A United Nations committee on Friday (April 28) called on countries in the Americas and the Caribbean to suspend expulsions of Haitians facing a chilling wave of violence.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) estimated that 36,000 Haitians were expelled from other countries between January and March and expressed concern about measures taken “without an adequate assessment of the protection needs” of each individual.
In a statement, issued under an emergency alert procedure, the committee, composed of 18 independent experts, called for “suspending forced returns and taking measures to protect Haitians on the move.”
According to the committee, nearly 22,000 Haitians were repatriated between January and November last year, some 15,000 of them from the United States.
Expulsions also accelerated considerably this year and reached 36,000 between January and March, 90 per cent of them from the Dominican Republic.
“Caribbean countries, such as the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, announced repressive measures against undocumented Haitian migrants.” At the same time, the United States presented in January a plan to allow accelerated expulsions of Haitians and other migrants to Mexico.
The UN experts were concerned that Haitians are “victims of excessive use of force, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and racial profiling by the law enforcement agencies of some States.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report released Monday that “the Haitian people are victims of one of the worst human rights crises in decades” and that “the death toll and the increase in the area controlled by armed gangs” in Port-au-Prince, the capital, are “comparable to those in countries in a situation of armed conflict.”
Between January 1 and March 31, the number of homicides on the Caribbean island increased by 21 per cent over the previous quarter (815 vs 673) and kidnappings by 63 per cent (637 vs 391), according to the report.
“The alarming violence in the areas where the gangs are active, such as sexual violence in particular against women and girls, is emblematic of the terror that affects a large part of the population of Haiti,” where half of its 11.5 million inhabitants live thanks to humanitarian aid, said UN special envoy, Maria Isabel Salvador.