Update: The new U.S. Congress took office last week, with a mandate to investigate and correct the current Administration’s foreign policy. We expect that several Haiti bills will be introduced soon, perhaps starting the end of this week. We’ve identified 4 main priorities, based on discussions with activists in Haiti and the US and with Congressional staffers, and responses to Haiti JusticeBlog postings. They are: a) Debt relief; b) Immigration Reform; c) the TRUTH Act (investigation of the US role in the 2/29/04 coup d’etat); and d) Depoliticization of US aid to Haiti. We hope get a discussion going on these priorities with a series of articles on the Haiti JusticeBlog, one for each priority. Part I, on debt relief is up, please join the discussion by posting a comment on the blog. We’ll post Part II, on Immigration Reform, later in the week. The International Relations Center’s Americas Program features an IJDH article on the TRUTH Act, U.S. Congress Should Make New Year’s Resolution for Haiti.
Thank you to everyone who responded to IJDH’s year-end appeal for donations. You are making everything we do possible. Welcome to everyone who has recently joined the Half-Hour for Haiti community.
New Haiti Justice Videos Online: Artist Ivan Olson posted videos of four talks given at the “Haiti Today: Occupation and Resistance” event in Berkeley: Dr. Paul Farmer, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, A Brief History of Haiti by Marilyn Langlois and Brian Concannon Jr.. The talks were comprehensive and inspiring, the audience was electrified. Thanks to Ivan, and to the Haiti Action Committee, which organized the event.
Coming Attractions: In the SF Bay Area: “Rape is a War Crime,” Discussion with Athena Kolbe and Dr. Royce Hutson, authors of the study in The Lancetdocumenting massive repression, especially sexual assault, against democracy supporters in Haiti in 2004-05. January 10, 2007 in San Francisco, January 11, 2007 , Larkspur.
This Week’s Action: Two weeks ago we featured the Haiti Action Committee’s alert in response to the December 22 shootings by MINUSTAH (the UN Peacekeeping Mission) in Cité Soleil. The alert urged us to contact MINUSTAH’s head, Edmond Mulet, Thierry Fagart, who directs MINUSTAH’s Human Rights Department, and Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Mr. Mulet had the decency to respond to several of those who wrote. His responses included a MINUSTAH “clarification” and in some cases a short personal note (also appended below). Mr. Mulet should be commended for his candor, and his effort to respond to our concerns should be seen as a sign of his commitment to the respect for human rights in Haiti. But his response left several questions unanswered.
A sample letter to Mr. Mulet asking some of these unanswered questions is below. The letter is long, so we suggest that you choose the 2-3 points that you find the most compelling. Your letter will be most effective if you personalize it to reflect your own experience with Haiti or with human rights or justice issues. You can send the letter by email, email@example.com, regular mail (84 cents airmail from the US), or by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number, we’ll deliver it).
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General
Mr. Edmond Mulet
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
385, Ave. John Brown, Bourdon, B.P. 557,
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)
Dear Special Representative Mulet:
I very much appreciate your responding to messages regarding the deaths of civilians during the MINUSTAH operations in Cité Soleil on December 22, and consider your efforts an indication of our shared interest in promoting the respect for human rights in Haiti. Your response, however, and the “Clarification on the joint PNH/MINUSTAH operation in Cité Soleil” do raise some issues that I have not found answered in your statements, including the following:
Your response stated that “gangsters, killers, kidnappers, rapist of young girls should and will be brought to justice.” I would appreciate an explanation of the evidence showing that any of the more than 20 individuals reported killed in the operation, or the more than 40 individuals reported injured, were gangsters, killers, kidnappers or rapists.
I would also appreciate an explanation of how the operation brought criminals to justice, including: a) the number of valid warrants, as required by Haiti’s Constitution and international law, authorizing MINUSTAH and the PNH to make arrests and search buildings in Bois Neuf and Drouillard during the operation that your soldiers carried; b) any outstanding charges against any of the people killed or injured during the operation; and c) the number of people arrested during the raid, including their name, the legal basis for their arrest, and the current status of their case.
