The U.N.’s independent expert on human rights in Haiti as well as South Florida immigration advocates are once more calling on the United States, Dominican Republic and others to halt deportations to Haiti. .
Michel Forst, the U.N. independent expert on Haiti, said despite repeated pleas, U.N. member countries are still forcibly returning Haitians to their homeland. The returns, he said, place the individuals “in a vulnerable, life-threatening position” and put additional burden on the country.
The forced returns may constitute human rights violations, he said.
Forst outlined his concerns — and renewed his plea for the suspension — in a report released Wednesday about Haiti’s humanitarian crisis since the January 2010 earthquake.
Echoing his call are the University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic and Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (FANM)/Haitian Women of Miami. For the past two years, the South Florida-based groups have urged U.S. officials to halt deportations.
“The U.S. has deported over 500 persons to Haiti in the past year, and interdicted thousands at sea,” said Caroline Bettinger-López, Director of the UM School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic. “In addition to the life-threatening situation deportees face, they also are forced to leave behind small children and spouses who depend on them.”
In his report, Forst said Haiti has a long road to recovery and cannot deal with the influx. He also notes that a deadly cholera epidemic that has already killed more than 7,000 Haitians poses additional challenges. Governments determined to deport people to Haiti, he said, should take into account these humanitarian concerns.
“Once they arrive in Haiti, deportees from the United States are routinely detained in Haitian jails, exposed to life-threatening conditions in the midst of the continuing epidemic, and given insufficient access to food, water, housing and medical treatment,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of FANM.
In February 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures — similar to an injunction — against the United States “to suspend deportations to Haiti of persons of Haitian origin who are seriously ill or who have family members in the United States,” the UM Law Clinic said in a release. The precautionary measures was renewed by the commission on Tuesday.