Haiti--steps forward, steps back : human rights 10 years after the coup / Amnesty International.


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Haiti--steps forward, steps back : human rights 10 years after the coup / Amnesty International.
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amnesty international


Steps Forward, Steps Back:

human rights 10 years after

\ the coup
September 2001 SUMMARY Al INDEX: AMR 36/01012001

On the night of 29 to 30 September 1991, a violent coup toppled the government of Jean
Bertrand Aristide, inaugurated just seven months before. Three years of bloodshed and
repression, particularly against President Aristide's supporters in the Lavalas movement,
followed. With the return to constitutional order in October 1994, expectations were high
that respect for human rights would grow in Haiti.
Over the next years some significant advances were achieved. The notorious military was
disbanded and rural chef de section network dissolved, and a civilian police force was
created to replace them. Freedom of expression and association grew exponentially.
However, some carryovers from the past, such as the largely dysfunctional justice system,
remain as obstacles; and new difficulties have arisen to undermine the progress made.
For its part, the Lavalas movement, now holding nearly all political offices, has become
associated with some worrying recurrences of the violations committed against its members
during the years following the coup. Efforts to repress freedom of expression, political
pressure on the police and the judiciary and the failure by both police and justice officials
to fulfill their duties to protect human rights are growing problems. Although the human
rights situation in Haiti does not approach the severity of repression in the years following
the coup, these are extremely worrying trends that, if not reversed, will lead to ever graver
violations of human rights.


This report summarizes a 12-page document ( words), : HAITI Steps Forward, Steps
Back: human rights 10 years after the coup (AI Index: AMR 36/010/2001) issued by
Amnesty International in September 2001. Anyone wishing further details or to take
action on this issue should consult the full document. An extensive range of our
materials on this and other subjects is available at http://www.amnesty.org and Amnesty
International news releases can be received by email:


[EMBARGOED FOR: 27 September 2001]

amnesty international

Steps Forward, Steps Back:
human rights 10 years after
the coup

September 2001
Al Index: AMR 36/010/2001



Ten years of recurring political crisis: an obstacle for human rights ............... 2

Full justice for victims of the coup continues to be denied ....................... 4

Freedom of expression and association: the decade's fragile gains ................ 5
1. Freedom of expression under threat ........................... . 6
2. Difficult situation of human rights defenders .................... . 7

Institutional reform : still a priority ? .............................. ........ 7
1. Security forces: the shadow of the past ........................ . 7
2. Judicial independence jeopardized ................................. 9
3. Prison conditions remain intolerable ......................... .... 11

The responsibility of the current government for the future of human rights in Haiti 11


Steps Forward, Steps Back: human rights 10 years after

the coup

On the night of 29 to 30 September 1991, a violent coup toppled the government of Jean
Bertrand Aristide, inaugurated just seven months before in the wake of what independent
observers called the first truly free and fair elections in Haiti's history.' President Aristide was
forced to flee the country. Three years of repression and bloodshed followed, but throughout,
Haitians resiliently continued to believe in the possibility of more open and just governance,
protective of human rights.

With the return to constitutional order in October 1994 following deployment of a multinational
intervention force, popular expectations took hold again. Over the next seven years some
significant advances were achieved. However, new difficulties have arisen, complicated by
ongoing disparities and unresolved obstacles. The Lavalas2 movement which suffered so
extremely under the military dictatorship has, now that its leaders hold political power, become
associated with some worrying recurrences of the violations committed against its members
during the years following the coup. The result is a human rights situation that is more serious
today than at any point since the return of Aristide.3 A series of attacks on police stations
between 26 and 28 July 2001, allegedly by former military, have exacerbated the situation.

Efforts to repress freedom of expression, political pressure on the police and the judiciary and
the failure by both police and justice officials to fulfill their duties to protect the rights of Haitian
citizens have reversed some gains of recent years. Although the human rights situation in Haiti
does not approach the severity of repression in the years following the coup, these are extremely
worrying trends that, if not reversed, will lead to ever graver violations of human rights.

This document outlines important achievements in the ten years since the coup, as well as the
main unresolved human rights issues that threaten to undermine that progress. The focus is on
three themes which are fundamental to the overall climate of respect for human rights: justice

See, inter alia, "Haiti: International force or national compromise?" lan Martin, Journal of Latin
American Studies; vol. 31, p. 712; 1999.

Lavalas, the Haitian Creole word for 'flood,' was the term used to describe the vast popular movement
that brought Aristide his electoral victory in 1990. Fanmi Lavalas, or 'Lavalas Family,' is the current
name of his political party.