Your response did not mention what measures MINUSTAH took to reduce the civilian casualties that would be foreseeable when shooting high powered weapons for several hours during a large-scale operation in a densely populated neighborhood with poor housing like Cité Soleil. I would appreciate an explanation of these measures, and of MINUSTAH’s advance arrangements to assure that injured civilians received medical treatment.
Your response mentioned that “the ambulance of the Red Cross was given all the assistance necessary to do their job.” I would appreciate any details you could offer on MINUSTAH assistance to the Red Cross ambulances, as well as details of the injured civilians that MINUSTAH treated or brought to hospitals for treatment.
You mentioned that here had been an investigation of a MINUSTAH soldier’s shooting the tire of a Red Cross ambulance that day. There have been many other reported incidents, including shooting from a helicopter (which you deny happened). A fair and prompt investigation of these allegations, even if they are untrue, would go far towards establishing MINUSTAH’s credibility with people who care about human rights in Haiti. Establishing credibility is particularly important in light of past events, such as the July 6, 2005 MINUSTAH shootings in Cité Soleil. Although MINUSTAH announced an investigation of those events, no report was ever made public. General Adouante, the Chief Investigator of MINUSTAH’s military police, told investigators from the University of Miami that he did not receive reports of human rights violations during the July 6, 2005 raid until January 2006.
Thank you for your consideration.
From Edmond Mulet
I’m afraid you have been misinformed by politically motivated groups. I am apalled to see how some people support criminal, violent, human-rights violation activities in Haiti and oppose the rule of law. Gangsters, killers, kidnappers, rapist of young girls should and will be brought to justice.
Not, it is not true. The Red Cross was not impeded at any time to do their work. The International Red Cross said they will issue a communique on this, since the local Red Cross director or manager is sometimes politically biased and gives untruthful information. I can assure you that the ambulance of the Red Cross was given all the assistance necessary to do their job. Yes, there was an incident, far away from where the action was developing, that a Brazilian soldier shot by mistake at the tire of a Red Cross ambulance, but this is investigated and the soldier will be punished. In any event, no injured people were delayed or prevented from medical assistance. Best regards,
Clarification on the joint PNH/MINUSTAH operation in Cité Soleil
Port-au-Prince, December 26, 2006 – In response to a request from the Government of Haiti, the UN Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) accompanied the Haitian National Police (HNP) in a large scale operation last Friday December 22, in the areas of Bois Neuf and Drouillard (Cité Soleil). This operation was part of the strategy to fight crime and insecurity, seen in the recent wave of kidnappings in Port-au-Prince. MINUSTAH would like to clarify following issues:
· In several neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, the population is being held hostage by armed groups of criminals who murder, rape and extort to run their operations. These bandits reject the application of the rule of law in their neighborhoods.
· In the course of the December 22 operation, the gang leader Belony and his members -accused of terrorizing the population and holding hostages- opened fire at MINUSTAH soldiers, maintaining this fire for several hours. The UN soldiers responded with respect to the rules of engagement, which stipulate that they may return fire after identifying the direction and source of shots.
· The information available indicates that some members of Belony’s gang were killed or wounded after opening fire on MINUSTAH.
· Contrary to some media reports, MINUSTAH helicopters, which flew surveillance over the area, at no time, shot at houses in Cité Soleil.
· As dictated by the rules of engagement, MINUSTAH did not obstruct at any time the work of Haitian Red Cross personnel which was able to evacuate wounded to hospitals without any problem.
· In recent weeks, there has been a significant rise in unprovoked attacks against MINUSTAH peacekeepers. On December 21, a MINUSTAH vehicle was targeted by armed gangs in Cité Soleil. Last month alone, two Jordanian soldiers were killed.
MINUSTAH remains determined nevertheless to carry out its operations in support of the HNP. The Mission calls once again on the population to identify these criminals. To request assistance or provide information regarding any criminal acts, please call these numbers:
– Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire (DCPJ) at 250-3630
– MINUSTAH (Je Wè Bouch Pale) at 244-3503
For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.HaitiJustice.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts once per week, send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org.