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10/6/06

Haiti Report for June 10, 2006

 

   

The Haiti Report is a compilation and summary of events as described in Haiti and international media prepared by Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY. It does not reflect the opinions of any individual or organization. This service is intended to create a better understanding of the situation in Haiti by presenting the reader with reports that provide a variety of perspectives on the situation. 

To make a donation to support this service: Konbit Pou Ayiti, 7 Wall Street, Gloucester, MA, 01930.

IN THIS REPORT:
- New Coalition Government in Haiti
- Prime Minister Alexis Vows to Deal with Political Prisoners
- UN Denies Inaction in Case of Canadian Police Officer
- Haiti Reinstated in the Caribbean Community/CARICOM
- Chilean President Visits Haiti
- IDB Agrees to New Infrastructure Projects
- New UN Representative to MINUSTAH Arrives
- IMF Calls Haiti Economic Situation “Broadly Stable”
- Canada Vows to Help Haiti Once Donors Conference Ends
- Canada Investigating Reasons Alexis was Barred from Entering
- Situation in Gonaives Still Precarious
- US Makes Haiti a Special Case for Human Trafficking

New Coalition Government in Haiti:
Haiti’s president appointed a coalition government Tuesday in an effort to unite the impoverished nation. The new government includes members of six political parties, underscoring President Rene Preval’s need to bring together Haiti’s bitterly divided political factions. The two houses of Parliament were expected to confirm the Cabinet appointments in separate votes within a day. Haiti’s powerful business community and large network of grassroots organizations offered no immediate reaction to the new government, which was announced after days of intense negotiations with Parliament, where no party holds a majority. Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis said the government would embark on a 25-year development plan, including boosting access to public services for Haiti’s poor, reinforcing the country’s brittle state institutions and attracting private investment. In an address to Parliament, Alexis said Preval’s administration would also work to restore security after the February 2004 revolt that toppled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and plunged the Caribbean nation of roughly 8 million people into chaos. ”We no longer have the right to fail,” Alexis said. “The consequences would be too heavy a burden to carry. The country cannot be content with just hoping anymore. It must finally take the path that will lead to its development.” The 18-member Cabinet includes five members of Preval’s 1999-2001 government, including Justice Minister Rene Magloire and Agriculture Minister Francois Severin. Jean Raynald Clerisme, a former priest, was appointed foreign affairs minister. The government is mostly made up of members of Preval’s Lespwa party, but also includes members of the party Fusion, the Struggling People’s Organization and one from Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, Planning Minister Jean Max Bellerive said. Aristide’s party was excluded from Cabinet posts in the U.S.-backed interim government that took over in 2004. Lavalas officials, who are calling for Aristide’s return from exile in South Africa, had complained that they were being sidelined by Preval, a former Aristide ally who has since severed ties with his political mentor. Preval was sworn in last month after winning elections in February, and has since been in talks to form his Cabinet. In his address, Alexis said the government would embrace voices of all political persuasions. He said the government would seek to develop Haiti’s crippled economy by promoting tourism, manufacturing and agriculture, and would “reconsider” some legal changes enacted by the U.S.-backed interim government. Preval was Aristide’s premier in September 1991, when the army staged a bloody coup. Three years later, 20,000 U.S. troops intervened to restore Aristide’s democratically elected government. Aristide later backed Preval in 1995 elections when the constitution barred the sitting president from running for a consecutive term. (AP, 6/6)

Haiti’s Parliament has overwhelmingly approved a new Cabinet that includes members from six political parties in a strong show of support for President Rene Preval as he moves the impoverished nation toward stability. In a vote late Wednesday, 84 of 86 deputies in the lower house approved the 18-member Cabinet, which the Senate unanimously endorsed a day earlier. The new government reflects Preval’s need to unite the conflict-torn Caribbean nation after a February 2004 revolt toppled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and touched off a wave of violence. The vote also formally confirmed Jacques-Edouard Alexis as prime minister. Unifying the deeply divided country of 8 million won’t be easy. Aristide’s supporters are demanding his return from exile in South Africa and the release of scores of prisoners jailed without charge in the aftermath of the revolt. Some have accused Preval of sidelining them from the new government, a move that could stir resentment in Port-au-Prince’s volatile, pro-Aristide slums. U.N. officials said Thursday that peacekeepers clashed briefly with gang members who fired on their checkpoint in the sprawling Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil. The fight came after weeks of relative calm in the volatile area. Local radio reported that several people were killed in the exchange, however U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst could not confirm any casualties. No peacekeepers were injured. Preval, who was sworn in last month after winning elections in February, was Aristide’s premier in September 1991, when the army staged a bloody coup. Three years later, 20,000 U.S. troops intervened to restore Aristide’s democratically elected government. Aristide later backed Preval in 1995 elections when the constitution barred the sitting president from running for a consecutive term. (AP, 6/8)

