Quake Survivors Say Police Using Coercion to Force Them to Move
Monday, 22 February 2010 14:17
Frank Bajak reports for the AP on police brutality in one of the make-shift camps in Haiti. The camp is on the grounds of the Prime Minister’s office and is home to around 2,500 Haitians, according to the AP. Bajak reports:
Witnesses said police beat 22-year-old Dalida Jeanty in the morning after she picked up a broom to sweep around her tent. "They called her and she did not come so they beat her," said her cousin, Alix Jeanty.
As one resident told the AP:
Friends and relatives carried the woman down the hill and U.N. peacekeepers arranged for her to be taken to the hospital.
"We've been here for a month and we were being treated well, but for the past two weeks we have been mistreated," said Markinson Midey, a 22-year-old student. "Anytime they bring food or water, the police make the trucks leave."
There have been other accusations against the Haitian police in the aftermath of the earthquake. Reporting for The Guardian, Rory Carroll reports on the death of a 15 year old girl who was shot to death:
Witnesses said it was unclear if she was deliberately targeted or accidentally hit while police fired in the air to disperse a crowd which was carrying goods from Rue Grand Rice.
There is at least some evidence that the police are deliberately targeting those who it views as thieves. Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker reports on his discussion with Max Beauvoir, a prominent voodoo priest:
I told Beauvoir about the bodies I had seen dumped at the cemetery, and he nodded. On January 16th, he said, he had been summoned by Haiti’s President, René Préval, to an emergency cabinet meeting, along with the Prime Minister, the police chief, and the surviving heads of the Catholic and Protestant churches. At the meeting, the leaders had discussed the unravelling security situation in Port-au-Prince. “We decided we had to deal with them in an emergency way,” he said. “Beginning on the seventeenth and for the next two weeks,” criminals were to be treated “as in an emergency.” I asked him if this meant capital punishment, and he said it did: “Capital punishment, automatically, for all bandits.” Some of the looters were taking what they desperately needed, and from places where it wouldn’t be missed.
According to the UN Department of Public Information, at a press conference with the head of the UN force in Haiti, Major General Floriano Peixoto Vieira Neto:
A correspondent inquired about summary executions allegedly carried out by the Haitian national police, saying that Edmond Mulet, acting head of MINUSTAH and Assistant Secretary-General, had announced that investigations into the allegations were going on.
Neto’s response was:
I’m aware about some incidents with the HNP [Haitian National Police], but those are moments that very crucial and critical moments that the HNP needed to use that kind of force…but I do not respond, I do not speak on the Haitian National Police.
He added that if investigations were being carried out, they were sure to be done with care.