Haiti

Amnesty International: Haiti is forcibly evicting people from tent cities

 

jcharles@MiamiHerald.com

While the number of Haitians living in makeshift, deteriorating camps has dropped significantly since Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, a leading international human rights organization said Tuesday that forced evictions are largely responsible for the decline.

A violation of international human rights, the evictions overwhelmingly affect women and girls, and along with insecurity and chronic unemployment, push those still living in tent cities even deeper into poverty, Amnesty International said in its latest human rights report on Haiti.

“People who most suffered from the earthquake were those living in extreme poverty. They have been living in camps with appalling living conditions,” said Javier Zúñiga, an Amnesty special advisor. “And, as if this were not enough, they are threatened with forced evictions and, eventually, made homeless again. Each time it becomes increasingly difficult for them to find a new location and the means to rebuild their lives.”

Titled Nowhere to Go: Forced Evictions in Haiti’s Camps for Displaced People, the report was released the same day that Haiti welcomed a dozen Latin American and Caribbean leaders as part of the fifth summit of the Association of Caribbean States.

It is also the second report in recent days raising concerns about human rights in Haiti. Last week, the U.S. State Department, in its country report on human rights, said “the most serious impediments to human rights involved weak democratic governance in the country; the near absence of the rule of law, exacerbated by a judicial system vulnerable to political influence; and chronic, severe corruption in all branches of government.

“Although the government took some steps to prosecute and punish some government officials and Haitian National Police (HNP) members who committed abuses, there was considerable evidence of impunity for some government officials, as well as for high-ranking officers in the HNP,” the report said.

The State Department report also touched on the situation in the hundreds of makeshift camps. It too noted the vulnerability of Haitian women and children. Their living conditions, poor lightening, unsecured flimsy tent doors and a lack of effective law enforcement made them vulnerable to rape and other forms of violence, U.S. officials said.

The International Organization for Migration reports that the number of displaced people still living in camps three years after the disaster has gone from 1.5 million to 320,050. The change represents a 79 percent drop with thousands of homeless Haitians transitioning into more permanent dwellings with help from a Haitian government rental subsidy program.

But Amnesty said that many also have been forced out of the informal settlements by police, landowners and even government officials.

“Appeals from Amnesty International and other [non-governmental organizations] to halt the forced evictions have fallen on deaf ears; not only has the Haitian government not put an end to them, but it has allowed them to increase since the beginning of this year,” said Zúñiga. “This is a story of ongoing human rights violations creating deep suffering.”

Between, July 2010 and the end of 2012, 60,978 Haitians were forcibly evicted from tent cities, most of them in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. During the first three months of this year, 977 additional families were evicted.

Haiti’s government has said it doesn’t condone forced removal of people from camps. But Amnesty said some evictions have been “carried out or condoned by the authorities.”

Last week it called on Haitian government officials to “thoroughly and impartially” investigate allegations that Civil Merius, a camp resident in Delmas, died after being beaten by police during a protest against an arson attack on the camp.

Amnesty has called on the Haitian government to ensure that human rights are a central part of the country’s reconstruction efforts.

Read more Haiti stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State, tours the construction site of a housing development near the Caracol Industrial Park with Senator Patrick Leahy and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in October 2012.

    Haiti

    U.S. housing effort in Haiti criticized — again

    The U.S. government’s largest aid agency says despite criticism of its efforts to build thousands of new homes in Haiti after the country’s tragic Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, it will continue to help Haitians find permanent housing.

  • Report finds faults in US housing effort in Haiti

    An effort by Washington to build housing for Haitians in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake has fallen short and exceeded costs, a U.S. government report said Tuesday.

  •  
A National Police officer readies to fire tear gas at protestors during an anti-goverment protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday April 15, 2014. The protesters called for the resignation of President Michel Martelly.

    Amnesty: Haiti human rights activist threatened

    A leading human rights activist in Haiti has been threatened for his work, Amnesty International said Tuesday, marking the latest documented case of attacks or threats against watchdog groups in the Caribbean nation.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category