The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Haiti to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Haiti's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
In the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake, the U.S. Government's democracy and human rights priorities have gained greater urgency. Over the next 18 months U.S. efforts will focus on supporting the rebuilding of a stronger Haiti that contributes to regional and hemispheric stability and security and is characterized by sustained democratic governance, reduces vulnerability to natural disasters, and creates new economically vibrant metropolitan centers .U.S. Government assistance will be delivered in a manner that: strengthens the government's authority, makes local governments more effective, builds the capacity of local and national institutions, promotes and protects human rights and gender equality, strengthens respect for internationally recognized worker and children's rights, and creates an enabling environment for the private sector and civil society to thrive. Improvement in all of these areas is critical for Haiti's long-term stability and prosperity .
In addition to securing the above objectives, the U.S. Government is committed to continue to support reform of the justice sector, implement transparent financial management systems to enhance transparency, contribute to free and fair elections, promote citizen participation in governance and help ensure the Government of Haiti accountablity to its citizens. These priorities respond to the substantial challenges the government faces, including weakened institutions at the national and local levels, limited integration of civil society into the policy making process, lengthy pretrial detention of prisoners, and limited transparency into the affairs and finances of public and private institutions. In developing these strategic priorities, the United States has consulted with government institutions, international partners, NGOs, trade unions, and other organizations .Going forward, the United States will work closely with these groups to encourage reforms and discuss problems related to human rights and democracy.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
With the approval of the FY 2010 Emergency Supplemental request for Haiti, the U.S. Government will provide funds to continue helping to address the country's critical recovery and reconstruction needs. Activities include increasing the capacity of the national and local governments, rebuilding physical infrastructure; enhancing citizen participation in relief and recovery by assisting the government with disseminating information through public engagement efforts; and strengthening public institutions and civil society to help provide essential government services in the short-term and building operational capacity in the long-term. The United States will also support justice reform human rights protection programs, preparations for upcoming elections, and the restoration of the capacity of the civil service. With the introduction of the Interim Haitian Recovery Commission (IHRC)--the Haitian and international commission charged with prioritizing, coordinating, and facilitating all recovery and reconstruction activities-- it will be necessary for the Commission to require all stakeholders to act in accordance with increased accountability and transparency requirements, including public tracking of investments on the Internet .
The loss of life and infrastructure caused by the earthquake forced the postponement of scheduled parliamentary elections. President Preval has announced his wish to hold the elections by the end of the year and has asked the Provisional Electoral Council to prepare an electoral calendar and assess what is needed to carry out free and fair elections. The United States and international partners are working with the government to determine the best way to update voter rolls, replace lost identification documents, register displaced voters, and best facilitate mechanisms to hold elections at year's end.
As a result of the earthquake, a number of children were separated from their families, and became at risk of exploitation, abuse, and malnutrition. With many Haitians displaced and living in tight spontaneous communities, the risk of gender-based violence has also increased .To address these critical issues, the United States continues to fund public advocacy campaigns to raise awareness and work to stop gender-based violence and the trafficking of children (known as "restaveks") into domestic servitude. The U.S. continues to help coordinate efforts for legislative reform, and support the government's efforts to combat the exploitation of restaveks. In addition to working on issues related to restaveks, the U.S. Government has been and continues to work to protect children and adolescents from child labor, especially its worst forms.