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1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: In 2018, the economic and social rights of the majority of the population continued to deteriorate, without adequate policies being put in place. The decline of living standards was accompanied by a worsening of prison conditions with about 100 deaths recorded during the year, due to lack of adequate treatment of prisoners. The question of human rights remained relegated among government priorities.
The most important human rights issues remain mainly preventive detention, prison conditions, violence against women, exploitation of children, intolerance towards LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) persons and rights violation of persons with disabilities. Moreover, forced labour and persons trafficking are present in the border towns with the Dominican Republic. Violence perpetrated by gangs resulted in a high number of deaths, particularly during the repression of opposition demonstrations. The killings occurred at the Port-au-Price neighbourhood "La Saline" have left up to several dozen victims.
2. EU action - key focus areas:
3. EU bilateral political engagement: In 2018, the EU has put the issue of human rights among the key points of the political dialogue with the government. Issues relating to the need for justice reform, prolonged pre-trial detention, the establishment of a focal point on human rights issues, Haiti's respect of its international commitments, for example, with regard to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), to corruption, have been discussed openly with the government.
An EU Election Follow-up Mission (EFM) was deployed in Haiti from the 19 to 23 November 2018 to measure the progresses in implementing electoral reforms recommended by the EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) in 2015. The EFM, led by MEP Elena Valenciano, met all key stakeholders in the country and concluded that the draft electoral laws were integrating the recommendations of the election observation missions. She stressed the existence of technical and financial challenges ahead of the 2019 elections and recalled the importance to respect the electoral cycle.
The EU, its Member States and other members of the international community pled for the reactivation of the post of Minister for Human Rights, which was finally adopted by the new government. In an indirect way, such as through the co-financing, with a Member State Embassy, of human rights training for Haitian judges, the EU continued to advocate for a reform of the judicial sector in the country.
4. EU financial engagement: The EU continued to mobilise funds via its cooperation programmes for the benefit of the human rights sector in Haiti. In the field of transitional justice, 375 000 Euros were used to support victims of the Duvalier's regime to obtain justice. Until 2019, around 755 000 Euros will be spent on projects to fight against homophobia and respect for the rights of LGBTI people. New projects, covering the period of 2018-2021, totalling 1.994,351 Euros, will finance initiatives in the areas of child victims of exploitation, strengthening of juvenile justice and support to the fight against forced labour.
5. Multilateral context: Haiti underwent its UPR in November 2016, accepting finally 188 out of 213 recommendations. However, it did not take any significant steps in 2017 to implementing any of these recommendations. In a further negative signal, Haiti decided to not renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on Human Rights, declaring that it would ensure that national institutions and structures would take on this role. On a more positive note at the end of 2018 the new government headed by PM Céant finally nominated a Minister in charge for Human Rights and Extreme poverty; but the action plan on implementation of UPR recommendations is still awaited.