We wish to congratulate Haiti on the inauguration of President Jovenel Moise in February of this year and hope that he and his administration will make human rights a priority.
Human Rights Watch continues to have deep concerns related to dire public health conditions in Haiti among the most marginalized and vulnerable individuals. Despite accepting recommendations during the 2011 UPR to take steps to ensure access to basic services such as water, housing and health, many problems remain. When tracked in 2012, school- aged children had the highest incidence of cholera in the country, partly because the water and sanitation in schools did not comply with hygienic guidelines. The government’s commitment to enforcing guidelines for water and sanitation in all schools is crucial.
Haiti should also address the tragic impacts of the Dominican Republic’s disastrous migration policies. At least 150,000 Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent have entered Haiti since the law was implemented in 2015. Thousands in displacement camps receive little aid from the government or anyone else. During our September 2016 visit, many of those interviewed reported high levels of food insecurity, especially pregnant women and children who also suffer from a lack of basic medical care. We recall that in 2011 Haiti accepted UPR recommendations that food security be one its national priorities. While the Dominican Republic should address the arbitrary deprivation of citizenship of Dominicans of Haitian descent, Haiti can help stateless people residing in its own borders by establishing information desks to offer advice about how they can try to reclaim their rights.
Haiti’s new administration inherits many human rights challenges: including overcrowding and poor health in prisons; the need to improve protection of child laborers, women, and human rights defenders; and, the imperative to secure justice for victims of the Duvalier administration. We are troubled by reports of threats against human rights defenders and deeply concerned at indications that Haiti may no longer support the important work and mandate of the Independent Expert. We would urge full consultation with civil society before any decision in this regard is taken.