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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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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