Republic of Haiti
Republique d'Haiti/Repiblik d' Ayiti
Joined United Nations: 24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 16 December 2012
BASIC RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE CITIZEN
THE NATURE OF CITIZENSHIP
Citizenship entails both civil and political rights.
ARTICLE 16 -1 :
The enjoyment, exercise, suspension and loss of these rights are regulated by law.
The age of majority is eighteen (18) years.
All Haitians, regardless of sex or marital status, who have attained twenty-one years of age may exercise their political and civil rights if
they meet the other conditions prescribed by the Constitution and by the law.
Haitians shall be equal before the law, subject to the special advantages conferred on native-born Haitians who have never renounced their
RIGHT TO LIFE AND HEALTH
The State has the absolute obligation to guarantee the right to life, health, and respect of the human person for all citizens without
distinction, in conformity with the Universal Declaration of the Right of Man.
The death penalty is abolished in all cases.
The crime of high treason consists in bearing arms in a foreign army against the Republic, serving a foreign nation in a conflict with the
Republic, in any official's stealing State property entrusted to his management, or any violation of the Constitution by those responsible for
The crime of high treason is punishable by forced labor for life without commutation of sentence.
The State recognizes the right of every citizen to decent housing, education, food and social security.
The State has the obligation to ensure for all citizens in all territorial divisions appropriate means to ensure protection, maintenance and
restoration of their health by establishing hospitals, health centers and dispensaries.
Individual liberty is guaranteed and protected by the State.
No one may be prosecuted, arrested or detained except in the cases determined by law and in the manner it prescribes.
Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no one may be arrested or detained other than by written order of a legally
For such an order to be carried out, the following requirements must be met:
a) It must formally state the reason in Creole and in French for the arrest or detention and the provision of the law that provides for
punishment of the act charged.
b) Legal notice must be given and a copy of the order must be left with the accused at the time of its execution;
c) The accused must be notified of his right to be assisted by counsel at all phases of the investigation of the case up to the final judgment;
d) Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no arrest by warrant and no search may take place between six (6) p.m.
and six (6) a.m..
e) Responsibility for an offense is personal, and no one may be arrested in the place of another.
Any unnecessary force or restraint in the apprehension of a person or in keeping him under arrest, or any psychological pressure or
physical brutality, especially during interrogation, is forbidden.
No one may be interrogated without his attorney or a witness of his choice being present.
No one may be kept under arrest more than forty-eight (48) hours unless he has appeared before a judge asked to rule on the legality of
the arrest and the judge has confirmed the arrest by a well-founded decision.
In the case of a petty violation, the accused shall be referred to a justice of the peace, who shall then hand down a final decision.
In the case of more serious offenses or crimes, an appeal may be filed, without prior permission, simply by addressing a petition to the
presiding judge of the competent civil court, who, on the basis of the oral statement of the prosecutor, shall rule on the legality of the
arrest and detention, in a special session of the court, without postponement or rotation of judges, all other cases being suspended.
If the arrest is judged to be illegal, the judge shall order the immediate release of the arrested person and that order shall be enforceable
immediately, regardless of any appeal to a higher court or the supreme court for an order forbidding enforcement of the judgment.
Any violation of the provisions on individual liberty are arbitrary acts. Injured parties may, without prior authorization, appeal to the
competent courts, to bring suit against the authors and perpetrators of these arbitrary acts, regardless of their rank or the body to which
Government officials and employees are directly liable under civil and administrative criminal law for acts carried out in violation of rights.
In such cases, civil liability extends to the State as well.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Every Haitian has the right to express his opinions freely on any matter by any means he chooses.
Journalists shall freely exercise their profession within the framework of the law. Such exercise may not be subject to any authorization
or censorship, except in the case of war.
Journalists may not be compelled to reveal their sources. However, it is their duty to verify the authenticity and accuracy of information.
It is also their obligation to respect the ethics of their profession.
All offenses involving the press and abuses of the right of expression come under the code of criminal law.
The right of petition is recognized. It is exercised personally by one or more citizens but never in the name of a body.
All petitions to the Legislative Branch must give rise to the regulatory procedure for ruling upon their purpose.
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE
All religions and faiths shall be freely exercised. Everyone is entitled to profess his religion and practice his faith, provided the exercise of
that right does not disturb law and order.
