To provide concrete support to the Haitian people, Human Rights Watch urges international, regional, and Haitian leaders to prioritize and fully implement the following six essential measures:

  1. United Nations Security Council members should keep their promise to the people of Haiti and urgently establish a UN-authorized security support mission with all necessary human rights safeguards.

Haiti’s authorities have repeatedly called for international action to address the country’s security crisis, and Prime Minister Henry specifically asked the UN to act. Many Haitians have also called for the international response to include a security component. The UN Security Council heeded these calls in October 2023, when it authorized a multinational security support mission and highlighted many dimensions of the crisis. Yet the mission has yet to deploy, as the security situation in Haiti has only deteriorated.

Security Council members should follow through on their commitment to Haiti. They should ensure that the mission they authorized is expeditiously provided with the necessary funding, personnel, and technical capacities to effectively support the Haitian National Police to help restore minimum security conditions and the functioning of the country’s critical infrastructure, including security for the new transitional government, while upholding human rights, as part of a broader response that addresses all dimensions of the crisis.

The Security Council should ensure that the mission includes rigorous human rights due diligence and human rights monitoring, which are essential to avoid repeating failures and abuses of past interventions in Haiti.

  1. Urgently establish a transitional government made up of leading Haitians who are not tarnished by credible allegations of corruption, support to criminal groups, human rights violations, or other serious crimes.

Concerned governments and Haitian groups participating in the discussions led by CARICOM should support vetting candidates for the new presidential council, including through a review of information available within the framework of sanctions regimes. They should take input from Haitian civil society representatives and human rights organizations seriously in the decision-making process.

Members of the new transitional government should establish a coercive mechanism to ensure that they will not participate in the coming elections, as agreed in the talks. They should work with partners to restore basic security and create an environment that will allow for the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections within a clearly defined timetable.

  1. Urgently provide the necessary resources to allow for the immediate and safe delivery of humanitarian aid to Haitians in need.

Despite the difficult environment, humanitarian organizations are still able to deliver life-saving assistance to many Haitians at risk of famine or who need urgent medical attention or other basic necessities. But these entities, including Haitian grassroots organizations, are quickly running out of resources. They need funding now to help keep people alive and cannot wait for a new transitional government or a security support mission.

  1. Assist Haiti in rebuilding its justice system in a rights-respecting way, prioritizing accountability for serious human rights abuses.

Among other steps, UN agencies and other international organizations should provide training and technical support to a specialized pool of Haitian judicial investigators, prosecutors, and judges who would focus on ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes committed by members of criminal groups and those supporting them.

The transitional government should work with the UN-authorized mission to put in place adequate security to allow for the resumption of judicial proceedings.

The transitional government should also prioritize ensuring that detention facilities are secure and humane and that criminal proceedings respect human rights. In particular, children who have been used or recruited by criminal groups should be provided with rehabilitation assistance, should not be detained with adults, and should receive juvenile justice safeguards. Assistance programs should be set up for victims of violence to provide them with access to justice, reparations, rehabilitation, and psychological support

   5. Scale up efforts to stop the flow of weapons and ammunition into Haiti.

Concerned governments, in particular the United States, should promptly enforce the UN arms embargo on Haiti by increasing inspections at seaports and airports. Reports of violations of the arms embargo, with a special focus on transfers of small arms, should be reported to the UN Security Council’s Haiti sanctions committee, panel of experts, and other relevant bodies.

The Security Council should ask the sanctions committee to regularly map the illicit flow of weapons and ammunition to criminal groups in Haiti and update council members as often as necessary.

    6. Don’t deport, return, or otherwise force people to go to Haiti.

No Haitians should be forcibly returned to the country as long as conditions in the country present a real risk of serious harm and human rights abuses. Such returns by Haiti’s neighbors amount to refoulement, a violation of international law.

The recent events highlight the urgent need for the international community to respond to the many dimensions of the crisis in Haiti in a holistic way that protects and upholds human rights. If fully implemented, these six steps could go a long way in overcoming the current crisis and breaking the cycles of violence, abuse, and harmful foreign interventions that have plagued the country for decades. Haitian leaders and concerned governments have an opportunity to get it right. What Haitians need now is principled engagement centered on their needs, and the necessary resources to carry out a rights-based, comprehensive response.