Prime Minister Alexis Vows to Deal with Political Prisoners:
Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis unveiled his cabinet on Tuesday and vowed to deal with the burning issue of political prisoners. Alexis, named prime minister by President Rene Preval last month, went before the Senate to outline his plan for governing as part of the formal process of installing a new government, more than two years after former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted by a bloody rebellion. He named a cabinet that included members of at least five rival political parties and seven people who served as ministers during Preval’s first presidency, from 1996 to 2001.  The Senate debated Alexis’ program into the night but was expected to approve both the plan and the ministers. Rejection would be the equivalent of a no-confidence vote and Preval would have to choose a new prime minister. Preval’s election in February was an important step in Haiti’s return to democracy as the Caribbean nation of 8.5 million people — the poorest in the Americas — struggles to shake off decades of dictatorship, military rule and political upheaval. Human rights groups in Haiti and abroad have accused the U.S.-backed interim government appointed after Aristide’s ouster in February 2004 of jailing hundreds of the former president’s supporters without cause. Alexis told senators the rights of many prisoners have been denied, addressing the issue uppermost in the minds of Aristide supporters who were instrumental in electing Preval. ”There are too many people in jail now for peccadilloes. We are going to act,” Alexis said. ”We are going to work immediately with the judicial system on the cases of people who have been arrested and who were jailed for political reasons,” he said, while promising to respect the independence of the judiciary. Outside Parliament, hundreds of demonstrators demanded Aristide be returned to Haiti from his South African exile and called for the release of political prisoners.  “We want to know if Preval and Alexis’ government want to condone the abuses committed by the interim government,” demonstrator Johnny Marsan said. “We want to know why the political prisoners are still in jail.” As a result of a deal reached between Preval and Alexis and their political rivals in parliament, five leading opposition parties are represented among the 18 ministers named by Alexis. They include the parties of prominent politicians Paul Denis, Evans Paul, Serge Gilles and Chavannes Jeune, who all ran against Preval in the presidential campaign. Alexis named Daniel Dorsainvil, a close adviser to Preval and former official with USAID in Haiti, as finance minister. Rene Magloire, who served as justice minister during Preval’s first term, was returned to that post and Renald Clerisme, a former member of Haiti’s delegation to the World Trade Organization, was named minister of foreign affairs. Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, who was education minister in Preval’s first term, was named interior minister. (Reuters, 6/6)

UN Denies Inaction in Case of Canadian Police Officer:

UN peacekeepers provided medical aid to retired RCMP officer Mark Bourque after he was shot in the Haitian capital last December, the United Nations said Wednesday, disputing reports that the soldiers stood by as Mr. Bourque was bleeding to death. A statement released by the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti — known by its French acronym MINUSTAH — rejected media reports that Jordanian peacekeepers acted too slowly or inappropriately after Mr. Bourque was shot by gunmen. Mr. Bourque and a colleague were driving through a gang-controlled district called Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince when he was shot in the leg. Their vehicle came to a stop off the side of the road, and a UN armoured personnel carrier pulled up in front of them, providing some cover from the gunmen. Mr. Bourque, 57, was unconscious and bleeding profusely from the leg wound. He died later of his injuries. Media reports this week suggested the Jordanian troops at the scene had failed to help the dying Mr. Bourque, even as a soldier was busy taking photographs. ”MINUSTAH rejects as unacceptable the false allegations and loose conclusions that have been made and drawn in recent days by professional media in Canada,” the statement said. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a UN official familiar with the case said Mr. Bourque was receiving medical attention from three Jordanian medical personnel — a surgeon, a doctor and a nurse — 10 minutes after he was wounded. The medical personnel were dispatched as part of the Jordanian contingent’s quick-response team, called in by the Jordanian soldiers who took up blocking positions to protect Mr. Bourque’s vehicle, the UN says. The UN official said Mr. Bourque was in a hospital 40 minutes from the time he was shot. The official said this is considered by investigators as a fairly quick response time, given the fact that he was transported by an armoured vehicle through the heavy traffic of downtown Port-au-Prince. ”In that 40 minutes, he was treated, the Jordanians attempted to surround and protect that vehicle and return fire, and he was evacuated by the same Jordanians to the hospital over four clicks of traffic,” the official said. ”The bottom line is (Mr. Bourque) received treatment on the spot 10 minutes after the shooting,” the official said. The UN official said a photograph reportedly given to a reporter and subsequently published in Canada had been cropped to make it appear as if nothing was being done to assist Mr. Bourque. The photo shows one soldier crouched next to Mr. Bourque, who was lying on the ground. The official displayed what he said was an unedited version of the same photo, which shows three soldiers crouching next to Mr. Bourque, possibly taking defensive positions. The official displayed another photograph of a Jordanian attending to Mr. Bourque as he lay unconscious, possibly trying to resuscitate him. Still another photo shows the injured Mr. Bourque with a pressure bandage applied to his wound. The United Nations did not officially explain why a soldier was taking photographs at the scene. ”I don’t know why they were taken,” said the UN official. “I would assume that it’s probably, in a critical incident, pretty standard procedure to document it.” The official pointed to two photographs taken by the Jordanians of the vehicle Mr. Bourque and his partner were in. One photo shows the licence plate; the other shows bullet holes in the door of the SUV. Mr. Bourque was shot in the leg Dec. 20, 2005. The attack is believed to have been a failed kidnapping attempt. The UN says Mr. Bourque “died of massive blood loss from the artery of his leg, which was severed by the bullet that struck him and by metal fragments from the door of the car he was driving.” UN officials said the investigation into Mr. Bourque’s death is not complete, but the general facts and sequence of events have more or less been established. ”It’s important to emphasize that in the aftermath of this tragedy, the Haitian National Police and the United Nations Police have vigorously pursued those responsible,” said Graham Muir, a senior RCMP officer and UN police commissioner. ”This is an active and ongoing investigation.” (Globe and Mail, 6/7)

Haiti Reinstated in the Caribbean Community/CARICOM:
A Caribbean regional group has lifted its 28-month suspension of Haiti in response to the country’s return to democratic rule after elections earlier this year. The 15-member Caribbean Community suspended Haiti’s membership; the group refused to recognize a U.S.-backed interim government, calling it unconstitutional. Caricom had said it would reinstate Haiti if February’s presidential and parliamentary elections were deemed free and fair. Haitians elected René Préval, an agronomist and former Haitian president, as their leader. ’’Heads of government wish to congratulate the people of Haiti who, through their patience, resolve and courage, demonstrated their attachment to the democratic process,’’ the Guyana-based secretariat said in a statement late Tuesday. Preval will make a speech at Caricom’s annual conference in St. Kitts in July. On Tuesday, Préval named a coalition government in a bid to unite the impoverished nation. Haiti’s Parliament must approve the Cabinet in a vote due to be completed Wednesday. (AP, 6/8)

Chilean President Visits Haiti:
President Michelle Bachelet leaves Wednesday for a tour of Haiti, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and a visit to the United States, where she will meet with President George W. Bush, Chile’s foreign ministry said. Despite ongoing student unrest and opposition calls to have her cancel the trip, Bachelet decided to keep her foreign agenda because, Interior Minister Andres Zaldivar said Tuesday, “managing international relations makes her the president of the republic.” Accompanied by cabinet ministers and lawmakers of the governing Concert of center left parties, as well as members of the opposition, Chile’s first female president will meet with Bush at the White House on Thursday. Although the meeting lacks an official agenda, diplomatic sources said the discussion will be far-ranging. After Washington, Bachelet on Thursday will stop over in Jamaica where she will meet with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, and on Friday in Haiti will reciprocate President Rene Preval’s March visit to Santiago. Officials said Bachelet might also visit 650 Chilean troops taking part in a UN peacekeeping mission in troubled Haiti. Bachelet’s foreign tour will end Saturday in the Dominican Republic. (AFP, 6/8)

