Killing Highlights Real Danger for Human Rights Defenders in Haiti. An Open Letter by the Haiti Support Group
The Haiti Support Group condemns the killings on 8 February in Port-au-Prince of Daniel Dorsinvil, General Coordinator of the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organisations (Plateforme des Organisations Haitiennes de Droits Humains – POHDH) and his wife, Girldy Larèche. We express our deepest condolences and solidarity with those bereaved and with all human rights organisers in Haiti who now find themselves in even greater danger.
According to Haitian human rights organisations, the killer of the couple lay in wait and shot to kill. Daniel Dorsinvil was shot in the heart, while his wife was shot five times, before they were robbed of a bag.
As Amnesty International has observed, shortly after the murders the Secretary of State for Public Security stated that these killings could have been an armed robbery. This would appear to demonstrate an intention to prematurely attribute a motive to these killings, which, in turn, can only serve to raise doubts about the sincerity and commitment of the Haitian government to investigate the real motives for this outrageous crime.
It is crucial to note that these crimes are the logical culmination of escalating attacks on and threats against human rights defenders in Haiti over recent months.
For more than a year, national and international human rights organisations have been sounding the alarm about the deteriorating security environment in which human rights defenders are operating in Haiti.
The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights has already requested the Haitian state to adopt all measures necessary to guarantee the life and personal integrity of such prominent human rights lawyers as Mario Joseph and Patrick Florvilus. We call on the Haitian government to fulfil its legal obligations to protect human rights defenders and to fully and effectively investigate and prosecute those responsible for these murders. The government should also honour its obligation to ensure that human rights defenders can operate without fear of threats or reprisals.
The HSG and many close observers of the situation in Haiti fear that the murder of Mr Dorsinvil and his wife Girldy Larèche may have been a politically-motivated assassination.
We recognise and salute the enormous courage of Haitian human rights defenders and express our determination to support them in their continuing efforts to the create of a society in which the rule of law will be honoured and human rights fully protected.