No one may be compelled to belong to a religious organization or to follow a religious teaching contrary to his convictions.
The law establishes the conditions for recognition and practice of religions and faiths.
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION
Freedom of unarmed assembly and association for political, economic, social, cultural or any other peaceful purposes is guaranteed.
Political parties and groups shall compete with each other in the exercise of suffrage. They may be established and may carry out their
activities freely. They must respect the principles of national and democratic sovereignty. The law determines the conditions for their
recognition and operation, and the advantages and privileges reserved to them.
The police authorities must be notified in advance of assemblies outdoors in public places.
No one may be compelled to join any association of any kind.
EDUCATION AND TEACHING
The State guarantees the right to education. It sees to the physical, intellectual, moral, professional, social and civic training of the
Education is the responsibility of the State and its territorial divisions. They must make schooling available to all, free of charge, and
ensure that public and private sector teachers are properly trained.
The first responsibility of the State and its territorial divisions is education of the masses, which is the only way the country can be
developed. The State shall encourage and facilitate private enterprise in this field.
Primary schooling is compulsory under penalties to be prescribed by law. Classroom facilities and teaching materials shall be provided by
the State to elementary school students free of charge.
Agricultural, vocational, cooperative and technical training is a fundamental responsibility of the State and its communes.
Preschool and maternal training, as well as nonformal education are encouraged.
Higher education shall be open to all, on an equal basis, according to merit only.
The State shall see to it that each territorial division, communal section, commune or Department shall have the essential educational
establishment adapted to the needs of their development, without however prejudicing the priorities assigned to agricultural, vocational,
cooperative and technical training, which must be widely disseminated.
The State guarantees that the handicapped and the gifted shall have the means to ensure their autonomy, education and independence.
The State and its territorial divisions have the duty to make all necessary provisions to intensify the literacy campaign for the masses.
They encourage all private initiatives to that end.
Teachers are entitled to a fair salary.
There shall be freedom of education at all levels. This freedom shall be exercised under the control of the State.
Except where perpetrators of crimes are caught in the act, the premises of educational establishments are inviolable. No police forces may
enter them except with the permission of the supervisors of those establishments.
This provision does not apply when an educational establishment is used for other purposes.
FREEDOM TO WORK
Freedom to work is guaranteed. Every citizen has the obligation to engage in work of his choice to meet his own and his family's needs,
and to cooperate with the State in the establishment of a social security system.
Every employee of a private or public institution is entitled to a fair wage, to rest, to a paid annual vacation and to a bonus.
The State guarantees workers equal working conditions and wages regardless of their sex, beliefs, opinions and marital status.
Trade union freedom is guaranteed. Any worker in the public and private sector may join a union representing his particular occupation
solely to protect his work interests.
Unions are essentially nonpolitical, nonprofit, and nondenominational. No one may be forced to join a union..
The right to strike is recognized under the limits set by law.
The minimum age for gainful employment is set by law. Special laws govern the work of minors and servants.
Private property is recognized and guaranteed. The law specifies the manner of acquiring and enjoying it, and the limits placed upon it.
Expropriation for a public purpose may be effected only by payment or deposit ordered by a court in favor of the person entitled thereto,
of fair compensation established in advance by an expert evaluation.
If the initial project is abandoned, the expropriation is canceled. The property may not be subject to any speculation and must be restored
to its original owner without any reimbursement for the smallholder. The expropriation measure is effective upon the startup of the project.
Nationalization and confiscation of goods, property and buildings for political reasons are forbidden.
No one may be deprived of his legitimate right of ownership other than by a final judgment by a court of ordinary law, except under an
Ownership also entails obligations. Uses of property cannot be contrary to the general interest.
Landowners must cultivate, work, and protect their land, particularly against erosion. The penalty for failure to fulfill this obligation shall
be prescribed by law.
The right to own property does not extend to the coasts, springs, rivers, water courses, mines and quarries. They are part of the State's
The law shall establish regulations governing freedom to prospect for and work mines, ore bearing earths, and quarries, ensuring an equal
share of the profits of such exploitation to the owner of the land and to the Haitian State or its concessionaires.
The law shall set the conditions for land division and aggregation in terms of a territorial management plan and the well-being of the
communities concerned, within the framework of an agrarian reform.
