Haiti : Amnesty International briefing, 14p.


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Haiti : Amnesty International briefing, 14p.
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London, U.K. : Amnesty International Publications, 1985


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This briefing is part of Amnesty International's worldwide campaign for the international
protection of human rights.
Throughout the world thousands of people are in prison because of their beliefs. Many are
held without charge or trial. Torture and executions are widespread. In many countries men,
women and children have "disappeared" after being taken into official custody. Still others
have been put to death without any pretence of legality: selected and killed by governments
and their agents.
These abuses-taking place in countries of widely differing ideologies-demand an inter-
national response. The protection of human rights is a universal responsibility, transcending
the boundaries of nation, race and belief. This is the fundamental principle upon which the
work of Amnesty International is based.
Amnesty International is a worldwide movement independent of any government,
political persuasion or religious creed. It plays a specific role in the international
protection of human rights:
it seeks the release of prisoners of conscience. These are people detained for
their beliefs, colour, sex, ethnic origin, language or religion who have not used
or advocated violence;
it works for fair and prompt trials for all political prisoners and on behalf of
political prisoners detained without charge or trial;
it opposes the death penalty and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment of all prisoners without reservation.
Amnesty International is impartial. It does not support or oppose any government or
political system, nor does it support or oppose the views of the prisoners whose rights it
seeks to protect. It is concerned solely with the protection of the human rights involved
in each case, regardless of the ideology of the government or the beliefs of the victims.
Amnesty International, as a matter of principle, condemns the torture and execution of
prisoners by anyone, including opposition groups. Governments have the responsibility
for dealing with such abuses, acting in conformity with international standards for the
protection of human rights.
Amnesty International does not grade governments according to their record on human
rights: instead of attempting comparisons it concentrates on trying to end the specific
violations of human rights in each case.
Amnesty International has an active worldwide membership, open to anyone who
supports its goals. Through its network of members and supporters Amnesty Interna-
tional takes up individual cases, mobilizes public opinion and seeks improved interna-
tional standards for the protection of prisoners.

Amnesty International's work is based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. The organization has formal relations with the United Nations (ECOSOC),
UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the Organization of African Unity and the Organization
of American States.

Cover photograph: Women flee to avoid further blows from a Haitian police officer's baton.
They were among several hundred people who gathered on a pier in Haiti's capital, Port-au-
Prince, to greet returning refugees expelled from the Bahamas. Haitians have left the
country in their thousands; allegations of brutal treatment and human rights violations by
the police and the armed militia have been frequent under the rule of President for life Jean-
Claude Duvalier. (United Press International, 1980)



First issued March 1985

Amnesty International Publications
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 8DJ
United Kingdom
AI Index: AMR 36/02/85
ISBN: 0 86210 081 X
Printed in the United States of America.

The following photographs are copyright: pages 3,4,6 Gamma Press
Copyright Amnesty International Publications. Original language English. All rights reserved. No part
of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording and/or otherwise, without the prior permission of
the publishers.



St Raphael



La Victoire







Human rights violations in Haiti have concerned Amnesty International for many years.
These violations include: the unacknowledged detention of political prisoners including
prisoners of conscience for long periods, sometimes several years; political killings by
government agents; "disappearances"; and the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners.
Although the Haitian Government has publicly stated its intention to ensure that the legal
safeguards for detainees embodied in the Constitution are enforced, Amnesty International
has continued to receive reports of human rights abuses from Haiti.



During the administration of the late
President-for-life Frangois Duvalier (1957-
1971), human rights violations were wide-
spread and indiscriminate. Thousands of
people suffered arbitrary arrest, torture,
"disappearance" and extra judicial execu-
tion. In 1971 Frangois Duvalier's son
Jean-Claude Duvalier took power, and
until 1977 the pattern of human rights
violations remained much the same.
However, since 1977 the perpetrators
of human rights violations have been
more selective in their choice of victim:
most have been people in a position to
influence public opinion, trade union
organizers, and those suspected of being
potential political opponents of the
government or of having links with exile
organizations. Journalists and leaders of
newly-formed political parties, in particu-
lar, have faced imprisonment, house.
arrest, surveillance and exile.
Most instances of human rights
violations known to Amnesty International
have occurred in the capital, Port-au-
Prince. However, short-term arrests,
harassment and ill-treatment of detainees
ire reported to be frequent and widespread
n the countryside also. In the great
majority of cases when people suspected
of being political opponents of the govern-
ment have been arrested, the authorities
have not officially acknowledged the
detention. Prisoners are kept incommuni-
cado, and are frequently ill-treated and
sometimes tortured.
The pattern that emerges indicates that
political detentions continue outside the
framework of the courts, the Constitution
and the law. At no point during the deten-
tibn period do the courts intervene. The
only exceptions to this rule have been
when detentions have received wide inter-
national publicity.

Members of the President's armed militia are known throughout Haiti as the tontons
macoutes. The militia is estimated to be some 9,000 strong. Its members, both uni-
formed and plainclothed, have been cited in numerous reports as responsible for
violations of human rights including arbitrary arrests, torture and killings.

Other human rights abuses, such as
torture, "disappearances" and political
killings by government agents, are never
dealt with by the judiciary. They remain
uninvestigated, and relatives and friends
never receive any explanation of what has
happened to the victims.
There are a number of geographical, polit-
ical and economic obstacles to the flow of
information on human rights abuses in
Haiti: there are few roads which are open
all year round; only eight towns are part of
a telephone network; and the Haitian
press rarely publishes stories relating to
human rights violations in the country.

Witnesses and victims are often unwilling
to speak out for fear of reprisals.
However, information does find its
way out through a number of channels,
the most important of which are: relatives
of the victims, church workers, and family
and friends living outside Haiti. During
those brief periods when press censorship
within Haiti was less stringent, the
news media published and broadcast
allegations of human rights abuses.
Such accounts have been found by
Amnesty International to be consistent
with other reports received directly by the

.o. ,

9 f


Prisoners of conscience

Hundreds of political detainees have been
held without charge or trial in recent years
and almost all have been held without
access to lawyers, relatives, or doctors.
Long-term incommunicado detention,
often unacknowledged by the authorities
for long periods, is the pattern of political
imprisonment in Haiti.
Arrests are usually carried out without
a warrant, in violation of Article 24 of the
1983 Constitution, and prisoners are
rarely brought before a judge within 48
hours as Article 25 stipulates.
There are clear indications that the
judiciary does not act independently of
the executive, and that decisions on
whether and when to hold trials are taken
on political grounds. Political opponents
of the President are frequently detained
without court order. The few who are
brought before a court have usually had
intense public and diplomatic pressure
exercised on their behalf. International
observers at such trials have reached the
conclusion that the legal proceedings did
not meet internationally recognized stan-

Recent arrests
A number of prisoners of conscience were
detained during 1983 and 1984. Their
constitutional rights appear to have been
totally disregarded in most cases.
Many had links with the opposition
party, the Parti democrat chretien
haitien, (PDCH), Haitian Christian
Democrat Party, founded by former
prisoner of conscience Sylvio Claude.
For example, Jacques St Lot and Paul
Theodat, two of the co-defendants in the
trial of Sylvio Claude, were rearrested in
January 1983. They were kept in
unacknowledged detention for seven
months in the Casernes Dessalines
(military barracks in Port-au-Prince, the
capital), until 19 August 1983.
Maitre Dupleix Jean-Baptiste, a foun-
der member of the independent Ligue
haitienne des droits humans, Haitian
League for Human Rights, had acted as
defence lawyer to Sylvio Claude. He was
arrested with four other people on 9 May
1983. All five were released three months
later without ever having been charged.
Nicole Dagobert, said to be Sylvio
Claude's assistant, and Orestes Leon,
both allegedly PDCH members, were
arrested in mid-1983. They were released
in December 1983 having spent some six
months in unacknowledged detention.

