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Haiti[1] [print]

Last edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

By ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] in June of 1995, Haiti effectively gave it superior legal authority to all domestic legislation, with the exception of the Constitution.[2]  Though Haiti attempted to strengthen the implementation of the Convention in presenting a draft Children's Code to Parliament in 1998, after a postponement of the Code's review, the lack of a functioning Parliament has prevented it from making further progress in the legislative process.[3]  Even before Haiti signed the CRC, the Constitution passed in 1987 called for a Family Code, but the legislature has yet to approve one.  Haiti did, however, adopt a law in 2001 prohibiting the use of corporal punishment.

Though law has established several governmental agencies to provide social assistance, including protection to children, in reality, very little of the system is functioning due to a lack of resources and political upheaval.   The Social Welfare and Research Institute and the Social Welfare Fund, both run by the Ministry of Social Affairs, are responsible for aiding parents with their parental responsibilities.  The juvenile courts are charged with safeguarding the best interests of children.  In reality though, as Haiti reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, “the State does not intervene directly in family life in order to safeguard the best interests of the child, owing partly to the opposition of families themselves and partly to the State's own lack of resources.”[4]

Even if the government had the resources and political stability to implement the child protective legislation, Haiti has no provision requiring children to be heard in protective proceedings.  Despite Haiti's admission that the government does not intervene in families to protect children, in the same report, Haiti states:

In practice, there are a number of administrative procedures that bear witness to the Government's desire to respect children's views. Separation from parents, for example, is never a decision guided purely by the objective interests of the child, but usually occurs with the agreement and consent of the child in particular. The IBESR and the juvenile court take account of children's preferences in this regard.[5]

So, presumably, were child protective procedures to take place in Haiti, administrative procedures direct authorities to consult the child.  At the same time, Haiti acknowledges that a cultural lack of tolerance often prevents children from participating in decisions affecting them, especially in poorer populations.[6]

Numerous factors impede Haiti's implementation of the CRC.  After a violent rebellion forced the president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to flee the country in February of 2004, Haiti has not been able to establish new permanent government.  The country is plagued with poverty, social unrest marked by violence, extensive devastation due to natural disasters, and a general lack of infrastructure.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

Original Text

Constitution

La Constitution de la République d'Haiti[7]

ARTICLE 261:

La Loi assure la protection à tous les Enfants. Tout enfant a droit à l'amour, à l'affection, à la compréhension et aux soins moraux et matériels de son père et de sa mère.

ARTICLE 262:

Un Code de la Famille doit être élaboré en vue d'assurer la protection et le respect des droits de la Famille et de définir les formes de la recherche de la paternité. Les Tribunaux et autres Organismes de l'Etat chargés de la protection de ces droits doivent être accessibles gratuitement au niveau de la plus petite Collectivité Territoriale.

International Law

Convention relative aux droits de lénfant[8]

Article 12

1. Les Etats parties garantissent à l'enfant qui est capable de discernement le droit d'exprimer librement son opinion sur toute question l'intéressant, les opinions de l'enfant étant dûment prises en considération eu égard à son âge et à son degré de maturité.

2. A cette fin, on donnera notamment à l'enfant la possibilité d'être entendu dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative l'intéressant, soit directement, soit par l'intermédiaire d'un représentant ou d'une organisation approprié, de façon compatible avec les règles de procédure de la législation nationale.

Statutes

Loi no. 9 sur la minorite, la tutelle et l'emancipation[9]

Art. 336 Tout mineur sans tuteur en sera pourvu par le conseil de famille. Ce conseil sera convoqué, à la réquisition des parents du mineur, de ses créanciers ou d'autres parties intéressées et même d'office, par le juge de paix du domicile du mineur.

Toute personne pourra dénoncer à ce juge de paix le fait qui donne lieu à la nomination du tuteur.

 

Translation[10]

Constitution

The Constitution of the Republic of Haiti[11]

ARTICLE 261:

The law ensures protection for all children. Any child is entitled to love, affection, understanding and moral and physical care from its father and mother.

ARTICLE 262:

A Family Code must be drawn up to ensure protection and respect for the rights of the family and to define procedures of the search for affiliation. Courts and other Government agencies charged with the protection of these rights must be accessible free of charge at the level of the smallest territorial division.

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [12] ratified Jun. 7, 1995.

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Statutes

Law No. 9 on Minors, Custodianship, and Emancipation[13]

Art. 336 Any minor without a guardian will be provided one by the family council. This council will be convoked at the request of the parents of the minor, his creditors or other interested parties and even by itself, through the judge of the peace of the domicile of the minor.

Any person can inform the judge of the peace of the facts that give rise to the naming of a guardian.

 

 


Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Constitution de la République d'Haiti, art. 274-2 available at http://www.haiti.org/official_documents/constitution87/doc_tm_constitution.htm.

[3] Initial reports of States parties due in 1997: Haiti, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Jun. 21, 2002, ¶12, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/51/Add. 7

[4] Initial reports of States parties due in 1997: Haiti , ¶55.

[5] Initial reports of States parties due in 1997: Haiti , ¶70.

[6] Initial reports of States parties due in 1997: Haiti , ¶76.

[7] Constitution de la République d'Haiti, art. 261, 262.

[8] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989) available at http://www.unicef.org/french/crc/fulltext.htm.

[9] Loi no. 9 sur le minorite, la tutelle, et l'emancipation [Law No. 9 on Minors, Custodianship, and Emancipation], Code civil d'Haiti [C.c.H.], art. 336 (1931) available Haiti_Civil_Code at 8-21.

[10] The translation of the Constitution is an official version provided by the Embassy of Haiti in Washington, D.C.  The other translations are unofficial and were done by our own translator.

[12] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

[13] Law No. 9 on Minors, Custodianship, and Emancipation, C.c.H. art.336 (1931).

 

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