Jan 17, 2006
First, welcome to all the new people who have joined the Half-Hour for Haiti team lately. We get bigger every week, please help sustain that growth by forwarding these messages to your networks.
Thanks to all who told MINUSTAH that continued �collateral damage� in operations in Cite Soleil is unacceptable. The UN peacekeepers did not conduct the announced forceful raid on the neighborhood last week. MINUSTAH is under considerable pressure from Haitian elites to attack Cite Soleil, so we will need to remain vigilant.
Fr. Gerry �s independent medical examination last Tuesday confirmed the diagnosis of leukemia. His lawyer, Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Interntionaux, filed a motion for release for emergency treatment on Wednesday. So far, Judge Jean-Paul Peres has not ruled on the motion, and Fr. Jean-Juste remains in jail. See Bill Quigley�s MLK Day in Prison with Fr. Jean-Juste. Today, Human Rights First! delivered a �petition with 1053 signatures demanding Fr. Gerry�s release. There�s still time to sign the petition at http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/defenders/hrd_haiti/alert011106_juste.htm.
This week �s action is from Amnesty International, on behalf of political prisoner, grandmother and folksinger Annette Auguste, also known as �So Ann.� Ms. Auguste was arrested on May 9, 2004, and has spent over 20 months in prison without being charged. Attorney Mario Joseph filed a request for provisional release on her behalf in 2004, but the Minister of Justice illegally took the case away from the judge, Judge Bredy Fabien, because he had released other political prisoners for lack of evidence. Attorney Joseph filed a second request before the new judge, Judge Mimose Janvier, on August 10, 2005, but Judge Janvier has refused to even rule on the motion. Please join Amnesty International in calling on the Haitian authorities to release Annette Auguste immediately.
11 January 2006
AI Index: AMR 36/003/2006
HAITI – APPEAL CASE
Release political prisoner Annette Auguste
20 months of arbitrary detention
Full name: Annette Auguste (a.k.a S� Ann) (f)
Occupation: folk singer, community leader
�If ALL the prisoners in Haiti who have been arrested merely for their affiliation with Lavalas are not freed there are political prisoners in Haiti. I challenge Amnesty International and other respectable human rights organizations to begin to use the words, “political prisoners” or otherwise explain to the world why we are still behind bars. Why am I still behind bars? Explain this to us! Let us understand your reasoning that keeps us behind bars without ever having a fair day in court.�
Annette Auguste, From my prison cell�
ZNet,18 June 2005
Annette Auguste, also known as S� Ann (Sister Anne), a prominent folk singer, community leader and supporter of the Fanmi Lavalas party, was arrested at her home around midnight on 9 May 2004, by a contingent of US marines, on suspicion of possessing information that could pose a threat to the US-military force deployed in Haiti.
The US marines belonged to the Multinational Interim Force (MIF) deployed in Haiti under United Nations Security Council resolution 1529, few hours after Aristide left the country on 29 February 2004. During the arrest, they reportedly used explosives to open the front gate, shots were fired and the door to the house was forced open, even though the marines reportedly met no resistance.
According to Lt. Col. Dave Lapan, a spokesman of the MIF, US soldiers searched Annette Auguste�s house but no weapons or evidence on the allegations was found. Despite this and despite the absence of any arrest warrant, Annette Auguste and her family were taken into custody.
Annette Auguste and at least 10 members of her family present at the time, including her five-year-old grandson and four other children, aged 9, 12 and 15, were handcuffed and taken into custody; some of those arrested had black plastic bags put over their heads. They were taken to the campus of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy University which was used as a military base for US forces belonging to the MIF. Several members of her family were interrogated as well. They were all released at about 6 am on 10 May 2004, except Annette Auguste who was handed over to the Haitian National Police (HNP).
Ever since, Annette Auguste has been held on suspicion of “incitement to violence” in relation to the violent attack allegedly perpetrated on 3 December 2003 by Lavalas supporters against university students occupying the premises of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Haitian National University in Port-au-Prince. The clashes resulted in the injury of at least 24 people including the university�s rector who had both legs fractured.
Since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Fanmi Lavalas party) was ousted in February 2004 dozens of supporters and members of Fanmi Lavalas party have been arrested by the Haitian National Police. Most of these arrests are believed to be arbitrary: unlawful and based on political grounds and on trumped-up criminal charges.
Annette Auguste is imprisoned at P�tion-Ville penitentiary, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. She has been in prison for more than 20 months.
Annette Auguste�s lawyer has twice requested the judge overseeing the case to grant a “provisional release pending trial” (main lev�e d��crou) in accordance with the Haitian Code of Criminal Procedures. The requests were rejected for unknown reasons.
In Haiti, criminal suspects are frequently kept in jail during the criminal investigation which must be concluded within three months of the arrest. More than 20 months after her arrest, Annette Auguste is still in prison and has not been formally charged with a recognizable offence. Amnesty International believes that Annette Auguste is being held arbitrarily since the Haitian authorities have failed to produce any evidence to charge her and have failed to release her within the normal terms.
Amnesty International believes that Annette Auguste is being detained solely for her political views. Please join Amnesty International in calling on the Haitian authorities to release Annette Auguste immediately.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
WRITE TO THE HAITIAN AUTHORITIES:
?Calling for the immediate release of Annette Auguste;
? Expressing your concern that Annette Auguste has been arrested and kept in jail for 20 months on suspicion of unrecognizable criminal offences and that these are being used solely as a pretext to punish her for her political views Such practice would be in violation of Articles 19 (�freedom of expression�) and 22 (�freedom of association�) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Haiti is a party since 1991;
PLEASE ADDRESS YOUR APPEALS TO:
President of the Republic
Pr�sident de la R�publique
Champ de Mars
Fax: +509 224 4875
Salutation: Monsieur le Pr�sident / Mr. President
Minist�re de l�Int�rieure
Delmas 60, Musseau, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Fax: + 509 298 3900
Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre /
Dear Prime Minister
Minister of Justice and Public Security
Ministre de la Justice et de la S�curit� Publique
Minist�re de la Justice
19 Avenue Charles Summer, Port-au-Prince, Ha�ti
Fax: + 509 245 0474
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
Monsieur Jean Pierre Daniel Audain
Commissaire du Gouvernement pr�s le Tribunal de premi�re instance de Port-au-Prince
Parquet de Port-au-Prince
Port au Prince, Ha�ti
Salutation: Monsieur le Commissaire du Gouvernement
PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:
Head of the Human Rights Division
Human Rights Division, MINUSTAH
385, Ave. John Brown, Bourdon, B.P. 557
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)
Fax: +509 244 9366
If you want to take further action on this case, please contact your national AI office.
This alert also available at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/print/ENGAMR360032006.
For further information on So Ann�s case, see:
For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.ijdh.org.