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|Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2006|
|Haitian bishops condemns increase in violence, kidnappings|
|By The Universe|
The Catholic bishops' conference of Haiti condemned the increasing violence and kidnappings in the country.
In an Advent pastoral letter, the bishops told those behind the increasingly organized kidnappings to "grasp at the faint glimmer of lucidity that remains in your conscience and turn away from this path of death."
They asked Haitian President Rene Preval's government what it has done to decrease the violence.
Many had hoped that the replacement of the transitional government by the legitimacy of an elected government would bring a respite in the crime that has plagued the capital, Port-au-Prince, since the ouster of elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.
A local human rights organization recorded 150 cases of kidnappings between January and November 2006 and said there had been as many as 728 homicides.
The bishops said the kidnapping phenomenon is trivializing human life. "Men, women and even children are being treated as merchandise. ... Kidnappings are engendering anguish and fear. ... There is mistrust everywhere," they said. "The hope of an entire people is being put to a harsh test." The bishops blamed the U.S. and Canadian governments for worsening the country's problems by deporting Haitian-born residents convicted of crimes in North America.
Meanwhile, the bishops' Justice and Peace Commission addressed Haiti's electoral problems in a report on the Dec. 3 municipal and local elections. The commission fielded 1,100 Haitian observers across the country for the elections.
In the report, the commission said violent incidents by political parties and their supporters did not bode well for the future of the electoral process in the country.
On election day, candidates and their supporters destroyed ballots and fought or intimidated voters during a few isolated incidents. At least two people died, and about six were injured in violent disputes in the town of Maissade.
Some election venues were too small, and some registered voters were unable to vote because their names did not appear on the list where they were told to vote.
The commission called on political authorities and political parties to show that they are in place to promote the common good.
It urged leaders to "continue to develop an understanding of the meaning and role of politics in the country's development and a change in living conditions for the population."
The commission said the low voter turnout signaled a "message to state authorities and to political parties."
Less than 10 percent of the registered electorate turned out to cast their vote in the urban areas of Port-au-Prince. Higher participation was noted in rural areas; 50 percent to 60 percent of voters turned out in areas of the North East department, bordering the Dominican Republic, and the rural Nippes department west of Port-au-Prince.
The commission said people might be disillusioned with the lack of improvement in their material conditions since Preval came to power.
"The economic crisis has worsened since the beginning of 2006, and there are other forms of insecurity that continue to traumatize the population," the commission said.
|Wehaitians.com, the scholarly journal of democracy and human rights|
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