It is interesting to contrast the following news with the piece coming out of the Haitian Press contesting the Human Rights prepared by Tom Griffin.
Haiti: Human rights situation critical
By Reed Lindsay
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published February 15, 2005
Nearly a year after U.S. Marines escorted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti, human rights activists say state-sponsored abuses have continued or even escalated under the interim government of Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.
Rights groups such as Amnesty International in recent months have expressed growing concern over a spate of summary executions in the poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince that witnesses say were committed by the Haitian national police.
"The human rights situation in Haiti is critical
right now," said Judy Dacruz, an independent human rights lawyer who has documented 14 cases since October in which witnesses have identified gunmen dressed as police officers summarily executing unarmed people.
Three other persons who were taken into police custody either turned up dead or were never seen again.
Journalist Abdias Jean was eating lunch on the street near his home in the seaside slum of God's Village last month when he spotted a group of police officers walking in his direction, according to witnesses.
Mr. Jean, a correspondent for a news program aired on a radio station in Miami, ducked into a friend's house for safety. Ten days earlier, residents say, police had killed a 17-year-old girl and an unarmed man during a raid in the neighborhood.
The officers, wearing desert camouflage and black uniforms, had seen Mr. Jean enter the house and they ordered him to come out. According to witnesses, they tied his wrists with his ow
n belt, dragged him less than a block away and fired a bullet through his head.
Miss Dacruz said police operate with "complete impunity, but what is more worrying is that there has been a complicity of silence about these killings."
"The authorities don't even acknowledge violations are taking place, and the majority of the press are simply ignoring what is going on," she said.
Some of the victims of summary executions have been members of Mr. Aristide's Lavalas party. But most appear to have had no political affiliation, other than the fact they lived in poor neighborhoods where sympathy for Mr. Aristide still runs high.
Government officials and police officers deny that the killings were committed by police, speculating that former soldiers or pro-Lavalas armed gangs might be responsible. In some cases, they have claimed not to know about specific cases.
"I guarantee the police are not involved in these kinds of actions,"
said police spokesperson Gessy Coicou at a news conference earlier this month. "Personally, I don't know Abdias Jean. I haven't heard of him, and I haven't seen his name in any of the files I have."
Mr. Aristide himself was accused of tolerating and encouraging rights abuses, which was a factor in pushing the Organization of American States to freeze hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid to his government.
In contrast, abuses under Mr. Latortue's government have received scant censure from the United States, Canada or France -- three critics of Mr. Aristide who led an occupying force in Haiti after he was ousted.
Nor has the presence of a 7,400-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission been able to prevent the killings.
Canadian David Beer, commissioner of some 1,400 U.N. civilian police in Haiti, admitted the peacekeeping force known as CIVPOL had not yet fulfilled parts of its mandate.
He blamed this on the late
arrival of many contingents and a wave of violence that forced the peacekeepers to focus most of their energy on fighting armed groups -- some of which support Mr. Aristide -- in joint operations with the Haitian police.
Recent abuses prompted Mr. Beer last month to form a team of 24 CIVPOL officers who have begun an investigation into summary executions purportedly committed by the Haitian police, as well as the killings of at least 10 prisoners in a crackdown at the national penitentiary on Dec. 1.
"It's worse than I would have expected," Mr. Beer said. "If the human rights situation isn't changing -- and obviously changing [so that] the public has the confidence that it is changing -- we can't have a secure and stable environment.
"People won't move around the country in day-to-day activities. They won't go shopping. They won't participate in elections in the same way."
The first round of presidential elections is scheduled for Nov.