Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Human Rights and Rule of Law in Haiti: Key Recent Developments

PDF Version in English and French.

Human Rights and Rule of Law in Haiti: March to October 2020


Widespread insecurity has gripped Haiti[i] since our February 2020 Human Rights and Rule of Law in Haiti update.[ii] Local human rights organizations investigating the rise in violence have documented the involvement of police officers and state officials in numerous attacks against marginalized communities and raised credible concerns that gang violence is being deployed as a tool of political repression.[iii] At minimum, the government has failed to control violence that affects some of Haiti’s most marginalized communities.[iv] In addition, there are numerous reported incidents of government violence against protesters and the press;[v] impunity for these and other human rights violations, due at least in part to the politicization of the judiciary, is pervasive.[vi] Such impunity leaves victims without recourse and is emboldening perpetrators.[vii] In spite of this and the global pandemic, Haitian civil society has continued its call for accountability and for a clear response from the government to corruption, insecurity, and other abuses.[viii]
Concerns regarding democratic governance persist, now punctuated by serious disputes regarding a number of elections questions. President Moïse’s continuing use of decrees to govern[ix] drew formal rebukes from Haiti’s legal community and large sections of civil society, and added political and electoral uncertainty to an already insecure climate.[x] On March 3, for example, Moïse appointed a Prime Minister and formed an executive cabinet in a manner that observers believe subverted constitutional procedure and ongoing political negotiations with the opposition.[xi] In July, failure to hold elections caused the mandates of mayors to expire in all 141 of Haiti’s municipalities and, on July 9, President Moïse used a decree to give himself the power to appoint municipal commissions, thereby taking away local electoral control.[xii] In July, members of Haiti’s provisional electoral council (CEP) resigned, calling for the executive branch to engage in dialogue regarding elections.[xiii] In spite of this, and over opposition from Haiti’s civil society,[xiv] President Moïse installed a new CEP on September 18, shortly after the U.S. government issued a statement warning of “consequences” to Haitian civil society actors who stood in the way of the electoral process.[xv] Key members of Haiti’s civil society have rejected the new CEP, arguing that both the process by which it has been installed and its decreed mandate, which includes holding a constitutional referendum, are unconstitutional.[xvi] Haiti’s Supreme Court has refused to swear in the new CEP.[xvii]
More generally, many in Haiti’s civil society have called for a transitional government to oversee any electoral process, arguing that the Moïse administration lacks the legitimacy to preside over any elections, including due to its own challenged electoral history, allegations that it is complicit in serious financial corruption, and its inability to provide accountability and security for its citizens.[xviii] In addition to these political complexities, any elections or constitutional referendum would also be impeded by the current security situation, the government’s incomplete and controversial effort to shift Haiti to a new form of identification cards,[xix] and the pandemic.
Read the full report here and in French here.

