CARIBBEAN, 13 March 2017 – An independent United Nations expert on human rights is calling for redoubling of efforts to help Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew.
Following his sixth official mission to Haiti to monitor human rights, Gustavo Gallón, reiterated his solidarity to the victims of the October 2016 cyclone.
“Their situation is similar to the situation of internally displaced people living in camps since the 2010 earthquake, of people deported from the Dominican Republic settled along the border, or of detainees in the country's prisons,” said Mr. Gallón.
His comments came after visit to the High School Nord Alexis in Jérémie, in the Grand'Anse department, where some 525 families affected by Matthew are sheltering.
In addition to shelter and immediate needs, the Hurricane will also impact people's ability to vote in the presidential election that was postponed from last October to 20 November of this year.
“I hope that these elections will be held without any surprises and that there will be a new President elected in February next year as well as stable State institutions,” said Mr. Gallón.
He noted that the Government has a duty to hold the elections under difficult circumstances but expressed optimism that the new Provisional Electoral Council and the more relaxed political environment compared to last year will allow the electoral process to be concluded.
Among other needs noted during his visit, Mr. Gallón called for more to be done to tackle illiteracy among the general population within five years, and to improve prison conditions in order to guarantee detainees' rights.
He also reiterated his past recommendations to create a commission of truth, justice and reparation of violations of the past, and a similar commission to compensate victims of cholera.
“We must bring justice to victims of past violations and to people who have suffered the consequences of cholera to achieve a more equal society, based on justice,” said Mr. Gallón.
In addition, the independent expert voiced outrage over verbal and physical attacks against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex community.
“These attacks are contrary to the rights to equality and non-discrimination which are recognized in international treaties to which Haiti is a party. I urge both the authorities and society to respect them.” Mr. Gallón said.
He is due to present his report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council this month.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.