[News] Haiti: Demand the Release of Yvon Neptune

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Tue May 3 12:09:22 EDT 2005

Date: Tue, 3 May 2005 09:06:57 -0700 (PDT)
From: Haiti Action Committee <haitiaction at yahoo.com>
Subject: HAITI ACTION ALERT: Demand the Release of Yvon Neptune

May 3, 2005

Political prisoner Yvon Neptune, Haiti's last
constitutional Prime Minister,
lies on the verge of death from a hunger strike,
initiated because the de facto Haitian coup government
has jailed him for 10 months without formal charges,
in violation of Haiti's constitution. The National
Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), a widely
discredited, USAID funded anti-Aristide group, has
accused Neptune of participation in a massacre in the
city of St. Marc in February 2004, but the illegal
coup government has never offered any proof the
massacre actually took place, and U.N. independent
expert on human rights Louis Joinet recently dismissed
accounts of the massacre.

Neptune has vowed to continue his hunger strike until
he is either charged or released. The illegal
"interim" regime of Gerard Latortue could easily meet
this demand, but refuses. They should therefore
concede they have no real case against Neptune and
release him from prison.

Though recent news reports indicate the Latortue
government may fly Neptune
out of the country, Neptune has long insisted he has
no desire to leave
Haiti. He wants to either face an honest legal process
or be released.

On May 1, Marguerite Laurent of the Haitian Lawyers'
Leadership Network, who
visited Neptune in March 2005, and spoke with his
family over the weekend,
wrote, "Mr. Neptune's family stresses that Yvon
Neptune would never go into
exile; that he has repeatedly maintained this
position: That he is an
innocent man, wrongfully accused of a massacre that
the UN, the international press and reputable human
rights organizations say did not happen [...] he will
not leave prison unless a judge has signed his
liberation order and acknowledged his innocence of all

Please contact Kofi Annan and UN Human Rights
Representative in Haiti
Mahamane Cisse-Guoro and tell them that they must
direct the coup government
to finally release Neptune.

Hon. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General
United Nations
United Nations Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
inquiries at un.org
Fax No. (212) 963-4879

Mahamane Cisse-Guoro , UN Human Rights Office in Haiti
UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
<mcissegouro at undp.org>
  cisse-gouro at un.org
PHONE: 011.509.244.9650.9660
FAX: 011.509.244.9366/67

background, from May 2 Institute for Justice and
Democracy in Haiti
(ijdh.org) action alert

Yvon Neptune Ill, But Refuses to Leave Haiti Without
Human Rights Group Denounces Unconstitutional Plan to
Send an Unconscious
Neptune Into Exile

Political prisoner Yvon Neptune, seriously ill and on
day 16 of a hunger
strike, remains incarcerated in Haiti despite
persistent reports in the
Haitian and international press that he has been flown
out of the country.
Mr. Neptune, Haiti's last constitutional Prime
Minister, has insisted for
months that he will not leave the prison until the
Interim Haitian
Government either tries him for the allegations
against him or drops the
charges.  The interim government is seeking to defuse
criticism of its
political prisoner policies by forcing Mr. Neptune to
leave the country
without going to court.  The Group for the Defense of
the Rights of
Political Prisoners (GDP), a Haitian human rights
organization, reports that
the government plans to wait until Mr. Neptune loses
consciousness, then
transport him out of the country.

On Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1, several media
outlets, including
the Associated Press, ABC News and Radio Kiskeya in
Haiti reported that Mr.
Neptune was about to leave or had already left.  Those
reports, based on
sources within the Haitian government and a foreign
embassy, were not true.
As of 2 PM Monday, May 2 (Haiti time), Mr. Neptune
remains in prison.

Yvon Neptune has been in prison since June 2004, when
he turned himself into
police after hearing a radio announcement of a warrant
for his arrest.  He
has never been brought before the judge in his case,
despite a
constitutional requirement of a hearing within 48
hours. Mr. Neptune has
received several death threats, and at least three
assassination plots have
been reported against him.

Human rights groups, including the GDP and Amnesty
International, world
leaders like UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and
religious leaders like
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste
have called for Mr.
Neptune's release or trial.  On April 19, a team of
lawyers from the Bureau
des Avocats Internationaux, the  Institute for Justice
& Democracy in Haiti
and the Hastings Human Rights Project for Haiti filed
a complaint before the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Neptune's
behalf (see

For months, Mr. Neptune has insisted that he will not
leave until the
government brings his case to trial or admits that the
charges were without
foundation.  In February, he even voluntarily returned
to the prison after
he was removed at gunpoint during a prison break.
Over the weekend, his
family members reiterated that he refuses to leave
Haiti without seeing
justice done.

Haiti's interim government attempted to deflect the
growing international
pressure for Neptune's release by offering to fly him
to the Dominican
Republic over the weekend for treatment.  Neptune,
refused, once again
insisting on justice, not an easy escape for either
himself or the interim

According to Ronald Saint-Jean, the Secretary-General
of the Group for the
Defense of the Rights of Political Prisoners (GDP),
government sources
indicate that the authorities plan to wait until Mr.
Neptune loses
consciousness, then transport him out of the country.
Mr. Saint-Jean, and
GPD's lawyer, Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats
"energetically protest against this cynical and
criminal measure."  They
note the irony that the government can quickly arrange
transport to a
hospital in the Dominican Republic, but could not
transport Mr. Neptune
before a judge in over 10 months.

Saint-Jean and Joseph note that Neptune's forced exile
would be yet another
violation of his constitutional rights, as Article 41
states clearly that
"no Haitian National can be deported or forced to
leave the national
territory for any reason whatsoever."

For more information:

Groupe de Defense des Droits Des Prisonniers
Politiques, Ronald Saint-Jean,
Secretary-General: 509-244-1254, 509-588-7550 (Haiti)

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Mario Joseph,
Managing Lawyer:
509-554-4284, 509-221-8686 (Haiti)

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Brian
Concannon Jr., Director:
541-432-0597 (USA), BrianHaiti at aol.com, www.ijdh.org
(background information
on Yvon Neptune's case, including the complaint filed
before the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, Marguerite Laurent
(spoke with Neptune
family members over the weekend),


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