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Haiti urged to strengthen rule of law institutions

UN Special Representative for Haiti Mariano Fernandez Amunategui on Wednesday called on Haiti to strengthen its rule of law institutions [press release] such as police and electoral council. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] noted in the report [materials] that the country is still subject to "setbacks linked to political instability, lack of respect for the rule of law and unmet social grievances." The report also recommended the extension of the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) [official website]. Amunategui presented to the UN Security Council [official website] a consolidation plan established between the local government and MINUSTAH in order to decrease the UN's military presence in Haiti while gradually transferring the responsibility to the national police forces. The Special Representative also pointed out the need for a permanent electoral council which would lead to the election of government officials.

Haiti is still in the process of improving its rule of law. In June Haitian President Michel Joseph Martelly gave final approval [JURIST report] for amendments to the country's Constitution that will allow dual-citizens to vote and be appointed to administrative positions. Dual-citizens are still barred from running for key political offices, including offices of President, Prime Minister, Senator, and the lower house of Parliament. The US State Department in February dispatched a team of international law experts to Haiti to assess how to reinforce the Haitian judiciary's power and independence. Earlier that month UN independent expert Michel Forst proclaimed that the rule of law is making significant progress in Haiti [JURIST report]. Forst focused on the establishment of judicial offices and the adoption of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [text, PDF]. In January a Haitian judge convicted eight police officers [JURIST report] of shooting and killing at least 10 prisoners following the January 2010 earthquake. In December 2011 the UN urged an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged torture and unlawful killings perpetrated by the Haitian National Police (HNP). In September of that year Amnesty International called on Haitian authorities to prosecute Duvalier [JURIST report] for crimes against humanity. In July 2011 a UN rights expert requested that Haiti prosecute Duvalier [JURIST report] and improve its human rights record.

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