United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2019/805)
- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2466 (2019), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) until 15 October 2019 and requested me to report to the Council on the implementation of the resolution, including any instances of mandate implementation failures and measures taken to address them, every 90 days starting from 12 April 2019. The document covers significant developments that have occurred since the issuance of my previous report (S/2019/563), an assessment of progress made on the benchmarked exit strategy, elements of the peacekeeping legacy, including lessons learned, and continued priorities to be carried over to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). The report also contains an update on the transition, the drawdown of MINUJUSTH, the start-up of BINUH and the preparations for stronger integration of the United Nations country team with BINUH, including a set of strategic benchmarks, as stipulated in resolution 2476 (2019).
II. Significant developments
A. Political situation and related security developments
The reporting period was characterized by protracted, and to date unsuccessful, negotiations on the confirmation of a new government, a failed attempt to impeach the President of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, in the Lower Chamber of Parliament, and a looming constitutional crisis caused by the failure to organize elections in time to renew the current legislature, whose term expires on 13 January 2020. Against this backdrop of political crisis, the security situation remained volatile, as the opposition organized several violent actions during the month of September and armed criminal gangs continued to pose a threat to public order.
Haiti has remained without a functional government since the resignation on 21 March 2019 of Mr. Moïse’s second Prime Minister, Jean-Henry Céant, following his censure by the Lower Chamber of Parliament. On 22 July, after three failed attempts by the Senate to hold the vote on the general policy statement of the propos ed government to be led by his third appointed Prime Minister, Jean-Michel Lapin, Mr. Moïse announced the nomination of a fourth Prime Minister, Fritz William Michel. On 24 July, a 22-member cabinet, with full gender parity among ministers, was announced in the official gazette, Le Moniteur. Its composition was slightly amended on 29 August. Whereas the Lower Chamber endorsed the general policy statement of Prime Minister-designate, Mr. Michel, on 3 September, consultations between the Executive and the Senate on the confirmation of this fourth government have yet to conclude. On 11 and 23 September, attempts by the Senate to consider the proposed government degenerated into mayhem as opposition militants, some of them armed and abetted by a small number of senators, entered the Senate chamber, preventing the session from taking place. On the latter occasion, two civilians were injured after a senator from the leading Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale discharged his personal weapon in front of Parliament. Subsequent allegations of corruption levied against Mr. Michel appeared to have lessened the prospects of his confirmation, and on 25 September, in an address to the nation, Mr. Moïse proposed the formation of a government of national unity to overcome the current impasse. Several opposition leaders rejected the President’s proposal and continued to call for protests, almost on a daily basis, to demand his resignation. On 4 October, thousands of protesters marched in the streets of Port-au-Prince, at least 2,000 of whom – including a number of opposition parliamentarians – gathered in front of MINUJUSTH headquarters in Tabarre (West Department). A delegation of officials among the protesters delivered a letter, addressed to the Secretary-General, to draw his attention to what they described as an explosive situation unfolding in the country.
Honouring a procedural agreement made on 26 June in order to placate the parliamentary opposition and accelerate the process through which a new government would be approved, the Speaker of the Lower Chamber, Gary Bodeau, allowed the body to hold a debate on the motion to impeach Mr. Moïse for “having violated at least 25 articles of the Constitution”, and on the basis of allegations of corruption and fraud. In a report issued in May, the Superior Court of Audit identified Agritrans, a company led by Mr. Moïse prior to his election, as having been implicated in the alleged mismanagement of PetroCaribe funds. Following two prior sessions dedicated to the debate, on 22 August, the impeachment motion was defeated by a vote of 53 against, 3 in favour, and 5 abstentions. Opposition parliamentarians considered the vote to have been held illegally, given the turnout of Lower Chamber parliamentarians below the two-thirds quorum (80 parliamentarians), which is required by the Constitution to hold a vote on the impeachment of a sitting President.
In August, one year after the emergence of the “PetroChallengers” movement and its call for accountability concerning the alleged mismanagement of funds received by the Haitian State through the PetroCaribe agreement, demonstrations were organized to encourage the Superior Court of Audit to issue a third report on the 23 per cent of authorized projects not covered in its reports of 31 January and 31 May, and to call for a public trial to be held to shed light on the allegations. The movement is also increasingly vocal in demanding the resignation of Mr. Moïse, perceived by many to be an obstacle to the holding of a trial.
Elections to renew the entire Lower Chamber and one third of the Senate were constitutionally mandated to take place by the end of October 2019. Parliament’s failure to approve a new electoral law and budget prior to the end of the legislative year on 9 September, together with the absence of political agreement on a new composition of the Provisional Electoral Council, made it materially impossible to hold elections in 2019, as the electoral body would need between five and six months to organize them. With the term of all Lower Chamber parliamentarians and at least a third of Senators ending on 13 January 2020, the likelihood of a constitutional crisis has significantly increased. In the event of its occurrence, it will be paramount to ensure that the parameters within which Mr. Moïse will be allowed to rule by decree until a new parliament is elected and seated are well defined and transparent.
The arrest on 22 July of a notorious gang leader by the Haitian National Police had a positive but limited impact on the reduction of criminality in the Artibonite and West Departments. The continued rise in crime trends highlights the urgent need for national authorities to develop and implement a national strategy to address the root causes of gang violence. On 27 August, Mr. Moïse appointed the Inspector General, Normil Rameau, as Director General ad interim of the Haitian National Police, to replace Michel Ange Gédéon, who completed his three-year term on 25 August. Rameau awaits the confirmation of his nomination by the Senate, in ac cordance with the Haitian Constitution. An organized movement of protest against the recurring problem of fuel scarcity partially paralysed economic and social activity in Port-auPrince and other major cities between 14 and 20 September.
The protracted political crisis and tense security environment continued to have an adverse impact on the country’s economy. The national currency (gourde) has lost 37.6 per cent of its value against the United States dollar over the past 12 months, inflation is now estimated at 19.1 per cent, and gross domestic product is projected to have contracted by over 1 per cent during the recently concluded fiscal year. In the agricultural sector, the effect of localized droughts and low rainfall on aggregate crop production was exacerbated by gang members driving farmers away from their productive land. This has added strain on households, which is reflected by an increase in the index of severe food insecurity in rural areas, from 17 per cent in 2018 to 49.5 per cent since the end of April 2019. Moreover, the ongoing impasse in the effort to confirm a new government continues to impede the passing of important legislative texts, including the 2018–19 and 2019–20 budget laws, as well as the electoral law. In the absence of a fully functioning government and with no budget approved, several bilateral and multilateral donors, including the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank, continue to withhold budgetary support from Haiti.
Even though the challenges Haiti faces are understood by all actors, there has been no progress towards the holding of an inclusive and comprehensive national dialogue to lead the country out of the current multidimensional crisis. Since the expiration of the mandate of the committee to facilitate an inter-Haitian dialogue in May, no new serious initiatives towards dialogue have been undertaken.