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Haiti Liberte: Hebdomadaire Haitien / Haitian weekly news

Edition Electronique

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

Electronic Edition

Kòrdinasyon Desalin: Conférence de presse



Protests Greet UN Security Council Delegation to Haiti

by Thomas Péralte


This week, the United Nations Independent Expert on Human Rights, Michel Forst, was visiting to evaluate the situation in Haiti, and the UN Security Council also sent a delegation. They were greeted by Haitians around the country demonstrating to protest abuses by UN soldiers and demanding the UN’s immediate and unconditional departure.

On Feb. 9 in the northwestern town of Gonaïves, hundreds of people marched in the streets against the presence of UN occupation troops in Haiti. The demonstrators accused two Pakistani soldiers of the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) of raping a 14-year-old boy named Roody Jean on Jan. 20. The angry demonstrators cursed the UN troops and vowed they would remain mobilized until the UN occupation force leaves Haiti.

            A MINUSTAH patrol which found itself on the march’s itinerary provoked the angry protesters by firing shots in the air in an apparent attempt to intimidate them. Some protesters threw rocks at the soldiers.

            The case of Roody Jean is just one more in a string of alleged sexual assaults by UN soldiers, and it has forced the Haitian government to finally break its complicit silence. Justice Minister Michel Brunache, on behalf of the government, sent a letter to MINUSTAH’s civilian head, Mariano Fernandez, to express the government’s concern about MINUSTAH’s pattern of sexual abuse of Haitian minors. The Haitian government demanded that justice be done in accordance with legal and contractual provisions governing the relationship between Haiti and the UN.

            On Feb. 8, the Haitian Senate unanimously passed a resolution requesting that the Pakistani UN soldiers accused of raping Roody Jean be tried in Haitian courts. In the resolution, the Senate recommended lifting the immunity of soldiers accused by witnesses, the police, and public outcry as perpetrators of rape. According to the resolution, in cases of rape, the law of the place of the crime (territorial jurisdiction or ratione loci) must prevail.

            Sen. Youri Latortue, who sponsored the resolution, said that from Jan. 18, 2005 to Jan. 31, 2012, there have been 14 cases of abuse by MINUSTAH soldiers in Haiti. Rape, sexual harassment, statutory rape, forced sodomy, and torture are serious offenses against human dignity and are degrading and dehumanizing acts.

            The Senate has already passed a resolution calling for MINUSTAH’s withdrawal by October 2012, when its current mandate ends. Some Haitians have argued that the Parliament doesn’t need to get too many resolutions to expel the UN forces which have illegally occupied Haiti since June 2004. They need only cancel the agreement of Jul. 29, 2004 authorizing MINUSTAH, signed by the former de facto Prime Minister Gérard Latortue and UN representative Adama Guindo.

            Meanwhile, despite the flagrant violation of Haitians’ human rights by UN troops, Michel Forst declined to speak out on these many cases. “Listen, this is an issue that is addressed in every press conference, I know, because I read the notes of MINUSTAH’s weekly press briefings,” Forst said in a press conference. “This is a subject of great concern to Haitians and the Haitian press, but the mandate I was given is a mandate that is framed by a decision of the UN Council of Human Rights, and that mandate does not cover the MINUSTAH. Nevertheless, I am an Independent Expert which means that I have freedom of speech. I have the freedom to say what I think. Even if I cannot speak publicly in front of you now, know that I have expressed myself on this subject at various levels within the UN system. But it is not for me to say here what I said to members of MINUSTAH. I think a formal response was given and MINUSTAH’s position is recalled each time. Immunity does not mean impunity. I am aware of claims that were made and I think the MINUSTAH spokesperson has already responded to this point. I think she has a written document that gives MINUSTAH’s position on this issue.”

            A 15-member Security Council delegation arrived in Haiti on Monday, Feb. 13 for a three day visit to assess the implementation of MINUSTAH’s mandate, the political and security situations, the living conditions of those still affected by the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, and aid from the international community. The delegation consists of representatives from the Council’s five permanent members (USA, China, France, UK, Russia) as well as non-permanent members.

            The delegation is headed by the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and also includes Ambassadors Agshin Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan, Yang Tao of China, Néstor Osorio of Colombia, Gérard Araud of France, Peter Wittig of Germany, Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala, Hardeep Singh Puri of India, Mohammed Loulichki of Morocco, Raza Bashir Tarar of Pakistan, José Filipe Moraes Cabral of Portugal, Nikita Y. Zhukov of Russia, Baso Sangqu of South Africa, Kodjo Menan of Togo (currently the Security Council’s president), and Philip Parham of the United Kingdom.

            On their arrival in Port-au-Prince, the ambassadors gave a press conference at MINUSTAH’s Log Base, located on the Port-au-Prince airport. The delegation gave the following statement.

            “In Haiti, the Security Council intends to reiterate its continued support to the government and people of Haiti in their efforts to rebuild their country, to consolidate peace, democracy and stability, to promote recovery and sustainable development, and to evaluate implementation of its relevant resolutions, in particular, Resolution 2012 (2011), and examine the progress made by the Haitian government, with assistance from the international community, principally MINUSTAH, in efforts to address the interconnected challenges in the areas of stability and security, including strengthening the rule of law and the protection of civilians; economic and social development, institutional reform and governance, border management and human rights.

            It is said that the Council came to Haiti on its own, without the government’s invitation, but in coordination with Haitian authorities and UN representatives in the field. During its stay, the delegation will meet with President Michel Martelly, Prime Minister Garry Conille, parliamentarians, and civil society representatives.

            The delegation will also visit the towns of Miragoâne and Léogâne, UN troop bases, and IDP camps filled with earthquake victims.

            Haitian popular groups organized demonstrations to demand the immediate withdrawal of occupation forces, and justice and reparation for all victims of UN soldiers, particularly those affected by the UN-imported cholera epidemic. As the Security Council delegation met with the press at the Log Base on their arrival in Haiti on Feb. 13, dozens of anti-occupation demonstrators protested outside waving signs that read: “Occupation is contrary to Democracy! MINUSTAH = Cholera! MINUSTAH = Interference! MINUSTAH = sexual violence! MINUSTAH = human rights violations! UN Security Council, Haiti does not need an occupation! MINUSTAH must leave!

            The next day, hundreds of people marched in Port-au-Prince against MINUSTAH. The event began at Fort National in front of the Brazilian contingent’s base while the Security Council delegation was inside. The UN soldiers were very threatening to the animated, angry demonstrators. The protesters then marched to the Champ de Mars past the Ministries of Justice and Social Affairs before ending up at the north gate of the National Palace.

Vol. 5, No. 31 • Du 15 au 21 Février 2012

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