Former prisoners have stated that Nicole
Dagobert was kept almost naked in
solitary confinement in a dark and dirty
cell in the Casernes Dessalines throughout
her detention.
In November 1984 about 30 people
were arrested throughout Haiti including
agronomists, community development
organizers and a Protestant priest.
According to church reports, no official
information was released about where
they were being held or the reasons for
detention, and several weeks later they
had still not been brought before a judge.
Since 1982 the practice of arbitrarily
placing people under house arrest and
restricting their freedom of movement
without any legal process has been
evident. For example, Dr Hubert de
Ronceray, a professor at the National
University and a former government
minister, was arrested in early July 1984,
released two days later, and then confined
to his home (see page 14).

rS f*3

Gregoire Eugene, pictured above, the
founder of the Parti social chretien
haitien (PSCH), Haitian Social
Christian Party, and publisher of the
magazine Fraternite, was arrested by
police at his home on 18 June 1984 in
Port-au-Prince and taken to the Casernes
Dessalines. Copies of the latest edition of
Fraternite were confiscated, as was his
car and printing equipment He was
released the following day but restricted

to his home. Fifteen people who went to
visit him were reportedly arrested and
held overnight in custody before being

Clamp-down on opposition
On 7 May 1984 the Interior Minister
issued two communiques apparently
contrary to provisions of the constitution.
The first ordered the suspension of all
newspapers and periodicals not officially
authorized, and gave a reminder that the
1980 Press Law was still in force. This
law, inter-alia, makes it an imprisonable
offence to "insult the Head of State or the
First Lady". It was after this communique
was issued that orders were given against
FraternitW and Conviction (the PDCH
The second communique banned all
political activities and groups except
"those of the President" until a law
governing political parties came into
force. There has been no indication as to
when this law will be introduced.

Critics silenced
Several journalists were arrested in
mid-1984, apparently because they had
published material considered critical of
the government. Dieudonne Fardin,
editor of Petit Samedi Soir, was arrested
on 18 June 1984 at the magazine's offices
and taken to the Casernes Dessalines. He
was released shortly afterwards. Pierre
Robert Auguste, publisher of the weekly
independent magazine L'Information,
was arrested on the same day and also
taken to the Casernes Dessalines. The
most recent edition of his magazine was
confiscated. He was released without
charge on 20 June, but is said to have had
his arm broken through being beaten in
detention. Although no official reason
was given for his arrest, it is thought that it
may have been in connection with articles
published in L'Information about anti-
government protests which had occurred
in May.

Arrested on return
Several Haitians living abroad who have
returned to visit Haiti have been detained
without charge in the past two years.
For example, Henri Lemarque,/ a
Haitian-born US citizen, was arrested on
2 January 1983 and held in solitary
confinement for 52 days in the Casernes


Dessalines without at any time being
brought before a judge to rule on the
legality of his arrest, as Article 25 of the
Constitution requires. He later said he
had been questioned about his suspected
connection with groups of Haitian exiles
in the USA and about a bombing which
occurred on 1 January 1983 in Haiti, but
given no explanation for his detention.
Yves Medard, a Haitian film director
known by his professional name Rassoul
Labuchin, who had lived for some years
in Mexico, was arrested without warrant
in Port-au-Prince on 29 August 1983. He
later said that he was held in solitary
confinement in the Casernes Dessalines
until his release in October 1983. He was
given no specific reason for his arrest but
said he had been accused during interro-
gation of having "political ambitions".

Unacknowledged Detention

Among the prisoners of conscience held
in Haiti are four members of the armed
forces who have been in unacknowledged
detention without charge or trial for more
than five years. It is believed that the four
are being held in the Pinitencier national,
National Penitentiary, where former
prisoners reported seeing them in 1982.
Bienvenue Theodore, an army sergeant,
was arrested in July or August 1979. He
was reportedly denounced by one of his
soldiers whom he had rebuked for
saying he wanted to shoot all strikers
during a labour dispute- brought before a
general and accused of being a traitor and
plotting against the government. In
response to inquiries by Amnesty Inter-
national the government denied in 1980
that he was being detained.
Jocelyn Bochard was reportedly arres-
ted on 16 November 1979 after he had
allegedly been in contact with a political
leader in exile. He was reported to have
spent five months in solitary confinement
in a dark cell and to have been badly
beaten before being transferred to the
National Penitentiary.
Eric Alcindor, a marine, was reportedly
arrested in August 1979 in possession of
an opposition newspaper. He is said to
have been held in solitary confinement in
the Casernes Dessalines for two years
before being transferred to the National
Frank Maitre who was stationed at the
Casernes Dessalines was arrested in
August 1979 and accused of belonging to
the PDCH. His name was apparently
found on a piece of paper in the pocket of
PDCH leader Sylvio Claude, who was
arrested at about the same time.

Jean-Claude Duvalier(pictured above) is
President for life of the Republic of Haiti.
He is also Head of State, Head of
Government and Supreme Chief of the
Armed Forces, the Police Force, and of
the Volontaires de la security national
(VSN), the armed militia known common-
ly as the tontons macoutes.
The President of the Republic has the
right to designate his successor, who, after
ratification by referendum, in turn be-
comes the President for life.
These powers are conferred by the
Constitution of Haiti, which was promul-
gated on 27 August 1983. It replaced the
1964 constitution which had been amen-
ded in 1971 to make possible the transfer
of power from the dying Francois
Duvalier to his son Jean-Claude.
Legislative power is vested in the
Chambre legislative, legislative chamber,
which has 59 deputies each elected for a
six-year term. However this meets for
only three months each year, and for the
other nine months the President for life
"is endowed with full powers to pass
decrees having force of law".
This power to pass laws during the
annual nine-month recess is granted to the
President under Article 216 of the 1983
Constitution, which institutionalized the
already established practice. Previously,
this power had been conferred on the
President at the end of each annual
legislative session by the passing of a
It has also been regular practice to

suspend certain constitutional rights for
this period. For example, during the 1979
recess the rights to personal freedom and
security, to protection against house
searches except in accordance with
legally prescribed procedures, and the
right of assembly were suspended.
The President also personally appoints
the presidents, vice-presidents and judges
of the Cour de cassation, the highest
court in the country, and the Cours
d'appel, appeal courts, and the presiding
judges of the Tribunaux de premiere
instance, courts of the first instance, and
Tribunaux de paix, magistrates' courts.
The constitution sets forth a number of
guarantees which appear not to be respec-
ted in practice. For example, Article 24
states that arrest and detention can only
be carried out with a written warrant
issued by the competent legal authority
stating the reason for the detention. A
copy has to be given to the accused person
at the time of arrest (except when
someone is caught inflagrante delicto, in
the act).
Article 25 says that no one may be
held in detention unless brought before a
judge within 48 hours to rule on the
legality of the arrest and to confirm and
give reasons for the detention.
Article 43 of the Constitution states
that Haitians have the right to organize
trade unions. However in practice, trade
unionists have in the past suffered
systematic imprisonment and harassment
and there are no openly functioning trade
unions in Haiti at present.

