Text: H.R.5586 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (01/13/2020)


116th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 5586


To measure the progress of recovery and development efforts in Haiti and the strength of democracy and rule of law in the country.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 13, 2020

Mr. Jeffries (for himself, Mrs. Wagner, Mr. Hurd of Texas, Mr. Spano, Ms. Clarke of New York, Mr. Hastings, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Mr. Waltz, and Ms. Lee of California) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


A BILL

To measure the progress of recovery and development efforts in Haiti and the strength of democracy and rule of law in the country.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Haiti Development, Accountability, and Institutional Transparency Initiative Act”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck near the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince, leaving an estimated 220,000 people dead, including 103 United States citizens, 101 United Nations personnel, and nearly 18 percent of the nation’s civil service, as well as 300,000 injured, 115,000 homes destroyed, and 1,500,000 people displaced.

(2) The Post Disaster Needs Assessment conducted by the Government of Haiti, the United Nations, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and others estimated that damage and economic losses from the January 12, 2010, earthquake totaled $7,804,000,000.

(3) The international community, led by the United States and the United Nations, mounted an unprecedented humanitarian response to the earthquake in Haiti. Through 2018, more than $8 billion has been disbursed by donors. Since the 2010 earthquake, the United States Government has disbursed more than $4,000,000,000 in recovery and development funding.

(4) On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck southwestern Haiti on the Tiburon Peninsula, causing widespread damage and flooding and leaving 1.4 million people in need of immediate assistance. The strongest storm to hit Haiti since Hurricane Cleo in 1964, 2.1 million people were directly affected by the hurricane.

(5) Recovery efforts continue almost 3 years after Hurricane Matthew made landfall in 2016. The World Bank estimates storm-caused losses and damages valued at 32 percent of 2015 Gross Domestic Product.

(6) Prior to both the earthquake and hurricane, Haiti registered among the lowest socioeconomic indicators and the second highest rate of income disparity in the world, conditions that have further complicated disaster recovery and resilience efforts.

(7) In June 2019, World Food Program reported that Haiti has one of the highest levels of chronic food insecurity in the world with more than half of its total population chronically food insecure and 22 percent of children chronically malnourished.

(8) In October 2010, an unprecedented outbreak of cholera in Haiti resulted in over 800,000 reported cases and over 9,000 deaths to date. The Pan American Health Organization reported in 2018 that the cholera incidence rate in Haiti is 25.5 cases per 100,000.

(9) With United States assistance, almost 14,000 jobs have been created, largely in the apparel industry at the Caracol Industrial Park (in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Haitian government, and the private sector) in northern Haiti.

(10) Evidence suggests that people displaced by the 2010 earthquake and hurricanes in following years, especially Hurricane Matthew in 2016, still face displacement-related vulnerabilities today.

(11) On November 13, 2018, at least 59 people were shot and killed in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of La Saline. After months of investigations, no one has been held responsible for the La Saline massacre.

(12) Since 2018, tens of thousands of Haitians have participated in a series of demonstrations demanding accountability over government spending of Petrocaribe resources. In early 2019, the Haitian superior court of auditors released an investigation implicating high-level government officials in the misappropriation of funds.

(13) From August 2018 through February 2019, local human rights organizations reported that 64 Haitian citizens were killed in protests.

(14) In 2019, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, five Haitian journalists have been shot while covering protests, including one who was killed. On September 23, 2019, Haitian Senator Jean Marie Ralph Féthière shot Associated Press photojournalist Chery Dieu-Nalio in the face after he exited his car and fired multiple shots near a crowd of people surrounding him.

(15) Economic growth in Haiti is projected to drop below 1.5 percent this year. Inflation is estimated to be 15 percent and the local currency has depreciated by 30 percent in the past year. The government and parliament have failed to pass a budget for two years, preventing the International Monetary Fund and other multilaterals from disbursing millions in international assistance.

(16) Midterm elections set for October 2019 did not take place and will leave President Moise ruling by decree after two-thirds of the Haitian Senate expires in January 2020.

SEC. 3. Statement of policy.

It is the policy of the United States to support the sustainable rebuilding and development of Haiti in a manner that—

(1) embraces Haitian independence, self-reliance, sovereignty, democratic governance, and efficiency;

(2) promotes efforts that are led by and support the people and Government of Haiti at all levels so that Haitians lead the course of reconstruction and development of Haiti;

(3) encourages and assists the building of long-term capacity for civil society in Haiti;

(4) fosters collaboration between the Haitian diaspora in the United States and the Haitian government;

(5) combats impunity and prioritizes delivering justice to victims of human rights abuses;

(6) ensures the protection and promotion of a free Haitian press;

(7) respects the sovereignty and individual liberty of Haitian citizens to peacefully demonstrate;

(8) demands increased transparency and heightens accountability among all branches of government, including through efforts to reduce corruption and address human rights concerns;

(9) assists and helps build community resilience to environmental and weather-related impacts; and

(10) promotes the holding of free, fair, and timely elections in accordance with democratic principles and the Haitian Constitution.

SEC. 4. Actions to hold La Saline shooting perpetrators and violators of human rights in Haiti accountable.

(a) Secretary of state prioritization.—The Secretary of State shall prioritize the protection and preservation of human rights in Haiti by carrying out the following initiatives:

(1) Fostering strong relationships with independent civil society groups focused on monitoring human rights concerns and promoting democracy in Haiti.

(2) Collaborating with Haitian government officials to ensure that human rights violators in Haiti are held accountable for their actions.

