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Haiti
11.09.01
Urgent Interventions

Haiti: Death threats against members of the NCHR and POHDH

URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY

HTI 001 / 0111/OBS 092
Harassment / Death threats
Haiti
9 November 2001


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a program of FIDH and OMCT, requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Haiti.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) and the Haitian Human Rights Organizations Platform (POHDH) of the death threats received by several of their members since September 7th , 2001 and their intensification during the last weeks.

According to the information received, earlier this month, the NCHR published an open letter to the Superior Council of the Haitian Police, in which the organization criticized and condemned its practices, notably its close link with the ruling party Fanmi Lavalas and the increasing violations of human rights in Haiti such as the harassment of journalists, activists and opposition members that have also been denounced by international observers in the country. The letter contained the names of the individuals considered responsible for that situation. Since then, the following members of both organizations live under death threats received either mail, telephone or tracts distributed in the street:

· Pierre Espérance, treasurer and executive director of POHDH
· Vilès Alizar, programme manager of NCHR
· Serge Bordenave, Secretary General of POHDH
· Jean Simon Saint-Hubert, Executive Secretary of POHDH

Both NCHR and POHDH have already been subjected to threats in the past. In March 1999, tracts were distributed that contained the addresses of the schools attended by the children of the two organizations members and the description of their cars as well as plates numbers. On March 8th, 1999, Pierre Espérance was attacked on his way home after leaflets had been disseminated around Port-au-Prince and in the POHDH court yard (see the Observatory’s 1999 Annual Report). He was wounded in the knee and the shoulder. No investigation was never launched into this attack in order to find out those responsible.

The Observatory is gravely concerned about the ongoing threats to which the National Coalition for Haitian Rights and the Haitian Human Rights Organizations Platform are being subjected and the reports asserting the deteroration of the human rights situation in Haiti.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Haiti urging them to:

i. put an end to any kind of harassment against human rights NGOs and all human rights defenders in the country, and ensure that they be allowed to carry out their work without obstacles;
ii. abide by the provisions of the Declaration on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders adopted on the 9th of December 1998, by the U.N. General Assembly (“Declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms”), particularly, Article 1 which stipulates that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and article 6. c. according to which everyone has the right “to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”.
iii. more generally abide by the Universal declaration on Human Rights and Covenants and international Conventions ratified by Haiti.

Addresses:
· H.E. Jean Bertrand Aristide, President of the Republic of Haiti, Palais National, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
· Mr. M. Henri-Claude Ménard, Minister of Interior and National Defense, Palais des Ministeres, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
· Mr. Gary Lissade, Minister of Justice and Public Safety, 19 Ave. Charles Sumner, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
· Mr. Joseph-Philippe Antonio, Ministre des affaires étrangères et des cultes, 1 Cité de l’exposition, pmae@haitiworld.com, fax : (509) 298 3772
· Ira Kurzban, Counsel to Government of Haiti, 2650 SW 27th Ave, Miami, FL 33135, Fax: (305) 444-3503
· Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Haiti, 3211 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008-3608, Fax: (202) 745-7215
Geneva – Paris, November 9th, 2001

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken, quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a joint FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the Emergency Line:
E-mail: observatoire@iprolink.ch
Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 01 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 4122 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
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