Reverend Robert N. Lynch
Associate General Secretary
United States Catholic Conference
1312 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005-4105
Dear Reverend Lynch:
I refer to your letter of December 2 describing how Haitian security forces shot student demonstrators in the city of Gonaives on November 28. I can assure you that our Ambassador immediately expressed our views about this shooting directly to senior members of the Haitian government in Port au Prince. We have also expressed our reaction publicly. On December 4 the State Department issued the following statement in response to a question from a journalist about this incident:
"We regret that the Government of Haiti's security forces resorted to violence to suppress a peaceful demonstration. The Government of Haiti has appointed a commission of inquiry into the events in Gonaives including the killing of demonstrators. We are hopeful that the commission will quickly determine what happened so that those responsible for the violence can be punished." Last week I had the opportunity to reiterate our views about this shooting, and about other harsh Haitian government reactions to subsequent demonstrations, directly to the Haitian Foreign Minister. He told me that the commission of inquiry had completed its investigation into the shooting and, based on that investigation, a soldier and a member of the militia had been arrested. We shall follow this matter with close attention.
Let me assure you that we remain committed to a policy of promoting respect for human rights in Haiti, as well as in all other countries in this hemisphere.
Assistant Secretary of State
for Inter-American Affairs
United States Department of State