on their merits, well-trained and include more women, the Haitian National Police will be strengthened and so will the confidence of the population. The role and independence of the Inspector General is key for ensuring that human rights violators are excluded from serving,” he said. Mr. Simonovic called for the planned downscaling of the military forces of MINUSTAH to be accompanied by stronger support to the national police and rule of law institutions. “Police reform is not enough. Reform of the justice system is long overdue. I visited the National Penitentiary where its 3,489 inmates live in inhumane and degrading conditions. Among them only 278 have records of having been convicted, most of the rest are in prolonged pre-trial detention. A more independent, reliable and efficient justice system is necessary to resolve not only this situation but to ensure that the rights of the population are better protected, including land rights. The ongoing penal code reform must be concluded without delay and should enable prosecution of past grave human rights violations in line with Haiti’s international legal obligations.”
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Mr. Simonovic urged the international community to increase its support to Haiti’s long-term development efforts as the massive humanitarian aid that came to the country in the wake of the earthquake declines. “For too long, too many Haitians have been claiming their economic and social rights in vain, and have not even been reached by basic services. The new development efforts must be based on human rights and ensure that benefits are enjoyed by all, in particular the poorest.” “Many of the most vulnerable are still trapped in camps, on private lands and threatened by forced evictions. I have stressed the need for consultation with residents and respect for international human rights standards in the process of dismantling these remaining camps. A comprehensive housing and urban development policy is needed,” he said. Mr. Simonovic observed that Haiti has a chance to attract investment and create new decent jobs, which is vital in a country where the majority of the workforce is unemployed and enjoyment of basic economic and social rights remain a challenge. In this connection, security and respect for the rule of law and curbing corruption are critical. The United Nations official noted that civil society organizations and the opposition have a lot to contribute to the country’s development efforts. It is therefore important for the Government to engage them and all Haitians in rebuilding their country.

For more information and media requests, please contact: In New York: Fred Kirungi: +1 917 367 3431 / kirungi@un.org

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