Haiti - Politics : HRC adopts report on Haiti in Geneva
Universal Periodic Review : Haiti
Pierre André Dunbar, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations Office at Geneva, explained that the implementation of international treaties required financial resources, which was why Haiti could not be party to all international covenants. As for the ratification of the Rome Statute, the Government had taken steps to fight crimes against humanity which did not require the ratification of that instrument. With respect to gender-based and sexual violence, the Constitution made provisions for the enjoyment of the rights of all citizens, regardless of their gender. The identification of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic remained a problem due to the fact that the process required negotiations with the Dominican Republic, which did not always cooperate. Mr. Dunbar also drew attention to the difficult situation in Haiti due to hurricane Matthew which had devastated the southern part of the country.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers commended Haiti’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review despite financial and environmental challenges. It welcomed the legal changes made to raise the legal marrying age, efforts to fight violence against women and girls, and measures to tackle corruption, trafficking in persons and child abuse. Speakers urged the Haitian Government to work closely with the Government of the Dominican Republic to restore Dominican nationality to those arbitrarily deprived of it in 2013. They also called attention to the situation of human rights defenders, the high level of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, as well as the lack of housing.
Speaking were Brazil, Burundi, Congo, Cuba, Ecuador, Ghana, Iraq, Madagascar, Peru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Maldives, Philippines and Sierra Leone.
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: Franciscans International, Amnesty International, Advocates for Human Rights, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Human Rights Watch, Istituto internationale Maria-Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, Coalition des Organisations haïtiennes des Droits Humains pour l’EPU, and Centre for Global Nonkilling.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Haiti.
Paulino Wanawilla Unango, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the Republic of South Sudan, said that South Sudan had already acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Government was committed to the implementation of the agreement on the resolution of the conflict signed in August 2015, and was carrying out the necessary institutional reforms stipulated in it, particularly the reforms related to organized forces and law enforcement institutions and the criminal justice system.
In the ensuing discussion, delegations welcomed the development of the national strategy for human rights, the setting up of a technical committee for the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, and the adoption of a framework to mainstream gender issues. Speakers were deeply concerned by appalling levels of sexual violence since the outbreak of the conflict in 2013 and stressed the need for accountability of perpetrators, without which there would be no hope of bringing an end to the ongoing violence. Delegations urged South Sudan to deepen the cooperation with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, work with the African Union on establishing the Hybrid Court, and turn into action its commitment to the deployment of the regional protection force as authorised by Security Council resolution 2304.
Speaking in the discussion were Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Albania, Algeria, Angola and Botswana.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Article 19-The International Centre against Censorship, Advocates for Human Rights, East and Horn of Africa Human Right’s Defenders Project (joint statement), Centre Independent de Recherches et initiatives pour le Dialogue, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, International Service for Human Rights, Lutheran World Federation, and Human Rights Watch.
PIERRE ANDRÉ DUNBAR, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that out of 213 recommendations, Haiti had accepted 188 and noted 25. Haiti had made efforts to regularly submit reports to treaty bodies, including the Universal Periodic Review. He noted that the implementation of international treaties required financial resources, which explained why Haiti could not be party to all international covenants. As for the ratification of the Rome Statute, the Government had taken steps to fight crimes against humanity which did not require the ratification of that instrument.
With respect to gender-based and sexual violence, the Constitution made provisions for the enjoyment of rights for all citizens, regardless of their gender. The identification of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic remained a problem due to the fact that the process required negotiations with the Dominican Republic, which did not always cooperate. As for increasing the minimum marrying age of girls and boys, legislation had already stipulated that that age was 18. The Civil Code prohibited the celebration of marriages between girls and boys below the age of 18 by State officials. As for the request to end all forced expulsions from camps, the authorities was constantly taking steps to prevent them. The Government was not fully able to guarantee the rights of persons expelled from third countries due to socio-economic difficulties in their countries of origin. The Government had not accepted the two recommendations regarding the criminalization of placing children in domestic service and fighting the high rate of adolescent pregnancies. The Government had accepted the three recommendations on the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Haiti and the Dominican Republic with respect to repatriation mechanisms. Mr. Dunbar drew attention to the difficult situation in Haiti due to hurricane Matthew which had devastated the southern part of the country.
Brazil praised the Government for its timely examination even in the face of the tragic recent passage of Hurricane Mathew. It was confident that Haiti would foster best efforts to build resilience and implement the recommendations. Brazil praised the Government’s efforts to enhance the living conditions of the poorest, and the implementation of a comprehensive strategy on social assistance, as well as the Government’s respect for the rights of freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.
Burundi welcomed the measures envisioned by Haiti to raise awareness and educate the population about their rights and duties. It commended the Government’s plan to eliminate corruption, as well as the steps taken towards the promotion and protection of the rights of women. It was pleased to note the creation of the office to combat violence against women and girls.
Congo congratulated Haiti on the significant progress made on the institutional and legal fronts, so as to consolidate national measures for the promotion and protection of human rights. Congo welcomed the will of the Government of Haiti to implement the human rights strategy and called upon the Council to help in its implementation.
Cuba congratulated Haiti for the efforts undertaken for the protection of the Haitian people. The commitment of Haiti was clear. Cuba was happy that its recommendation on cooperation with international mechanisms had been accepted. Cuba appealed to the international community to support Haiti in implementing all rights, particularly the right to development.
