Media Center



  July 17, 2002

The OAS Special Mission for Strengthening Democracy in Haiti is greatly concerned about the acts of violence that have taken place in the past few days in Haiti.

In this connection, the Special Mission is pleased that Radio Caraïbes reporter, Mr. Israel Jacky Cantave and his cousin Frantz Ambroise were found safe and sound after having disappeared under suspicious circumstances on Monday, July 15 and notes with satisfaction the response, to date, of the authorities. A serious inquiry into the circumstances of this kidnapping is essential, so as to identify those responsible and ensure that they are brought to justice.

The Special Mission wishes to point out that the Commission of Enquiry into the events of December 17, 2001 in Haiti looked into the acts of intimidation, attacks, and threats against the press and owners of the media that occurred that day. The Commission cited numerous acts of violence and threats specifically targeting Radio Caraïbes and its reporters. Finally, it made important recommendations on the subject of the press.

The Special Mission likewise recalls that, during its last visit to Haiti, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) also looked into the exercise of freedom of expression, as a key factor for the rule of law in Haiti. The IACHR then underscored the provisions of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which stipulate that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are core components of the exercise of democracy. At that time the IACHR expressed considerable concern regarding the exercise of these freedoms in Haiti.

The Special Mission is, in addition, concerned at the circumstances under which Mrs. Sylvie Bajeux, Co-Director of the Centre Oecuménique des Droits de l’Homme [Ecumenical Center for Human Rights- CEDH] and wife of Mr. Jean-Claude Bajeux, was the target of an armed assault on her home on July 16, 2002. The work of nongovernmental human rights organizations and their members should not be hampered by arbitrary acts designed to intimidate them. At the same time, the Special Mission is pleased at the support provided by the National Police Force of Haiti in the minutes following this latter incident.

The Special Mission trusts, in the circumstances prevailing in Haiti today, that vigorous measures are adopted by the authorities to guarantee the protection of all citizens, including swift and serious police investigations to solve crimes committed and come up with credible findings. The Mission also expects to be working, constructively and without delay, with all parties concerned on the way to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and those of the IACHR, with a view to advancing toward full observance of the human rights of all Haitians, without distinction.

Port-au-Prince, July 17, 2002.

Reference: SMH/DIR06E