Nş 17/04


IACHR expresses concern regarding trial for the murder of
Haitian activist antoine izmÉry


          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern regarding the circumstances of the trial held on August 17, 2004 in Haiti for the September 11, 1993 killing of businessman and activist Antoine Izméry.


          According to public accounts, former Haitian paramilitary leader Louis-Jodel Chamblain and former Haitian police official Jackson Joanis were acquitted of Mr. Izméry’s murder after a hastily organized trial that was held overnight and where only one witness testified for the prosecution. Viewed in light of the circumstances of Mr. Izméry’s death, however, these accounts strongly suggest that inadequate efforts were undertaken to investigate, secure evidence and prosecute Mr. Izméry’s murder.


          As described in the Commission’s 1994 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, Mr. Izméry was killed in broad daylight while attending mass to commemorate the 1988 Church of St. Jean Bosco massacre, when armed men in civilian clothing carried Mr. Izméry out of the church, forced him to kneel in a clearing in front of the church, and, in full purview of police who were patrolling the area around the church, shot him at close range in the head.


          The Commission has long emphasized the need to combat impunity for former human rights violations in Haiti and has observed that the effective investigation, prosecution and punishment of human rights violations is crucial for eliminating violence and guaranteeing the rule of law. The Commission has also consistently expressed concerns regarding weaknesses in the Haitian judicial system, which have stemmed largely from a chronic lack of resources and other limitations placed upon the judiciary by the executive and legislative branches of government, and has urged the State to rectify these deficiencies.


          In this context, the Commission conveys its concern over indications that the trial for the murder of Antoine Izméry was not properly investigated or prosecuted, and urges the Haitian state to demonstrate its commitment to ending impunity for past human rights abuses through demonstrably effective and fair procedures that conform with international standards under the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.


Washington, D.C.  August 20, 2004