As a prelude to the 40th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) working group to be held in January 2022 in Geneva, during which Haiti will be reviewed, a pre-session was organized on 26 November in Haiti by UPR Info, the Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR-CENTRE) and Combite for Peace and Development (CPD).
The national pre-session is an event attended by representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), the national human rights institution (NHRI) and representatives of embassies in the country. The event helps the examining States to prepare their recommendations.
More than a dozen Haitian civil society organizations took part, including the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) which, since 2015, has been leading work for the UPR and other treaty mechanisms (Human Rights Committee). See Participation in human rights mechanisms.
Madam/Sir, it is a pleasure to share the panel of this pre-session organized as a prelude to the 40th session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review scheduled for January 2022.
The Centre for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, CARDH, is a Haitian non-profit civil society organization in consultative status with the United Nations (Economic and Social Council).
CARDH has co-led several works to be submitted to the Universal Periodic Review or to other mechanisms, including the treaty bodies, such as the Human Rights Committee.
II. Right to vote and participate in public affairs in Haiti
My brief intervention will address the right to vote and to participate in public affairs in this context where the three powers of the state are dysfunctional. The process of rule of law in Haiti is therefore blocked. I will give you the sad picture.
A. The purpose of the right to vote
As part of civil and political rights, the right to vote allows citizens, holders of sovereignty, either to choose their representatives, since one is in a representative democracy, or to become rulers by applying for elective positions: president, senator, deputy, local elected officials…
B. Views on the Haitian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The right to vote and to participate in public affairs is one of the human rights enshrined in the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Haitian State is a party.
According to article 58 of the Constitution, national sovereignty lies in the universality of the citizens who exercise it through: (a) the election of the President of the Republic; (b) members of the Legislative Branch; (c) members of any other body or assembly provided for by the Constitution and by law.
Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that “Every citizen has the right and the opportunity, without any discrimination and restriction: a) to take part in the conduct of public affairs, either directly or through intermediary of freely chosen representatives; b) to vote and to be elected, in periodic, honest elections, by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot, ensuring the free expression of the will of the voters; c) to have access, under general conditions of equality, to public service in his country.
What about the situation today, four years after the Human Rights Council’s review of Haiti?
III. The current situation: denial of the right to vote and to participate in the public service
Haiti is currently experiencing the denial of the right to vote and to participate in the public service.
C. Situation of Parliament
Elections were not held in 2017 and 2019 to renew two-thirds of the Senate resulting from the 2015 elections, which took office in January 2016, and for the 51st legislature
Parliament has been dysfunctional since January 13, 2020, when the mandate of the Chamber of Deputies and two-thirds of the Senate came to an end.
D. Situation of the Executive
Elections were also to be held in October 2021 to elect a new president to take office on February 7, 2021, in accordance with the second paragraph of article 134 of the Constitution.
These elections did not take place. Today we have a dysfunctional executive. There is no president. There is an interim prime minister.
C. Situation of the judiciary
The dysfunction of the Parliament also leads to that of the Court of Cassation, because vacant positions can be filled if there is a Parliament to nominate three candidates for each position in power.
The Court of Cassation, which was to have 12 judges, has six. The Court needs a quorum of seven judges to hold the general assembly, formal sittings and combined sections. In addition, the terms of three of these six judges will expire on February 17, 2022.
Since 2017 the right to vote and to participate in public affairs has been destroyed in Haiti. The three state powers through which the citizen exercises sovereignty are dysfunctional today.
Haiti is outside the Constitution, therefore contrary to democratic principles and the rule of law.
The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) believes that the UPR group of member states should look into this situation in order to make recommendations to restore the three powers of the state.