IACHR expresses concern over the significant upsurge of violence in Haiti

February 21, 2024

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the intensification of violence in Haiti at the hands of organized crime groups and calls on the State and the International Community to seek comprehensive and lasting solutions to overcome the humanitarian, political, social, and security crisis that the country has been experiencing for decades.

The Commission continues to be alarmed at the violence perpetrated by armed groups, who commit acts of murder, kidnapping, and rape, among others, especially in the capital, Port-au-Prince. The above with a specific impact on women and girls.

According to the most recent data published by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), during 2023, more than 8,400 people were victims of gang violence, including people killed, injured, and kidnapped. This represents an increase of 122% compared to 2022. Specifically, Port-au-Prince accounted for 83% of the homicides and injuries recorded. In the south of the capital, gangs have conducted large-scale attacks to control certain areas, and continue to employ systematic practices of sexual violence in areas under their control, placing women and girls at serious risk.

Particularly, according to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Report, there is an increase in reports of elders, women and girls being brutally raped, tortured and kidnapped by gangs. The Report also indicates that sexual violence against women and girls is used as a weapon of war, intimidation, territorial control and domination in gang-controlled areas. In this context, a total of 3,056 cases of rape were reported between January and August 2023, which represents an increase of 49% compared to 2022.

With respect to the causes of this upsurge of violence, the Commission observes the serious challenges to security institutions, including violence against police as well. The ongoing and deepening political crisis has rendered state institutions ineffective in preventing and responding to all forms of violence and this translates into the absence of the rule of law and by extension of fully functioning State institutions.

Haiti has had no elected political leaders at least since the assassination of President Jovenel Mo´se on July 7, 2021 and the expiration of all the terms of office of the Legislative Branch on January 9, 2023. This situation undermines the authority of the State and is a situation that has deepened the political, institutional and humanitarian crises, as detailed in the IACHR Report on the Situation of Human Rights. Despite efforts to organize elections, such as the installation of the Transitional High Council with the aim of promoting inclusive dialogue and organizing transparent elections, the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections is still pending. Added to this context of political instability, are the protests recently held demanding the resignation of the current Prime Minister.

The IACHR reiterates its call for comprehensive and lasting solutions to the crisis through a process of peaceful and inclusive dialogue, free and fair elections and the strengthening of security mechanisms. Such solutions must incorporate the protection of human rights with a gender and intersectional perspective, the strengthening of democratic institutions, the consolidation of institutions in charge of citizen security, and the restoration of citizen confidence in public institutions.

The Commission once again urges the international community to support the Haiti in its search for solutions to overcome this crisis. Although the United Nations Security Council authorized the establishment of the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti through the Resolution No. 2699 of October 2, 2023, the IACHR observes that there are challenges regarding its effective implementation. In particular, a Kenyan Court has recently delivered a decision which prevents the government from deploying police officers to operate in Haiti.

In light of these challenges, the IACHR reiterates its call to the international community, particularly the States of the region and the agencies of the regional and universal system to, with respect for Haiti's sovereignty and self-determination, seek the most effective and participatory mechanisms to adopt measures that can concretize the principles of solidarity and cooperation in all stages of identification, elaboration and implementation of development and assistance actions, including greater food and humanitarian assistance, working hand by hand with the country. These mechanisms should, also, focus on building, supporting and strengthening institutional capacities, civil society networks, and public policies, which are vital to raise the standards of protection in the Haitian State.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission is mandated to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 039/24

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