Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Urgent Action: Death Threats Against Rape Victims’ Supporters

Amnesty International’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the

rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the

context of its work to promote all human rights.

UANetwork Office AIUSA 600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC 20003 T. 202.544.0200 F. 202.675.8566 E. uan@aiusa.org� amnestyusa.org/urgent/

24 October 2007

UA 277/07 � Fear for safety/Death threats

HAITI D�rilus M�rilus (m)

Sani�ce Petitphat (f)

Other members of the Comit� des Droits Humains de Savanette (Savanette

Human Rights Committee)

Human rights defenders D�rilus M�rilus and Sani�ce Petitphat have received death threats since they helped a rape

victim to seek justice. Amnesty International believes they, and

other members of the organization they work for, are in grave

danger.

D�rilus M�rilus and Sani�ce Petitphat work for the Comit� des

Droits Humains de Savanette (Savanette Human Rights

Committee), based in Savanette, near the border with the

Dominican Republic. They have been working on behalf of a

26-year-old disabled woman who was raped on 8 September:

they were the first to help her to contact the local judicial

authorities, which led to the alleged rapist being arrested,

though he was released shortly afterwards. They and other

members of the Human Rights Committee, as well as another

NGO working in the area, the Groupe d�Appui aux Rapatri�s et

R�fugi�s (Support Group for Refugees and Repatriated Persons,

GARR) intervened, and the police arrested the man again on 5

October.

The police moved him to Mirebalais, where there is a courthouse. Since then, family and friends of the alleged rapist

have threatened D�rilus M�rilus and Sani�ce Petitphat to their faces, saying �une fois lib�r� il prendra sa revanche� (once

he�s freed he will take his revenge). According to the Savanette Human Rights Committee, the family of the alleged

rapist have given the victim�s father 20,000 Haitian Gourdes (US$560) to drop the case. On 16 October, the alleged

rapist was released after the Prosecutor ruled that there was no longer a criminal case for him to answer. He has

reportedly returned to Savanette.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Savanette Human Rights Committee is part of a network of 37 Haitian and Dominican organizations working

for the promotion and defense of human rights in the border area, where there is a minimal police presence and

effectively no rule of law.

The work of human rights defenders and activists in Haiti is difficult due to the widespread impunity, apathy and

corruption within the judicial system. In September 2006, human rights defender Esterne Bruner, who had been

trying to get the authorities to take action against gang members in Port-au-Prince, was shot dead. No one is known

to have been detained or charged in relation to his murder.

Impunity is especially prevalent in cases of violence against women in Haiti. The number of rapes reported has been

increasing, particularly in the border area, but the number of prosecutions has remained insignificant. Victims of

sexual abuse have little access to justice, crimes are not adequately investigated and the perpetrators are not brought

to justice. In rural areas of Haiti, where there is no effective rule of law, rapes, particularly of minors, are commonly

settled out of court, with the victim’s family accepting payment from the alleged perpetrator to drop charges.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

– expressing concern for the safety of D�rilus M�rilus, Sani�ce Petitphat and other members of the Comit� des

Droits Humains de Savanette;

– calling for a thorough and impartial investigation into the threats received by D�rilus M�rilus and Sani�ce

Petitphat, with those responsible brought to justice;

– urging the authorities to ensure that they receive protection, in accordance with their wishes;

– reminding the authorities that human rights defenders have a right to carry out their activities without any

restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals,

Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental

Freedoms.

APPEALS TO:

Minister of Justice and Public Security

Monsieur Ren� Magloire

Ministre de la Justice et de la S�curit� Publique,

19 Avenue Charles Sumner,

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)

Fax: � 011 509 245 0474

Salutation:� Monsieur le Ministre/Dear

Minister

General Director of the Haiti National Police

Mario Andresol

Directeur G�n�ral de la Police Nationale d’Ha�ti

Grand Quartier G�n�ral de la Police

12 rue Oscar Pacot,

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)

Fax: � 011 509 245 7374

Salutation:� Monsieur le Directeur

G�n�ral/Dear Mr Andresol

COPIES TO:

Human rights organization

GARR, Groupe d�Appui aux Rapatri�s et R�fugi�s

c/o Comit� des Droits Humains de Savanette

1�re rue Rivi�re, no. 13

Port-au-Prince, Ha�ti (W.I.)

Email:� garr-haiti@yahoo.com

comgarr@garr-haiti.org

Fax:� 011 509 244 4146

Ambassador H.E. Raymond A. Joseph

Embassy of the Republic of Haiti

2311 Massachusetts Ave.NW.

Washington DC 20008

Fax:� 1 202 745 7215

Email:� embassy@haiti.org

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending

appeals after 5 December 2007.

Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
15 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (617) 652-0876
General Inquiries: info@ijdh.org
Media Inquiries: media@ijdh.org

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