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Contact: Jocelyn McCalla or Merrie Archer
Phone: (212) 337-0005

(pou včsyon kreyňl la, pese isit)

Haitian Rights Coalition Urges Haiti President to Fulfill Promises on Children's Rights

At a meeting held in late April, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide announced that his government would seek to enact a new law against child abuse and offer scholarships to children who excel in school. He also called for respect for street children and those who are in domestic servitude.

While welcoming the government’s focus on children’s rights, the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) says that the plans appear to fall far short of a serious effort to promote child rights. "Your government can either join its predecessors or make a real break with the past by ensuring that every child born in Haiti is legally registered at birth, and records are maintained properly," writes NCHR’s Executive Director Jocelyn McCalla in a letter to the Haitian President. NCHR contends that millions of Haitians are stateless by virtue of being denied citizenship because of willful government negligence and incompetence.

"Secondly, the government of Haiti should wage a vigorous campaign to eliminate domestic child labor, in step with the global movement to achieve this noble goal by the year 2015," added Mr. McCalla. The number of children in domestic servitude, commonly referred to in Haiti as "restavèk" is estimated at about 300,000. These children are generally charged with cooking, cleaning, childcare, fetching water and groceries while being denied the simple pleasures of recreation and education. They are often whipped severely and suffer additional abuses at the hands of their overseers. If they stand for their rights or become no longer useful, they are then kicked out into the streets where they become homeless. They generally have little recourse to State protection. The "restavèk" system, condoned by Haitian law and customs, remains one of the most enduring symbols of slavery’s legacy even as Haiti prides itself of having been the first to free itself from its yoke.

Noting finally that the government of Haiti plans to participate in the UN General Assembly’s special session on children’s rights to be held this September in New York, NCHR suggests that at the very least it should present "a comprehensive plan of action that has been the subject of wide-ranging public debate and that signals a serious break with a past of empty promises."

The National Coalition for Haitian Rights is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization that seeks to promote and protect the rights of Haitian refugees and Haitian-Americans under US and international law, and to advance respect for human rights, the rule of law and support for civil and democratic society in Haiti.


  Campaign Overview
  Rights of the Child
  Where is Your Grown-up?
  How You Can Help
  Children of Shadows - 54-min documentary
  Defensora de la libertad
  Restavèk No More: Eliminating Child Slavery in Haiti - NCHR Report - April 18, 2002
  State Party Report - Haiti to the UN with Respect to the Convention on the Rights of the Child Submitted in 2001
  Ti Saintanise - restavèk story in Creole by Maurice Sixto
NCHR Urges Haiti President to Fullfill Promises on Children's Rights
  Restavčk: Four-year-old Servants in Haiti - Haiti Insight Dec '96 / Jan '97
   Join NCHR in the March for Children's Rights
  Articles and Books

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