The Lancet 'survey': full disclosure needed

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Charles Arthur
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 7:35 am

The Lancet 'survey': full disclosure needed

Post by Charles Arthur » Mon Sep 04, 2006 8:39 am

Re: 'Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households' by Athena R Kolbe, Royce A Hutson, published in the current issue of The Lancet, Volume 368, Number 9538, 02 September 2006.

Although perhaps closer examination will reveal exagerrated extrapolations of the results of the survey, it does confirm reports from civil society organisations in Haiti and from some parts of the Haitian media indicating that human rights violations and criminal violence in Port-au-Prince have significantly increased in number over recent years.

However I have some doubts about the credibility of the research with regard to the perpetrators of these acts. These doubts focus on the contention that very few of the human rights violations have been attributed to "Lavalas members or partisans" (by which I assume the authors mean members or partisans of the Lavalas Family party led by Jean-Bertrand Aristide).

The main reason why I doubt this finding is that it contradicts the information that I have received from independent human rights investigators working in some of the most violent areas of Port-au-Prince. There is no dispute that many of the violations have been committed by criminals without any apparent political affiliation, by members of the Haitian National Police, by former members of the FAD'H and by armed men affiliated to anti-Aristide, anti-Lavalas Family groups. But I am informed that local people also blame Lavalas Family/Jean-Bertrand Aristide supporters for committing serious acts of violence, including rape.

My concern is that the either the conduct or the interpretation of the research has been skewed or biased in some way in order to exonerate Lavalas Family/Aristide supporters from accusations of invovlement in human rights violations. This concern is heightened on discovering that there is good reason to believe that the coordinator of the research, and one of the two authors of the Lancet article, Athena Kolbe, is in fact a pro-Lavalas Family journalist who uses the name, Lyn Duff.

To reiterate, I have reason to believe that Athena Kolbe and Lyn Duff are one and the same person.

1) At the end of the article "We Won't Be Peaceful and Let Them Kill Us Any Longer" - Interview with Haitian Activist Rosean Baptiste, interviewed by Lyn Duff, 4 November 2005, San Francisco Bay View, there is an email link to the author:

Email Lyn at

2) In a newsletter posted by the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, dated October 16 2005, one can read the following passage:

[quote]Meet Athena Kolbe
Journalist and Activist
Athena Kolbe, 29, has attended 1st UU for a little over a year now and her enthusiasm for Unitarianism and Judaism (both part of her religious upbringing) has spurred some exciting happenings. The sukkah in McCollester Hall was built on First Friday under her tutelage, and she led last spring's Passover Seder with her parents, who are active in the Worcester, MA UU Church. She is also one of the planners for the October 23rd Soulful Sundown service and is starting a UU student group at Wayne State. Currently working on her MSW in preparation for a doctorate, Athena already has a MDiv and an MA in theology and Adult RE from San Francisco's Golden Gate School of Theology, as well as a BA in International Relations and Labor Law. Since 1995, she has lived and worked extensively in Haiti as a Pacifica radio correspondent and has also lived in Israel. Athena loves the cultural and religious diversity at 1st UU but wants to see the “under 40 crowd” and persons with nontraditional styles more enthusiastically welcomed into the church community. She has many worthy ideas to share and she's fun to talk to. [/quote]

3) Then there are the following bits of information to be found at

[quote]In 1995, Duff traveled to Haiti where she established Radyo Timoun ("Children's Radio"), that country's first radio station run entirely by children under the age of 17. She reportedly worked closely with Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. [/quote]

[quote]By the late 1990's, Duff was a well-established international journalist with postings in Haiti, Israel, Croatia, several African countries, and Vietnam. [/quote]

[quote]I February 2004, Duff, who was then living six months out of every year in Jerusalem, was home in the United States on a brief visit when a group of ex-soldiers overthrew the democratically elected government headed by President Jean Bertrand Aristide. She quickly traveled to Haiti, arriving in Port-au-Prince when the coup was only days old and reporting on the situation extensively for several national media outlets.

