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6899: Haitian Senate Threatens to Kill Investigation Into Reporters Assassination (fwd)
From: Jocelyn McCalla <JMcCalla@nchr.org>
Haiti: Action Alert
Haitian Senate Threatens to Kill Investigation Into Reporter's Assassination
New York, February 4, 2001 - The National Coalition for Haitian Rights has
learned that several members of the Haitian Senate, all of whom belong to
President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lafanmi Lavalas Party are
obstructing the investigation into the political assassination of prominent
journalist Jean Leopold Dominique, in order to protect one of their own,
newly-elected Senator Dany Toussaint.
Jean Leopold Dominique, Haiti's most prominent reporter and human rights
advocate, was killed 10 months ago on April 3 on the doorsteps of the radio
station that he owned and managed together with his wife Michele Montas.
Since then the investigation has dragged on. It is now being handled by
Judge Claudy Gassant, who took over after two of his colleagues resigned
from the bench out of fear for their lives. A suspect in police custody died
from a "self-inflicted" wound shortly after the murder. The investigation
which has suffered from fits and starts but seemed to take on new speed with
the appointment of Judge Gassant has led to the questioning of several
prominent and not so prominent Haitian citizens and political leaders. The
only person who has objected to appearing before the judge is Senator Dany
Toussaint, whom Dominique had identified shortly before his death as a
source of threats and intimidation before which he would not bend.
Claiming immunity from prosecution as a member of the Haitian Parliament,
Mr. Toussaint has refused to cooperate with the inquiry. He twice failed to
respond to summons from the Court, and does not appear willing to comply
with any court order. A pillar of Aristide's Lafanmi Lavalas Party, Mr.
Toussaint appears to be edging his bets that once sworn in President
Aristide will do everything in his power to kill the investigation.
Prominent party members have rallied to Toussaint's cause, determined to
obstruct justice and setting the stage for a confrontation with the Court.
This amidst a difficult presidential succession characterized by the
determination of most Haitian political leaders to deny legitimacy to
Aristide and his party.
In response to the attempts of the Haitian parliament to obstruct justice,
Radio Haiti International has temporarily suspended its news and information
In light of this grave situation that threatens to undermine the very
foundations of the rule of law, NCHR calls on President-elect Aristide, the
Haitian Parliament and the Lafanmi Lavalas political Party to support
without reservations the investigation into the political assassination of
Jean Leopold Dominique and to direct its members to cooperate fully with the
NCHR also urges the Government of Haiti to provide full police protection
and adequate means to Judge Gassant and his investigative aides so that the
investigation is conducted and completed without undue interfererence.
More importantly, we believe that it is imperative that the Haitian
parliament ceases any and all effort to impede the investigation. We call on
the International Community and the Friends of Haiti to unequivocally
condition their support of Haitian democracy and the rule of law on a
successful investigation and prosecution of those found responsible for the
cowardly murder of Jean Dominique.
National Coalition for Haitian Rights