Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

The UN has confirmed to CEPR and The Intercept for the first time that its mission in Haiti helped plan a raid in November 2017 that resulted in a massacre by police of civilians, though it distanced itself from the civilian deaths.

HRRW’s Jake Johnston did investigative work on the ground in the neighborhood of Grand Ravine days after the raid. Read his investigative article for The Intercept, and see his photos, here.

The UN has confirmed to CEPR and The Intercept for the first time that its mission in Haiti helped plan a raid in November 2017 that resulted in a massacre by police of civilians, though it distanced itself from the civilian deaths.

HRRW’s Jake Johnston did investigative work on the ground in the neighborhood of Grand Ravine days after the raid. Read his investigative article for The Intercept, and see his photos, here.

At least one person died, one remains missing, and more than a dozen were injured by the passage of Hurricane Irma off the northern coast of Haiti last week. As of September 11, nearly 6,500 Haitians remain in emergency shelters, according to the United Nations. Preliminary figures suggest that flooding impacted 22 communes, completely destroying 466 houses and badly damaging more than 2,000 more. As veteran AFP correspondent Amelie Baron noted on Twitter, “These are the damages of a hurricane passing hundreds of kilometers away from [the] Haitian coast.”

Compared to some other Caribbean nations, the damage to Haiti’s infrastructure pales. But as Jacqueline Charles reported for the Miami Herald, looks can be deceiving:

Though Haiti was spared a direct hit from Irma and the fallout is nowhere near the magnitude of Matthew’s 546 dead and $2.8 billion in washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and destroyed crops, the frustration and fears for some in its path are no less.

“We didn’t have people who died, but homes and farms were destroyed,” Esperance said. “Just because you don’t see a lot of damages, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been left deeper in misery.”

Charles reported that “entire banana fields lay in ruin” across Haiti’s northern coast. “It took everything,” one local farmer said. As Charles points out, even before Hurricane Irma, Haiti was facing an extreme situation of food insecurity. Last October Hurricane Matthew swept across the southern peninsula, devastating crops and livelihoods and leaving some 800,000 in need of emergency food assistance. Even before Matthew, the World Food Program reported that Haiti was facing its worst food security situation in 15 years. Charles writes:

As recently as February, the food insecurity unit classified the northwest as being in an economic and food security crisis. As a result, [Action Against Hunger’s country director Mathieu] Nabot said, the focus has to be not just on the emergency response but on supporting farmers over the long term, to help strengthen their economic security and ability to cope with shocks.

Unfortunately, it appears as though little donor ? or Haitian government ? money went to supporting long-term agricultural development after last year’s storm. Less than 50 percent of the UN’s $56 million appeal for food security and agricultural support was ever provided by donors ? and the overwhelming majority of that was short-term emergency food assistance.

Of course, it’s not just the donor community that must do more to support Haitian farmers. Elected on a platform of agrarian development, Haitian president Jovenel Moïse has done little to address the problem since taking office nine months ago. Rumors of the commercial demise of Moïse’s banana plantation, Agritrans ? which was used to bolster his agricultural credentials during election season ? hasn’t helped, nor did putting scarce resources into a caravan across the country. And last week, just hours before Irma’s outer bands began lashing the coast, the Haitian parliament began discussion on this year’s budget. Peasant organizations held a press conference to denounce the fact that just 6.9 percent is allocated to agriculture.

With the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events ? and Haiti’s obvious vulnerability to such events ? many began advocating for donors and the government to take seriously the threat of climate change. According to the 2017 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, Haiti is the third-most vulnerable country in the world. As Mark Schuller and Jessica Hsu note, it’s time to start talking about climate justice ? not just climate change:

Climate justice explicitly confronts basic inequalities: the world’s biggest polluters are not those directly affected by climate change. The big polluters are also the biggest “winners” in this economic system. It is no coincidence that higher climate vulnerability communities are largely communities of color and disenfranchised communities within the Global South.

To achieve climate justice requires making sure that communities most directly affected are directly involved in discussions, as well as solutions.

Like in many places in the world, peasant communities in Haiti have waged an ongoing struggle against corporate/private interests which seek to maintain control over natural resources, exploit cheap labor, and increase profit. These peasant communities are on the frontlines which may offer approaches to cool the planet, rather than the proposed solutions that bar those most affected by climate change from the discussions.           

Yet the response to Matthew last year, write Schuller and Hsu, was “mostly forgotten, ignored and underfunded.” Weeks, maybe even months, of talk about disaster preparedness, supporting local communities, and sustainable agriculture slowly faded into the background. Just 0.5 percent of this year’s budget is allocated to the Ministry of the Environment. What is needed, argue Schuller and Hsu, is to look to those on the ground already fighting for change in their communities:

Grassroots organizations in Torbeck are doing what they can. Jean Molin of the Lafrisilien Peasants Association denounced that “the government never once came and checked on us,” while Oscar Romero TKL’s Rachelle Moïse critiqued “paternalistic” foreign agencies for “failing to address our needs with their top-down, pre-determined aid.” While their food security continues to be precarious, those living off footpaths in the mountains ? who can still be found living in caves ? fare much worse, with little to no hope of receiving aid or relief.

These are the stories that must be illuminated when we talk about the warming climate, justice, and human rights.

To silence these stories makes us complicit, not just dumb, in the devaluing of human life and the ongoing destruction of our environment.

 

 

 

At least one person died, one remains missing, and more than a dozen were injured by the passage of Hurricane Irma off the northern coast of Haiti last week. As of September 11, nearly 6,500 Haitians remain in emergency shelters, according to the United Nations. Preliminary figures suggest that flooding impacted 22 communes, completely destroying 466 houses and badly damaging more than 2,000 more. As veteran AFP correspondent Amelie Baron noted on Twitter, “These are the damages of a hurricane passing hundreds of kilometers away from [the] Haitian coast.”

Compared to some other Caribbean nations, the damage to Haiti’s infrastructure pales. But as Jacqueline Charles reported for the Miami Herald, looks can be deceiving:

Though Haiti was spared a direct hit from Irma and the fallout is nowhere near the magnitude of Matthew’s 546 dead and $2.8 billion in washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and destroyed crops, the frustration and fears for some in its path are no less.

“We didn’t have people who died, but homes and farms were destroyed,” Esperance said. “Just because you don’t see a lot of damages, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been left deeper in misery.”

Charles reported that “entire banana fields lay in ruin” across Haiti’s northern coast. “It took everything,” one local farmer said. As Charles points out, even before Hurricane Irma, Haiti was facing an extreme situation of food insecurity. Last October Hurricane Matthew swept across the southern peninsula, devastating crops and livelihoods and leaving some 800,000 in need of emergency food assistance. Even before Matthew, the World Food Program reported that Haiti was facing its worst food security situation in 15 years. Charles writes:

As recently as February, the food insecurity unit classified the northwest as being in an economic and food security crisis. As a result, [Action Against Hunger’s country director Mathieu] Nabot said, the focus has to be not just on the emergency response but on supporting farmers over the long term, to help strengthen their economic security and ability to cope with shocks.

Unfortunately, it appears as though little donor ? or Haitian government ? money went to supporting long-term agricultural development after last year’s storm. Less than 50 percent of the UN’s $56 million appeal for food security and agricultural support was ever provided by donors ? and the overwhelming majority of that was short-term emergency food assistance.

Of course, it’s not just the donor community that must do more to support Haitian farmers. Elected on a platform of agrarian development, Haitian president Jovenel Moïse has done little to address the problem since taking office nine months ago. Rumors of the commercial demise of Moïse’s banana plantation, Agritrans ? which was used to bolster his agricultural credentials during election season ? hasn’t helped, nor did putting scarce resources into a caravan across the country. And last week, just hours before Irma’s outer bands began lashing the coast, the Haitian parliament began discussion on this year’s budget. Peasant organizations held a press conference to denounce the fact that just 6.9 percent is allocated to agriculture.

With the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events ? and Haiti’s obvious vulnerability to such events ? many began advocating for donors and the government to take seriously the threat of climate change. According to the 2017 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, Haiti is the third-most vulnerable country in the world. As Mark Schuller and Jessica Hsu note, it’s time to start talking about climate justice ? not just climate change:

Climate justice explicitly confronts basic inequalities: the world’s biggest polluters are not those directly affected by climate change. The big polluters are also the biggest “winners” in this economic system. It is no coincidence that higher climate vulnerability communities are largely communities of color and disenfranchised communities within the Global South.

To achieve climate justice requires making sure that communities most directly affected are directly involved in discussions, as well as solutions.

Like in many places in the world, peasant communities in Haiti have waged an ongoing struggle against corporate/private interests which seek to maintain control over natural resources, exploit cheap labor, and increase profit. These peasant communities are on the frontlines which may offer approaches to cool the planet, rather than the proposed solutions that bar those most affected by climate change from the discussions.           

Yet the response to Matthew last year, write Schuller and Hsu, was “mostly forgotten, ignored and underfunded.” Weeks, maybe even months, of talk about disaster preparedness, supporting local communities, and sustainable agriculture slowly faded into the background. Just 0.5 percent of this year’s budget is allocated to the Ministry of the Environment. What is needed, argue Schuller and Hsu, is to look to those on the ground already fighting for change in their communities:

Grassroots organizations in Torbeck are doing what they can. Jean Molin of the Lafrisilien Peasants Association denounced that “the government never once came and checked on us,” while Oscar Romero TKL’s Rachelle Moïse critiqued “paternalistic” foreign agencies for “failing to address our needs with their top-down, pre-determined aid.” While their food security continues to be precarious, those living off footpaths in the mountains ? who can still be found living in caves ? fare much worse, with little to no hope of receiving aid or relief.

These are the stories that must be illuminated when we talk about the warming climate, justice, and human rights.

To silence these stories makes us complicit, not just dumb, in the devaluing of human life and the ongoing destruction of our environment.

 

 

 

CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston published the following article at World Politics Review: 

The UN’s Legacy in Haiti: Stability, but for Whom?

After 13 years and more than $7 billion, the “touristas” — as the United Nations soldiers that currently occupy Haiti are commonly referred to — will finally be heading home. Well, sort of. While thousands of troops are expected to depart in October, the UN has authorized a new, smaller mission composed of police that will focus on justice and strengthening the rule of law. But the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH, is not just thousands of foreign soldiers “keeping the peace.” It is the latest and most visible manifestation of the international community’s habit of intervening in Haiti, a habit that is unlikely to change. 

World powers have always had a difficult time accepting Haitian sovereignty. When a slave revolt delivered Haiti independence from France in 1804, gunboat diplomacy ensured the liberated inhabitants would pay for their freedom. For the next 150 years, Haiti paid France a ransom for its continued independence. In the early twentieth century, a new hegemonic power held sway, with US Marines occupying the country for more than 20 years. 

