Haiti: The Aristide Government's Human Rights Record

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The government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide compiled a record on human rights which showed much promise but which was also marked by certain troubling practices. His administration began to pay close attention to much-needed structural reforms in some of the institutions that had long been used to repress the Haitian people, particularly the army, the rural section chiefs, and the prison administration. The result was most visible in a dramatic decrease in violence by military and allied repressive forces. However, efforts to reform other institutions -- notably the criminal justice system -- were more sluggish. Popular frustration with dysfunctional legal remedies led many Haitians to take the law into their own hands. In a disturbing deviation from his stated commitment to human rights, President Aristide voiced a certain tolerance for this popular violence as a substitute for the profound reforms of the legal system that were needed.

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