Since that time, Duff has regularly covered the situation in Haiti for the San Francisco Bay View, Pacifica Radio's Flashpoints, and Pacific News Service. Her reporting is a blend of in-depth investigative reports and "as told to" first person commentaries by Haitian nationals. Subjects have included politically motivated mass rape, the United Nations mission in Haiti, killings by American Marines in Port-au-Prince, civilians taking over the neighborhood of Bel Air, murders of street children by police and ex-soldiers , presidential/legislative elections, and the general human rights situation.

She currently splits her time between Detroit, Michigan, and a home in the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.[/quote]

Put this all together and there is pretty strong proof that the Lancet survey was coordinated by Lyn Duff (known here as Athena Kolbe)

Acording to Lyn Duff's article, 'Jean Bertrand Aristide: Humanist or Despot?' published by Pacific News Service on 2 March 2004:
[quote]In 1995 when, I was 19 years old, I traveled to Haiti to help set up Radyo Timoun, a radio station run by street children in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Over three and a half years I worked and often lived with the children of Lafanmi Selavi, a shelter for some of the nation's quarter of a million homeless children. It was there that I came to know Jean Bertrand Aristide, not just as the president of the poorest country in the western hemisphere, but also as a father, teacher, a friend, and a surrogate dad for hundreds of parentless street kids. The Jean Bertrand Aristide I know is markedly different from the one that is being portrayed in the media.[/quote]

Lyn Duff is described as "a friend of Aristide" in Justin Felux's article, 'Debunking the Media's Lies about President Aristide', published by on 14 March 2004.

Recently, Lyn Duff has written a number of reports on the issue of rape in Haiti. On 3 March 2005, The Black Commentator published Duff's article, 'Political Rape Rampant in Haiti', reporting on the rape of the 14-year old girl, Majory. Duff wrote,
[quote]Marjory is part of a growing number of girls and young women who human rights investigators say have been victims of mass rape committed by members of the disbanded military and their compatriots who patrol the countryside and Haiti's cities, hunting down supporters of Haiti's pro-democracy movement.[/quote]

On 23 December 2005, the San Francisco Bay View published Duff's article, "Police use rape to terrorize women and girls in Haiti", in which she wrote;
[quote]Since the Feb. 29, 2004, coup overthrowing the democratic government of Jean Bertrand Aristide, reports have surfaced of a growing problem: politically motivated mass rape. Women in the popular neighborhoods – which are known for their support of Aristide and the democratic movement – have accused members of the police force and U.N. soldiers, as well as members of the demobilized Haitian army, of targeting them for sexual attacks.[/quote]

How can Kolbe/Duff's research into the issue of human rights violations and the perpetrators be regarded as objective when she herself states that for three and half years she worked with Aristide's Lafanmi Selavi centre for street children where she befriended Aristide himself and presumably some of the boys who later left the centre and who, according to some sources, then acted as armed enforcers for the Lavalas Family party in certain parts of the capital?

How can the findings be regarded as objective when Kolbe/Duff plainly states her sympathies for what she describes as "Haiti's pro-democracy movement - her loaded short-hand for Aristide supporters - and already states her opinion about the political affiliations of the victims and the perpetrators of rape and sexual assaults before the research is finished?

There is a concerted international campaign to distort news and manipulate information about Haiti with the apparent aim of repairing the reputation of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and of winning support for his Lavalas Family party. The publication of this article in The Lancet has already attracted a lot of media coverage, and some of that coverage reports the non-involvement of Lavalas Family party supporters in human rights violations in Port-au-Prince. For example:

Democracy Now, 31 August, 2006:
[quote]A shocking new report published in the British medical journal The Lancet has found widespread and systematic human rights abuses in Haiti following the ouster of democratically-elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.(...) Those responsible for the human rights abuses include criminals, the police, United Nations peacekeepers and anti-Lavalas gangs.[/quote]

The Independent, 4 September 2006:
[quote]More than 30,000 women and girls - half under the age of 18 - were raped in Haiti's capital city in the chaotic two years following the ousting of the country's democratically elected president, a survey has suggested. About 8,000 people were killed during the same period.(...)The survey does not identify Lavalas supporters as being involved in any rapes or killings...[/quote]

The Lancet article was published at the very moment when rape victims were marching in Port-au-Prince to draw attention to the issue, and specifically to the fact that no political party had said anything to condemn the attacks. Coincidence? I don't know, but clearly the publication of the article shifts attention away from any accusations of Lavalas Family party members' or supporters' involvement and/or criticism of the lack of condemnation of crimes that are still going on to this day, and instead puts the focus on the interim government of 2004-6, on anti-Lavalas Family entities and on the UN forces in Haiti.

