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24986: Brianhaiti: Update: Haitian Political Prisoner Yvon Neptune Refuses Forced Exile (fwd)
Yvon Neptune Ill, But Refuses to Leave Haiti Without Justice
Human Rights Group Denounces Unconstitutional Plan to Send an Unconscious
Neptune Into Exile
Political prisoner Yvon Neptune, seriously ill and on day 16 of a hunger
strike, remains incarcerated in Haiti despite persistent reports in the Haitian
and international press that he has been flown out of the country. Mr.
Haiti's last constitutional Prime Minister, has insisted for months that he
will not leave the prison until the Interim Haitian Government either tries him
for the allegations against him or drops the charges. The interim government
is seeking to defuse criticism of its political prisoner policies by forcing
Mr. Neptune to leave the country without going to court. The Group for the
Defense of the Rights of Political Prisoners (GDP), a Haitian human rights
organization, reports that the government plans to wait until Mr. Neptune loses
consciousness, then transport him out of the country.
On Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1, several media outlets, including the
Associated Press, ABC News and Radio Kiskeya in Haiti reported that Mr.
Neptune was about to leave or had already left. Those reports, based on
within the Haitian government and a foreign embassy, were not true. As of 2 PM
Monday, May 2 (Haiti time), Mr. Neptune remains in prison.
Yvon Neptune has been in prison since June 2004, when he turned himself into
police after hearing a radio announcement of a warrant for his arrest. He has
never been brought before the judge in his case, despite a constitutional
requirement of a hearing within 48 hours. Mr. Neptune has received several
threats, and at least three assassination plots have been reported against
Human rights groups, including the GDP and Amnesty International, world
leaders like UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and religious leaders like Bishop
Thomas Gumbleton and Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste have called for Mr. Neptune's
or trial. On April 19, a team of lawyers from the Bureau des Avocats
Internationaux, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and the
Human Rights Project for Haiti filed a complaint before the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights on Neptune's behalf (see
For months, Mr. Neptune has insisted that he will not leave until the
government brings his case to trial or admits that the charges were without
foundation. In February, he even voluntarily returned to the prison after he
removed at gunpoint during a prison break. Over the weekend, his family
reiterated that he refuses to leave Haiti without seeing justice done.
Haiti's interim government attempted to deflect the growing international
pressure for Neptune's release by offering to fly him to the Dominican Republic
over the weekend for treatment. Neptune, refused, once again insisting on
justice, not an easy escape for either himself or the interim government.
According to Ronald Saint-Jean, the Secretary-General of the Group for the
Defense of the Rights of Political Prisoners (GDP), government sources indicate
that the authorities plan to wait until Mr. Neptune loses consciousness, then
transport him out of the country. Mr. Saint-Jean, and GPD's lawyer, Mario
Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, "energetically protest
this cynical and criminal measure." They note the irony that the government
can quickly arrange transport to a hospital in the Dominican Republic, but
could not transport Mr. Neptune before a judge in over 10 months.
Saint-Jean and Joseph note that Neptune's forced exile would be yet another
violation of his constitutional rights, as Article 41 states clearly that "no
Haitian National can be deported or forced to leave the national territory for
any reason whatsoever."
For more information:
Groupe de Defense des Droits Des Prisonniers Politiques, Ronald Saint-Jean,
Secretary-General: 509-244-1254, 509-588-7550 (Haiti)
Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Mario Joseph, Managing Lawyer:
509-554-4284, 509-221-8686 (Haiti)
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Brian Concannon Jr., Director:
541-432-0597 (USA), BrianHaiti@aol.com, www.ijdh.org (background information on
Yvon Neptune's case, including the complaint filed before the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights.
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, Marguerite Laurent (spoke with Neptune
family members over the weekend), www.margueritelaurent.com
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