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Expression of concern on infringements of freedom of expression

06 August 2004

Letter to Mr Gérard Latortue, Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti, 6 August,
2004


Dear Prime Minister,

The news of the attack by armed men on the home of Mr Jean-Claude Bajeux
and his wife Sylvie Bajeux during the night of 1 August gives us cause for grave
concern.

Mr Jean-Claude Bajeux is known and respected internationally for his defence
of human rights, not least by the World Council of Churches with which he has
been associated for many years. He has been officially accredited by the World
Council of Churches on numerous occasions to attend the annual session of the
United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

The attack on the home of the Bajeux family is yet another infringement of
democratic freedom of expression, and comes just as a debate on the reform of
penal justice is starting in your country.

At a time when, under your leadership, the new government of the Republic
of Haiti means to reinstate the rule of law and take action against impunity, criminal
acts like this aimed at silencing the courageous voice of Jean-Claude Bajeux
and the Ecumenical Centre for Human Rights must be vigorously pursued and
penalized.

The World Council of Churches therefore appeals to you to use your authority
to ensure that no efforts are spared to find and bring to justice those responsible
for this crime. Resolute action by your government in this particular case
would send a clear signal to the supporters of democracy in Haiti and to the international
community that the era of human rights violations and impunity in the
country is over. Like many others, we shall be closely following the course of this
affair, in solidarity with all those who work to defend human rights in Haiti, and
most particularly Jean-Claude and Sylvie Bajeux.

It is our hope that the process of reinstating the rule of law which you have
embarked upon will at long last enable the people of Haiti to emerge from a state
of crisis and devote their energies to the peaceful rebuilding of their country.

Yours respectfully,

Geneviève Jacques
Director of Programmes