PORT-AU-PRINCE (26 October 2016) – The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallón, has concluded his sixth official mission to Haiti to monitor the human rights situation within the current political context.
The Independent Expert has reiterated his solidarity with the victims of hurricane Matthew and with the Haitian people. “The violation of rights in Haiti due to natural disasters is one of the five priority areas I have highlighted in my previous reports. Therefore, I have gone to Jérémie, in the Grand’Anse department, where I visited the High School Nord Alexis, where 525 families affected by the cyclone have found shelter. Their situation is similar to the situation of internally displaced people living in camps since the 2010 earthquake, of people deported from the Dominican Republic settled along the border, or of detainees in the country’s prisons,” said Mr. Gallón. He stressed that efforts should be redoubled to address the needs of those affected by this catastrophe.
Since his previous mission in Haiti last February and March 2016, the Independent Expert has welcomed the peaceful transition from the last Presidency to the current Provisional Presidency as well as the efforts made by the Government to ensure the elections go ahead. However, as a result of hurricane Matthew the election date of October 9 has been postponed and “Matthew will also affect the new date of November 20 since many people affected by the hurricane will have difficulties participating”, according to the Independent Expert. He has stressed that the Government has a duty to hold the elections under difficult circumstances but he is optimistic that the new Provisional Electoral Council and the more relaxed political environment compared to last year will allow the electoral process to be concluded. “I hope that these elections will be held without any surprises and that there will be a new President elected in February next year as well as stable State institutions,” Mr. Gallón said.
Regarding long pre-trial detention, the Independent Expert has taken note of the creation of a Presidential Commission to address this serious human rights violation. He has reiterated to the Ministry of Justice the need to urgently take measures to abolish long pre-trial detention and to reform the judiciary. Mr. Gallón has visited the new women’s prison built in Cabaret. Although “this prison is an example of a not overcrowded facility, the building lacks safe drinking water, privacy is not ensured in the showers and toilets, the time allocated for outside recreation of inmates is limited to three hours a week in a courtyard, and the dining room is not used,” he said. He stated that more should be done to improve prison conditions in order to guarantee the detainees’ dignity.
The Independent Expert has reiterated his recommendation to tackle illiteracy in a reasonably short time. “It is not necessary to spend a large amount of money to be successful in this endeavour, but especially to organize a campaign based on the Government’s decision to eliminate the problem thoroughly and quickly,” he said. Mr. Gallón has invited the Government to resume an education plan developed in 2010 and resumed in 2011, which foresaw the elimination of illiteracy in the country within five years.
He has also stressed his recommendations to create a commission of truth, justice and reparation of violations of the past, and a similar commission to compensate victims of cholera. “We must bring justice to victims of past violations and to people who have suffered the consequences of cholera to achieve a more equal society, based on justice,” he said.
The Independent Expert concluded by declaring his outrage over verbal and physical attacks against the LGBTI community, following the ban on the Massi Madi international festival organized by this community. “These attacks are contrary to the rights to equality and non-discrimination which are recognized in international treaties to which Haiti is a party. I urge both the authorities and society to respect them.” Mr. Gallón will present his report to the Human Rights Council in March 2017 and hopes to show progress concerning the implementation of his recommendations.
(*) Read the Independent Expert full end-of-mission statement (in French): http://www.ohchr.org/FR/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20760&LangID=F
The Human Rights Council appointed Mr. Gustavo Gallón as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti in June 2013. Mr. Gallón has over 30 years of experience as a human rights defender and as university professor in public law and human rights. He was the Special Representative of the United Nations Human Rights Commission to Equatorial Guinea from 1999 to 2002. He is currently the director of the Colombian Commission of Jurists since its inception in 1988. Mr. Gallón is independent from any government and conducts his mandate in his sole individual capacity. To know more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/HT/Pages/IEHaiti.aspx
The independent experts are part of what is known as the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special procedures, the most important body of independent experts of the UN Human Rights System, is the general term applied to investigative and independent monitoring mechanisms of the Council that look into specific situations countries or thematic issues throughout the world. The experts of the special procedures work as volunteers; they are not part of the UN staff and they receive no salary for their work. They are independent of governments and organizations, and they exercise their functions independently
UN Human Rights, country page – Haiti:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/HTIndex.aspx
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