August 16, 2005
Thanks to everyone who contacted the U.S. Congress in support of Fr. Jean-Juste. Your phone calls helped increase the signatures on�Rep. Maxine Waters� letter to President Bush from 11 when we issued the alert to 29 on the final version. Our past letters to the Haitian government, UN and the U.S. Embassy bore some fruit last week: both Juan Gabriel Vald �s, the head of the UN Mission in Haiti, and James Foley, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, publicly deplored the continued jailing of Yvon Neptune. See�UN Mission Head Urges Release of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune,US Ambassador Calls for Liberation of Yvon Neptune . Even Haitian Minister of Justice Henri Dorl�ans�called for the release of detaineeswhere no investigation was progressing.
The U.S. Embassy will receive more input today: Law Professor Bill Quigley will deliver�791 letters and faxes from 10 countries asking the Ambassador to intervene on behalf of Fr. Jean-Juste, and a list of 1200 who signed onto�Human Rights First�s Action Alert for Fr. Jean-Juste. If you have not weighed in yet, Bill is looking for more letters to deliver on his next trip, you may fax them to 1-504-861-5440, or mail to c/o Professor Bill Quigley, Loyola University School of Law, Box 902, New Orleans, LA 70118.
People living in Port-au-Prince�s poor neighborhoods are often more vulnerable than the prominent political prisoners- the police don�t arrest them, they just shoot them, knowing that no one outside Haiti will object. Last Wednesday police stormed the Bel-Air neighborhood, ostensibly to combat gangs, but many of those killed, including a pregnant teenager, were clearly not gang members. Witnesses report that much of the killing was done by civilian police supporters, while the police looked on. See�Haiti Police Kill 5 in Raid (AP). On Thursday 10 more people were lynched by people claiming to be working with the police, and residents of Bel-Air reported the police systematically issuing machetes to its supporters. See�Police Supporters Lynch 10 in Bel-Air (AHP).
These killings appear to be ushering in a new phase of �electoral cleansing� as this fall�s scheduled elections approach. With the government�s most prominent critics safely behind bars, the police are silencing grassroots activists and opposition voters in the poor neighborhoods that have long been a bastion of the Lavalas party.
The UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, can put a stop to this. It has 7,000 peacekeepers on the ground, a�mandate from the UN Security Council to �protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence,� and since June has had extended supervisory powers over the police. Last Tuesday Mr . Vald � s announced that the UN would not allow individuals to prevent election campaign activities. See�UN Mission Head Promises to protect Elections . He needs to put action behind his words by ensuring that MINUSTAH peacekeepers immediately stop all Haitian police attacks on poor neighborhoods.
Action: Please fax, call or write Juan Gabriel Vald �s, and insist that the UN immediately stop lynchings and other killings by Haitian Police in the poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. A sample letter is below, Mr. Vald �s� telephone number is 011-509-244-9650 (also 9651, 9652 through 9660).
Fax No. 011-509-244-3512
Mr. Juan Gabriel Vald �s
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
387, avenue John Brown
Dear Mr. Vald�s
As you know, the last week saw a dramatic increase in attacks in poor neighborhoods by police and by civilians working with the police, notably in Solino and Bel-Air. The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has both the capacity and responsibility to stop this killing.
As you know, UN resolution 1542 requires MINUSTAH to �protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.� In June, the mission sought and received increased supervisory powers over the Haitian police. It is time that the 7,000 peacekeepers in Haiti use these powers to stop these deadly, illegal attacks.
In the past you have spoken of the need for Haiti to break out of the cycle of violence, and to begin the process of reconciliation. Every police execution fuels the cycle of violence, and makes reconciliation even more remote. None of MINUSTAH�s initiatives in Haiti will succeed unless the peacekeeping troops fulfill their obligation to protect citizens form police-sponsored violence.
Accordingly, I urge you to immediately endeavor to stop police killings in poor neighborhoods, and to conduct an investigation into last week�s killings.