On an important day for Haiti, past and present, Tracey Gurd, Senior Director of Civil and Political Rights and Advocacy of American Jewish World Service released the following statement:
Today marks a key moment both for the past and the future of Haiti’s democracy. February 7 commemorates not only the end of the 30-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family, but also the date on which the first democratically elected president in Haiti’s history took office. Today, February 7, 2022, is the date that former President Jovenel Moïse declared his term would end, to which the Biden Administration at the time agreed, even as Haiti’s highest courts and legal scholars interpreted the Constitution to require his term to end one year earlier. Following Moïse’s assassination, Ariel Henry was appointed as Head of State via tweet by the U.S. and other international actors, despite lacking public support or a constitutional and legal basis for assuming the role.
As this February 7 approached, Ariel Henry made clear he intends to stay in office until elections can be organized in the future. Unfortunately, the U.S. Government and the international community seem to continue to back Ariel Henry’s de facto government and his plan to stay in office—this in spite of his lack of public support, given that he has been implicated in the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, and his inability to address the spiraling security crisis with gangs operating out of control. At the same time, civil society has clearly articulated a more legitimate path forward supported by a broad swath of groups across Haitian society, including unions, farmers’ alliances, professional associations, human rights organizations and churches. Unfortunately, despite tepid statements of meeting with the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, the Biden Administration has not meaningfully or regularly engaged with the Commission, instead choosing to continue to back Ariel Henry.
While, with U.S. support, Ariel Henry has managed to stay in power as de facto head of state since Moise’s assassination, there is no question that it is time for him to step aside and make way for a civil society-backed transitional government that will move the country forward towards a fully functioning electoral democracy. It is time for the U.S. and the international community to increase their support of Haitian civil society, which is advocating for a transitional government tasked with restoring stability, Haiti’s democratic institutions, as well as creating a pathway to free, fair and – importantly – participatory elections.
AJWS, our partners in Haiti and the Jewish community have been clear that the U.S. must respect the fundamental right of the Haitian people to shape solutions for Haiti and support the broad-based political accord reached by the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis. Seeking to restore Haitian democracy, Haitian civil society groups founded the commission in early 2021 to identify solutions for Haiti’s political and institutional crises and build a path to legitimacy and stability. Since then, the commission has engaged in a historic effort to build consensus around a blueprint for a transitional government that sets the stage for truly participatory and legitimate elections. Now, their long work is finally paying dividends for the people of Haiti as they seek to establish a representative transitional government with the mandate to “serve Haitians’ basic needs, bolster democratic institutions, reestablish legitimacy and trust, and organize free, fair, and participatory elections”.
This is a key moment for the future of Haiti, and it is time for the U.S. and the international community to stop undermining Haitians’ efforts to determine their future and build a truly representative democracy.
To this end, we urge Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols, U.S Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the U.S. Biden Administration to:
- Respect the fundamental right of the Haitian people to shape Haitian solutions for Haiti.
- Stop propping up illegitimate political actors, including the Ariel Henry government, and instead back the political process laid out by the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis.
- As part of supporting civil society efforts for a transitional government, we call on Assistant Secretary of State Nichols and other high-level officials within the U.S. Government to hold regular consultations with the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis and Protocole d’Entente Nationale (PEN) alliance—and subsequently the transitional government, once it is established—to discuss the feasibility of their plans and path forward.
- Once firmly established, the U.S. should support the transitional government with funding and support, including through the Office of Transition Initiatives in the U.S. Agency for International Development.
- Place a moratorium on all deportations of Haitians back to Haiti until Haiti’s current political and security crisis stabilizes, and abide by commitments under international refugee law—including the 1951 refugee convention and its 1967 protocol, of which the U.S. is a signatory—and allow Haitians seeking asylum at the U.S. border to enter and make their asylum claims as required by U.S. law.
ABOUT AJWS AND THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY
American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to fight poverty and pursue justice in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. By supporting hundreds of social change organizations in 18 countries and advocating for U.S. and international policies for human rights, we respond to the most pressing issues of our time—from disasters, genocide, and hunger to the persecution of women and minorities worldwide. With Jewish values and a global reach, AJWS is making a difference in millions of lives and bringing a more just and equitable world closer for all.
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