Two hundred years after Haitian independence, when the UN Security Council created MINUSTAH, it also mandated the formation of the “Core Group,” which included MINUSTAH’s leadership as well as diplomatic representatives from foreign governments and multilateral organizations. Since its creation, the group has influenced — subtly and not so subtly — Haiti’s internal affairs, with the backing of a heavily armed military force.

Read the rest here at World Politics Review.

CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston published the following article at World Politics Review: 

The UN’s Legacy in Haiti: Stability, but for Whom?

After 13 years and more than $7 billion, the “touristas” — as the United Nations soldiers that currently occupy Haiti are commonly referred to — will finally be heading home. Well, sort of. While thousands of troops are expected to depart in October, the UN has authorized a new, smaller mission composed of police that will focus on justice and strengthening the rule of law. But the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH, is not just thousands of foreign soldiers “keeping the peace.” It is the latest and most visible manifestation of the international community’s habit of intervening in Haiti, a habit that is unlikely to change. 

World powers have always had a difficult time accepting Haitian sovereignty. When a slave revolt delivered Haiti independence from France in 1804, gunboat diplomacy ensured the liberated inhabitants would pay for their freedom. For the next 150 years, Haiti paid France a ransom for its continued independence. In the early twentieth century, a new hegemonic power held sway, with US Marines occupying the country for more than 20 years. 

Two hundred years after Haitian independence, when the UN Security Council created MINUSTAH, it also mandated the formation of the “Core Group,” which included MINUSTAH’s leadership as well as diplomatic representatives from foreign governments and multilateral organizations. Since its creation, the group has influenced — subtly and not so subtly — Haiti’s internal affairs, with the backing of a heavily armed military force.

Read the rest here at World Politics Review.

Last week US President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The president immediately came under heavy criticism, accused of obstructing justice, as the FBI is currently investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Two weeks earlier, in Haiti, President Jovenel Moïse fired the director of the country’s financial crimes unit (UCREF). During last year’s elections in Haiti, UCREF produced an investigative report on Moïse, raising questions of possible money laundering. No charges have been brought, but the investigation appeared to be ongoing. 

While Trump’s moves have spurred increasing calls for impeachment ? or at the very least an independent investigation ? in Haiti, the move occurred with scant international attention. Local human rights groups, however, have sounded the alarm. Unlike in the US, where the president actually has the power to fire the head of the FBI, it appears as though the Haitian president had no such legal authority to fire the head of the UCREF.

The UCREF has been the recipient of millions of dollars in international support for years, much of which was from the United States. UCREF, however, has failed to produce many measurable successes. In 2016, the State Department reported:

The country’s financial intelligence unit (FIU), the UCREF, has continued to build its internal capabilities and to do effective casework. The UCREF has fifteen open cases but has not forwarded any cases to the judiciary in 2015. Continued issues in the judicial sector mean the UCREF’s progress is not yet reflected in conviction rates.

In recent years, Haiti has come under pressure from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to make improvements to its safeguards against money laundering. If improvements are not made, CFATF has threatened to recommend member states impose restrictions on banking transactions with Haiti. Moïse took office in February 2017 already under a cloud of suspicion for his own alleged involvement in money laundering, and the hollowing out of UCREF’s independence will likely only exacerbate this, with potentially serious economic consequences.

In early May, the Haitian Parliament approved a new law on UCREF. Previously, UCREF’s director general was selected in a process directed by five representatives from independent bodies. The new law reportedly gives the president the ability to approve three of the five representatives, granting the executive de facto control over the entity. 

But Moïse didn’t even wait for the new law’s approval to act. On April 19, he replaced UCREF Director Sonel Jean-François, just one year into a three-year term. A replacement, reportedly picked by Moïse, was supposed to be installed last week, but that process has been postponed indefinitely.

Maxime Rony of the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations told the media that Moïse’s barely four-month presidency was based on a “governance of revenge,” noting that, in addition to the new law on UCREF, one of the first acts of the new Parliament ? controlled by Moïse’s allies ? was to pass a harsh defamation law. Haiti’s largest newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, wrote that since the UCREF report was released last year, its director had been “in the sights” of Moïse and his political allies.

Pierre Esperance of the National Human Rights Defense Network pointed out that the law governing the UCREF outlines a clear process for selecting a new director general, and that Moïse’s decision was “contrary to the law,” and “an extremely serious matter.” 

Some Parliamentarians, even some previously close to Moïse, have raised their voices in opposition, but there appears to be little serious resistance to Moïse’s agenda within Parliament. Elected in a process tainted by violence and fraud ? and without safeguards against candidates with criminal records ? many within Haiti’s Parliament are themselves the subject of money laundering and drug trafficking allegations.

One of Parliament’s first acts was approving a resolution condemning the transfer of notorious paramilitary, and recently elected senator, Guy Philippe to the US to face drug trafficking and money laundering charges. In a blow to those in Parliament who defended Philippe as the target of a witch hunt, Philippe has since pled guilty and awaits sentencing. Moïse openly campaigned with Philippe during his run for the presidency. 

In another move decried by the human rights community, the Haitian government has ended regular UN human rights monitoring of the country. Though the government initially pledged to replace the UN human rights expert with a domestic entity, there is no indication that will actually occur.

Together with the law on defamation and the erosion of UCREF’s independence, the Haitian Parliament has acted swiftly to protect themselves ? and the president ? from needed oversight.

Currently, a number of key posts, including director general of UCREF, remain vacant. Le Nouvelliste reports that unease from the international community over Moïse’s consolidation of power may be a factor in the ongoing delay.

It is likely there is at least some level of international concern with Moïse’s recent moves. But with Trump taking a page out of Haiti’s presidential playbook, Moïse will be able to quickly (and correctly) point out the hypocrisy of the US or its allies criticizing his actions.

Last week US President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The president immediately came under heavy criticism, accused of obstructing justice, as the FBI is currently investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Two weeks earlier, in Haiti, President Jovenel Moïse fired the director of the country’s financial crimes unit (UCREF). During last year’s elections in Haiti, UCREF produced an investigative report on Moïse, raising questions of possible money laundering. No charges have been brought, but the investigation appeared to be ongoing. 

While Trump’s moves have spurred increasing calls for impeachment ? or at the very least an independent investigation ? in Haiti, the move occurred with scant international attention. Local human rights groups, however, have sounded the alarm. Unlike in the US, where the president actually has the power to fire the head of the FBI, it appears as though the Haitian president had no such legal authority to fire the head of the UCREF.

The UCREF has been the recipient of millions of dollars in international support for years, much of which was from the United States. UCREF, however, has failed to produce many measurable successes. In 2016, the State Department reported:

The country’s financial intelligence unit (FIU), the UCREF, has continued to build its internal capabilities and to do effective casework. The UCREF has fifteen open cases but has not forwarded any cases to the judiciary in 2015. Continued issues in the judicial sector mean the UCREF’s progress is not yet reflected in conviction rates.

In recent years, Haiti has come under pressure from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to make improvements to its safeguards against money laundering. If improvements are not made, CFATF has threatened to recommend member states impose restrictions on banking transactions with Haiti. Moïse took office in February 2017 already under a cloud of suspicion for his own alleged involvement in money laundering, and the hollowing out of UCREF’s independence will likely only exacerbate this, with potentially serious economic consequences.

In early May, the Haitian Parliament approved a new law on UCREF. Previously, UCREF’s director general was selected in a process directed by five representatives from independent bodies. The new law reportedly gives the president the ability to approve three of the five representatives, granting the executive de facto control over the entity. 

But Moïse didn’t even wait for the new law’s approval to act. On April 19, he replaced UCREF Director Sonel Jean-François, just one year into a three-year term. A replacement, reportedly picked by Moïse, was supposed to be installed last week, but that process has been postponed indefinitely.

Maxime Rony of the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations told the media that Moïse’s barely four-month presidency was based on a “governance of revenge,” noting that, in addition to the new law on UCREF, one of the first acts of the new Parliament ? controlled by Moïse’s allies ? was to pass a harsh defamation law. Haiti’s largest newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, wrote that since the UCREF report was released last year, its director had been “in the sights” of Moïse and his political allies.

Pierre Esperance of the National Human Rights Defense Network pointed out that the law governing the UCREF outlines a clear process for selecting a new director general, and that Moïse’s decision was “contrary to the law,” and “an extremely serious matter.” 

Some Parliamentarians, even some previously close to Moïse, have raised their voices in opposition, but there appears to be little serious resistance to Moïse’s agenda within Parliament. Elected in a process tainted by violence and fraud ? and without safeguards against candidates with criminal records ? many within Haiti’s Parliament are themselves the subject of money laundering and drug trafficking allegations.

One of Parliament’s first acts was approving a resolution condemning the transfer of notorious paramilitary, and recently elected senator, Guy Philippe to the US to face drug trafficking and money laundering charges. In a blow to those in Parliament who defended Philippe as the target of a witch hunt, Philippe has since pled guilty and awaits sentencing. Moïse openly campaigned with Philippe during his run for the presidency. 

In another move decried by the human rights community, the Haitian government has ended regular UN human rights monitoring of the country. Though the government initially pledged to replace the UN human rights expert with a domestic entity, there is no indication that will actually occur.

Together with the law on defamation and the erosion of UCREF’s independence, the Haitian Parliament has acted swiftly to protect themselves ? and the president ? from needed oversight.

Currently, a number of key posts, including director general of UCREF, remain vacant. Le Nouvelliste reports that unease from the international community over Moïse’s consolidation of power may be a factor in the ongoing delay.

It is likely there is at least some level of international concern with Moïse’s recent moves. But with Trump taking a page out of Haiti’s presidential playbook, Moïse will be able to quickly (and correctly) point out the hypocrisy of the US or its allies criticizing his actions.

After 13 years and more than $7 billion spent, the United Nations Security Council voted today to extend the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) mandate for a final six months. By October 2017 the last of the 2,000 plus foreign troops are scheduled to depart Haiti – already down from a high of nearly 9,000 in 2010. But far from representing a complete withdrawal of the controversial mission, the Security Council also approved a successor mission – MINUJUSTH – composed of some 1,000 UN police officers that will stay on with a focus on strengthening the Haitian national police and the country’s justice system.

In an op-ed published in the Miami Herald yesterday, Lauren Carasik, a law professor and human rights expert, outlines the inherent contradictions with this new UN mission, and its focus on increasing access to justice in Haiti:

Nowhere is the United Nations’ lack of accountability more glaring than in Haiti. The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is responsible for causing a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands and for crimes, including sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), that have largely gone unpunished.

