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6138: Fwd: Amnesty International urges UN not to abandon Haiti (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

>Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000
>From: ai-news@amnesty.org
>Subject: Haiti: Amnesty International urges UN not to abandon Haiti
>* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
>International *
>4 December 2000
>AMR 36/009/2000
>A withdrawal of the United Nations (UN) mission to Haiti, without
>a meaningful alternative monitoring presence, would have a
>catastrophic impact on human rights protection in the country,
>Amnesty International said today.
>      In light of the increasingly grave human rights situation
>in Haiti, Amnesty International is deeply concerned by UN
>Secretary General Kofi Annan=s recommendation to discontinue the
>International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH) when its
>mandate ends in February 2001.
>      "We have just returned from Haiti and we found a sharp
>deterioration in the human rights climate there," said Amnesty
>International researcher, Paige Wilhite. "If the UN leaves, it
>will effectively be abandoning the country and leaving the
>Haitian human rights defenders to cope on their own at a highly
>vulnerable moment."
>      "We are convinced that a withdrawal would be premature
>and highly detrimental to human rights protection in Haiti,"
>added Amnesty International's researcher.  "The Haitian human
>rights community is under-resourced and exposed, and would become
>more so in the absence of a UN monitoring presence in the
>      Amnesty International believes that the UN's departure
>would effectively negate the results of all past efforts by the
>UN, the Organization of American States and Haitians themselves
>to promote a climate of respect for human rights.
>      The organization fears the UN's withdrawal from Haiti
>would also undermine efforts to dismantle newly-established
>illegal security forces and to prosecute all those within these
>forces found responsible for human rights violations.
>Furthermore, a withdrawal of UN support would undermine recent
>progress in bringing other Haitian military and police officers
>responsible for human rights violations to justice.
>      "The period following the inauguration of President-elect
>Jean Bertrand Aristide is a crucial one for Haiti=s future," said
>Amnesty International's researcher. "A discontinuation of UN
>human rights field presence would weaken the level of
>international scrutiny, seriously damaging past and ongoing
>efforts in human rights protection in Haiti."
>Newly-elected local and regional officials have begun
>establishing de facto and highly partisan security forces which
>have been responsible for a significant number of human rights
>violations.  The Prime Minister of Haiti, as well as high-level
>justice, police and legislative officials, recognized the gravity
>of the matter and pledged to dismantle these illegal forces and
>to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations.
>November saw the conclusion of the trial of former military and
>paramilitary implicated in the 1994 Raboteau massacre.  In
>September, the first trial of police officers implicated in human
>rights violations was held, with several convictions.  These
>trials are a sign of willingness on the part of Haitian
>authorities to hold those responsible for human rights abuses
>accountable for their actions.
>Acts of political violence increased in Haiti during the local
>and legislative elections that began in May 2000, and continued
>to be frequent in the run-up to the 26 November presidential
>elections.  The April 2000 killing of radio journalist Jean
>Dominique is perhaps the most prominent of these.  The manner in
>which the new administration addresses such outstanding cases
>will have a profound impact, for good or for ill, on the future
>of respect for human rights in Haiti.  Of equal importance is the
>new president=s response to any continuing violence and
>intimidation by partisans of his own political party.
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