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Press briefing notes on Haiti

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Liz Throssell
Date: 19 February 2021

We are very concerned by the latest attacks against judicial independence in Haiti, all the more so given the current political and institutional instability gripping the country.

A judge of the Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation), as well as at least 22 other people were arrested on 7 February in circumstances that may amount to an unlawful or arbitrary arrest and detention. The judge has been released, but 17 others are still in pre-trial detention. In addition, three Supreme Court judges -- including the one arrested -- were forced to retire and later replaced, apparently through an irregular procedure. In response, justice system personnel started an indefinite strike on Monday 15 February.

These developments cause concerns about judicial independence and have further eroded the separation of powers in Haiti.

Respecting the rule of law and the system of checks and balances at all times is paramount, but it is even more crucial now given the growing political tensions and the increasing expression of dissent in demonstrations.

We call on the authorities to ensure respect for the established legal and institutional framework and to comply with their obligations under the Haitian Constitution and international human rights treaties.

We urge the Government and opposition to engage in a meaningful and inclusive dialogue to avoid further escalation of tensions, and to resolve the current political and institutional deadlock in a manner that is both lasting and sustainable.

The UN Human Rights Office stands ready to continue supporting State authorities in their fulfilment of international human rights obligations and expresses its continuing willingness to strengthen its human rights engagement with all sectors in Haitian society.

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9296 / ethrossell@ohchr.org or
Rupert Colville + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org

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