Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte
Haiti’s foremost human rights law office, the International Lawyers Bureau (BAI), has addressed a letter to Jose de Jesus Orozca Henriquez, President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to call attention to Haiti’s deteriorating human rights situation.
“The current government under President Joseph Michel Martelly appears to be regressing back to the practices of the former political regime that were rejected by the Haitian people 26 years ago,” wrote the BAI’s lead attorney Mario Joseph, who signed the letter. “This new government tramples the housing rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were victims of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, as well as Haitian children’s right to education, by applying superficial solutions to please certain audiences while misleading the Haitian people who still wait for the fulfillment of election promises.”
Copies of the eight-page letter were also sent to Haiti’s Justice Minister, the presidents of human rights committees in Parliament, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, among others.
“The situation in Haiti is often analogized to a vast conspiracy by certain representatives of the country who have created a host of illegal and cynical strategies: the subjugation of the Haiti National Police (HNP) and justice, the attempt to control the mass media and remobilize the old army, the cult of personality, etc.,” the letter continues. “Haitians fear that they are returning to a past era akin to that under Duvalier, when a ‘conspiracy against the internal security of the State’ was often used to terrorize and imprison political opponents and/or attempt to force people into exile, Fort Dimanche (Fort of Death) and/or into a cemetery, and where the whims of the regime and its thugs plummeted the country into instability and violence.”
“President Martelly’s failure to hold elections, and his outrageous actions with the State University and the press, the forced evictions of victims displaced by the earthquake and the arrest of a Member of Parliament show that he does not stand for democracy, human rights or the rule of law.”
The letter, dated Jul. 17, 2012, is well-footnoted and details violations of freedom of speech and the press, constitutionally mandated elections that have not been held in a timely manner, the illegal arrest of a parliamentarian, violations of the sovereignty of Haiti’s state university campuses, violations of IDPs’ housing rights, the inaccessibility of justice and the inadequate support for victims of sexual violence in camps, and a host of cases of impunity and corruption.
“The dislocation of state institutions, corruption, various scandals, attacks and intimidation of the press, arbitrary arrests, illegal and unjustified prosecution of political opponents, and impunity are the hallmarks of a dictatorship that undermines democracy,” the letter concludes. “This deleterious and unhealthy environment undermines the respect for human rights. The BAI, despite all sorts of threats it receives, will not close its eyes and be silent as these dangers haunt Haiti and Haitian society.”