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Thursday, 6 October 2022 - Strasbourg
The situation of human rights in Haiti in particular related to gang violence

European Parliament resolution of 6 October 2022 on the situation of human rights in Haiti in particular related to gang violence (2022/2856(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Haiti, notably that of 20 May 2021 on the situation in Haiti(1),

–  having regard to the outcome of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of Haiti, adopted on 4 July 2022,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 2645 (2022) of 15 July 2022,

–  having regard to the 2022 reports of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Haiti, in particular the report of 23 September 2022 on the impact of social unrest on the humanitarian situation,

–  having regard to the address given by Foreign Minister Jean Victor Généus to the UN General Assembly on 24 September 2022,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General of 15 February 2022 for the UN Integrated Office in Haiti,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966,

–  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 18 December 1979,

–  having regard to the American Convention on Human Rights of 22 November 1969,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989, and its three optional protocols,

–  having regard to the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary of 6 September 1985,

–  having regard to the Universal Charter of the Judge of 17 November 1999 and the Statute of the Iberoamerican Judge of May 2001,

–  having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(2) (the Cotonou Agreement),

–  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 26 June 2012 on the joint EU-Caribbean partnership strategy (JOIN(2012)0018),

–  having regard to the Economic Partnership Agreement between the CARIFORUM States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part(3),

–  having regard to the Constitution of the Republic of Haiti of 1987,

–  having regard to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the humanitarian situation in Haiti has continually deteriorated in recent years due to ongoing insecurity in the country; whereas since President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in July 2021, gangs have drastically acquired more power, creating an omnipresent sense of insecurity for the Haitian population; whereas the increasing violence and escalating human rights abuses have affected 1,5 million people and have left an additional 19 000 people internally displaced and 1,1 million people in need of assistance; whereas this socio-political and economic crisis is converging with the general insecurity and gang crisis into a humanitarian catastrophe; whereas there has been a reported increase in violent measures used by official police forces;

B.  whereas on 11 September 2022, the Haitian Government announced that it would reduce fuel subsidies by around USD 400 million in an effort to increase revenue for social programmes, which led to increased unrest and gang alliances seizing key infrastructure; whereas the country has been experiencing a shortage of petrol for months; whereas access to the Varreux oil terminal, where 70 % of stocks are concentrated, is in the hands of armed gangs; whereas almost 86 % of the electricity produced in the country is based on petroleum products; whereas hospitals and health centres have had to reduce or even cease their activities as a result of the shortage;

C.  whereas there are as many as 200 gangs in Haiti, including in Port-au-Prince, who control key ports and roads; whereas these gangs, some of whom have ties to state actors and alleged connections to politicians, threaten to destabilise the government with their greater resources and weaponry; whereas some Haitian politicians and business leaders have allegedly provided money and arms to gangs and other criminal groups in exchange for suppressing anti-government protests; whereas gangs have exerted power and control over territory, access to fuel and the delivery of humanitarian aid, challenging the authority of the Haitian national police and other state institutions and hindering the national police’s ability to combat drug trafficking and other crimes;

D.  whereas according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, between January and the end of June 2022, 934 murders, 684 injuries and 680 kidnappings took place across Port-au-Prince; whereas in July 2022, a wave of gang violence resulted in more than 470 killings, almost half of which centred on the Cité Soleil neighbourhood; whereas most of the victims were not directly involved in gangs, but were directly targeted by gang members; whereas there were several cases of repeated gang rapes committed against women and girls, confirming the systematic use of gender-based violence; whereas according to an August 2022 report by Haiti’s National Human Rights Defense Network, dozens of women and girls have been victims of campaigns of mass rape carried out by gangs in Port-au-Prince;

E.  whereas gangs took control of the Palace of Justice on 10 June 2022; whereas the Palace of Justice had been largely inoperative since 2018 owing to security risks, thus hindering access to justice in the country; whereas case files containing critical evidence on multiple massacres committed by gangs since 2018 were stolen or destroyed, leaving no possibility of recovery;

F.  whereas Haiti’s highly volatile security situation jeopardises critical humanitarian operations on which vulnerable people rely; whereas the complete blockage of the road leading to the southern peninsula, which has been ongoing since 2021, has isolated 3,8 million people living in the southern departments of Port-au-Prince; whereas this situation has prevented UN agencies and humanitarian organisations from helping the population in these areas, while the UN estimates that 1,1 million people need assistance;

