Haiti: IACHR Calls to Guarantee Transition Process with the Support of the International Community

June 24, 2024

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) appreciates Haiti's efforts to advance a political transition and encourages the prioritization of the principles of transparency and inclusive participation. At the same time, it urges the international community to continue providing support to the State to overcome the violence that places the lives and integrity of the more than 11 million people living in the country at serious risk.

The IACHR recognizes that the installation of the Transitional Presidential Council on April 25, 2024 , and the appointment of Transitional Prime Minister Gary Conille on May 29, 2024, are essential steps to begin the restoration of democratic institutionality in the country. However, it is concerned about allegations of a lack of transparency within the Council which, in previous weeks, led to the invalidation of the previous appointments of the Prime Minister and President of the Council. In this regard, it takes note of the agreements adopted by this Council which provide for a system of rotating presidency and decision making through an internal election that must be accepted by five of the members with the right to vote. In addition, the lack of women's inclusion in the Council is also a matter of concern.

On the other hand, the Commission reiterates its deep concern over the incessant escalation of violence that the country faces at the hands of organized crime groups, which disproportionately impact groups in situations of historical vulnerability. In particular, sexual violence against women, girls and adolescents perpetrated by armed groups and gangs, in a context of impunity and lack of assistance structures, constitutes a national emergency.

According to United Nations (UN) estimations, during the first quarter of the year, more than 2,500 people were documented killed or seriously injured by violent incidents linked to armed groups. According to public information, one of the most serious attacks recently recorded took place at the beginning of May 2024 in neighborhoods near the airport and high-traffic supermarkets. On May 10, armed groups seized the Gressier police station at the southern entrance to the capital. Likewise, on May 11 and 12, these groups mobilized against international support, demanding that the population demonstrate under the threat of murders, injuries, and expulsions from the country. In this scenario, the IACHR takes note of the dismissal of the director of the Haitian National Police on June 15, 2024, who has been criticized for not adopting sufficient measures to protect officers attacked by gangs.

Currently, according to the UN, 90% of the country's capital, Port-au-Prince, is controlled by criminal gangs, and key routes to agricultural areas of the country, leading to a decrease in production and disruption of the supply of goods. In this scenario, the airport and the port remained inoperable for almost three months, preventing the entry of food and supplies. For the time being, some commercial flights have been progressively resumed, while the port remains closed. In addition, criminal gangs have disrupted the supply of goods.

Scarce and costly goods are beyond the means of the majority of the population to afford. This lack of food is of particular concern to the IACHR given that 4.97 million people, according to data supported by the UN, require some form of food aid, which represents almost half of the population of whom 1.64 million suffer from acute malnutrition. In addition, due to violence, people are often unable to reach medical facilities or health personnel are unable to get to work. Even hospitals that are close to the areas most affected by the violence have had to close.

This situation also impacts on prisons, which are completely overcrowded and (with the exception of the National Penitentiary of Port-au-Prince), lack health services and food. In this scenario, two people deprived of liberty recently died of starvation. Also, as a result of the fact that schools remain closed due to violence, children and adolescents lost the possibility of receiving food in educational centers. This situation would be affecting the growth of children, especially in the early childhood stage.

The Commission is also concerned about the increase in internally displaced persons fleeing violence, who are settling in precarious refugee camps devoid of all kinds of services and food. According to the most recent United Nations data released on June 20, 2024, there are currently a record of 578,074 internal displacements in 2024, including more than 310,000 women and girls and 180,000 children. This is more than double of 197,999 people internally displaced identified as of November 2023. This situation makes Haiti the country with the highest number of displacements worldwide due to crime-related violence.

Based on the above, the Commission calls on all political actors, especially the members of the Council, to strengthen the process of peaceful political dialogue with a view to reaching agreements that include the voices of all sectors. In addition, it urges the continued adoption of measures to reestablish democratic institutionality and stability in governance through transparent processes that ensure accountability and inclusive participation. In this regard, it highlights the importance of including women in political and policy processes at all levels. All of the above is crucial for progress in overcoming the crisis, as indicated in the Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti.

In addition, the Commission reiterates that security is a fundamental element in guaranteeing human rights and restoring democratic institutionality and the full functioning of the powers and institutions of the State. In view of this, the deployment of the Multinational Security Support Mission (MMAS) authorized by the UN Security Council in October 2023, which requires the political and economic support of the states of the region, is also crucial.

Despite the efforts of some States through financial assistance or the assignment of police personnel, the IACHR regrets the challenges that prevent its establishment, which are mainly due to the lack of resources. According to civil society, as of June 10, 2024, the fund created to receive resources for the mission would have a balance of around 21 million dollars. This amount would not be enough for its deployment. Consequently, the installation of the Mission is still pending. In addition, there is a lack of sufficient funding to guarantee humanitarian assistance to the population.

The IACHR reiterates that the search for permanent solutions to overcome this serious crisis must be led by Haitian people, together with the participation of civil society organizations and the support of the international community. In view of this, it urges the international community to redouble its efforts to urgently support the Haitian State to enable the deployment of the Multinational Security Support Mission, as well as any other assistance measure to overcome the serious challenges in terms of citizen security, food, and health that place the life and integrity of Haitians at serious risk.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission is mandated to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 146/24

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