From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
NCC HEAD PROTESTS TREATMENT OF HAITIANS AT GUANTANAMO
05 May 1996 07:32:34
95004 NCC HEAD PROTESTS TREATMENT OF HAITIANS AT GUANTANAMO
by Jerry L. Van Marter
NEW YORK CITY--The general secretary of the National Council of
Churches has lodged a protest with the U.S. government over the
hasty repatriation of Haitian refugees from the Guantanamo Naval
Base in Cuba to Haiti.
In letters to Attorney General Janet Reno and U.S. State
Department officer Phyllis Oakley dated Jan. 6, the Rev. Joan Brown
Campbell said the U.S. government "is seeking to return Haitians
to Haiti without adequate safeguards for their safety."
Campbell acknowledged that the situation in Haiti has improved
with the return of President Aristide. But, she said, "the
situation is still unsettled and reports of human rights abuses,
particularly in the countryside, are widespread."
Campbell also called into question the "rapid implementation"
of a screening process for the repatriation, minimal training of
Immigration and Naturalization Service personnel for the screening
and the "uncertain involvement" of United Nations High Commission
on Refugees (UNHCR) in the screening.
"Most of all," she continued, "the central role of the
military and the secrecy with which the entire operation has been
planned and is being carried out is deeply troubling."
Campbell asked that the repatriation procedures be reviewed,
that UNHCR officials be included in the screening process and that
non-governmental observers be allowed to be present. "The
credibility of the United States in upholding international
standards for refugee protection and, most importantly, the lives
of Haitians are at stake," she concluded.
# # #
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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