G.  whereas gangs have deliberately targeted and plundered food aid stocks including on 15 September 2022, when a World Food Programme warehouse in Gonaïves, containing 1 400 metric tonnes of food intended to feed nearly 100 000 school children and the most vulnerable families, was looted; whereas in 2022, the UN and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have lost at least USD 6 million’s worth of supplies, which could have helped more than 410 000 people;

H.  whereas according to the World Food Programme, 4.4 million Haitians, representing more than a third of the population, face food insecurity, and 217 000 children suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition; whereas Haiti is particularly vulnerable to global food and fuel market shocks because it imports 70 % of its cereals; whereas as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Haiti is already experiencing inflation of 26 %, making it difficult for families to afford food and other necessities or to sell crops at local markets;

I.  whereas journalists have been particularly targeted by violence; whereas on 11 September 2022, two journalists, Tayson Latigue and Frantzsen Charles, were shot dead in Cité Soleil and their bodies subsequently burned;

J.  whereas as the human rights and humanitarian situations continue to deteriorate rapidly, Haitian asylum seekers have been left with limited access to international protection and face a range of human rights violations in host countries, including detention, unlawful pushbacks and extortion; whereas according to the International Organization for Migration, between 1 January and 26 February 2022, 25 765 people were expelled or deported back to Haiti from neighbouring countries; whereas several NGOs have warned that Haitian asylum seekers are being subjected to arbitrary detention and discriminatory and humiliating treatment; whereas the deportation and return of Haitian migrants is contributing to the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the country;

K.  whereas owing to the worsening security, economic and social situation, the Haitian Government decided to postpone the start of the school year from 5 September to 3 October 2022, with the new school year still uncertain; whereas according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), half a million children in Port-au-Prince are reportedly out of school and 1 700 schools in the capital have had to close; whereas approximately half of Haitians aged 15 and above are illiterate, the country’s education system is highly unequal, the quality of the available education is low and the high fees charged for education exclude most children from low-income families;

L.  whereas the country’s most vulnerable communities face dramatic floods and soil erosion caused by a severe deforestation, leading to reduced agricultural productivity; whereas over a third of the population lacks access to clean water and two thirds have limited or no sanitation service; whereas more than half of the population live under the poverty line and many rely on subsistence farming; whereas the country is strongly dependent on external revenues; whereas Haiti is among the countries most affected by climate hazards over the past 20 years, according to the 2021 Global Climate Risk Index;

M.  whereas the security context heavily affects the objectives of EU engagement with Haiti, including rolling out a development agenda focusing on sustainable and transformative results on issues like education and food security, as well as the efforts of the Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations;

N.  whereas the Restavek system, a modern form of slavery, is still practised in Haiti; whereas under this system, children from impoverished homes – mostly girls – are sent by their parents to live and work for urban or semi-urban families; whereas these children may later become victims of street crime or sex trafficking by criminal gangs;

O.  whereas the UN humanitarian response plan for Haiti, amounting to USD 373 million, has only been 14 % funded; whereas according to the UN, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is estimated at around 1,5 million;

P.  whereas Haiti is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, Article 96 of which stipulates that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of cooperation between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the EU;

1.  Strongly condemns the acts of violence and destruction carried out by gangs in Haiti, and deplores the looting of food and aid supplies and attacks against humanitarian workers; denounces, in particular, the acts of violence carried out in the Cité Soleil district of Port-au-Prince in July 2022 and the continuing violence, which deprives citizens of their basic rights; firmly condemns sexual assault by gangs against women and girls and the use of minors in gang activities; recalls that women and girls require particular attention and help when it comes to access to healthcare and protection against sexual violence;

2.  Underlines the need for the Haitian authorities to ensure better governance at all levels of the state and society, including the fight against corruption; stresses the critical importance of a working and credible judiciary; recalls that the Haitian authorities must address the root causes of gang violence, including by reforming the justice system and bringing those responsible to justice in fair trials; stresses that accountability is a matter of urgency and emphasises the importance of appropriate support and redress for victims and the importance of long-standing peace and stability; supports Special Representative Helen La Lime’s statement at the UN Security Council session on the UN Integrated Office in Haiti of 16 June 2022 outlining how to improve the security situation;

