UNITED NATIONS – The UN’s human rights chief Michelle Bachelet says Haiti now stands at the crossroads between peacekeeping and development as the UN’s peacekeeping presence winds down.

Bachelet in an address to the security council on Wednesday urged all concerned parties to continue building on progress made, or “risk losing it” altogether.

While encouraged by civil society’s engagement in promoting and protecting human rights, along with the victims of human rights violations, Bachelet acknowledged that “it has not been able to fully assume monitoring and advocacy role.”

According to the UN, Bachelet noted that some civil society organisations continue to be targeted by acts of intimidation, saying that it “must stop”.

She also urged everyone with a stake in the French-speaking Caribbean nation’s future to “work together to strengthen the human rights protection system”.

Calling Haiti’s return to constitutional order, following presidential, legislative and local elections in 2017, “a significant achievement”, Bachelet said that while standing “at the crossroads” between peacekeeping and development, “we must recognise the progress accomplished” and “also continue building on it, or risk losing it”.

The UN high commissioner urged the UN Security Council to provide Haitians with “the necessary support to strengthen institutions, fight against impunity and promote and protect human rights as a foundation to stability and development”.

She said that February’s protests — “the longest and most violent” in years, had “almost entirely paralysed the country”, despite significant improvements in the professionalism of the UN-supported National Police, incidents of serious human rights violations, including cases of summary executions, continue to be reported, with limited accountability.

“Perpetrators are consequently emboldened and silenced victims may develop grievances,” Bachelet said.

She said the weakness of the judicial system also has a negative impact on the prisons system, stating that, with over 75 per cent of inmates estimated to be in a pre-trial detention — on average for 1,100 days — “well over the limit set by national law”.

The UN human rights chief also informed the Security Council that, after the current Mission for Justice Support concludes, her office intends to pursue its work in the country.

“We want to remain engaged and to support Haiti’s commitment to achieving democratic and economic development so that the rights of all people in Haiti are upheld,” stressed the high commissioner.

As the second leg of the March-April “joint presidencies” of France and Germany continues, Security Council President and Germany’s Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, invited the UN peacekeeping chief to take the floor, the UN said.

Jean Pierre Lacroix pointed out that no violent demonstrations have occurred since “the 10 days of unrest” from February 7-15, when 41 people were killed, another 100 injured, and human rights largely abused. Continue reading

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