LONDON, England — Amnesty International has published its 2018 annual report, covering the human rights situation in the world during 2017, including a number of Caribbean nations.
Violence against women and girls, particularly sexual violence, continued. Legislators sought to approve openly discriminatory laws against LGBTI people.
In February, Jovenel Moïse assumed the presidency after being elected in November 2016 following an electoral crisis; a new Prime Minister was appointed.
In March, prompted by the Haitian government, the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti ended.
In October, UN Security Council resolution 2350 ended the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) after 13 years. Peacekeepers left following years of controversy over their alleged responsibility for the cholera outbreak of 2010, and numerous reports of sexual violence. It was replaced by the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), mandated to strengthen the rule of law.
The authorities took steps to re-establish the army which had been dissolved in 1995. It was unclear what vetting processes would be established to recruit soldiers following the widespread allegations of human rights violations committed by previous forces.
Internally displaced people
The International Organization for Migration reported that by June, 37,867 people were internally displaced because of the 2010 earthquake; most of them lived in makeshift camps.
Discrimination − stateless persons
In March, Parliament voted to accede to the 1954 and 1961 UN Conventions on Statelessness, following recommendations made during Haiti’s examination under the UN UPR process in 2016. Haiti had not signed or ratified the Conventions by the end of 2017.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
In July, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported an increase in deportation cases at the Dominican-Haitian border.
Despite a request in October from the Haitian government for a further extension, the US Department of Homeland Security announced, in November, its decision to terminate the temporary protected status (TPS) for nearly 60,000 Haitians at risk of deportation from the USA. TPS for Haitian nationals was due to expire in January 2018 with a delayed effective date of 18 months which, according to the Department, would “allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on 22 July, 2019”. TPS is granted to nationals from particular countries on the grounds that they cannot return safely to their country due to conditions there.
Right to health – cholera epidemic
Between January and June, there were 7,623 new cases of suspected cholera and 70 related deaths, a decrease of more than 60 percent in comparison with the same period in 2016. Since the 2010 outbreak, more than 800,000 people had been infected and nearly 10,000 had died, according to the authorities.
The UN’s “new approach to cholera in Haiti”, presented in 2016, was severely underfunded. There were no consultations with cholera survivors, as planned. Individual assistance was consequently suspended. Victims’ advocates objected to this on the grounds that it was inconsistent with the right to remedy.
According to the government, almost 70 percent of the Haitian population did not have access to health services.
Violence against women and girls
Sexual violence and violence against women and girls was prevalent although under-reported.
In April, the government tabled comprehensive reforms of the Criminal Code in Parliament. It contained new provisions to tackle sexual violence, including criminalizing rape in marriage. In July, the NGO Doctors Without Borders found that 77 percent of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence who were treated in its specialized clinic in the capital, Port-au-Prince, between May 2015 and March 2017, were under the age of 25; 53 percent were under 18.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
The Senate supported bills which discriminated against LGBTI people; they were pending approval by the Chamber of Deputies at the end of the year. In July, the Senate voted for certificates to be issued which would vouch for an individual’s “good moral” standing and from which anyone deemed to be “homosexual” would be excluded. In August, it approved a law making same-sex marriage and public support or advocacy for “homosexuality” illegal.
Human rights defenders
Human rights defenders David Boniface and Juders Ysemé reported fearing for their lives following the sudden death in March of their colleague Nissage Martyr. He died a day after the three men filed a lawsuit in the USA against Jean Morose Viliena − former Mayor of Les Irois, their hometown in Haiti − for grave human rights violations. Jean Morose Viliena had fled to the USA from Haiti in 2009. The men said that they had been subjected to repeated death threats and to violent attacks by or on behalf of the former Mayor since 2007. However, the authorities did not implement adequate protection measures, although the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted them precautionary measures to ensure their safety in 2015.
Sanièce Petit Phat reported that she had received death threats because of her work in defence of the rights of women and girls.
Right to education
In June, the UN Economic and Social Council Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti criticized inefficiency in the education sector. It noted that most schools were privately managed, “making education an expensive, profit-based system” too expensive for many Haitian families. Illiteracy among over-15s was over 50 percent.