The political and economic situation continued to deteriorate, facilitating massive human rights violations, abductions and generalized violence. Human rights defenders and journalists were at heightened risk, impunity remained endemic and tens of thousands of Haitians sought international protection.
The killing in July of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse was a shocking indicator of the massive human rights violations and violence that Haiti has been facing for years.1
Following an earthquake in August, the UN estimated that some 800,000 people needed assistance. As of August, the US State Department advised against all travel to Haiti due to “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and COVID-19”.
Human rights defenders and journalists
Human rights defenders and journalists were increasingly at risk of attack and human rights violations.
There was little progress in the investigation into the killing of journalist Diego Charles, a reporter for Radio Vision 2000 and co-founder of the website Larepiblik Magazine, and Antoinette Duclaire, a political and human rights activist, vocal government critic and co-founder of Larepiblik Magazine. They were murdered just a week before President Moïse. The authorities failed to protect their families, who were subjected to death threats and intimidation.2
Civil society organizations continued to raise concerns about chronic impunity and judicial dysfunction in Haiti.
In April, the Observatoire Haïtien des Crimes contre l’humanité and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic issued a report alleging Haitian government complicity in three massacres targeting impoverished neighbourhoods between 2018 and 2020. The report pointed to evidence that the attacks, carried out by gangs, were supported by state actors and alleged these acts could amount to crimes against humanity.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
During the year, tens of thousands of Haitians made their way overland, often taking dangerous routes, including through the Darien Gap jungle, to reach Mexico and the USA. However, both countries implemented policies and practices that limited access to international protection, and continued mass detentions and unlawful forced returns to Haiti, Mexico and Guatemala, placing the lives and physical integrity of thousands of Haitians at risk.3 In September, images emerged of US border authorities on horseback abusing and taunting Haitians, which provoked widespread condemnation.4 However, between 19 September and 10 November alone the US government sent nearly 9,000 Haitian migrants and asylum seekers to Haiti, largely without providing access to the US asylum system or protection screenings, exacerbating the crisis.5
In September, UN agencies also jointly called on states across the Americas to adopt a comprehensive regional approach for Haitians on the move and to provide them with protection measures including asylum “or other legal stay arrangements for more effective access to regular migration pathways”.
In October, a resolution adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights addressed the regional need to increase the protection of Haitans on the move. Despite this, during the year, states across the region largely failed to shield Haitians from a range of human rights violations in host countries, including detention and unlawful pushbacks, extortion, anti-Black racism, gender-based violence by armed groups, and destitution, leaving many Haitians with restricted access to protection measures including asylum6 and nowhere safe to go.7
- “Haiti: Investigation urged into killing of Haitian president and grave human rights violations under his watch”, 7 July
- “Haiti: Authorities must protect relatives of murdered journalist and activist from death threats”, 6 August
- Mexico: Mass Deportations Must Stop (Index: AMR 41/4790/2021), 30 September
- USA: Stop US Abuses against Haitian People (Index: AMR 51/4773/2021), 23 September
- Haiti: Stop US Deportations and Abuse against Haitians on the Move: An Urgent Step Towards Creating Just Policies for Haitians (Index: AMR 36/5101/2021), 15 December
- Haiti: Not Safe Anywhere: Haitians on the Move Need Urgent International Protection (Index: AMR 36/4920/2021), 28 October
- “Where do you go when nowhere will welcome you?: States must protect thousands of Haitians on the move. This is how”, 16 December