Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
 concerned about violence in haiti



No. 34/01


          The Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Dr. Santiago A Canton, strongly condemned the widespread violence in Haiti resulting from an armed attack on the National Palace in Port-au-Prince on December 17, 2001, in which five people died and several others were wounded.  According to various sources, since that event numerous persons, members of opposition parties, journalists, and radio and television stations have been the targets of violence.


The Executive Secretary of the IACHR emphasized "the need to restore a climate of democracy in Haiti and the importance of the rule of law.” The challenges of democracy-building make it imperative that all sectors of society be able to participate in strengthening democracy without risking reprisal.  The Executive Secretary reaffirms his rejection of any action that would threaten the welfare of persons. “Democracy must be built in a climate of tolerance, with all sectors of society participating,” said Dr. Canton.


The Executive Secretary of the IACHR also urges the Haitian state to take the necessary measures to protect individuals and to open an investigation of the events described, with a view to bringing to justice and punishing those responsible for these actions, with due guarantees and within a reasonable period of time, in proceedings before an independent, impartial judge or court having appropriate jurisdiction and previously established by law, who or which will decide on the merits of any criminal accusation.  The American Convention on Human Rights, to which the Haitian state is a party, stresses the obligation of states to guard against, duly investigate, and punish all violations of human rights recognized in the Convention.  The states have the obligation to guard against such acts, to punish those responsible after an appropriate investigation, and to ensure that victims are properly redressed.


The IACHR is an autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), charged with the promotion and protection of human rights in the American Hemisphere.  The seven members of the Commission are elected in their individual capacity by the General Assembly of the OAS and serve for four years. The Commission’s authority is derived primarily from the American Convention on Human Rights and the OAS Charter, instruments which have been ratified by the Republic of Haiti. 



Washington, D.C., December 19, 2001