Wednesday, June 19, 2013

RNDDH: Impunity Continues in Haiti

The Haitian human rights group Réseau national de défense des droits humains has released its report of human rights conditions in the country during the second year of the Martelly government, the full text of which can be read here.

Among some of the "highlights":

After the 17 April 2012 murder of PNH officer Walky Calixte, the Haitian deputies accused of involvement in the slaying, Jean Baptiste Nzounaya Bellange and Rodriguez Séjour, still have not been charged or tried. Meanwhile, Walky Calixte's family and former colleagues in the PNH have been attacked and, in some cases (PNH officer Jean Richard Hertz Cayo), murdered.


After the 18 April 2012 murder of Octanol Derissaint, allegedly by Martelly adviser Calixte Valentin, while held at the Commissariat du Canapé-vert in Port-au-Prince, Valentin continued to provide advice to the Martelly government, go out to eat and to sleep in his own home at night. On 8 November 2012, judge Fermo-Judes Paul dismissed the case. To date neither Calixte Valentin nor anyone else has been tried for the murder of Octanol Derissaint.


After CEP (electoral council) president Josué Pierre-Louis is accused on 26 November 2012 of raping and assaulting Marie Danielle Bernardin, the victim is essentially treated as a criminal by Haiti's justice system and subject to threats of violence by Pierre-Louis' supporters. She withdraws the case and it is dismissed. One can only assume that M. Pierre-Louis is still a welcome guest in the halls of MINUSTAH, the government and others as Haiti prepares for it's long-delayed elections.

Anyone who wonders of the ongoing challenge posed by impunity in Haiti needs solely to look therein.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Saint-Marc Massacre: The Evidence

In terms of evidence that a mass killing of opponents of the government of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and otherwise politically uninvolved civilians occurred in the central town of Saint-Marc in February 2004, and that, in violation of Article 268 of the Haitian constitution, armed civilians were working jointly with the national police, we have the following documentation:

"Haitians flee unrest in port city," in The Chicago Tribune, published February 10, 2004.

"Situation de terreur a Saint Marc," on the Radio Metropole website, February 16, 2004.

"Town taken from rebels feels heat of reprisal," in The Miami Herald, February 24 , 2004.

"Massacre de La Scierie: la NCHR souhaite un proces exemplaire," on the Radio Metropole website, March 31, 2004.

"Condemning Aristide's Largest Massacre," press release from the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (later RNDDH, April 2, 2004.

"The La Scierie Massacre," in Le Nouvelliste, April 17, 2005.

"Open letter to Louis Joinet, the United Nations' independent expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, from Charlienor Thompson, coordinator of the Association des Victimes du Genocide de la Scierie (AVIGES)," published on June 12, 2007.

"HAITI: 'We Have Never Had Justice'," in the Inter Press Service, July 21, 2009.

As well as references in the following books:

Deibert Michael. Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005.

Hadden, Gerry. Never the Hope Itself: Love and Ghosts in Latin America and Haiti. New York: Harper Perennial, 2011.

Klarreich, Kathie. Madame Dread: A Tale of Love, Vodou, and Civil Strife in Haiti. New York: Nation Books, 2005.

In addition to these sources, there are also the raw notes from a Human Rights Watch delegation that visited Saint-Marc in March 2004 and whose research reflected, in every detail, the reporting and analysis included above.

As to whether or not the Aristide/Neptune government were aware that Bale Wouze were illegally operating alongside the police, there can be no doubt this was the case as Mr. Neptune was quoted during his visit to Saint-Marc - at the height of the violence - that '"the national police force alone cannot re-establish order."

The full text of that article can be read here.

I suppose one could make an argument that this vast collection of information, produced by individuals and entities operating at different times and in autonomy from one another, is part of a vast, organized conspiracy, but, as I said before, I do not believe that is an argument that a reasonable person could take seriously.

The people who were victimized under the governments of Mr. Duvalier and Mr. Aristide deserve justice, no matter how politically unfashionable it may be to say so today.