National Coalition for Haitian Rights
Lawyers’ Committee for the Respect of Individual Freedoms (CARLI)
Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH)
Press conference, September 2, 2004
We start with a reminder to all people that the mission of these human rights organizations is to guard the respect for human rights, to promote these rights, to denounce the violation of these rights, and to provide the authorities with recommendations regarding the protection of these rights. Where human rights violations are concerned, this mission will be carried out regardless of the government in place: we followed our mission during the coup d’état years of 1991 – 1994, we did so under the Lavalas government, and we will continue to do so under the government of today. Today, we are focused on the functioning of the judiciary because one of the greatest demands of the Haitian people is for Justice.
Our denunciations of the Judiciary under the Lavalas government were not for the benefit of any specific sector of society. If there are those seeking to profit from this by taking power, that is their business. However, we will not remain silent in response to serious acts that these same people are committing today.
The Aristide government’s submersion in human rights violations does not excuse us from denouncing the violence of the military government, the army and FRAPH committed against the Haitian people from September 1991 – September 1994. We will not stand with our arms crossed in the face of the alliance between the Boniface-Latortue government and the former military and FRAPH members, who seek to drown the Haitian people’s demands for Justice.
Because of their human rights work, the government is trying to neutralize these organizations. This is our interpretation of the “citation of the correctional court]” and the subpoena of the Chief Justice of the First Instance Court of Port-au-Prince. It constitutes judicial-political persecution, and it is the new tool of the government used against those institutions that it cannot buy, against those institutions that continue to denounce that which is not right.
Ever since the criticism by human rights organizations of the masquerade that was the Louis Jodel Chamblain (number 2 leader of FRAPH) – Jackson Joanis trial, the government – in particular the Minister of Justice – has begun to use the Haitian judiciary to persecute human rights defenders. We have solid information regarding a meeting held at the Ministry of Justice with the objective of defining a strategy that would enable the government to neutralize these human rights organizations.
It is with much regret that we are witnessing the same things today that we witnessed under the Lavalas government, only in a fashion much worse. The Lavalas government had chimères that it would send into the streets to kill and intimidate people. The current government is not yet prepared to use such brutal force, but in the meantime, has decided to use the judiciary as a means to intimidate these organizations.
We want to announce to all concerned, that these human rights defenders will not cower. Quite the opposite. What is happening today is only serving to reinforce our conviction to accompany that Haitian people in their demand for Justice.
The aforementioned human rights organizations are neither for the government nor against it. They maintain and will continue to maintain their original mission – to denounce all human rights violations being carried under whatever government is in place.
National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR)
Coalition National pour les Droits des Haïtiens
9, Rue Rivière
Tel: 509.245.3486 / 245.5821