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#866: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Haiti -- Human rights (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

NOV  3, 1999 -- Haiti's efforts to foster a climate  of respect for human
rights are at serious risk, Amnesty International  said today, as it
revealed the findings from its latest visit to the  country. 
   "A series of violent events in Haiti have led to fears that the  climate
of respect for human rights which the country has been  endeavouring to
promote in recent years is progressively  deteriorating," Amnesty
International said. 
   An Amnesty International delegation just returned from the country 
points to the following events as symptomatic of this decline: 
   8 October -- Jean Lamy, ex-Colonel of the former Armed Forces of  Haiti
(FADH) --reportedly an advisor to the Haitian National Police  (HNP) and a
potential candidate for Secretary of State for Public  Security -- was
assassinated in an apparently well-organized attack by  unidentified armed
   14 October -- The Director of the HNP's Judicial Police -- the unit 
responsible for investigating Lamy's killing -- narrowly escaped an 
assassination attempt by unidentified armed persons outside his home. 
   16 October -- Individuals claiming to be partisans of ex-president  Jean
Bertrand Aristide's Famille Lavalas party disrupted Lamy's funeral 
service, forcing the HNP's General Director Pierre Denize to flee the 
   24 October -- Individuals claiming to be partisans of Famille Lavalas 
violently disrupted the opening ceremony of the civic education  campaign
organized by the Provisional Electoral Council in preparation  for the
March 2000 local and legislative elections. 
   These events have taken place against the background of a 
widely-reported campaign to undermine the neutrality and effectiveness  of
the new police force, charged among other duties with providing a  climate
of security for the upcoming elections. 
   "We call on the Haitian Government to reinforce respect for human 
rights by ensuring that the police and the judiciary carry out their 
duties in a neutral, independent and impartial manner," Amnesty 
International said. 
   "The Haitian Government must ensure that recruitment of new officers  --
announced to increase police capacity to provide security during the 
elections -- takes place in a transparent and non-partisan manner. 
Measures announced by the Minister of Justice to safeguard the 
impartiality of judicial authorities in the electoral context should be 
enacted as soon as possible," Amnesty International stressed. 
   "We also urge all political parties involved in the electoral process 
to ensure that their supporters act in a way conducive to the holding  of
free and fair elections," the organization concluded. 
          Other human rights concerns 
   With regard to cases of human rights violations involving members of 
the HNP, Amnesty International welcomed indications from officials that 
the findings of the judicial commission established to investigate the 
killing of 11 people by police in Carrefourfeuilles, in May 1999, will  be
released shortly, and called for prompt action by the justice system  to
bring those responsible to trial. 
   Amnesty International remains concerned at reported shootings in 
circumstances indicating excessive use of force and beatings following 
arrest. The organization has urged the Inspection General (internal  police
disciplinary body) to pursue such cases and has called on the  judiciary to
investigate and bring those responsible to justice,  promptly and
   According to numerous sources, over 80% of Haiti's detainees are in 
pre-trial detention -- in some cases held for several years -- in 
violation of an individual's right to due process in a reasonable 
timeframe. Amnesty International welcomes a pledge by the Minister of 
Justice to substantially reduce this practice by the end of 1999, and  to
take action on the situation of detainees who have benefited from  judicial
release orders that have never been executed. 
   During their visit to Haiti, the Amnesty International delegates 
received several reports of ill-treatment in detention centers. The 
organization is concerned that prison overcrowding -- partly due to  lack
of prompt judicial attention to cases -- is fostering tensions  between
detainees and guards and has created conditions that constitute  cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment in some cases. 
   Amnesty International has called on the Direction d'Administration 
Penitentiaire (body in charge of prison administration) to take all  steps
to ensure that its staff acts according to international human  rights
standards and its own recent internal regulations. 
   Amnesty International welcomes the progress made with regard to the 
trial of those accused in the Raboteau massacre, and encourages Haitian 
authorities to continue to make all efforts to end impunity for human 
rights violations, past and present. 


Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street,  WC1X
8DJ, London, United Kingdom