Thoughout Haiti's modern history, peacekeeping forces have come and gone. The transition to a smaller, more politically focused mission has thus been a careful one and goes into effect on October 16th. The aim is to address the underlying issues that contribute to poverty and instability. These issues are inherently political - corruption, lack of accountability, poor governance, and failure to show leadership on important issues such as environmental degradation and disaster risk reduction and response which will only get worse due to climate change. This marks yet another transition for Haiti and, one hopes, a future where no peacekeeping forces are required. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacquelne Charles follows.
Below is a PRI article about the Petrochallengers - a (mostly) younger generation of activists who, rather than just changing heads of state, want to reform the underlying systems that prevent accountability, transparency, and justice. Corruption is so pervasive in Haiti that it is all too easy to become numb to it - but the misuse/outright theft of over a billion dollars in PetroCaribe funds was the last straw . These funds could have produced the roads, hospitals, schools, and environmental programming Haiti needed to get back on the right track. Without bringing those responsible to account, it remains business as usual. While they may not think of themselves as revolutionaries, bringing about a government that invests in its own people would be nothing short of revolutionary.
If someone, be it an individual or a politician, supports a project in Haiti it is usually an orphanage. The problem is that orphanages in Haiti are a business albeit one with almost no oversight and accountability. The vast majority of the children in orphanages have at least one parent. The smarter investments would be promoting access to family planning so families have only as many children as they can afford and establishing a foster care network throughout the country so that children can be in safe family environments instead. This is not to say all orphanages are bad - but there is a better way and the Haitian government has failed to protect children from the abuse, sexual and otherwise, that often takes place in these institutions. More information follows in a CNN Freedom Project article by Lisa Cohen.
The United Kingdom and the United States are blocking the re-purposing of leftover UN funds already designated for Haiti that could potentially support woefully under-resourced cholera response programming. As the United Nations now acknowledges, although only as of last year, UN Peacekeeping Forces brought cholera to Haiti. The epidemic affected hundreds of thousands of Haitians and killed 10,000. To not allow unused funds to the cholera effort is both misugided and mean-spirited. Friends of Haiti in both the United States and the United Kingdom should make their voices heard to their elected officials on this important issue. The full article in The Guardian follow.
On Thursday, April 13 the United Nations Security Council is expected to pass a resolution extending the mandate of MINUSTAH for a final six months, during which its 2,370 military personnel will phase. After, a smaller mission of 1,275 police officers will focus on training the Haitian National Police. The full article by Edith Lederer (AP) follows and more information is available on the MINUSTAH website.
The U.S State Department has released 2016 Human Rights Reports. As in previous years, human right challenges in Haiti included weak democratic governance, inufficient respect for the rule of law, a deficient judicial system, and persistent corruption. The good news is that it is clear where the shortcomings are and what the new government must do to improve. There a wide range of partners who want to help including Haitian activists and organizations, other governemnts, and multilateral and non-governmental partners. The 2016 Human Rights Report for Haiti follows.
The Haitian Government has announced a commission to examine the country's prisons, which have long known to be over-crowded and unsafe. Due to Haiti's weak justice system, most prisoners have not been convicted of crimes but are instead being held in pre-trial detention. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other organizations have for many years tried to improve conditions in the prisons but lasting change requires governmental committment, planning, and resources. For more information on Haiti, visit the World Prison Brief. The full article by AP reported David McFadden follows.
On December 1st, outgoing United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered an apology of sorts, expressing reget for not doing enough to respond to cholera while not admitting that it was caused by the poor sanitation practices of UN Peacekeepers. Had this apology been made five years ago, coupled with a committment to bring an end to the outbreak no matter how long necessary, it would have meant something. Coming months before he leaves office, one has the impression that the outbreak was not a priority until recently, that he is seeking to tie up the loose ends of his legacy before stepping down, or both. The full article by IRIN writer Samuel Oakford is below and information on efforts to hold the United Nations accountable can be found at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).
Below is an article by Ezra Fieser and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning a Dominican court ruling denying citizenship to Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants. Many of them have never been to Haiti but nevertheless will be denied access to education and opportunities as they lack citizenship from the country where they were born and raised. Haiti has recalled its Ambassador and protests are planned by human rights activists.