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Haiti - Appeal to the government and leaders of the ruling Lavalas political party to put an end to violence and injustice

19 December 2001

Open letter addressed to the Haitian Protestant Federation, 19 December 2001.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The World Council of Churches is following with increasing concern the recent deterioration of the political and social situation in Haiti. The fresh upsurge of violence, lynchings such as that of the journalist Brignol Lindor on 3 December at Petit-Goâve, assassinations and summary executions have created a climate of insecurity that is unbearable for the population, and could make it impossible to achieve the political agreement that the government and the opposition are seeking.

Everything points to the fact that the violence is not gratuitous and cannot be explained only by the extreme poverty to which the majority of the Haitian people are condemned. Groups of people are aiming to provoke terror and to physically eliminate certain targeted individuals. It would seem that the authorities are not doing everything necessary to stop these actions. Reliable witnesses say that they may even be implicated in them or at least tolerate them.

Information supplied by reliable witnesses and recently published in the international press about the summary executions perpetrated by police officers leads us to fear the worst for the integrity and authority of the state. The principle of "zero tolerance" adopted by the government is understandable and responds to the exasperation of a population that cannot stand the situation any longer. However, there is no justification for executing individuals suspected of criminal acts or even caught red-handed, without any form of trial.

In the light of this worrying situation, the World Council of Churches adds its voice to the appeals that human rights be properly respected made by the Ecumenical Centre for Human Rights, the Committee of Lawyers for the Respect of Individual Freedom, and other organizations in Haiti. We demand that the government act to improve procedures in the courts and to ensure that the national police behave with due respect for the law.

The World Council of Churches appeals to the political parties, especially the Lavalas Family and the Democratic Convergence, to do everything possible to bring the political agreement currently being negotiated to a successful conclusion. In this context, we ask the government and the leaders of the political party in power to prevent violent reactions to the recently attempted coup d'état, such as the setting on fire of Democratic Convergence offices, as such reactions reduce the chances of successful talks. We would like to believe that the conclusion and implementation of a political agreement between the main parties could bring hope to the Haitian people and open a way forward for them. But, without the will to put an end to the spiral of violence and the injustices in the country, the country will descend into total chaos.

The World Council of Churches encourages the Protestant Federation of Haiti and all Christian churches and congregations to persevere in the search for a better life for the Haitian people, through prayer, the proclamation of the will of God and practical action, in association with all those involved in trying to break the vicious circle of injustice and violence in the country. We assure you of our solidarity and support.

During Advent, when Christians throughout the world prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace, we remember that the love manifested in Jesus Christ is stronger than evil and makes us able to be the ambassadors of reconciliation. Let Christmas be, for you, a time of peace and spiritual renewal, that will allow you to continue to fight the good fight (2 Tim.4 :7). God bless you and the people of Haiti.

                                                                                                                                            Konrad Raiser
                                                                                                                                            General Secretary