The Constitution


In February 1979 Sylvio Claude stood
as a candidate in the legislative selec-
tions in the Mirebalais constituency
against Madame Max Adolphe, the
head of the uniformed branch of the
Volontaires de la security national
(VSN), the armed militia known com-
monly as the tontons macoutes.
His candidature was declared illegal
by the government but despite agreeing
not to stand, Sylvio Claude was arrested
by the VSN on 22 February 1979 and
taken to the Casernes Dessalines.
He later said that he was beaten
with sticks and tortured with electric
shocks on the soles of his feet. Two
months later he was deported to Colom-
bia. At no point was he shown an
arrest warrant; neither was he charged
nor brought before a judge.
Sylvio Claude returned to Haiti later in
1979 and announced the foundation of
the PDCH, the Haitian Christian Demo-
crat Party. On 26 August he held a
political meeting in the party offices
which was attended by several hundred
people. Three days later the party's
headquarters was raided by armed
civilians. Sylvio Claude managed to
escape and made his way to a radio
station where he broadcast a statement
about the suppression of the PDCH, in
which he detailed how he had been
tortured in detention in February.
Later that day he was again arrested,
together with six other PDCH members.
He was held in the Casernes Dessalines
until mid-October and then transferred
to the National Penitentiary. He went
on hunger-strike and on 7 November
was finally charged with "subversive

No case to answer
On 10 March 1980 a judge of the Port-
au-Prince Tribunal civil, civil court,
stated that there was no case to answer
and ordered Sylvio Claude's immediate
and unconditional release. However,
the authorities refused to release him.
Once more Sylvio Claude went on
hunger-strike. On 1 April he was taken
to Port-au-Prince airport and attempts
were made to force him onto a plane.
He resisted vigorously, succeeded in
stopping the attempted deportation, and
was returned to the National Peniten-
tiary. On 24 April he was moved to a
psychiatric hospital.
On 30 April Sylvio Claude was
freed. Reportedly, he had been taken to
see President Duvalier earlier that
month, who had said that he was

Opposition leader's

six-year ordeal

Sylvio Claude, founder and leader of the opposition Christian
Democrat party, has spent most of the last six years in prison, under
house arrest, or in hiding. Members of his family have been detained
on a number of occasions, two of his daughters have been beaten
while under arrest and several of the family are now in exile.
This case illustrates many aspects of political detention in Haiti.

worried about Sylvio Claude's personal
safety if he were released and suggested
that he leave the country.
He was arrested once more in mid-
October 1980. His rearrest marked the
beginning of a new wave of repression
in Haiti. Several PDCH members and
sympathizers were arrested that October,
including Marie-France Claude, his
daughter and Vice-President of the
On 28 November 1980 police and
security forces launched a series of
raids which resulted in the detention of
many independent journalists, human
rights activists, lawyers, doctors and
trade unionists. That evening, armed
security forces entered and occupied
Radio Haiti Inter, arresting all staff
members present. The same happened
at Radio Metropole and Radio Cacique.
The editors of the independent weekly
Petit Samedi Soir Pierre Clitandre
and Jean-Robert Herard were arrested,
as were several journalists working for
Regard magazine.

PDCH members were held, as was
Gregoire Eugene, leader of the Haitian
Social Christian Party, whose party
magazine Fraternite was closed down.

Police statement

The then Chief of Police, Colonel Jean
Valme, issued a statement about the
arrests on 30 November:
"National and international Com-
munist agitators connected with
the media have been carrying out
subversive activities for several
months both in the capital and
certain provincial towns in order
to create a climate suitable for the
perpetration of terrorist and crimi-
nal acts ... Faithful to its duty of
ensuring the security of lives and
property, the police have, in a
series of raids, succeeded in dis-,
mantling a network of agitators,
some of whom have now gone
into clandestinity..."


Many of those arrested were depor-
ted, including Pierre Clitandre and
Jean-Robert Herard. Others were re-
leased without charge but 26 were kept
in detention accused of arson and
terrorist offences.
On 9 December 1980 invited jour-
nalists were taken by police to the sites
of two alleged arson attacks, and
presented with four detainees who
"confessed" to the alleged offences.
The four later stated that the "confes-
sions" had been extracted under torture
and threats by the police.

First trial

Sylvio Claude and his 25 co-defendants,
the majority of them adopted prisoners
of conscience, were finally brought to
trial on 25 August 1981 in Port-au-
The defendants had not been arrested
according to the law: no arrest warrants
had been produced, except that Sylvio
Claude had been served with an arrest
warrant once in prison, and they had
not been brought before a judge within
the 48 hours stipulated by Article 17 of
the 1971 Constitution then in force.
The trial was attended by independent
observers who reported that it failed to
meet internationally recognized stan-
dards in several respects.
The trial was announced at very
short notice. The 26 defence lawyers,
who were appointed by the court only
four days before the trial, were given no
access to prisoners. Only five turned up
at the trial and four of these withdrew
soon after the trial began. The court
agreed to their being replaced by
independent lawyers attending the trial
on their own initiative, but they had no
time to prepare the defence case.
The accusations formulated by the
public prosecutor, and contained in the
examining magistrate's indictment, were
mostly vague and not supported by
evidence. For example, a 60-year-old
peasant, Thermitus Myrtil, was accused
of having given Sylvio Claude's daugh-
ters Marie-France and J6celyne money
to incite demonstrations. There was no
explanation proffered as to how much
money was involved, when it was
transferred, or what was done with it.

Lack of evidence

No, evidence whatsoever was presented
against half the defendants. Sylvio
Claude was accused of being the
mastermind behind an alleged plot to

overthrow the government, but the
evidence brought forward was unsub-
During the trial itself, prosecution
witnesses failed to identify those accused
of being involved in two of the alleged
arson attacks. According to reports, not
all the jury members understood French,
the language in which the court pro-
ceedings were conducted (most Haitians
speak Creole), and some allegedly had
family connections with court officials
and the security forces.
At the end of the trial, which lasted
for 20 hours, the 26 prisoners were
found guilty of arson (Article 356 of
the Penal Code) and of plotting against
the internal security of the state (Articles
Twenty-two were sentenced to 15
years' imprisonment with hard labour.

Sylvio Claude and his daughter Marie-
"France Claude who has been forced to
live in exile.
Four were sentenced to one year's
imprisonment and were released shortly
afterwards as they had already been
held in detention for a year.
Following an appeal by the remaining
22 defendants, the Cour de cassation
(appeal court) quashed the 15-year
sentences on procedural grounds in
February 1982 and ordered a re-trial.
This took place on 27 and 28 August
Again, international observers from
the Lawyers' Committee for Inter-
national Human Rights, an independent
human rights group, reported that the
trial did not conform to internationally
recognized standards and stated that it
took place in "an atmosphere of armed

intimidation, with up to 60 security
police, armed with rifles and submachine-
guns, in front of and inside the court".
All the defendants were accused of
"conspiring to set fires in a variety of
places with the conscious objective of
overthrowing the government". How-
ever, according to the observers, "there
was no direct evidence against 20 of
the defendants. There was only limited
hearsay evidence against Sylvio Claude,
and direct but highly suspect evidence
against defendant Michel Franqois".
(Violations of Human Rights in Haiti:
June 1981-September 1982, A Report
to the Organization of American States,
Lawyers' Commitee for International
Human Rights, November 1982.)
This time the defendants were sen-
tenced to six years' imprisonment.
However, on 21 September 1982 Presi-
dent Duvalier signed a law granting full
pardon to Sylvio Claude and his co-

Their freedom was conditional however,
according to Sylvio Claude, who stated
that they had been taken to police
headquarters before their release and
told that they were under house surveil-
lance; they could not go outside Port-
au-Prince without prior permission;
every 72 hours they had to sign a
register at the police headquarters; and
they could not join any political or
religious association. The surveillance
guards had instructions to arrest, and if
necessary shoot, if any of the con-
ditions were broken.
On 28 December Sylvio Claude and
his daughter Marie-France were again
arrested. Marie-France Claude was
released later the same day, while
Sylvio Claude was released after about
48 hours.
In January 1983 Sylvio Claude
managed to escape surveillance and
went into hiding. His hideout was
eventually discovered and he was re-
arrested on 9 October and taken to the
Casernes Dessalines where he was held
without charge or trial for 77 days.
Before his release on 24 December
1983 he is said to have been badly
beaten. From then until mid-March
1984 he was reportedly under constant
surveillance. On 4 July police raided
his home to arrest him. He was not
there at the time, and again went into
hiding. One of his daughters who was
at home was reported to have been
badly beaten.