[i] See Jacqueline Charles, Criminal gangs for hire: Corrupt cops and the fight for votes in Haiti’s next elections, Miami Herald (June 26, 2020),; Ingrid Arnesen & Anthony Faiola, In Haiti, coronavirus and a man named Barbecue test the rule of law, Washington Post (Aug. 14, 2020),; see also Press Release, U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Rep. Waters Urges U.S. Ambassador Michele Sison Not to Let Haiti Descend into Chaos and Violence (May 28, 2020),; Letter from Congress Member Maxine Waters to Ambassador Sison (Oct. 5, 2020),
[ii] Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Human Rights and Rule of Law in Haiti: Key Recent Developments (Feb. 2020),; see also IJDH, Haiti at a Crossroads: An Analysis of the Drivers Behind Haiti’s Political Crisis (May 2019),
[iii] National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH), Attacks on deprived neighborhoods: The RNDDH demands the end of the protection of armed gangs by the authorities in power, para. 98 (June 25, 2020), (“RNDDH, Attacks on deprived neighborhoods”); RNDDH, Assassinations, Ambushes, Hostage-taking, Rape, Fires, Raids: The authorities in power have installed terror in Cité Soleil, paras. 107, 108, 110 (Aug. 13, 2020), (“RNDDH, Assassinations, Ambushes, Hostage-taking, Rape, Fires, Raids”); La Fondasyon Je Klere (FJKL), Terreur dans les quartiers populaires / Pont Rouge au cœur d’une stratégie électorale macabre : La Fondasyon Je Klere (FJKL) tire la sonnette d’alarme, paras. 36, 37, 40, 42, 43 (June 22, 2020) (“FJKL, Terreur dans les quartiers populaires”); Press Release, FJKL, Violence aveugle en Haïti n’épargnant pas des bébés et des femmes enceintes : La FJKL condamne la banalisation du droit à la vie et l’installation d’une culture d’impunité dans le pays (Aug. 7, 2020),; Statement by Mr. Jacques to the UN Security Council, Le Bureau des Droits Humains en Haïti, paras. 2-4 (June 19, 2020),
[iv] Id.; see also Ricardo Lambert, L’OPC dénonce auprès du Premier ministre les récents cas de violation des droits humains, Le Nouvelliste (July 16, 2020), https ://; Haïti – Justice : L’OPC exige l’arrestation des individus impliqués dans les affrontements de Bel-Air et de bas Delmas, HaitiLibre (Sept. 3, 2020),
[v] See infra notes 40-52 and associated text.
[vi] See infra notes 53-60, 75-82 and associated text.
[vii] See infra note 53 and associated text.
[viii] See, e.g., Evens Sanon, Hundreds march in Haiti after outrage over student’s slaying, AP News (Nov. 6, 2020),; Criminalité : Des dizaines de citoyennes et de citoyens dans les rues, de Carrefour, ce vendredi 23 octobre 2020, pour dénoncer les actes de kidnapping en Haïti, AlterPresse (Oct. 23, 2020),; Jean Daniel Sénat, 17 octobre : une manifestation de l’opposition dispersée par la PNH à Port-au-Prince, Le Nouvelliste (Oct. 19, 2020),; Edrid St Juste, Des médecins marchent contre l’insécurité et le kidnapping, Le Nouvelliste (Oct. 8, 2020),; Droits humains : Plusieurs organisations soupçonnent le directeur général ad intérim de la Police nationale d’Haïti, Rameau Normil, de « favoriser les oppresseurs, criminels et bourreaux », AlterPresse (July 20, 2020),; AFP, Haiti police break up demo protesting worsening crime, France24 (July 6, 2020),; Politique : L’Association professionnelle des magistrats menace de se mobiliser pour le renforcement de la justice en Haïti, AlterPresse (May 26, 2020),; Droits humains/Insécurité : L’Opc réclame des mesures d’accompagnement en faveur des familles du Village de Dieu en Haïti, AlterPresse (May 7, 2020),; Haïti-Insécurité : Des organismes de droits humains dénoncent la complicité et le laxisme des autorités, AlterPresse (Apr. 20, 2020),
[ix] As noted in our previous update, President Moise has been ruling by decree since January, when the terms of most of the Parliament expired with no election scheduled to elect their replacements.