Against the backdrop of its transgressions in Haiti, the U.N. is voting this week on withdrawing MINUSTAH, a move long demanded by many who deeply resent the harm inflicted by those sent to protect them. The U.N.’s new secretary-general, António Guterres, favors winding down the force in six months and replacing it with a leaner successor mission that will focus on rule of law and police development. Yet Guterres failed to reflect on how the U.N. can purport to strengthen Haiti’s institutions when its own conduct fails to satisfy bedrock principles of democracy, or whether the $346 million annual budget would be better spent repairing the organization’s tarnished cholera legacy instead.

But in its resolution approving the gradual withdrawal of MINUSTAH, cholera is barely mentioned. The resolution simply welcomes the UN’s “New Approach to Cholera in Haiti,” which is currently just 2% funded. As Carasik writes, “despite the anemic reception to his fundraising efforts, the Secretary-General is tabling a move to assess mandatory contributions in the face of stiff resistance from certain member states.” And reports indicate that certain member states also pushed to weaken the cholera-related language in the UNSC resolution. From a report in What’s In Blue:

[T]here were some differences over how much to focus on the humanitarian situation, human rights and peacebuilding and on the Secretary-General’s new approach regarding cholera. It seems that France and the US pushed for a shorter and more streamlined text, and had reservations about including proposed language on cholera, while Brazil and other Latin American countries felt it was important to reflect some of the observations on human rights and humanitarian challenges and the importance of peacebuilding contained in the Secretary-General’s report.

While there was no discussion of cholera at the UNSC today, the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley did address the ongoing scandal around sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) at the hands of UN troops. This followed numerousmediareports over the last few month documenting far greater levels of SEA than the UN has ever acknowledged. The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles reports on Haley’s comments:

“While this is seen as a success, unfortunately it’s a nightmare for many in Haiti who will never be able to forget, and live with brutal scars,” Haley said about the U.N.’s presence in Haiti before reading from an Associated Press investigation published this week about sexual abuse. “We must acknowledge the abandoned children, 12 to 15 years old, who lived every day with hunger. They were lured by peacekeepers with cookies and snacks. The high price of this food was sexual abuse.”

Yet the resolution simply reiterates a pledge to enforce the UN’s “zero tolerance” policy on SEA and “urges” troop contributing countries to hold its troops accountable. But this lip service to accountability has proven woefully inadequate in the past. As independent human rights investigator Mark Snyder wrote in a report published on this blog last month, the UN’s efforts to combat SEA in Haiti “have failed to interrupt a persistent cycle of exploitation and abuse followed by U.N. statements of regret and reform, and then additional incidents of SEA.”

Carasik concludes:

If the U.N. wants to advance its mission of promoting justice and human rights, it must right its wrongs. No money spent on U.N. work to advance the rule of law in Haiti will have its intended impact unless the organization models the accountability that is necessary to re-establish its credibility. Given the current global uncertainties, the U.N.’s legitimacy is more important than ever.

After 13 years and more than $7 billion spent, the United Nations Security Council voted today to extend the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) mandate for a final six months. By October 2017 the last of the 2,000 plus foreign troops are scheduled to depart Haiti – already down from a high of nearly 9,000 in 2010. But far from representing a complete withdrawal of the controversial mission, the Security Council also approved a successor mission – MINUJUSTH – composed of some 1,000 UN police officers that will stay on with a focus on strengthening the Haitian national police and the country’s justice system.

In an op-ed published in the Miami Herald yesterday, Lauren Carasik, a law professor and human rights expert, outlines the inherent contradictions with this new UN mission, and its focus on increasing access to justice in Haiti:

Nowhere is the United Nations’ lack of accountability more glaring than in Haiti. The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is responsible for causing a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands and for crimes, including sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), that have largely gone unpunished.

Against the backdrop of its transgressions in Haiti, the U.N. is voting this week on withdrawing MINUSTAH, a move long demanded by many who deeply resent the harm inflicted by those sent to protect them. The U.N.’s new secretary-general, António Guterres, favors winding down the force in six months and replacing it with a leaner successor mission that will focus on rule of law and police development. Yet Guterres failed to reflect on how the U.N. can purport to strengthen Haiti’s institutions when its own conduct fails to satisfy bedrock principles of democracy, or whether the $346 million annual budget would be better spent repairing the organization’s tarnished cholera legacy instead.

But in its resolution approving the gradual withdrawal of MINUSTAH, cholera is barely mentioned. The resolution simply welcomes the UN’s “New Approach to Cholera in Haiti,” which is currently just 2% funded. As Carasik writes, “despite the anemic reception to his fundraising efforts, the Secretary-General is tabling a move to assess mandatory contributions in the face of stiff resistance from certain member states.” And reports indicate that certain member states also pushed to weaken the cholera-related language in the UNSC resolution. From a report in What’s In Blue:

[T]here were some differences over how much to focus on the humanitarian situation, human rights and peacebuilding and on the Secretary-General’s new approach regarding cholera. It seems that France and the US pushed for a shorter and more streamlined text, and had reservations about including proposed language on cholera, while Brazil and other Latin American countries felt it was important to reflect some of the observations on human rights and humanitarian challenges and the importance of peacebuilding contained in the Secretary-General’s report.

While there was no discussion of cholera at the UNSC today, the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley did address the ongoing scandal around sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) at the hands of UN troops. This followed numerousmediareports over the last few month documenting far greater levels of SEA than the UN has ever acknowledged. The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles reports on Haley’s comments:

“While this is seen as a success, unfortunately it’s a nightmare for many in Haiti who will never be able to forget, and live with brutal scars,” Haley said about the U.N.’s presence in Haiti before reading from an Associated Press investigation published this week about sexual abuse. “We must acknowledge the abandoned children, 12 to 15 years old, who lived every day with hunger. They were lured by peacekeepers with cookies and snacks. The high price of this food was sexual abuse.”

Yet the resolution simply reiterates a pledge to enforce the UN’s “zero tolerance” policy on SEA and “urges” troop contributing countries to hold its troops accountable. But this lip service to accountability has proven woefully inadequate in the past. As independent human rights investigator Mark Snyder wrote in a report published on this blog last month, the UN’s efforts to combat SEA in Haiti “have failed to interrupt a persistent cycle of exploitation and abuse followed by U.N. statements of regret and reform, and then additional incidents of SEA.”

Carasik concludes:

If the U.N. wants to advance its mission of promoting justice and human rights, it must right its wrongs. No money spent on U.N. work to advance the rule of law in Haiti will have its intended impact unless the organization models the accountability that is necessary to re-establish its credibility. Given the current global uncertainties, the U.N.’s legitimacy is more important than ever.

The following is the introduction to an investigative report conducted by independent researcher Mark Snyder entitled “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse at the Hands of the United Nation’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti.” The full report is available here

Investigative Overview

A preliminary independent investigation conducted in areas close to existing or abandoned bases for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) brings to light the alarming magnitude of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) at the hands of United Nations personnel in Haiti. The purpose of this investigation is to determine if the initial unreported cases brought to the attention of the author were isolated incidents or are instead a result of a systemic problem present in the UN’s mission in Haiti. In consultation with Haitian civil society partners, the following report considers that a further, in-depth investigation into these abuses is vital and urgent.

The results of our investigation strongly suggest that the issue of SEA by United Nations personnel in Haiti is substantial and has been grossly underreported. Using the same methodology in all areas where MINUSTAH bases are or have been located[i], a thorough and in-depth investigation would be expected to identify close to 600 victims who would agree to in-person interviews. This number in itself indicates a victim count that requires immediate attention and significant modifications to current MINUSTAH peacekeeping operations, including with regard to the manner in which UN SEA cases are investigated and reported. These preliminary findings are based on the work of one investigator during 27 days of investigation. Through a network of community contacts in eight areas where there currently is, or where there has been a MINUSTAH base, the investigation identified 42 UN SEA victims who agreed to be interviewed. With a professional investigative team, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise and the resources to cover the entire country, the likely number of documented UN SEA allegations from victims would be expected to be significantly higher.

The UN Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU), under the Department of Field Services (DFS) documented 75 total allegations of UN SEA countrywide in Haiti[ii] from 2008-2015. In comparison, 40 of the 42 victims interviewed within the limited scope of this independent investigation allegedly suffered sexual exploitation perpetrated by UN personnel during this same time period. Of the remaining two individuals: one stated she was first a victim in 2005, and the exploitation occurred repeatedly until 2015. The other was a victim of a single incident prior to 2008. Only four of the 42 said they had previously reported the SEA in some manner to the UN, suggesting that the magnitude of the problem may be dramatically underestimated by the CDU. The victims we spoke to were not made aware of whether their cases were included in the 75 total allegations documented by the CDU. All four victims stated they were not satisfied with the subsequent investigatory process or its results.

In comparison to the CDU’s 75 total allegations, the estimated total possible victims of SEA – during the years 2008-2015 – based on an extrapolation of the results of our investigation – is 564. Again, this is an estimate derived from the findings of a single investigator and based only on allegations from those who agreed to meet and be interviewed.

The preliminary results of our investigation show that actions taken, such as the creation of the CDU and the extensive efforts with the three pillars of prevention of misconduct, enforcement of UN standards of conduct, and remedial action, do not appear to have been adequate in preventing further SEA perpetrated by MINUSTAH personnel. These efforts have failed to interrupt a persistent cycle of exploitation and abuse followed by UN statements of regret and reform, and then additional incidents of SEA.

The UN has stated in numerous publications that while there has been an approximately 50 percent increase in UN peacekeeping personnel in the world, the number of SEA accusations has been steadily decreasing.[iii] However, within the seemingly disconnected array of the UN’s SEA reporting and response mechanisms[iv], wide concern is expressed by UN personnel about the validity of the official numbers of UN SEA allegations. Many suspect that the numbers and their decline do not accurately reflect the occurrences of exploitation and abuse.[v] The results of this investigation thus far have shown that in Haiti, as UN personnel suspected, this downward trend of accusations is not due to decreased levels of UN SEA, but instead is caused by a reduction in victims’ reporting of these acts.

The reforms and initiatives that have been taken over the years since MINUSTAH’s 2004 inception appear to be inadequate to prevent UN SEA and fail to encourage victims to come forward. For these reasons, we strongly suggests that a professional independent investigation, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise in sexual exploitation and abuse, be undertaken in Haiti at all locations that currently have or have had MINUSTAH bases so to determine the level of sexual exploitiation and abuse by United Nations’ personnel. In order for MINUSTAH to fulfill its mandate of assisting Haiti with the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law and support efforts to “promote and protect human rights, particularly of women and children, in order to ensure individual accountability for human rights abuses and redress for victims”[vi], UN SEA victims must not remain hidden in the shadows. Instead, their existence must be officially recognized, and their voices must be a part of the discussion on the necessary reforms to the UN peacekeeping system.

