States across the Americas are failing to provide international protection and safety for Haitians on the move, exposing them to a range of human rights violations, including detentions and illegal pushbacks by authorities; extortion; anti-Black racial discrimination; abuses by armed groups, including gender-based violence; and lack of access to adequate housing, healthcare, and employment, said Amnesty International and Haitian Bridge Alliance in a new briefing published today.
“As the political and economic situation continue to deteriorate in Haiti, facilitating massive human rights violations, kidnappings, and generalized violence, states across the Americas are failing to protect Haitians on the move, who are searching for stability and safety, as well as assurances they will not be deported to Haiti where they face serious risks to their lives and safety,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
“Today we are calling on states across the region to stop deportations to Haiti and urgently provide Haitians with protection measures, including asylum, and other routes to legal residency so they can re-build their lives in safety.”
Not safe anywhere: Haitians on the move need urgent international protection is the result of an investigation by a team of researchers who spent a week conducting interviews in Tapachula, southern Mexico, where tens of thousands of Haitians are awaiting the outcome of their asylum applications in inhumane conditions, after making the dangerous voyage through South and Central America in search of safety.
More than 26,000 Haitians have requested asylum in Mexico this year. Less than half the claims for international protection that Haitians made in 2020 and 2021 were successful, compared with a 97-98% success rate for Venezuelans or 84-85% for Hondurans in that period, according to data from the Mexican authorities.
The briefing finds that Mexico is implementing measures that, in practice, may be restricting access to protection for Haitians in several ways. This includes conducting unlawful forced returns and pushbacks to Haiti and Guatemala without assessments of protection, violating the principle of non-refoulement, restricting all Haitian asylum applicants to Tapachula, and failing to consider the range of options for regularization as allowed by Mexican law. In turn this is overloading the system and leading to unsafe conditions and destitution due to lack of access to shelter, food, and other basic needs. Many of the Haitians in Mexico had been living in Chile but felt forced to leave after facing anti-Black racist discrimination and difficulties in regularizing their immigration status, particularly under the Sebastián Piñera administration.
International and regional human rights law prohibits states from returning people to places where their life or freedom would be at risk – a situation that clearly applies to Haiti, a country challenged by widespread gang violence; massive human rights violations, including allegations of crimes against humanity; widespread food insecurity; a recent earthquake; and political instability following the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Nonetheless, states across the region, especially the United States and Mexico, have continued deportations to Haiti in recent weeks.
According to International Organization for Migration, between September 19 and October 19, countries across the region returned some 10,800 Haitians back to Haiti, mostly from the United States. The recent, much publicized mass expulsions of Haitians from Del Rio, Texas, reportedly to Haiti and Mexico under Title 42 policies – a measure initially implemented by the Trump administration under the pretext of COVID-19 that authorizes expulsions without screenings or asylum protection – clearly demonstrate that the US authorities are similarly restricting access to international protection for Haitians.
“Our research shows us that Haitians are not safe anywhere. Countries across the region must immediately end all deportations to Haiti and provide Haitians with unrestricted access to international protection,” said Nicole Phillips, Legal Director at Haitian Bridge Alliance. “States must also take swift and effective measures to combat racism and other intersecting forms of discrimination targeting Haitian migrants, including by enforcing rules that forbid racial profiling by public officials, and by implementing public anti-discrimination campaigns that address racism and xenophobia in wider society.”
Contact: Gabby Arias, [email protected]
Not safe anywhere: Haitians on the move need urgent international protection (Research, 28 October 2021) https://www.amnestyusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Not-Safe-Anywhere-Haitians-need-urgent-international-protection.pdf
Haiti: Investigation urged into killing of Haitian President and grave human rights violations under his watch (News, 7 July 2021) https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/press-release/2021/07/haiti-investigation-urged-into-killing-of-haitian-president-and-grave-human-rights-violations-under-his-watch/
Haiti: Authorities must protect relatives of murdered journalist and activist from death threats (News, 6 August 2021) https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/08/haiti-authorities-must-protect-relatives-of-murdered-journalist-and-activist-from-death-threats/