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9341: [Fwd: NYTimes.com Article: Haiti Slum Deaths Raise Police Brutality Concerns] (fwd)

From: Dan Craig <dgcraig@att.net>

Haiti Slum Deaths Raise Police Brutality Concerns
October 24, 2001 
Filed at 4:33 p.m. ET 

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Concern over police brutality in Haiti, long
a worry in the impoverished Caribbean nation, has risen sharply amid
allegations that officers killed three people in a slum area of the
capital earlier this month. 

A government prosecutor, Josue Pierre-Louis, said on Wednesday
authorities were investigating the deaths of
three people in Cite Soleil district after local residents and family
members filed charges alleging they were killed by police. 

He said an arrest warrant had been issued for a police inspector who
failed to show up for questioning on the

The three were buried on Tuesday. The dead included a 16-year-old boy
whose body was found on Oct. 12, according to respected local journalist
Michele Montas. 

Further muddying the waters were allegations that police roughed up a
local journalist investigating the deaths. 

Radio station Radio Haiti Inter sent a reporter to crime-infested Cite
Soleil on Oct. 13 after reports from
residents that police had killed three people during a sweep to clamp
down on gangs. 

In testimony to a judge, reporter Jean Robert Delcine said he was beaten
by Police Inspector Yrvens Cesar in the presence of Cite Soleil and
Delmas district Commissioner Marcellus Camy after seeing Cesar drag a
wounded man out of his house. Delcine also said that Cesar pressed a gun
against his stomach and threatened his life. 

Justice officials did not return calls seeking comment. 

Delcine's radio station filed charges of physical aggression, death
threats and confiscation of work material
against the two officers. 

Government prosecutor Pierre-Louis called in Cesar and Camy for
questioning on Oct. 18 and the meeting was interrupted by furious Cite
Soleil residents who called for justice for their slain family members
and neighbors, carrying tattered cardboard signs that read, "Down with

Camy appeared for subsequent questioning though Cesar failed to show up
and Pierre-Louis said an arrest warrant
had been issued for him. 

The present police force was set up after a U.S. military intervention
in 1994 ended rule by the army. It was trained by U.S. and other foreign


But Haiti's justice system is still rife with problems, although it made
legal headway last year with two landmark trials that convicted military
leaders and police officers.

In an attempt to curb crime, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide launched a
"zero-tolerance" policy in June,
which encouraged police to take a tough line on arrests.  Since then,
crime seems to have subsided but reports of police killings have raised

"The public has welcomed it, initially. There seems to have been a drop
in crime," said Paige Wilhite, a
researcher from London-based Amnesty International, during a trip to

"But it (zero-tolerance) also opens the field for police to execute
criminals without trials, without proof." 

Haiti has sought to establish democratic institutions and the rule of
law after decades of brutal dictatorships.  Before his ouster in 1986,
Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" and his father Francois ruled the country for 29
years with an iron grip.


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company