Target: President Michel Martelly
Goal: End evictions of refugees carried out by the Haitian government and security forces.
In early December 2013, a justice of the peace, a group of 17 police officers, and a group of men armed with machetes and sticks carried out a series of evictions in Titanyen, a town on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Approximately 60 families have recently been evicted from their homes in a makeshift settlement. Many more families are at risk of eviction as well. These families have already faced numerous evictions from refugee settlements following the massive earthquake in 2010. Typically the government and security forces carry out these evictions. The government must do more to protect its citizens from being thrown out of their homes, regardless of condition. Accountability for their condition must fall on the shoulders of the government, which has not been able to provide stable living conditions for many years. More must be done in order to ensure that these families have safe places to live, with clean, running water.
Residents that were evicted from the settlement state that they received no eviction order from the justice of the peace and that they had no notice of the eviction beforehand. Therefore, they were unable to appeal against the action being taken against them. In addition, the group of armed men who accompanied the police tore down buildings before residents had a chance to collect their belongings. Much of what was not collected by residents was then stolen by the mob. Over a dozen of the refugees reported being assaulted as well, including a woman who is four months pregnant.
The dispute over these settlements arises from a decision made by the government following the 2010 earthquake. The government then declared a large tract of unused land as open for ‘public use.’ This allowed for tens of thousands of people who lost their homes to relocate there. However, this created great tension among the settlers and those who claimed to own the land. The government must do what it can to solve this dispute and prevent future evictions from occurring. These evictions do not take place within the confines of international law and they must be halted immediately. Sign this petition and urge the Haitian government to intervene on the behalf of their citizens and end these illegal evictions.
Dear President Michel Martelly,
The recent evictions of refugees by your police forces near the neighborhood of Titanyen were completely illegal. Your government must ensure that residents of the community are not evicted without due process. Doing so violates international law that you are bound to follow. I also ask that you investigate the actions of the police forces in these evictions. Reports of excessive use of force against civilians are troubling. A recent report of a four-months pregnant woman being assaulted was particularly enraging. I ask that those responsible be immediately reprimanded.
I ask that you peacefully negotiate for durable solutions to the housing needs of these citizens. They are in desperate need of your assistance. Routinely throwing them out of settlements gives them no chance to move forward with their lives and to help produce for your country’s economy. I beg you to do everything in your power to fix their problems and allow them to live peacefully wherever they can.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons