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Posted December 27, 2002

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Haiti 12-26-2002
Press Release
Radio station chief survives apparent murder attempt

Reporters Without Borders said today it was outraged at an apparent attempt on Christmas Day to kill the head of Radio Haiti Inter, Michèle Montas (photo), in which one of her bodyguards was shot dead.

"The attackers wanted to eliminate the person who is fighting for the arrest and punishment of the killers in 2000 of her husband Jean Dominique, Haiti's best-known journalist," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard.

Ménard expressed his "great admiration" for the "courage and determination" of Montas in her nearly three-year battle and assured her of his "total support" in the wake of what he called a "despicable and cowardly action." He also expressed his condolences to the family of her bodyguard, Maxime Séide, who was shot and killed in the attack.

Montas was one of five journalists from around the world shortlisted for this year's Reporters Without Borders / Fondation de France Prize in recognition of her fight against impunity in the murder of her husband, the head of Radio Haiti Inter, who was shot dead in the station's courtyard on 3 April 2000.

Reporters Without Borders called on the authorities to thoroughly investigate the latest attack and asked that key people in the enquiry into the Dominique murder be given special protection, especially Bernard Saint-Vil, the investigating judge, and the state prosecutor, Josué Pierre-Louis.

Two armed men appeared at the gates of Montas' house in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, in the late afternoon of 25 December a few minutes after she had arrived home after a Christmas lunch with family members. They threatened her security guards who immediately shut the gates. One of the guards ran to the house to get a gun. The attackers then fired at the second guard, Séide, fatally wounding him before fleeing.

Montas said the attackers had intended to kill her. The two men were on foot, she said, and had probably waited near her house for her to arrive. She said she had, unusually, asked her driver to take a different route back to the house that day.

The attack came a few days before Judge Saint-Vil is expected to announce completion of his enquiry into Dominique's murder, which has been hampered by many obstacles.

The outspoken Dominique, Haiti's best-known journalist and political commentator, criticised all sides, whether supporters of the former Duvalier family dictatorship, ex-military figures, member of the country's wealthy families or, not long before his death, those he suspected in the ruling Fanmi Lavalas party of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of having turned the party away from its original principles.

The murder investigation was assigned in September 2000 to Judge Claudy Gassant after his predecessor, Judge Jean-Sénat Fleury, had resigned after receiving threats. Gassant fled to the United States after his mandate expired on 3 January 2002 and was not immediately renewed by Aristide. He had been repeatedly harassed after naming an Aristide supporter and former army major, Sen. Dany Toussaint, as the man responsible for Dominique's death.

Since July, the investigation has been in the hands of Judge Saint-Vil, who has resumed questioning people and said his enquiry may be formally completed by the end of the year. The case file will then go to prosecutor Pierre-Louis, who will have five days to ask for any further information from the judge. After that, the completion announcement, with names of people to be arrested or charged, will be made public. Read more about Michèle Montas

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world, as well as the right to inform the public and to be informed, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reporters Without Borders has nine national sections (in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom), representatives in Abidjan, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Montreal, Moscow, Nairobi, New York, Tokyo and Washington and more than a hundred correspondents worldwide.

*In this country 12.5 - Haiti Seven journalists take refuge in Port-au-Prince 12.3 - Haiti 3 December 2001 - 3 December 2002 Murder of journalist Brignol Lindor One year of impunity 09.30 - Haiti Two radio stations suspend broadcasting after threats 09.10 - Haiti Zero tolerance for the media : an enquiry into the murder of journalist Brignol Lindor 08.21 - Haiti Judicial police director makes worrying statements about journalist Jacky Cantave's abduction

