Washington, D.C., February 4, 2011—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the United States to suspend deportations to Haiti of persons of Haitian origin who are seriously ill or who have family members in the United States.
Following the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the U.S. government suspended the deportation of Haitians with criminal convictions or charges. According to information the Commission has received, the government announced on December 9, 2010, that it would lift the moratorium on deportations, and the media reported that deportations of Haitians with criminal records resumed on January 20, 2011.
The deportation of seriously ill persons to Haiti could jeopardize their lives, considering the humanitarian crisis that persists in the country, especially the detention conditions in jails and prisons. According to the information received by the Commission, detention centers in Haiti are overcrowded, and the lack of drinking water and adequate sanitation or toilets could facilitate the transmission of cholera, tuberculosis, and other diseases. The IACHR is also concerned that once they arrive in Haiti, seriously ill persons could remain in detention without access to food, drinking water, and adequate medical treatment. Along these lines, U.S. immigrant advocacy organizations informed the Commission that a person of Haitian origin deported on January 20, 2011, has died in a Haitian prison for reasons that have not yet been officially established, after showing symptoms of cholera. In addition, the Inter-American Commission has received troubling information regarding persons being processed for deportation who have immediate family members, even children, in the United States and who in some cases do not have any family members in Haiti.