IDB Agrees to New Infrastructure Projects:
The Inter-American Development Bank has agreed to build roads, expand drinking water services and improve electricity services in Haiti, as part of a broader international aid initiative, the bank’s president said on Tuesday. IADB President Luis Alberto Moreno met with Haitian President Rene Preval and members of his cabinet in Port-au-Prince on Monday where the request for new infrastructure projects was made. ”He asked the bank to concentrate on infrastructure, electricity, roads, ports and sanitation. The other big area is agriculture and finally education,” Moreno told Reuters in his Washington office. A meeting of 26 donor countries and agencies under the umbrella group known as the International Cooperation Framework is set for July 25 in Port-au-Prince, he added. ”His requests are part of that effort. I understood that he wants to keep us (donors) from overlapping our efforts,” Moreno said. So far the ICF aid program has paid out 90 percent of the $1.08 billion pledged in July 2004. Preval, who was sworn in as president of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country last month, wants to speed up development projects in infrastructure, education and agriculture to create jobs and improve living conditions. Other requests included basic sanitation in rural areas and a nutrition, health and early education program for infants and young children, the IADB said. The IADB did not yet have cost estimates for the new projects. The IADB to date has invested $525 million in Haiti for needs ranging from water and sanitation, health, education and job training to flood prevention. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has said it plans to send a mission to Port-au-Prince from June 19 to June 30 to discuss a three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with Haitian officials. IMF projections show Haiti’s economy growing 2.5 percent this year and 4.0 percent in 2007 while inflation should slow from 13.1 percent in 2006 to 8.9 percent next year. (Reuters, 6/6)

New UN Representative to MINUSTAH Arrives:
The new representative of UN chief Kofi Annan in Haiti, Guatemalan diplomat Edmond Mulet, arrived Friday in Port-au-Prince to head the UN peacekeeping mission in the troubled country. Mulet was recently named by the United Nations secretary general to replace Chilean diplomat Juan Gabriel Valdez, who had directed the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) since June 2004. ”I expect to continue the work which began in 2004,” he said on his arrival at the capital’s international airport. The Guatemalan diplomat said he would meet with President Rene Preval, and discuss with him and his team “the way we can work together to support the new administration.” MINUSTAH, which was established in 2004 and is under Brazilian command, is made up of 7,500 military troops, including more than 1,200 Brazilians, and 2,000 international police. In February the UN Security Council renewed the mission’s mandate in the impoverished Caribbean island nation for at least another six months. Preval was sworn in as president last month. (AFP, 6/5)

IMF Calls Haiti Economic Situation “Broadly Stable”:
Haiti’s overall economic situation is “broadly stable,” reports an official with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In a statement released by the IMF May 31, Przemek Gajdeczka, an adviser for the fund’s Western Hemisphere department, applauded efforts by Haitian authorities toward “restoring macroeconomic stability” in Haiti, “in spite of numerous obstacles.” Gajdeczka said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to be 2.5 percent in 2006, an increase from the 1.5 percent GDP recorded in 2005, but inflation is projected to be 15 percent for 2006, as compared with an original target of 10 percent. Gajdeczka, who made his statement May 23 in Brasilia, Brazil, at an international ministerial meeting for Haiti, said Haitian international reserves have increased substantially and the country’s currency, the gourde, has strengthened. Among the officials at the Brasilia meeting were Thomas Shannon, the U.S. State Department’s assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs; and Adolfo Franco, assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Franco said at the meeting that the United States is working on new programs for Haiti aimed at reducing insecurity and increasing economic opportunity in the “hot spots” of Haiti’s main cities, “taking development directly to those areas that need it most.” Through these programs, Franco said, “we hope to bring together the efforts of communities and the Haitian government to promote stability and bring revenue to those areas through short-term jobs and small-scale infrastructure projects.” According to a State Department fact sheet released May 25,, the United States spent more than $340 million in fiscal years 2004 and 2005 to improve governance, security, the rule of law and economic recovery, as well as to meet critical humanitarian needs in Haiti. With the addition of nearly $200 million projected to be spent in fiscal year 2006, U.S. total assistance to Haiti in fiscal years 2004-2006 is expected to be more than $530 million.  The president’s budget request for fiscal year 2007 includes $194 million for Haiti, the fact sheet said. The IMF’s Gajdeczka said Haiti’s new government of President René Préval needs to “accelerate preparations” for the country’s 2006-2007 budget, “in order to coordinate properly” with aid provided by the United States and other international donors.  The official said Haitian authorities hope to boost Haiti’s economic growth by creating favorable conditions for private sector investment in the country. The full text of Gajdeczka’s statement is available on the IMF Web site. The State Department fact sheet on Haiti is available on the department’s Web site. For additional information on U.S. policy, see Haiti. (The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: usinfo.state.gov) (6/1)

Canada Vows to Help Haiti Once Donors Conference Ends:
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay yesterday vowed to help ordinary Haitians restore long-term stability, but the Caribbean island must wait while a major donors’ conference this summer draws closer to discover what Canada thinks that’s worth. The amount and timetable for continued aid flows to Haiti are questions for the Conservative Cabinet as a whole, says Mr. MacKay, speaking to reporters after testifying before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on the subject of the poorest country in the Americas. It is “not a decision that will be made today,” he says. Mr. MacKay says Canada’s help in Haiti will be for “as long as necessary.” The $190 million in aid Canada pledged to Haiti over two years will be spent by the end of this summer. Haiti is currently Canada’s second largest aid recipient behind Afghanistan. It is anticipated that the international community, including Canada, will announce additional financial sums at a major donors’ conference in Port-au-Prince or Washington in July. Mr. MacKay says the conference is the “best forum” to show Canada has staying power in the region. There, Canada will also encourage other governments to “put their money on the table” to prevent Haiti from backsliding. Judicial reform, law enforcement training and disarmament campaigns to rid the country of small handguns are key priorities, says Mr. MacKay. Mr. MacKay announced that he will make his first trip to Haiti this Saturday, although the agenda for his five-hour stopover isn’t yet determined. Mr. MacKay will make the brief visit on his way to the neighbouring Dominican Republic, which shares the island Hispaniola with Haiti and is the site of the Organization of American States General Assembly, taking place June 4 to 6. René Préval was sworn in as the democratically elected President of Haiti on May 14 with lofty expectations to deliver sound leadership in a nation that’s oscillated between military dictatorships and corrupt regimes. He was in Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec last month —a visit that was almost hype-free. There were no state dinners, joint press conferences, funding announcements or press releases. Mr. MacKay explains that Mr. Préval had undergone an operation for a serious health condition prior to his meetings in Ottawa and that slowed down the Haitian leader. Appointments with public officials were cut short so that Mr. Préval could rest in his hotel room. Mr. MacKay says it was his own personal observation that Mr. Préval’s “health was not good when he was in the country.” He later told reporters, “It was obvious to me he was in a lot of pain.” Mr. MacKay adds that typical protocol of dignitaries wasn’t necessary because Mr. Préval hadn’t been officially named president at the time. (Embassy Magazine, 5/31)

UN Involved in Gun Fight in Cite Soleil:
U.N. troops and gangs exchanged gunfire in Haiti’s largest slum in the first such clash in months, and witnesses said on Thursday that three people were killed. The shooting occurred late on Wednesday in Cite Soleil, the vast seaside slum on the northern edge of the capital that was the scene of routine gunfights between gangs and foreign troops last year, but had been relatively peaceful since before Haiti’s February 7 presidential election. A spokesman for the U.N. mission in Haiti, Lt. Col. Elamarti Abdesslam, said peacekeepers returned fire after gunmen shot at them, but could not confirm if anyone was killed. ”All I can say is that no one on our side was hurt, but we don’t know if anyone was killed among the gang members,” Abdesslam said. Witnesses and gang members said at least three people were killed but it was not clear if all of them were shot when U.N. troops returned fire. ”I saw one young man killed after the foreign soldiers shot in our direction,” said Marjorie, a 24-year-old woman who did not want to give her last name. “But there were other people with weapons too.”  (Reuters, 6/8)

Canada Investigating Reasons Alexis was Barred from Entering Canada:
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay confirmed Saturday that the Canadian immigration authorities are currently investigating the reasons behind the decision by the previous Liberal government of Canada to place the name of Haiti’s new prime minister, Jacques Edouard Alexis, on a list of individuals  refused entry to Canada.  Mr. MacKay visited Haiti for several hours before traveling to the Dominican Republic and expressed regrets as to the manner in which Haiti’s new prime minister was treated by Canada, however he did not provide a public apology as had been requested by Prime Minister Alexis. Jacques Edouard Alexis has been banned from entering Canada for the past two years because of a massacre committed in May 1999 by a group of police officers in the populist district of  Carrefour-Feuilles, while he was prime minister in the first government of René Préval. Despite the fact that his government supported a trial by a court of law and that individuals were found guilty in that trial, he was nevertheless accused of complicity in the commission of crimes against humanity.  ”The police officers implicated in this crime have been arrested, imprisoned, brought before a court and convicted”, said Mr. Alexis, who asserted that Canada’s Liberal government was misled in his case as in the cases of several other citizens including members of his government (1998-2001). He affirmed that he is waiting for an explanation as to what really happened with regard to this matter.  The Canadian press had indicated at the beginning of this week that political adversaries of Mr.  Préval and Mr.  Alexis might have misled the Canadian government in this case.  Even leading community figures who are not known as political allies of Mr. Alexis, such as Professor Franklin Midi, of the University of  Quebec in Montreal expressed amazement at the accusations against Jacques Edouard Alexis. In its June 2nd edition, the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir contained an article by Guy Taillefer suggesting that the Canadian government may have made a mistake in this case.  During his brief visit to Port-au-Prince, Mr. MacKay was able to speak directly with Jacques Edouard Alexis, and reportedly told him that he is welcome in Canada whether as the Prime Minister or as an ordinary citizen, pending completion of the investigation that is underway, and that this light will be shed fully on this matter.  Senior officials of the Haitian National Police have spoken out over the past several months against the presence of gangsters and bandits deep inside the force and have announced that work has begun to weed out such individuals.  Indeed, many police officers of all ranks have participated in kidnappings and other abuses, according to Haitian police sources. Police officers linked to “attachés” (armed informal police auxiliaries) have also taken part in massacres and extra-judicial executions in the populist districts of the capital, notably in Bel-Air, Cité Soleil and Grand’Ravine over the past two years. In those rare cases where police officers have been arrested in connection with this violence, most have been set free by the interim authorities, according to critical accounts by Haitian and international human rights organizations (AHP, 6/4)

Situation in Gonaives Still Precarious: 
The health and sanitation situation remains precarious in Gonaïves, nearly two years after the passage of tropical storm Jeanne through the Artibonite region. There is no electricity and no potable water. There are very serious health problems, huge piles of garbage clog the streets, an insalubrious situation is everywhere to be found and the population has been abandoned to itself. The people of Gonaïves are denouncing the poor utilization of international aid by the interim government and the multiplication of NGOs which, they say, seem to worry only about their own interests. Enormous sums of money have in fact been disbursed by the international community for the benefit of victims of the disasters that caused several thousand deaths in September 2004. The promises made by interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue to relocate residents of the worst affected districts never materialized, nor was a promised four lane highway built. Gonaïves residents are appealing to the new authorities to investigate the handling of the disaster and to improve conditions under which the people of this city are living. Some two years after the disastrous floods that struck the town of Mapou in the Southeast, the survivors continue to live in tents. We are abandoned to our hell, say residents, who are facing all sorts of difficulties, from famine, to unemployment to health problems. They also indicated that the disaster victims who suffered the most have no other choice but to make their way to the Dominican Republic in search of a better life.  (AHP, 6/3)

US Makes Haiti a Special Case for Human Trafficking:
The United States has given Haiti a special ranking in its 2006 Human Trafficking Report, which was released by the US Department of State earlier this week. Haiti is among nine countries including The Bahamas and Iraq, which have been ranked as “special cases” by the US in the annual report. Last June, Haiti was ranked at Tier 3; the lowest rank on the three-tier system, which carries penalties of stiff economic sanctions by the United States. Haiti’s ranking did not improve in October last year when the U.S again reviewed Tier-3 countries. Director of the US Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Ambassador John Miller, explained that Haiti’s placement as a special case was due to a “quirk” in the US law and not because of any improvement in its performance. He described the trafficking situation in Haiti as “deplorable” and said the US has seen no significant, effective effort in Haiti to combat human trafficking. According to Miller, human trafficking is extremely widespread in Haiti and over the past year, the U S conducted no evaluation on that country’s anti-human trafficking efforts, as that Haiti had no elected government for a significant period. ”Under our (US) law, we are supposed to evaluate and rate governments’ performance. The conclusion of our department is that Haiti did not have an effective government.in control of the country, that could be evaluated,” Miller told journalists Wednesday during an hour-long video conference via satellite at the United States Embassy in Kingston. ”Not only is the trafficking problem horrendous, there was not an effective government,” Miller added. The diplomat said the United States has provided funding in the past to Haiti to assist that country in it’s Anti-Human Trafficking efforts. He said the US would be dispersing additional funds shortly to aid the efforts of a special police unit, which was set up in Haiti last year to investigate trafficking related crimes. (Caribbean Media Corporation, 6/8)

  
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