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On 6th Anniversary of the Assassination of Prominent Haiti Journalist, Haitian Rights Coalition Calls for the Establishment of a Special Court to Pursue Past Political Crimes

New York, April 3, 2006 – Six years ago today, radio broadcast pioneer and democracy advocate Jean Léopold Dominique was gunned down on the steps of Radio Haiti Inter shortly before he was to begin the morning’s news broadcasts. His murderers also killed the radio station’s groundskeeper, Jean-Claude Louissaint. In the days preceding his assassination, Mr. Dominique had become openly critical of government malfeasance and corruption, and increasingly questioned the commitment to the poor of the Lavalas Party and its leaders.

In recognition of his lifetime achievements, the government treated him to a hero’s funeral. That is all the honor that Mr. Dominique and his relatives have received so far. The National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) notes with deep sadness that little progress has been made by Haitian authorities since in identifying, apprehending, prosecuting and convicting the killers and their patrons.

Haitian governments in the last six years have provided scant support for vigorous investigative and prosecutorial action. Investigations have repeatedly stalled because of political interference, the refusal or inability of governments to provide investigative magistrates the means and the protection necessary to carry out their tasks free of fear, and the inability of authorities to protect the plaintiffs and aggrieved parties. The silencing of Mr. Dominique was followed by an attempt to silence his widow, Michele Montas. The assassins failed to kill her, but nonetheless succeeded at silencing Radio Haiti. Ms. Montas lives currently in exile in New York City and serves among other things on the board of the NCHR.

René Préval’s recent election in Haiti may provide a real opportunity for justice in the Dominique case to be given the attention it deserves. The President-elect should note that the February 7th vote, which gave him a second chance at leading Haiti away from abject poverty, was in large measure a vote for judicial equity, for the absence of justice lies at the heart of the inequitable distribution of wealth and resources in Haiti and the corresponding lack of basic services from the public sector. We also note that in and out of Haiti there’s virtually unanimous agreement that law-enforcement must be strengthened and that police and judicial reform are of the highest priority. However, effective reforms are at best years away. Yet justice for Jean Dominique, Brignol Lindor, Jacques Roche or any other victims of political assassinations cannot wait indefinitely.

While recognizing that the office of the President is hamstrung by constitutional limitations and the political and practical reality of barely functioning state institutions, we urge President-Elect Préval to use his political capital and moral authority now and in the future to back a vigorous pursuit of the criminals who conspired to silence Dominique and the democratic voices to which he gave voice. The government of Haiti should promptly establish an interim prosecutorial machine – a special court or prosecutor – to which the international community should commit significant resources so that justice reigns supreme.


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  See also:
  Judicial Reform in Haiti
  La réforme judiciaire en Haïti
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  Overview: Mass Expulsions and Deportations
  IACHR Decision of Sep 14, 2000
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   Restavèk: Four-year-old Servants in Haiti - Haiti Insight Dec '96 / Jan '97
  Contact Information
  Open Letter to the Haitian National Police
  Open Letter to the Haitian Minister of Justice
  December 2001 Report
  NCHR Calls on Haiti's President to Ensure Safety of Human Rights Advocates
  NCHR Pays Tribute to Jean Léopold Dominique
  Event Photos
  The Sound of Silence
  more on . . .
    Jean L. Dominique
    Michèle Montas
    Michael S. Hooper

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti (1994)


Peacebuilding in Haiti: Findings of the International Peace Academy regarding challenges to peacebuilding in Haiti.

  Peace Brigades International, Haiti: Reports from the PBI contingent in Haiti on conflict resolution and political challenges.
  Situation of Human Rights in Haiti: Report of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 1996.
  MICIVIH OEA/ONU: La police nationale d'Haiti et les droits de l'homme
  State Department 1997 Haiti Report
  Haiti Held Hostage
Report of the Watson Institute
  Amnesty International Report
HAITI Steps Forward, Steps Back: Human Rights 10 Years After the Coup (27/09/2001)

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