Fr. Jan Hanssens, Haitian Episcopal Commission on Justice and

Haiti - Ayiti
Working for Peace and
CRS Conferen
General Information
27.750 km² (like Belgium)
near to 10.000.000
Population growth
2,5 % per year
Urban / city population
40,8 % / 59,2 %
Income under 1 $ (US) a day
55 %
Avarage children per mother
Single parent (women) families
38,5 % of households
Mothers dying while giving birth per 100.000 births
Life expectation men / women
52,7 year / 56,8 year
Women (15-49 ans) victims of physical violence
35 % en 2000
Literacy rate men / women
63,1 % / 54,9 %
Children at school
49 %
Historical Data
Before 1492
Decembre 5, 1492
January 1, 1804
– 1825
– 1860
– 1915 - 1934
– 1957 - 1986
February 7, 1986
March 1987
November 29, 1987
February 7, 1991
September 30, 1991
October 1994
February 7, 1996
February 7, 2001
February 29, 2004
February 7, 2006
May 14, 2011
Habitants are Arawaks et Tainos
Colombus arrival
Traite de Ryswick: Haïti becomes French colony
Cérémoniel of Bois Caïman
The french part of the island becomes independent as
France recognizes the independence but requires
indemnity for the loss of the colony (the famous
independence debt)
Concordat with the Vatican
American (US) Occupation
Dictatorship of Duvalier:
François and son Jean-Claude
End of the dictatureship
Referendum on the still actual Constitution
First (aborted) democratic election
First election of Aristide (December 16, 1990)
Coup d’État by Gen. Cédras
Return of Aristide by US troops
First election of Pres. Préval
Second (contested) election of Aristide
Departure of Aristide and transitional Government
Second election of Préval
Martelly becomes President
Actual Context
A legitime Government
Martelly /
A electoral process of 2010 marked by fraud led to a
Government without support of Congres.
Source of corruption.
Multiple tensions between Executive and Legislative.
Subdued Judiciary
Presence of UN Peace keepers
Some major challenges
Violence, issue of disarmament
Struggle against impunity and corruption
Social justice and national reconciliation
Justice reform and
construction of a State of Law
Economic development and struggle
against unemployment
Ecological crisis
The National Episcopal Commission on Justice et Paix
Its identity
Institution of the Catholic Church in Haiti
Present in all 10 dioceses of the country
And in 300 parishes or local communities.
Coordination on level of the dioceses, and nationwide.
Mandate: Defense of human dignity and its rights, starting from a
lived faith as related to the social realities
as expressed in the Social teachings of the Church.
Priority in Haiti: defense of human rights.
The Commission’s unique character is its nationwide network.
The involvement of the Commission
Programs that are coordinated on national level
Observation (monitoring) of major injustice, human rights violations
and violence
Violence in the metropolitan area and in the country.
With attention to question of :
gender, conflict on land issues and ecology
Special moments: election process;
Special places: prison.
Training of members
Training on Human rights
Training on Peace
Training on technical skills (monitoring, administration)
The training on Human rights is the basic training of all members:
6 seminars of 3 days each
The basis of Human rights
Human rights and Society
Human rights and Economy in Haiti
Human rights and Politics in Haiti
Human rights and Haitian Culture
Human rights: Specific Rights
Peace Building
Bati Lape. Conflict management without violence
A 4 day seminar
Accompaniment of victims through
Conflict resolution
Peace training
Juridical assistance (administrative accompaniment)
Justice Reform through the Citizen Forum
Accompany and strengthen the local groupings and commissions
The Commission is a member organization of
and Citizen Forum for Justice Reform
occasional coalitions like
Moratorium on free market with EEC.
The Commission is
Associated Member of Pax Christi International
Related to the IANSA Network
Member of CO-HE (Coordination Haiti-Europe).
The GRR of the Commission gathers members of
Pax Christi Haiti / ATD Quart Monde / CHR (Religious Conference)
/ JOC / Scout / Kiwo Ayiti / Caritas
Its seminars reaches several thousands of local organizations
Difficulties and Challenges
The Haitian context
Deep social conflicts make peace building urgent
Poverty and economic crisis
Cultural remnants (as authoritarianism, marronnage)
Paralysis of political situation and the Justice system
Violence and impunity rooted in politics
Neglect of the natural environment and ecology since many years
Magic-religious worldview refuses own responsibility
Related to the Commission itself
To be a Church Institution offers unique possibilities and imposes limits
Some activities and programs address the Church community
As the Reflexions for Lent
Our stress on human dignity, even over human rights offers a particular
accent; effectiveness of some interventions
Local commissions need an ongoing accompaniment to remain dynamic
Pastoral activity in prison
Situation of detention:
14 prisons / more or less 6500 people detained /
infrahuman physical conditions / prolonged illegal
detention / difficult working conditions of APENA agents
Prison pastoral activity means: to make effective and to
coordinate the work done by the chaplains / charity
interventions / defense of HR of the detainees.
The J&P Commission accompanies in an administrative
way more than 250 detainees in 2011 / the Commission
visits the prisons / and makes public statements.
The Commission fosters a better coordination of the
Church’s interventions in prison.
Solidarity with work for Peace
and Justice in Haiti
Keep in mind
• Peace and Justice has local implications, but
contains larger (even international) roots.
• Peace means harmony in relations. It is fruit of
justice, development, respect for HR,
participation and the valorization of one’s own
• Justice is related to Charity as its first step;
Justice seeks to understand the deeper causes
of human problems and to act on them.
Sustaining peace and justice
work in Haiti
As related to Jilap:
• Up to 300 parishes in Haiti have a local
J&P Commission. While visiting, be
interested in what they are doing.
• They are integrated in the J&P work
nationwide through the diocesan
• Let them explain how they work, their
difficulties and achievements.
Particular Justice issues in Haiti
• Need for building up of a State that is
concerned with people’s living conditions;
• Local production and economy;
• Issue of dependence: distinguish solidarity
from dependence;
• Haiti feels occupied and not taken
seriously by the international community;
• Solutions are imposed.
To work for Haiti from the
United States
Be aware of the longstanding historical relationships
between both Nations: Haiti supported the abolition of
slavery in the US, it was a place of welcome for black US
citizens (Mgr Jolly), today US is the home of a numerous
Haitian Diaspora.
Be aware of how others look upon you: A country of lots of
possibilities? Generous? Dominating? Exploiting?
Pursuing its own (political and economic) agenda? Not
all people/peoples applaud US policies and
How do we look upon ourselves? Be aware of what relation
between countries mean. At the moment: HOPE and
maquiladora approach of the Martelly Government is
questioned by some.
What can be done in the US
• Seek just relationships: trade, politics, respect for
autonomy and self-determination of others.
• See to influence issues of international justice as related
to other countries. Encourage trade instead of dumping.
• Be aware: our lifestyles impact on others, as is obvious
in international trade / international work division /
ecology and pollution. Encourage trade from others and
just working conditions.
• Support issues as international peace, arms trade and
disarmament issues (the US does as a rule not sign
international commitments), just migration policies, the
question of returning deportees (see Central America
questions), etc.
• Not compassion, but solidarity and mutual
• Admire, sustain and encourage;
• Be aware and foster awareness in others.
• We can learn from one another and make
a difference.

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