October 7-10, 2014, the Government of Haiti will be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Haiti acceded to the ICCPR on February 6, 1991. Under the Haitian Constitution, international treaties, once ratified, become a part of the legislation of Haiti and abrogate any pre-existing, conflicting laws.
Haiti, like all States parties, must submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Covenant and then generally every four years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”. This is Haiti’s first review. Haiti submitted its first report in 2013. The BAI and IJDH submitted an initial report to the Committee in December 2013, with recommendations for the Committee’s focus of this review. We were pleased to see that the list of human rights issues adopted by the Committee as their focus reflects many of the issues we recommended, including the right to vote in fair elections, the prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier, lack of independent judiciary, legal remedies for gender-based violence victims, forced evictions in earthquake displacement camps, lengthy pre-trial detention and prison conditions, freedom of the press, and human rights defenders.
The UN encourages civil society members to participate in these reviews by submitting written reports and attending civil society briefings with Committee members in Geneva. BAI and IJDH, along with Alternative Chance, Beyond Borders, Boston College School of Law, Human Rights Advocates, IJDH, LiLiLi! Read, Mennonite Central Committee – U.N. Office, Universite de la Foundation Dr. Aristide, and University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic, submitted six reports to the Committee in September 2014 (see the reports below).
Mario Joseph, Managing Lawyer at BAI, and Nicole Phillips, Staff Attorney at IJDH, are attending Haiti’s review. Join them via twitter and hear them explain these issues in a public conference call October 9th.
(1) ICCPR Violations in the Context of the Cholera Epidemic in Haiti
(2) The Plight of Restavèk (Child Domestic Servants)
(3) Freedom of Expression in Haiti: Violations of the Freedom of the Press
(4) Prison Conditions and Pre-Trial Detention in Haiti
(5) The Right to Vote
(6) Access to Judicial Remedies in Haiti (includes Duvalier, gender-based violence, human rights defenders, labor, and forced evictions)
Here are summaries of each report:
- Cholera (Français ici)
- Restaveks (Français ici)
- Freedom of Press (Français ici)
- Criminal Justice (Français ici)
- Right to Vote (Française bientôt disponible)
- Access to Justice (Français ici)
For more information about the work of the Human Rights Committee, read the Civil and Political Rights: The Human Rights Committee fact sheet.
Here are some key documents pertaining to this review:
- Government of Haiti’s ICCPR report Oct 2013 (French)
- List of Government of Haiti delegation (French)
- Human Rights Committee’s 1995 Report to Haiti (French)
- Human Rights Committee’s List of Issues for this review (English)
- Government of Haiti’s response to the list of issues (French)
For more information on the review, consult this page.