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9139: Human rights suffer setback in Haiti (fwd)

From: radtimes <resist@best.com>

Published Thursday, September 27, 2001

Group: Human rights suffer setback in Haiti


BY YVES COLON  ycolon@herald.com

Crackdowns on fundamental freedoms are setting back human rights in Haiti, 
Amnesty International warned in a report released Wednesday.
Elements of the judiciary and freedom of speech are particularly coming 
under attack, nearly a decade after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide 
returned to power in 1994, following a coup by the military.
"Undoubtedly, the gravity of the human rights situation in Haiti is nowhere 
near that of the years following the coup," Amnesty International said.
There were marked improvements, including the disbanding of an army 
notorious for human rights violations, the creation of a civilian police 
force and an initial increase in freedom of expression and association.
The human rights situation has taken several steps backward in the past few 
years. The organization noted that many victims of the coup are still 
awaiting justice and that the justice system remains largely dysfunctional. 
In addition, several police stations came under attack this past 
July.  Politicians and their supporters are putting pressure on the 
judiciary, the organization said.
In one case, Amnesty pointed out, the investigation into the April 2000 
killing of journalist Jean Dominique has been hampered by threats against 
judges and the refusal of public figures, often backed by crowds of angry 
supporters, to respond to judicial summons ordering them to give evidence.
Freedom of expression has been attacked by those community-based 
organizations that claim to belong to Aristide's party. "Fanmi Lavalas 
supporters should be especially sensitive to these issues, having been 
themselves the victims of extreme brutality after the coup," Amnesty 
International said of the party.