By Stuart Smith
Impunity Watch, North America Desk
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti- The prosecution of rape and sexual assault cases in Haiti remains alarmingly slow, with victims only rarely receiving justice, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti said in a report released June 26, 2012.
The report, conducted by the U.N.’s human rights section in Haiti in cooperation with law enforcement and judicial officials, examined 62 rape complaints filed in Port-au-Prince during a three month period in 2010, reported the ABC News. According to the report, more than a year after they were filed with police, none of the 62 complaints had gone to trial. As of December 2011, only one of the 62 rape complaints had been recommended for trial by judicial authorities, although the trial had not yet begun.
Yet, the lack of prosecution is not the only problem- so, too, is the lack of information and resources.
According to ABC News, obtaining accurate and comprehensive information on rape and sexual assault cases is difficult because there is no national database pooling data from the government, aid groups, and the U.N. Further, in part due to the 2010 earthquake, police lack the basic resources, such as computers, vehicles, and furniture, necessary to perform their duties.
Moreover, currently, the government allocates 1.4 percent of the national budget to the Ministry of Women’s Rights. Addressing these issues , the U.N. report recommended, that the government increase the funding dedicated to the ministry and other agencies helping women.
Yet, concern over rape and sexual assault cases in Haiti is not new.
According to an Amnesty International report, more than 250 rape cases were reported in the 150 days following the 2010 earthquake. A year after the earthquake, detailed the report, rape victims continued to arrive at local women’s support groups almost every other day.
“Women, already struggling to come to terms with losing their loved ones, homes and livelihoods in the earthquake, now face the additional trauma of living under the constant threat of sexual attack,” said Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Haiti researcher.
Further exacerbating the problem are allegations of rape against U.N. peacekeepers. In May 2010, a 19-year-old Haitian man accused six Uruguayan soldiers, serving as UN peacekeepers in Haiti, of raping him, reported Al Jazeera. And on March 14, 2012, a Pakistani military tribunal convicted three peacekeepers of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy, sentencing them to one year in jail, said an Amnesty International press release.
“For the prevalence of sexual violence to end, the government must ensure that the protection of women and girls in the camps is a priority. This has so far been largely ignored in the response to the wider humanitarian crisis,” said Ducos.
Unfortunately, the sexual violence continues today, and the government response remains woefully inadequate to combat this crisis.
For further information, please see:
ABC News — UN Report on Haiti Rape Shows Few Prosecutions — 27 June 2012
Al Jazeera — Haiti ‘rape victim’ set for court testimony — 10 May 2012
Amnesty International — Convictions against UN peacekeepers in Haiti do not serve justice — 15 March 2012
Amnesty International — Haiti: Sexual violence against women increasing — 6 January 2011