Haiti: Amnesty International verifies evidence of excessive use of force against protesters
Written by Kendrick Lebron on November 7, 2019
Authorities in Haiti must end the unlawful use of force against protesters and guarantee their right to life, Amnesty International said today, after verifying multiple instances of police using excessive force during six weeks of anti-government protests in which at least 35 people were killed, with national police implicated in many of the deaths.
“The images that we have verified shed light on human rights violations by the Haitian authorities. The security forces under the command of President Jovenel Moïse have used excessive force. Such incidents must be investigated promptly, thoroughly and effectively,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
“President Moïse must take urgent measures to ensure people protesting against his government can do so safely, without putting their lives at risk. The police must stop using firearms carrying live ammunition in the context of protests and take particular measures to guarantee the safety of journalists covering the political and human rights situation in Haiti.”
Amnesty International’s researchers and Digital Verification Corps have verified videos of several incidents of police using less lethal weapons indiscriminately and unlawfully, including launching tear gas out of a moving police vehicle amidst peaceful protesters, firing on protesters with less-lethal ammunition at extremely close-range, and beating a protester.
Amnesty International has also verified instances in which police, armed with semi-automatic rifles, fired live ammunition during protests, in violation of international human rights law and standards on the use of force.
Between 16 September and 17 October, the Haitian NGO, the National Human Rights Defence Network (Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, RNDDH), documented at least 35 deaths in the context of protests, including at least nine at the hands of the police. In the same period, they reported that more than 200 people were injured, including at least eight journalists.