failure of the Haitian police to curb widespread political violence in the wake
of yesterday’s attack on the presidential palace raises serious concerns,
Human Rights Watch said today. Although President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
called for a peaceful response to the attack on the palace, government
supporters committed serious acts of violence with apparent impunity.
Haitian authorities cannot allow mob violence to go unchallenged,” said José
Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights
Watch. “The government must take action against violence committed by
its supporters, just as it reacts to violence by its opponents.”
assault mounted early yesterday morning, several armed men wearing the uniform
of Haiti’s disbanded army stormed the National Palace in Port-au-Prince.
Two police officers were reportedly killed in the attack, as well as several
civilian bystanders and at least one of the assailants.
wake of the attack, government supporters committed serious acts of political
violence, with, in many cases, little or no police response. In Gonaives,
two members of the opposition party MOCHRENA were reportedly killed.
Port-au-Prince, barricades of burning tires, erected by members of so-called
popular organizations that support the party of President Aristide, blocked the
main roads. Mobs traversed the city freely, setting fire to buildings
associated with opposition parties and leaders. One such group burned down the
home of opposition leader Gérard Pierre-Charles, who was not home at the time.
According to press accounts, the police refused to intervene to prevent the
attack on the house.
buildings that were set on fire included the headquarters of the main opposition
coalition, known as the Democratic Convergence, as well as offices belonging to
the opposition parties Conacom, KID, and ALLAH.
to reports received by Human Rights Watch, journalists were also targeted.
Several journalists reported being attacked or threatened, and four radio
stations had to temporarily suspend their transmissions.
government should ensure that its investigations into the attacks are prompt,
thorough, and impartial, and should bring those responsible to justice, Human
Rights Watch said. It should also take steps to remedy the problem of the
politicization of the police forces, evident in their actions yesterday.
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