Diaspora

Comment by UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Jeremy Laurence on Haiti gang violence and rise in human rights abuses – Haiti – ReliefWeb

Haiti
We are deeply concerned by the worsening of violence in Port-au-Prince and the rise in human rights abuses committed by heavily armed gangs against the local population. We urge the authorities to ensure that all human rights are protected and placed at the front and centre of their responses to the crisis. The fight against impunity and sexual violence, along with the strengthening of human rights monitoring and reporting, must remain a priority.
We have so far documented, from January to the end of June, 934 killings, 684 injuries and 680 kidnappings across the capital. Over a five-day period, from 8-12 July, at least 234 more people were killed or injured in gang-related violence in the Cité Soleil area of the city. Most of the victims were not directly involved in gangs and were directly targeted by gang elements. We have also received new reports of sexual violence.
We call on those responsible and supporting this armed violence to immediately desist, and to respect the lives and livelihoods of all Haitians, most of whom live in extreme poverty.
The heavily armed gangs are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their actions, conducting simultaneous, coordinated and organized attacks in different areas. The right to life is the supreme right under international human rights law, and the State has a duty to protect that right, including from threats emanating from private individuals and entities.
As part of their tactics, some gangs have prevented the local population from accessing basic commodities such as drinking water and food. This has worsened the prevalence of acute malnutrition, including of children, in the affected areas. The violence has also exacerbated fuel shortages, as the main fuel depot is located in Cité Soleil, and transportation costs have risen sharply. The critical socioeconomic situation has sparked street protests, adding to the deteriorating security situation, and many residents and businesses have shuttered themselves indoors out of fear.
Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Haiti has accepted, everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social security services.
Since the start of June, gangs have also attacked key institutions in Port-au-Prince such as the Courthouse and the port administration. Threats of attacks have also been reported against the Parliament, the national penitentiary, the national bank, the High Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes. State authorities appear overwhelmed by the situation: institutions are paralysed by lack of resources, corruption and violence, leading to impunity. While the Haitian National Police have reacted promptly as far as possible, their limited resources have been overwhelmed.
We welcome the UN Security Council’s decision to extend the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), which will further buoy the collective international response to the human rights crisis unfolding in the country and assist with flow of humanitarian assistance.
ENDS
For more information and media requests, please contact:
Jeremy Laurence +41 22 917 9383 / jeremy.laurence@un.org
Ravina Shamdasani – + 41 22 917 9169 / ravina.shamdasani@un.org
Seif Magango – +254 788 343 897 / seif.magango@un.org
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