This secondary analysis examines the most violent human rights abuses Kolbe and Hutson reported—physical assaults, sexual assaults, and murders—in relation to the political conflict and socioeconomic strife during this period. It assesses the applicability of social disorganization and conflict theory frameworks to the pattern of documented abuses that occurred during the months the interim government was in power.
Methods: Kolbe and Hutson collected the data set utilized in this secondary analysis in Port-au-Prince, Haiti during December of 2005 using random GPS coordinate sampling within the boundaries of the greater Port-au-Prince area. 1,260 households (comprised of 5720 individuals) were interviewed regarding their demographics and household members' experiences with human rights violations between February 29, 2004 and December 2005.
Bivariate statistical methods were used to examine associations between social disorganization indicators at the household level—including lower income, unemployment, and other indicators of poverty, as well as residential mobility and exposure to community violence—and having reported one or more instances of human rights victimization within the household. Bivariate tests were also used to determine whether political affiliation and level of income increased likelihood of victimization perpetrated by specific political actors.
Results: Findings revealed that physical and sexual assault victims were disproportionately members of lower-income households, lived in comparatively substandard housing, had greater difficulty accessing food, and had higher rates of exposure to community violence than non-victims.
The Haitian National Police, foreign soldiers, and other government forces disproportionately assaulted members of Lavalas and Lespwa affiliated households, as well as members of lower-income households. The demobilized army, armed anti-Lavalas groups, and their partisans did not appear to be as politically driven in their assaults as government forces, but still tended to assault members of lower-income households. Additionally, murders in which political actors were identified as the perpetrator were disproportionately committed against members of Lavalas or Lespwa affiliated households.
Implications: The study concludes that most—but not all—social disorganization factors tested were applicable to the pattern of human rights abuses documented in the initial survey, and that conflict theory was an appropriate framework for analyzing human rights violations in which forces under the command of the interim government were identified as perpetrators. These findings highlight serious implications for civilian populations in post-conflict areas where foreign powers have interfered with democratically elected governments.