The International Council on Archives is following very closely the progress of relief operations underway in Port-au-Prince (Haiti). As the rubble is gradually cleared away, the information we receive can only encourage us to alert the international community on the need to take measures to ensure the sustainable reconstruction of Haiti. The safeguarding of the so-called vital records is fundamental. Whether records from the registrar’s office or other documents enabling citizens to prove their identity or their rights, or other records of strategic importance produced and still preserved in the ministries, all these records must be subject to special protection. They are the basis for a rapid resumption of political and administrative activity.
These documents are preserved partly by the National Archives and partly under the rubble of destroyed public buildings. There are currently two problems in Port-au-Prince and other cities affected by the earthquake:
The increase in theft and deliberate destruction of documents: destroyed sites are not subject to adequate protection, including at night.
Clearing the ruins of strategic buildings: such operations are conducted without taking into account the documents or objects that could be preserved.
The International Council on Archives reminds the Haitian government and all partners providing military aid and civil protection in Haiti that these records need to be preserved. The aim is that the Haitian government should quickly resume its operations on solid administrative foundations, including the use of information contained in the records, as well as preserving a culture that should be transmitted to future generations.