No. 46/02 




The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is deeply concerned by the events in Haiti over the last few days.


According to various sources, the demonstrations in Cap-Ha´tien from November 16 to 18, 2002, occurred without violence, in the presence of the police. However, during the student demonstrations of November 20, 2002, in Petit GoÔve, the police opened fire on the demonstrators and wounded several people. 


Moreover, barricades were set up in Port-au-Prince on November 22, bringing the city to a standstill. The IACHR deplores that these latter events took place without an adequate police presence.


In addition, since November 21, several journalists have been subject to threats and acts of aggression. According to information received by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, some journalists are still living under cover because of these threats.


The Commission notes that these events as a whole indicate the intensity of the political situation in Haiti, the fragility of the rule of law, and the risk of violation of the rights guaranteed by inter-American human rights instruments.


Consequently, just as it did following its on-site visits last May and August, the IACHR reiterates the importance of training police and of increasing their numbers and their presence to ensure public safety. Once again it underscores the need for dialogue among the various sectors of Haitian society for the purpose of strengthening democracy in Haiti. Lastly, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reminds the Haitian Government of the importance of ensuring freedom of expression and is concerned by the threats and acts of aggression confronting certain journalists. The IACHR considers that there can be no guarantee of the rights envisaged in the inter-American human rights instruments unless the safety of the population and the free exercise of the rights essential to democracy are ensured, as provided by the Inter-American Democratic Charter.


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will continue to monitor the situation closely and will soon make a third visit to Haiti.


Washington, November 27, 2002