Most U.S administrations have been ambivalent or hostile to Haiti. Even the administrations that have ostensibly wanted to help it have at times done tremendous harm. The Trump Administration is amongst those that are hostile to Haiti - too black, too poor, no money to be made there. Not only is the United States deporting Haitians, including those with COVID-19, it is preparing to send back former death squad leader Emmanuel "Toto" Constant. He is truly a man who belongs behind bars, either American or Haitian, but now is not the time to further destabilise Haiti with his presence. The Washington Post Editorial Board calls for a compassionate approach - which will not happen unless the electorate in key states like Florida demand it.
Haiti it a tough country to be a child, but especially one without family. Insitutionalising children is rarely the right answer, especially in a country where oversight of orphanages is lax. The better option is to provide children with the option of living, even temporarily, with a foster family. At long last, Haiti is developing a national network of foster families so children don't wind up in orphanages, on the street or worse. Haiti is early in this process but it it still represents real progress. Participating famiies are not paid - they quite literally do it out of the goodness of their hearts. The full article by AP journalist David Crary follows.
Haitian women are holding the country together - yet are vulnerable to gender-based violence and other abuses. According to USAID, one out of every three Haitian women between the ages of 15 - 49 has experienced gender-based violence. In this era of #MeToo, women are increasingly choosing to be voices for change instead of suffering in silence. Haitian comedian Gaëlle Bien-Aimé is a brave Haitian comedian who has shared her experience as a rape survivor and became a human rights activitist. Through her performances, her outreach, and her example she encourages other survivors to do the same. Most about this inspiring activist in the full article below.
The Haitian government has a responsibility to determine who can and cannot enter/stay in the country and under what circumstances. In the wake of the Oxfam prostitution scandal, the government has indicated that it intends to review all charities to determine the extent to which their staff have been involved in/reported sexual abuse and exploitation. The list of foreigners who have sexually exploited Haitians is long - but it especially stings when committed by people who claim they are there to help such as UN peackeepers, rogue missionaries, and aid workers. This review could be a first step to improving oversight of the multiltudes of NGOs in Haiti. The full article by Reuters journalist Joseph Gulyer Delva follows.
The U.S State Department has released the 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports. The Haiti Country Narrative (copied below) notes that while Haiit does not meet minimum standards for preventing and responding to TIP, it is making significant efforts to improve. This included strengthening its interministerial anti-trafficking commision, working more closely with international organizations, improving investigations and prosecutions and obtaining convinctions under the 2014 antri-trafficking law. In short, progress is being made although much more remains to be done.
As the UN Peackeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) winds down, it leaves a mixed legacy - less insecurit and better police along with an ongoing cholera epidemic and a number of Haitian women who became pregnant by U.N peacekeepers. Reuters journalist Makini Brice notes in her article below that while the United Nations has a "zero tolerance" policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, peacekeepers move on while their children grow up without any support. Haitian lawyers intend to file law suits although the timing is unclear. The United Nations has a long track record of promising but under-delivering on accountability in peace-keeping operations - how these women are treated will be an indicator of whether anything has changed.
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is mandated to release annual country-specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2015 report for Haiti is linked and copied below. There have been some modest improvements from last year - for example in improving oversight of the police. However, there is a long way to go in reforming the justice system, corrections, and protecting the rights of women, children, and the disabled. Post your thoughts about human rights in Haiti below.
Tolerance for minorities - religious, political, sexual, and otherwise - is an important measure of a democracy. It has never been easy for Haitians to be out but watchdog groups are particularly concerned by a series of threats against Haiti's gay community. More information from the Associated Press follows. If you are interested in local organizations promoting gay rights, the best known are Kouraj and Serovie.
Below is the latest semi-annual report from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) covering the period from August 31st - March 15th. The report provides an overview of key developments during this time, especially police capacity, rule of law, and human rights promotion - all of which need to be strengthened significantly before MINUSTAH can fully transition its responsibilities to the Haitian government.
Today is Halloween, a day when zombies abound. Zombies have their roots in Haiti, specifically in the pain and suffering of slavery. Amy Wilentz reminds us zombies exist throughout the year. As she puts it, “The zombie is devoid of consciousness and unable to critique the system that has entrapped him. He’s labor without grievance. He works free and never goes on strike. You don’t have to feed him much. He’s a Foxconn worker in China; a maquiladora seamstress in Guatemala; a citizen of North Korea…” In zombies, one hears echoes of oppression, in Haiti and elsewhere around the world. Her full article follows.