CIVICUS

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Haiti

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Last updated on 20.11.2018 at 12:57

Haiti-Overview

The cholera crisis and the devastating effects of a hurricane that hit the country in 2016 have caused a major humanitarian crisis in a country where human rights defenders and journalists are subject to intimidation, harassment and arbitrary detention.

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Six killed during anti-corruption protests

Six killed during anti-corruption protests

On 18th November 2018, countrywide protests started in Haiti over government corruption.

Peaceful Assembly

On 18th November 2018, countrywide protests over government corruption were held in Haiti. Allegations that billions of dollars in funds from the Petrocaribe  program have been misused by politicians fueled citizens' anger, who took to the streets of Port-au-Prince blocking roads and burning tires and garbage. As clashes erupted with the police, some protesters were injured, dozens arrested and six were reported killed. 

Expression

As previously reported by the Monitor, on 14th March 2018, Haitian freelance journalist Vladjimir Legagneur went missing after he had left his home and reportedly traveled to the Grand-Ravine neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince. The journalist was working on a project to cover the violent and deadly clashes that have reportedly erupted between police and gangs in neighbourhoods in the capital city. 

In September 2018, six months after the incident, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a statement, calling on the government "to come up with answers for the family and colleagues of Vladjimir Legagneur".

A few days after the family reported the disappearance, the police found human remains in a location where the journalist was seen for the last time. However, DNA results have so far not been released by the police. RSF said

"This silence is a torture for his family. The Haitian authorities have a duty to find this photographer, determine why he disappeared and identify those responsible.”

Association

The freedom of association is constitutionally protected, but not fully respected in practice. Human rights defenders, women’s rights defenders and lawyers pursuing corruption claims are subject to harassment, death threats, and illegal arrests.

The freedom of association is constitutionally protected, but not fully respected in practice. Human rights defenders, women’s rights defenders and lawyers pursuing corruption claims are subject to harassment, death threats, and illegal arrests. LGBTI activists are also subject to discrimination and attacks. In 2016 an LGBTI Film Festival was cancel due to public threats against the organisers. Local civil society organisations in Haiti is heavily supported by INGOs, and no legal restrictions are imposed on foreign funding. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, trade union rights are systematically violated in Haiti.

Peaceful Assembly

The freedom to assemble peacefully is protected by the Constitution. Protests and demonstrations take place fairly often, and are sometimes met with police repression.

The freedom to assemble peacefully is protected by the Constitution. Protests and demonstrations take place fairly often, and are sometimes met with police repression. In a common strategy, mobs are used to disturb or dissolve protests to justify police intervention. In 2015 many people gathered on the streets to complain about alleged electoral fraud and, as protests turned violent, police used tear gas to disperse protestors. In another incident, in 2016, thousands took the street due to the cancelation of the presidential elections and security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protestors.

Expression

The freedom of expression is constitutionally enshrined but not respected in practice as journalists are the targets of intimidation, smear campaigns, harassment and violence from both state and private actors, which increased during the 2015 electoral crisis.

The freedom of expression is constitutionally enshrined but not respected in practice as journalists are the targets of intimidation, smear campaigns, harassment and violence from both state and private actors, which increased during the 2015 electoral crisis. Haiti has no specific freedom of information law, and although transparency is mandated by the Constitution, it is difficult to access public information. Defamation remains a criminal offense in Haiti, and the number of cases taken against journalists increased during the Martelly government, however, most of the cases do not go beyond the initial stage. Radio is the most important media and there are several hundred, mostly local, radio stations. Many community radio stations have been closed by the authorities due to “illegal operations or operation without a proper licences.”