Haiti human rights NGO suspends operations due to increase in threats

The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) announced on Thursday that they would temporarily suspend their operations in Haiti due to escalating threats against its staff. CARDH has operated in Haiti since it was founded in 2008, but has steadily reduced its operations over recent months due to intensifying gang violence within the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince.

According to CARDH, the organization has received threats against their operations for months. CARDH said on Thursday, “With these threats now being carried out, CARDH is suspending its activities aimed at contributing to the construction of democracy and the rule of law in Haiti. CARDH awaits protective measures to be taken so that it can resume its work.”

Through their work, CARDH has uncovered criminal activities, political dynamics and economic interests in Haiti. For example, in a September report, CARDH highlighted the growing crisis faced by internally displaced persons in Port-au-Prince. This crisis has been compounded by a spike in gang violence in Haitian neighborhoods, leading to a significant decline in living conditions for these vulnerable populations. CARDH’s analysis revealed diminishing public and humanitarian attention to these communities amid their escalating hardships.

The broader human rights situation in Haiti, as documented by various organizations and supported by the US Department of State’s 2022 Human Rights Report On Haiti, presented evidence of rampant kidnappings and murders, predominantly in the West Department, which includes Port-au-Prince. The report recorded 1,236 kidnappings in the past year. 86 percent occurring in the West Department. The report also hinted at an even greater crisis than reported.

In addressing the situation in Haiti, the UN Security Council authorized in October the one-year extension of the sanctions regime on Haiti. The extension continues a targeted arms embargo, travel ban and asset freezes established in October 2022 to address the widespread violence, criminal activity and human rights abuses plaguing the country. The UN also authorized a one-year Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, to be led by Kenya in cooperation with the Haitian government, to restore peace and security amid surging gang violence. The MSS mission has encountered some resistance within Kenya, however, with the High Court in Nairobi halting the deployment, despite approval from Kenya’s Parliament.

In parallel, the US government sanctioned individuals implicated in undermining Haiti’s democratic processes, supporting gangs and committing corruption and human rights abuses. Additionally, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Gary Bodeau, the former President of the Haitian Chamber of Deputies, due to his involvement in corruption. Canada has also imposed sanctions on three prominent Haitian businessmen. These sanctions are directed at individuals allegedly engaged in corruption.