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Police threaten Haitian activists fighting for justice
Published on August 5, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- Members of GADES, an organization of women human rights defenders in Haiti, have received threats following the recent sentencing of a police officer for the rape of an underage boy. The organization has been supporting the victim and his family throughout the legal process.

On June 25, a court in Les Cayes, southwestern Haiti, sentenced a police officer found guilty of the rape of a 15-year-old boy in 2013 to ten years’ imprisonment. The feminist human rights organization GADES (Groupe d’appui au développement du Sud) supported the victim and his family in their search for justice, providing legal support throughout the process.

Since the judgement was handed down on 25 June, members of GADES have received numerous threats. On June 25, the police officer’s lawyer publicly threatened GADES and its coordinator, Samia Salomon, in court, stating that they would face repercussions if his client was sentenced. According to testimonies received by Amnesty International police needed to intervene to maintain order in the court.

Since the judgement was made, at least three members of GADES, including Salomon, have received anonymous threatening telephone calls on their private phones. Similar calls have also been made to GADES offices, stating: “Stop doing that work, otherwise you will lose human lives” (Arrêtez ce travail, sinon vous aurez des pertes en vies humaines). In response to the threatening phone calls, the organization decided to close their offices between June 25 and 30.

On July 2, while Salomon was on a beach near Port-Salut, three police officers accompanied a justice of the peace (juge de paix) to interview her after receiving an anonymous call accusing Samia of carrying drugs in her car. No further investigation was carried out.

GADES lodged complaints with the police and the Office of the Public Prosecutor on July 7 and 23 respectively. The police have only confirmed that one of the phone numbers that made threatening phone calls to GADES members was the same number that anonymously called the justice of the peace.

GADES is not aware of any investigation started by the public prosecutor into their complaints and the organization has not received any protection from the authorities.
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