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Haiti: Respect for law vital during elections

Haiti: Respect for the rule of law is vital during the electoral process

All parties involved in the Haitian electoral process must respect and promote the rule of law if the elections are to lead to an end to violence and instability in the country, said Susan Lee, Amnesty International Americas Programme Director today on the eve of the Presidential elections in Haiti.

“The upcoming presidential elections can result in a new era for Haiti or sink the country into further poverty and violence. It is in the hands of all involved in the electoral progress to secure a future where respect for human rights is a reality.”

After a number of postponements, the first round of elections is scheduled to take place on 7 February 2006 with possible run off on 19 March. The elections will be the first since president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted from power nearly two years ago.

Amnesty International is extremely concerned that already high levels of violence could increase during this electoral period.

Recent incidents of violence include the killing of two Jordanian UN peacekeepers, members of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in Port-au-Prince on 18 January, killings of civilians by armed groups and police and a rise in the number of kidnappings across the country.

“Security and respect for the human rights of all Haitians should be the priority of the new government. This will not be possible unless the Haitian authorities and MINUSTAH ensure that candidates and the electorate can participate in the elections without fear for their safety,” said Susan Lee.

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