Press Release

Two Years After the Earthquake in Haiti, the IACHR Urges the International Community to Redouble Efforts

January 13, 2012

Washington, D.C. - Two years after the earthquake in Haiti, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights values the progress that has been obtained, while it also expresses concern over the enormous challenges that persist in order to satisfy the basic needs of the country’s population. Moreover, the IACHR expresses its concern over the weakness of the rule of law in the country and urges the international community to redouble its efforts so that cooperation is channeled in order to strengthen the democratic institutions.

In the two years since the earthquake, the situation in Haiti presents improvements. The population in the displacement camps has been reduced from more than 2 million persons to approximately half a million now, according to data of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Moreover, 700,000 children had access to the education system during the last year, according to UNICEF latest report. The cholera fatality rate decreased from 7% to 1.4%, thanks to the increased access to, and quality of, health services. In the last 2 years, Haiti has received 2,380 million dollars in assistance from donors in the public sector, funds that have allowed implementing programs of humanitarian aid, as well as reconstruction and development.

Notwithstanding, the situation of the Haitian population continues to be vulnerable, and the consequences of a natural disaster are still visible. According to information of the IOM, more than half a million people continue to live in displacement camps, and the rhythm of the reduction has slowed down, reflecting greater obstacles in finding solutions for the displaced persons. Moreover, according to the Office of the Special Envoy of the United Nations to Haiti, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children reaches 31.7% in certain departments, almost half of the population has no access to improved drinking water, and no city has a functioning sewage system. The cholera fatality rate, despite having been reduced, continues above the epidemic threshold of 1% set by the World Health Organization.

International assistance has been fundamental to ameliorate in some degree the serious situation of human rights that the Haitian population is suffering. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urges the international community to redouble its efforts in order to continue offering humanitarian help and implementing the programs of reconstruction and development that the Haitian population urgently needs.

In addition, it is imperative to strengthen the rule of law. The Haitian institutions have inadequate resources and personnel. As a result, State agencies face significant challenges to provide the population with basic services in the areas of security, health, education and social welfare. For these reasons, Haiti continues to face a structural situation with a grave impact on its inhabitants’ enjoyment of their essential rights.

The Commission believes that the current process of reconstruction is a valuable opportunity for the Haitian authorities and the international community to strengthen the institutional apparatus of the Haitian State and thus ensure sustainable development for the country. In this regard, it is necessary that the Haitian society have an active role in this process and not be relegated to a mere receptor of international aid. This means that the international community must ensure the participation and consultation of the beneficiaries of the cooperation, along with the involvement of the State and the Haitian society in all aspects of the reconstruction. Moreover, the international financial assistance must be channeled in such manner as to strengthen State institutions.

Finally, the State and the actors of the international community involved in Haiti must ensure that the strengthening of the judicial system is a priority in the reconstruction, and that all projects take into account in their design and implementation the key importance that strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law have for the country, as well as the creation of accountability mechanisms.

The IACHR remains at the disposal of the Haitian authorities and the international community to collaborate, within the framework of its mandate, with the various initiatives displayed with a view to overcome the critical situation suffered by the population of Haiti.

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 human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. 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. 4/12