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Press briefing note on Haiti unrest

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Marta Hurtado
Location: Geneva
Date: 1 November 2019
Subject:  Haiti unrest 

Haiti unrest

We are deeply concerned about the protracted crisis in Haiti, and its impact on the ability of Haitians to access their basic rights to healthcare, food, education and other needs.

At least 42 people have died and 86 have been injured as tensions have escalated since the latest round of protests began on 15 September, according to information verified by our office. The vast majority suffered gunshot wounds. Reports indicate that security forces were responsible for 19 of the deaths while the rest were killed by armed individuals or unknown perpetrators. Among those killed was at least one journalist. Nine other journalists were injured and many have reportedly been threatened. We urge all actors to refrain from targeting journalists and respect the freedom of the media to report on the situation.

Since the beginning of the school year in September, most children across Haiti have been unable to go to school. Roadblocks and violence have meant that people, particularly in regions outside the capital, have had serious difficulty accessing food, drinking water, medicine and fuel. The health sector has been hit particularly hard, with shortages of electricity, fuel, supplies, and the inability of many medical personnel to reach their places of work. We are also concerned about the impact that the closure of judicial institutions and other public institutions is having in the country, especially on vulnerable groups. For example, the alarmingly high number of detainees in prolonged pre-trial detention has further increased due to the closure of many local courts for security reasons.

We urge all parties to avoid hampering the functioning of hospitals and to facilitate access to healthcare, as well as the delivery, including through humanitarian channels, of food and medicine for individuals in prisons, orphanages and other vulnerable groups such as people living with disabilities.

We welcome the launching of investigations by the General Inspectorate of the Haitian National Police into allegations of human rights violations by police and stress the need for investigations to be thorough, transparent and independent, with a view to ensuring accountability, justice and truth for victims and their families – including through judicial action.

It is crucial that all actors take measures to support and advance peaceful solutions to the many grievances that have led Haitians to take to the streets repeatedly over the past 16 months. We stand ready to support attempts at meaningful and inclusive resolution to the current situation and alleviate the suffering of the people of Haiti.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.orgor Ravina Shamdasani - 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org or Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / mhurtado@ohchr.org

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