Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights in Haiti: Ideas for Next Steps

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 2:00pm
2255 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on ideas for responding to the complex human rights crisis in Haiti.

Haiti is caught in a perfect storm of failed governance, rampant corruption, deeply rooted poverty and growing lawlessness and insecurity. In January the country slid into rule by decree under President Jovenel Moïse when the mandates of most members of the parliament expired because the country failed to hold elections last October. Current and former Haitian officials, including Moïse and former President Michel Martelly, have been credibly linked to embezzlement and fraud as a result of investigations carried out by the Haitian Senate, the Central Unit of Financial Intelligence and the Superior Court of Auditors into missing proceeds from the PetroCaribe program. Billions of dollars of humanitarian assistance and other aid flowed into Haiti over the last ten years in response to the devastating 2010 earthquake and then in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Yet Haiti remains the lowest resource country in the Western Hemisphere, where people live in some of the most extreme conditions of poverty. Remittances account for nearly a third of a shrinking GDP. Citizen security has deteriorated dramatically since 2018: anti-corruption protests spurred by the PetroCaribe scandal have been met with violence and massacres; armed gangs control key roads; and recent clashes between the police and the recently reconstituted military resulted in the death of a soldier. The Haitian state is failing across the board in its obligation to protect and defend all of the human rights of the Haitian people.

Given Haiti’s proximity to the United States and the intertwined histories of the two countries, it is critically important to identify constructive steps that could be taken to help mitigate the complex crisis. Even as the governance stalemate has persisted, Haitian initiatives to fight corruption, ensure economic and social rights such as the right to health, and move away from dependence on humanitarian assistance have continued to advance. Community-based organizations in Haiti are creating the groundwork for a system in which they can advocate for their human rights by increasing their economic empowerment, building civil society capacity and gaining experience in engaging with local government. Witnesses will discuss the role of international actors, including the U.S. government, in supporting these efforts, as well as the need for political compromise and attention to medium- and long-term issues such as the lack of a national civil registry, the conditions needed to hold credible elections, unfinished police reform and accountability for grave human rights abuses.

This hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via the Commission website and will also be available for viewing on Channel 52 of the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-225-3599 (for Co-Chair McGovern) or Piero Tozzi at 202-225-3765 (for Co-Chair Smith).

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC
Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I

  • Georges A. Fauriol, Senior Associate, Americas Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
    Written testimony
  • Anthony Banbury, President and CEO, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
    Written testimony
  • Ellie Happel, Haiti Project Director and Staff Attorney, Global Justice Clinic, New York University
    Written testimony

Panel II

Panel III


Submitted for the Record




116th Congress