Since last August the National Lawyers Guild has maintained a Haiti Human Rights Support Project in that country. Some 40 lawyers and legal workers have gone there to monitor and report on human rights abuses, assist and support victims of such abuses, facilitate in-country refugee processing, and observe and report on the administration of justice in Haiti.
In a statement to the press distributed on October 19, project coordinator Allan Ebert gave a chilling account of the current situation in Haiti: beatings of suspects by the infamous attachés, followed by imprisonment without medical attention; meetings in high government offices where the military have refused to provide electricity and telephone service; sacking of government offices by the out-of-control soldiers. The view is of a country on the brink of absolute chaos.
The report concluded that Raoul Cédras and Michel François have absolutely no legitimacy to serve as "overseers" in the transition back to democracy. From a human rights standpoint, the only appropriate action, according to Ebert, is to immediately restore Haiti's democratically elected government.
Joe Nangle, OFM was outreach director of Sojourners when this article appeared.