The Creole words lontons & .
macoutes ("bogeymen") are
used throughout Haiti to refer
to the Volontaires de la security .
national (VSN), Volunteers
of National Security, an armed
militia responsible directly to
the President, whose members
are reported to be the main
agents of political repression.
Established by the late
President Franqois Duvalier in
the wake of two brutally
suppressed invasions in the late
1950s, this volunteer militia
soon took on many of the tasks
of the army and police force. .
Until 1962, despite its wide- -*
spread activity, it had no legal
existence; in November 1962
Francois Duvalier issued a
decree creating the VSN. This
states that members are directly
responsible to the President;
unsalaried; trained by army
officers, but not part of the
armed forces; and may carry
arms at any time that circum-
stances demand.
Today there are an estimated .
9,000 members of the VSN.
Some wear a blue denim
uniform and are known as
miliciens, militiamen. Others,
particularly those who under-
take surveillance work, are
plainclothed. It is generally
believed that members of the
government, including ministers,
are VSN members.
Over the years there have
been reports that the VSN were I
to be reformed or even dis-
banded. However the VSN are
still much in evidence and have |
barracks throughout Haiti. Their I
existence was reaffirmed in
Article 209 of the 1983 Constitution
which, places them under the control of
the President of the Republic, as are the
armed forces and the police.
VSN activities from 1958 to 1977
were characterized by their extreme
brutality. During the 14 years of Franqois
Duvalier's Presidency and the first six
years of his son's government thousands
of Haitians were killed, tortured, arbi-
trarily imprisoned or made to "dis-
appear". Incidents such as the massacre
of hundreds of people in the city of
JMrrnie in 1964, when entire families
were reported to have been killed by the
VSN after a failed invasion, have not
been forgotten. By 1977, after 20 years


rmed militia

of repression, political opposition, trade
unions, student organizations and the
independent press had all but disappeared.
The year 1977 saw some change.
Jean-Claude Duvalier reactivated certain
political institutions, and the repression of
suspected opponents became more selec-
tive. For instance, in 1979 and 1984
legislative elections were held and in
1983 the first municipal elections in 25
years took place. However, with the
exception of one deputy in the 1979
election, no opposition candidate was
allowed to stand for election.
In recent years the VSN have
apparently concentrated their efforts on
keeping a close watch on local communi-


"In Port-au-Prince the se-
curity forces extort excessive
; taxes from small merchants
or seize their merchandise.
iHaitians interviewed report
i that macoutes sometimes
simply enter stores and take
a what they want while re-
Sfusing to pay.
"In the countryside, where
80% of Haiti's population
resides, security forces ex-
tort cash or crops and seize
land with virtual impunity..
S. Resistance to demands of
the security forces, whether
for cash, goods, crops or
personal favor, will only
bring greater difficulties and arbitrary
Although complaints of brutality by
the VSN are rarer now than before 1977,
Amnesty International continues to receive
serious allegations of ill-treatment
amounting to torture and believes that the
practice is widespread. The following
report is typical.
In September 1983, near Saltadere,
12 people were arrested in separate
incidents by four members of the VSN on
suspicion of smuggling. According to
testimonies from some of those arrested,
one 23-year-old farmer was repeatedly
hit in the face. The VSN then passed a
stick between his arms behind his back,



.41: .
4' 4

. 4.


h .

- 41


ties. Close surveillance and
arbitrary arrest have been
frequently reported to Amnesty
International as being used to
intimidate and harass those
suspected of anti-government
As a former prisoner who
had been detained in 1980 told
Amnesty International "If it is
a VSN who has put me in
prison, he can release me when
he wants to, that is the problem
... If he wishes to keep me in
for three months, he keeps me
in for three months; ifhe wishes
to keep me in for two months,
he keeps me in for two months,
just like that"
Because VSN membership
is unpaid, members often de-
pend on what they can obtain
from the local population for
their living. In its 1982 report
to the Organization of American
States, the Lawyers' Committee
for International Human Rights


with his hands tied in front and proceeded
to beat him. Another of those arrested, a
54-year-old farmer, was allegedly told to
lie face downwards on the ground and was
then beaten with a stick across his back
and legs.
Amnesty International has also received
occasional reports of killings by the VSN.
For example, on 21 November 1980 St
Ange Alexis was allegedly killed by the
VSN. According to these allegations, two
VSN members knocked on his door on
the night of 20 November, woke him up,
and proceeded to beat him before taking
him to the VSN barracks in Moron, a

A -

without telling him why he was being
arrested. There he was allegedly killed by
a blow to the head with a stick.

Human rights work
The work of the only independent human
rights group in Haiti was brought to an
almost total halt by a violent raid by the
VSN. La Ligue haitienne des droits
humans, the Haitian Human Rights
League, was founded in May 1978 by 20
people including lawyers, businessmen,
teachers and a priest to promote respect
for human rights and basic freedoms.
On9 November 1979 meeting called
by the league to discuss the human rights
situation in Haiti was violently disrupted
by men believed to be tontons macoutes
(members of the VSN). Over 40 people
were reportedly injured, including staffof
foreign embassies in Port-au-Prince who
were attending the meeting, and the
league's President Maitre Gerard Gourgue,
who was speaking at the time of the
attack. Radio journalist George Michel
died later from head injuries received
during the attack. Several of the Salesian
Fathers, in whose school the meeting was
held, were also beaten up.

Use of torture

and ill-treatment

The torture and ill-treatment of detainees
in Haiti has been regularly reported to
Amnesty International since President
for life Jean-Claude Duvalier took office
in 1971.
Despite the difficulties of obtaining
information, testimonies received from
former detainees and their families and
from ex-members of the Haitian army or
security forces who have sought asylum
in other countries, portray a disturbing
picture of continued use of torture and ill-
treatment of prisoners in Haiti.
It is the practice in Haiti to hold
political detainees in incommunicado
detention for long periods. This facilitates
torture and ill-treatment, as does the fact
that arrests are not publicly acknowledged
by the government, except on rare
occasions. There appear to be no legal
limits to the length of time a detainee may
be held incommunicado. Relatives are
not officially informed of the arrest ortold
where the detainee is being held. In many
cases fear of persecution prevents families
persisting in inquiries.
Torture is not explicitly prohibited in
the 1983 Constitution as it was in the
previous constitution. In March 1984,
when Haiti's human rights record was the
subject of attention in connection with the
granting of US aid, President Duvalier
wrote to the Chief of Staff of the Armed
Forces telling him to issue instructions
forbidding torture, but the practice of
holding suspected opponents in incom-
municado and unacknowledged detention
continued, as did reports of ill-treatment
Most political detainees are arrested
without warrant either by the Service
detectif (SD), the civilian secret police,
or by the VSN. The headquarters of the
SD is in the military barracks in Port-au-
Prince called the Casernes Dessalines
which most testimonies received by
Amnesty International cite as the place
where torture took place.
Reports- have also cited military
barracks or police stations inotherplaces,
including the town of Cayes in the
southern part of the country and Croix
des Bouquets on the outskirts of Port-au-
Prince, Furthermore, it is alleged that
Chefs de Section, local police chiefs, run
small detention centres, sometimes in
their own homes, where prisoners are ill-

Amnesty International has not been
able to record a single instance in which a
complaint made about torture and ill-
treatment has been investigated by the
Haitian authorities.

