Letter: Haiti sanctions must be enforced

Sir: Your article 'Desperate Haitians vote with their fleet', 23 May) is correct in highlighting the new wave of Haitians building boats to flee their country. Their reversion to such a course has less to do with President Clinton's modified immigration policy and more to do with months of terror and deprivation.

As innocent Haitians continue to be executed by gunmen linked to the military, petrol flows freely across the border from the Dominican Republic, despite last weekend's toughening of United Nations sanctions. Unless these are rigorously enforced, linked to a firm date for the return of the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and held in place until his return, the military will have no incentive to stand down.

The increase in extra-judicial execution, documented by the UN Civil Mission, continues to affect the poor people of Haiti, displacing families, undermining livelihoods and forcing men, women and children to flee the country.

Mr Clinton's decision to reverse his policy on Haitian asylum-seekers has been undermined by his subsequent statement that no more than 5 per cent of them can be genuine political refugees. Yet most of those targeted by the Haitian death squads are supporters of Mr Aristide. What can be more 'political' than to die because of whom you voted for?

The refugee issue, and the poverty and repression that give rise to it, will be resolved when the international community shows the determination to enforce sanctions and restore democracy to Haiti.

The British government can set an example by complying fully with the latest UN Security Council resolution. A first step could be the immediate freezing of the assets of Haitian military officers and their supporters, which are held in accounts in British dependent territories such as the Cayman Islands.

Yours sincerely,


Haiti Support Group


Christian Aid



London, NW11

23 May

(Photograph omitted)