Haiti 2019
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Haiti 2019

In the context of ongoing protests, at least 83 people died in two peak moments during the year (February and mid-September to end of October), many at the hands of the police, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Amnesty International verified videos demonstrating instances of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. A number of journalists were injured and killed.

Background

Protests went on throughout the year, principally sparked by allegations that senior officials, including President Jovenel Moïse, were implicated in the diversion of up to US$2 billion in proceeds from oil provided to Haiti by Venezuela on favourable terms.

In February, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed concern about the political and economic situation and increased violence and problems in the supply of food, fuel, drinking water, and healthcare, and set up a unit to monitor the situation.

In October, the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti came to an end and the UN Integrated Office in Haiti started operations.

That same month, the UN Secretary-General expressed concern about the political crisis, urged stakeholders to engage in dialogue and called on the Haitian National Police to carry out its duties with regard for human rights.

Excessive use of force

In February, 41 people died and 100 were injured in the context of protests, according to the OHCHR[1].

Following weeks of protests between mid-September and the end of October, the OHCHR documented at least 42 deaths, and 86 injuries in the context of protests, with an estimated 19 of those killed by the security forces.

During that same period, Amnesty International’s researchers and Digital Verification Corps verified videos of several incidents where police used less-lethal weapons indiscriminately and unlawfully, including by launching tear gas out of a moving police vehicle towards peaceful protesters, firing on protesters with less-lethal ammunition at extremely close range and beating a protester.

Amnesty International also verified instances in which police armed with semi-automatic rifles fired live ammunition during protests, in violation of international policing and human rights standards.[2]

In November, the European Parliament issued an urgent resolution calling on Haiti to refrain from unlawful use of force against peaceful protesters.

Human rights defenders and journalists

In May, human rights defender Pierre Espérance, Executive Director of the National Human Rights Defence Network (Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, RNDDH), reported that different sources had advised him that death threats had been made against him.[3]

In September, the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the shooting of journalist Chery Dieu-Nalio, who was injured after a Senator fired a shot in the air near the senate building.

In October, the IACHR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression stated he was particularly concerned about attacks and killings of journalists.

Economic, social, cultural rights

According to the World Bank, more than 6 million Haitians were living below the poverty line and more than 2.5 million fell below the extreme poverty line out of a population of approximately 11 million.

At various points in the year, especially during protest periods, hospitals ran out of essential medicines and treatments and there were cuts in water and electricity supplies, according to media reports.


[1] Haiti: Authorities must protect protesters’ right to life and deal with underlying causes of the crisis (News story, 18 February)

[2] Haiti: Amnesty International verifies evidence of excessive use of force against protesters (News story, 31 October)

[3] Haiti: Human rights defender – fears for safety (AMR 36/0343/2019)