By Maeva Giambrone / GICJ

The humanitarian and security situation in Haiti has been worsening for many years. Natural disasters, notably the 2010 earthquake, the Covid-19 and cholera pandemics, as well as a deep political and economic crisis, have all contributed to this deterioration.

Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, the situation has spiralled out of control. Indeed, gangs have multiplied and gained influence in the absence of an effective government. There are reportedly about 200 gangs, half of them in the capital, Port-au-Prince, alone. Analysis has shown that 60% of the city is controlled by gangs.  Some are so “popular” that they have set up waiting lists for people wishing to join. 

Haitian gangs have extended their activities to the economy by controlling the roads or deriving revenue from the distribution of water and electricity. They also exert a large influence at the political level as they eliminate their opponents and influence election results through bribery and intimidation.

Yet the explosion of gangs has led to exponential violence. Indeed, rival gangs are constantly fighting each other, killing or harming civilians considered enemies for their support, real or perceived, of rival gangs or simply for the reason of living in the same place as the enemy. Gangs even recruit children, giving them weapons to expand their territories.

Civilians suffer terribly from these clashes, seeing their homes destroyed and their relatives executed. Many individuals, especially children and women, are subjected to sexual violence and rape by gangs who act with impunity. According to a UN report[1], more than 500 people have died since the beginning of 2023 due to gang-related violence in the country.

Nearly 1,700 schools had to close due to the violence resulting in almost half a million children being deprived of their basic right to education. Alternative solutions, such as broadcasting lessons on the radio are being put in place to give these children a minimum education.

In addition, hospitals are also affected by the violence, to the extent that Médecins Sans Frontières has announced a reduction in its activities in Haiti. This comes after the execution of a patient who was being taken care of for a gunshot wound in a hospital. This reduction in their activities is leading to many people being deprived of access to free, quality health care.

The extreme violence of these gangs deprives the population of its most basic rights, such as the right to live, to health, and to education. This is why, at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council, resolution A/HRC/RES/52/39 calling for coordinated and targeted action has been adopted, a resolution sponsored by Haiti itself. The resolution sets out the serious concerns about the physical attacks on Haitians including kidnappings, torture, mutilation, and massacres. The Council notes that despite the authorities’ efforts, the country does not have the technical capacity nor the resources to combat gangs.

The resolution, therefore, urges UN member states, the OHCHR and other relevant stakeholders to keep supporting the measures taken by the Haitian government. The OHCHR is also required to provide technical assistance and support for capacity-building to protect and promote human rights. Finally, an independent human rights expert is to be appointed shortly by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor the situation in Haiti.

Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) commends the Council’s resolution, which responds to a repeated request from the Haitian government. We encourage Member States and the UN to provide all possible support to a population that has suffered from gang violence for too many years. GICJ remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Haiti, plunging the population into famine and a deep economic and political crisis. We urge the gangs to put an end to massacres, rapes, and child recruitment.

#Haiti #HumanRights #Geneva4Justice #GICJ



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