The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) urge the Haitian Government to take seriously the threats made against prominent human rights advocate Pierre Espérance, Executive Director of the National Network of Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH). According to Mario Joseph, managing lawyer of the BAI, “the Government has the obligation to ensure that Espérance is free to conduct his activities as a human rights defender without fear of reprisals, pursuant to the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.”
On Dec. 28, 2016, Espérance received an envelope at the RNDDH office from the group “Baz dlo nan je” (the Water in the Eye Base) containing a letter with a bullet . The letter threatens Espérance and his family because of the work of RNDDH in connection with the verification of the preliminary results of the Nov. 20 elections: “We are watching your home, your job, your family, and your moves… If you think you can prevent the real [election] results, your days are numbered. Soon we will find appropriate responses based on your actions.”
The Central Directorate of the Judicial Police (DCPJ) was made aware of this correspondence and the bullet, and a complaint has been filed with Danton Leger, Prosecutor for the Court of First Instance of Port-au-Prince.
Espérance received a similar letter and a bullet on Apr. 2, 2014 , which led to Resolution 17/2014 from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ordering the Haitian government to take “the necessary measures to guarantee the life and personal integrity of Mr. Pierre Espérance” and the other members of the RNDDH. According to this order, the Government should also “report on the measures taken to investigate the events that led to the adoption of these measures and avoid their repetition,” which has never been done according to Espérance. In 1999, armed men almost killed Espérance with gunfire.
Mario Joseph added: “I am very concerned about the vulnerability of human rights defenders in Haiti, who fight for freedom and the rights of the Haitian people, but who are not protected by the Haitian government’s institutions or leaders. The DCPJ and Prosecutor Leger must immediately conduct an independent investigation into the threats made against Espérance and bring those responsible to justice.”