Evans Paul, a journalist with the
independent Radio Cacique and director
of a theatre group, was arrested on 16
October 1980 at Port-au-Prince airport
when he arrived from the USA.

He was held incommunicado in the
Casemes Dessalines for 10 days before
being released without charge.
"I was hit in the face. I was slapped.
Fingers were poked in my eyes and my
ears were beaten with the lower part of
the palm near the wrist. It's a
demoralizing sort ofpunishmentwhich
makes you lose your calm.
"Almost without a break, several
people with sticks took over and gave
me a severe beating. A man known as
'Baron' or 'neg marron' came into the
room and said 'But he's too comfort-
able here. Wait a minute.' Then he
took a nylon thread and tied my wrists
behind my legs (the scars are still
visible). He pushed a long stick behind
my legs and arms. I was like a ball. I
felt as if my body was going to break
everywhere. At that point Iwasbeaten
with sticks. At one point I felt as
though I were going to die.
"They gave me something to drink.
Then they started again even worse.
The skin on my buttocks had been tom


Testimonies continued

away. The blood was running down.
They weren't put off. On the contrary,
you could say that the sight of my
blood excited them even more. When I
was on the point of dying, they untied
me and dragged me to a dark cell. You
couldn't see anything."

Opposition members
Many members and supporters of the
PDCH, the opposition party founded by
Sylvio Claude, have been arrested and
held incommunicado in the past five
years. Among those arrested in October
1980 was Ernst Benjamin. Here is his
"On Thursday, 16 October 1980 ...
we were taken to the SD (Service
detectij) Department of the political
police of Jean-Claude Duvalier's
government and beaten. Colonel V...
took charge of the operation himself.
When I was led before him he began to
be abusive, shouting filthy remarks at
me. Then he began to interrogate me
about my electoral campaign, starting
with the founding of thb party (the
PDCH), and ending with the mass
demonstration which was planned to
take place in October 1980.
"A torturer called G. hit me
eight times on my right ear with the
palm of his hand and four times on my
left ear. Blood was running from my
ears when the Colonel ordered him to
use a stick. I was then beaten with a
stick by a second lieutenant. On the
orders of the Colonel, G. hit me
continuously while I was standing up.
He stopped when I was about to soil
my trousers. I was led out of the torture
room for a moment in order to tie the
bottoms of my trousers with string so
that the Colonel's interrogation and
torture room would not get dirty.
"Once back in the room, the
Colonel ordered the torturer to tie my
body into a kind of ball shape by tying
my feet and placing a stick behind my
knees and at the top of my forearms. I
was hit about 150 times with the stick
and just as I had stopped shouting and
was about to lose consciousness, I
heard the Colonel shout 'Enough'.
"At this point blood was coming
from my ears, my wrists were bleeding
profusely, and my buttocks, which had
swollen up to my waist, were bleeding
slightly all over. That night of 16
October I felt I was dying. I spent two

months and four days there, being
interrogated under torture six times. I
was beaten, given electric shocks, and
made to stand to attention for
prolonged periods. This last torture
would make anyone confess like an
On 20 December 1980 the physical
torture ended when I was taken from
the cell in the Casemes Dessalines and
transferred to the National

Preacher beaten

On 28 December 1982 Gerard Duclerville,
a lay preacher, was arrested. He was held
in solitary confinement without charge in
the Casernes Dessalines. Amnesty Inter-
national considered him to be a prisoner
of conscience, as it believed he had been
arrested solely on account of his work
with the poor.

"When I arrived at Casernes Dessa-
lines, it was around 11 o'clock when
they brought me before... the Chief of
Police in Haiti... He said: 'Jack him
up for me.' That's how I found out
what the jack torture is all about.They
jacked me up and started raining blows
on me with a baton. I must tell you
brothers and sisters that I must have
been hit 70 times with the baton. At
some point I felt it was too much for me
and I couldn't stand any more. I said to
them: 'You guys, instead of torturing
me like that, it would be better if you
just killed me and get it over with...'"
He was released on 7 February 1983
following appeals by the Catholic Church
in Haiti, Haitian League of Human
Rights, and a number of international
organizations, including Amnesty Inter-

national. The government-appointed
National Human Rights Commission
also reportedly intervened on his behalf.
Gerard Duclerville is said to have needed
hospital treatment, including skin grafts,
as a result of the beatings.
On 27 January the Haitian Bishops'
Conference and the Conference haftienne
des religieux, Haitian Conference of
Religious Orders, issued a pastoral letter
in which they stated: "Today it is the turn
of Gerard and those whose names we do
not know, but tomorrow it will be ours,
yours, mine, somebody else's. Whenever
a man is being degraded and tortured, the
whole human race is being degraded and
Some sectors of the church, in
particular the Haitian Conference of
Religious Orders, had made previous
attempts to raise awareness of human
rights. Such attempts have been met with
growing hostility by the government In
November 1982 it was reported that the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religions,
Jean-Robert Estime, had formally warned
six Roman- Catholic priests that criticism
of the government would no longer be
tolerated. On 23 November the Haitian
Conference of Religious Orders sent a
letter to its members saying that there was
a campaign of intimidation against the

Trade union leader held

Yves Richard, a trade unionist and
Secretary General of the Centrale
autonome des travailleurs haitiennes,
Autonomous Confederation of Haitian
Workers, gave the following account of
his arrest in 1980:
"I was arrested without warrant at 10
a.m. during a meeting I was holding at
the office of the Salesian Fathers with
35 workers from the textile company
NESDAN. Without warning, a group
of tontons macoutes burst in, and,
without more ado, started beating up
the workers. Fellow trade unionist
Simeon Jean Baptiste was killed by a
bullet from the guns of the tontons
macoutes of Jean-Claude Duvalier. I
was taken with the other workers to
the Casernes Dessalines where we
were interrogated under torture and
for the first time accused of being
arsonists and communist agitators.
From that moment I was kept
completely separate from the othqr
workers and transferred to the under-
ground cells hidden below the
National Palace."



Large numbers of Haitians "disappeared"
in the years before 1977: after being taken
into custody the authorities denied any
knowledge of their detention and their
families and friends were unable to find
out where they were held or what had
happened to them.
On 21 September 1977, to mark the
twentieth anniversary of the Duvalier
family coming to power, 104 political
prisoners were amnestied by the govern-
ment. Many had been held without charge
or trial for up to eight years. The
government then stated that there were no
more political prisoners in Haiti.
However, Amnesty International knew
of a number of other political prisoners for
whom the government had not accounted:
they had effectively "disappeared". Based
on information from other prisoners,
Amnesty International compiled a list of
over 100 prisoners whose detention was
never officially acknowledged and who
are feared to have died in detention or to
have been executed before the amnesty.
Other prisoners were last seen alive at
the time of the amnesty. For example,
Rochambeau Nestor, a teacher, was
arrested in January 1969 on suspicion of
belonging to a left-wing political party.
He was never charged or brought to trial,
and the authorities denied holding him.
He was last seen by fellow prisoners in
cell 7, Fort Dimanche prison, in Septem-
ber 1977.
Luc Deselmours and C6rrs D'Accueil
were arrested in 1976. They were last
seen, apparently in good health, in Fort
Dimanche prison in September 1977.
There are allegations that they were
executed shortly after the 1977 amnesty.
The number of "disappearances" and
deaths in custody has decreased consider-
ably since 1977. However the practice
has not stopped.
For example, Joseph Pardovany, a
40-year-old mechanic, was one of several
people arrested in Bon Repos in the
outskirts of Port-au-Prince around 9
September i983 by police officers
apparently trying to locate Sylvio Claude.
Joseph Pardovany's arrest has never been
acknowledged and his current place of
detention is not known.
Other "missing" prisoners include
Labb& Remy, a lawyer who was detained
on 8 January 1982 by two armed men,
and Wilson Pierrelus, an actor and
language teacher, arrested on 16 April

