[JURIST] Despite widespread irregularity and violence, Haiti on Sunday held its first parliamentary election in four years. Haiti’s parliament [official website, in French] dissolved in January following canceled elections in 2011 and 2014. Around 50 of 1,500 voting centers were affected by violence [AP report] or bureaucratic problems, ranging from varying poll start times to gangs accosting voters by throwing bottles. The Organization of American States [official website] sent an observer mission [report, PDF] to the country led by Jose Enrique Castillo Barrantes [official website – in Spanish], characterized problems with the elections as not “so generalized or so big as to be able to question the whole process.” Castillo indicated that observers were present at 171 voting centers throughout Haiti, and reported positive signs such as voters’ lists being visible at polling stations and women casting ballots. It is unknown how many of the nation’s 5.8 million eligible voters participated in the election, and results are expected August 19.
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck [JURIST report] near Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, rendering the national legal system and government largely non-operational. The earthquake was estimated to have resulted in the death of 230,000 people, the injury of 300,000 people and the homelessness of more than one million people. in January, Amnesty International reported [JURIST report] that tens of thousands of people are still homeless as a result of the earthquake and subsequent govenrment failures, forced evictions and failed short-term relief solutions. In many places such as Canaan, a post-earthquake camp on the outskirts of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, people are unable to reach the polls located miles from home. Likewise, violence and intimidation deter voters, issues voting officials hope to fix before October.