Introduction

Sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel in Haiti has been extensively documented since MINUSTAH’s founding in 2004.[vii] Notably, two years after the UN openly recognized SEA by UN peacekeepers as a problem[viii] and sanctioned the 2005 UN Zeid report focusing on UN SEA and describing specific actions to be taken to eliminate future abuse[ix], investigations in Haiti uncovered that the mission’s peacekeepers from Sri Lanka were committing extensive sexual exploitation and abuse including rape and transactional sex. This led to a reported 114 soldier repatriations, a move presented as a model for other UN peacekeeping missions. Of those repatriated to Sri Lanka, none of the perpetrators were criminally prosecuted in their home country[x]. In response to the scandal, the UN assured that they remained committed to both to the zero-tolerance policy on SEA and to best practices in peacekeeping.[xi] Other highly visible cases, such as the repeated rape and subsequent kidnapping of a young special-needs boy by peacekeepers in Goniave, Haiti[xii], caused the mission to express outrage and the official response was that the mission would take their responsibility in dealing with abuses by UN personnel extremely seriously.[xiii]

But in reality, immunity from Haitian prosecution for SEA crimes prevails and the United Nations has little more than administrative control over the military contingents and UN Police (UNPOL) that comprise their mission.[xiv] For violations involving military personnel, investigations and criminal prosecutions are left to the troop-contributing countries (TCC). UNPOL and other civilian personnel are investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), but again this leaves the UN with administrative sanctions as their only recourse. Prosecution of crimes is left to the home countries of the officers or civilians.[xv] This reality leaves victims with very few options to seek justice[xvi].

Sexual exploitation and abuse scandals have made their way to the public eye throughout the mission’s tenure, but the true levels of UN SEA and the number of victims remain largely hidden from view. Perpetrators are often militarily armed individuals in significant positions of power in the middle of an extremely vulnerable population. They are from outside of the victims’ known community and are untouchable by the Haitian system of justice or other traditional methods of recourse or of possible support. Fear of reprisal is an understandable concern for victims. Coupled with these barriers and the belief that reporting a case will bring social stigmatization more than real solutions, it is highly unlikely that victims will bring cases forward to officials. SEA victims remain largely in the shadows, which is reflected in UN documents and in “the preoccupation of all (the UN) systems put in place for SEA (which) is more focused on UN personnel than on victims” and their well being[xvii]. The 2013 Secretary General’s appointed team of SEA experts who visited Haiti in 2013, stated, “Overall, there was noted a culture of enforcement avoidance, with managers feeling powerless to enforce anti-SEA rules, a culture of silence around reporting and discussing cases, (…) and little accorded to the rights of the victim.”[xviii]

Instead of providing support, the current UN systems present additional obstacles for SEA victims, many of whom have been subjected to traumatic and extremely violent sexual crimes.


The full report is available here

The following is the introduction to an investigative report conducted by independent researcher Mark Snyder entitled “Sexual Exploitation and Abuse at the Hands of the United Nation’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti.” The full report is available here

Investigative Overview

A preliminary independent investigation conducted in areas close to existing or abandoned bases for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) brings to light the alarming magnitude of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) at the hands of United Nations personnel in Haiti. The purpose of this investigation is to determine if the initial unreported cases brought to the attention of the author were isolated incidents or are instead a result of a systemic problem present in the UN’s mission in Haiti. In consultation with Haitian civil society partners, the following report considers that a further, in-depth investigation into these abuses is vital and urgent.

The results of our investigation strongly suggest that the issue of SEA by United Nations personnel in Haiti is substantial and has been grossly underreported. Using the same methodology in all areas where MINUSTAH bases are or have been located[i], a thorough and in-depth investigation would be expected to identify close to 600 victims who would agree to in-person interviews. This number in itself indicates a victim count that requires immediate attention and significant modifications to current MINUSTAH peacekeeping operations, including with regard to the manner in which UN SEA cases are investigated and reported. These preliminary findings are based on the work of one investigator during 27 days of investigation. Through a network of community contacts in eight areas where there currently is, or where there has been a MINUSTAH base, the investigation identified 42 UN SEA victims who agreed to be interviewed. With a professional investigative team, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise and the resources to cover the entire country, the likely number of documented UN SEA allegations from victims would be expected to be significantly higher.

The UN Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU), under the Department of Field Services (DFS) documented 75 total allegations of UN SEA countrywide in Haiti[ii] from 2008-2015. In comparison, 40 of the 42 victims interviewed within the limited scope of this independent investigation allegedly suffered sexual exploitation perpetrated by UN personnel during this same time period. Of the remaining two individuals: one stated she was first a victim in 2005, and the exploitation occurred repeatedly until 2015. The other was a victim of a single incident prior to 2008. Only four of the 42 said they had previously reported the SEA in some manner to the UN, suggesting that the magnitude of the problem may be dramatically underestimated by the CDU. The victims we spoke to were not made aware of whether their cases were included in the 75 total allegations documented by the CDU. All four victims stated they were not satisfied with the subsequent investigatory process or its results.

In comparison to the CDU’s 75 total allegations, the estimated total possible victims of SEA – during the years 2008-2015 – based on an extrapolation of the results of our investigation – is 564. Again, this is an estimate derived from the findings of a single investigator and based only on allegations from those who agreed to meet and be interviewed.

The preliminary results of our investigation show that actions taken, such as the creation of the CDU and the extensive efforts with the three pillars of prevention of misconduct, enforcement of UN standards of conduct, and remedial action, do not appear to have been adequate in preventing further SEA perpetrated by MINUSTAH personnel. These efforts have failed to interrupt a persistent cycle of exploitation and abuse followed by UN statements of regret and reform, and then additional incidents of SEA.

The UN has stated in numerous publications that while there has been an approximately 50 percent increase in UN peacekeeping personnel in the world, the number of SEA accusations has been steadily decreasing.[iii] However, within the seemingly disconnected array of the UN’s SEA reporting and response mechanisms[iv], wide concern is expressed by UN personnel about the validity of the official numbers of UN SEA allegations. Many suspect that the numbers and their decline do not accurately reflect the occurrences of exploitation and abuse.[v] The results of this investigation thus far have shown that in Haiti, as UN personnel suspected, this downward trend of accusations is not due to decreased levels of UN SEA, but instead is caused by a reduction in victims’ reporting of these acts.

The reforms and initiatives that have been taken over the years since MINUSTAH’s 2004 inception appear to be inadequate to prevent UN SEA and fail to encourage victims to come forward. For these reasons, we strongly suggests that a professional independent investigation, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise in sexual exploitation and abuse, be undertaken in Haiti at all locations that currently have or have had MINUSTAH bases so to determine the level of sexual exploitiation and abuse by United Nations’ personnel. In order for MINUSTAH to fulfill its mandate of assisting Haiti with the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law and support efforts to “promote and protect human rights, particularly of women and children, in order to ensure individual accountability for human rights abuses and redress for victims”[vi], UN SEA victims must not remain hidden in the shadows. Instead, their existence must be officially recognized, and their voices must be a part of the discussion on the necessary reforms to the UN peacekeeping system.

Introduction

Sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel in Haiti has been extensively documented since MINUSTAH’s founding in 2004.[vii] Notably, two years after the UN openly recognized SEA by UN peacekeepers as a problem[viii] and sanctioned the 2005 UN Zeid report focusing on UN SEA and describing specific actions to be taken to eliminate future abuse[ix], investigations in Haiti uncovered that the mission’s peacekeepers from Sri Lanka were committing extensive sexual exploitation and abuse including rape and transactional sex. This led to a reported 114 soldier repatriations, a move presented as a model for other UN peacekeeping missions. Of those repatriated to Sri Lanka, none of the perpetrators were criminally prosecuted in their home country[x]. In response to the scandal, the UN assured that they remained committed to both to the zero-tolerance policy on SEA and to best practices in peacekeeping.[xi] Other highly visible cases, such as the repeated rape and subsequent kidnapping of a young special-needs boy by peacekeepers in Goniave, Haiti[xii], caused the mission to express outrage and the official response was that the mission would take their responsibility in dealing with abuses by UN personnel extremely seriously.[xiii]

But in reality, immunity from Haitian prosecution for SEA crimes prevails and the United Nations has little more than administrative control over the military contingents and UN Police (UNPOL) that comprise their mission.[xiv] For violations involving military personnel, investigations and criminal prosecutions are left to the troop-contributing countries (TCC). UNPOL and other civilian personnel are investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), but again this leaves the UN with administrative sanctions as their only recourse. Prosecution of crimes is left to the home countries of the officers or civilians.[xv] This reality leaves victims with very few options to seek justice[xvi].

Sexual exploitation and abuse scandals have made their way to the public eye throughout the mission’s tenure, but the true levels of UN SEA and the number of victims remain largely hidden from view. Perpetrators are often militarily armed individuals in significant positions of power in the middle of an extremely vulnerable population. They are from outside of the victims’ known community and are untouchable by the Haitian system of justice or other traditional methods of recourse or of possible support. Fear of reprisal is an understandable concern for victims. Coupled with these barriers and the belief that reporting a case will bring social stigmatization more than real solutions, it is highly unlikely that victims will bring cases forward to officials. SEA victims remain largely in the shadows, which is reflected in UN documents and in “the preoccupation of all (the UN) systems put in place for SEA (which) is more focused on UN personnel than on victims” and their well being[xvii]. The 2013 Secretary General’s appointed team of SEA experts who visited Haiti in 2013, stated, “Overall, there was noted a culture of enforcement avoidance, with managers feeling powerless to enforce anti-SEA rules, a culture of silence around reporting and discussing cases, (…) and little accorded to the rights of the victim.”[xviii]

Instead of providing support, the current UN systems present additional obstacles for SEA victims, many of whom have been subjected to traumatic and extremely violent sexual crimes.


The full report is available here

Jovenel Moïse will be inaugurated as Haiti’s new president today as the country returns to constitutional order after a one-year extra-constitutional period of interim rule due to electoral delays.  Moïse had previously come in first in an October 2015 election, only to have the results thrown out due to fraud. Rerun in November 2016 under the interim government that replaced former president Michel Martelly, the elections had Moïse securing more than 50 percent of the vote, winning in the first round.

But serious questions continue to dog Moïse as he takes office. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reports:

Since his win, Moïse has been on a countrywide tour, celebrating his victory, endorsing candidates for the recently held local elections — and battling money-laundering suspicions.

Moïse has dismissed the suspicions as the work of political opponents. The probe began in 2013 under Martelly’s administration when the anti-financial crimes unit was tipped off about a suspicious bank transaction, the current head of the unit, Sonel Jean-François, has said.

Over the weekend, an investigative judge assigned to the case sent his findings to the government prosecutor, but the judge’s order has not been made public. Government prosecutor Danton Léger has yet to say whether he will dismiss the case, send it back to the judge for further review, or prosecute Moïse.

Should he seek to prosecute Moïse, Haiti could find itself in an even deeper crisis than the one triggered by the annulled October 2015 presidential elections.