William Josma, an engineer, and an
adopted prisoner of conscience, was
arrested in April 1981. He had been a
candidate for Moron, J6r6mie Province,
in the 1979 legislative elections but was
among those forced by the government to
withdraw. After his arrest he was taken to
the Casernes Dessalines and then trans-
ferred to the National Penitentiary.
Former political prisoners detained in
the National Penitentiary at the same
time as William Josma state that in
January 1982, at the time of an invasion
by Haitian exiles of a small island off the
northwest coast, he was taken away in
handcuffs from their section of the
Penitentiary and not seen again. They say
that the police had accused him of being
involved in the invasion.

... '

"The Haitian Embassy has the
honour to inform you that accord-
ing to information received from the
Haitian Government on 9 February
1984 the following have already
been released: Nicole Dagobert,
Dupleix Jean-Baptiste, Saint-Lot
Jacques and Richard Tesserot. On
the other hand Esper Frid, Frantz
Claude, Joachin Joe, Josma
William and Sinai Jose are detained
as terrorists, and Rock Charles
Dirose, Hersier Schneider and
Theodat Paul are unknown to the
authorities responsible for law and
According to Amnesty Inter-



j. -


Although the government acknowledged
his detention in February 1984, it has
provided no information about his where-
abouts or state of health either to his
family or to Amnesty International.
Fears for his safety continue.

national's information, however,
Rock Charles Derose, known also as
Jerome Jean, was arrested in the
presence of witnesses on 12
November 1981. He was reportedly
trying to form a trade union at his
workplace. He is reported to have
been tortured in the Casernes
Dessalines and taken from there by
security forces. He has not been
seen since.
Although the authorities acknow-
ledge in this letter that they have
detained William Josma, he has not
been seen since
January 1982
and there are
grave fears for
his safety.
despite this
official denial of
a Dirose any knowledge
of "Hersier"
Schneider (real name Schneider
Merzier), he was arrested, together
with Frid Esper and Frantz
Joachim, on 17 January 1983. For
18 months the three men were held
completely incommunicado, and
their families could obtain no
information about them. In
September 1984 they were tried,
together with Frantz Heraux and
Eugene Nazon, and all five were
sentenced to life imprisonment with
hard labour for offences against the
internal security of the state.


Joseph Jeanty was arrested in mid-1979
on his return from a visit to the USA. He
was taken to the C asernes Dessalines and
then transferred to the National Peniten-
tiary. In January 1980 the Haitian
Government informed Amnesty Inter-
national that he had been charged with
using false travel documents and that "the
proceedings against him are following
their normal course." However, Amnesty
International believes that the real reason
for his arrest was the suspicion that he had
had contact with Haitian exiles in the
USA. Since January 1980 there has been
no further news of him.
Dieugrand Fleurimond and Leon
Defournois, two peasant farmers from
Maissade, were reportedly denounced
to the authorities as having had contact
with Haitian opposition groups in the
Dominican Republic, where they had
lived before returning to Haiti. They
were arrested in February 1979 and
then taken to the National Peni-
tentiary. In January 1980 the Haitian
Government informed Amnesty Inter-
national that Dieugrand Fleurimond
had been caught by Customs officials
while trying to bring a motor cycle into
Haiti illegally. It also stated that both
had been charged with illegal entry and
that their cases had been referred to the
appropriate court on 4 December 1979.
Since then, however, there has been no
further news of either prisoner and the
government has failed to respond to
inquiries about them.

Thousands of Haitians live in exile,
many driven by harassment and
poverty to leave their home. In
particular, thousands have set out in
small boats for the USA in illegal
attempts to leave Haiti.
If such illegal would-be emigrants
are apprehended by the Haitian
security forces they face harsh
"The tontons macoutes took us to
a small prison (a house) in Port
Aleki and put us in a cell. They
made each of us give ten gourdes
(US$ 2.00). After paying, we
asked for food. We had not eaten
on the boat due to the bad
weather.Our request was refused

cu t d
j.1 at a. 9 .. .

The notorious Fort Dimanche prison where over 150 inmates died in the mid-1970s.

Deaths in custody

A large number of prisoners died in
detention in Haiti between 1971 and
1977 as a result of untreated illness,
inadequate diet and poor conditions.
The Report on the Situation of
Human Rights in Haiti, published by
the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organ-
ization of American States in 1979,
includes a list of 151 names of
prisoners who died in Fort Dimanche
prison from 1974 to 1976. Tuberculosis
was blamed for 77 of the deaths, and
diarrhoea for 22. Death as a result of
either of these is a clear indication of
inadequate medical care.
In 1978, the Haitian Government
admitted that some deaths had
occurred in prison because "some
individuals were unable to accustom
themselves to the prison regime".

and instead we were tied up with
cords.Afterwards, we were made to
walk to the town of Jean-Rabel,
which took 11 hours. When we
arrived at the prison in Jean-Rabel
late at night, we again asked for food
and water. We were not given any
until the next day. We were taken
from the prison in Jean Rabel on a big
truck to the Casernes Dessalines in
"There, 10 of the men from the boat
were beaten up in front of us. Their
bodies were bruised and bloody.
Upon seeing this, we, the women,
started crying. The authorities told us
that if we did not stop crying they
would beat and kill us. They told us
that we were 'kamokin' (opponents of
the regime) who were trying to leave

However, it did not reply to the
IACHR's subsequent request for the
names of those who had died.
Fort Dimanche prison is apparently
no longer used as a detention centre, and
since its closure Amnesty International
has not received reports of political
prisoners dying because of prison con-
ditions, with one exception. Robert
Thelusma died in detention in the
National Penitentiary in April 1982.
Amnesty International had received
reports while he was still alive that he had
been beaten and ill-treated. Shortly
before his death it was reported that his
own doctor had been allowed to see him
and had recommended an urgent surgical
operation. However, the authorities would
not allow him to be admitted to a hospital,
and he was left for a further 15 days
without any medical treatment. One
morning he was found dead in his cell.

the country in order to go abroad
and talk against the government..."

This account comes from a woman
who tried to leave Haiti in 1981 with
75 other Haitians. Their attempt was
stopped by bad weather. She was
arrested by VSN members who had
been waiting for the boat to return to
shore. After several weeks in detention
she was released and managed to
reach the USA.
This testimony is consistent with
others seen by Amnesty International
and has been further corroborated
by the evidence of former prisoners in
the National Penitentiary who have
stated that large numbers of people,
were detained there for having tried to
leave Haiti illegally.


