Originally: Presentation of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR)
International Conference on Impunity in Haiti
Presentation of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR)
Port-au-Prince, 5 June 2003
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) would like to thank the Haitian Journalist Association (AJH) for the honour of being asked to contribute to this important international conference on impunity by speaking on the theme: « causes and consequences of impunity in Haiti ».
Given the current political situation, the subject of impunity has increasingly become preoccupied the minds of men and women who support a society in which laws and principles are respected. Yet, nearly fifty-seven (57) years after the creation of the United Nations? charter on June 26, 1945, Haiti, one of the fifty-one (51) founding countries of this world organization, finds itself mired in impunity.
Before speaking to the causes and consequences of impunity, it is important to define the concept of impunity within the context of the series of United Nations? principles regarding the promotion and protection of human rights.
In essence, impunity is defined by the absence of law wherein the implication of criminal responsibility, as well as civil, administrative or disciplinary responsibilities, of perpetrators of human rights violations is lacking, allowing individuals to escape all investigation that would lead to their indictment, arrest, and judgment, and/or in cases where individuals are recognized as guilty, the rendering of sentences that are inappropriate in comparison to the harm suffered by their victims.
If one accepts this definition, than one is able to affirm that in Haiti, impunity is the rule rather than the exception. For in this country criminals are plentiful. They are here, in the city, each day more arrogant, more aggressive, more cruel. Both Viola ROBERT, who mourns the murders of her three (3) sons, and the members of the Saint-Fleur family who lost five (5) family members in Fort Liberté, eleventh (11th) municipality of Petit-Goâve can attest to this reality.
In our opinion the causes of impunity in Haiti are rooted in the lack of political will to establish a society based on the universal values of justice, liberty, and democracy; in a criminal agenda as far as human rights violations are concerned; in the structural deficiencies of the judicial system; in the weaknesses of the Administrative and Judicial Police, in the inaccessibility of judicial authorities; in the corruption within the judiciary; in the dependence of the judicial branch upon the executive branch; in short, in the politicization of key state institutions.
Today, Haitian society lives in a strange psychosis of fear. More and more, citizens are being exposed to cases of gratuitous violence and spectacular crimes, the likes of which Haitian society is not accustomed to. One can cite, among others: the massacres of the peasants of Jean Rabel, Piatre, Danty, Bocozelle, the appalling murders of Jean Marie Vincent, Guy Malary, Antoine et Georges Izméry, Mireille Durocher Bertin, Ti Jean Pierre Louis, Jean Hubert Feuillé, Yvon Toussaint, Chenel Gracien, Jean L Dominique, Jean Claude Louissaint, Brignol Lindor, Ricardo Benjamin, and the children of Viola Robert, etc.
Impunity generates a recurrence of crime and insecurity of which no sector of the population is spared. Not a day goes by without the reporting of new cases of rape, kidnapping, torture, theft, and horrific murders. The National Justice and Peace Commission, in its latest report covering the months of April and May, noted an average of one (1) death per night in the streets of the capital and the towns in the countryside.
Given this, it can be concluded that impunity constitutes a threat to social stability and to the foundation of the State. A solid society cannot be built without the punishment of those who break the law. Today the image that Haiti offers the world is one of a vast sea of impunity where public authority is not exercised by political figures, judges, police officers, or civil servants, but rather by the forces in the streets.
NCHR invites all organized forces within the country to join in their efforts to force the government to put an end to the endless flow of, and to seriously respond to the demands of the Haitian people for justice and security ? for a day when we can enjoy the State of Law for which we are all aspiring.