Sat, Nov 13, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Amnesty reports `problems' with Haitian police


A delegation from the human rights group Amnesty Interna-tional expressed concern on Thursday about "serious problems" in Haiti's police force and justice system as the team ended a visit after more than a month of sporadic violence.

The delegation cited reports of summary executions by police, beatings by police and illegal arrests. Scores of people have been killed in recent violence pitting police against armed supporters of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"There are serious problems in the functioning of ... justice in particular and the functioning of the police in general," the delegation said in a statement, concluding an 18-day visit.

The group urged the interim government to create an independent commission to investigate executions carried out by men in black uniforms and masks.

Residents in one Port-au-Prince slum reported 13 killed on Oct. 26 by men who appeared to be police. Residents elsewhere said four young men were slain on Oct. 28 by men in black uniforms who used a police vehicle.

Police denied involvement, and Justice Minister Bernard Gousse ordered an investigation to determine whether rogue officers were involved.

Gousse said on Thursday he was "very adamant" that just as with fighting crime, "with the same strength I will fight human rights abuses."

Amnesty criticized the government's choice of putting a public prosecutor in charge of the investigation. Gousse defended it as standard procedure in a murder investigation.

At least 86 people have been killed in Port-au-Prince since Sept. 30, including a bus driver and a 1-year-old girl shot and killed by unidentified gunman at an intersection on Wednesday night, said a local doctor.

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