[x] See U.N. Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary General United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, U.N. Doc. S/2020/944,  para. 6, 8 (Sept. 25, 2020),; Politique : Le Bureau des avocats internationaux appelle les juges des 18 juridictions en Haïti à faire fi des décrets inconstitutionnels de la présidence, AlterPresse (Aug. 7, 2020),; Lemoine Bonneau, Quand la Fédération des barreaux s’attaque aux décrets adoptés par Jovenel Moïse, Le Nouvelliste (Aug. 3, 2020),; Politique : La Fédération des barreaux d’Haïti exige le retrait des décrets présidentiels, AlterPresse (July 27, 2020),; Jameson Francisque, Qui peut abroger les décrets pris par l’administration de Jovenel Moïse ? Ayibopost (July 21, 2020),; see also IJDH & BAI, Human Rights and Rule of Law in Haiti: Key Recent Developments (Feb. 2020),
[xi] Roberson Alphonse, L’opposition ne décolère pas, la communauté internationale appuie le gouvernement Jouthe, Le Nouvelliste (Mar. 4, 2020),; Haïti-Politique : 20 ministres, dont 4 femmes, et 2 secrétaires d’Etat forment le nouveau gouvernement irrégulier de Jovenel Moïse, AlterPresse (Mar. 4, 2020),
[xii] Robenson Geffrard, La présidence prend le contrôle des mairies, Le Nouvelliste (July 8, 2020),
[xiii] AlterPresse, Haïti-Politique : Qu’est ce qui est à la base de la démission en bloc des 8 membres restants du Cep ? (July 30, 2020),
[xiv] Jacqueline Charles, Haiti finally has an elections commission, but controversy over constitution role brews, Miami Herald (Sept. 21, 2020),
[xv] Jacqueline Charles, U.S. tells Haiti leaders on delayed elections: ‘Do your respective jobs, Miami Herald (Sept. 16, 2020),; Kim Ives, With Washington’s Support, Haitian President Forms Electoral Council Denounced by the Opposition, HaitiLiberte (Sept. 23, 2020), A bicameral group of members of U.S. Congress issued a letter strongly condemning the statement and calling for the U.S. Department of State to respect Haiti’s constitution and the role of its civil society. Frederica S. Wilson, Edward J. Markey et. al, Joint congressional letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, (Oct. 15, 2020), Earlier in the year, the Organization of American States clashed with Haitian civil society in supporting Moise’s term in office a full year beyond what most Haitian experts agreed was the proper length of his term. Jacqueline Charles, OAS head gets Haiti constitutional lesson after entering fight on end of president’s term, Miami Herald (June 5, 2020),; Emmanuel Yves Moïse, Quand Jovenel Moïse doit-il quitter le pouvoir ? En 2021 ou en 2022 ?, Ayibopost (June 14, 2020),
[xvi] See supra note 14 and associated text.
[xvii] Jacqueline Charles, Haiti’s supreme court declines to swear in election council. Moïse installed them anyway, Miami Herald (Sept. 22, 2020),; Bernard H. Gousse, «M. Moïse, tout Président que vous êtes, vous n’êtes qu’un citoyen», le rappel de Me Bernard Gousse, Le Nouvelliste (Sept. 28, 2020),
[xviii] Jean Daniel Sénat, October 17: a demonstration of the opposition dispersed by the PNH in Port-au-Prince, Le Nouvelliste (Oct. 19, 2020),; Politique : Contre l’avis d’une bonne partie de la population, Jovenel Moïse voudrait imposer une nouvelle Constitution, avant l’organisation d’élections en Haïti, AlterPresse (Oct. 25, 2020),; see also supra note 8.
[xix] See Danio Darius, Carte d’identification nationale unique pour tous, l’ONI a besoin de temps, Le Nouvelliste (Oct. 16, 2020),; Gabriel Duvil, Vous avez 120 jours pour obtenir votre carte d’identification nationale, Le Nouvelliste (June 19, 2020),; Snayder Pierre Louis, Pourquoi le dossier DERMALOG est un vaste scandale ?, Ayibopost (Sept. 19, 2019),; Robenson Geffrard, Environ trois millions d’Haïtiens n’ont pas d’acte de naissance, Le Nouvelliste (June 18, 2020),; Sandra Lemaire & Matiado Vilme, Haitians Seeking National ID Cards Say Government Is Violating Its Own COVID-19 Directives, VOA News (Apr. 2, 2020),; Etant Dupain, Covid-19/Ekonomi enfòmèl : desizyon ijan kijan pou n limite dega yo, Le Nouvelliste (Mar. 24, 2020),

Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
867 Boylston Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (857)-201-0991
General Inquiries:
Media Inquiries: