Commissioners: Tracy Robinson, Rosa María Ortiz Petitioners: Rassemblement des Volontaires pour la Défense des Droits Humains (RAVODEDH) / Fédération Internationale des ligues des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH) / Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) State: Haiti Three years after an earthquake struck Haiti, killing over 200,000 Haitians and severely damaging its infrastructure, Haiti appeared before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to answer allegations that its citizens continue to face displacement, detention, and insecurity. During the March 16, 2013 hearing, petitioners argued that human rights “in all ambits” are violated. The state countered that it is doing everything it can, that progress is being made. Instead, it partially blamed the international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), arguing that their lack of transparency and coordination have undermined the state’s recovery efforts. Petitioners argued that Haitians displaced by the earthquake continue to live in inadequate camps and face forced expulsions by armed groups working in coordination with law enforcement. While the government implemented programs to address this issue, petitioners stated that these programs are inadequately funded and lack sufficient monitoring and evaluation. As a result, petitioners argued that slums are increasing in number. Furthermore, petitioners accused the Haitian government of failing to plan for the potential impact of climate change on these vulnerable populations. Petitioners also cited concerns over the use of detention throughout Haiti. Individuals housed in the state’s detentions centers face inhumane conditions, including contracting cholera. Petitioners alleged that in 2012, 88 individuals died in these facilities. Furthermore, individuals detained for minor infractions are housed with violent criminals. To make matters worse, petitioners found that 72% of the detained individuals are pre-trial and thus have not been convicted of their alleged crime. Instead of addressing these concerns, petitioners said that the state has made only “cosmetic” changes. Petitioners seek an in loco visit from the commissioners to Haiti’s detention facilities as well as the implementation of measures aimed at disarming the state in general. In addition, petitioners stated that that the state has gone after human rights defenders. For example, petitioners cited the firing of the Port-au-Prince police commissioner after he refused to arrest human rights defenders. Finally, petitioners argued that the illegal flow of weapons into the hands of non-state actors is resulting in an increased number of human rights violations throughout Haiti and that law enforcement is unable to effectively intervene. In fact, petitioners said that some political leaders are arming individuals to protect their interests. This illegal flow of weapons has also resulted in an increasing number of kidnappings. The state admitted that problems persist in the internally displaced persons camps, including forced expulsions, and that security must be enhanced. But, the state said that international assistance and the presence of INGOs have harmed Haiti’s relief efforts. The state also said that aid money is misappropriated and that INGOs do not coordinate their work with the state; instead, INGOs have created a state within the state and ignore Haitian law. The government indicated that it is working to align its differing agencies and that extreme poverty is the root cause of the ongoing human rights violations. It stated that it is working on strengthening the legal framework for protecting human rights and cited its recent ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights as an example. Regarding its detention facilities, which the state referred to as prisons, the state argued that its detention of more criminals led to less criminality. It also cited its work with other institutions, including the International Red Cross, to address concerns over conditions in its prison facilities. It further said that its law enforcement continues its work to disarm the armed gangs and intervene to stem the rise in kidnappings. The government hopes that it will have a budget to institute a statewide legal aid system. The state also said that it is improving its criminal procedures and has initiated programs in its prison facilities, including drama lessons, to assist its prisoners. Finally, the state told the Commission that it has set up special schools to help its “street children.” Following the parties’ presentations, Commissioner Ortiz reiterated that the role of the Commission is to facilitate dialogue between the states and civil society and that civil society is vital to a democratic society. Commissioner Ortiz also sought additional information from the state regarding its efforts to protect the public from the illegal weapons, to prevent expulsions from the camps, and efforts to curb the impunity for human rights violations that currently exists within Haiti. Commissioner Robinson sought additional information regarding the origin of the illegal weapons entering Haiti as well as information regarding deportees and the number of Haitians still living in the camps.