Scientific, literary and artistic property is protected by law.
The inhabitants of the Communal Sections have the right of preemption for the exploitation of the State's land in the private domain
located in their locality.
RIGHT TO INFORMATION
The State has the obligation to publicize in the oral, written and televised press in the Creole and French languages all laws, orders,
decrees, international agreements, treaties, and conventions on everything affecting the national life, except for information concerning
RIGHT TO SECURITY
No person of Haitian nationality may be deported or forced to leave the national territory for any reason. No one may be deprived for
political reasons of his legal capacity and his nationality.
No Haitian needs a visa to leave or return to the country.
No citizen, whether civilian or military, may be denied access to the courts open to him under the Constitution and the laws.
Military personnel accused of the crime of high treason against the country shall be tried in a court of ordinary law.
Military courts have jurisdiction only:
a) In the case of violation by military personnel of regulations in the Manual of Military Justice;
b) In the case of conflicts between members of the armed forces;
c) In the case of war.
Cases of conflicts between civilians and military personnel, abuses, violence and crimes perpetrated against a civilian by a member of the
military in the performance of his duties are under the jurisdiction of courts of ordinary law.
No house search or seizure of papers may take place except under the terms of the law and in the manner prescribed by it.
Persons detained temporarily awaiting trial must be held separately from those who are serving sentence.
Prisons must be operated in accordance with standards reflecting respect for human dignity according to the law on this subject.
No penalty may be established except by law nor applied except in cases that the law determines.
No one may be compelled in cases of crimes, minor offenses, or petty violations to bear witness against himself or his relatives up to the
fourth degree of consanguinity or the second degree of affinity.
No one may be compelled to take an oath except in the cases and in the manner provided for by law.
The State shall see to it that a Civil Pension Retirement Fund is established in the public and private sectors. The fund shall receive
contributions from employers and employees, in accordance with the criteria and in the manner established by law. The granting of a
pension is a right not a privilege.
Freedom and privacy of correspondence and any other forms of communication are inviolable. They may be limited only by a
well-founded judicial ruling, according to the guarantees established by law.
Under the Constitution and the law, a jury is established in criminal cases for violent crimes and political offenses.
The law may not be made retroactive except in criminal cases when it favors the accused.
DUTIES OF THE CITIZEN
Citizenship entails civic duties. Every right is counterbalanced by a corresponding duty.
Civic duties are the citizen's moral, political, social and economic obligations as a whole to the State and the country. These obligations are:
a) To respect the Constitution and the national emblem;
b) To respect the law;
c) To vote in elections without constraint;
d) To pay his taxes;
e) To serve on a jury;
f) To defend the country in the event of war;
g) To educate and improve himself;
h) To respect and protect the environment;
i) To respect scrupulously the revenues and properties of the State;
j) To respect the property of others;
k) To work to maintain peace;
l) To provide assistance to persons in danger;
m) To respect the rights and freedom of others.
Failure to abide by these provisions shall be punishable by law.
Compulsory civic service for both sexes is established. The terms thereof shall be set by law.
Taino people emigrated to what became known as the island of Hispaniola most likely from
South America and numbered at least 100,000 before the arrival of Columbus on his first
voyage. The population suffered near extinction with the successive waves of European
colonists. Columbus proclaimed the island for Spain on 5 December 1942, Lacking gold
interest by Spain waned and by 1606, Spain ordered its citizens to settle around Santo
Domingo on the eastern side of the island. French buccaneers arrived in 1625 on Tortuga
touching off a wave of French settlers with the French West India Company controlling the
western half of the island by 1664. Europeans brought 790,000 of African slaves after the last
of the Taino had died off. Slave insurrections were common and throughout the 18th and
19th centuries, a series of wars with the Spanish and English, the American and French
Revolutions push forth a movement for independence, secured by the African majority on 1
January 1804 with the promulgation of its first constitution. Since independence it has
withstood repeated civil wars and dictatorships and the promulgation and annulment of
constitutional authority. Its current constitution was enacted in March of 1987. Human
rights are enumerated beginning with Title III (BASIC RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE CITIZEN)
and conform with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which Haiti is a
signatory. For a full English translation of Haiti's Constitution, click here.