Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 Haiti

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 Haiti


Haiti is a constitutional republic with a multiparty political system. In a second round of elections, voters elected President Michel Martelly, who took office in May 2011. International observers considered the presidential and parliamentary elections generally free and fair, despite some allegations of fraud and irregularities. The government did not hold partial Senate and local elections originally scheduled for October 2011, then envisaged for November 2012, because of an impasse between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches over the proper procedure to establish a Permanent Electoral Council. Security forces reported to civilian authorities, and authorities addressed instances in which former armed forces members and army restoration proponents attempted to subvert civilian authority and control.

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.

Basic human rights problems included some arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; excessive use of force against suspects and protesters; overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient, unreliable, and inconsistent judiciary subject to significant outside and personal influence; rape, other violence, and societal discrimination against women; child abuse; social marginalization of minority communities; and human trafficking. Allegations continued of sexual exploitation and abuse by members of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Violence and crime within camps for approximately 369,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) remained a problem.

Although the government took some steps to prosecute or punish some government and law enforcement officials who committed abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices with impunity. The newly created independent judicial body suspended a judge who freed the perpetrator of a high-profile murder.


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