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Situation of human rights in Haiti : Report of the independent expert (IV.F. Cooperation and efforts to combat HIV/AIDS): E/CN.4/2004/108


22 January 2004

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This report is an account of the second (9-15 April) and third (23 October-5 November) visits made to Haiti in 2003 by the independent expert, Mr. Louis Joinet.

The institutional crisis in the country (the continuing failure to reach consensus on the establishment of the Provisional Electoral Council), which is now coupled with an increasingly serious social crisis (almost daily demonstrations by a growing number of opponents calling for President Aristide to step down, which are being put down with increasing violence and with the help of pro-Government, sometimes armed, counter-demonstrators called “chimères”), has led to such insecurity that a return to peace in the near future on the basis of elections seems unrealistic as long as the “rule of law” continues to be superseded by the “rule of impunity”. This view is borne out by the persecution and physical abuse - observed by the independent expert - of journalists, political or trade union activists, human rights defenders and students in particular and of members of civil society involved in peaceful social protest movements in general.

The crisis has been aggravated by the recent emergence of violent opposition following the murder, in circumstances that were disturbing, to say the least, of Mr. Amiot Métayer, the pro-Government leader of one of the main grass-roots organizations known as “popular organizations” (Ops). In response, his supporters, who were members of a group called the “Cannibal Army”, changed sides to become the “Front de résistance des Gonaïves pour le renversement de Jean-Bertrand Aristide”, which merely added to the confusion created by the crisis.

After drawing attention to the commitments solemnly undertaken by the highest State authorities to “eradicate impunity”, commitments that have gone unfulfilled, the report shows how impunity, which is getting worse all the time, is greatly encouraged by the identity crisis in the police force and by the recurrent malfunctioning of a system of justice whose independence is not guaranteed.

The progress noted in the report includes: compensation for the political parties that were the victims of the events of 17 December 2001, which have not yet been clarified; the establishment of a youth crime squad in the police force; the start made on improving the administration of justice in the pilot court in Jacmel; and the mobilization of forces to combat acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

In his recommendations, the independent expert proposes that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) open an office whose main tasks would be to assist in the implementation of the Government’s solemn commitment to eradicate impunity and to provide assistance and support to the “players of the future” - judges and police officers who, after receiving training within the framework of cooperation, will put their training to good use by displaying professionalism and a commitment to upholding the law - in other words, by acting courageously. The report stresses the urgent need for reforms of the rules governing the judiciary, the Supreme Council of Justice, the Judicial Training College and the Institute of Forensic Medicine, and proposes that special attention be paid to initiatives taken by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide legal aid and assistance to victims.

Issued By:

Independent Expert on Haiti

Delivered To:

the Commission on Human Rights 60th session