IACHR condemns escalating violence and attacks by armed groups in Haiti

March 7, 2024

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over the escalating violence in Haiti and condemns the attacks to police stations and prisons perpetrated by armed groups which resulted in deaths, injured people, and the escape of more than 3,500 inmates from the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince during the last weekend. Additionally, public information indicates that Haitian gangs tried to take over Port-au-Prince airport on March 4, 2024.

Recent events mark yet another level in the escalation of violence in Haiti, a country that is going through a profound humanitarian, social and political crisis impacted by violence perpetrated by armed groups, as it was highlighted by this Commission in its previous press release of February 21, 2024. According to the United Nations (UN), 80% of Haiti's capital is controlled by gangs. This has led to a significant increase in violence, including homicides, sexual violence, and kidnappings, forcing the Haitian population to live in fear. In January 2024 alone, more than 1,000 people were killed, injured, or kidnapped. Violence and inter-gang warfare has resulted in approximately 300,000 civilians being made homeless, and the rise in sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence has increasingly impacted the lives of women and girls in the country.

The Commission was also informed of attacks perpetrated by armed groups in police stations and at least two of the country's prisons during the last weekend, which resulted in the assassination of at least 12 people and multiple police officers injured and allowed the mass escape of more than 3,500 prisoners from the National Penitentiary in Port-Au-Prince, which had been granted with precautionary measures through the IACHR's Resolution No. 13/17 of May 26, 2017. In that opportunity, the Commission had asked the State to adopt measures to protect incarcerated people's life and personal integrity.

These events underscore the urgent need for effective measures to strengthen security mechanisms and ensure the safety of all citizens. In this context, the IACHR takes note of the 72-hours state of emergency declared by the Government on March 3, 2024.

Haiti's humanitarian crisis requires immediate attention and assistance from the international community as reiterated by the Commission in different statements and reports released over the last decade, particularly in its 2023 country report; as well as during its most recent public hearing about Haiti celebrated in the framework of the IACHR's 189 Period of Sessions.

Once again, the IACHR strongly urges the international community to seek and/or promote 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.

Given the challenges at hand, the IACHR emphasizes its appeal to the global community, specifically the States within the region, to implement mechanisms of assistance, including by the immediate implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 2699 that establishes the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti. These mechanisms should adopt measures that tangibly embody the principles of human rights, solidarity, and cooperation. Collaborating closely with representatives of the Haitian State and civil society, these efforts should also prioritize the establishment, reinforcement, and support of institutional capacities, civil society networks, and public policies.

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. 048/24

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