Press Release

IACHR Concludes Visit to Haiti

July 3, 2019

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Washington, DC—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) visited Haiti between June 3 and 4, 2019, to promote dialogue with state authorities and civil society on the human rights situation in the country and to identify opportunities for collaboration with the IACHR. The delegation was led by the executive secretary, Paulo Abrão, who was accompanied by technical staff from the executive secretariat.

During the visit, the delegation met with authorities from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Office for Citizen Protection, the Senate, and the Chamber of Deputies. It also met with the Head of Human Rights of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH). The delegation also held meetings with civil society organizations that are working to defend human rights in the country. The main challenges facing human rights in Haiti were discussed at these meetings, including access to justice; economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights; public security and its effects on human rights; human rights-related institutions and public policies; the rights of people deprived of their liberty; and the rights of LGBTI people, migrants, and children.

During the visit, the Haitian state confirmed that it would be willing to host an IACHR Period of Sessions in 2020. It also expressed interest in establishing a Human Rights Working Group, a mechanism used by the IACHR to promote dialogue between the IACHR itself, the state, and civil society to develop and implement measures on priority human rights issues. The IACHR repeated its request to the state of Haiti to conduct an on-site visit to the country, which it has not done since 2004.

At the meetings it held with different stakeholders, the IACHR expressed its commitment to building closer ties with the Caribbean countries, which is one of the priorities included in Program 10 of its Strategic Plan 2017–2021. It also expressed concern regarding the investigations into deaths of taken place since July 2018 during social process in the country; the ongoing challenges to guaranteeing the rights to life in relation to public security; and the effects on the rights of vulnerable groups and groups that have historically been discriminated against. The IACHR also received updated information on progress in reducing prolonged pre-trial detention and overcrowding in the country’s detention centers, despite the challenges that remain regarding the conditions in which prisoners are held. It also received information on initiatives implemented by the government and the Office for Citizen Protection to make headway on human rights plans and institutions.

The IACHR wishes to thank the government of Haiti for being open to this visit, which led to frank, constructive dialogue at the highest levels. It also applauds the government’s willingness to move toward establishing a working group to develop a public policy agenda with a human rights approach in the country. The IACHR is grateful to Haitian civil society organizations and other stakeholders for the part they played in this process.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 168/19