|Posted on Fri, Feb. 03, 2006|
Groups request probe of U.S. role
A petition accusing the United States of undermining democracy in Haiti was filed before the OAS system.
BY PABLO BACHELET
WASHINGTON – The human rights arm of the Organization of American States was asked Thursday to investigate whether the U.S. government helped orchestrate the ouster of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by withholding vital aid and blocking a reinforcement of his bodyguard detail.
The 47-page petition was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by three groups that have supported Aristide — the TransAfrica Forum, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the Haiti-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux — and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School.
Largely repeating allegations made by Aristide supporters in the past, the petition also alleges U.S. Marines spirited Aristide out of the country after blocking his communications in the final hours of his government and obtained a dubious letter of resignation.
It asks the commission to investigate the role of the United States, the Dominican Republic and the Haitian government in the armed rebellion in 2004 that forced Aristide to fly abroad. He now lives in exile in South Africa. U.S. officials have repeatedly denied the allegations, saying that Aristide voluntarily resigned and asked for U.S. assistance to leave the country, fearing for his life if he stayed.
”The U.S. imposed an illegal and immoral development assistance embargo on the elected government, while generously supporting the political opposition,” said Brian Concannon Jr., head of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. “In the Dominican Republic, former soldiers and paramilitaries trained openly, and from time to time crossed the border to attack civilian targets and twice launched coup d’etat attempts.”
The petition, presented just days before Haitians go to the polls to elect a new president, was filed on behalf of five Haitian citizens whose names have been withheld for security reasons.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights can recommend reparations payments to victims of human rights violations or refer cases to the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights, whose rulings are binding.