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#1864: Re: #1855: Sunday Observer article on Haiti : Durran replies to Laleau
From: Mary Durran <email@example.com>
Point taken, Nancy, and Chris too. I agree that _some_ killings are
carried out because people are frustrated with the judiciary's
malfunctioning. And, of course, as Nancy points out, all crowd killings
are related to the non-functioning of the judiciary, in that they wouldn't
happen if people knew they would be punished for participating in them,
which they never are.
The point I was trying to make is that the victims of crowd killings are
often people who have either done nothing wrong, are petty thieves, or have
committed some other fairly minor misdemeanour.
For example, the many cases where Haitians have been killed because someone
pointed a finger at them for being a "loup-garou" or a sorcerer - eg the
woman who lives alone, thus flouting convention, or who has gone after
another woman's man, is labelled a "loup-garou" by her enemy, who whips up
hysteria and then incites a crowd to go after the victim. Or, I know of
one case, a fairly typical one, in which a man legally inherited land.
Someone else was jealous, so they said the man was a sorcerer, and got a
crowd to kill him. It seems to me that in many cases, paradoxically, the
victims of crowd killings are either involved in disputes that no court
could be expected to resolve, or in cases of theft quite straightforward in
nature, legally speaking, that the Haitian courts seem to deal with
And I've also noticed during field work that a high number of victims of
crowd killings are very poor - too poor to pay their way out of prison. As
Guy Antoine says in his post, intelligent observers cannot conclude that a
victim of a crowd killing was indeed a rapist just because a crowd labelled
The really serious criminals who commit the heinous crimes tend to be above
popular justice - not because the system punishes them, but because people
are generally too scared to go after them. (I'm not talking about human
rights violators here, rather common criminals.)
So I think we should be careful not to allow the malfunctioning of the
judiciary to be used as an excuse for inexcusable crowd violence that
masquerades as "justice", thus allowing the ringleaders to use others to
unjustly settle their personal scores.
> From: Robert Corbett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: Haiti mailing list <email@example.com>
> Subject: #1855: Re: #1829: Sunday Observer article on Haiti : Laleau
replies to Durran
> Date: Saturday, January 15, 2000 8:27 AM
> << I believe such crowd killings have little
> to do with the functioning or non-functioning of the judicial system.
> Dear Mary,
> You are a serious lover of Haiti, I know that, but you are gravely
> about the crowd killings. They have EVERYTHING to do with the
> non-functioning of the judicial system.
> If there was a system of justice in place, people would not be resorting
> vigilante justice on a large scale. Or if it occurred, the justice
> would quickly put an end to it. But the opposite is true -- almost the
> justice people can obtain today is what they get for themselves. And
> a horrible breeding ground for all kinds of crime. Anyone can form a
> and go after an innocent person, claiming that he/she has committed some
> of atrocity. I saw apparent vigilante justice working, with apparent
> accuracy and even integrity, on a number of occasions in 1994-95. But
> type of action is very easily faked and backfires on the very people who
> justice the most.
> If I took anything away with me from Haiti in 1996, it was a profound
> for the rule of law and due process. Crowd killings are a desperate
> taken by people who deserve far better, and usually do it only as a last,
> desperate measure of self-defense.
> Nancy Laleau