Haiti: Attacks and threats against human rights defender Camille Occius

(Joint Communication sent to the Haitian Government, German Government and DERMALOG Company)

Responses from the Haitian Government, the German Government and DERMALOG respectively can be found at https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TmSearch/TMDocuments.

On 5 February 2021, the Special Rapporteur on  the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises and I wrote a letter to the Haitian and German Government, as well as DERMALOG  Identification Systems GmbH regarding threats and attacks suffered by Camille Occius, in relation with his human rights work.

Mr. Camille Occius is a lawyer and Executive Director of the NGO “l’Organisation Citoyenne pour une Nouvelle Haïti (OCNH)”. Within the framework of his institution’s activities, he documents cases of violations of the right to life and liberty as well as cases of alleged corruption.

Since 2019, Mr. Occius led a campaign to denounce the illegality of a contract signed between a German firm and the Haitian government. He documented cases of alleged corruption in connection with the stipulation of the contract between the Haitian Government and the company DERMALOG Identification Systems GmbH, which was responsible for manufacturing biometric devices.

In July 2020, he received death threats on his cell phone from unidentified individuals who threatened to kill him if he did not stop criticizing the DERMALOG contract.

On 30 November 2020, two unidentified armed individuals broke into Mr.Occius’ home, threatening his maid with their weapons. Themaid explained that the owners were not present. The two individuals searched the various rooms and, according to the maid, looked at a picture of Mr. Occius’ family for a prolonged time. Both individuals left without taking anything with them. Neighbours alerted Mr. Occius that at the same time, there was a vehicle with tinted windows parked in front of the residence, which withdrew at the same time as the two-armed individuals.

Complaints have been filed with the relevant judicial authorities, who have been following up on the incidents.  Mr. Occius and his family have since fled the area.

In these communications, we expressed concern over the threats and attacks against Mr. Occius, which appeared to in be retaliation for his work against corruption in Haiti. We noted that any sort of intimidation might discourage other human rights defenders from exercising their rights for fear of retaliation or further harassment.

Full text of the communications can be found here:

Haiti – https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=25874

Germany – https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=25988

DERMALOG – https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=25989


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