Haiti: NPWJ welcomes the inauguration of Independent Commission of Inquiry into Les Cayes prison killings

Brussels-Rome-New York, 26 July 2010

Today marks the inauguration of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the incidents that occurred on 19 January 2010 in Les Cayes prison, during several detainees were killed and many others wounded. Amid contradictory claims on the circumstances and causes of the incidents, the Government of Haiti, with the support of the United Nations, decided to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry, which will consist of 6 Commissioners, 3 Haitian and 3 foreign with one co-Chair each, with Haitian and foreign support staff.
The Justice Rapid Response, for which No Peace Without Justice acts as the Secretariat, has been requested by the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to provide 6 experts to be engaged both as Commissioners and as support staff (technical consultants). This is the second deployment from the Justice Rapid Response (JRR) roster in support of an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations, the first being to the Commission of Inquiry into the events of 28 September 2009 in Guinea.
The mandate of the Commission is to shed light on the events of 19 January, with a view to determining what human rights and legal violations may have been committed and making recommendations for how to prevent repetition of the violations, including through legal, administrative and disciplinary measures. In that context, the Commission is charged with identifying the people killed and wounded, as well as the nature and gravity of the violations, and who may be responsible for them.
Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:
“We welcome the commitment of the Government of Haiti and of the United Nations to support the establishment of an independent Commission to investigate the circumstances and causes of the incidents occurred on 19 January 2010 in Les Cayes prison. Their commitment demonstrates the importance each attaches to the promotion and protection of human rights. More broadly, it underscores that human rights must be given full attention during times of reconstruction to help rebuild a country that is stronger than it was before natural disaster struck.
“We fully expect the Haitian Government and the United Nations to cooperate with the Commission, by providing all necessary information requested to carry out and complete a thorough, credible and transparent investigation as well as to ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to guarantee the protection and safety of all the persons who will be called to testify and provide information to the Commission. We also call upon the international community to provide whatever support is necessary for the Commission to complete its work independently and expeditiously, including financial support as needed.”
Backgound on the Justice Rapid Response mechanism
While still newly operational, JRR participants currently include 47 States and some 20 organisations from all over the world. The JRR Roster, which is ever-growing, currently consists of 66 active duty professionals from every region of the world, with broad linguistic representation and gender balance. JRR deploys experts to assist with the identification, collection and presentation of information on the request of a State or institution with jurisdiction in a particular situation and is designed to enhance rapid deployability to support investigations, commissions of inquiry, fact-finding and other similar initiatives.
No Peace Without Justice is currently acting as the Interim JRR Secretariat until modalities for coordination are further developed among the JRR participants or an international organisation may be in a position to take over the coordination and implementation of the JRR mechanism.
For further information, contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-2-548 39 12 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-39 15. Check also our website at: http://www.npwj.org/ICC/Justice-Rapid-Response.html