I am concerned that The Lancet has unwittingly been used as part of the pro-Aristide propaganda campaign.

Charles Arthur

Empress Verite

Full Disclosure Indeed

Post by Empress Verite » Mon Sep 04, 2006 11:14 am

Mesi anpil Charles:

Ou we me mwen toujou kwe nan sat pi fo pase m. Se pou sa ke m kwe nan gran met la anpil. Mwen gen fwa nan li se pou sa tou ke m toujou ta renmen gen tout la verite a-Full Disclosure!

Ou milliard the mesi pou sa ou bannou la. Mezami jam te pe reaksyon pou kritik ke m te fe sou etid sa a lotrejou an. Men Ja ak lot moun yo ki tap plede insiste ke atik nan lancet la ki pibliye rezilta etid sa a te pat pibliye pou pran hone nan men VIKTIM yo ki tap mache nan potoprins la lotrejou.

Mwen kwe ou e mwen ta priye po ou tou pou tet ou banou la verite a.

I was suspicious of these folks because I am a SURVIVOR of their special brand of (neo) liberalism and white feminist propaganda. Well, I know that now that I am guided by higher forces to whom I will be forever grateful for my insight.

You are a hero in my book for the courage that it took to say these things.

Mesi anko.

Michel Nau_

Yo Pap Sispand Fe Kokin!!

Post by Michel Nau_ » Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:24 pm

Empress Verite wrote: [quote]Ja and Serge? Have they been shocked to death by the academic tricks?[/quote] Apparently not at all Empress.
They knew about it since the beginning, just like Aristide fake audiotape.
These guys are part of the San Francisco Bay neo colonial liberal activists' network. It's an embarrassment on them to lure women to rally and to use their noble cause such as rape issue to satisfy their political propaganda.
How can these guys sleep next to their wife, or girlfriend?
Just like their mentor, these guys can not be trusted.
They will put up for sale their soul and their brothers and sisters just to hold on to power.
Shame on them!!

Charles, please kontinye mete KK chat la deho souple!!!


Empress Verite

Full Disclosure Right Now

Post by Empress Verite » Tue Sep 05, 2006 1:28 pm

Mesi Anpil Michel:

Mwen pat kon sa ditou de moun sa yo. Mwen Pat konen ke yo te avek BAHACO ditou. Moun sa yo se the Priviledged intellectual class. Well, I wish them the best in that path.

Please keep writing the truth for folks like me who are not in the know. Knowledge is power and Idrenhood is powerful. I feel empowered already.


Charles Arthur
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 7:35 am

Writer critical of Canadian peacekeepers worked at orphanage

Post by Charles Arthur » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:51 am

Author of Lancet article on Haiti investigated
Writer critical of Canadian peacekeepers worked at orphanage founded by Aristide
The Globe and Mail, 7 September 2006

The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, is investigating complaints about a potential conflict of interest involving the author of a recent article that found systemic human-rights violations in Haiti despite the presence of a Canadian-led United Nations police force and peacekeeping mission.

The study, co-authored by Athena Kolbe, found that 8,000 Haitians have been slain and 35,000 women and girls raped since the ouster of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in early 2004. Ms. Kolbe said that according to local Haitians, Canadian peacekeepers made death threats against them during house raids, and sexual advances against women while the peacekeepers were drunk and off duty.

However, Ms. Kolbe herself is now the subject of controversy after revelations that the 30-year-old master's degree student at Wayne State University's school of social work in Detroit used to be an advocacy journalist who wrote under the name Lyn Duff and worked at a Haitian orphanage founded by Mr. Aristide.

