AHP News – August 24, 2005 – English translation (Unofficial)
The General Directorate of the PNH affirms its intention to put an end to the “lynching” of Haitians in the populist districts: the police spokesperson affirms that she has no precise information on the tragedy at Grand’ Ravine
Port-au-Prince, August 24, 2005 (AHP)- The General Directorate of the national police expressed serious concern Wednesday at the repetition of acts of “lynching” of individuals considered, it said, to be dangerous criminals.
In a press release signed by police Director General Mario Andrésol, the PNH said that while it recognizes the right of populations to self-defense, it is obliged to point out to them that the practice of popular justice constitutes a violation of the penal code and an act against public order that can be subject to serious criminal prosecution of the authors of such acts.
Some 30 people were victims of a killing spree on August 20 and 21st in the populist district of Grand’Ravine, hacked to death by machete-wielding individuals described by the population as criminals who escaped from prison due to the events of February 29, 2004.
Residents of Grand’ Ravine also accused officers of the PNH of having supported the bandits as they committed their crimes, as a soccer match was taking place “in support of peace”.
The General Directorate of the PNH is asking the affected populations, she said, to avoid killing any presumed bandit they might previously have subdued but rather they should turn them over to the security forces without delay.
She also affirmed her commitment to put an end to the acts of banditry that have not ceased to instill fear into the community and to bring the authors of these crimes to justice according to the law.
Prior to the tragedy of Grand’Ravine, some 20 residents of the populist district of Bel-air were killed by men armed with machetes on the pretext that they were bandits and criminals.
Reuters TV subsequently broadcast images showing men wearing PNH uniforms supporting the “attachés” (auxiliaries to the police) who were pursuing residents of Bel-Air and attacking them with machete blows.
In tandem with the new release by the general management of the PNH, the police spokesperson, Gessy Cameau Coicou, said she still does not have enough solid information to comment on the tragedy of Grand’ Ravine, five days after the deadly violence took place.
During a news briefing, Ms. Coicou indicated however that six corpses bearing signs of machete blows and coming from Grand’ Ravine were deposited at the morgue of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti.
She announced the opening of an investigation into this incident.
Gessy Coicou also appealed for collaboration from the population to provide information that will make it possible to shed light on what happened on Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21.
At the same time she rejected accusations that the national police distributed knives and firearms to fugitives from prison in order that they could attack certain inhabitants of populist communities.
With regard to the cargo of weapons and ammunition seized this week at the Haitian-Dominican border, Ms. Coicou said she is waiting for the Dominican Republic to communicate to the PNH the results of the ongoing investigation into this case.
Another PNH spokesperson, Wilton Thomas, for his part provided an overview of operations conducted by the police force from August 17 to 23, 2005.
According to Wilton Thomas, some 30 people were arrested in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area for their presumed involvement in robberies, abductions and other serious crimes.
An M-1 rifle was also confiscated and six other individuals were questioned by officers of specialized units of the PNH during operations conducted in the populist district of Bel-Air, said Mr.Thomas.
A business man was taken for questioning in connection with the disappearance of Nathanaël Génélus, a senior official of a private bank in the capital who disappeared after having been arrested by a police commissioner.