Secretary of the IACHR Concerned over Death Threats
Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR),
Dr. Santiago A. Canton, has expressed his serious concern over death
threats received by human rights defenders in Haiti.
The IACHR today requested the government of that country to
take precautionary measures to protect the personal safety of those
who had been threatened.
to information received, the Platform of Haitian Human Rights
Organizations (POHDH) has denounced the existence of a list with the
names of 15 individuals, all members of that organization, who had
been targeted for assassination.
Those individuals include Pierre Espérance, Treasurer of the
POHDH and Executive Director of the National Coalition for Human
Rights for Haitians (NCHR), Vilès Alizar, Program Manager, Serge
Bordenave, Secretary General of the POHDH, and Jean Simon St. Hubert,
Executive Secretary of the POHDH.
According to information received, these threats are related to
complaints that the Platform and the NCHR have made about
politicization of the national police and the violation of human
rights in Haiti.
is an alarming background to this situation.
On March 8, 2000, Pierre Espérance, Director of the National
Coalition for Human Rights for Haitians (NCHR) and Treasurer of the
Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH), was severely
wounded in an assassination attempt.
Furthermore, a pamphlet containing threats was sent to the
organizations participating in the POHDH on March 1, 2000.
Given the gravity of the situation, on April 19, 2000, the
IACHR requested the Haitian government to take precautionary measures
to ensure the life and safety of Pierre Espérance and the members of
the National Coalition for Human Rights (NCHR). To date, the government has not responded to the IACHR's
request, and no information on the matter has been received.
Executive Secretary of the IACHR notes that member states of the OAS
adopted a resolution at their last General Assembly (AG/RES. 1818) in
which they made the following commitments, among others:
deplore acts that directly or indirectly prevents or hampers the work
of human rights defenders in the Americas.
urge member states to step up their efforts to adopt the necessary
measures, in keeping with their domestic law and with internationally
accepted principles and standards, to guarantee the life, personal
safety, and freedom of expression of human rights defenders.
instruct the Permanent Council to follow up on this resolution and to
report to the General Assembly at its thirty-second regular session on
the implementation thereof.
IACHR has repeatedly stressed the need to give full effect to the
collective commitment expressed by member states in that resolution,
which calls for them to take the necessary measures to guarantee the
life, personal safety and freedom of expression of human rights
meet the challenges of building democracy, groups working to promote
human rights must be allowed to participate in democratic
strengthening without the threat of reprisals.
The Executive Secretary reiterates his repudiation of any act
that imperils the personal safety of human rights defenders.
"Democracy must be built in an atmosphere of tolerance and
participation with all sectors of society," said Dr. Canton.
The Executive Secretary of the IACHR also urged the Haitian
government to adopt the measures necessary to protect the persons
indicated, and to undertake an investigation into the deeds described,
in order to bring those responsible to justice.
IACHR is an autonomous body of the OAS responsible for promoting and
protecting human rights in the hemisphere.
Its powers flow essentially from the American Convention on
Human Rights and the OAS Charter, instruments that have been ratified
by the Republic of Haiti.
Washington D.C., November 9, 2001