(3) Identifying corrupt public and private sector officials and violators of human rights in Haiti.

(4) Addressing concerns of perceived impunity for hostile orchestrators of the La Saline shooting.

(b) Strategy.—

(1) ELEMENTS.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a detailed summary of the happenings on November 13, 2018, in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of La Saline and a strategy for carrying out the initiatives described in subsection (a). The strategy shall include—

(A) a breakdown of how the massacre in La Saline related to mass protests occurring concurrently in the country;

(B) an analysis of the La Saline shooting reports authored by the United Nations, the European Union, and the Government of Haiti;

(C) a detailed description of all known actors implicated in the shooting;

(D) an overview of efforts taken by the Haitian government to bring the orchestrators of the La Saline shooting to justice; and

(E) an assessment of the ensuing treatment and displacement of the La Saline shooting survivors.

(2) CONSULTATION.—In devising the strategy required under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall consult with nongovernmental organizations in Haiti and the United States.

(3) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.—The strategy required under paragraph (1) shall be made publicly available on the website of the Department of State.

SEC. 5. Actions to promote freedom of the press and assembly in Haiti.

(a) Prioritization.—The Secretary of State shall prioritize the promotion of press and assembly freedoms as well as the protection of journalists in Haiti by carrying out the following initiatives:

(1) Advocating for increased protection of the press and freedom to peacefully assemble in Haiti.

(2) Collaborating with government and nongovernment officials to increase security for journalists in Haiti.

(3) Supporting efforts to strengthen access to information in Haiti.

(4) Ensuring that threats and attacks on journalists and protestors are fully investigated and perpetrators are held accountable.

(5) Developing increased protection measures against police violence.

(b) Assessment.—

(1) ELEMENTS.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an assessment of press freedom and the right to assembly in Haiti. The assessment shall include—

(A) a detailed description of all known attacks on journalists in the past 12 months;

(B) a description of protests in the past 12 months and an assessment of Haitian government response to each protest;

(C) a summary of the Haitian government’s efforts to increase protection for journalists; and

(D) a description of best practices the United States embassy can employ to promote press freedom and the freedom of expression in Haiti.

(2) CONSULTATION.—In devising the assessment required under subsection (a), the Secretary of State shall consult with nongovernmental organizations in Haiti and the United States.

(3) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.—The assessment required under paragraph (1) shall be made publicly available on the website of the Department of State.

SEC. 6. Actions to combat corruption in Haiti.

(a) Prioritization.—The Secretary of State shall prioritize efforts to combat corruption in Haiti by carrying out the following initiatives:

(1) Identifying government and nongovernment officials known or alleged to have partaken in corrupt acts.

(2) Supporting the strengthening of a justice system independent of the executive branch.

(3) Ensuring that both government and nongovernment officials are held accountable for corrupt actions.

(4) Promoting and protecting nongovernment civil society groups monitoring institutionalized corruption in Haiti.

(5) Supporting demands for clarity and accountability in the Petrocaribe scandal.

(6) Strengthening institutional transparency and ensuring that Haitian government officials are not immune from prosecution.

(b) Assessment.—

(1) ELEMENTS.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an assessment for combating institutional corruption in Haiti. The assessment shall include—

(A) an overview and detailed history of the Petrocaribe scandal, including an in-depth description of former and current officials and businesses implicated in such scandal and the Haitian government response;

(B) a description of United States efforts to consult and engage with Haitian government officials to address growing allegations of corruption within the Haitian government;

(C) an assessment of the extent of corruption, including embezzling state funds, an account of steps needed to be taken to impose sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (22 U.S.C. 2656 note), and a list of government and nongovernment officials known or alleged to have partaken in such corruption; and

(D) a list of United States entities, including financial institutions with financial ties to alleged corrupt actors in Haiti.

(2) CONSULTATION.—In devising the assessment required under subsection (a), the Secretary of State shall consult with nongovernmental organizations in Haiti and the United States.

(3) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.—The assessment required under paragraph (1) shall be made publicly available on the website of the Department of State.

SEC. 7. Actions to assess post-earthquake and post-hurricane recovery and development efforts in Haiti.

(a) Prioritization.—The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall prioritize a strategy of post-earthquake and post-hurricane recovery and development efforts in Haiti by carrying out the following initiatives:

(1) Collaborating with the Haitian government to promote a detail-oriented and transparent development plan.

(2) Supporting the strengthening of local institutions through a post-earthquake and post-hurricane recovery and development planning.

(3) Assessing both the United States and the international community’s recovery and development efforts in Haiti over the past 10 years.

(4) Supporting disaster resiliency and reconstruction efforts.

(5) Addressing underlying causes of poverty and inequality by providing health resources, access to clean water, food security, and shelter.

(6) Identifying and responding to long-term humanitarian needs caused by natural disasters and extreme poverty.

(b) Assessment.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and annually thereafter for two years, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an assessment on best practices to ensure efficient and transparent earthquake and hurricane recovery and development efforts in Haiti. The assessment shall include—

(1) an analysis of the sustainability of United States-financed projects, including the Caracol Industrial Park and supporting infrastructure;

(2) a breakdown of local procurement by year and a description of efforts to increase local procurement, including of food aid;

(3) a strategy to assign fixed quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess progress and benchmarks for United States initiatives focused on natural disaster recovery, resiliency, and sustainable development in Haiti; and

(4) a description of United States efforts taken to assist Haitian pursuits for free and fair democratic elections.

SEC. 8. Definitions.

In this Act the term “appropriate congressional committees” means—

(1) the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives; and

(2) the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate.


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