Human Rights and Child Prostitution in Haiti Essay

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Human Rights and Child Prostitution in Haiti

The Republic of Haiti is a Caribbean country occupying smaller portion of Hispaniola Island. It shares the island with Dominican which is equally another Caribbean country with population of just over 600, 000. In 2011, the population of the Republic of Haiti hit 9 million-mark with chances of a tremendous growth projected in the subsequent years. With the capital located at Port-au-Prince, the country's total area is approximately 27, 750 square kilometers. Haiti was the first country in the Caribbean region and Latin American at large to attain political independence. The country holds the record as the first worldwide to gain self-rule under stewardship of a black president. Republic of Haiti has had various social, cultural and political problems that have culminated into gross violation of human rights. According to international observers and United Nations (UN), the country held one of the most peaceful general elections in 2006 for presidential and parliamentary candidates, which they unanimously termed as free and fair

. President Rene Preval and parliament took office in May 2006. Later in September, parliament confirmed Michele Pierre-Louis as the new Prime Minister filling the position that remained vacant following April elimination of the immediate former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis. Despite the country holding one of the most peaceful, free and fair elections in the history of the Republic of Haiti, reports indicated gross violation of human rights. Half of Haitian population is struggling to get one meal a day. Child prostitution has become a major issue as harsh economic conditions have pushed most parents to the brink. They send their children as young as seven years to towns and cities to engage in prostitution and hard labor to earn a living

Violation of Human Rights

The Haitian National Police (HNP) supposedly participated in unlawful killings before, during and after the elections. Besides, the country had flawed and untimely parliamentary elections, ineffective mechanisms to address excessive killings by gangs and armed groups, and participation of HNP in series of kidnappings. Other human rights problems the country is yet to address include overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons. The prisons department has been in the limelight for wrong reasons. Lack of proper infrastructure is the primary issue that has led to overcrowding in most country's local prisons. It is upon the government to provide adequate funding to the department to help enhance the process of building new prisons across the country. Congestion in prisons has compromised not only the social welfare of inmates but also the ability of prison warders to manage inmates. In retrospect, overcrowding is obviously total infringement of the fundamental rights of citizens. The department through adequate funding from government agencies as well as non-governmental organizations should take the initiative to ensure construction of additional prisons to cater for the escalating number of prisoners. Sanitation problems have also hampered efforts by the government to enhance proper welfare of those serving in the country's prisons. Lack of clean water for bathing and drinking has become a norm that inmates have to cope up with despite the glaring health risks most of them are likely to face. The department should realize the importance of the resource even as they continue to grapple with other sanitation challenges

The pathetic and horrible conditions under which prisoners live have further compromised their capacity to live normal lives like the rest of the citizens. Unlawful arrests and arbitrary threats have compromised efforts of Haiti to attain freedom and fully exercise democracy. Majority of citizens are indisposed to express their opinions in public for fear of arrest and intimidation by the law enforcement authorities. Most crusaders of human rights have gone through terrible situations after the Haiti National Police differs openly with their efforts to enlighten people about their rights and freedoms. A number of such crusaders have been through devastating moments in their lives owing to rampant unlawful arrests and persecution by police. The authorities argue that some of their campaigns and ideologies amounted to incitement and threat to national unity. In effect, citizens are reluctant to express their frustrations as well as opinions in public. Even government officials and politicians have expressed their concerns about the infringement by state security agencies into freedom of expressions of citizens, which has eventually contributed to many people withdrawing support or participation in matters of national importance. Divisions along ethnic lines have a fair share of blame as far as threats and intimidation are concerned. However, human rights bodies locally and internationally have stepped up efforts to curb the escalating levels of human rights violation mainly emanating from acts of political class. Apparently, most leaders are always skeptical about criticisms by the people directed at them. They are thus unwilling to accept or tolerate any form of criticism irrespective of the validity or soundness

Political class is essentially responsible for the gross violations of human rights as well as increase in the cases of child prostitution in Haiti among other Caribbean nations. Since they are skeptical about attempt by the public or human rights bodies to discuss the vice openly, they resort to intimidations and threats. In most cases, the media would resort not to report such unlawful and inhuman acts for fear of shut down. Yet other media houses would still proceed by reporting the instances of contravention and abuse of human rights particularly by state authority. The political class use threats and intimidation as a mechanism for maintaining citizens' allegiance to them and their ideas despite the potential negative effects. The government has to play its role of ensuring all citizens irrespective of social, cultural, or political backgrounds have adequate assurance of their safety and security. Pretrial detentions have also characterized Haitian societies. Detentions without trial form the climax of immorality and dissipation of security forces. It shows clearly their reluctance to allow culprits get a chance to defend their charges and allegation police have bestowed upon them in a court of law

The major target of detentions without trial is political prisoner. Human rights groups and the civil society have unveiled programs that seek to unearth the flaws of security agencies in the country. Such prolonged detentions deny the people the right to fair hearing and trial in a court of law. In reality, those advocating for freedom and democracy for all face torture and other forms of persecution to the extent of not getting a chance reunite with the rest of the members of the organization or family. Pretrial detentions are deliberate measures to silence the voices of the people amid plans to advance political interests of selected few. As different organizations charged with the responsibility of looking into agony and frustrations of the depressed members of the society strive to achieve their objectives of a fully liberal and democratic society, the political class uses the security instruments to ensure they take control over the rest of the population. The judiciary is equally ineffective in their effort to deal with rising cases of violation of the law and constitution. In spite of the Haiti being a constitutional country, many tribulations the country currently faces is sure indicator the republic is far from attaining true democracy and freedom for all

Although the country has managed to meet all the standards of human rights internationally, the judicial institutions and law enforcement agencies have failed to respect such provisions. Unofficial practices such as torture, kidnapping, political killings and unlawful incarceration have thwarted efforts of human rights groups to ensure adherence to the guidelines and international provisions for human rights. Despite the constitution upholding an independent judiciary, pretrial detentions have become rampant. The Haiti National Police (HNP) in particular has compromised the provisions of the constitution as regards fight for the fundamental rights and freedom of citizens of the country. Instead, the state has largely used the police force to propagate political killings, torture, and unlawful incarceration, which are all illegal practices. Similarly, the state has also compromised agencies in charge of the administration of justice in the country. Most of these agencies defend the rights of the less privileged in society at the mercy of non-governmental organizations and countries in the neighborhoods. Poor organization of the court system in Haiti together with court records has been the order of the day. It becomes difficult to determine the percentage of prisoners serving detentions without trial. The government in cooperation with Haitian police has capitalized on this loophole to detain as many prisoners as they can

Political prisoners bore the greatest wrath of the inhuman acts of police owing to their determination to fight for the rights and fundamental freedom of all citizens. They also suffered due to their efforts to seek redress and intelligibility as to what steps the government had taken to restore hopes of many citizens. Apparently, most Haitian citizens had given up in their quest to see a united country and a government that was willing to reach out to all citizens irrespective of their political…[continue]

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