Haiti: evictions of quake victims continue

Some 60 families left homeless by the earthquake that devastated southern Haiti in January 2010 were evicted from their improvised shelters in the vast Canaan camp a few kilometers north of Port-au-Prince on Dec. 7. According to residents, the removal was carried out—without an eviction order—by a justice of the peace and 17 police agents. The authorities were accompanied by a group of men armed with machetes and clubs who tore down homes, stole residents’ belongings and assaulted more than a dozen people. Another 100 families were told they would be evicted later.

The Haitian government declared the Canaan camp area public land in March 2010, and tens of thousands of displaced people have moved there—despite the lack of water, electricity and other services—after being pushed out of displaced person camps in Port-au-Prince. Now people claiming to own land in Canaan are seeking to drive out the settlers. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates the number of people currently living in camps at 171,974, about a third of them threatened with eviction; the numbers would be much higher if the IOM hadn’t removed 52,926 Canaan residents from the count on the grounds that the government now categorizes the area as “new neighborhoods.”

Many of the families evicted on Dec. 7 were previously evicted from the Mozayik camp in Delmas, a commune in greater Port-au-Prince, on May 4, 2012; the Delmas government has a history of violently breaking up the camps. The UK-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) is calling for appeals to be sent to Minister of Justice and Public Security Jean Renel Sanon (secretariat.mjsp@yahoo.com); General Director of the Haitian Police Godson OrĂ©lus (godore68@hotmail.com); and Minister for Human Rights and the Reduction of Extreme Poverty Roseanne Auguste (rosanne.auguste@primature.ht) calling on them not to carry out evictions without due process, to investigate the involvement of police agents and other authorities in violent and illegal evictions, and to seek durable solutions to the earthquake victims’ housing needs. (AI urgent action, Dec. 9)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, December 15.