"How can Kolbe/Duff's research into the issues of human-rights violations be regarded as objective when she herself states that for 3.5 years she worked with the Lafanmi Selavi centre for street children, where she befriended Aristide himself and presumably some of the boys who later left the centre . . . [who] then acted as armed enforcers?" Charles Arthur, co-ordinator of the British-based Haiti Support Group, wrote this week in a letter of complaint to The Lancet.

"There is a concerted international campaign to distort news and manipulate information about Haiti with the apparent aim of repairing the reputation of Aristide. I am concerned The Lancet has unwittingly been used as part of the pro-Aristide propaganda campaign."

Nobody from The Lancet was available to comment yesterday, but Ms. Kolbe said the magazine is investigating, and she is confident it will find no conflict of interest.

"The Lancet would have appreciated hearing it from me and not from an outsider," she said in an interview. "But it's not like they wouldn't have published the article. The findings aren't at issue."

Ms. Kolbe said she used to write articles under the name Lyn Duff -- an old nickname and her mother's surname -- but wanted to go by her father's surname and her real first name once she entered academia.

She also said that from 1994-1997, she worked at an orphanage founded by Mr. Aristide, met him several times, and was an admirer of the then-president. Some of the children at the orphanage maintained links with him. "I am not a supporter of Lavalas [Aristide's political party]. I have warm feelings toward Aristide, but I am critical of some of his decisions."

She and her co-author, assistant professor Royce Hutson, defended the results of their survey, which has prompted some groups to call for a parliamentary inquiry into Canada's role in Haiti.

Mr. Aristide's first term in office was interrupted by a 1991 military coup and his second ended abruptly on Feb. 29, 2004, after a rebellion of thugs and ex-soldiers forced him out. He argues the United States forced him into exile.

Canada sent 450 soldiers to Haiti in March, 2004, part of a UN peacekeeping mission of 6,700 soldiers and 1,600 police. The soldiers left in August that year, and there are currently 66 police officers in Haiti leading the UN police force.

The Lancet peer-reviewed study of 5,720 randomly selected Haitians living in the capital found that in the 22-month period since Mr. Aristide's ouster, 97 had received death threats, 232 had been threatened physically and 86 sexually. According to survey respondents, one-third of those who issued death threats were criminals, 18 per cent were Haitian National Police and other government security agents and another 17 per cent were foreign soldiers. Only 6 per cent were Lavalas.

Mr. Arthur said these findings contradict independent human-rights investigators who report that many of the violations have been committed by criminals, Haitian police and anti-Aristide groups -- as well as Lavalas supporters. "My concern is that either the conduct or interpretation of the research was skewed or biased in order to exonerate Fanmi Lavalas/Aristide supporters from accusations of involvement in human-rights violations," he said in his letter.

Nicholas Galletti, with Rights and Democracy, a Montreal non-governmental organization, said the author's background further calls into question a study "based on flawed methodology" whereby responsibility for crimes is attributed to groups without a proper criminal investigation or trial.

However, Prof. Hutson says the study acknowledges the limitations of having to rely on subject recall.

"The charges of bias are baseless. We were aware Athena had written under another name and found no conflict. Our concern is the way UN soldiers are interacting with Haitians."
"The most authoritiative news in Canada"

Charles Arthur notes that the above text has this part attributed to him:

[quote]she befriended Aristide himself and presumably some of the boys who later left the centre . . . [who] then acted as armed enforcers?"[/quote]
when what he actually wrote was:
[quote]she befriended Aristide himself and presumably some of the boys who later left the centre and who, according to some sources, then acted as armed enforcers for the Lavalas Family party in certain parts of the capital? [/quote]

Another article about the Lancet controversy

Post by » Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:37 am

Lancet caught up in row over Haiti murders

· Report appeared to clear Aristide camp of blame
· Magazine investigates 'misleading' study

Duncan Campbell
Friday September 8, 2006
The Guardian

The Lancet medical journal is investigating complaints that it published a misleading account of violence in Haiti that appears to exonerate the supporters of the exiled leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide of murder, sexual assaults and kidnapping.

