Originally: French embassy decries police brutality in Haiti

The French embassy has strongly condemned the police brutality which took place in front of that embassy in Port-au-Prince on Thursday, 20 March, during a demonstration held by students and schoolteachers. In an official note released on Friday, the French embassy rejected the version of facts presented by the police spokesman. The French government has called for respect for the press and fundamental freedoms.

[With this note, the French Embassy in Port-au-Prince wanted to set things straight following the response by the spokesman of the Haitian National Police, PNH, who denied that the police had brutally treated some Haitian journalists.

The embassy said that it was amazed at the statement made by Jean Dady Simeon. First of all, the police had denied that there was a demonstration right in front of the embassy. Moreover, it drew people’s attention to the fact that the embassy never contacted the National Police and the National Police never asked a diplomat’s interlocutor to move away to avoid an obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

The embassy says that violence kicked off soon after a vehicle with an official number plate arrived in front of the embassy’s gate.

Apart from denouncing the violence against the press and the demonstrators, it condemned the threats made with firearms against diplomatic staff and deplored the extreme violence used with rifle butts against members of the press despite the fact that they had identified themselves when holding their tape recorders up to one of the diplomats and the students. Those events are even worse now. They took place especially at a time when Haitian high-ranking authorities are committed to respect freedom of speech and freedom to demonstrate.

The embassy says it hopes that such actions will not be repeated and renews its calls on Haitian leaders to respect human rights.

That was a note of denial released by the French Embassy to the police institution and to police spokesman Simeon, who said that agents of the very efficient corps cavalry, the Intervention and Maintenance of Order Company [CIMO], did not beat any journalists. The CIMO agents seemed to have done a good job last Thursday, because the students were injured and journalists Romney Cajuste of Radio Metropole and Francois Jean-Baptiste of Radio Vision 2000 are now convalescing, while Roosevelt Cossy and Rodson Jocelyn managed to escape only with the help of some “good Samaritans”.