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26019: (news) Chamberlain: U.N. condemns 'lynching' in Haiti (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - A spokesman for the U.N. mission in
Haiti condemned on Thursday what he called the lynching of several alleged
bandits by machete-wielding residents, whom witnesses said were accompanied
by Haitian police.
Spokesman Damian Onses Cardona said the U.N. mission to stabilize
Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, was very concerned and that the attacks were
"We can never tolerate a popular justice like that. We cannot tolerate
people lynching people like that," Cardona told journalists during a news
conference on Thursday at the U.N. compound in Port-au-Prince.
According to witnesses and radio reports, at least 15 people were
hacked to death with machetes in the slums of Bel-Air and Solino within the
past two weeks.
Police acknowledged last week that seven people had died in such
attacks. They declined to comment on witness reports that several of the
killings had occurred in the presence of police officers.
A Reuters cameraman filmed youngsters with machetes as they chopped
the face and body of an unarmed man who had just been shot by police.
Police did not deter the attack and described the victim as a bandit.
Last week, several slum residents congratulated themselves on local
radio after killing a presumed bandit called Chabba, and thanked the police
for their support.
A spokeswoman for the Haitian police, Jessie Coicou, declined to
comment. The director for the Haitian administrative police, Renan Etienne,
said he was absent and had not yet received any report on the matter.
Residents of the slums of Bel-Air, Cite Soleil and Solino have
reported killings, kidnappings and other crimes carried out by armed
bandits, and some viewed the attacks on alleged bandits as acts of
frustration or vengeance.
"Those presumed bandits should be handed over to the legal forces that
will transfer them to the judicial authorities who solely have the
authority to decide their fate," Cardona said.
With the police and U.N. troops cracking down on criminal gangs over
the last few weeks, several gang leaders have expressed interest in
negotiating with the U.N. mission within the framework of a Demobilization,
Disarmament and Reinsertion program.
U.N. officials said on Thursday they were ready to talk with illegal
armed groups that want to disarm.
"We are going to seize all real opportunities to peacefully disarm
groups," Cardona said. "The very concept of DDR programs, not only in Haiti
but around the world, is based on the will to cooperate to give a chance to
U.N. peacekeepers were sent to Haiti after its elected president,
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was driven out during an armed rebellion in
February 2004. Ongoing political and gang violence has hindered efforts to
register voters for legislative and presidential elections set for