As the situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate, 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. According to UNICEF, this includes almost 3 million children, the highest on record. Gang violence, food insecurity made worse by climate change, natural disasters, a lack of basic services, and disease outbreaks such as cholera together present major security, humanitarian, and development challenges for Haiti and the international community. Meetings have been called by the United Nations, CARICOM, and partner countries to urge increased support, without which it could yet become much worse. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles follows.
French President Emmanuel Macron recently visited the French prison where revolutionary leader, Touissant Louverture died, having been kidnapped during what were supposed to be negotiations. Louverture had wanted equal rights for Haitians which the French would not accept. Jean-Jacques Dessalines subsequently determined the French could not be trusted and must be defeated militarily, which they were. This is the first time a French leader has paid tribute to Louverture. It is just the first step on what would be a long road to reconciliation and justice. The full New York Times article follows.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has appointed William O’Neill as an independent expert on human rights in Haiti He will monitor the human-rights situation in Haiti and provide advice and technical assistance to the Haitian government, national human rights institutions and civil society organisations. Promoting respect for human rights should be an important aspect of re-establishing security, and one hopes, longer term development in Haiti. The full article by Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald is linked and follows.
The United Nations emphasizes that Haiti is in a dire situation and now is not the time to deport Haitians. The majority of deportations take place from the Dominican Republic with neither due process nor advance notice to the Haitian authorities responsible for receiving them. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports 154,333 Haitians were expelled by the Dominican Republic last year - about 87% of all deportations to Haiti in 2022. It is true that insecurity in Haiti affect the Dominican Republic as well - but conducting mass deportations only makes a bad situation worse - politically, economically, and for human rights. The full article by Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald follows.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a brief but stark warning about the threat posed to Haitian children by gang violence, cholera, and malnutrition. The situation in Haiti is difficult, but especially so for children. Emboldened gangs, a growing cholera epidemic, and worsening malnutrition are negatively impacting the well-being of Haitian children. The government is weak, the gangs are in many cases better armed than the police, and core development issues like agriculture, education, infrastructure, and human rights have once again taken a back seat to insecurity. Restoring security won't solve Haiti's problems but it is at least a prequisite.
Good News! Upon having their generator stolen by a gang, the situation was grim for the Saint Croix Hospital in Leogane and the many people who depended upon it. With the support of Miami Herald readers, a new generator was purchased and transported to Leogane by boat in order to avoid having it stolen by gangs again. With their generous support the gang lost, the hospital re-opens, and much needed care can be provided to pregnant women. A small group of people committed to Haiti made a real difference in this situation.
The U.S State Department has releaed its 2021 Trafficiking in Persons (TIP) reports. Haiti is "Tier 2" country meaning it is falling short in many areas. The economic downtown, political instability, and conflict increased vulnerability. Of note, the government did not make efforts to combat child domestic slavery with estimates of the number of restaveks in Haiti as high as 300,000. The number of street children has likely increased and "orphanage entrepeneurs" continue to operate unlicensed shelters as profit-making enterprises. The concrete steps Haiti could take to improve prevention and response are laid out in the Haiti section of the report copied below.
The U.S State Department has released the 2017 Human Rights Reports. While not without controversy this year, these reports are valuable for tracking to the extent to which partner countries protect human rights - including for women, children, and minorities. As in previous years, Haiti's weak justice remains a major challenges. Conditions in prisons remain poor and journalism remains a dangerous business. However, they have been some modest successes including the Haitian National Police becoming increasingly professional. The full report follows.
Stateless persons are not recognized as citizens of any country. They are often vulnerable to exploitation due to a lack of access to health care, education, work, and justice. It is a major problem in the Dominican Republic where the the government has long been reluctant to grant citizenship to Dominicans of Haitian descent. Last week, the Haitian Parliament voted to accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, making it the third member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the 69th country in the world to do so. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a statement praising Haiti for its committment. To become involved, consider joining UNHCR's "I Belong" Campaign to End Statelessness.
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is mandated to release annual country-specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2015 report for Haiti is linked and copied below. There have been some modest improvements from last year - for example in improving oversight of the police. However, there is a long way to go in reforming the justice system, corrections, and protecting the rights of women, children, and the disabled. Post your thoughts about human rights in Haiti below.