*Americas press releases 12.20 - Colombia Arauca : News in danger 12.17 - Cuba Where news is the exclusive reserve of the state 12.11 - Colombia Judicial proceedings against journalist Jaime Garzón's alleged killers 12.10 - Mexico Protection of journalists' sources threatened 12.6 - Venezuela Twelve journalists assaulted or wounded during demonstrations reports 12.20 - Colombia Arauca : News in danger 12.17 - Cuba Where news is the exclusive reserve of the State 10.4 - Brazil Bahia : a culture of impunity ? Investigation into the murder of journalist Manuel Leal de Oliveira 10.3 - Brasil Bahia : uma cultura de impunidade ? Inquérito sobre o assassinato do jornalista Manuel Leal de Oliveira 09.10 - Haiti Zero tolerance for the media : an enquiry into the murder of journalist Brignol Lindor 11.22 - Colombia The press as a "military target" : armed groups against press freedom 10.11 - United States Between the pull of patriotism and self-censorship The US media in torment after 11 September 03.25 - Haiti Who Killed Jean Dominique ? 09.1er - Cuba Harassment, exile, imprisonment One hundred independent journalists face the State

Press Release
The Embassy of the United States deplore attacks against the press in Haiti
December 20, 2002

The Embassy of the United States of America deplores the recent ones and annoying incidents directed against the press, such as the ill treatments inflicted recently to cameramen, the sabotage of a station of radio, and the acts of intimidation exerted on seven journalists in Gonaïves.

Just like each citizen must be free to express his opinion on the situation of the country, the press must be also free to bring back the facts.

The American Embassy recalls that the Inter-American Commission of the Humans right called in favour of protective measurements for the press and invited the government haitien to provide them.

While exhortant the press to continue its essential tasks for a constructive speech, in a professional way, objective and specifies, the Embassy of the United States reiterates its engagement in favour of a free press, knowing that a free press is one of the principal pillars of the democracy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted December 18, 2002

Received for publication, Dec.18, 2002
Press Release
Graham expresses support for OAS Efforts to Strenghthen Democracy in Haiti

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham today expressed Canada's full support for the efforts of the Organization of American States (OAS) to strengthen democracy in Haiti and end the current impasse to potential elections in 2003.

"Canada is increasingly concerned over the highly polarized and deteriorating political situation in Haiti," said Minister Graham. "Immediate steps by the Government of Haiti to create an environment conducive to dialogue and cooperation are key to economic and political recovery. We firmly believe that the months ahead must be free of further setbacks to the electoral process."

The Minister noted that one year after the tragic violence of December 17, 2001, confrontation and impasse remain. The international community continues to ask all Haitians for collaboration, compromise, action and courage.

OAS Resolution 822 was adopted unanimously on September 4 and calls for the formation of a credible, provisional electoral council to provide a balanced, democratic route to elections. The resolution also calls for those responsible for last year's violence to be brought to justice.

Canada has consistently supported the OAS efforts inspired by the Democratic Charter of the Americas initiated at the April 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas, and adopted by all member states in September 2001.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted December 4, 2002

Press Release
Stop the threats against Haitian journalists, says CPJ

HAITI: CPJ concerned about recent attacks against journalists http://www.cpj.org/news/2002/Haiti02dec02na.html

New York, December 2, 2002*The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about growing threats against Haitian journalists in the wake of anti-government protests in the northern city of Cap-Haïtien that began on November 17 and continue to rattle the country.

On November 21, seven journalists from four private media outlets*including the director and three reporters from the privately owned Radio Etincelle*in Gonaïves, a seaside town northwest of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, went into hiding after receiving menacing telephone calls and verbal threats on the street for covering the Cap-Haïtien protests, said CPJ sources.

That same day, Radio Etincelle suspended broadcasting after militants of the Popular Organization for the Development of Raboteau (commonly known as the "Cannibal Army"), a heavily armed popular group that supports President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, accused the station of "working for the opposition" and threatened to burn down its studio.

Four days later, on the evening of November 25, unidentified assailants set fire to Radio Etincelle's station, damaging property, including a generator and other equipment.

Meanwhile, on November 28, unidentified attackers opened fire outside a Gonaïves hotel while a local press freedom organization, the Association of Haitian Journalists (AJH), was meeting with a group of threatened radio correspondents and police officials to discuss how to improve security conditions for journalists. No one was killed in the attack, but it remains unclear how many people may have been injured.

