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8204: AI Press Release on the Arrest of Prosper Avril (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <maxblanchet@worldnet.att.net>
From: <pwilhite@amnesty.org>

6 June 2001

AI Index AMR 36/009/2001 - News Service Nr. 98

              Haiti: One more step towards the end of impunity
The  arrest of former military general Prosper Avril on 26 May could mark a
step forward by the Haitian justice system in its struggle against impunity
for human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.

     "The  gravity  of the human rights violations committed during General
Avril's  period  in  power,  from  his 1988 coup d'état to his departure in
March  1990,  cannot be ignored," the organization continued, acknowledging
the importance of bringing those responsible to justice.

     Avril  was  arrested  under  a warrant dating from 1996, on charges of
assault,  torture  and  illegal arrest of six Haitian activists in 1989 and
1990.    The   six men were already awarded damages in a civil case brought
in  1994,  in  which  a  United States district court ruled that Avril bore
personal responsibility for their interrogation and torture.

     "This is an opportunity for the Haitian justice system to demonstrate,
once  again,  that  it  can  provide  a  fair and equitable trial for those
accused of human rights violations," Amnesty International said.


    General   Avril   was   chief  of  presidential  security  under
Jean-Claude  Duvalier,  until  the latter was ousted from power in February
1986.   Under  Avril's  leadership  reports of torture and ill-treatment of
political and common-law prisoners were widespread.

     Haiti  has  recently taken important steps against impunity, including
the  November 2000 trial of members of the former military and paramilitary
implicated  in  the  1994 Raboteau massacre.  The civilian Haitian National
Police  (HNP)  replaced  the  notorious Haitian Armed Forces (Forces Armées
d'HaVti)   after it was disbanded in 1995.  The first trial of HNP officers
accused  of  human  rights violations took place in 2000 as well, when four
officers  were convicted of the extrajudicial execution of eleven young men
in the Carrefour-Feuilles neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince in May 1999.


public document
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