The Platform for Haitian Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights (POHDH) is an association of eight (8) non-profit, non-governmental Haitian rights institutions grouped around shared principles and common practices. It is independent and does not act on behalf of any other group or political party. POHDH is acknowledged to be a public service organization by presidential order as of, January 23rd, 1996, published in the Monitor, January 31, 1996 (151th #9).
The member institutions of POHDH are bound by a certain number of shared beliefs which constitute the philosophy of the organization :
1.1 Human rights surpass solely civil and political rights. They concern all aspects of human life, particularly social, economic and cultural aspects.
1.2 Human rights are not only individual, but also collective rights.
1.3 The struggle for human rights is situated within the framework of a permanent fight for a democratic society. It does not only constitute concern regarding crisis situations.
1.4 One of the tasks of human rights defense organizations must consist of aiding the population in becoming active participants in the struggle for the defense of their rights and in the construction of a new justice system.
POHDH was created after the coup d’état of 1991. The systematic suppression of the military against the democratic and popular movement, which followed this event, and the mass amount of human rights violations in general, was the motivation for social and community development organizations to regroup with the purpose of initiating actions specifically in the field of human rights.
In view of the context of its origins, Platform was predominantly interested in civil and political rights. However, since the general meeting of 1992, economic, social and cultural rights, with a particular accent on the women’s rights, have been inscribed as a priority in POHDH’s annual programs. Nevertheless, civil and political rights are not overlooked. In this context of political crisis, Haiti will again experience an upsurge of violations of civil liberties.
POHDH has the following objectives :
3.1 To actively engage with the population in the struggle for the promotion and defense of human rights,
3.2 To allow its member organizations to exchange their experiences, to share their human and material resources and to consult together regarding human rights problems in Haiti,
3.3 To promote actions responding to the need for training in the field of human rights and the legal assistance problem in Haiti,
3.4 To assure permanent monitoring of the human rights situation in the country (the collection, verification and distribution of information).
Finally, Platform must become a credible reference in regards to the monitoring of the human rights situation in Haiti, both on national and international level. The organization aspirers to promote concrete actions in response to the problem of legal assistance in Haiti.
IV-The Operation Structure of POHDH
The three (3) principle organs of the Platform are : the General Assembly, the Coordination Committee and the Executive Secretariat.
4.1. The General Assembly The General Assembly, the highest level of leadership within POHDH, is formed by representatives of the eight (8) member institutions and its principal tasks are as follows :
To analyze and ratify the Platform’s general policy, prepared by the Coordination Committee, To analyze and ratify the annual programs prepared by the Secretariat, To sanction or approve the annual activity reports of POHDH, To elect the Committee Coordination responsible to ensure the implementation of its decisions.
4.2. The Coordination Committee
This committee is composed of a General Coordinator, a General Secretary and a Treasurer, each elected for a two (2) year, renewable term. The tasks of the committee are :
To prepare POHDH’s general policy, in consultation with the member institutions, To implement a quarterly follow-up procedure for this policy, To evaluate the movement of Human Rights in relation to POHDH’s vision, To be the public spokesperson for the organization.
4.3. The Executive Secretariat
The authority to implement the activities of POHDH, the Secretariat, is composed of the Executive Secretary, the Administrator, permanent employees of the commissions, the Secretary and support personnel. Its principal tasks are :
To carry out the action plan developed by the Coordination Committee, through the commissions, To produce the Member Institutions’ liaison report , To ensure POHDH’s administration and financial management, To occupy the role of the public spokesperson for the organization in conjunction with the General Secretary.
4.3.1. The Commissions
The four (4) Commissions : a) the Education in the Culture of Human Rights Commission (CECDH), b) the Human Rights Observation Commission (CODH), c) the Judicial Intervention Commission (CIJ), and the d) Research, Analysis and Reflection Commission (CRAR). Composed of delegates from the institutions members, the commissions are the internal working structures of the policy defined by POHDH’s Coordination Committee. In this sense, they manage the various programs of the institution.