Haiti: IACHR Condemns Massacre in a Context of Ever-Rising Violence in Haiti

September 12, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the massacre that occurred in the Haitian province of Canaan, north of the country's capital, Port-au-Prince. The Commission urges the State to conduct a serious and impartial investigation into what happened, to punish the perpetrators and masterminds of those killings, and to provide reparations to the victims and their families.

On August 26, 2023, armed gangs shot at a group of people who were marching against crime and violence in Haiti, allegedly killing at least 7 people and injuring more than 10. In addition, one of the gangs allegedly kidnapped several demonstrators whose whereabouts remain unknown.

The Commission has already warned about an upsurge of violence caused by armed gangs in Haiti and about rising crime, including kidnappings, homicides, and acts of sexual and gender-based violence, which increases people´s vulnerability and is compounded by persisting impunity.

The IACHR report on the situation of human rights in Haiti warns that deterioration of citizen security in the country poses a complex historic challenge for the protection and enjoyment of the rights of all individuals. In this context, a report published by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) notes that at least 846 people were killed, 393 were injured, and 395 were kidnapped in the country, during the first quarter of 2023.

Further, the Commission notes with concern the increase in the number of individuals who are internally displaced as a result of insecurity, institutional weakening and political crisis in Haiti. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned about the significant increase in the number of internally displaced persons in the capital of Haiti, who have been forced to flee their homes, and currently live in makeshift camps, in unsanitary and extremely vulnerable conditions.

The IACHR stresses the specific vulnerability of individuals who are internally displaced and reminds the State of the need to adopt legislative measures and public policies to prevent and mitigate forced internal displacement factors, in cooperation with specialized international organizations.

The Commission recalls the State of its duty to adopt a public policy to address the serious insecurity crisis, and to investigate and punish all acts of violence, in accordance with the applicable inter-American standards.

In this context, the IACHR highlights Resolution 2692, issued by the United Nations Security Council on July 14, 2023. This document urges the authorities to urgently and comprehensively address the root causes of violence, particularly by strengthening the rule of law, implementing violence-reduction schemes, and adopting specific programs to curb access to firearms and ammunitions.

The Inter-American Commission reminds its call on the State and on the international community to seek comprehensive and lasting solutions in Haiti, against rising citizen insecurity and the persisting impunity of human rights violations, particularly violations of the rights to life, human treatment, and personal liberty.

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. 216/23

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