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From: Stanley Lucas <slucas@iri.org>

                 UNITED NATIONS

                  Press Release 


                  15 January 2001 

                    The following statement was issued today by Adama Dieng, the Independent Expert on Haiti of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights:

                    "Last week, the Independent Expert on Haiti received a number of communications from different personalities including journalists, politicians and representatives of the civil society in Haiti, alleging that they are being threatened by individuals claiming to be members of popular organizations. After verification of the allegations, the Independent Expert expresses his most absolute condemnation for such acts which he considers as affecting not only the individuals concerned but also the right to freedom in general.

                    The Independent Expert appeals to the authorities not to allow any form of impunity to the authors of such acts. The Independent Expert, while appreciating the comments made by the spokesperson of the Fanmi Lavalas in relation to the statements by Yvon Neptune inciting to violence and the action by the Prosecutor's Office, would like to stress that the biggest problem facing Haiti is impunity. Because of impunity, criminals and other offenders remain unpunished.

                    The Independent Expert believes that it is still possible to preserve Haiti from entering a circle of violence and its consequences for the protection of human rights. Haiti should have the possibility to avoid falling in a situation of permanent instability which seems to be favoured by some in the Fanmi Lavalas and by those sectors of the Haitian society which would like to perpetuate the situation of inequalities in the Haitian society and by the criminals who are taking advantage of the weakness of the institutions. The Independent Expert is inviting all Haitians to contribute to the creation of a society governed by the rule of law in which inequalities will be progressively eliminated.

                    The Independent Expert hopes that the commitment made by President Elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Mr. Anthony Lake, Special Envoy of President Clinton, will be the basis around which all Haitians will be reunited for the construction of democracy. The same commitment was made to the Independent Expert during his visit to Haiti on 20 December 2000. Nevertheless, the people of Haiti and the international community are now looking for action in the strengthening of democracy, the protection of human rights and in fighting against corruption. The challenge can be met if everyone contributes to the creation of an atmosphere of political tolerance, constructive dialogue and the supremacy of the rule of law.

                    The international community is invited to continue expressing its solidarity with the people of Haiti, the poorest of the hemisphere. The Independent Expert believes that, in essence, the solution lays with the Haitians themselves and President Elect Jean- Bertrand Aristide should show a strong commitment to this. On 7 February 2001, after the swearing in ceremony, he will no longer be the president of Fanmi Lavalas but the President of all Haitians".

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