In a 7-page letter dated February 6, Leger, the government prosecutor, requested further information on the allegations against Moïse, ensuring it will continue to hang over the new president.

The money laundering allegations, however, are far from the only topic overshadowing Moïse’s inauguration today. A new report on Haiti’s November elections, from international legal observers, has raised questions as to how effective the new administration may be given the historically low turnout. The report’s authors also note that Haiti’s national identity office was hindered by significant problems, affecting the ability of Haitians to vote:

The report notes that despite many improvements in security and electoral administration over the 2015 elections, the 21 percent voter turnout represents the lowest participation rate for a national election in the Western Hemisphere since 1945. “Many Haitians did not vote, not because they did not want to, but because they were unable due to difficulties in obtaining electoral cards, registering to vote and finding their names on outdated electoral lists,” said attorney Nicole Phillips, delegation leader and co-author of the report.

The report documents how many would-be voters were disenfranchised on November 20, due to pervasive errors on electoral lists, difficulties accessing identity cards, and lack of voter education. Haitian electoral authorities also failed to take adequate measures against fraudulent voting. Prior to the election, the head of the National Identification Office (ONI) admitted that 2.4 million activated but undistributed cards had gone missing, which opened the door to fraud via trafficked identity cards.

The report’s authors also note with concern that Moïse could follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, former president Michel Martelly, who surrounded himself with figures from the Duvalier dictatorship and was criticized by human rights groups for his intimidation of journalists and imprisonment of opposition activists. “With a majority in parliament, the temptation for President Moïse to run roughshod over any opposition will be great,” said Brian Concannon, the executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which published the report with the National Lawyers Guild and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. “But with the backing of only 9.6 percent of registered voters, the incoming president will face serious limits to his popular mandate.”

The report points out that the collapse in electoral participation has occurred while the international community has made “massive investments” in Haiti’s electoral apparatus:

A decade of elections marked by violence, vote-rigging, disenfranchisement, and repeated foreign interventions have dashed the high hopes of the post-Duvalier years and bred a deep disillusionment with democracy, according to the report. Paradoxically, falling participation rates have occurred alongside massive investments by the international community in Haiti’s electoral apparatus. Brian Concannon Jr … notes, “the millions spent by the United States and other Core Group countries on democracy promotion programs have produced an electoral system that is weaker, less trusted and more exclusionary than what came before.”

The full report can be read here.

With the election of Donald Trump in the United States, observers have been watching for a change in US policy towards Haiti. The US has been seen as backing Moïse and his predecessor Martelly since Hillary Clinton’s intervention in the 2010-2011 elections led to Martelly’s presidency. Yesterday, however, the Trump administration announced a delegation to Haiti for Moïse’s inauguration consisting of Thomas Shannon, Kenneth Merten and current ambassador Peter Mulrean, three Obama-era State Department holdovers. Also accompanying them was Omarosa Manigault, a communications advisor to Trump and former reality TV star.

In an interview last week, Jovenel Moïse told Reuters that he hoped his shared background with Trump as businessmen would help lead to stronger relations between the two countries. “President Trump and I are entrepreneurs, and all an entrepreneur wants is results,” Moïse told Reuters, “and therefore I hope we’ll put everything in place to make sure we deliver for our peoples.”

Jovenel Moïse will be inaugurated as Haiti’s new president today as the country returns to constitutional order after a one-year extra-constitutional period of interim rule due to electoral delays.  Moïse had previously come in first in an October 2015 election, only to have the results thrown out due to fraud. Rerun in November 2016 under the interim government that replaced former president Michel Martelly, the elections had Moïse securing more than 50 percent of the vote, winning in the first round.

But serious questions continue to dog Moïse as he takes office. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reports:

Since his win, Moïse has been on a countrywide tour, celebrating his victory, endorsing candidates for the recently held local elections — and battling money-laundering suspicions.

Moïse has dismissed the suspicions as the work of political opponents. The probe began in 2013 under Martelly’s administration when the anti-financial crimes unit was tipped off about a suspicious bank transaction, the current head of the unit, Sonel Jean-François, has said.

Over the weekend, an investigative judge assigned to the case sent his findings to the government prosecutor, but the judge’s order has not been made public. Government prosecutor Danton Léger has yet to say whether he will dismiss the case, send it back to the judge for further review, or prosecute Moïse.

Should he seek to prosecute Moïse, Haiti could find itself in an even deeper crisis than the one triggered by the annulled October 2015 presidential elections.

In a 7-page letter dated February 6, Leger, the government prosecutor, requested further information on the allegations against Moïse, ensuring it will continue to hang over the new president.

The money laundering allegations, however, are far from the only topic overshadowing Moïse’s inauguration today. A new report on Haiti’s November elections, from international legal observers, has raised questions as to how effective the new administration may be given the historically low turnout. The report’s authors also note that Haiti’s national identity office was hindered by significant problems, affecting the ability of Haitians to vote:

The report notes that despite many improvements in security and electoral administration over the 2015 elections, the 21 percent voter turnout represents the lowest participation rate for a national election in the Western Hemisphere since 1945. “Many Haitians did not vote, not because they did not want to, but because they were unable due to difficulties in obtaining electoral cards, registering to vote and finding their names on outdated electoral lists,” said attorney Nicole Phillips, delegation leader and co-author of the report.

The report documents how many would-be voters were disenfranchised on November 20, due to pervasive errors on electoral lists, difficulties accessing identity cards, and lack of voter education. Haitian electoral authorities also failed to take adequate measures against fraudulent voting. Prior to the election, the head of the National Identification Office (ONI) admitted that 2.4 million activated but undistributed cards had gone missing, which opened the door to fraud via trafficked identity cards.

The report’s authors also note with concern that Moïse could follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, former president Michel Martelly, who surrounded himself with figures from the Duvalier dictatorship and was criticized by human rights groups for his intimidation of journalists and imprisonment of opposition activists. “With a majority in parliament, the temptation for President Moïse to run roughshod over any opposition will be great,” said Brian Concannon, the executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which published the report with the National Lawyers Guild and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. “But with the backing of only 9.6 percent of registered voters, the incoming president will face serious limits to his popular mandate.”

The report points out that the collapse in electoral participation has occurred while the international community has made “massive investments” in Haiti’s electoral apparatus:

A decade of elections marked by violence, vote-rigging, disenfranchisement, and repeated foreign interventions have dashed the high hopes of the post-Duvalier years and bred a deep disillusionment with democracy, according to the report. Paradoxically, falling participation rates have occurred alongside massive investments by the international community in Haiti’s electoral apparatus. Brian Concannon Jr … notes, “the millions spent by the United States and other Core Group countries on democracy promotion programs have produced an electoral system that is weaker, less trusted and more exclusionary than what came before.”

The full report can be read here.

With the election of Donald Trump in the United States, observers have been watching for a change in US policy towards Haiti. The US has been seen as backing Moïse and his predecessor Martelly since Hillary Clinton’s intervention in the 2010-2011 elections led to Martelly’s presidency. Yesterday, however, the Trump administration announced a delegation to Haiti for Moïse’s inauguration consisting of Thomas Shannon, Kenneth Merten and current ambassador Peter Mulrean, three Obama-era State Department holdovers. Also accompanying them was Omarosa Manigault, a communications advisor to Trump and former reality TV star.

In an interview last week, Jovenel Moïse told Reuters that he hoped his shared background with Trump as businessmen would help lead to stronger relations between the two countries. “President Trump and I are entrepreneurs, and all an entrepreneur wants is results,” Moïse told Reuters, “and therefore I hope we’ll put everything in place to make sure we deliver for our peoples.”

To mark the 7th anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a number of organizations belonging to the Haiti Advocacy Working Group released the following statement. For a full list of sponsoring organizations, click here

January 12, 2017 – Washington, DC –  On the seventh anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes and humanitarian organizations would like to honor those who lost their lives in the earthquake, as well as those who lost their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is the result of human policies, which can be changed. As the election crisis comes to an end, and President-elect Jovenel Moise is set to take office on February 7, 2017, there’s a unique opportunity for sustained change now.

January 12, 2010 Earthquake

The earthquake and the more than 59 aftershocks that followed took the lives of an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people, displaced 1,300,000, and directly affected 3,000,000. Despite the billions in aid offered, thousands remain homeless. As of September 2016, the International Migration Organization (IOM) estimated 55,000 people remain in spontaneous or organized camps. For hundreds of thousands of other Haitians “Building Back Better” left them in precarious ‘permanent’ housing vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change to which Haiti is ranked one of the most vulnerable countries.

Hurricane Matthew on October 4, 2016

The Category 4 Hurricane with winds reaching up to 145 mph tore through the country, causing widespread destruction of buildings, agriculture, infrastructure and human lives, directly affecting 1,400,000 people, taking an estimated 546 lives, displacing 175,500, and pushing 806,000 into extreme food insecurity.

The Haitian government, along with civil society, responded to Matthew with prior evacuations and warnings. Various Haitian agencies are now coordinating the hurricane response with civil society actors and international agencies, but funding is greatly needed. The government and UN’s Flash Appeal for $21 million to provide food assistance to 800,000 people over three months still lacks 44 percent of the needed funds.

Many Matthew victims continue to live in temporary shelters or shelters pieced together with scrap aluminum, tarps, and wood. Approximately 750,000 Haitians are without safe water, causing the number of cholera cases to double in some of the hardest-hit areas. An estimated 80-100 percent of the crops and 50 percent of livestock were destroyed in the country’s south and southwest. These livestock not only provide food, but are the savings bank for many who reside in the countryside – producing a decapitalization in rural Haiti reminiscent of the 1980’s Kreyol Pig eradication.

The devastation of the 2016 hurricane season follows on the heels of the worst drought Haiti has seen in 15 years. The opportunity to replant certain crops during winter planting season was largely missed due to insufficient access to seeds. The ripples of this are felt across the country with the Grand Anse department, the ‘bread basket’ producing 60 percent of the locally produced food. The damage to the Grand Anse renders communities dependent on imported food and increased food prices by 15 – 25 percent.

Haiti’s Future

Although the earthquake, drought and hurricane may make Haiti appear condemned to suffer from natural disasters, in fact the country’s extreme vulnerability to natural disasters is the product of human policies that can be reversed. The international community has today a unique opportunity to support Haiti in breaking free from its cycle of extreme vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, and to move away from aid dependency.

In the short-term, houses, hospitals, roads and schools still must be rebuilt. Haiti also urgently needs support to control and respond to the surging cholera crisis that took 420 lives and sickened 39,329 in 2016 alone. The UN’s new two-track cholera response announced December 1, 2016, promises to reduce cholera transmission and improve access to care and treatment. If funded, the response should control the outbreak in Matthew-affected areas as well as other parts of the country, and also promises to provide material assistance to victims of the epidemic introduced by UN peacekeepers in 2010.

