Women human rights defenders in Haiti threatened

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) – The London-based International human rights group, Amnesty International says members of 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.

Amnesty said the organization, GADES, has been supporting the victim and his family throughout the legal process.

On June 25, a court in Les Cayes, south-western Haiti, sentenced the police officer, who was found guilty of the rape of a 15-year-old boy in 2013, to 10 years imprisonment.

Since the judgement, Amnesty said members of GADES have received numerous threats and that on June 25, the un-named police officer’s lawyer publicly threatened in court, Samia Salomon, GADES coordinator, claiming members 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, Amnesty International said 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,” Amnesty International said.

In response to the threatening phone calls, Amnesty International said GACES decided to close it offices between June 25 and 30 and that on July 2, while Salomon was on a beach near Port-Salut, three police officers accompanied a justice of the peace to interview her after receiving an anonymous call accusing her of carrying drugs in her car.

Amnesty said no further investigation was carried out, adding that GADES lodged complaints with the police and the Office of the Public Prosecutor on and July 7 and 23.

Amnesty International said it was urging the public to express concern for the safety of Salomon and other members of GADES by calling on Haitian authorities to provide “effective protection to them in accordance with their wishes.”

The human rights group also called on the authorities to “immediately and independently investigate the accusation of threats and intimidation against members of GADES, to make the results public and to bring those found responsible to justice.”

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