Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households

Type Journal Article - The Lancet
Title Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households
Volume 368
Issue 9538
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2006
Page numbers 864-873
Background Reliable evidence of the frequency and severity of human rights abuses in Haiti after the departure of the
elected president in 2004 was scarce. We assessed data from a random survey of households in the greater
Port-au-Prince area.
Methods Using random Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinate sampling, 1260 households (5720 individuals)
were sampled. They were interviewed with a structured questionnaire by trained interviewers about their experiences
after the departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The response rate was 90·7%. Information on demographic
characteristics, crime, and human rights violations was obtained.
Findings Our fi ndings suggested that 8000 individuals were murdered in the greater Port-au-Prince area during the
22-month period assessed. Almost half of the identifi ed perpetrators were government forces or outside political
actors. Sexual assault of women and girls was common, with fi ndings suggesting that 35 000 women were victimised
in the area; more than half of all female victims were younger than 18 years. Criminals were the most identifi ed
perpetrators, but offi cers from the Haitian National Police accounted for 13·8% and armed anti-Lavalas groups
accounted for 10·6% of identifi ed perpetrators of sexual assault. Kidnappings and extrajudicial detentions, physical
assaults, death threats, physical threats, and threats of sexual violence were also common.
Interpretation Our results indicate that crime and systematic abuse of human rights were common in Port-au-Prince.
Although criminals were the most identifi ed perpetrators of violations, political actors and UN soldiers were also
frequently identifi ed. These fi ndings suggest the need for a systematic response from the newly elected Haitian
government, the UN, and social service organisations to address the legal, medical, psychological, and economic
consequences of widespread human rights abuses and crime

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