The human rights situation in Haiti is characterized as serious by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Basic social and economic human rights, such as the right to education and health, are very limited for the majority of the population.
Haiti’s authorities run about 25 percent of primary schools, the rest run by private individuals, organizations and missionaries. Most private schools are of poor quality, and only 30 percent of Haiti’s teaching staff are qualified educators. On average, children under four attend school. The earthquake in 2010 destroyed 80 percent of schools in the affected areas. About. 50 percent of the adult population is illiterate. About 40 percent of Haiti’s residents lack access to clean water.
According to Countryaah.com, Haiti’s judiciary is known to be corrupt and dysfunctional. Conditions in Haitian prisons are among the worst in the world and are well below international minimum standards for the treatment of inmates. More than 70 percent of inmates are in long-term custody without a valid judgment. On average, one can sit in custody for one year – and in some prisons for as long as six years, without a sentence. The legislation and the judiciary are written and operated in French, which prevents many of the inmates from understanding their own proceedings and, not least, their own rights. The majority of the inmates belong to the poor part of the population and are only proficient in Creole.
Relations with neighboring countries The Dominican Republic is strained and complex. Poor Haitians have for generations emigrated to neighboring countries in search of a better life. Many of these were originally encouraged by the Dominican State to come to work on sugar plantations and in agriculture. Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent are among the poorest in the country, and many are living in the country illegally. It is estimated that there are approximately 800,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. In September 2013, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruled that all citizenship and birth certificates given to children by foreigners without legal residence and who were born in the country after 1929 should be reviewed because they are considered illegal. In practice, this means that hundreds of thousands of Haitians are at risk of deportation to Haiti and may lose their right to work, education, and health care. The verdict is met with massive condemnation from the international community and human rights defenders.
The United States is a very important player in Haiti. Geographically, there is a short distance between countries, and every year thousands of Haitians try to reach the United States, in poor and crowded boats. Many of these so-called Boat People never reach Florida, either because they perish on the ocean or because they are taken care of by the US Coast Guard and returned to Haiti. There are approximately 700,000 Haitians living in the United States and many are actively lobbying the US government for bilateral support for the country. The United States has contributed billions to the reconstruction of Haiti after the earthquake. Haiti is one of the largest transit countries for drugs ending up in American cities. The fight against drug trafficking, organized crime, including trafficking in human beings, is one of the main US initiatives in the region.
Norwegian involvement in Haiti
Norway has provided some support to Haiti over the past ten years, primarily through peace and reconciliation efforts. After the earthquake in 2010, Norway has increased its involvement with a focus on regional development in the south of the country. Supported programs are natural disaster prevention, natural resource management, agriculture, the private sector, clean energy and tourism. Norway supports efforts to combat sexual violence in Haiti through a project in which Norwegian police advisers work with the Haitian police to strengthen local expertise in this field.
Other Norwegian actors in Haiti are Norwegian Church Aid, which works with local partners on access to clean water, disaster prevention, building schools, and women’s education, and Project Haiti, which runs educational projects for children and youth, vocational training and entrepreneurship for women.
A brief summary of Haiti’s condition is depressing and sad reading. Yet, if something has been illustrated in this country, it is that the Haitian people can rise – so to speak, regardless of resistance.
Population: 10.49 million (2016)
Life expectancy: 63.18 years
Infant mortality: 49.43 per 1000
GDP per capita (PPP): US $ 1,800 (2016)
Religion: Catholicism 54.7%, Protestantism 28.5%, voodoo 2.1% other 4.6%
Official languages: French and Creole
Main export items: Clothing, scrap metal, oils, cocoa, mango, and coffee.
Regional relations: Member of Caricom, CELAC, Petrocaribe, Union Latina, OAS