UN meeting scrutinizes Haiti's human rights record – Devdiscourse

Members of the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday urged Haiti to reform its judicial and penal system and fight violence, corruption, impunity and child labor.
Representatives for countries including Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom told the meeting that they were concerned about the deteriorating and volatile situation in Haiti and the impact this was having on basic services.
Other countries, including the United States. said they worried about the wave of gang-related killings and kidnappings and what they called a poorly functioning judicial system that faces corrupt influences and political interference.
The meeting focused on Haiti’s human rights record — which was partially online and partially in person in Geneva — came as Haiti is struggling with the aftermath of the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, a deadly earthquake that struck in mid-August, a weakening economy and ongoing political instability coupled with a dysfunctional Parliament, in addition to a growing problem of violence by powerful gangs.
“These challenges are enormous, but they are not, however, insurmountable,” said Berto Dorcé, Haiti’s new minister of justice and public security.
Other Haitian officials said that Haiti’s National Police has insufficient resources to fight gangs and urgently needs equipment, resources and training. They said the country as a whole requires financial and technical assistance to implement UN recommendations.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who assumed effective power following Moïse’s assassination, has promised to hold general elections this year amid mounting pressure from the opposition. Haiti failed to hold legislative elections originally scheduled for October 2019, with Moïse ruling by decree for more than a year until he was killed. Haiti’s 30-member Senate currently has only 10 lawmakers.
Henry also said “it is almost certain” he will have a provisional electoral council in place by Feb 7, which would have marked the end of Moïse’s term.
The UN noted in a report released ahead of the meeting that Haiti made efforts to implement the 188 nonbinding recommendations made during the last review, but that results were not fully achieved for several reasons, including natural disasters and economic and political issues.
New recommendations are to be released in upcoming days.
Representatives of several countries also expressed concern about the length of pretrial detentions and severe prison overcrowding in Haiti.
Later Monday, Haiti’s Office of Citizen Protection, an ombudsman-like agency, issued a statement noting that gangs often target journalists and police officers. It said a policeman died late Sunday and another was seriously injured after unknown people fired into a police station in the capital of Port-au-Prince. That same night, someone tried to set a radio station headquarters on fire. In early January, two journalists were killed.
“It’s the government’s responsibility to protect lives and property,” the office said.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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