U.N. aide says U.S. understated '93 killings in Haiti

February 16, 1994|By Cox News Service

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- The top United Nations human rights observer in Haiti during its crisis last fall says the State Department "seriously downplayed" the number of political killings there and the role of the country's military in the murders.

In a Feb. 3 letter, Ian Martin charged that the State Department's recently released 1993 report on human rights abuses in Haiti "understate[s] the death toll" in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The State Department's report said there were over 100 homicides between June and September, adding that it was "difficult to assess" how many of those were political killings. Actually, Mr. Martin said in his letter, the total for roughly that period "probably approached or exceeded 200."

"Perhaps more serious, however, is the way in which it [the State Department report] minimizes the extent to which killings can be assumed to have been politically motivated . . .," Mr. Martin said in his letter.

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