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a636: Haiti : Senate refuses to lift Dany Toussaint's parliamentaryimmunity (fwd)

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1 February 2002


Senate refuses to lift Dany Toussaint's parliamentary immunity

In a letter to Senate Speaker Yvon Neptune, RSF denounced the Senate
Commission's refusal to lift Dany Toussaint's parliamentary immunity.
The commission's decision was announced on 31 January 2002. Tousssaint
is the number one suspect in the assassination of journalist Jean
Dominique. "This decision testifies, yet again, to the government's
determined resolve to ensure that light is not shed on the death of
Radio Haïti Inter's director," stated RSF Secretary-General Robert
Ménard. "Following the non-renewal of investigating Judge [Claudy]
Gassant's mandate, this latest decision proves that the farce
continues," he added. "The Senate is merely protecting one of its own,
a true baron of the regime, and demonstrating its contempt for the most
basic justice," Ménard concluded.

According to information collected by RSF, the Senate commission
responsible for examining the request for the lifting of Senator
Toussaint's immunity refused to reach a decision. Stating that it was
lacking information, it asked the investigative judges for further
information on the case. Judge Gassant had issued the request for the
lifting of the senator's immunity when he was in charge of the
investigation. The six-senator commission has been studying the request
since August 2001.

RSF recalls that through a presidential decision, Judge Gassant, whose
mandate expired on 4 January, was replaced by Judges Josua Agnant,
Bertrand Sainvil and Joachim Saint-Clair on 23 January. The progress of
Judge Gassant's investigation was constantly obstructed by the
authorities, Haitian police and Senator Toussaint's entourage. The
judge wanted to call Toussaint as a witness in the case.

Dominique, who was well-known for his independent stance, was gunned
down in the courtyard of his radio station, Radio Haiti Inter, on 3
April 2000.  Targets of his criticism had included former Duvalierists,
soldiers and the country's powerful families. Shortly before he died,
he also criticised those he suspected within President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's party of seeking to "divert the movement from its

<italic>Reporters Sans Frontières defends jailed journalists and press
freedom throughout the world, that is, the right to inform and be
informed, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. Reporters Sans Frontières has nine sections (Austria,
Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland and
United Kingdom), representatives in Abidjan, Bangkok, Montréal, Tokyo
and Washington, and about a hundred correspondents worldwide.

Régis Bourgeat

Despacho Américas / Americas desk

Reporters sans frontières

5, rue Geoffroy-Marie

75009 Paris - France

tél. : +33 (0) 1 44 83 84 57

fax : +33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51

e-mail : ameriques@rsf.org

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