The international community must also be reliable over the long term. A key priority must be to fully fund the UN’s cholera response, which proposes to build the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to eliminate cholera from the country over the next 10-15 years. Haiti will also need reforestation and crop support to ensure long-term food security and address environmental degradation and climate change. Furthermore, ongoing support for disaster mitigation and preparedness is badly needed. Preparation is by far the best form of disaster response.

We encourage greater accountability and transparency of international actors in Haiti. With President-elect Jovenel Moise set to take office on February 7, 2017, any intervention in Haiti must reinforce the capacity of the government and local institutions, and include participation in project design and execution from aid recipients. This type of approach will make aid more effective and sustainable, and allow Haitians to move towards autonomy.

In solidarity with the grief suffered by families of victims of the 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew, we honor the memories of those who have passed by translating lessons into action. We can and must do better to address the current humanitarian, food and climate crisis.

To mark the 7th anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a number of organizations belonging to the Haiti Advocacy Working Group released the following statement. For a full list of sponsoring organizations, click here

January 12, 2017 – Washington, DC –  On the seventh anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes and humanitarian organizations would like to honor those who lost their lives in the earthquake, as well as those who lost their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is the result of human policies, which can be changed. As the election crisis comes to an end, and President-elect Jovenel Moise is set to take office on February 7, 2017, there’s a unique opportunity for sustained change now.

January 12, 2010 Earthquake

The earthquake and the more than 59 aftershocks that followed took the lives of an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people, displaced 1,300,000, and directly affected 3,000,000. Despite the billions in aid offered, thousands remain homeless. As of September 2016, the International Migration Organization (IOM) estimated 55,000 people remain in spontaneous or organized camps. For hundreds of thousands of other Haitians “Building Back Better” left them in precarious ‘permanent’ housing vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change to which Haiti is ranked one of the most vulnerable countries.

Hurricane Matthew on October 4, 2016

The Category 4 Hurricane with winds reaching up to 145 mph tore through the country, causing widespread destruction of buildings, agriculture, infrastructure and human lives, directly affecting 1,400,000 people, taking an estimated 546 lives, displacing 175,500, and pushing 806,000 into extreme food insecurity.

The Haitian government, along with civil society, responded to Matthew with prior evacuations and warnings. Various Haitian agencies are now coordinating the hurricane response with civil society actors and international agencies, but funding is greatly needed. The government and UN’s Flash Appeal for $21 million to provide food assistance to 800,000 people over three months still lacks 44 percent of the needed funds.

Many Matthew victims continue to live in temporary shelters or shelters pieced together with scrap aluminum, tarps, and wood. Approximately 750,000 Haitians are without safe water, causing the number of cholera cases to double in some of the hardest-hit areas. An estimated 80-100 percent of the crops and 50 percent of livestock were destroyed in the country’s south and southwest. These livestock not only provide food, but are the savings bank for many who reside in the countryside – producing a decapitalization in rural Haiti reminiscent of the 1980’s Kreyol Pig eradication.

The devastation of the 2016 hurricane season follows on the heels of the worst drought Haiti has seen in 15 years. The opportunity to replant certain crops during winter planting season was largely missed due to insufficient access to seeds. The ripples of this are felt across the country with the Grand Anse department, the ‘bread basket’ producing 60 percent of the locally produced food. The damage to the Grand Anse renders communities dependent on imported food and increased food prices by 15 – 25 percent.

Haiti’s Future

Although the earthquake, drought and hurricane may make Haiti appear condemned to suffer from natural disasters, in fact the country’s extreme vulnerability to natural disasters is the product of human policies that can be reversed. The international community has today a unique opportunity to support Haiti in breaking free from its cycle of extreme vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, and to move away from aid dependency.

In the short-term, houses, hospitals, roads and schools still must be rebuilt. Haiti also urgently needs support to control and respond to the surging cholera crisis that took 420 lives and sickened 39,329 in 2016 alone. The UN’s new two-track cholera response announced December 1, 2016, promises to reduce cholera transmission and improve access to care and treatment. If funded, the response should control the outbreak in Matthew-affected areas as well as other parts of the country, and also promises to provide material assistance to victims of the epidemic introduced by UN peacekeepers in 2010.

The international community must also be reliable over the long term. A key priority must be to fully fund the UN’s cholera response, which proposes to build the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to eliminate cholera from the country over the next 10-15 years. Haiti will also need reforestation and crop support to ensure long-term food security and address environmental degradation and climate change. Furthermore, ongoing support for disaster mitigation and preparedness is badly needed. Preparation is by far the best form of disaster response.

We encourage greater accountability and transparency of international actors in Haiti. With President-elect Jovenel Moise set to take office on February 7, 2017, any intervention in Haiti must reinforce the capacity of the government and local institutions, and include participation in project design and execution from aid recipients. This type of approach will make aid more effective and sustainable, and allow Haitians to move towards autonomy.

In solidarity with the grief suffered by families of victims of the 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew, we honor the memories of those who have passed by translating lessons into action. We can and must do better to address the current humanitarian, food and climate crisis.

UPDATE 1/6/2017: The federal indictment against Philippe has been unsealed. It is available here

Guy Philippe, a paramilitary coup leader and DEA most-wanted fugitive who was elected to Haiti’s Senate late last year, was arrested on Thursday, just days before he would have been sworn into office and obtained immunity. Philippe has been wanted under a sealed drug indictment in the United States for years, but previous attempts at arresting him failed. Last year, the DEA confirmed to me that they maintained “apprehension authority” for Philippe, but would not confirm if any active efforts were underway to do so. He will now be extradited to the United States to face charges, though no indictment has been unsealed as of Thursday night.

Although Philippe has spent most of the past decade in Haiti’s rural Grand Anse department where he maintains strict control, he became more active in the country’s politics over the past year as he campaigned for senator. President-elect Jovenel Moise, from the PHTK party, openly campaigned with Philippe and his party allied with Philippe’s early in 2016. A PHTK adviser, Renald Luberice, tweeted shortly after the arrest that it was “illegal and arbitrary.” Fires and roadblocks almost immediately went up in Phillipe’s hometown and surrounding areas, according to local news reports.

After last year’s elections were scrapped due to fraud and Michel Martelly left office without an elected successor, Philippe became one of the most outspoken critics of the new interim government that took over. In February 2016, he threatened “civil war” if elections were not held by that April. In May, with elections still yet to occur, Philippe was alleged to be the ringleader of an armed raid on a police station in Les Cayes, in southern Haiti. Elections were eventually held in November 2016 and Philippe won a seat in the Senate, representing the Grand Anse department. Parties allied with PHTK and Philippe will make up the majority of the incoming parliament to be sworn in next week.

Over the summer, a source close to the Haitian government, who requested anonymity, suggested that the US would move against Philippe before he became Senator to “send a message” to the incoming parliament, which includes other figures accused of corruption and drug trafficking. Now that appears to have happened, but not before he helped his allies secure an electoral victory this past November.

Philippe, however, is widely believed to have been involved in murders, atrocities and other human rights abuses over the past 20 years, while serving a political agenda backed by Haiti’s elite and their international allies. He received training by the US military while a cadet in Ecuador in the early 90s before returning to Haiti in 1995. However former president Jean Bertrand Aristide had disbanded the military that same year, due its long history of involvement in atrocities, human rights abuses and coup d’etats. Philippe, who has, in his own words, “always dreamed of becoming a soldier,” instead became police chief in the Delmas neighborhood of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. During his tenure, according to Human Rights Watch, “dozens of suspected gang members were summarily executed, mainly by police under the command of Inspector Berthony Bazile, Philippe’s deputy.”

In 2000, Philippe was accused of orchestrating an attempted coup d’etat against president Rene Preval, but before he could be apprehended he fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic. At first, the Dominican authorities told the Haitian government they would help arrest the fugitive police officer and his allies. According to a former Haitian government official, who requested anonymity, Dominican police apprehended Philippe and were set to hand him over to Haitian authorities, but later reversed themselves. Philippe would remain free until this Thursday.

From his safe-haven in the Dominican Republic, Philippe was accused of leading attacks on Haitian police stations and supporters of president Aristide, who had just been elected for a second time. In an interview with author Peter Hallward, Philippe denied his involvement but added, “don’t worry, when the time is right people will learn what really happened.” At the time, the Aristide administration was under attack both internally and externally. A “civil society” group calling itself the Group of 184, led by Evans Paul, Andy Apaid and Reginald Boulos among others (all now political allies or financiers of PHTK), advocated for Aristide’s ouster. Philippe, when asked about the role of the Group of 184 in the various police station assaults, responded, “I know that certain political leaders and representatives of civil society can help you with this, since they know everything about what happened … Since they’re cowards, however, they’ll just tell you that they know nothing about it.”

Meanwhile, the US and other international lenders froze assistance to the newly elected government, squeezing the Aristide administration and contributing to a rapid decline in living standards. Stanley Lucas, now an advisor to PHTK, but at the time working for the US International Republican Institute, was actively supporting the opposition. According to a 2006 report in the New York Times, Lucas led a training of the opposition in the Dominican Republic in 2003. At the time, Philippe was also at the hotel and met Lucas, though he denies they talked politics. Philippe also said he met with Lucas while in exile in Ecuador in 2000 and 2001 and that they were “good friends.”

In 2004, Philippe had joined with former members of the Haitian military, and led a paramilitary assault on the country with the stated aim of toppling the Aristide administration. Before his forces could reach the capital, Aristide was flown out of the country on a US airplane. It was February 29, 2004, Guy Philippe’s 36th birthday.

Philippe ran for president in 2006, receiving less than 2 percent of the vote. The DEA led a high-profile raid in 2007 seeking to arrest the paramilitary leader, but former Haitian government officials have questioned the US commitment to apprehending Philippe, describing the previous efforts involving helicopters and large shows of force as “theater.”

Philippe’s political ambitions got a shot in the arm with the election of Michel Martelly in 2010. The new president was a natural ally for Philippe, as Martelly made the restoration of the military a key part of the platform of PHTK, his new political party. When elections were held in 2015, the first under Martelly, restrictions on candidates’ ability to register were lifted, and Philippe declared his intention to run for Senator. The Miami Herald dubbed the likely incoming parliament “Legal Bandits,” a riff on a popular Martelly song.

Asked last summer if the US had any reaction to Philippe’s senate candidacy, US Special Coordinator for Haiti Ken Merten responded, “Haiti’s authorities must hold its own citizens accountable for any kind of election-related intimidation, violence, or threat to the stability of the country.” He dismissed questions about Philippe likely taking a seat in the Senate as “hypothetical positing.” However, with Philippe set to be sworn in on Monday — which could put up new obstacles to arrest in the form of immunity  —  the US apparently decided to act.

