Haitian Leaders Want To End Human Rights Abuses, Says Top UN Rights Official
New York, Oct 19 2006 3:00PM
Although the human rights situation in Haiti is cause for concern with reports of extrajudicial executions and arbitrary
detentions in deplorable conditions, there is room for optimism in light of the Government’s will to confront and
resolve these problems, according to the top United Nations rights official.
“The balance sheet of my visit is very positive in so far as all the signals transmitted to me by my interlocutors
demonstrate that there is a kind of energy to move forwards and I hope also a solidarity on the part of the Haitian
people stemming from its confidence in its democratic institutions,” UN High Commissioner Louise Arbor told a news
conference in Port-au-Prince, the capital.
“Without being naïve in minimizing the challenges facing the Government and citizens of Haiti, I think that at this
moment we must be very confident. It is a unique and historic moment for the country to take a step forward which, I
hope this time, will be irreversible,” she said on Tuesday at the end of a three-day visit.
Ms. Arbour, who met with President René Préval, Prime Minister, Robert Fico and other Government leaders as well as
numerous sectors of civil society, cited the economic and social conditions of the population as “equally alarming and
deserving of the same energy” as the extrajudicial killings and prison conditions.
“The indecent conditions of life suffered by the poorest members of the population constitute human rights violations,”
she said. “The right to food, health, suitable housing is not respected for a very large sector of the Haitian
She added that the difficult conditions of life of the people in general are reflected in the “inacceptable” prison
conditions throughout the country. “In Gonaïves, I could see the gravity of the situation,” she said. “Dozens of people
are being detained in quasi-inhuman conditions and a large majority of them have not even been sentenced, in violation
of Haitian law and the international law of human rights.