The report into human rights abuses, carried out by Wayne State University in Michigan, found that 8,000 people had been murdered and 35,000 women sexually assaulted in Port-au-Prince in the 22 months after Mr Aristide was ousted in 2004. But it found that while opponents of Mr Aristide's Lavalas Family party were responsible for 13% of the murders, 11% of the sexual assaults and 17% of kidnappings, supporters of Lavalas were not implicated in any of them.

Charles Arthur, an author and Haitian solidarity activist in Europe, has written to the editor of the Lancet challenging the the notion that no Lavalas groups were involved in the violence. He said there had been many allegations that all groups, including Lavalas, had been involved.

Mr Arthur also said that one of the authors of the report, Athena Kolbe, had previously written favourably about Mr Aristide when working as a journalist in Haiti under the name of Lyn Duff. The Lancet report quotes articles by Ms Duff without saying that she is the same person as Ms Kolbe.

The report identified criminals as the main perpetrators of the violence, but the Haitian police and opponents of Mr Aristide were also cited as being responsible for much of it. UN soldiers were implicated in lesser crimes.

A women's rights group in Haiti has also protested to the Lancet that the findings run counter to all the evidence they have received from rape victims. "We have seen around 1,000 cases of rape," said Anne Sosin, of Haiti Rights Vision. "What our evidence overwhelmingly suggests is that all groups are implicated in abuse against women. It's important that scientific journals such as the Lancet are used to hold all perpetrators to account for human rights violations and abuses."

Ms Kolbe said this week that she stood by the findings. "I am not a supporter of Lavalas," she said. She added that the report indicated that Lavalas Family party supporters had been involved in assaults, death threats and other offences, although not in murder and rape.

The report does indeed state that "political groups on both sides of the spectrum were named as responsible for violent and criminal acts ... Lavalas members and partisans of the Lavalas movement were also named as having committed such acts."

Ms Kolbe said she felt that the most important aspect of the research - that there had been widespread murder and rape in Port-au-Prince - should not be lost in issues over people's past work.

Her colleague, Professor Royce Hutson, also stood behind the report's findings. He said that, with hindsight, clarifying that Ms Kolbe and one of her sources were the same person might have been advisable. He said they were fully cooperating with the Lancet inquiry but were confident there were no issues of conflict of interest.

The UN stabilisation mission in Haiti (Minustah) has also queried the report's findings and suggests that the estimate of 8,000 murders is four times higher than its own data from human rights organisations on the island.

Speaking for Minustah, Sophie Boutaud de la Combe said the report's conclusions "seem exaggerated" and she felt a truer figure would be 2,000.

The publisher of the Lancet, Richard Horton, said the study had come with excellent credentials and peer reviews. "It was very thoroughly reviewed by four external advisers," he said.

He added that if a journalist quoted in the report was the same person as the academic conducting the research he would have expected it to be disclosed and was "dismayed" that it had not been. The Lancet is checking that all the correct procedures for the research were followed.

It is not suggested that the Lancet report had misreported its findings or that Ms Kolbe had any other agenda than the welfare of ordinary Haitians at heart. It is accepted by all parties that the study's core findings - that there have been disturbingly high levels of violence and sexual abuse in Haiti in that period - are true and need to be urgently addressed by the Haitian government and other bodies.

The president of Haiti, René Préval, a former close ally of Mr Aristide, was elected earlier this year. Mr Aristide, from whose party Mr Préval distanced himself in the election campaign, is in exile in South Africa.

Charles Arthur
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 7:35 am

M'pa Ayisyen. M'se Angle!

Post by Charles Arthur » Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:47 am

The Guardian wrote:
[quote]Charles Arthur, an author and Haitian solidarity activist in Europe[/quote]

The Guardian's Duncan Campbell kindly read me the text he was proposing to submit over the phone. I responded by saying it was more or less OK but for a few changes. One of those changes that I asked for was instead of "Charles Arthur, an author and Haitian solidarity activist in Europe" could he put "a British author and Haiti solidarity activist" because it would not do for people to believe that I Haitian when I am not.

As you can see, that change was not made...


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Post by admin » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:16 am

Well, your name sounds conspicuously Haitian.

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