Haitian authorities must investigate allegations of police torture and killings – UN reports

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UN Police (UNPOL) officers from the United States and Côte d'Ivoire accompany a member of the Haitian National Police on her patrol through a camp for persons displaced by the earthquake

The UN's human rights presence in Haiti has urged Haitian authorities to properly investigate and prosecute police officers suspected of unlawful killings and torture, after two UN reports raised concerns that the illegal use of force by officers in the Haitian National Police (HNP) may have led to the deaths of nine people in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area between October 2010 and June this year.

The reports released by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)/the Human Rights Section of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (HRS-MINUSTAH) detail investigations into six incidents in which approximately 20 members of the HNP were implicated in the deaths of nine Haitians. The Human Rights Section regularly receives allegations of illegal killings involving the national police and investigates cases considered emblematic.

In all the incidents investigated, there is reason for concern that the deaths may have been the result of illegal use of force by the police. In some instances, there are indications of extra-judicial or summary and arbitrary executions. In one case, a 44 year-old man, Serge Démosthène, was reportedly beaten to death by police personnel, at times in the presence of senior police and judicial officials and while inside one of Haiti's most prominent police stations during daytime.

The report notes. "Many police officers operate in what are sometimes very dangerous conditions," "However, the security of Haitian citizens and effective law enforcement depend substantially on the Haitian National Police."

According to the report, "It is urgent that the Government take action to prevent killings, including extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, by representatives of the Haitian National Police and ensure rapid and effective investigations where deaths do occur. This with a view to punishing those police officers responsible or clearing their responsibility where the circumstances and legal justifications for lethal force exist. Such action is essential not only to ensure protection of the rights to life and physical integrity of Haitian citizens, but also to reinforce public confidence and trust in an essential institution, such as the Haitian National Police." The reports also describe actions taken by the State to respond to violations.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 2’11″

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