Justice for all needed to get calm in HaitiThe critical...

the Forum

October 10, 1994

Justice for all needed to get calm in Haiti

The critical issue for Haiti is how to break the cycle of vengeance and brutality with impunity.

Democratic institutions have no roots there, democracy is not systemic and 80 percent of the impoverished population is illiterate. And yet, there is hope for both the U.S. and this tiny island nation 500 miles off our shores.

Reconciliation and respect for political minorities are essential. To achieve them, and to forestall violent revenge, there must be justice.

You can't tell a mother whose son has been dragged out of his bed and hacked to death, or a father whose daughter was raped and tortured by police, that the perpetrators were granted amnesty and are now free.

Whatever Jimmy Carter had in mind, amnesty should only involve forgiveness for specific political activities. Amnesty cannot protect those guilty of murder, rape, torture, impromptu executions and other violent abuses.

If it's applied that broadly there will never be respect for law nor acceptance of an independent judiciary.

A distinguished international tribunal can perform the investigative and judicial functions required and be the lightning rod for the new Haitian government.

The successive reigns of terror in Haiti can only be ended by adjudication and condemnation that is accepted by all the people. It is a delicate balance because either revenge against or impunity for those found guilty of terrible crimes can abort this democracy.

Roger C. Kostmayer


Young volunteers

The article, "Hayden aide's action called inappropriate" (Sept. 24), needs to be further addressed and looked upon from another point of view.

My 15-year-old son completed his 75 hours of community service, volunteering for the Helen Bentley campaign, which was very rewarding, and I wish more kids could have the experience.

I was a volunteer as well, from the beginning of the Bentley campaign and was the one who suggested to my son to think about this opportunity of volunteering throughout the summer.

In order to graduate from high school, each student is required to put in 75 hours of community service, and it's essential for them to be made aware of what opportunities are available to them.

My son was fortunate. His mother was involved with a candidate's campaign, but what about our other teens, who are in overcrowded schools and it's impossible for them to get the individual attention they require?

They need to be guided by someone who is trying to get them started in the right direction. Mr. Hayden's young campaign aide tried doing just that by asking, not demanding, the schools, if they would read an announcement, to learn whether any students would be interested in volunteering for the Hayden, or any other candidate's, campaign.

I know that Ray Suarez, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, and I have one thing in common. That is, the welfare of our children and young adults. I'm a Baltimore writer, who has written articles in many papers, focusing on educating our kids in all areas of life and would do anything for their well


Mr. Hayden's aide, I know, is a young individual who truly cares about the kids, and is a person I wish more of our kids could take after.

Suggesting something positive, as teens volunteering in a candidate's office on Saturdays, is far more beneficial than the drug scene, drinking and literally losing our kids to the many acts of violence.

And, as for Dutch Ruppersberger, don't we have other issues politicians should be focusing on, of greater importance? What about the safety of our precious kids and our devoted teachers in the schools?

Lisa Hurka-Covington


Benefits district

I support the Charles Village tax benefits district and thank the neighbors who introduced and have labored for it. I realize that their initiative is not a panacea, and that it may not work.

But show me any initiative for improvement that began with an ironclad guarantee of success. Efforts succeed or fail according to the will, energy and flexibility of those who implement them.

I will vote for the benefits district because I believe that my neighbors and I can summon the determination and creativity that will make it work for us and serve as a model for other communities.

I also thank the neighbors who have opposed the idea. I have had to examine the initiative more closely because of them, and I sympathize with their wish for something more perfect.

But I find that wish to be a weak reed compared to the concrete accomplishments of the benefits district advocates.

The advocates have worked thousands of hours: surveyed the community, used survey results to draft enabling legislation, lobbied tirelessly for passage of that legislation, developed a proposed operations plan and disseminated information about it block by block. The critics have just criticized.

Should their criticisms prevail, will they organize an alternative to the benefits district? If so, how long will it take them?

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