Ecuador welcomed the fact that Haiti had accepted the recommendations made by Ecuador in a constructive and open manner, adding hope that there would be positive benefits for the Haitian society. It was aware of the challenges faced by Haiti, notably severe weather conditions.
Ghana noted with satisfaction that a significant number of recommendations enjoyed the support of Haiti. Ghana urged the international community to help Haiti to increase the size of the police force, reform the judicial system, build new prisons, establish a legal aid system, and eradicate illiteracy and gender inequality in education.
Iraq thanked Haiti for having responded positively to its recommendations. It encouraged Haiti to safeguard the rights of women and to pursue the equality of women in decision-making.
Madagascar welcomed the fruitful cooperation of Haiti with the Universal Periodic Review process, and its efforts to promote human rights in spite of natural disasters. It particularly welcomed Haiti’s fight against discrimination of women and girls.
Peru congratulated Haiti for the recent democratic elections. It took note that Haiti had accepted the vast majority of the recommendations, but regretted that the two recommendations by Peru had not been accepted. These had been made in a true constructive spirit.
Nigeria commended Haiti’s compliance with the mechanisms, despite the challenges that the country had faced following the hurricane. Nigeria was pleased to acknowledge the ratification of many human rights mechanisms by Haiti. It joined other delegations in recommending the adoption of the report of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review of Haiti.
Pakistan commended the Government of Haiti for accepting the majority of the recommendations, including those made by Pakistan. Pakistan appreciated that Haiti had made efforts to promote and protect the rights of its citizens, including women, children and persons with disabilities. Pakistan wished Haiti every success in the implementation of the accepted recommendations.
Paraguay welcomed the presentation of Haiti and its efforts to advance human rights. It recognized the willingness of the Government to accept the recommendations by Paraguay, in particular to ratify the International Labour Organization convention on domestic workers and the Convention against Torture. It also stressed the recommendations on the operation of national human rights mechanisms and on improving gender focus.
Maldives appreciated Haiti’s measures towards the protection and promotion of child rights, especially the provision of free education. It also positively noted Haiti’s progress towards disaster risk management and aftermath of natural disasters.
Philippines welcomed Haiti’s acceptance of the recommendation made by the Philippines, namely the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Migrants and their Families and International Labour Organization convention 189 on domestic workers. It also commended Haiti’s reforms in the justice system and measures to tackle corruption, trafficking in persons, violence against women and girls, and child abuse.
Sierra Leone commended Haiti’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review despite financial and environmental challenges. It welcomed the legal changes made to raise the legal marrying age, efforts to fight violence against women and girls, and the acceleration of the Child Protection Code.
Franciscans International, in a joint statement with International Commission of Jurists; and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, recalled that the Government of Haiti had withdrawn its support for the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the country. It called on the Government to consider the view of civil society before making the decision about the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert.
Amnesty International urged the Haitian Government to work closely with the Government of the Dominican Republic to restore Dominican nationality to those arbitrarily deprived of it in 2013. It also called attention to the situation of human rights defenders, and the high level of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, as well as the lack of housing.
Advocates for Human Rights commended the Government for its support of recommendations that addressed women’s human rights, such as reforms to promote gender equality and combat stereotypes, assistance for domestic violence victims, and increasing women’s access to decision-making policies. It remained concerned, however, over the fact that the Government had noted, but not accepted, the recommendation to “eliminate violence against women in all its manifestations.”
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme appreciated the Government’s efforts and congratulated the Haitian people for their resilience following the hurricane. It remained concerned about the lack of legislation criminalising rape, family violence, discrimination based on sex, extreme poverty, illegal detention, and the situation of children in domestic work. It invited Haiti to improve the access to education, water, and sanitation, in order to prevent disease.
Human Rights Watch continued to have deep concerns related to dire public health conditions in Haiti among the most vulnerable individuals, including those affected by or at risk of outbreaks of cholera. Despite accepting recommendations to ensure access to basic services such as water, housing and health for the population, many instances remained where Haiti could improve water and sanitation coverage.
Istituto internationale Maria-Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco was pleased by the constructive attitude of the Government. Nevertheless, despite efforts to improve the quality of education, there were shortcomings. Demotivation and lack of training for teachers had a negative impact on the quality of education. This was why the majority of children signed up to private schools. The quality of education was directly related to the situation of families.
Centre pour les Droits Civils et Politiques – Centre CCPR welcomed the adoption of the strategic development plan for Haiti and said that extreme poverty continued to plague the country. Hurricane Mathew, the cost of which was estimated at $ 2.7 billion, had aggravated the food security of many in the country and hampered the efforts to improve the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.
Centre for Global Nonkilling commended Haiti for its acceptance to abolish the death penalty and thanked Haiti for making a recommendation to Iceland to adopt universal basic income which would ensure better living for all. Respect for life must also be seen as respect for one’s own life and therefore addressing suicide must be undertaken.
Dunbar, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, thanked all delegations for their support to Haiti in its efforts to promote and protect human rights and reiterated the will to continue Haiti’s cooperation with all Human Rights Council mechanisms. Haiti was fully committed to implementing all accepted recommendations and reassured all States of the intention of the Government to bolster the legal and institutional framework and so turn the promotion and protection of human rights into a reality.
The Vice-President of the Council said that of the 213 recommendations received, Haiti had supported 188 and noted 25.