IJDH Human Rights Alert:
HAITI-UN: Human rights problems in Haiti worry U.N.’s Annan
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Haiti’s transitional government Monday to free members of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas Family party detained without charges in violation of their human rights.
Aristide was forced out after a February revolt killed more than 200 people. A UN mission was charged with restoring order in impoverished Haiti after Aristide’s ouster. Aristide supporters blame the interim government for recent violence, while the government says Aristide is inciting violence in exile.
Former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert and political activist Annette Auguste are among Lavalas supporters that have been detained for months without charges, Annan said in a report to the U.N. Security Council.
“I should like to remind the transitional government that the arbitrary detention of people solely for their political affiliation is in contravention of fundamental human rights principles,” he said. Those detained should either be freed or charged and brought to justice, he said.
Human rights throughout Haiti remains “a cause of great concern,” Annan said in the report.
“Armed groups have made arbitrary arrests and run illegal detention centers in some localities. The justice system remained dysfunctional and the National Police continued to operate outside the purview of the rule of law,” he said.
Security also remains a problem, Annan said, pressing governments that pledged troops to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti to fulfill their commitments in a timely way.
The UN mission has been hampered from the start by a shortage of promised troops and police.
About 4,500 out of an authorized 6,700 troops have been deployed to date, Annan’s report said.
He also called for additional international police officers to be deployed to improve security. But he said Haiti needs more than security to succeed.
“Without a parallel political process which involves all segments of society, no sustainable peace and security will be achieved,” he said, encouraging the transitional government to draw on all groups that have rejected violence.
Annan asked the Security Council to extend the U.N. mission’s mandate for another 18 months, until May 31, 2006.