Once again, we are pleased to see such a strong focus on economic, social and cultural rights in your discussion of the five key aspects of the human rights situation in Haiti. The five key human rights concerns at focus in your report remain Human Rights Watch’s primary human rights concerns in Haiti as well. We agree that lack of literacy underlines the lack of opportunity many Haitians face. Ensuring gender equality in education outcomes, including for adult education outreach, is of particular importance. Therefore, targeted efforts to keep girls in school and to attain high-levels of education are needed.
In addition, we welcome your attention to prolonged pretrial detention and the conditions of detention. Furthermore, we appreciate that your report tackles the ongoing cholera crisis. We also are encouraged by the new approach announced by the Secretary General to address the rights of victims and to eradicate cholera from Haiti. We also hope the Haitian government, with assistance from the UN and donors, take all necessary measures to put in place sanitation infrastructure to address the long-term structural problems related to accessing clean drinking water for the entire population.
There are many important human rights issues that we could discuss, and that you could help carry forward. But let’s face it, there’s only one issue on the table today: the new Haitian government wants to axe your mandate. At the first informal, they offered to create a new position of Minister for Human Rights, as you have recommended. But now even that appears to be off the table.
Mr. Gallon, your mandate has consistently provided an important independent role in ensuring that all actors in Haiti with human rights obligations serve the needs of Haitians. The draft Presidential Statement would ask the High Commissioner to help identify goals, actions and timelines, but – bizarrely - without the input of the one UN representative whose expertise is most relevant.
While we recognize the wish of the new government to explore different approaches to technical assistance, there are alternatives to such an abrupt and non-consultative termination. We urge the government of Haiti to support renewal of the mandate so you can contribute to transitional arrangements, we urge the Council to support a process and outcome in which Haitians are consulted and feel ownership, and we urge the President of the Human Rights Council to ensure that any statement issued in his name responds to the needs of Haitians, and draws upon the expertise of the Independent Expert in articulating a vision for the future.