Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed abut the planned assassination of Mr. Pierre Espérance, Executive Director of the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH), member organization of FIDH in Haiti .
On March 16, 2022, a meeting took place in Kenscoff, south of Port-au-Prince, between an influential leader of the Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK) and 13 other unidentified individuals, during which future attacks against members of RNDDH and the assassination of Pierre Espérance were discussed. These planned attacks would be linked to the multiple denunciations of RNDDH, particularly concerning the massacres and armed attacks in the poor neighborhoods, and more recently, to the position of RNDDH on the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
At the end of this meeting, eight of the participants headed to the base of the Protected Areas Security Brigade (BSAP) near Kenscoff, and five others went to Port-au-Prince, where they met with Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbecue, leader of the armed gang grouping called G-9 an fanmi e Alye, Serge Alectis alias Ti Junior, member of an armed gang operating in La Saline and affiliated with G-9 an fanmi e Alye and Keke, accountant of G-9 an fanmi e Alye. During this meeting, the five men were given a large amount of cash, large caliber weapons, ammunition, and a lot of equipment, including bulletproof vests and protective helmets.
On March 18, 2022, after being informed of these facts by a person who attended the meeting, RNDDH sent a letter of complaint to the Central directorate of the judicial police (DCPJ) denouncing these threats and requesting an investigation.
The Observatory recalls that Pierre Espérance and RNDDH have already been the object of attacks and threats in the past. Indeed, former Haitian President Michel Joseph Martelly, who took part in April 2021 in Miami, United States of America (USA), in a meeting to orchestrate the assassination of Pierre Espérance, made it known during his visit to Haiti in early 2022, that he wanted this plan to be implemented as quickly as possible. In addition, in June 2021, Jimmy Chérizier, alias Barbecue, had publicly made death threats against Pierre Espérance. In addition, the gang leader is said to have developed a plan to assassinate the human rights defender and to have organized tailing with his men to this end. Jimmy Chérizier alias Barbecue, after having spent more than ten years in the Departmental Unit for the Maintenance of Order (UDMO), de facto controls this unit and enjoys the protection of certain agents of the Haitian National Police (PNH) assigned to the Intervention Corps for the Maintenance of Order (CIMO) who ensure his numerous movements.
Previously, in May 2020, the RNDDH office in Port-au-Prince was the object of an armed attack by unidentified individuals, which did not cause any victims. In April 2018, the organisation’s office had already been riddled with bullets by unidentified individuals who had, in addition, made death threats against Pierre Espérance. On April 23, 2019, a meeting to plan the assassination of Mr. Espérance was held at the Ministry of the Interior and Territorial Collectivities in the presence of the Minister himself and Jimmy Chérizier alias Barbecue, whose men had carried out intimidating reconnaissance around the RNDDH office. Numerous complaints regarding these attacks and acts of intimidation have been filed with the police authorities, but have never been followed up.
The Observatory notes with concern that these new threats against Pierre Espérance occur in a context of growing insecurity and the rise of armed groups in the country, while President Jovenel Moïse, whose mandate officially ended on February 7, 2021 and who had refused to leave power, was assassinated during the night of July 6-7, 2021, plunging the country into a serious institutional crisis.
The Observatory strongly condemns the planning of the assassination of Pierre Espérance and the planned attacks against the members of RNDDH, which seem to be only aimed at sanctioning them for their legitimate activities in defense of human rights.
The Observatory calls on the Haitian authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Pierre Espérance and all members of RNDDH. More broadly, the Observatory urges the Haitian authorities to recognize the vital role of human rights defenders in the country and to protect them from any act of intimidation or reprisal.
Please write to the authorities of Haiti to urge them to:
guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Pierre Espérance, all members of RNDDH, and all human rights defenders in Haiti;
carry on a prompt, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation in order to identify all those responsible for the above-mentioned planned assassination and death threats and sanction them in accordance with the law;
put an end to all acts of harassment —including at the judicial level— against Pierre Espérance, all members of RNDDH, and all Haitian human rights defenders, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.
Mr. Ariel Henry, Acting Prime Minister, Twitter: @DrArielHenry, @PrimatureHT
Mr. Berto Dorce, Minister of Justice and Public Security (MJSP), Twitter: @BertoDorceOFF
Mr. Frantz Elbé, Director General of the Haitian National Police (DGPNH), Twitter: @pnh_official
H.E. Justin Viard, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Haiti to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
H.E. Jesse Jean, Embassy of the Republic of Haiti in Brussels, Belgium, Email : email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
H.E. Bocchit Edmond, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Haiti to the Organization of American States, Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @missionhaitioas
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Haiti in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, April 13, 2022
Please inform the Observatory of all actions undertaken by indicating the code of this call.
The Observatory, a partnership between FIDH and OMCT, aims to protect human rights defenders who are victims of violations and to provide them with the most concrete assistance possible. FIDH and OMCT are members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union mechanism for human rights defenders implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the hotline:
Tel FIDH: +33 (0)1 43 55 25 18
Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39