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UN Human Rights Committee Confronts Violations Against Haitian Women and LGBT Persons

Following a review of the Haitian government’s human rights record, the UN Human Rights Committee has released its Concluding Observations. In particular, the Committee noted concern for:

  • the violence and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Haiti;
  • the lack of adequate legal protection for rape survivors;
  • and the need to pass Haiti’s pending Penal Code revision law.

These findings reflect the recommendations and documentation submitted by Haitian women’s and LGBT organizations and MADRE to the Committee. 

Addressing violence and discrimination against LGBT persons: The Committee called on the Haitian government to punish perpetrators of violence committed against LGBT persons but also to compensate victims for violations suffered. Furthermore, the Committee directed the government to adopt a national awareness campaign that includes training law enforcement and judicial personnel.

Reducing barriers in access to justice for rape survivors: The Committee also expressed its concern for weak protections against violence against women, including rape. It specifically condemned the practice of requiring a rape survivor to obtain a medical certificate to bring a criminal case. The Committee reiterated that the testimony of a survivor should be sufficient to trigger a criminal investigation against the crime of rape.

The Committee went on to call on the government to hasten the adoption of legislation, such as the currently pending Penal Code revision, in order to strengthen the legal framework for protection against domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, including marital rape and other forms of violence against women.

Strengthening women’s rights under the rule of law: Haiti’s Executive Branch is now considering Penal Code revisions that, if approved by Parliament, would go a long way to comprehensively address gender-based violence and violence and discrimination against LGBT people. These revisions would boost legal protections for Haitian women’s human rights through several key provisions, including specific codification of marital rape as a crime. The Penal Code revision would bring Haiti’s law into harmony with the vast majority of Latin American States and in compliance under international law. All but two countries in Latin America have criminalized such violence.