Media Center



  November 25, 2002

The Special Mission has closely monitored the events of the past 10 days and would like to comment on certain aspects as follows:

· The Mission is pleased that the negotiations with the Government of Haiti led to a satisfactory outcome on November 15 with respect to the first four terms of reference for technical assistance to the Government, in the following areas: elections, electoral security, professionalization of the police, and disarmament. It has noted with satisfaction that, shortly afterwards, five of the entities due to designate representatives to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) transmitted the names of their representatives to the President of the Republic, albeit conditionally.

· The Mission notes that, generally speaking, events in Cap-Haïtien on November 16-18 proceeded in a democratic fashion on all sides, with a police presence that was appropriate for the occasion, setting an encouraging example for the democratic process in Haiti during the upcoming elections. It is important to continue respecting political differences of opinion after, as well as during, political events and demonstrations, and that there should not be reprisals or threats against those participating in them or who covered them for the media.

· The Mission was alarmed to hear of the violent incidents that took place in Petit-Goâve on November 20, and laments the fact that the police opened fire under those circumstances and that people were wounded. That incident underscores the importance of attending to the management and training needs of Haiti’s National Police, as well as other aspects of the professionalization process.

· The Mission is surprised that in Gonaïves, an accused, Amiot Métayer, who broke out of prison on August 2 and escaped along with 158 other prisoners, most of whom are still at large, was able, among other things, to force a group of journalists to run for cover on November 21, 2002, apparently without any response from the authorities.

· Finally, the Mission takes note of untoward events in Port-au-Prince on November 22, where strategically distributed barricades and lit tires disrupted normal life in the capital. Demonstrations in favor of a particular point of view are undoubtedly protected by democratic norms. However, any demonstration must abide by the law and respect the rights and safety of others. In contrast to the events in Cap-Haïtien, very few police officers were to be seen. The authorities appeared to make no effort to keep roads open or to detain those committing illegal acts.

OAS Conventions and the Inter-American Democratic Charter apply alike to all member states and to each individual within the member states. The Mission calls upon all Haitian men and women to remain calm, above all those who hold positions of responsibility, be they in the Government, the opposition, or in civil society, in order to ensure that at this critical juncture their political rivalries, which are proper to any democracy, do not induce fears of violence or intimidation on either side and that neither side provokes or lets itself be provoked.

The Mission remains convinced that the best option for all, at the present time, is to establish a credible and effective CEP as soon as possible, with a view to holding just and fair elections in 2003; thereby fostering the pursuit of democratic, economic, and social development for the sake of the Haitian people, with the unstinting support of the international community.

Reference: HAI112502E