UN rights groups urge probe of torture and killings by Haiti police

[JURIST] The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Human Rights Section of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) [official websites] issued two reports [text; press release] on Tuesday detailing activities such as torture and unlawful killings allegedly carried out by Haitian National Police (HNP) [official website, in French], and urged Haitian leaders in investigate and prosecute those responsible. The first report [text, PDF] illustrates the context of the state of affairs in which the HNP have been operating, and then focuses on the death of eight people over five cases to detail their mistreatment and alleged unlawful deaths between October 2010 and May 2011. The report goes on to present what it sees as patterns of behavior found in the cases including police justifications of crossfire, lack of investigation by prosecutors, and procedural delays of investigations by judges. The report also notes that to date, no police officers have been held responsible for the deaths detailed by the report. The report recommends:

actions to ensure that justice is rendered in each of these five cases and also recommends that the authorities as well as the international community take additional steps to support the many officers of the HNP who are trying to fulfill their duties to ensure that the police is a respected institution, having the trust of the Haitian people; an institution that is fully capable of fulfilling its responsibilities that are essential for the country's future.
The second report [text, PDF, in French] details the specific case of the alleged torture and murder of Serge Demosthene in June 2011. The report questioned "the Haitian authorities, compliance with the right to life, the right to be free from torture, and norms governing arrest, as well as respect for judicial independence."

In July, the OHCHR spoke on the importance of Haiti improving its human rights record [JURIST report], including trying ex-president Jean-Claude Duvalier [BBC backgrounder]. In May of 2010, a spokesperson for the MINUSTAH announced that the mission had launched an investigation [JURIST report] into the shootings of dozens of prisoners in a jail riot following the January 12, 2010 earthquake [JURIST news archive].

 

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