Security Council Session on the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) / Statement of Special Representative Helen La Lime
Mr. President, distinguished members of the Council,
1. It is an honor to once more provide you with an update on the situation in Haitiwhere, amidst a rapidly deteriorating security situation, discussions about the country’s future governance arrangements remain deadlocked in a protracted stalemate.
2. Since I last briefed you, the grip with which gangs are controlling swaths of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area has grown increasingly tighter as their zones of influence inexorably expand. Kidnappings and intentional homicides have risen by 36 and 17 per cent respectively compared with the last five months of 2021. In May alone, the Haitian National Policereported 201 intentional homicides and 198 abductions, an average for each of almost 7 cases per day. The horrific violence that unfurled over the suburbs of CitéSoleil, Croix-des-Bouquets and Tabarre in late April and early May, during which women and girls were particularly exposed to sexual violence, is but an exampleof the state of terror in which Haiti’s political and economic heart is plunged.
3. Dozens of schools, medical centers, businesses, and markets have been forced to close. Many people are trapped in their neighborhoods or even sometimes their residences. At least 17,000 others have been displaced from their homes, and many are struggling to find basic necessitiessuch as food, water, and medicine. Moreover, movement along the main national roads connecting the capital to the rest of the country is seriously compromised as gangs have erected barricades to restrict access to areas under their control, thus severely affecting the flow of goods throughout the country.
4. The pervasive and deepening sense of insecurity, exacerbated by the HNP’s seeming inability to address the situation and the manifest impunity with which criminal acts are being committed, is dangerously fraying the rule of law in the country. Less than a week ago, the Port-au-Prince Court of First Instance was overrun by a local gang which then proceeded to loot and burnboth case files and pieces of evidence. In some parts of the country, acts of vigilantism against suspected gang members are increasingly garnering popular support.
5. More than ever, Haiti requires immediate assistance to develop its national police and counter increasing criminality and violence. The HNP currently lacks the human, material, and financial resources to effectively fulfil its mandate. Its limited operational and logistical capacities compromise the implementation of a comprehensive public safety agenda that relies on intelligence-led policing and violence reduction. It is therefore with great urgency that I call on Member States to provide greater support and to contribute to the newly established,UNDP-managed basket fund dedicated to supporting the HNP and helpingit address the challenges it is contending with.
6. The acute instability currently affecting Haiti stems in large part from itsprolonged institutional vacuum. The countryhas been without a functioning Parliament for two and a half years, was left aghast by the assassination of its President almost a year ago, and is suffering through an almost complete paralysis of its justice sector.
7. To date, the multiple initiatives and proposals to foster a common vision among national stakeholders as to how Haiti can move forward have yielded few concrete results. On the contrary, previously homogenous coalitions have started to fracture. Amidst growing political polarization, BUNH isintensely focused on reviving contacts between parties at all levels, notably through a series of informal gatherings aimed at encouraging consensus on a path towards elections.
8. In late March, a civil society led “Tripartite Committee” was formed to enlarge consensus among various political platforms, including government, to forge a common path forward.In parallel, Prime Minister Henry has been holding direct talks with the leadership of the Montana Group, which has proposed new modalities to relaunch formal negotiations. Yet, with the formation of a new Provisional Electoral Council frustratingly still a distant prospect, and the organ having effectively ceased to function for many months, it is highly unlikely that elections which would usher a return to democratic governance will take place this year.
9. The stalled investigation into the assassination of late President Moïse – to which a fifth judge in 11 months was recently assigned – epitomizes the deeply entrenched issues affecting Haiti’s justice system,a branch crippled by limited financial and material resources, frequent strikes by judicial personnel, and the deteriorating security situation.Resolute efforts are needed not only to enable courts to process and try a myriad of pending cases,but also for prolonged pre-trial detentionlevels to be sustainably reduced.
10. It is urgent for the Government and relevant judicial institutions to find a consensus on the appointment of Court of Cassation judges to allow Haiti’s highest court to resume its activities. Moreover, every effort must be made to efficiently prepare and implement the long-standing criminal code reform which aims to further align the Haitian legal framework to international norms and standards.
Distinguished members of the Council,
11. The protracted insecurity and prolonged political uncertainty, combined with a dire economic situation and growing humanitarian needs, are severely hindering the country’s socio-economic development, widening economic inequalities, and undermining peacebuilding efforts.
12. With a gross domestic product having contracted by 1.8 percent in 2021 as Government revenues shrank, Haiti’s economic situation remains a serious cause for concern. Meanwhile, humanitarian needs continue to increase, particularly in the aftermath of the earthquake which devasted the Southern peninsula last August. This year, some 4.9 million Haitians are expected to require humanitarian assistance, with at least 4.5 million people forecasted to need urgent food assistance.
13. It is essential that Haiti remain at the forefront of the international community’s agenda, and that national authorities receive the assistance they need to address these inter-connected challenges.Nonetheless, only Haitians hold the key to unlocking sustainable solutions to the country’s protracted crisis. BINUH will continue to encourage all parties to constructively engage and come together to chart a common, consensual path to a return to democracy.
14. Likewise, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the peace and security and development arms of the United Nations will continue to work hand in hand to support Haiti in moving from emergency assistance to longer-term stability and enduring development.