Political killings by

government agents

Between 1971 and 1977, in the early
years of President Jean-Claude Duvalier's
administration, a number of political
detainees were secretly executed without
any legal proceedings having been
followed. In most cases the detentions
had never been acknowledged by the
authorities. Despite government denials,
former prisoners from Fort Dimanche
prison consistently allege that summary
executions took place between 1974 and
1976. The execution area was said to be
in a wooded area about 50 metres from
the rear wall of the prison.
Among those believed to have been
executed is Marie-Th6rese Feval, a
member of the illegal communist party
and former broadcaster, arrested in
November 1975, who had been in hiding
for a number of years. Both her father and
sister had been harassed and arrested.
Her father died shortly after his release
from prison, reportedly as a result of
torture inflicted on him during his
detention. Her sister is said to have been
executed by firing-squad in 1970.
According to former prisoners, Marie
Thdrese Feval was secretly executed in
March 1976. She had been adopted by
Amnesty International as a prisoner of
In January 1982 a small group of
Haitian exiles invaded the Ile de la
Tortue, a small island off the northwest
coast of Haiti, and occupied the garrison
there. Government troops subsequently
regained control of the post and those
occupying it fled. A number of people
were arrested in the ensuing search. Le
Matin, a Haitian daily newspaper, stated
that three men were being interrogated in
the Casemes Dessalines: Richard Brisson
(a journalist from Radio HaitiInter who
had previously been arrested, tortured
and deported from the country in late
1980), Louis Emil Celestin and Robert
Mathurin. The government later announced
that the three had "died as a result of their
wounds" although they were reported to
have been seen in custody apparently in
good health. A fourth man, Julien Boigris,
is also reported to have been detained in
connection with the invasion. Amnesty
International believes that these four men
were summarily executed after having
been tortured.

VSN killings
Reports of arbitrary killings by the VSN
continue to reach Amnesty International.
According to testimonies by former VSN
members, the tontons macoutes some-
times justify killings by describing the
victim as a "kamokin" (traitor), or
sayingthat the person has "saidbad things
against the government".

Members of the VSN militia

Individual cases are difficult to docu-
ment because relatives and witnesses are
usually too afraid to speak out for fear of
reprisals. Typical of the reports received
is the following.
In January 1980 in Mirago.ne, south-
westHaiti, Joseph D6cimus was reportedly
arrested by a plainclothes VSN member
whom he had refused entry to his home,
dragged and beaten all the way to the
police station and there beaten again. He
was reportedly released later only after
paying a sum of money. Joseph Decimus
died a few days after his release
apparently as a result of the injuries he
received at the time of his arrest. No
investigation was ever conducted into his
death as far as Amnesty International is
To the best of the organization's
knowledge, hardly any complaints of

killings by the VSN have been investigated
by the authorities.

Police killings
Amnesty International has also received
reports of extrajudicial executions at
Recherches Criminelles (police head-
quarters). According to a former soldier's
sworn testimony, dated 1983: "the man-
ner of execution has often been as
follows: the prisoner would be strangled
and killed at Recherches Criminelles by
the use of a special cloth designed or used
for this purpose .. The body would be
put into a car taken at night into an
area of Port-au-Prince where there were a
lot of thieves, and then the body, after
having been shot, would be dumped .
The intention was to make it appear
that the murdered persons had been
thieves ." This testimony is consistent
with that given by former police officers
interviewed by Amnesty International.

Death penalty

Although death sentences have been
passed in recent years, Amnesty Inter-
national has recorded no judicial
executions. The death sentences have
either been commuted to imprisonment
or not carried out.
In January 1981, for example, it
was reported that five members of the
army sentenced to death in 1978 had
been fully pardoned, and that three
other people sentenced to death in July
1977 had had their sentences commu-
The most recent death sentences of
which Amnesty International is aware
were imposed in 1982 on two men
convicted of murdering a French
national. Their sentences were com-
muted in January 1983 to 20 years'
imprisonment and further reduced in
January 1984 to 10 years.
According to the constitution, the
death penalty may not be imposed for
political crimes except high treason
(Article 39), although the anti-communist
law of April 1969 punishes by death
those convicted of "communist
activities". Amnesty International
knows of no one convicted under this law.
Certain criminal offences including
some categories of murder, currency
forgery and arson, carry the death
Execution is by firing-squad.


Harsh conditions in prisons

Political prisoners endure harsh conditions in Haitian prisons. Many are taken to the military barracks in
Port-au-Prince (the Casernes Dessalines), where they are held in squalid cells, often naked and in complete
The National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince is the other main prison used to hold political detainees.
Amnesty International has also received reports of political detainees being held in prisons in Hinche,
Cap Haitien, Leogane, Les Cayes, and other towns.

The Casernes Dessalines
The Casernes Dessalines is apparently
the main centre for the detention and
interrogation of people suspected of anti-
government activity. Although the barracks
is undermilitary administration, the Chief
of Police usually conducts interrogations.
The Casernes Dessalines also houses the
SD (civilian secret police).
Political detainees taken to the Casernes
Dessalines are held in damp, dark and
dirty cells, either naked or dressed only in
their underwear. Detainees leave the cells
only once a day, early in the morning, for
a shower. There is said to be no furniture
at all in the cells, only a dirty mattress on
which the prisoner sleeps and a paint tin
which serves as a toilet.
Prisoners are allowed no visits whatso-
ever and are kept completely isolated. No
reading materials or correspondence are
permitted and the prisoners do not work.
They are not allowed to communicate
with each other and if caught doing so are
likely to be beaten.
Their diet consists of three meals a day
but quantities of food are very small.
There is no regular medical treatment
in the barracks. Yves Modard (see

below), said that he and other prisoners
were visited by a doctor in 1983 but he
understood it was the first such visit for
almost a year. No medical examinations
were undertaken, although some prisoners
were given medicine after describing their
ailments. The most common medical.
problems are intestinal,. caused by the
poor prison diet and insanitary conditions.
Most of the reports of ill-treatment or
torture of political prisoners received by
Amnesty International name the Casernes
Dessalines as the place where it has
From the Casernes Dessalines political
prisoners are sometimes sent to the other
main detention centre in Haiti, the
National Penitentiary. Other detainees
have been set free without a word of
explanation; less fortunate prisoners have

Yves Midard, a Haitian film director who
had lived for some years in Mexico, was
arrested without warrant in Port-au-
Prince in 1983 and held incommunicado
for 10 days.


n L... : N ,* u ,

The military barracks known as the Casernes Dessalines. Located near the National
Palace, it is one of Port-au-Prince's largest buildings. Most of the testimonies
Amnesty International receive allege that torture takes place inside these prison walls.


"On Monday 29 August I was at
home. All of a sudden, two men
arrived at the house, dressed in
civilian clothes. [One of them]
showed me a piece of paper. I could
see the name of Colonel Albert
Pierre typed at the bottom and
underneath was his signature.


"I started to read it and tried to tear
it up. He said, 'Be careful, do not
make things worse for yourself.
"We arrived at the Casernes
Dessalines at around 7 o'clock.
They asked my name. I was taken
to a room marked No. 1 where there
were clothes and shoes. He told me
to undress. I did so, being allowed
to keep only my underpants on. He
said 'O.K., we'll take you to your
room'. We arrived at a cell which
was marked No. 12. He opened the
door and said: "There is your
room", and he closed the door ...
and he went away. There were no
interrogations. No questions.
"In the cell was a small, very
dirty mattress. There was blood on
it. I thought it was blood because of
the awful smell. I had to turn it over
to be able to sleep.
"There are 20 cells upstairs; at
ground level. Downstairs there are
12 underground cells. It is very
hard there .



'.41 L.

The National Penitentiary, the main prison

"People are brought in and let out
but not all of them. For example if
they think someone is in contact
with another, he is held a few days,
receives a few blows with a stick. If
they find out he really knows
nothing, he is freed. But there are
some who are there to stay. There
are the supporters of Sylvio Claude,
and those of de Ronceray because
they say he is a candidate for the
Presidency .