This latest violence comes a year after the murder of journalist Brignolle Lindor, who was hacked to death with machetes by a pro-Aristide mob on December 3, 2001. This case, along with the April 2000 murder of broadcaster Jean Léopold Dominique by an unidentified assassin, has never gone to trial.

"The Haitian government must protect journalists who are working in a volatile environment," said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. "And because a climate of impunity also contributes to the sense of vulnerability, we call on President Aristide to do everything within his power to bring Brignolle Lindor and Jean Léopold Dominique's murderers to justice."

Press Release
No to impunity, says Reporters Without Borders

PRESS RELEASE 2 December 2002


3 December 2001 - 3 December 2002

Murder of journalist Brignol Lindor: One year of impunity

A year after the killing of Brignol Lindor, a journalist with the Echo 2000 radio station in Petit-Goâve, Reporters Without Borders, the Damocles Network and the Haitian Journalists' Association (AJH) deplore the fact that those responsible have not yet been punished.

The three organisations said they were determined to win justice for Lindor, who was beaten to death on 3 December last year by supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party.

The AJH and Pastor Denis Laguerre (representing the Lindor family), supported by Haiti's Ecumenical Centre for Human Rights, formally protested on 1 and 3 October before the Port-au-Prince appeals court against the murder enquiry being officially closed, thus excluding any prosecution of the instigator of the attack.

Reporters Without Borders and the Damocles Network may file an appeal before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR).

"A year after Lindor's death, impunity still reigns," said Reporters Without Border secretary-general Robert Ménard and AJH secretary-general Guyler C. Delva. "It has been turned into a policy aimed at fostering an atmosphere of terror and silencing the media." They said seven journalists were currently in hiding in Gonaives after being threatened by Amiot Métayer, a fugitive from justice protected by Aristide's party who is terrorising the local population and the press."

Fritzner Duclair, the judge investigating Lindor's death, officially closed his enquiry on 16 September. A fact-finding mission by Reporters Without Borders and the Damocles Network published earlier that month noted that the chief instigator of the murder, Petit-Goâve's assistant mayor Dumay Bony, had not been troubled or charged.

Bony had called at a press conference on 30 November last year for "zero tolerance" to be applied to Lindor, who he called a "terrorist." His words were taken by everyone except Haitian legal officials as an appeal to kill the journalist. Many in Haiti consider the term "zero tolerance," first used by President Aristide a few months earlier to urge police to deal firmly with criminals, as virtual approval of lynching people.

The Haitian authorities told the Organisation of American States (OAS) in a report on 4 November this year that 10 people had been charged in the case, two of whom had been arrested. But Reporters Without Borders find that these two, Maxi Zéphyr and Fritzler Doudoute, are in fact being held for other reasons. Prison officials in Port-au-Prince, where Zéphyr is being held, have also refused for several months to allow him to be questioned in the Lindor murder case.

To mark the first anniversary of Lindor's death, Reporters Without Borders and the AJH are broadcasting on Haitian radio stations a message from his family demanding justice. The text is as follows:

" [voice of Robert Ménard] : 3 December 2001 to 3 December 2002 [voice of Moréno Lindor] : My name is Moréno Lindor. I'm the brother of the journalist Brignol Lindor. I was at home the day I heard he had been chopped to death. I feared it was the end for my family. I was wrong. But we were threatened and had to flee the country. A year later, the killers can still count on the inertia of the authorities. The hardest thing is the injustice of it, that nobody has been punished. My brother was killed because he allowed everyone to speak on the radio. Haitians must be given their say and Brignol must be given justice.

[Ménard] In solidarity with the Haitian media, Reporters Without Borders and the AJH add their voices to those of all who demand justice, justice for Brignol Lindor. "


The Haitian Journalists' Association, Reporters Without Borders and the Damocles Network demand:

- That the Port-au-Prince appeals court cancels Judge Duclair's closure of the enquiry and orders the case to be reopened. - That the next judge in charge of the case brings charges against Dumay Bony for "incitement to murder." - That the Port-au-Prince prison authorities allow Maxi Zéphyr to be questioned about his suspected part in Lindor's killing.

The two organisations also reiterate their appeal to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to specifically condemn public lynchings and take action to end the impunity enjoyed by the killers and attackers of journalists.

