UN rights official urges implementation of judicial reforms

Fishermen at work

Donn Bobb reports:

The reforms of Haiti's judiciary that were approved four years ago have to be implemented if the judiciary is to gain greater capacity and autonomy.

The deputy high commissioner for human rights Kyung-wha Kang told reporters there needs to be greater investment in the judiciary, not just in buildings, but in adequate working conditions.

Kyung-wha: In Fort Liberté, I visited the prison and holding cells in the police station, where inmates have an average living space of just 0.6 square meters. The crowded and degrading conditions, the very poor sanitary facilities, and insufficient nutrition and access to medical services were shocking. That 60% of inmates have been in pre-trial detention, some for years, is also of serious concern. That minors, some as young as 13 years old, are held in prisons, against provisions in Haitian laws, is unacceptable. I welcome the investment in rebuilding destroyed prisons and building new facilities in order to increase capacity and reduce overcrowding, but it is clear that much more needs to be done to address this violation of human rights.

Bobb: Ms. Kyung-wha noted that impunity for past violations remains a major concern. In January of this year, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, reminded the Haitian authorities of their obligation to investigate the serious human rights violations that took place during the rule of Jean Claude Duvalier, and for which no statute of limitations exists under international law.

Kyung-wha: The Haitian State is responsible for respecting, protecting and realizing human rights in Haiti. It is only through national institutions that solutions to these problems can come. A new government will soon be formed. Together with Parliament and the judiciary, they hold the key to transforming Haiti and fulfilling the aspirations of its people.

Bobb: According to Ms. Kyung-wha, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is supporting the Office de Protection du Citoyen (OPC) in its efforts to become fully independent and effective in its ability to protect and promote the human rights of all Haitians.

And just a side note, the World Health Organization quoting a report from the Ministry of Health in Haiti says the overall number of cases of cholera is 381, 236. The number of deaths is at 5, 609.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 2’38″

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