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Independent Expert on Haiti: “Impressive declarations on Rule of Law – will need to keep an eye on results”

PORT-AU-PRINCE (2 September 2011) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Michel Forst, said he was impressed with regards to the declarations by the new Haitian authorities of measures in the field of the Rule of Law, but he indicated that he hopes that the declarations will soon be implemented and followed by positive impacts*.

"I see in these declarations the beginning of the long-awaited completion of the necessary separation of the executive and the judiciary powers which should eventually help give Haitians confidence in the effectiveness of their justice system, which has been so criticized," said Mr. Forst, referring to the upcoming appointment of judges by the President, to the six vacant seats of the Court of Cassation.

The Independent Expert also expressed hope that the future government quickly sends clear signals about the vetting of the Haitian National Police and in particular that the Supreme Council of the National Police dismiss officers, sometimes of high rank, that have not passed the certification process. He has also expressed his concern about the possible reinstatement of former police officers with a questionable past into the HNP, and his hope that the fears of inaction on this matter are rapidly and completely dissipated by the new authorities.

Mr. Forst indicated, nevertheless, that he is deeply disturbed by the situation in Haitian prisons, and surprised that for obscure, seemingly purely bureaucratic reasons, and in the midst of the epidemic cholera, latrines in several prisons are no longer emptied, and that the supply of food is almost no longer assured. "This is profoundly shocking, not to mention the risk of an explosion of violence that the inaction of the state entails when inmates no longer receive food," he said.

On the humanitarian situation, the Independent Expert urged that the police receive clear instructions not to support the forced eviction of people living in formal and informal camps, outside of the procedures established by Haitian law, regardless of whether camps are on public or private land. He reiterated his call that the implementation of durable solutions, that have already been identified by national and international actors, be announced as soon as possible by the new authorities, taking into account the public good, the rights of affected persons and the legitimate concerns of owners private.

On the two emblematic cases in the fight against impunity, that of Jean-Claude Duvalier and the massacre of the prison in Les Cayes, the Independent Expert said that he "received with great satisfaction assurances at the highest level that justice would take its course and that the separation of powers would prohibit any interference by the executive in the judicial proceedings."

The ninth mission of Mr. Forst to Haiti will end on Saturday 3rd September.

The Independent Expert wishes to draw the attention of all, to the fact that Haiti will present its report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on Thursday 13th October 2011 in Geneva, as part of the Universal Periodic Review.

The Secretary General appointed Michel Forst as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti in June 2008. Mr. Forst is General Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission of France and author of different publications on human rights, extreme poverty and the United Nations.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission report: http://www.ohchr.org/fr/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11349&LangID=F

Learn more about the mandate and activities of the Independent Expert: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ht/mandate/index.htm

Read the latest reports of the Independent Expert on: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=47

OHCHR Country Page – Haiti: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LacRegion/Pages/HTIndex.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact Michael van Gelderen.
During the mission (29 August-3 September): +509 3701 0445 or +41 792 010 119.
From 12 September: + 41 22 928 9355 / email: mvangelderen@ohchr.org or ie-haiti@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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