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9509: Christian Aid concerned about threats to NCHR-Haiti (fwd)

From: Tttnhm@aol.com

Haitian human rights workers face renewed threats /02.11.01

There is growing concern for one of Christian Aidís partner organisations in Haiti, the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), which has been the subject of numerous death threats in recent months. 

It is not known who is responsible for the threats, but Pierre Esperance from the NCHR believes they could be linked to the organisationís condemnation of human rights abuses committed by the Haitian police. 

The NCHR is no stranger to death threats. In August this year Esperance received a number of threatening telephone calls warning him to stop speaking out over the murder of one of the countryís foremost political commentators and journalists, Jean Dominique who was shot in April last year. 

In 1999 Esperance narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a group of armed men attacked his car while he was on his way to the offices of the NCHR in the capital Port-au-Prince. Esperance escaped with bullet wounds in his knee and shoulder. While recovering in hospital the threats continued and to this day no one has been arrested. 

He says that in spite of the threats the NCHR will not be silenced. 'The truth must be spoken and justice must be sought. Until a state of law is established and the fundamental rights of all Haitians are respected, NCHR will not surrender the fight,' he says

In a recent letter to the Haitian president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, the director of Christian Aid, Dr Daleep Mukarji, urged the Haitian government to investigate the threats against human rights workers and to provide them with sufficient security to carry out their vital work. 

Christian Aidís representative in Haiti, Helen Spraos, says that at the moment there is considerable tension in Haiti because of the political stalemate between the government and the opposition. 'This has created a situation where people are tempted to settle their differences through violence', she says. 

She adds: 'We are working together with the NCHR to help people become aware of their rights and the constitutional channels for resolving conflict. This work, together with NCHRís efforts to end impunity, is a vital contribution towards ensuring respect for basic rights in Haiti.' 

Forwarded by the Haiti Support Group