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Edition Electronique

Vol. 8, No. 28
Du  Jan  21  au  Jan 27. 2015

Electronic Edition

Kòrdinasyon Desalin: Conférence de presse



As MINUSTAH Chief Touts Record:
Haiti’s UN Occupiers Accused of Brutality Again

by Kim Ives


Troops of the United Nations military occupation force in Haiti are once again accused of brutalizing Haitians earlier this month.

Three Haitian men claim they were savagely beaten by eight Brazilian UN soldiers during the early morning hours of Dec. 14.

The alleged attack comes only four months after anti-occupation demonstrations erupted around Haiti following the release of a cell-phone video showing four Uruguayan UN soldiers apparently sexually assaulting a young Haitian man in the southern town of Port-Salut (see Haïti Liberté, Vol. 5, No. 8, 9/7/2011).

On the afternoon of Dec. 13, Joseph Gilbert, 29, and Abel Joseph, 20, were on their way to deliver drinking water when their tanker truck broke down near Fort Dimanche, a former political prison situated between the Port-au-Prince shanty-towns of Cité Soleil and La Saline.

The men tried unsuccessfully to repair the truck during the day. As night fell, they decided to stay with the truck lest it be vandalized or its water stolen during the night. To help them to guard the vehicle, they called on Armos Bazile, the nephew of one of Gilbert’s clients, who joined them at around 10 p.m..

According to the account the men gave to the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) later that day, at about 3 a.m. on Dec. 14, a patrol of Brazilian soldiers from the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) passed by them in a military vehicle on a routine patrol. After passing the tanker truck, the soldiers stopped their vehicle and walked back to the three Haitians.

The  soldiers arrested them without any explanation,” the RNDDH wrote in its Dec. 16 report on the incident, which drew on the accounts of the three men, area residents, witnesses, and the Cité Soleil Justice of the Peace. “They forced them to empty their pockets, relieving them of  the sum of  4500 gourds [$113 US], representing the amount of three trucks of water delivered during the day, and a telephone – [with the number] 39350529 – belonging to Joseph Gilbert.

The soldiers also took Gilbert’s driver’s license and the national ID cards of the two other men before leading them to the courtyard of the Mixed Educational Institution of La Saline, a school whose courtyard is used by area residents to dry clay.

There, the eight Brazilian soldiers beat the three men “with numerous kicks and punches,” according to the report. “The victims’ bodies still bear the visible signs of this physical abuse. They were beaten to the point where they cannot sit.

La Saline residents, hearing the victims’ screams, came out of their homes and told the soldiers that the men were not intruders and were known in the area, according to RNDDH investigators, who visited the scene of the alleged attack.

The soldiers then loaded the three men into the back of their truck and drove them to a remote plantain field just outside the city off Route 9. There, according to the victims, the soldiers stripped the men naked and continued to beat them, even using a machete.

The soldiers then burned the men’s clothes and drove off, leaving them naked in the field, the victims said.

The UN has yet to accept responsibility for the alleged attack on the three men. “MINUSTAH is doing everything it really can to verify these facts as soon as possible,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq, referring to the RNDDH report during a meeting with reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

Meanwhile, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and MINUSTAH’s Human Rights Section (HRS) investigated and criticized the Haitian National Police (HNP) for five cases between October 2010 and June 2011 “involving at least 16 HNP officers in the deaths of eight people,” in a report released this week.

The damning report charges that “killings are too often justified as a consequence of an exchange  of fire between the police and suspected criminals,” that “HNP officers directly involved in killings are protected by their colleagues or superiors,” that official investigations “are not systematic, are typically slow, and rarely lead to disciplinary action or a conviction,” that “witnesses are afraid of the consequences of giving testimony and convinced that justice will not be rendered,” and that some foot-dragging “judges choose to delay the investigations.” As a result, “to date, not a single police officer has been held criminally or administratively responsible for the deaths that are the subject of this report,” the OHCHR & HRS conclude.

Just weeks prior to the Dec. 14 incident and the OHCHR/HRS report, MINUSTAH’s Chilean chief Mariano Fernandez Amunategui painted a glowing picture of the mission’s effectiveness in a Nov. 29, 2011 letter to the daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste.

Through MINUSTAH’s support in establishing the rule of law, the HNP’s professionalization is in good position,” Fernandez wrote. “This has resulted, with the help of the United Nations Police (UNPOL), in the strengthening of the HNP’s capacity, through theoretical and practical training, strengthening of technical and human capacities, and also the restoration of the HNP’s image among the population.

...As the Haitian people’s anger at MINUSTAH grows, so has the frequency of declarations about an eventual pull-out. This week Chile's Defense Minister Andrés Allamand announced that his nation would gradually withdraw its 500 troops from Haiti by 2016. The UN Security Council mandate authorizing MINUSTAH’s deployment only lasts until Oct. 14, 2012.

In September, Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim announced that his nation would gradually begin removing is 2,200 troops, the largest contingent in the force of about 12,500 uniformed personnel, both soldiers and cops. He set Brazil’s full withdrawal date for 2015.

But most Haitians are not fooled by the “gradual withdrawal” announcements and want the UN troops out more quickly. “Recent declarations by MINUSTAH officials and Latin American ministers are not really about withdrawal, but rather about how to prolong the presence of foreign troops in Haiti,” said Yves Pierre-Louis of the Heads Together of Popular Organizations, a front which has led many anti-occupation protests. “We want the occupiers out of Haiti immediately, and certainly not beyond the end of the current mandate ten months from now.

MINUSTAH was deployed in Haiti in Jun. 1, 2004, following the Washington-backed coup three months earlier against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. “At the time, Lula [then Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva] said that the troops would just be needed for six months to assure a democratic transition,” said Barbara Corrales, a leader with the Brazilian Workers Party’s O Trabalho tendency, which organized a large international anti-occupation conference in Sao Paulo on Nov. 5 (see Haïti Liberté, Vol. 5, No. 17, 11/9/2011). “But Brazilian troops and MINUSTAH are still in Haiti over seven years later. The Haitian people, and indeed the people of the entire continent, are saying they must get out now.
Vol. 5, No. 24 • Du 28 décembre 2011 au 3 janvier 2012

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