Guillermo Campuzano, CM, the Congregation of the Mission’s representative to the United Nations, writes…
The Vincentian Family at the United Nations is part of a coalition of NGOs called the Working Group on Mining. This coalition prepared, after much consultation and research work, a report on the current situation of human rights in Haiti (available in French also). This report was sent to Geneva for the 26th session of the Human Rights Council from October 31 to November 11 this year, as a contribution to the Universal Periodic Review on Haiti. The document is divided into chapters where the basic rights of individuals are not being recognized in this, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere: poverty, violence, prison, education and birth registration. The reality of Haiti is truly dramatic. We can not turn our gaze from this nation where our charism has been present in several Family branches for a long time. Among the many proposals that the international community has demanded for Haiti are these:
No to the exploitation of children. Thousands of children in Haiti are orphaned or abandoned. This makes them a very vulnerable group and unprotected. The most vulnerable have become victims of traffickers.
Urgent: build a functioning justice system to ensure compliance with the law and the maintenance of security as the capacity of the Haitian government to ensure the rule of law is too weak.
Freedom of movement for displaced persons within the country. The rights of people displaced by violence, natural disasters, etc., must be protected, so that they can make voluntary and informed decisions about their future.
Prevention of gender violence. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, exploitation by traffickers while their access to maternal, reproductive and sexual health is reduced.
Clear rules for international forces in Haiti. The experience of other operations has demonstrated that leaving accountability for violations committed by the international person solely to the discretion of the countries of origin leads to impunity for serious human rights violations.
Cancellation of foreign debt. All financial resources available in the coming years should be channeled to reconstruction programs to ensure the welfare of the population and not to pay the debt.
I think we should remember that The Vincentian Family has been very active in Haiti. As part of our global celebration of the 350th anniversary of the death of Sts. Vincent and Louise a project was launched in collaboration with Fonkoze, to promote sustainable economic development in Haiti. Called “Zafen” which in Creole means “it’s our business,” it brought together a global community of lenders and donors who believe in the power of entrepreneurship to strengthen the Haitian community and create jobs for those living in the worst poverty in the world.
The Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative is now fully developed with its own board and financing.