Video: Victims of Forced Evictions Interviewed, Plus Press Release: 100 days into Michel Martelly’s pres­i­dency: Sur­vey reveals government’s clo­sure of camps con­flicts with durable hous­ing solu­tions pro­posed in hous­ing plan

Posted on August 19, 2011

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100 days into Michel Martelly’s presidency: Survey reveals government’s closure of camps conflicts with durable housing solutions proposed in housing plan (IJDH-BAI)

18 August 2011 Comments: 0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2011

Mario Joseph, Av., Man­ag­ing Attor­ney, Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux (BAI), Mario@ijdh.org, 011–509-3701–9879 (Haiti)

Nicole Phillips, Esq., staff attor­ney, Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti (IJDH) and assis­tant direc­tor for Haiti pro­grams, Uni­ver­sity of San Fran­cisco School of Law, Nicole@ijdh.org, 001–510-715‑2855 (U.S.)

100 days into Michel Martelly’s pres­i­dency:
Sur­vey reveals government’s clo­sure of camps con­flicts with
durable hous­ing solu­tions pro­posed in hous­ing plan

(Port-au-Prince, August 18, 2011)— On the eve of the hun­dredth day of Pres­i­dent Michel Martelly’s pres­i­dency, a sur­vey con­ducted in six dis­place­ment camps sched­uled to close under his 100-day plan shows that the government’s clo­sure of camps so far has resulted in unlaw­ful, vio­lent evic­tions of dis­placed com­mu­ni­ties in direct con­trast to the durable solu­tions touted under the plan.  The sur­vey, con­ducted by the Cen­ter for Law and Global Jus­tice (CLGJ) at the Uni­ver­sity of San Fran­cisco School of Law, the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti (IJDH), and the Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux (BAI), inter­viewed 150 house­holds from August 3 to August 10, 2011, on the government’s imple­men­ta­tion of the hous­ing plan, includ­ing camp clo­sures, res­i­dents’ access to infor­ma­tion and input on the plan, and the pro­vi­sion of hous­ing assistance.

Pres­i­dent Martelly, who took office on May 14, 2011, pre­sented the camp clo­sure plan as the pilot project for clos­ing camps and mov­ing vic­tims of last year’s dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake into per­ma­nent hous­ing. The plan pays dis­placed res­i­dents a fixed amount to move out of camps into their pre-earthquake homes, the major­ity of which are cur­rently unin­hab­it­able due to earth­quake dam­age.  The six camps slated for clo­sure within the first 100 days of his pres­i­dency are: Pri­ma­ture, Place Saint-Pierre, Place Boyer, Place Canapé-Vert, Maïs Gaté, and Stade Sylvio Cator.

The Interim Haiti Recov­ery Com­mis­sion pledged $78 mil­lion this week to fund Pres­i­dent Martelly’s hous­ing plan.  The plan could have sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits for dis­placed com­mu­ni­ties, assum­ing the gov­ern­ment keeps its promises made in the plan. While imple­men­ta­tion in accor­dance with the stated plan has yet to begin, two of the six camps have already begun the clo­sure process. Stade Sylvio Cator was com­pletely closed and all res­i­dents evicted last month by the gov­ern­ment in direct con­trast to the “durable solu­tions” and “improved liv­ing con­di­tions” promised in the Martelly plan.

The fam­i­lies liv­ing at Stade Sylvio Cator were unlaw­fully evicted by the Mayor of Port-au-Prince and Hait­ian National Police with­out a court order, as required under Hait­ian law.  The police destroyed res­i­dents’ tents and belong­ings, prompt­ing con­dem­na­tion from the United Nations Office of the High Com­mis­sioner for Human Rights.  A sur­vey of for­mer res­i­dents of the sta­dium con­firmed that vio­lence and threats of vio­lence were used by Hait­ian author­i­ties dur­ing the evic­tion in July. Thirty-five per­cent reported hav­ing been phys­i­cally harmed or threat­ened with phys­i­cal harm dur­ing the government’s evic­tion, while 30% reported destruc­tion of that their shel­ter or belong­ings. Res­i­dents reported even higher rates of vio­lence in prior evic­tion attempts at the stadium.

The Mayor of Port-au-Prince is also threat­en­ing to move 20,000 peo­ple from Champ Mars, another camp on pub­lic land that is not part of the Martelly plan.

Human rights lawyer, Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux, rec­om­mends that “the government’s hous­ing plan include pro­tec­tions for Haitians liv­ing in dis­place­ment camps from vio­lent and unlaw­ful evic­tions.  The gov­ern­ment and pri­vate landown­ers must refrain from using vio­lence, fol­low proper legal evic­tion pro­ce­dures, such as obtain­ing a court order when required, and give res­i­dents ade­quate notice of evic­tion and legal recourse to defend their rights.”

Most for­mer sta­dium res­i­dents sur­veyed, though not all, were given US$250 (10,000 gour­des) by the local mayor’s office to leave the camp, funded by the national trea­sury. All of the res­i­dents sur­veyed said that the money was not enough for them to relo­cate or pay rent.  Nor was the money enough to build a basic 12×10 foot shack with a con­crete floor, ply­wood walls and cor­ru­gated metal roof, which costs an aver­age of US$300 – leav­ing many res­i­dents with­out shelter.

Approx­i­mately 150 fam­i­lies from Sylvio Cator were relo­cated to another camp, which 88% of sur­vey respon­dents described as hav­ing worse access to secu­rity, light­ing, clean toi­lets, water and food com­pared with the sta­dium. Forty-two per­cent of res­i­dents reported that no one had dis­cussed the relo­ca­tion plan from the sta­dium with them.  For those that were con­sulted, only 8% reported being asked their opin­ion on how the relo­ca­tion plan would impact their access to basic needs.

Approx­i­mately 600 dis­placed fam­i­lies liv­ing in Place St. Pierre were paid US$500 (20,000 gour­des) by the local mayor’s office to leave the camp. Lim­ited inves­ti­ga­tions fol­low­ing recip­i­ents have shown that given the des­per­ate con­di­tions in which IDPs are liv­ing, some camp res­i­dents spent the money offered on other urgent needs, and moved into other camps or pitched tents amongst the rub­ble of houses destroyed by the earthquake.

“The com­pen­sa­tion offered at Camps Place St. Pierre and Stade Sylvio Cator amount to eco­nomic coer­cion,” said Nicole Phillips, who directed the sur­vey. “A pop­u­la­tion suf­fer­ing with­out access to health­care, water and other ser­vices will accept the money in the short-term out of des­per­a­tion — lack­ing the power to insist on sus­tain­able solu­tions.”  Phillips rec­om­mends that camps remain open until fam­i­lies are able to be re-housed to loca­tions that meet min­i­mum secu­rity and liv­ing stan­dards. 

Equally trou­bling, the remain­ing camps have yet to be told about the plan, rais­ing ques­tions about the stated com­mit­ment to com­mu­ni­ties par­tic­i­pa­tion and mobi­liza­tion. Only 38% of the house­holds sur­veyed had even heard of plans to close their camp. Of those, 53% learned from rumor from other res­i­dents, and only 12.7% heard it from a gov­ern­ment offi­cial, the UN or an NGO. Eighty-two per­cent of res­i­dents had not been con­sulted on their opin­ion for clo­sure of their camp.

As fund­ing from the Haiti Recon­struc­tion Fund com­mences, Phillips rec­om­mends that com­mu­nity out­reach and mobi­liza­tion com­mence imme­di­ately to ensure that the direct ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the plan are able to par­tic­i­pate in every stage of what she hopes with be a trans­par­ent hous­ing process.

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