Head of government Jean-Max Bellerive (replaced Michèle D. Pierre-Louis in November)
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 10 million
Life expectancy 61 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 90/80 per 1,000
Adult literacy 62.1 per cent
Poverty remained endemic, widespread and profound, denying millions of Haitians access to a range of human rights. Women and girls continued to experience high levels of violence. Outbreaks of mob justice and lynchings were frequent and those responsible rarely brought to justice. There were reports of ill-treatment and arbitrary arrests and killings by officials. According to the UN, prison conditions often amounted to cruel and degrading treatment or punishment. Scores of people died at sea trying to leave Haiti on boat journeys organized by traffickers. Thousands of children used as domestic workers were at grave risk of abuse.
In July, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund cancelled debts of US$1.2 billion, nearly two thirds of Haiti's national debt, and the Paris Club of creditors cancelled a further US$63 million. Elections were held in April to renew one third of the Senate. Run-off elections took place in June in relative calm. The National Assembly agreed to initiate a series of constitutional reforms. In October, the National Assembly passed a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Michèle D. Pierre-Louis. Jean-Max Bellerive was confirmed by Parliament as the new Prime Minister a week later.
The failure of the President to nominate a President of the Supreme Court and of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary meant that urgent reforms of the justice system were stalled. Police reform failed to progress because of delays in completing the vetting and certification of police officers.
The mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti was extended for another year.
The right to health
Poverty was widespread and recovery from the devastating hurricane season of 2008 was slow. More than 56 per cent of Haitians lived on less than US$1 a day, according to the UNDP. Although the availability of food improved compared with 2008, in September the National Coordination for Food Security estimated that 1.9 million people were affected by food insecurity. Lack of access to clean water continued to affect millions of people, with severe consequences for health. Contaminated water was the leading cause of infant mortality and illness in children.
The number of juvenile courts remained inadequate. Only two were in operation in 2009: one in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and one in Cap-Haitian. Children continued to be detained in adult prisons and tried in ordinary courts which did not always respect the privacy of minors on trial. The trafficking of children within Haiti and into the Dominican Republic continued unabated, according to human rights organizations. UNICEF estimated that 175,000 children were employed in domestic service, which was described as a "modern form of slavery" by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery following her visit to Haiti in June.