Frank Blaise
Frank Blaise, a 70-year old former
teacher and agronomist who had been
living in the USA for about 15 years,
returned to Haiti in June 1983. He was
arrested without warrant on 25 August
and taken to the Casernes Dessalines
where he was kept in solitary confine-
ment for 77 days. He was given no official
reason for the detention.

"I was in my wife's home town Petit
GoAve- atthetime. A lieutenantcame
with two heavily armed guards. He
told me that he had a'message' forme.
The 'message' turned out to be a jeep
which was waiting outside to take me
to the Casemes Dessalines.
"I was taken to Port-au-Prince. There
was a sub-officer there dressed in
khaki who took down my name, age
and the places which I had visited
while teaching in the Congo. I replied
'to these questions. I was made to stay
sitting on a bench for three to four
hours. After that I felt completely
exhausted. At about midnight or I am

., I "'*'~

i -,

in Haiti.

I was taken to another place. There I
was made to take off everything except
my underpants, and put into a very
damp and dirty cellfull of mosquitoes.
"The next morning I was taken to a
washroom alone. Prisoners are made
to wash one at a time. Then I was taken
to see the sub-lieutenant to ask him
why I had been arrested. He could not
tell me why.
"I found (imprisonment) very hard -
especially because of my age.
"The food ... in the morning we were
given a glass of chocolate with a small

l w

piece of bread. At midday, we were
given rice and beans. Only beans no
meat or vegetables; people were
always hungry.
"In the cell itself was only cement.
Damp black cement. A small mattress
and a container for our faeces near
where we slept... The prisoners had to
wash out the containers in the
"It was very hard. I could not sleep
because of the tension caused by being
kept in a dark cell."

National Penitentiary
The Penitencier national, National
Penitentiary, is the main penal institution
in Haiti, housing both ordinary and
political prisoners, men and women.
Although Amnesty International does
not collect information on ordinary
criminal prisoners, it is generally believed
that most of them have not been charged
or tried, but are kept for undetermined
periods of time subject only to the
arbitrary decision of the police, the VSN,
the armed forces or members of the
government. Often their release appears
to depend on when or whether they can
pay a bribe.
A number of political prisoners are
being held in the National Penitentiary
and in some cases their detention has
never been acknowledged by the govern-
The prison regime is reported to be less
harsh than in the Casernes Dessalines.
Some prisoners are known to have been
allowed visitors; when Sylvio Claude was
held in the National Penitentiary he was
even allowed a visit by international
observers. This, however, was exceptional.
Cells in the National Penitentiary are
multi-occupied and there is a serious
overcrowding problem. Some prisoners
have stated that they were forced to share
a cell measuring 12ft x 12ft(3.6m x 3.6m)
with some 40 to 50 other prisoners. The
cell contains no fumiture except a
mattress for each prisoner and a tin used
as a toilet. Prisoners are allowed out of
their cells for some time during the day
which they spend in a small walled yard
adjoining the cell.
Prison food is similar to that in the
CasemesDessalines, that's, itis reported
to be badly prepared and inadequate in
Those prisoners who receive visits are
able to supplement the prison diet with
food brought in to them by relatives or
friends. However, families may not be
able to afford to do this, or the prisoner
may not be allowed any visits.
There is little if any medical treatment
available within the National Penitentiary.
Reports suggest that relatives of the
prisoners, if they are able, contact a
doctor outside the prison who makes a
diagnosis on the basis of the symptoms
and signs described, and writes a
prescription. The family then takes the
medicine to the prisoners. Amnesty
International knows of one political
prisoner who died in the National
Penitentiary because of lack of adequate
medical treatment.


President's statements

On 3 March 1984 President Jean-Claude
Duvalier wrote letters to the Minister of
Justice and to the Chief of Staff of the
Haitian Armed Forces, about the protec-
tion of human rights in Haiti. In the letter
to the Chief of Staff, the President gave
instructions to "strictly prohibit members
of the Armed Forces to attack the
physical or moral integrity of any
individual, particularly using torture in
any of its forms", to bring any detainee
suspected of criminal acts before a judge
within 48 hours of arrest, and to produce a
legal warrant at the time of arrest.
In his letter to the Minister of Justice,
President Duvalier asked him to "work
scrupulously for the respect of the
principle of habeas corpus and of all other
constitutional provisions concerning the
rights of accused persons, questioning and
interrogation procedures, procedures for
imprisonment for failure to meet contrac-
tual liability and for preventive deten-
However, since the publication of
those letters in the Haitian press, a
number of people have been detained in
violation of the principles referred to by
the President and reports of the ill-
treatment of prisoners have continued to
reach Amnesty International. Indeed, it
has been reported that two priests were
arrested in late May 1984 for translating
the letters from French into Creole.
Amnesty International wrote to the
President in June 1984 pointing out that
despite his published statements, 40
named prisoners on a list submitted with
the letter "were arrested without warrant,
have been held in detention without
charge, have not been brought before a
judge and have been denied legal counsel
Their prolonged incommunicado detention



On 27 November 1979 20 days after
the VSN attack on the Haitian Human
Rights League the government announced
the creation of the Human Rights
Division of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. It was to coordinate the govern-
ment's human rights activities and those
of local or international groups which had
complaints or inquiries.
Amnesty International is not aware of
any initiative taken by the Human Rights
Division to promote or protect human

and solitary confinement appear not only
to violate provisions of Haitian legislation
but also international human rights
instruments which Haiti has signed."
(Haiti is a signatory to the American
Convention on Human Rights of the
Organization of American States.)
The continued disregard of the Haitian
constitution despite the President's letters
is illustrated by the case of Dr Hubert de
Dr de Ronceray, a professor and
former government minister, was arrested on
4 July 1984. Dr Hubert de Ronceray is the
president of the Committee on Conven-
tions and Recommendations of UNESCO
(the United Nations Educational, Scien-
tific and Cultural Organization), a
committee which investigates reports of
certain human rights violations from all
over the world. He is also director of the

rights in Haiti. It ceased to function in
On 4 August 1982 the Chambre
legislative, legislative chamber,
approved a law creating the Commis-
sion national des droits de l'homme
(CNDH), National Human Rights
Commission, with nine members ap-
pointed by the President. The first
nominations included a journalist, a
doctor, two bishops and a former
depute, deputy.
According to the law, the CNDH may
at any time inquire into reports of
violations of human rights brought to its
attention. In reporting to government
ministries, the Commission is to make

private Centre haitien d'investigation en
sciences sociales (CHISS), Haitian social
science research centre.
Dr de Ronceray was released without
charge after three days, but the CHISS
administrator, Andre Laviolette, who
was arrested on 26 June, also without
warrant, remained in detention, as did Dr
de Ronceray's driver, Joseph Simon, who
was taken into custody on 5 July. Dr de
Ronceray was confined to his home;
Andre Laviolette was released only on
3 October, and Joseph Simon was
believed to still be in incommunicado
detention in the Casernes Dessalines in
early October 1984.
The arrest of Dr de Ronceray is
believed to be due to two published
interviews in which he criticized social
injustices and the administration. The
other two men are believed to have been
arrested solely because of their links with

recommendations and suggestions regar-
ding the promotion and protection of
human rights.
The role of the Commission is limited
to receiving complaints about human
rights violations and making recommend-
ations to the competent authorities. It
meets weekly and, in a few instances,
seems to have had some influence in
obtaining the release of political prisoners.
However, there has been no evidence that
the Commission has had any significant
impact on the number or type of
violations reported to Amnesty Interna-
tional, and in cases of political significance
(such as that of Sylvio Claude) it appears
to have been particularly ineffective.

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