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Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households

Citation: A Kolbe, R Hutson, Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households, Lancet, Vol. 368, 2006, p. 864-873.

Since an armed insurrection overthrew the government of Haiti in February 2004, various sources have accused various political groups, the Haitian National Police and United Nations troops of committing human rights abuses. During a one-month period ending December 2005 approximately 1200 households were surveyed to record their experiences since the 2004 coup with different types of human rights violations. These violations included: sexual assaults; physical assaults; looting, theft and vandalism of personal property; murder, and extra-judicial detentions. Households in the greater Port-au-Prince area were selected utilizing randomized GPS coordinate sampling. GPS locations were included in the study if they were within 20 yards of a currently inhabited residence and within one of the 96 geographic blocks comprising metropolitan Port-au-Prince. Preliminary results indicate that both crime and systematic human rights abuse are common in Port-au-Prince. Women who are from a household affiliated with either the Fanmi Lavalas or Lespwa parties were more likely to be victims of rape committed by political actors or government agents. A sizeable percentage of the respondents said they had witnessed a homicide. Respondents identified the perpetrators as criminals, political affiliates and Haitian police. Witnessing deaths by crossfire was also common. While the most common method of death in the witnessed murders was gunshot wounds, respondents also reported witnessing deaths by torture, beatings, stabbings, suffocation, and beheadings. Respondents also indicated a large number of threats of physical or sexual violence came from Brazilian troops.


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