MINUJUSTH helps Haiti's Ombudsman Office strengthen human rights regional follow up mechanisms
From 22 to 25 October, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) Human Rights Section and the Office for Citizen Protection (OPC) co-organized a workshop in Gonaives (Artibonite) to strengthen OPC capacity to document, report and follow up on human rights violations in various parts of the country, in line with the institution’s priorities to ensure its support and presence at the regional level.
A few weeks ago, MINUJUSTH peacekeeping officers were at Cayes, in the South, where they organized a capacity building workshop in human rights investigation monitoring techniques. In Artibonite, the same team capacitated more than 33 people (13 of which women) from different regions.
"In the area of human rights, reporting is crucial," highlighted Jean Eliakim Cangé, OPC Regional Presence Coordinator, based in the Port-au-Prince central office at Lalu. "It is paramount for all members of the team to master collection techniques, since the information always come from the ground."
This is something that is becoming more and more a priority as OPC, for many years, has tried to strengthen its presence at regional level: in the South, South-West, Grand-Anse and, for a few weeks now, close to Saint-Marc (Artibonite). "OPC is growing in an organic way," explained Mr. Cangé.
"Our new collaborators must be able to apply not only human rights principles and values, but also their philosophy. This has been possible thanks to continuous capacity building. Even for the older staff, it’s a reinforcement of the knowledge they already have."
As part of the institution’s next steps, there are plans for an intensive workshop about the key concepts in the Human Rights Chart and on human rights violation follow up and reporting techniques. "My background is as a lawyer, but I must admit that I have learned a lot in four days," said Dulianne Dassas, OPC representative for Cap-Haitian, in the North. "For instance, I didn’t know that we had to differentiate between internal reports, for OPC consumption, and public reports. It is good to know that there is a conceptual structure on which to base such reports."
Serge Phanord, judicial counselor at the Ouanaminthe office, close to the border with the Dominican Republic, came to a similar conclusion: "To write a report we have to use different monitoring tools. This is critical when we note a violation. It’s almost a scientific document that cannot be vague and must serve to support human rights follow up by the central office and the authorities."
"From a Protector’s perspective, regional presence is a priority," added Jean Eliakim Cangé. "This is why the Territorial Presence Coordination was created. With more than 11 million inhabitants all over the country, it is impossible that all the work can be carried out from Port-au-Prince. The victims from rural areas and remote communities must be heard as all the others. The more the OPC is present across the country, the more human rights will be defended in Haiti!"