HOW CANADIANS "PROTECT" IN HAITI: Canada Complicit in Suppressing Democracy in Haiti

By Barry-Shaw, Nik; Engler, Yves | CCPA Monitor, November 2006 | Go to article overview
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HOW CANADIANS "PROTECT" IN HAITI: Canada Complicit in Suppressing Democracy in Haiti


Barry-Shaw, Nik, Engler, Yves, CCPA Monitor


Does the Canadian-promoted "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine in Haiti include murder, rape, and threats of violence?

That's the question we should be asking Canadian officials after a study in the prestigious Lancet medical journal released at the end of August revealed there were 8,000 murders, 35,000 rapes and thousands of incidents of armed threats in the 22 months after the overthrow of the elected government in Haiti.

In September 2000, Canada launched the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. The commission's final report, The Responsibility to Protect, was presented to the United Nations in December 2001. Then, at the 2005 World Summit, Canada urged world leaders to endorse the new doctrine. It asserts that, where gross human rights abuses are occurring, it is the duty of the international community to intervene, over and above considerations of state sovereignty.

In January 2003, the Canadian government organized the "Ottawa Initiative" in which U.S., Canadian and French government officials who met at Meech Lake decided that Haiti's democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, should be removed from office. This intervention was justified, they claimed, by the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine.

In due course, Aristide was forced from office. And since then, Canada's intervention in Haiti has exacerbated, rather than improved, Haiti's human rights situation.

Confirming numerous prior human rights investigations, the Lancet study estimates that 8,000 people in Port-au-Prince were killed in the 22 months after the toppling of Aristide's government. The Lancet study gives an idea of the scale of the persecution of those close to Aristide's Lavalas movement.

Of the estimated 8,000 people murdered-12 people a day-in the greater Port-au-Prince area, nearly half (47.7%) were killed by governmental or anti-Aristide forces. Of the killings, 21.7% of them were attributed to members of the Haitian National Police (HNP), 13% to demobilized soldiers (many of whom participated in the coup), and 13% to anti-Aristide gangs. (None were attributed to Aristide supporters.)

Canada commands the 1,600-member UN police contingent mandated to train, assist, and oversee the Haitian National Police. Yet, while Canadian police have been supporting them, the Haitian police have been attacking peaceful demonstrators and carrying out massacres, often with the help of anti-Aristide gangs. The UN police have announced investigations in a few particularly egregious cases, but not one report from such inquiries has ever been released.

The Lancet study also uncovered some evidence that Canadian forces in Haiti were more than mere silent accomplices.

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