3.  Calls for a law enforcement approach to gang issues by improving the management of illegal weapons together with socioeconomic projects and reintegration activities aimed at generating employment and revenue in the neighbourhoods most affected by gang violence; firmly insists that the Haitian authorities must bring those responsible to justice in fair trials and reiterates the need for law enforcement officers to abide by international norms and standards regarding the use of force when dealing with protests; recalls the constitutional right to peaceful demonstrations; underlines the need for the Haitian Government to address all possible dimensions of gang violence, including through social, health and education programmes, water and sanitation improvements and disaster relief and recovery efforts;

4.  Demands an immediate cessation of gang violence and criminal activities; calls for the EU and its Member States to take appropriate measures, including asset freezes and travel bans, through the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, against those engaged in or supporting gang violence, criminal activities or human rights abuses, including corruption;

5.  Highlights the importance of the main players in civil society, including churches, trade unions, youth and human rights organisations, peasant and women’s movements and NGOs; calls for the restoration of the power and legitimacy of public institutions, the resuscitation of the population’s confidence, an end to impunity and the organisation of free and transparent elections after two years;

6.  Calls on all stakeholders in Haiti to establish a durable, time-bound and commonly accepted solution to the current political impasse to allow for inclusive, peaceful, free, fair and transparent legislative and presidential elections, in line with recognised international standards as soon as security conditions and logistical preparations allow; underlines that this must be Haitian-led, with the full and equal participation of women, young people, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, to return power to those freely chosen by the Haitian people, restore democratic institutions and put measures in place to respond to economic and social challenges;

7.  Expresses grave concern about the situation of Haitian asylum seekers in the host countries to which they have fled; calls on the authorities from the host countries to put an end to all expulsions and deportations to Haiti as its human rights and humanitarian crises continue, to urgently provide Haitians with access to protection without discrimination, and to provide fair evaluations of refugee status in line with both the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees;

8.  Calls on the countries receiving Haitian asylum seekers to respect the criteria set out in international conventions regarding asylum and returns; recalls that returns to Haiti are extremely unsafe and will continue to pose risks to life for as long as the security conditions in Haiti have not improved;

9.  Encourages the Commission and the EU Member States to continue their close collaboration with the UN Integrated Office in Haiti, the UN country team in Haiti, regional organisations and international financial institutions with a view to helping Haiti take responsibility to achieve long-term stability, sustainable development and economic self-sufficiency;

10.  Encourages the Member States, international financial institutions and other entities to increase contributions to the basket fund for security assistance to Haiti in order to support coordinated international assistance; calls for the EU and its Member States to provide continued capacity-building, technical support and training for national customs, border control and other relevant authorities;

11.  Urgently calls on the Haitian authorities and the international community to support programmes aimed at eliminating poverty and ensuring schooling and access to social services, especially in remote areas of the country;

12.  Welcomes the EU’s allocation of EUR 17 million to support the most vulnerable in Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean; calls on the Commission to continue prioritising humanitarian aid to Haiti and to ensure that the provision of humanitarian aid to Haiti is efficiently linked to its development strategy and that it directly benefits the populations in need;

13.  Insists that, in view of the serious food crisis, specific attention should be paid to emergency food aid, giving priority to the purchase of local food so that this aid does not contribute to the elimination of the country’s small-scale farmers and sustainable local farming methods;

14.  Requests that the Commission systematically guarantee that all aid, including humanitarian aid, is effectively monitored in order to ensure that it is used for the specific projects for which it is intended; reiterates its request, as set out in its resolution of 20 May 2021, which has not yet been carried out, for an audit and report by the European Court of Auditors on the way in which EU funds are spent in Haiti; calls for an inquiry into the transparency and effectiveness of the aid distribution network;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, its Council of Ministers and its Joint Parliamentary Assembly with the EU, the institutions of the CARIFORUM, and the Government and Parliament of Haiti.

(1) OJ C 15, 12.1.2022, p. 161.
(2) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
(3) OJ L 289, 30.10.2008, p. 3.

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