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Haiti: Intimidation/Fear for Safety

, Index number: AMR 36/010/2002

On 16 July, human rights defender Sylvie Bajeux was attacked in her home in the Péguyville area of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Sylvie Bajeux and her husband Jean-Claude, and fears that this attack may be aimed at trying to prevent them and other human rights defenders and journalists from carrying out their work. This attack comes after the kidnapping on 15 July of Israel Jacky Cantave, an investigative reporter for the Port-au-Prince-based station Radio Caraibes.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 36/010/2002
UA 218/02 Intimidation/Fear for Safety 17 July 2002
HAITISylvie Bajeux (f)] human rights
Jean-Claude Bajeux (m)] defenders
Israel Jacky Cantaves (m), journalist
On 16 July, human rights defender Sylvie Bajeux was attacked in her home in
the Péguyville area of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Amnesty International is
concerned for the safety of Sylvie Bajeux and her husband Jean-Claude, and
fears that this attack may be aimed at trying to prevent them and other human
rights defenders and journalists from carrying out their work.
The attack occurred at around midday, when three armed men broke into the house
where Sylvie Bajeux lives with her husband Jean Claude. The assailants
reportedly beat and tied up the three employees of the Bajeux who were in the
house at the time. One of them then reportedly approached Sylvie Bajeux with
his gun in his hand, knocked her onto the ground and struck her on the back.
The attackers also stole some small items from the house and then left, leaving
the staff and Sylvie Bajeux tied up in the house.
Both Sylvie and Jean Claude Bajeux are long-term human rights defenders. This
is not the first time that they have been attacked and intimidated- they were
also victims of repression during the Duvalier period and under the military
coup. They currently run the well-respected organization Centre Oecuménique
des droits humains (CEDH), Ecumenical Centre for Human Rights.
This attack comes after the kidnapping on 15 July of Israel Jacky Cantave,
an investigative reporter for the Port-au-Prince-based station Radio Caraibes.
He at times used his radio program to highlight human rights issues that CEDH,
among other organizations were working on.
He and his cousin were apparently attacked as they were driving home from work.
The pair were found on Tuesday night, beaten and bound with duct tape, in an
abandoned lot in the Haitian capital. They had reportedly been seized by a
group of armed men who forced their vehicle to stop before abducting them.
According to local sources, Israel Jacky Cantave had received several death
threats in the days preceding the attack. These were reportedly believed to
be linked to his investigative work in the Cite Soleil and La Saline slum areas
of the capital, areas of heavy drug trafficking and gang activity.
The Secretary of State for Communications, Mario Dupuy, stated shortly after
Cantave's abduction that "the government will not tolerate this type of
aggression against journalists and will declare 'zero tolerance' against it"
("Le gouvernement ne va pas tolérer ce type d'agression contre les journalistes
et ce sera la tolérance zéro à ce propos"). However, concerns remain about
the safety of all human rights defenders and journalists in the wake of these
attacks.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
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Human rights defenders and journalists are increasingly at risk in Haiti. Since
the killing of prominent radio journalist and long-time democracy and human
rights activist Jean Dominique in April 2000, freedom of expression has been
severely undermined and a number of journalists and human rights defenders
have been attacked or killed. On 22 February 2002, Patrick Merisier, a radio
broadcaster and human rights worker from the organisation Coalition Nationale
des Droits des Haïtiens, National Coalition for Haitian Rights, (NCHR) was
shot in the chest and arm by two men as he waited to be served in a restaurant
in Port-au-Prince. Prior to this, in January 2002 he had received anonymous
threats that he would be killed if he did not stop his human rights monitoring
and broadcasts. (see UA 76/02, AMR 36/003/2002 13 March 2002).
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible,
in French or your own language:
-expressing concern for the safety of Sylvie and Jean Claude Bajeux, their
employees and their colleagues at the Centre Oecumenique de Droits Humains
(CEDH) and reminding the authorities that they have a particular duty to protect
human rights defenders;
- expressing concern for the safety of Jacky Cantave and reminding the
authorities of its duties to protect press freedom and the safety of journalists;
- welcoming the statement made by Mario Dupuy, Secretary of State for
Communications condemning attacks against journalists but urging him to make
a similar condemnation of attacks on human rights defenders;
-urging that these attacks be immediately and fully investigated and those
responsible be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO:
S.E. Monsieur Jean Bertrand Aristide
Président de la République d’Haïti
Présidence de la République d’Haïti
Palais National
Champ de Mars
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telegram: Président de la République d’Haïti, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Fax: + 509 223 0241
e-mail: embassy@haiti.org (Haitian embassy in Washington, DC)
Salutation: Your Excellency/Monsieur le Président de la République
Mario Dupuy
Secrétaire d’Etat pour la Communication
Ministre de la Culture et la
Communication
Ruelle Roy No 31
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telegram: Secrétaire d’Etat pour la Communication, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Fax: + 509 245 1624
Salutation: Dear Secretary of State/Monsieur le Secrétaire d’Etat
Monsieur Jean Baptiste Brown
Ministre de la Justice
et de la Sécurité Publique
Ministère de la Justice
19 Avenue Charles Sumner
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telegram: Ministre de la Justice et de la Sécurité Publique, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Fax: + 509 245 0474
3
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Centre Oecuménique des Droits de l'Homme CEDH
4 rue des Marguerites
Turgeau, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Fax: + 509 245 6880
Telex: 20051 CEDH
e-mail cedh@acn2.net
Radio Caraibes
23 ruelle Chavannes
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
and to diplomatic representatives of Haiti accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 28 August
2002.

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