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Haiti ‘dangling over an abyss’, UN human rights chief says

  • Law enforcement officers patrolling the streets. May. 4, 2023.

    Law enforcement officers patrolling the streets. May. 4, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@Shaukat73787811

Published 4 May 2023

“The state’s lack of capacity to fulfill human rights has completely eroded people’s confidence..."

Anarchy in Haiti sums to a “human rights emergency”, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has cautioned, urging for immediate action in the Caribbean country. On Wednesday, via video during a UN Security Council session, Volker Turk cautioned that Haiti is “dangling over an abyss.”


Haiti on ‘Brink of Civil War’, Humanitarian Group Warns

“The state’s lack of capacity to fulfill human rights has completely eroded people’s confidence. The social contract has collapsed. The current lawlessness is a human rights emergency that calls for a robust response,” said Turk, who visited the country in February.

“There is an immediate need to support Haiti’s institutions by deploying a time-bound, specialised and human rights-compliant support force, with a comprehensive action plan,” he said.

“The longer-term challenge, of course, is to build robust institutions that deliver on human rights.”

The Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, has experienced a surge in gang violence in recent months, largely attributed to the power vacuum resultant from the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

The current leader of Haiti, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, was selected by the late President Moise for this position shortly before the latter's untimely demise.

However, Henry has been grappling with a challenge regarding his credibility and legitimacy. Efforts aimed at outlining a political shift for Haiti have been ineffective, and the absence of operative governmental establishments has rendered curbing acts of aggression more challenging.

Lethal conflicts have impeded the accessibility of healthcare amenities, forced the shutdown of educational and healthcare facilities, and exacerbated an already grave state of food inadequacy by obstructing the supply of crucial resources to inhabitants of regions under gang control.

During the preceding week, the Chief of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), Maria Isabel Salvador, indicated that 1,674 instances of homicides, rapes, kidnappings, and lynchings were reported during the initial quarter of 2023.

According to Salvador, there has been an increase in the number of incidents, rising from 692 in the corresponding period of the last year. This information is based on data collected by the Haitian National Police (HNP) and BINUH. The humanitarian organization, Mercy Corps, has issued a recent warning that the nation is rapidly approaching the “brink of civil war;” as numerous citizens are beginning to question, “Why not seek revenge and take justice into their own hands?”

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