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Haitians marking second anniversary of assassination of President

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7, CMC – Haiti is marking the second anniversary of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise Friday with the Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH),  María Isabel Salvador, saying the call for those responsible for “this heinous crime to be brought to justice, continues.

Moise was gunned down at his private residence overlooking the capital on July 7, 2021 and his wife, Martine, who survived the assassination, had to be flown to the United States for treatment. Several former Colombian military officials have been detained in connection with the murder.

Last month, a  court in the United States sentenced Haitian-Chilean businessman, Rodolphe Jaar, one of 11 people arrested and charged in US for alleged involvement in Haitian president’s killing, to life imprisonment.

“His assassination submerged Haiti into a deeper political crisis which has been exacerbated by an unprecedented breakdown of security, with criminal armed gangs imposing a regime of terror and violence in most parts of Port-au-Prince,” Salvador told the open meeting of the Security Council on the Haiti file.

“This grave situation is compounded by the humanitarian, human rights and socio-economic crises the country is facing,” said Salvador, who is also the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Haiti.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the open meeting  that “it is imperative to go beyond the speeches of solidarity towards Haiti” calling for a Security Council resolution and strategic measures that will allow the country to achieve tangible progress.

The representatives of the United States, Ecuador and other member countries of the Security Council also pleaded in favour of the deployment of an international force to restore security in Haiti.

During her speech, Salvador said since her first briefing to the Council two and a half months ago, some progress has been made on the implementation of the 21 December Agreement, which defines the framework of “our engagement with national authorities and other stakeholders”.

She said within this framework, the High Transitional Council (HTC) organised a forum in May which gathered representatives, from across the country, of the political, civil society and private sector, including non-signatories of the 21 December Agreement.

“The forum provided an opportunity for all Haitian stakeholders to discuss key issues around constitutional and electoral reforms, good governance and socio-economic issues,” she said, adding that the forum Forum adopted a Joint Declaration including a call for the deployment of a “robust international support to the Haitian National Police.

“As part of the Haitian political dialogue, I want to highlight the initiative of CARICOM, through its Eminent Persons Group, to organise last June a meeting of Haitian stakeholders in Jamaica, which brought together Prime Minister Henry, political parties, and civil society groups.

”Upon his return from Jamaica, Prime Minister  (Dr Ariel) Henry committed to changes in the cabinet to make it politically more inclusive; to the enlargement of the High Transitional Council; and to expediting the submission of candidates for the Provisional Electoral Council. I hope these commitments soon materialise.

“Through my good offices I will spare no effort to continue supporting dialogue initiatives on the way forward,” she said, adding that as parties are engaged on continuous dialogue, I look forward to the visit to Haiti of CARICOM’s Eminent Persons Group in continued support to furthering inter-Haitian consultations under the auspices of the High Transitional Council.”

She said that the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’s solidarity and working visit to Haiti last weekend “casts the limelight on the imperative of action by Haitians and the international community”.

Guterres met with Prime Minister Henry, members of the HTC, a cross section of the political parties and civil society organisations.

“He impressed upon all the need to move forward with dialogue and his unwavering support for the deployment of a “robust international Force” to assist the Haitian National Police.”

Salvador told the UN Security Council that among the people of Haiti, across the entire political spectrum, there is widespread backing for the deployment of such a force.

“It is true that the talk of the presence of an international force in Haiti, could elicit mixed reactions. Similar to what the Secretary-General heard during his visit to Haiti, I too have heard appeals, since my arrival, for international security support.

“The robust international force that Haiti needs must complement and strengthen – not replace – the Haitian National Police, in full respect for Haiti’s national sovereignty,” she said, noting that Guterres, while addressing CARICOM leaders in Trinidad and Tobago earlier this week .”reiterated the urgent need for a “robust international force authorised by the Security Council” and reiterated his call earlier today.

“While the political transition and the fight against gangs should remain on separate tracks, the two are inextricably linked,” she said, adding that improved security and continuous political dialogue would bring about the possibility to hold elections; a critical step on the path to reestablishing democratic institutions and elected officials at all levels of government.

Salvador said that the Justice sector continues to face severe challenges, but there are some glimmers of hope, which include the passing of a decree against corruption, money-laundering and illegal arms trade.

“I am also hopeful by the national authorities’ ongoing efforts on improving the vetting and certification process within the judicial system.”

But she acknowledged that “the dire security situation in Haiti has gotten worse since my first briefing to the Council.

“Violence continues and has intensified, moving beyond Port-au-Prince as noted in the Secretary-General’s report. The appearance of vigilante groups adds another layer of complexity. Since April, BINUH has documented the killing of at least 264 alleged gang members by vigilante groups.

”Sexual violence, including collective rape and mutilation, continues to be used by gangs to terrorise and inflict pain on populations and neighbourhoods under the control of rivals.”

Salvador said in addition to physical and mental harm, gang violence also has a deep detrimental impact on economic and social rights.

“Access to education, food, water, sanitation, and healthcare services has been severely limited by gang activity. In areas affected by gang violence, economic activities are periodically – if not permanently – paralysed.”

At the end of June, the UN Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti completed his first visit to the country.

“I heard directly from him about the dire situation of Human Rights. Of his greatest concern is the inhumane detention conditions and staggering levels of pretrial detention., the wide-spread gender-based violence and the mass deportations of Haitians by some countries.

”The humanitarian situation is increasingly grim and likely to deteriorate even further. Today, 5.2 million people, including nearly three million children, require urgent humanitarian support and protection.”

Haiti has one of the highest levels of food insecurity in the world, with 4.9 million people suffering from it. Increased violence in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area has displaced nearly 128,000 people from their homes, prompting an increase in migration. Haiti’s health care system is close to collapse.

The country also remains highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. In early June, deadly floods, followed by an earthquake, killed 58 people and impacted 45,000 households.

”This situation is exacerbated by soaring inflation and the depreciation of the Haitian Gourde eroding the purchasing power of the population. Despite the difficult security situation and related constraints, the UN continues to have access to hard-to-reach areas to serve the communities most impacted by the crisis and remains fully mobilised to support all Haitians.”

Salvador told the Security Council that the chairperson of the Sanctions Committee as well as the Panel of Experts visited Haiti in June. The Executive Directors of UNICEF and WFP jointly visited the country.

”We had also the important visit of Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo last weekend. She had fruitful meetings, including with Government officials, the Director General of Haitian National Police, and women and other civil society groups.

”All these important visits create momentum and general international interest on the complex situation in Haiti.,” Salvador said, reminding the Security Council that BINUH’s mandate renewal “is upon us.

“I ask for your support in ensuring that BINUH is adequately resourced to effectively and efficiently deliver its mandate and help Haiti out of these crises, while ensuring the safety and security of UN personnel. I want to recognise the courage and commitment of all the national and international personnel of the UN system in Haiti for their work and commitment in such a hostile security environment.

”This is a critical moment, which we cannot afford to waste. This is a time for international solidarity and immediate action. Je vous remercie,” she said.