Canada trains death squad police force in Haiti
Unarmed peaceful protesters shot and killed by Haitian police during a protest demanding the return of the elected government on April 27, 2005.
After the democratically elected government was overthrown, the paramilitaries entered Port-au-Prince and went on a killing spree; thousands of poor peasants and slum dwellers were massacred in "a pattern of repression" against "those close, or perceived to have been close, to ... Fanmi Lavalas", according to an Amnesty International delegation that visited the country from March 25 to April 8, 2004.
In the month after the coup d'�tat, the Port-au-Prince morgue reported 900 additional deaths above the usual level, many of them violent, while the Catholic Church's Peace and Justice Commission estimated that 500 people had been killed in the capital.
Since the initial post-coup period, the reorganized and RCMP-trained Haitian National Police (HNP) have continued the wave of killing started by Guy Philippe's men. A recent International Crisis Group report notes that the HNP "have taken over old FAd'H practices, including military-style operations in the capital's poor neighbourhoods with little regard for collateral damage to civilians." Under the watch of Canadian police, 500 ex-soldiers have been integrated into the HNP, with the top ranks of the HNP now staffed almost exclusively with former FAd'H officers; another 500-1000 former military in the process of being incorporated.
The brutal "anti-gang raids" or "weapons sweeps" of the HNP commonly produce more dead bodies than weapons. On October 15, 2004, the General Hospital had to call the Ministry of Health to send emergency vehicles to remove the more than 600 corpses that had accumulated there over the previous 2 weeks, when pro-Lavalas slums faced persistent HNP incursions.
In addition to their indiscriminate killing in the poor neighbourhoods, the HNP have often opened fire on demonstrations, killing dozens of unarmed, peaceful protestors.
Despite Canada's key role in training and vetting the police, government officials have refused to accept any responsibility for the violence. Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew went as far as to dismiss reports of police shooting unarmed demonstrators as "propaganda", adding that he was "very proud of the Canadian police contribution".
Numerous reports from mainstream sources like the Associated Press and Reuters have contradicted Pettigrew's high-handed dismissal. The following headlines (among many others) did not appear in Canadian newspapers:
Activist Yves Engler presenting Pierre Pettigrew with the Griffin Report, conducted by the University of Miami, which concluded that Canadian-trained police are killing civilians with the complicity of Canadian forces in Haiti. The report quotes one Canadian police commander as saying that all he has done since arriving in Haiti is "engage in daily guerrilla warfare." Pettigrew dismissed this report as "propaganda".
Associated Press, April 27 2005: "Police fired on protesters demanding the release of detainees loyal to Haiti's ousted president Wednesday, killing at least five demonstrators, U.N. officials and witnesses said."
Associated Press, March 24 2005: "Police opened fire Thursday during a street march in Haiti's capital to demand the return of ousted resident Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Witnesses said at least one person was killed."
Miami Herald, March 1 2005: "Haitian police opened fire on peaceful protesters Monday, killing two, wounding others and scattering an estimated 2,000 people marching through the capital to mark the first anniversary of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ouster."
The CBC's online news department did run one wire story, but saw fit to heavily modify it.