Haitian police accused of carrying out extra-judicial killings
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday December 28, 2011 – The United Nations has urged Haitian authorities to properly investigate and prosecute police officers suspected of unlawful killings and torture.
The call was made after two UN reports raised concerns about the “illegal use of force” by the Haitian National Police (HNP) that they said may have led to the deaths of nine people in the capital between October 2010 and June this year.
The reports released by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Human Rights Section of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (HRS-MINUSTAH) detail investigations into six incidents in which an estimated 20 members of the HNP were implicated in the deaths of nine Haitians.
The Human Rights Section said it has received numerous allegations of illegal killings involving the national police.
In all the incidents investigated, the UN agency said, there is reason for concern that the deaths may have been the result of illegal use of force by the police.
It noted there were also indications of extra-judicial or summary and arbitrary executions.
“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,” the report notes.
“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, 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.”
While the UN Human Rights office found that accused police personnel were detained and suspended following investigations, it cited a lack of criminal convictions in all of the matters.
“In several cases, the suspended police personnel resumed their functions even before the end of investigations into their conduct.
“Autopsies and ballistic analyses are not systematically conducted in investigations,” the report noted further, “Witnesses are often afraid of the consequences of giving testimony and convinced that justice will not be rendered.”