UPDATE 1/6/2017: The federal indictment against Philippe has been unsealed. It is available here

Guy Philippe, a paramilitary coup leader and DEA most-wanted fugitive who was elected to Haiti’s Senate late last year, was arrested on Thursday, just days before he would have been sworn into office and obtained immunity. Philippe has been wanted under a sealed drug indictment in the United States for years, but previous attempts at arresting him failed. Last year, the DEA confirmed to me that they maintained “apprehension authority” for Philippe, but would not confirm if any active efforts were underway to do so. He will now be extradited to the United States to face charges, though no indictment has been unsealed as of Thursday night.

Although Philippe has spent most of the past decade in Haiti’s rural Grand Anse department where he maintains strict control, he became more active in the country’s politics over the past year as he campaigned for senator. President-elect Jovenel Moise, from the PHTK party, openly campaigned with Philippe and his party allied with Philippe’s early in 2016. A PHTK adviser, Renald Luberice, tweeted shortly after the arrest that it was “illegal and arbitrary.” Fires and roadblocks almost immediately went up in Phillipe’s hometown and surrounding areas, according to local news reports.

After last year’s elections were scrapped due to fraud and Michel Martelly left office without an elected successor, Philippe became one of the most outspoken critics of the new interim government that took over. In February 2016, he threatened “civil war” if elections were not held by that April. In May, with elections still yet to occur, Philippe was alleged to be the ringleader of an armed raid on a police station in Les Cayes, in southern Haiti. Elections were eventually held in November 2016 and Philippe won a seat in the Senate, representing the Grand Anse department. Parties allied with PHTK and Philippe will make up the majority of the incoming parliament to be sworn in next week.

Over the summer, a source close to the Haitian government, who requested anonymity, suggested that the US would move against Philippe before he became Senator to “send a message” to the incoming parliament, which includes other figures accused of corruption and drug trafficking. Now that appears to have happened, but not before he helped his allies secure an electoral victory this past November.

Philippe, however, is widely believed to have been involved in murders, atrocities and other human rights abuses over the past 20 years, while serving a political agenda backed by Haiti’s elite and their international allies. He received training by the US military while a cadet in Ecuador in the early 90s before returning to Haiti in 1995. However former president Jean Bertrand Aristide had disbanded the military that same year, due its long history of involvement in atrocities, human rights abuses and coup d’etats. Philippe, who has, in his own words, “always dreamed of becoming a soldier,” instead became police chief in the Delmas neighborhood of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. During his tenure, according to Human Rights Watch, “dozens of suspected gang members were summarily executed, mainly by police under the command of Inspector Berthony Bazile, Philippe’s deputy.”

In 2000, Philippe was accused of orchestrating an attempted coup d’etat against president Rene Preval, but before he could be apprehended he fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic. At first, the Dominican authorities told the Haitian government they would help arrest the fugitive police officer and his allies. According to a former Haitian government official, who requested anonymity, Dominican police apprehended Philippe and were set to hand him over to Haitian authorities, but later reversed themselves. Philippe would remain free until this Thursday.

From his safe-haven in the Dominican Republic, Philippe was accused of leading attacks on Haitian police stations and supporters of president Aristide, who had just been elected for a second time. In an interview with author Peter Hallward, Philippe denied his involvement but added, “don’t worry, when the time is right people will learn what really happened.” At the time, the Aristide administration was under attack both internally and externally. A “civil society” group calling itself the Group of 184, led by Evans Paul, Andy Apaid and Reginald Boulos among others (all now political allies or financiers of PHTK), advocated for Aristide’s ouster. Philippe, when asked about the role of the Group of 184 in the various police station assaults, responded, “I know that certain political leaders and representatives of civil society can help you with this, since they know everything about what happened … Since they’re cowards, however, they’ll just tell you that they know nothing about it.”

Meanwhile, the US and other international lenders froze assistance to the newly elected government, squeezing the Aristide administration and contributing to a rapid decline in living standards. Stanley Lucas, now an advisor to PHTK, but at the time working for the US International Republican Institute, was actively supporting the opposition. According to a 2006 report in the New York Times, Lucas led a training of the opposition in the Dominican Republic in 2003. At the time, Philippe was also at the hotel and met Lucas, though he denies they talked politics. Philippe also said he met with Lucas while in exile in Ecuador in 2000 and 2001 and that they were “good friends.”

In 2004, Philippe had joined with former members of the Haitian military, and led a paramilitary assault on the country with the stated aim of toppling the Aristide administration. Before his forces could reach the capital, Aristide was flown out of the country on a US airplane. It was February 29, 2004, Guy Philippe’s 36th birthday.

Philippe ran for president in 2006, receiving less than 2 percent of the vote. The DEA led a high-profile raid in 2007 seeking to arrest the paramilitary leader, but former Haitian government officials have questioned the US commitment to apprehending Philippe, describing the previous efforts involving helicopters and large shows of force as “theater.”

Philippe’s political ambitions got a shot in the arm with the election of Michel Martelly in 2010. The new president was a natural ally for Philippe, as Martelly made the restoration of the military a key part of the platform of PHTK, his new political party. When elections were held in 2015, the first under Martelly, restrictions on candidates’ ability to register were lifted, and Philippe declared his intention to run for Senator. The Miami Herald dubbed the likely incoming parliament “Legal Bandits,” a riff on a popular Martelly song.

Asked last summer if the US had any reaction to Philippe’s senate candidacy, US Special Coordinator for Haiti Ken Merten responded, “Haiti’s authorities must hold its own citizens accountable for any kind of election-related intimidation, violence, or threat to the stability of the country.” He dismissed questions about Philippe likely taking a seat in the Senate as “hypothetical positing.” However, with Philippe set to be sworn in on Monday — which could put up new obstacles to arrest in the form of immunity  —  the US apparently decided to act.

More than two weeks after Haitians went to the polls to elect a new president, 16 Senators and 25 Deputies, preliminary results from all races have finally been released. Presidential results have already been contested by the second, third and fourth place finishers while many legislative races will likely be contested as well. However, if the preliminary results are upheld, the November 20 elections will have consolidated nearly unprecedented political power in the hands of PHTK, the party of former president Michel Martelly. While PHTK and its allies appear to have scored electoral victories at both the presidential and legislative level, their political success has occurred in a context of extremely low turnout, raising questions about the significance of their mandate to govern moving forward.

Presidential Results

At the presidential level, Jovenel Moïse of PHTK came in first place with 55.67 percent of the vote. If these results hold,  Moïse will secure the presidency without having to compete in a second-round election. In second, third and fourth place were Jude Celestin of LAPEH with 19.52 percent, Jean-Charles Moïse of the Platfom Pitit Dessalines (PPD) with 11.04 percent and Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas (FL) with 8.99 percent.

While the top four vote getters in the 2016 election were exactly the same as in last year’s election, the results of which were thrown out due to widespread irregularities, the composition of the vote changed dramatically. Jovenel Moïse, who was widely believed to have benefitted from fraud in the 2015 elections, was the only one of the four to increase their vote total over last year. This appears to largely stem from the far wider geographical support that Jovenel Moïse received in 2016, coupled with the other top candidates losing substantial ground.

 Haiti vote share department 2016

As can be seen above, Jovenel Moïse received over 50 percent of the vote in each department except for the Artibonite and the Sud Est. Similar to in 2015, the strongest areas of support were in the north of the country, where he runs a banana export business. But perhaps the most surprising result this year was that he also received 50 percent of the vote in the Ouest department, home to some 40 percent of registered voters. In 2015, he received just over 20 percent of the vote in the Ouest. This accounts for nearly the entire increase in the number of total votes received by Jovenel Moïse this year.

Still, even with Jovenel Moïse increasing his votes from 2015, the main reason why he was able to win in the first round was that all three other candidates lost significant numbers of votes. Celestin received 185,000 fewer votes, Jean-Charles 104,000 and Narcisse 14,000. If these candidates had simply received the same number of votes as last year, Jovenel Moïse would not have been able to win in the first round.

The long campaign, and the consolidation of private sector funding behind PHTK certainly helped in this regard. With more resources, PHTK was able to more actively campaign and build support throughout the last year. It takes significant money to have party staff across the entire country, an especially important factor in getting one’s supporters to come out to vote on election day. As a result, PHTK had a wider national presence of political party representatives than other parties, according to local observer organizations.  

Another factor that contributed to the vastly different result was that many more voters were either unable or unwilling to participate in this year’s election. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), announced that participation was just 21 percent, compared to 26.6 percent last year. However the rate announced by the CEP includes many thousands of votes that were not counted due to irregularities. If one looks just at valid votes, the participation in this year’s election drops to 17.3 percent. The 26.6 percent figure from last year was based on valid votes.

Overall, there were nearly 500,000 fewer votes counted this year than last, despite there being 300,000 more registered voters. Even if one assumes that last year’s participation was artificially high due to the number of so-called “zombie votes”, this is still a significant drop. In each of Haiti’s ten departments, fewer votes were counted this year than last.

Haiti  candidate percent registered voters 

As can be seen in the table above, if the preliminary results hold, Jovenel Moïse would become president of Haiti with the support of just 9.6 percent of registered voters, or about 600,000 votes. While this is far more than any of his closest competitors, this raises significant questions about his ability to galvanize the country once in office.  

That someone could be elected president of Haiti with the support of less than 10 percent of registered voters speaks to just how low participation has fallen in recent years. Though the length of the campaign and the impact of Hurricane Matthew has been blamed for the low turnout in this year’s election, by looking at participation from recent presidential elections one can see a clear trend of ever lower participation. The low participation is a far broader issue than anything specific to this year’s election.

Haiti decreasing turnout

As can be seen in the table above, since the 2010 earthquake, participation in presidential elections has plummeted, with this year being the lowest in Haiti’s history. A lack of faith in the electoral system, voter apathy, and barriers to participation appear to all have contributed to this long-term decline. With participation so low, the political stability that elections were expected to bring will be difficult to ensure.

The low turnout number in 2016 is partially because of the high number of “tally sheets” that were quarantined and not counted in the preliminary results due to irregularities. In 2015, just 3.6 percent of these sheets were quarantined and an additional 2.2 percent were never received. This year, 10.5 percent were quarantined and about 1 percent were never received. The higher number of quarantined votes could be the result of greater scrutiny applied after last year’s election. It could also, as some parties have alleged, be a sign that there were more problems than initially expected. Either way, as parties contest the results, a closer look at these excluded tally sheets, should be expected.

Preliminary Legislative Results

In the November 20 election, first round races for ten Senate seats were held. In addition, second round elections were held for six Senate seats and 25 Deputy seats, these being the completion of last year’s aborted election. In the commune of Roseaux, the election for Deputy was unable to be held due to flooding and the inability to properly distribute voting materials.

