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Haiti - UN : «Human rights violation very concerning» indicates the BINUH report on the situation in Haiti
The mission documented the ongoing occurrence of human rights violations and abuses, primarily in the context of gang violence in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. BINUH observed an increase in human rights abuses, mainly related to kidnappings by gangs.
Between 1 September 2020 and 31 January 2021, BINUH registered 337 alleged human rights abuses attributed to gang members and unidentified armed men, among them 63 killings (including those of 2 women and 3 boys), 44 injuries (including 4 women), 15 rapes (all women) and 215 kidnappings (including 32 women, 8 boys and 9 girls). That represented a 95.9 per cent increase compared with the previous reporting period. All segments of the population had been targeted, exposing the difficulties faced by law enforcement in protecting the lives and security of the Haitian people.
The kidnapping, rape and murder of a 21-year-old high school student from Port-au-Prince, sparked large protests throughout the country as citizens demanded that the Government of Haiti protect its population.
Gang violence continued to affect entire communities, preventing them from the full enjoyment of human rights such as food, housing, health and education. For instance, in the Bel-Air neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, schools, health centres and shops remained closed, while 407 households displaced from the area as from in August 2020 were still unwilling or unable to return to their homes owing to gang clashes and reprisals against the general population.
The lack of protection by the State, including the lack of accountability for human rights abuses committed by prominent gang members, especially those who were already the subject of national police warrants, such as Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, fuelled the recurring cycle of violence. Cherizier, who was suspected in the emblematic cases of the Grand Ravine (2017), La Saline (2018) and Bel-Air (2019) massacres, had eluded several arrest attempts made during police operations in Port-au-Prince (West Department) and remained at large despite continuing domestic and international appeals for justice.
The lack of accountability for human rights violations committed by law enforcement officials also persisted. From 1 September 2020 to 31 January 2021, BINUH documented 81 human rights violations by officers of the Haitian National Police, resulting in 12 people killed (including 1 girl) and 25 injured (including 2 women). That represented a 12.3 per cent decrease compared with the previous reporting period. The General Inspectorate of the Haitian National Police opened 122 investigations into alleged acts of misconduct by police officers, 22 of which were later closed, leading to the adoption of administrative sanctions in 16 cases, of which 4 were transmitted to judicial authorities.
Moreover, the General Inspectorate investigated 68 additional violations related to incidents that occurred prior to the period covered by the present report. In 14 instances, it recommended sanctions. Notably, only two of those cases were transmitted to judicial authorities. Finally, the continued lack of action by law enforcement officials and judicial authorities to investigate serious crimes and establish accountability and the lack of public trust in those institutions contributed to practices of so-called popular justice. From 1 September 2020 to 31 January 2021, BINUH documented 20 cases of lynching, none of which had been investigated to date.
Efforts also continued to seek accountability for the murder of Monferrier Dorval, the slain president of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association, whose case was transferred to an investigative judge on 17 September. The shocking disappearance of crime-scene evidence from the premises of the Port-au-Prince Tribunal of First Instance in early October sparked public outrage and highlighted the need to dedicate adequate resources to the ongoing investigation, including to protect it from third-party interference.
The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers sent a letter to the Government on 20 November to share his concerns about the case, including both the aforementioned theft and a 13 November attack on the car of the investigating judge.
As mentioned above, conditions of detention remained very concerning, despite sustained efforts by stakeholders to improve them. Detainees were kept in extremely overcrowded and unsanitary cells for up to 23 hours per day, had restricted or no access to health care and were given food of limited quantity and inadequate nutritional quality.
From 1 September 2020 to 15 January 2021, 47 persons died in detention, a 2.1 per cent increase compared to the previous reporting period. The deaths resulted mainly from diseases the inmates contracted while in the custody of the State, for which they did not receive adequate care. BINUH notes that the responsible authorities failed to systematically organize the transportation of persons in pretrial detention to the location of their hearing, effectively denying them the right to be tried within a reasonable time.
As mentioned above, the lack of improvement regarding the large number of persons held in pretrial detention is highly concerning, notably in its violation of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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