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Ahead of Haiti’s elections, UN mission pledges help to ensure peaceful process

Ahead of Haiti’s elections, UN mission pledges help to ensure peaceful process

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will assist the country’s authorities to ensure peaceful run of municipal and local elections slated to start this Sunday, when Haitians go to polls to elect representatives and finish a number of legislative run-off elections.

“The Mission’s principal tasks on this occasion are to provide security and logistic support throughout the country, including distributing election material to some 9,200 polling stations,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the press in New York.

A joint-security plan is being implemented, involving the Haitian Police, the UN Police and the Mission’s military force. The Mission’s 6,500- plus troops and 1,700 police will be out in force on election day, according to the spokesman.

“In spite of the recent upsurge in violence – which is a phenomenon that preceded the successful elections held earlier this year – and aware that anti-democratic forces may try to disturb the coming elections, the Mission remains confident that it has taken all necessary steps, in conjunction with the Government of Haiti, to ensure the vote is held in a secure environment,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Meanwhile in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour voiced “serious concern” about abuses in Haiti. “Though more is being said about civil and political rights, such as arbitrary detention and extrajudicial executions, the general population suffers from violations of their economic and social rights in an equally severe way,” she said, noting that most people live in extreme poverty without basic goods and services.

“The situation of children in the country is particularly dire,” she warned in an address to the Human Rights Council. “Children are often targets of violence, and their access to adequate education and health care is severely lacking.”

Minors in conflict with the law “are most harshly affected by the dysfunction and the many weaknesses of the judicial and detention systems,” said Ms. Arbour, who recently visited the Caribbean country.

“The Government expressed its commitment to solving pressing human rights problems and to put an end to abuses and violations originating from violence, impunity and the absence of the rule of law. A lack of resources hampers the achievement of these goals and the support of the international community is, therefore, indispensable.”