While results from the presidential election in 2015 were thrown out, in January 2016, 92 Deputies and 14 Senators elected in the same process were sworn in to office. Haiti had been without a functioning parliament since January 2015 after no elections were held during Martelly’s first four years in office.

Over the last year, parliament has largely been split between political factions and unable to pass much in the way of legislation. When interim president Jocelerme Privert’s 120 day mandate expired, parliament was unable to hold a vote on replacing or extending him.

As would be expected given the performance of Jovenel Moïse at the presidential level, PHTK candidates for the Senate and Chamber of Deputies also performed well according to the preliminary results.

In the 24 Deputy races, candidates representing 14 different political parties secured seats, bringing the total number represented in the Chamber of Deputies up to 25. PHTK led all parties by winning 5 seats, however together with close allies KID, AAA, Bouclier and Consortium, the bloc picked up 9 seats. Together, these parties now have at least 53 of the 116 members in the Chamber of Deputies. Though not an outright majority, with the rest of the political sphere split, it gives PHTK and its allies by far the largest voting bloc.

haiti deputies by party 2016

Sixteen Senate seats were also up for grabs on November 20. In those races, six of which were second round elections, PHTK secured an additional four seats, while allies Bouclier and Consortium each picked up one. In the eight departments where second round Senate elections will be held in January 2017, PHTK has five candidates while Bouclier, AAA, Consortium and Kid combine for an additional five.

Haiti senate elected 2016

Perhaps most notable among the list above is the presence of Guy Philippe, elected to the Senate from the Grand Anse department. Philippe was a paramilitary leader that helped oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in a 2004 coup, has been accused of extrajudicial killings while a police commander in the 90s by Human Rights Watch, and more recently was allegedly involved in the armed raid of a police station in the southern city of Les Cayes. He is also a DEA most-wanted fugitive for his role in drug trafficking and money laundering. Philippe campaigned with Jovenel Moïse over the last year. 

Also of note is former Senator Joseph Lambert, who ran and lost under the PHTK banner in last year’s election. He is now set to return to the Senate under the KONA party.

With the election of six Senators, PHTK and its allies look poised to secure an absolute majority in the Senate. The bloc is guaranteed to pick up at least two additional seats in the second round senate election in January, as candidates from allied parties compete against each other in the Centre and Artibonite departments. Overall, in the eight departments that will have second round elections, PHTK or parties allied with it came in first in seven.

haiti senate by party 2016 2 

Participation of Women in Parliament

The November 20 election did see the first woman elected to parliament. Of the 106 Deputies and Senators that were sworn in last year none are women, despite women making up more than 50 percent of the population. Based on preliminary results however, four women have been elected to parliament, one in the Senate and three as Deputies.

The electoral law mandated that at least 30 percent of candidates for office be women, however the actual number who registered and campaigned was far lower. There have also been many efforts to increase the participation of women in elections. Among the data published by the CEP in the preliminary results is a tally of the number of women who voted at each voting booth, which would allow for further analysis and improvement going forward.

More than two weeks after Haitians went to the polls to elect a new president, 16 Senators and 25 Deputies, preliminary results from all races have finally been released. Presidential results have already been contested by the second, third and fourth place finishers while many legislative races will likely be contested as well. However, if the preliminary results are upheld, the November 20 elections will have consolidated nearly unprecedented political power in the hands of PHTK, the party of former president Michel Martelly. While PHTK and its allies appear to have scored electoral victories at both the presidential and legislative level, their political success has occurred in a context of extremely low turnout, raising questions about the significance of their mandate to govern moving forward.

Presidential Results

At the presidential level, Jovenel Moïse of PHTK came in first place with 55.67 percent of the vote. If these results hold,  Moïse will secure the presidency without having to compete in a second-round election. In second, third and fourth place were Jude Celestin of LAPEH with 19.52 percent, Jean-Charles Moïse of the Platfom Pitit Dessalines (PPD) with 11.04 percent and Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas (FL) with 8.99 percent.

While the top four vote getters in the 2016 election were exactly the same as in last year’s election, the results of which were thrown out due to widespread irregularities, the composition of the vote changed dramatically. Jovenel Moïse, who was widely believed to have benefitted from fraud in the 2015 elections, was the only one of the four to increase their vote total over last year. This appears to largely stem from the far wider geographical support that Jovenel Moïse received in 2016, coupled with the other top candidates losing substantial ground.

 Haiti vote share department 2016

As can be seen above, Jovenel Moïse received over 50 percent of the vote in each department except for the Artibonite and the Sud Est. Similar to in 2015, the strongest areas of support were in the north of the country, where he runs a banana export business. But perhaps the most surprising result this year was that he also received 50 percent of the vote in the Ouest department, home to some 40 percent of registered voters. In 2015, he received just over 20 percent of the vote in the Ouest. This accounts for nearly the entire increase in the number of total votes received by Jovenel Moïse this year.

Still, even with Jovenel Moïse increasing his votes from 2015, the main reason why he was able to win in the first round was that all three other candidates lost significant numbers of votes. Celestin received 185,000 fewer votes, Jean-Charles 104,000 and Narcisse 14,000. If these candidates had simply received the same number of votes as last year, Jovenel Moïse would not have been able to win in the first round.

The long campaign, and the consolidation of private sector funding behind PHTK certainly helped in this regard. With more resources, PHTK was able to more actively campaign and build support throughout the last year. It takes significant money to have party staff across the entire country, an especially important factor in getting one’s supporters to come out to vote on election day. As a result, PHTK had a wider national presence of political party representatives than other parties, according to local observer organizations.  

Another factor that contributed to the vastly different result was that many more voters were either unable or unwilling to participate in this year’s election. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), announced that participation was just 21 percent, compared to 26.6 percent last year. However the rate announced by the CEP includes many thousands of votes that were not counted due to irregularities. If one looks just at valid votes, the participation in this year’s election drops to 17.3 percent. The 26.6 percent figure from last year was based on valid votes.

Overall, there were nearly 500,000 fewer votes counted this year than last, despite there being 300,000 more registered voters. Even if one assumes that last year’s participation was artificially high due to the number of so-called “zombie votes”, this is still a significant drop. In each of Haiti’s ten departments, fewer votes were counted this year than last.

Haiti  candidate percent registered voters 

As can be seen in the table above, if the preliminary results hold, Jovenel Moïse would become president of Haiti with the support of just 9.6 percent of registered voters, or about 600,000 votes. While this is far more than any of his closest competitors, this raises significant questions about his ability to galvanize the country once in office.  

That someone could be elected president of Haiti with the support of less than 10 percent of registered voters speaks to just how low participation has fallen in recent years. Though the length of the campaign and the impact of Hurricane Matthew has been blamed for the low turnout in this year’s election, by looking at participation from recent presidential elections one can see a clear trend of ever lower participation. The low participation is a far broader issue than anything specific to this year’s election.

Haiti decreasing turnout

As can be seen in the table above, since the 2010 earthquake, participation in presidential elections has plummeted, with this year being the lowest in Haiti’s history. A lack of faith in the electoral system, voter apathy, and barriers to participation appear to all have contributed to this long-term decline. With participation so low, the political stability that elections were expected to bring will be difficult to ensure.

The low turnout number in 2016 is partially because of the high number of “tally sheets” that were quarantined and not counted in the preliminary results due to irregularities. In 2015, just 3.6 percent of these sheets were quarantined and an additional 2.2 percent were never received. This year, 10.5 percent were quarantined and about 1 percent were never received. The higher number of quarantined votes could be the result of greater scrutiny applied after last year’s election. It could also, as some parties have alleged, be a sign that there were more problems than initially expected. Either way, as parties contest the results, a closer look at these excluded tally sheets, should be expected.

Preliminary Legislative Results

In the November 20 election, first round races for ten Senate seats were held. In addition, second round elections were held for six Senate seats and 25 Deputy seats, these being the completion of last year’s aborted election. In the commune of Roseaux, the election for Deputy was unable to be held due to flooding and the inability to properly distribute voting materials.

While results from the presidential election in 2015 were thrown out, in January 2016, 92 Deputies and 14 Senators elected in the same process were sworn in to office. Haiti had been without a functioning parliament since January 2015 after no elections were held during Martelly’s first four years in office.

Over the last year, parliament has largely been split between political factions and unable to pass much in the way of legislation. When interim president Jocelerme Privert’s 120 day mandate expired, parliament was unable to hold a vote on replacing or extending him.

As would be expected given the performance of Jovenel Moïse at the presidential level, PHTK candidates for the Senate and Chamber of Deputies also performed well according to the preliminary results.

In the 24 Deputy races, candidates representing 14 different political parties secured seats, bringing the total number represented in the Chamber of Deputies up to 25. PHTK led all parties by winning 5 seats, however together with close allies KID, AAA, Bouclier and Consortium, the bloc picked up 9 seats. Together, these parties now have at least 53 of the 116 members in the Chamber of Deputies. Though not an outright majority, with the rest of the political sphere split, it gives PHTK and its allies by far the largest voting bloc.

haiti deputies by party 2016

Sixteen Senate seats were also up for grabs on November 20. In those races, six of which were second round elections, PHTK secured an additional four seats, while allies Bouclier and Consortium each picked up one. In the eight departments where second round Senate elections will be held in January 2017, PHTK has five candidates while Bouclier, AAA, Consortium and Kid combine for an additional five.

Haiti senate elected 2016

Perhaps most notable among the list above is the presence of Guy Philippe, elected to the Senate from the Grand Anse department. Philippe was a paramilitary leader that helped oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in a 2004 coup, has been accused of extrajudicial killings while a police commander in the 90s by Human Rights Watch, and more recently was allegedly involved in the armed raid of a police station in the southern city of Les Cayes. He is also a DEA most-wanted fugitive for his role in drug trafficking and money laundering. Philippe campaigned with Jovenel Moïse over the last year. 

Also of note is former Senator Joseph Lambert, who ran and lost under the PHTK banner in last year’s election. He is now set to return to the Senate under the KONA party.

With the election of six Senators, PHTK and its allies look poised to secure an absolute majority in the Senate. The bloc is guaranteed to pick up at least two additional seats in the second round senate election in January, as candidates from allied parties compete against each other in the Centre and Artibonite departments. Overall, in the eight departments that will have second round elections, PHTK or parties allied with it came in first in seven.

haiti senate by party 2016 2 

Participation of Women in Parliament

The November 20 election did see the first woman elected to parliament. Of the 106 Deputies and Senators that were sworn in last year none are women, despite women making up more than 50 percent of the population. Based on preliminary results however, four women have been elected to parliament, one in the Senate and three as Deputies.

The electoral law mandated that at least 30 percent of candidates for office be women, however the actual number who registered and campaigned was far lower. There have also been many efforts to increase the participation of women in elections. Among the data published by the CEP in the preliminary results is a tally of the number of women who voted at each voting booth, which would allow for further analysis and improvement going forward.

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