Countries in the Americas should suspend forced returns of Haitians on the move and adopt measures to protect them instead, UN-appointed independent human rights experts said on Friday.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) sounded the alarm after 36,000 people of Haitian origin were deported during the first three months of the year, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Some 90 per cent were deported from the Dominican Republic.
Violations and abuses against Haitians
The experts expressed concern over collective expulsions which did not take into consideration individual circumstances and needs.
They also highlighted alleged human rights violations and abuses against Haitians on the move along migration routes, at borders and in detention centres in the Americas region, “as a result of strict migration control, the militarization of borders, systematic immigration detention policies and the obstacles to international protection” in some countries.
Such obstacles exposed these vulnerable migrants to “killings, disappearances, acts of sexual and gender-based violence, and trafficking by criminal networks”, the Committee warned.
Demanding protection for Haitian refugees
Caribbean countries, such as the Bahamas as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands, have announced measures against undocumented Haitian migrants.
The United States in January also made public new border policies to permit fast-tracked expulsions to Mexico of Haitian migrants and others, crossing the southern border of the US without documentation.
Considering the desperate situation in Haiti, which does not currently allow for the safe and dignified return of Haitians to the country, as pointed out by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee called for an end to the collective expulsions of Haitians on the move.
It also said assessments of each individual case needed to be carried out, to identify protection needs in accordance with international refugee and human rights law, with particular attention to the most vulnerable groups.
Combatting racism and xenophobia
The independent human rights experts requested States parties in the Americas to investigate all allegations of excessive use of force, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and racial profiling against Haitians.
They also demanded protection of refugees against other allegations of human rights violations and abuses committed by both State and non-state actors; including at borders, migrant detention centres and along migration routes, to punish those responsible and to provide rehabilitation and reparations to victims or their families.
The experts also called for measures to prevent and combat xenophobic and racist violence and incitement to racial hatred against people of Haitian origin, and to publicly condemn racist hate speech, including those uttered by public figures and politicians.
Independent human rights experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva. They are mandated to monitor and report on specific thematic issues or country situations. They are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work.
SOURCE: United Nations. Headline photo: Haitians being deported from the Dominican Republic