Human Rights Defender Daniel Dorsainvil and wife killed in Haiti – suspicious to say the least

February 19, 2014

In a recent post I referred to the worsening climate for Human Rights Defenders in Haiti ( and now we learn of the killing of one of the leading HRDs, Daniel Dorsainvil (or Dorsinvil) and his wife in the streets of Porte-au-Prince:

haiti_murder (Photo Credit: Facebook/Girldy Lareche Dorsinvil and Facebook/Daniel Dorsinvil)



Nicole Phillips in RYOT News of 18 February reports that on Saturday 8 February 2014, Daniel Dorsainvil and his wife Girldy Lareche were shot and killed by an unidentified man who fled the scene on a motorcycle.  The double homicide left three children without their parents, and sent shock waves throughout Haiti. Haitian police have not confirmed the identity of the killer or a motive for the murders. But many Haitians, including human rights defenders, believe that the couple’s murder was a political assassination related to Dorsainvil’s work. Dorsainvil was the General Coordinator of the Platform for Haitian Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights (known by the French acronym “POHDH”), an association of eight non-profit Haitian rights institutions that have been publicly critical of Haiti’s “judicial-political scandals,” “human rights abuses” and “deteriorating social and economic conditions”.

Only a few weeks before the murder, POHDH had issued press releases and a report criticizing the government’s refusal to hold timely local and parliamentary elections and the systematic impunity enjoyed by current and former government officials, including former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Fears that Dorsanvil was a victim of political assassination are reasonable, writes Nicole Phillips, given recent threats against human rights defenders and those critical of the Martelly government. Several lawyers and judges who challenged government corruption and impunity through the court system have received death threats, police surveillance and false criminal charges.Haitian lawyer Mario Joseph, a finalist for the 2013 Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders, received repeated death threats in 2012 for his work on several high profile cases calling for government accountability, including representing victims of Duvalier in criminal court. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the human rights arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), requested that Haiti adopt any necessary measures to guarantee Joseph’s life and personal integrity after a former prosecutor reported that the Minister of Justice ordered Joseph’s unlawful arrest and the closure of his office, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (International Lawyers Office). Several other Haitian lawyers have been under attack by the Martelly administration, as documented by Amnesty International. Among them is attorney Patrice Florvilus, who also received precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission in December 2013. Attorney André Michel was illegally arrested in October 2013, after receiving security and arrest threats related to a corruption case he filed against President Martelly’s wife and son.  Michel and his co-counsel in the corruption case, Newton St. Juste, had been protected by the same precautionary measures issued. In July 2013, the judge who presided over the corruption case filed by Attorneys Michel and St. Juste, Judge Jean Serge Joseph, died under suspicious circumstances two days after he reported being threatened by top officials, including President Martelly.

[Nicole Phillips is based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and is a staff attorney with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and law professor at the Univeriste de la Fondation Dr. Aristide.  For more information on IJDH’s work defending Haiti’s human rights defenders, click here.]

Leading Human Rights Activist Daniel Dorsainvil and Wife Killed in Haiti » RYOT News.

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