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The leader of human rights urges for global assistance in finding a solution to the disorder in Haiti.
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The leader of human rights urges for global assistance in finding a solution to the disorder in Haiti.

Mr. Türk stated that the lives of Haitian individuals are increasing in difficulty daily. However, it is crucial that we do not lose hope. Despite their current situation, there is still a possibility for the Haitian community to overcome the severe insecurity they face with the help and determination of the international community. Together, they can find a solution to escape this chaotic state.

The most recent report from the High Commissioner emphasizes the importance of a multinational security support mission in Haiti to aid the HNP in addressing issues related to organized crime, armed gangs, and international trafficking of weapons, drugs, and individuals.

The findings of William O’Neill, the High Commissioner’s Designated Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti, during his visit in June 2023 are outlined in the report.

Detainees in a Haitian prison

Prisoners held in Haiti’s correctional facility.

Haitian Prisoners

The report states that the prisons in Haiti are cruel and the condition of prisoners represents the ongoing degradation of the legal system in the nation of the Caribbean.

By the conclusion of June in 2023, the number of inmates in Haitian prisons was 11,810, surpassing their maximum capacity by over three times. Approximately 85 percent of those incarcerated were still awaiting their trials.

Mr. O’Neill visited the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince and the Central Prison in Cap-Haïtien during his trip to Haiti. He saw that the prisoners were overcrowded in small cells, suffering from hot temperatures and a lack of access to water and toilets.

According to the report, those being held must withstand a strong odor and in the city, piles of garbage, including waste from humans, contribute to the unpleasant conditions. Due to limited space, the detainees must rotate their sleeping arrangements as there is not enough room for all of them to lie down simultaneously.

“Ilives are in danger,” stated Mr. Türk. “We must act quickly – we need to understand the urgency of this crisis.”

Escalating violence

According to the recent report by the UN Secretary-General on Haiti, the country is currently experiencing a complex crisis, with a focus on gang violence that is causing harm to its governmental institutions.

Approximately 80% of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area is under the control or influence of armed gangs, leading to widespread violence in all neighborhoods.

The report states that violence is expanding to areas outside of the main city. In recent months, there has been a notable rise in severe crimes like murder, abduction, and sexual assault. Whole neighborhoods and their inhabitants have been displaced due to indiscriminate and widespread attacks, resulting in approximately 130,000 individuals being displaced.

The increase in gang-related violence has sparked widespread demonstrations against the Government and a surge in vigilante organizations and associated acts of violence, such as murders and mob attacks, that have additionally damaged social unity.

In April of 2023, a vigilante movement against gangs, known as “Bwa Kale”, arose in Port-au-Prince.

The Secretary General emphasized that the presence of armed violence greatly affects economic activities. This results in limitations on people’s ability to move freely, as criminal groups extort, hijack, and rob commercial and public transportation on main roads.

Due to increasing levels of violence, schools have been compelled to shut down, putting children at risk of being recruited by gang members.

Gangs have been successful in segregating entire communities for their own financial benefit. They use force and violence, such as specifically targeting important buildings and facilities, to intimidate the people living in the area.

Humanitarian crisis

Insecurity has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. The number of people in need of humanitarian aid has nearly doubled over the past three years. Attacks against schools by gang members have increased ninefold in the past year, and many health workers have left the country.

After the security situation has been resolved, the Un chief emphasizes the importance of investing in socio-economic opportunities to improve living conditions and guarantee long-term stability and prosperity for the people of Haiti.

Strengthening State institutions 

The current crisis in Haiti can be attributed to the combination of impunity and decades of inadequate leadership and widespread corruption.

According to the Secretary-General, the cycle of violence continues because accountability is rarely enforced. The State must take responsibility for holding both criminals and its own law enforcement, judicial, and correctional officials accountable in order to ensure the safety and fair treatment of its population.

This week, the UN Security Council members are anticipated to keep discussing a proposed resolution that grants permission for a non-UN international mission to provide security support in Haiti.