Milostène Castin is the coordinator of AREDE and a defender of the rights of subsistence farmers who have suffered land seizures, displacement, corruption, and violent attacks in north-eastern Haiti. Due to his activism, Mr. Castin has been attacked and intimidated numerous times. In late 2020, armed men repeatedly fired gunshots and smashed the windows of his home. An unidentified man also attempted to repeatedly pick up one of his children from school, in what Mr. Castin believes was a kidnapping attempt. On 12 May 2021, Mr. Castin received a death threat. As a result, Mr. Castin and his family have been forced to leave their home, fearing for their safety. We demand the authorities protect him, according to his wishes.
Please ask the President to:
- Fulfill the obligation to protect Mr. Castin in accordance with his wishes so that he may feel safe and return to his home and legitimate activities as a human rights defender.
- Initiate an immediate and independent investigation to find and prosecute those responsible for the recent acts of intimidation against him and his family.
President of the Republic of Haiti
1, Rue de la République
Salutation : Dear Mr. President
His Excellency Wien-Weibert Arthus
Ambassador for Haiti
85 Albert Street, Suite 1110
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6A4
Fax: 613 238 2986
Milostene Castin is an activist who coordinates the organization Action to Reforest and Defend the Environment (Action pour la Reforestation et la Défense de l’Environnement, AREDE) in Trou-du-Nord, a town in north-east Haiti. Since 2013, the organization has been involved in campaigning against land seizures, intimidation and forced displacement of subsistence farmers by armed groups suspected to be connected with business interests and the government. For this he has suffered attempts by armed gangs to beat or kill him on numerous occasions, including a stabbing at the hands of armed men during a peaceful protest in 2019, a year in which violent repression of protests against corruption and impunity took place across the country.
In 2020, as more subsistence farmers faced expropriations, threats, and violence, Mr. Castin supported their demands with documentation and advocacy, and organized peaceful protests. On 10 October, after one such protest, six men stood outside Mr. Castin’s home for several hours and began shooting around the house and smashed a window while he and his family were inside. Later in October, on three separate occasions a man went to the school of one of Mr. Castin’s children and asked the school staff for his child by name in an apparent kidnapping or intimidation attempt. The child had to be pulled out of school for their safety.
During the last two months of 2020, armed men went to Mr. Castin’s house regularly at night and shot their weapons nearby. This also happened on 31 December, when the men, in addition to firing gunshots in front of the house, also threw rocks and bottles smashing all the windows and injuring another of Mr. Castin’s children. He called the police, but no one came to the house to protect the family and arrest the attackers.
Since then, Mr. Castin and his family had to leave their home and their children are unable to attend school for their safety. After leaving, armed men continued to come to his house for some time looking for him.
On 12 May of 2021, Mr. Castin was told by an affiliate of the ruling party that government officials “want him dead” because of his defense of farmers in a community facing expropriation. Based on information he has received from trusted contacts, Mr. Castin believes these attacks are motivated by his activism in favour of dispossessed subsistence farmers and that the attackers are linked to government and business actors.
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