AP misrepresents widespread concern for abuses committed by the Haitian police
June 2, 2005
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AP misrepresents widespread concern for abuses committed by the Haitian police by ignoring evidence of human rights groups and statement of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Haiti News Watch


The Associated Press (AP), for reasons known only to them, omits any reference to evidence of abuses committed by the Haitian police. AP essentially underplayed the point by portraying those concerned with extra-judicial killings by the police as "some Haitians." Further, the article ignores that concerns of human rights violations committed by the police have reached a level where even U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan was forced to address the issue.

Article Title:

U.S. Ambassador: Haiti Gangs Are a Problem
By PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer

URL: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-haiti-us-ambassador,1,5988347.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines


"That brought criticism from some Haitians who pointed to accusations that police have committed myriad human rights violations, including shooting and killing peaceful pro-Aristide protesters and summary executions of political enemies. Police have denied the accusations."

Infraction: misrepresentation by omission of readily available sources

Omitted Information:

Source: Amnesty International, Nov. 11, 2004 Press Release Haiti: Amnesty International calls on the transitional government to set up an independent commission of enquiry into summary executions attributed to members of the Haitian National Police

  • Tuesday, 26 October, Fort National, Port-au-Prince. Individuals reported to be members of the police burst into a house and kill at least seven people;
  • Wednesday, 27 October, Carrefour Péan, Port-au-Prince. Four young men are killed in the street in broad daylight by individuals wearing black uniforms and balaclavas. Witnesses identify their vehicles as police patrol cars.
  • Martissant, October. A 13-year-old street child is arrested near the National Theatre by the naval police. At the police station, he is questioned about the hiding places being used by the "chimeres" (armed groups said to be supporters of former President Aristide) are hiding and brutally beaten by police while handcuffed and blindfolded.
  • Martissant, 20 October. A man is arrested in front of witnesses by individuals wearing black uniforms and balaclavas. They put a plastic bag over his head before brutally beating him. He is being detained at a police station in the capital.Source: Spoiling Security in Haiti Crisis Group Latin America/Caribbean Report N?13, 31 May 2005.

Source: Refugees International, March 14 Haiti: UN Civilian Police Require Executive Authority

"The misbehavior of the HNP [Haitian National Police] also poses a serious problem for the UN. MINUSTAH is mandated to assist in restructuring and reforming the HNP, including vetting and certifying new police candidates and advising and mentoring current HNP officers. Although these strategies may eventually resolve the behavior problems, in the meantime MINUSTAH's relationship with ordinary Haitians is gravely harmed. HNP actions smear the reputation of UN peacekeepers, who are often present during these operations but not involved. Haitians see peacekeepers standing by while bodies litter the street, and question what MINUSTAH is doing to help them."

Source: various wire services, May 21, 2005

"There is an urgent demand for justice in Haiti. I appeal to the transitional government to set the example by promptly initiating an investigation into those human rights violations allegedly committed by national police officers."

- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan

Source: International Crisis Group (ICG) Spoiling Security in Haiti Crisis Group Latin America/Caribbean Report N?13, 31 May 2005

pg. 11


There have been several allegations serious human rights abuse by HNP officers over the last few months in Port-au-Prince:

  • At least five persons were confirmed killed and five wounded after police shot at demonstrators in the Nazon area, near the UN headquarters, on 27 April. According to local residents, officers from one of two HNP vehicles shot indiscriminately, killing at least five demonstrators.58

That vehicle then left while officers from the other vehicle shot in the air, dispersing the crowd. The bodies were subsequently removed.59

  • On 28 February 2005, during a peaceful demonstration to commemorate the first anniversary of Aristide's departure, police allegedly opened fire without reason, killing at least two demonstrators. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) said publicly a few days later police brutality was hindering stabilisation, and the UN would not tolerate it. He warned that UN soldiers would use force if needed whenever the HNP fired on unarmed civilians.60 The Minister of Justice angrily accused MINUSTAH of protecting "chimeres".61 Relations were soon patched up, however, and MINUSTAH failed to insist on a thorough investigation into the shootings.
  • Six young men were allegedly killed on 25 February when police entered alleys in Rue St Martin and Rue Tiremasse, Bel Air, shooting widely. Victims allegedly included a homeless man, a football trainer for poor children in the neighborhood and a street vendor.62

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