-- Régis Bourgeat Despacho Américas / Americas desk Reporters sans frontières 5, rue Geoffroy-Marie 75009 Paris - France

tél. : +33 (0) 1 44 83 84 68 fax : +33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51 e-mail : ameriques@rsf.org / americas@rsf.org

                                                                                                                                                                                       Posted December 1, 2002 

Press Release
Haitian Attorneys speak out against dictatorship

BAR OF PORT-AU-PRINCE Courthouse of Port-au-Prince, Haiti



- Deeply alarmed and outraged by the accelerated deterioration of the socio-economic and political environment in the country, with serious negative consequences on a judicial system too often used by the executive branch of government for self-serving motives; - Stupefied by the careless and irresponsible attitude of the government, whose laxity seems to encourage, facilitate, and even condone the arbitrary and illegal arrests, arson of personal and real estate property (public buildings, police stations, courthouses, private homes, etc.) and acts of violence of all kinds occurring throughout the country, and threatening the life and liberty of citizens; - Considering, on the one hand, the political situation in the country and, on the other hand, the problems intentionally created for the legal profession, namely: 1.- threats and intimidation 2.- systematic refusal or some judiciary authorities to hear any matter related to individual freedom. 3.- systematic refusal to execute court decisions ordering the release of citizens who have been detained arbitrarily and illegally. - Aware of the serious dangers threatening the country in disarray.

- Hereby declares that the Bar expressly and formally supports the recent declaration made by the private sector on November 23, which eloquently represents the opinion shared by a wide majority of the population.

Strongly condemns: 1.- the criminal acts perpetrated last week in Petit Goave by the National Police of Haiti against students participating in a peaceful demonstration, when the police used live bullets to shoot at close range, reminding of the Soweto events; 2.- the violent and criminal acts reported in Port-au-Prince on Friday, November 22, 2002; 3.- the violent and criminal acts perpetrated last Monday, November 25, by officers of the National Police of Haiti, with the complicity of illegally armed thugs, against students and other persons in Gonaives; 4.- the inexplicable and unacceptable acts of violence perpetrated this past November 25, 2002, by officers of the National Police of Haiti against students of the Faculty of Ethnology, within the Faculty's facilities.

- Reminds the following: 1) Articles 19, 24, 28, 28.1, 31, 34, and 36 of the current Constitution guarantee certain rights, including: - the right to life, healthcare, respect for human dignity, individual freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to work in the journalistic profession, freedom of assembly and association, and the inviolability of the facilities of Educational Institutions and private properties. 2) Articles 136, 145, 159, and 163 of the Constitution formally state that: - The President of the Republic shall protect and defend the Constitution. He must ensure that the courts' decisions are implemented. The Prime Minister shall implement the law. The Prime Minister and the ministers are accountable for the implementation of the law. 3) Article 27.1 of the Constitution states that: - Government officials and employees shall be held personally liable, according to the Criminal, Civil, and Administrative Codes, for acts perpetrated in violation of the law. For that matter, the government also shares the civil liability. 4) Articles 269.1 and 274 of the Constitution state respectively that: - the mission of the Police is to guarantee the public order and protect the life and property of the citizens; - officers of the Public Force are liable in civil and criminal matters while carrying out their duties. 5) Violation of individual freedom, arbitrary and illegal detention, abuse of power and authority, escape of detainees, threats, arson, and voluntary destruction of homes or other types of property are described and punished by articles 85, 145, 150, 159, 195 through 206, 250 through 253, and 356 through 358 of the Criminal Code.

- Demands that the appropriate government authorities: - do everything in their power to finally restore public order, the authority of the state, as well as the rule of law and justice throughout the entire country, without delay; - that the courts' decisions be implemented throughout the entire territory of the Republic; - that the persons responsible for crimes and felonies related to the criminal acts described above, as well as their accomplices, be arrested and prosecuted according to the law; - that the safety of our children be permanently guaranteed; - and that all rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the law be respected and protected.

Port-au-Prince, November 25, 2002








MARTINE CHEVALIER                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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