WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.-08) and Mike Waltz (R-Fla.-06) today introduced new legislation to assess and accelerate progress in Haiti since a catastrophic January 2010 earthquake killed more than 220,000 people and injured 300,000, destroyed 115,000 homes, and displaced 1.5 million Haitians.
“Although the eyes of the world largely have turned away, Haiti has continued to struggle to recover from the devastating earthquake of a decade ago. Its government and economy are rife with uncertainty and corruption, while everyday life for many of its citizens remains a constant struggle,” said Senator Cardin. “I am particularly concerned with reports of grave human rights abuses that must be fully investigated to bring those responsible to justice.”
“Having seen firsthand the devastation caused by Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, I’m proud to join this bicameral and bipartisan effort to ensure we shine a light on human rights violations, corruption, governance and the rule of law in Haiti,” said Senator Rubio. “We must remain firm in our continued commitment to Haiti having free, fair, and democratic elections.”
“Haiti is home to a resilient and entrepreneurial people and has tremendous potential to thrive as a free and fair democracy. However, it faces—and has faced—severe challenges in the wake of natural disasters, food insecurity, the coronavirus pandemic and political instability,” said Rep. Jeffries. “I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation with Representative Waltz and Senators Cardin and Rubio to upgrade the U.S. foreign assistance strategy to Haiti. We will always stand with our neighbor in the Western Hemisphere and the Haitian people as they fight for a self-governing, democratic and prosperous nation.”
“For far too long, Haiti has been crippled by poverty, natural disasters, political instability, and corruption. The American people, along with the Haitian-American community, have generously supported Haiti’s efforts to rebuild and recover,” said Rep. Waltz. “I’m honored to stand with Rep. Jeffries in his steadfast dedication to promote transparency within Haitian humanitarian assistance programs to ensure that this vital aid is focused on improving the welfare of the Haitian people.”
The Haiti Development, Accountability, and Institutional Transparency Initiative Act requires the Secretary of State to prioritize the protection of human rights and anticorruption efforts in Haiti by fostering strong relationships with independent civil society groups, and by supporting the efforts of the Haitian Government to identify persons involved in human rights violations and significant acts of corruption in Haiti and hold them accountable for their actions.
The bill also requires a State Department briefing on the November 13, 2018 attacks in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of La Saline and its aftermath, including an examination of any links between the massacre and mass protests that occurred concurrently in the country.
Additionally, the bill requires the State Department to develop a report that features a number of elements, including:
- an assessment of major corruption committed among the public and private sectors, and on all corruption prosecutions investigated by the Haitian judiciary since January 2015
- a description of U.S. efforts to consult and engage with Haitian officials and independent civil society groups focused on monitoring corruption and human rights abuses and promoting democracy and press freedom in Haiti since January 2015
- a description of the Haitian government’s response to civic protests that have taken place since July 2018 and any allegations of human rights abuses, including attacks on journalists
- an assessment of U.S. security assistance to Haiti, including support to the Haitian National Police and an assessment of Leahy Law compliance
- an assessment of the impact of presidential decrees on the health of Haiti’s democratic institutions and safeguarding of human rights
- an analysis in collaboration with the Haitian government on efforts to support development goals since January 2015
- a description of United States efforts taken since January 2010 to assist the Haitian people in their pursuits for free, fair, and timely democratic elections.