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#871: Fw: U.S. asked to return Haitian documents (fwd)

From: Joel Dreyfuss <jdreyfuss@ibm.net>

>     By Evelyn Leopold
>    UNITED NATIONS, Nov 4 (Reuters) - A U.N. envoy asked the 188-member
> General Assembly on Thursday to press Washington into returning intact
> documents on death squad crimes it took out of Haiti in 1994.
>    Adama Dieng, a special independent investigator, in a written report on
>  rights in Haiti, said the U.N. General Assembly should ask the United
> "to return the documents, intact and without delay."
>    Although it is doubtful the United States will adhere to any General
>  resolution, Dieng said pressure should be maintained. "The time has come
> the General Assembly to pass a resolution and to urge the United States to
> return all the documents seized illegally," he said in an interview.
>    Some 160,000 documents, videotapes of torture sessions and other
> were seized from paramilitary and military headquarters by U.S. troops
when they
>  invaded Haiti in 1994,  ending a brutal three-year military dictatorship.
>    The Clinton administration has offered to return them once the names of
> citizens have been deleted but the Haitian government has insisted
> not alter the materials.
>    Dieng, a Senegalese lawyer and secretary-general of the Geneva-based
> International Commission of Jurists, was assigned to report on Haiti to a
> General Assembly committee.
>    He said that without the documents, Haiti could not try any
perpetrators of
> gross human right violations.
>    "Justice must be done to avoid the establishment of a permanent climate
> suspicion, fostering the belief that violence is the only way out," he
> "These documents constitute some of the best evidence about the junta and
> help prosecute the worst criminals in Haiti.
>    One such case concerns Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, director of the
>  Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, known as FRAPH, who fled
> murder charges in Haiti and has said he was working for the Central
>  Agency.
>    The U.S. government, despite a 1995 court order from a Baltimore
> judge, refused to deport Constant to Haiti and allowed him to stay in New
> under a gag order and with a work permit.
>    "There should be no impunity for anyone, be they American, be they
> be they Senegalese," Dieng said. "The United States, if it wants, can take
> action against its own citizens but torture is one of the outrageous
crimes of
> our time."
>    Conversely, Dieng pointed to the case of a former army sergeant,
> Jean-Baptiste, who said at his trial in Haiti that the documents could
> proved his innocence.
>    He was sentenced for torture, kidnapping and attempted murder during
> September 1991 military coup that overthrew elected president
> Aristide and is serving a five-year sentence.
>    The campaign to have the documents released is widespread, including
> from 20 countries, major human rights groups, several Nobel prize winners,
> U.N. mission in Haiti as well as Haitian government leaders.
>    "Despite many appeals ... from thousands of people throughout the
world, the
> Haitian people are still waiting for these documents, which form an
> part of their history," Dieng wrote in his report.
>    Reed Brody, advocacy director of the New York-based Human Rights
Watch," said
>  in a statement that the protection of Constant and the shielding of
> involved in Haiti "all point to a continuing cover-up of U.S. wrongdoing
> Haiti."
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