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a313: Press group urges sanctions against Haiti leaders (fwd)
From: RSF Americas <email@example.com>
> By Michael Deibert
> PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan 11 (Reuters) - A Paris-based advocacy group
>on Friday asked countries that respect freedom of the press to put pressure
>on Haiti with steps including freezing the assets of President
>Jean-Bertrand Aristide, saying his government wields an official policy of
> Robert Menard, secretary-general of the press freedom group Reporters
>Without Borders, said at a news conference in the capital Port-au-Prince
>that threats against journalists in Haiti had increased sharply since a
>Dec. 17 attack on the National Palace that Aristide called an attempt to
>overthrow his government.
> Menard advocated sanctions against Aristide and members of his ruling
>Lavalas Family party.
> Menard called on "countries committed to freedom of speech" to revoke
>the travel visas and freeze the assets of Aristide, his wife, Mildred,
>Haitian Senate President Yvon Neptune, Minister of Justice Gary Lissade,
>Interior Minister Henri Claude Menard and Lavalas Sen. Dany Toussaint, as
>well as those of 19 other individuals.
> Menard also questioned why the government had not arrested suspects in
>the murders of two prominent journalists, Jean Dominique and Brignol
> Haitian opposition parties mocked the Dec. 17 attack as an act of
>"theater" staged as a pretext for the repression of opposition groups,
>media and human rights groups.
> Offices of opposition parties and politicians were torched in mob
>violence following the palace assault in Haiti, which is struggling to
>build a democracy after decades of dictatorship and military rule.
> "President Aristide is personally responsible for this situation,"
>Menard said. "And he is personally responsible for the impunity that has
>been manifest in the Haitian government."
> As Menard spoke, Paul Raymond, a Lavalas militant wanted for
>questioning in the Dominique investigation, appeared with about 30
>supporters and held a chaotic demonstration in front of the hotel where
>Menard was appearing, briefly entering the building despite a police
> Dominique, 69, one of Haiti's most famous journalists as the director
>of the independent Radio Haiti Inter and an adviser to then-President Rene
>Preval, was gunned down outside his station on April 3, 2000.
> The investigation into his death has served as a lightning rod in
>Haiti, both as a symbol of the danger faced by journalists in the troubled
>Caribbean nation and as a test of the Aristide government's commitment to
>the rule of law.
> The judge investigating the Dominique slaying, Claudy Gassant,
>repeatedly complained that Haitian officials were interfering in the probe.
> Gassant's term expired this week and he left Haiti for the United
>States. Government representatives padlocked his office and seized
> Lindor, news director for independent Radio Echo 2000 in the southern
>city of Petit Goave, was hacked to death with a machete by Lavalas
>militants on Dec. 3.
> Aristide met with journalists at the National Palace last week and
>said his government "has a commitment to the benefits of diversity and
>plurality of views."
> Reporters Without Borders previously has called for similar sanctions
>against other governments it accuses of suppressing media and free speech,
>including Zimbabwe and Myanmar.
Despacho Américas / Americas desk
Reporters sans frontières
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