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Haiti Descends

November 2004

More troubling reports concerning the human rights situation have emerged from Haiti in recent days. A variety of Haitian sources have confirmed that several apparent summary executions have taken place in so-called slum areas in and around Port-au-Prince, especially in the International Fort area. Information remains incomplete, but evidence suggests that these killings were carried out by units of the Haitian National Police. The neighborhoods in which these actions have taken place are known to be areas of strong support for former President Jean Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas Family Party.

In this journal, we have shared information concerning the escalation of violence in Port-au-Prince in recent months. We have also shared the reports of Haitian organizations suggesting that pro-Aristide forces were responsible for much of that escalating violence, and calling upon the police and the United Nations forces to take action to restore security.

Regardless of who was responsible for the recent violence on the streets of Port-au-Prince, the use of summary execution and terror as a way of silencing dissent has a long and terrible history in Haiti. The use of such tactics must be condemned, unconditionally, and those responsible for the recent murders must be brought to justice. To their credit, the major Haitian human rights organizations have denounced the recent killings even as they have continued to denounce street violence in Port-au-Prince.

If MINUSTAH, the UN Mission to Haiti, is to recover any semblance of credibility for its work, it must act aggressively to re-establish order in Haiti and it must begin to cooperate more actively with those in Haiti who are fighting to end all forms of impunity in their country. Similarly, a failure by the Haitian government to condemn these actions and investigate the details behind them will be seen as one more example of its complete acquiscence in the consolidation of traditional forms of political terror in Haiti.

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