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Haiti: Severe violations of women’s, girls’ rights

May 8, 2024

UNITED NATIONS, CMC – United Nations independent human rights experts have  issued a stark warning about the ongoing severe violations of women’s and girls’ rights in Haiti, highlighting the near total impunity of armed gangs amid the ongoing crisis in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

The experts have detailed the far-reaching impacts of the violence and lawlessness that has led to chaos across the capital, Port au Prince, and other areas under gang control this year.

“The outbreak of violence in Haiti has resulted in loss of livelihoods and food insecurity, widespread and multiple displacement, the collapse of education, breakdown of healthcare and other essential services,” they said.

The Human Rights Council-appointed experts also pointed to the near total lack of access to justice due to fear of reprisals and the collapse of the economy.

Particularly alarming is the use of sexual violence by criminal gangs, which is employed as a tactic to instil fear, control territories, extort money and punish communities.

“Internally displaced women and girls who live in inadequate and precarious displacement sites are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence,” they said, warning of a sharp rise in trafficking them for purposes of sexual exploitation and sexual slavery.

They also voiced concern over the Haitian authorities’ failure to protect vulnerable populations as well as being “actively complicit” in gang activities.

“Haiti must return to democratic and constitutional governance based on the principles of respect for human rights, transparency and accountability,” the experts urged.

The experts, who serve in their individual capacity independent of the UN or any national government, called on the criminal gangs to put an immediate end to all forms of gender-based violence.

Haiti has been steeped in political turmoil and social unrest following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, 2021.

Rival gangs have over-run the poverty-stricken French-speaking country, plunging citizens into further despair and forcing several foreign agencies to remove non-essential staff from their offices in Haiti.

More than 2,500 people were killed or injured across Haiti from January to March, according to the United Nations. Nearly 95,000 people have fled Port-au-Prince. People are struggling to find food and access healthcare with Haiti’s ports and airport closed.

Haiti’s New  executive authorities have affirmed their commitment to creating a climate of peace and security, in the prospect of  holding a constitutional reform and general elections, in time to hand over power to a new elected leader and other officials, by February 2026, the head of the presidential transitional council (CPT) has said.

Edgar Leblanc Fils, 68, a veteran politician and former president of Haiti’s national assembly, said signs of progress in the security situation will be visible in a near future.

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