Struggle Against Impunity
Two Years On: a Message of Solidarity with Haitian Organizations Working for Justice, April 3, 2002
In solidarity with the Jean Dominique Echo Foundation, the Association of Haitian Journalists, and the Platform of Haitian human rights organizations, we renew our call for justice in this case. Justice for Jean Dominique means hope for all Haitians who live with the constant threat of violence and insecurity, a hope for respect for human rights and an end to impunity.
We urge the Haitian government to respond to the demands already articulated by the above named Haitian organizations:
- We applaud the work already carried out by the investigating Judge Claudy Gassant, despite the difficult conditions in which he has had to work. We call on President Aristide to reconsider his decision not to renew Judge Gassant’s mandate in this case, a move that would send a clear political signal of his resolve to achieve justice for Jean Dominique.
- We call again for Senator Dany Toussaint to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity. His voluntary appearance in court in February is not enough to ensure that the investigation currently underway will reveal the whole truth about the murder of Jean Dominique.
- We welcome the arrest of the so-called popular leader Ronald Camille, known as “Ronald Kadav”, on the grounds of a warrant issued for his arrest several months ago. Nonetheless, we reiterate the call of Haitian human rights organizations who are calling for the implementation of warrants against the security guards of Senator Dany Toussaint, Richard ‘Chacha’ Salomon and Frank Joseph. These individuals are not above the law, and the judicial system’s failure to carry out warrants against them only adds to the prevailing climate of impunity in the country.
- In order to put an end to the state of impunity in the country, the government should initiate a disarmament campaign. According to information gathered by Haitian human rights organizations, the elected officials of the Lavalas Family and representatives of “popular organizations” close to that party are often implicated in the most flagrant violation of Haitian laws on possession of firearms. We reiterate the demands of our Haitian colleagues who have urged that the disarmament campaign should begin with these elected officials and organizations.
- We also restate the call of the Haitian organizations for an inquiry into the crowd killing on 9 November 2001 of Panel Rénélus, a suspect in the Jean Dominique case, dragged out of the police station in Léogâne and lynched by a mob. The inquiry into this incident initiated by Judge Gassant must be relaunched and those responsible must face justice, including the police officers who neglected to protect the victim.
- We denounce again the calls made last June by the Head of State for “Zero Tolerance”; such calls have only diminished the rule of law and bred a climate of fear. Using the Haitian organizations’ slogan “Zero tolerance against intolerance”, we urge that freedom of expression and association should be respected, particularly during this period when Haitians will be mobilizing to demand justice in the case of the assassination of Jean Dominique.
- We declare once again our solidarity with the Jean Dominique Echo Foundation, the Platform of Haitian human rights organizations and the Association of Haitian Journalists as well as with all the other organizations struggling for justice in this case. We call on the government to guarantee security and the physical integrity of these brave workers who are working for full respect for the human rights of all Haitians.
- Comité pour juger Duvalier – Paris
- Haiti Support Group – London
- Human Rights Watch – New York
- International Centre for Legal Resources – Montreal
- National Coalition for Haitian Rights – New York
- Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) – Montreal
- Trocaire (The Irish Catholic Agency for World Development) – Dublin
- Washington Office on Latin America – Washington D.C.
- World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) – London