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Families in Haiti face threat of imminent forced evictions
Published on January 24, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Several hundred families living in an informal settlement known as Canaan on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince are at risk of imminent forced eviction.

An individual who lays claim to 56 hectares of land there stated on 22 January that he would evict everyone living there in 48 hours. It is believed that he is not in possession of an eviction order, and the residents have not been directly informed of his intention to evict them.

The same individual instigated the forced eviction of more than 200 families between 7 and 10 December 2013 in the sector of Titanyen in Canaan. Although there was apparently a court order, it was a forced eviction as the order was only against ten of the residents, while over 200 families were evicted.

In addition, families were not given prior notification of the eviction and therefore they did not have the opportunity to challenge the decision.

Excessive use of force was also used, as the police reportedly used tear gas grenades and fired shots into the air to intimidate residents who tried to resist the operation. A dozen people were assaulted, including a woman who was four months pregnant.

Lawyers representing the evicted families have filed a complaint against the alleged owner in relation to the December forced evictions.

Two sectors adjacent to Titanyen, known as Village des Pêcheurs and Village Grâce de Dieu are thought to be part of the 56 hectares claimed by the alleged landowner. Approximately 350 families live in Village des Pêcheurs while between 2,500 and 5,000 families reside in Village Grâce de Dieu. They are all potentially at risk of forced eviction.

On 24 December 2013, five residents of Village des Pêcheurs received a summons requesting them to leave the land. However, the summons does not allow the owner to proceed with the eviction of the occupants.

Titanyen, Village des Pêcheurs and Village Grâce de Dieu are parts of an area commonly known as Canaan, a large tract of land which was declared for “public use” (utilité publique) by the government two months after the earthquake in March 2010. Tens of thousands of people who lost their homes in the earthquake have subsequently relocated there.

However, there is still confusion regarding the exact portion of land which has been declared of “public use” and about the completion of the expropriation procedure.

People living there have no security of tenure and many face eviction from people claiming ownership of the land. Many of the residents are people internally displaced after the earthquake in March 2010.
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