Growing concern over the disappearance of political rights activist in Haiti

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Vancouver, Canada– There is growing concern in Haiti and internationally about the disappearance on August 12 of one of Haiti’s best-known and respected advocates of human and social rights, Lovinsky Pierre Antoine.

Several days after the disappearance, the Haitian National Police confirmed that Pierre Antoine was kidnapped. There has been no communication with alleged kidnappers for weeks now. As the silence continues, his supporters are increasingly concerned that the disappearance is a political act by the Haitian elite and its foreign backers to silence Pierre Antoine.

“If his disappearance is political,” says Canada Haiti Action Network spokesperson Roger Annis, “the implications for democracy and political rights in Haiti are very disturbing.”

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Canadian aid in Afghanistan and Haiti

A respected international think tank has delivered another in a string of devastating critiques of Canada’s claim to be helping improve the lot of the people of Afghanistan. The Senlis Council says that Canada’s claim to be delivering life-saving medical and other aid there is a lie.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) says it spent $39 million in Kandahr last year and another $100 million in the rest of Afghanistan. Senlis conducted an extensive investigation into these claims. “We were not able to see any substantial impact of CIDA’s work in Kandahar and, as a matter of fact, we saw many instances of the extreme suffering of the Afghan people,” reported Nadine MacDonald, president and lead field researcher of the council at a news conference on August 29.

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Canada says not concerned about human rights in Haiti

Human rights for Haitians? “Not our concern,” says Canadian embassy

by Roger Annis

On August 15, the two Canadian members of the Fondasyon Mapou/Haiti Priorities Project-organized human rights delegation to Haiti took our concerns about the disappearance and apparent kidnapping of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine to the Canadian embassy in Port au Prince. This writer was one of the two. Lovinsky had been accompanying and advising our delegation.

Lovinsky is a longtime and respected democratic rights figure in Haiti. He was forced into exile for two years by the illegal regime that took power in Haiti after the coup and foreign intervention of February 29, 2004. As of this writing, August 26, he is still being held for ransom by unknown kidnappers.

We went to the embassy in order to report to the ambassador or his representative our grave concerns about the danger to Lovinsky’s life and the threat to democracy in Haiti that his kidnapping represents. At each level of the embassy administration, we were asked if the person we were concerned about was a Haitian citizen. When we answered “yes”, we were met with a rolling of the eyes. Only when we insisted on being heard were we shuffled on to the next administrative level.

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Health care project in Haiti

by Roger Annis
(Note: This report contains corrected figures as of August 22.)

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI, August 19–Three months ago, a group of nurses and other health care professionals joined together to form the Syndicat haitien des professionels(elles) de santé (SHPS–Haitian Union of Health Professionals). Their mission is to provide health care to towns throught central ande southern Haiti through the use of mobile health clinics.

This extraordinary project is supported by the transport workers of the APCH union. The health workers travel by bus to outlying areas to provide consultations, care and medications. They charge 50 gourdes (US$1.50) for a consultation and for medication if needed. That compares to 100 gourdes for a consultation in the feeble public health system and many hundreds of additional gourdes if medication is required. They receive no government support at this time because, they are told, no such resources exist.

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Canada, and Haiti’s justice system

by Roger Annis

Yesterday, our delegation met with the commissioner (“Commissaire”) of the West Department of Haiti, the department that includes Port au Prince. He is a very busy man, but graciously gave us a half hour of his time.

The commissioners are the representatives in each of Haiti’s ten department of the office of the President. They are responsible for the functioning and delivery of services by the state, especially of its justice ministry. Mr. Gassant gave us an overview of the difficulties and challenges of the justice system as he experiences it.

“Our government is definitely concerned about human rights in Haiti,” he began. “Despite all of our work, it is difficult to get the institutions of the country to respect the law. We have come to the conclusion that many in the police do not understand the law, nor does much of the public. Human rights groups that come here to investigate are not touching the foundation of our problems if they do not look into the institutional problems.”
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The return to Haiti of Father Gerard Jean-Juste

Today, Haiti’s most beloved and respected political rights fighter and religious figure, Father Gerard Jean-Juste, returns to the country after a one and a half year convalescence in Miami. He left on January 29, 2006 after he was diagnosed with leukemia and the coup regime grudgingly allowed him to travel there for treatment.
Prior to his diagnosis, Jean Juste was one of the high-profile political prisoners jailed by the Canada/U.S./France-backed coup regime.

Attached is his announcement of his return to the country. Note the third paragraph in which he makes a sharp critique of the human rights situation prevailing in the country, including a call for the release of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine. His critique amounts to a stinging rebuke of the “democracy” that the UN and the foreign powers have brought to Haiti.

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