For Immediate Release (202) 225-2201
April 27, 2005
CONGRESSWOMAN WATERS DEMANDS THAT
THE SENATE INVESTIGATE ARMS SHIPMENTS TO HAITI
UNDER THE TENURE OF JOHN BOLTON
Washington, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) released a statement denouncing last year's shipment of thousands of weapons to Haiti by the U.S. Government, in violation of a 13-year-old arms embargo on Haiti, and demanding that the United States investigate why John Bolton allowed these weapons sales to occur while serving as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Her statement follows recent press reports that a State Department official admitted that the United States transported 2,657 weapons to Haiti last August to train and equip the Haitian National Police. These weapons included several M-14 rifles and sub-machine guns, as well as over 2000 revolvers and hundreds of pistols. The Congresswoman's statement follows:
I am deeply disturbed to learn that, over the weekend, the U.S. State Department admitted that the United States shipped thousands of lethal weapons to Haiti last year, in violation of our government's 13-year-old embargo on arms shipments to Haiti and despite the dreadful human rights record of Haiti's unelected interim government.
I call upon the United States Senate to investigate these arms shipments to Haiti, which occurred while John Bolton was serving as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. It is critical that Senators determine why John Bolton allowed the arms embargo on Haiti to be violated before they vote on his nomination to the position of United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
The arms embargo on Haiti was enforced throughout the administration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the democratically-elected President of Haiti. Because of the arms embargo, the democratically-elected government of Haiti could not purchase weapons from the United States to train and equip the Haitian police to carry out their law enforcement responsibilities.
President Aristide was overthrown in a coup d'etat on February 29, 2004, by a group of heavily armed thugs and replaced by an illegitimate interim government that does not have the support of the Haitian people. Many of these thugs were former soldiers from the brutal Haitian army, which was disbanded ten years ago. Since the coup d'etat, violence and insecurity have escalated throughout Haiti. Groups of heavily-armed former soldiers roam Haiti freely, and the interim government has made no attempt to enforce the rule of law or disarm the former soldiers.
The human rights record of the interim government of Haiti is horrendous. The Center for the Study of Human Rights at the University of Miami Law School reported that summary executions are a police tactic, and Amnesty International has expressed serious concerns about arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment in detention centers, and summary executions attributed to members of the Haitian National Police. Many of the thugs behind the coup d'etat have been incorporated into the police force, and it has been reported that some police officers funnel arms to paramilitary groups that are even more brutal. Given this record, it is highly likely that the weapons shipped to Haiti by the United States last August were used in the commission of human rights violations.
Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations votes on the nomination of John Bolton, the Committee must determine why he allowed the State Department to ship weapons to the illegitimate interim government of Haiti in violation of the arms embargo and despite evidence of serious human rights violations.