GENEVA, Switzerland (Reuters) — A United Nations rights envoy said on Thursday rising violence and insecurity meant Haiti was not ready for quick elections, echoing warnings of opposition groups.
Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, facing violent street protests and opposition charges of corruption, announced earlier this month that parliamentary elections would be held within six months.
But his opponents, who accuse the former Roman Catholic priest of rigging the last elections in 2000, say any new ballot would also be fraudulent.
“(There is) a climate of insecurity such that a return to peace through elections seems unrealistic as long as there is an absence of real political will to fight impunity,” said French legal expert Louis Joinet.
Joinet, a former legal adviser to late French President Francois Mitterrand, said the authorities made little attempt to investigate acts of violence committed by armed pro-government groups against opponents and journalists.
In a report to the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, the U.N. independent expert on human rights in the Caribbean state urged the government to reform the police and judicial systems.
He also called for the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights to open an office in Haiti, one of the world’s poorest nations, with a long history of coups and political violence.
Several people have been killed in recent months after increasingly large antigovernment marches were attacked by pro-Aristide gunmen. The government blames the opposition for the bloodshed.