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Haiti: Catastrophic Situation Requires Robust Political, Human Rights, and Justice Efforts

HRW Oral Statement - ID with the High Commissioner on the Interim Report on Haiti

Families leave their homes in the Pétion-ville commune in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 23, 2023, as criminal groups take over areas of Haiti. © 2023 Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Mr. President,

Human Rights Watch welcomes the High Commissioner’s interim report, and shares grave concern over the catastrophic human rights and humanitarian situation in Haiti. Killings, kidnappings, and sexual violence by criminal groups have skyrocketed. The justice system barely functions. Impunity reigns.

The government has failed to protect people from criminal groups, many of which have alleged ties to senior political and economic actors. The country’s long-running political deadlock has exacerbated matters.

To avoid the failures of previous international interventions in Haiti, robust political, human rights, and justice efforts should accompany the likely deployment of a Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission.

Contributing forces should be vetted before deployment and exclude commanders and units implicated in serious human rights abuses. A UN-supported independent mechanism, with Haitian-led civilian oversight, should be established to monitor, report on, and advance accountability for alleged misconduct by MSS members.

We urge UN member states to support Haitian judicial officials focused on investigating and prosecuting the most serious crimes, and to ensure strong protection measures for vulnerable groups at risk of sexual violence or retaliation, including children associated with criminal groups. Those lawfully arrested and held prior to trial should be detained in secure, humane facilities.

UN member states should also support initiatives to facilitate the urgent establishment of a transitional government that can credibly work with the MSS and international partners to restore security, the rule of law, and access to basic services, and help create the conditions for free and fair elections.

Thank you.


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