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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
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
"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