Haiti: Trade unionist killed during demonstration

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) deplores and roundly condemns the death of Louis Jean Filibert, a mathematics teacher and member of the teachers’ union « Union nationale des normaliens d’Haïti (UNNOH)” and national trade union centre “Confédération des travailleurs des secteurs publics et privé (CTSP)”. The trade unionist was killed by a projectile that came from a police officer during a demonstration organised by a coalition conducting an awareness-raising campaign calling for the education of Haitian children excluded from school.

The demonstration, organised on 8 October by the Executive Committee of the organisations involved in the campaign, was held to urge the government to take into account the problems surrounding the start of the 2010-2011 school year, following the January 2010 earthquake.

According to information received by the ITUC, the demonstration took place without incident until it arrived outside the Education Ministry, where the situation degenerated. A woman police officer decided to fire on the crowd. Louis Jean Filibert was hit in the head, and died from his injuries.

Administrative and legal steps have been taken following the trade unionist’s death, including a complaint to the Court of First Instance and a request for an autopsy, which has been granted. The UNNOH and the CTSP both say that the Haitian authorities are not willing to shed any further light on what actually happened, and that the police woman in question is on the run. According to the trade union organisations, she is being sheltered by the authorities.

In a letter to President René Préval, the ITUC asks that the Haitian authorities do everything in their power to find the person concerned and take them to court.

«No demonstration should lead to the loss of life» stated Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC. « The right to demonstrate is an inalienable right in a democratic society”, she added.