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25838: Wharram(statement)OAS Commission Urges Immediate Steps To Quell Violence in Haiti (fwd)
OAS Commission Urges Immediate Steps To Quell Violence in Haiti
Inter-American body denounces murder of Haitian journalist
By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- A human rights body of the Organization of American States
(OAS) is calling for immediate measures to quell what it says is
unprecedented violence in Haiti, where residents in some parts of the
nation's capital of Port-au-Prince are effectively being held hostage by
In a July 22 statement, the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
expressed concern that the daily violence in Port-au-Prince has claimed an
estimated 700 lives since September 2004, including over 40 police officers.
Many of the victims are women and children, who are reportedly being used as
human shields by armed gangs during confrontations with the Haitian National
Police and a U.N. force designed to stabilize the nation.
Because of dangerous conditions in many areas of Port-au-Prince, the
commission said human-rights defenders are unable to monitor the situation
or provide assistance to victims. The unsafe conditions also do not permit
access to proper medical assistance, "further exacerbating the harmful
conditions under which thousands of Haitians live and causing the
displacement of large numbers of inhabitants in affected areas," said the
Also worrisome is a wave of kidnappings, with multiple incidents occurring
daily, the commission added. In some cases the victims are released in
exchange for the payment of cash, but the commission said there are
increasing reports about victims being subjected to physical abuse, torture
and rape during their captivity.
The commission said the violence in Haiti must also be contained in order to
ensure that legislative and presidential elections scheduled for later in
2005 are carried out "within an environment free of fear and intimidation."
The United States is providing $15 million to support the 2005 elections in
Haiti, part of a $44 million commitment from the global community to promote
democracy and stability in the Caribbean nation.
OAS CONDEMNS KILLING OF HAITIAN JOURNALIST
In a separate development, the OAS commission joined the international
community in condemning the murder of prominent journalist Jacques Roche, a
well-known cultural editor for the Haitian daily Le Matin. Four days after
being kidnapped on July 10, Roche was found dead on a street in
Port-au-Prince, having been shot several times. His body reportedly bore
the signs of torture.
Among the global groups condemning Roche's killing was the U.N.
stabilization mission in Haiti -- known as MINUSTAH -- which pledged its
full support for efforts to track down those who committed the "brutal and
vile" murder of the journalist.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement
mourning Roche's death that journalists in Haiti have limited their
movements in the nation in response to the country's "pervasive climate of
Another group, Reporters Without Borders, based in Paris, voiced "shock and
outrage" at Roche's murder.
"The Haitian press has just lost a renowned journalist and Haiti has lost a
leading advocate of its culture, and we call on the authorities to find and
punish his murderers," the press freedom organization said.
The Miami-based Inter-American Press Association said in a statement
denouncing Roche's murder that it would host an August 19-20 seminar in the
Haitian city of Cap Haitien, focusing on the risks that journalists face in
practicing their profession in Haiti.
Created: 22 Jul 2005 Updated: 22 Jul 2005
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