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UN’s Michel Forst Urges Haiti to Strengthen State Institutions

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - March 11, 2013

Above: Michel Forst (UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti needs to strengthen its state institutions and improve its prison system, according to Michel Forst, the United Nations’ human rights expert in Haiti.

Forst recently made his 12th visit to Haiti, meeting with government officials and members of civil society.

The visit focused on areas outside of Port-au-Prince; prior to the trip, Forst had said he wanted to “know the reality [in which] Haitians and Haitians outside the capital live.”

“It is necessary to strengthen the institutions of the Republic in order to improve the process of policy making and the relationship between the State and citizens,” he said Friday.

Forst called attention to the situation in Haiti’s detention centres, where he said overcrowding is still a major problem, following visits to prisons in Gonaives, Jeremie, Saint Marc and Port de Paix.

The situation currently constitutes what Forst called “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The UN official also discussed the recent appearance of former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier before an appellate court, calling it a “victory for the rule of law.”

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