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9184: Amnesty International on Haiti: Ten years after the coup, some , human rights improvements lost (fwd)

From: Antoine Blanc <amprblanc@yahoo.fr>

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International *

27 September 2001
AMR 36/003/2001

Despite initial improvements after the return to constitutional
order in 1994, the human rights situation in Haiti is again
deteriorating, Amnesty International warned today.

     Ten years on from the violent coup of 30 September 1991
that overthrew the government of Jean Bertrand Aristide, the
organization presented today a report outlining the gains and
losses in the level of respect for human rights over this crucial
period in Haiti's history.

     "Undoubtedly, the gravity of the human rights situation
in Haiti is nowhere near that of the years following the coup,"
Amnesty International said, highlighting positive developments
including the disbanding of the army -- notorious for human
rights violations --, the creation of a civilian police force and
an initial increase in freedom of expression and association.

     "However, the heavy legacy of the years of de facto
military rule has not been fully dealt with," the organization
added noting that many of the victims of the coup are still
awaiting justice and that the justice system remains largely

     Moreover, since the electoral period in 2000, some of the
progress achieved has been undone," Amnesty International
continued, citing political pressures on the judiciary and the
police and crackdowns on the exercise of fundamental freedoms. In
one example, 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.

     Amnesty International is also concerned about partisan
attacks on freedom of expression at the hands of supporters of
Jean Bertrand Aristide's now ruling party, Fanmi Lavalas.

     "Fanmi Lavalas supporters should be especially sensitive
to these issues, having been themselves the victims of extreme
brutality after the coup," Amnesty International said, calling on
the president, government officials and party leaders to take
urgent steps to counter this spate of violence and harassment of
journalists, activists and opposition members.

     "If not reversed, this deterioration could lead to even
more serious violations of human rights," the organization added.
Amnesty International also noted that attacks on police stations
in July of this year, allegedly by former military officers, have
further increased tensions.

For more information, to arrange an interview or to receive a
copy of the report "Haiti: Steps Forward, Steps Back: human
rights ten years after the coup", please contact the Amnesty
International press office on +44 20 7413 5566/5562. The report
will also be available on the web at the embargo time. Please

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