For more in-depth information on these issues, please see Amnesty International, Haiti: Human Rights
Challenges Facing the New Government, AI Index: AMR 36/002/2001, April 2001, and previous Amnesty
International documents.

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AI Index: AMR 36/010/2001


for victims of the coup; freedom of expression and association; and the functioning of key
institutions including the police, judiciary and prison system.


Following the coup the Haitian military and its allies,4 already notorious for widespread human
rights violations, maintained control through extreme brutality. Security forces deliberately and
indiscriminately opened fire into crowds, killing hundreds of unarmed civilians. Many of
those suspected of having supported President Aristide, a popular Catholic priest who had been
elected to the presidency by 67% of the vote, were beaten, imprisoned, or killed; poor
communities and grassroots organizations, where support for him had been strongest, were
particularly targeted by the security forces and their paramilitary allies.6 By 1994 hundreds of
thousands of Haitians were en marronage (in hiding) and tens of thousands of others had
attempted to leave the country altogether, most frequently as "boat people" headed in
unseaworthy craft for the United States.7 Many of these died at sea or were intercepted and
unceremoniously returned. The public pressure created by this situation contributed to the
decision, formalized by United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution, to deploy a
multinational intervention force in September 1994 which restored Aristide to office one month

The Haitian Constitution prohibits consecutive presidential terms. In 1996 Aristide was
succeeded as President by Ren6 Prdval, who had been his Prime Minister. An ongoing political
stalemate throughout much of Pr6val's term, sparked by allegations of electoral fraud for some
Senate races, the 1997 resignation of the then-Prime Minister and the inability to agree on the
latter's successor, hindered efforts at institution-building, intended as one of the government's
main priorities. It was hoped that elections would resolve the crisis; they were repeatedly
postponed and finally set to begin in mid-2000. Throughout 2000 the human rights situation
declined as electoral tensions grew. In the end, Aristide'sFanmi Lavalas party won the vast

4 The security forces and their allies included the Forces Armies d'Haiti (FADH), Haitian Armed Forces,
led by General Raoul Cddras as Commander-in-Chief; the Police Militaire, military police, headed by
Police Chief Michel Frangois; the attaches, their civilian auxiliaries; the notorious rural police chiefs, or
chefs de section, disarmed and placed under civilian authority by Aristide but reinstated after the coup;
and, from 1993, a paramilitary organization called Front RNvolutionnaire Armd pour le Progres d'Haiti
(FRAPH), Revolutionary Armed Front for the Progress of Haiti, led by Emmanuel "Toto" Constant.
5See Amnesty International Report 1992; and Amnesty International, Haiti: Shattered Hopes: Human
rights violations and the coup, AI Index: AMR 36/03/92, January 1992.
See Amnesty International, Haiti: Human rights gagged: attacks on freedom of expression, AI Index:
AMR 36/25/93, October 1993; and Amnesty International, Haiti: On the Horns of a Dilemma: military
repression or foreign invasion?, AI Index: AMR 36/33/94, August 1994.
See op cit., On the Horns of a Dilemma, 1994.

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AI Index: AMR 36/010/2001

majority of the 7,500 legislative and local contests. However, the results of several Senate races
were contested by the Haitian opposition and by independent international observers, who
charged that vote tallying methodology favoured Fanmi Lavalas. Because of this dispute, the
international electoral monitoring mission declined to observe the presidential elections in
November 2000. In spite of some local observers' claims of fraud, it was generally accepted
that Aristide won that contest by an overwhelming majority of votes.

Throughout the period following the 1994 return of Aristide to the country's presidency, an
international mission of the United Nations and, until it pulled out due to lack of funds in 1999,
the Organization of American States, monitored and provided support to the security forces, the
judiciary and the prison system. Limitations and drawbacks notwithstanding, it was credited
with helping to create a climate in which Haitians could work toward strengthening these key
institutions and instilling institutional respect for human rights. In the wake of the marked
deterioration in the human rights situation during the 2000 elections, in February 2001 this
police and human rights support presence was withdrawn by decision of UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan. Some limited work is still carried out with the justice and prison systems by the UN
Development Programme (UNDP); and in April Haiti once again formally requested UN
assistance in addressing the outstanding human rights issues.8 The UN Human Rights
Commission pledged to consider the request seriously, but has yet to publicly announce any

At the time this was written, a reported US$ 500 million9 in international aid, covering multi-
and bilateral programmes from most governments who have traditionally given funds to Haiti,
is frozen. The suspension was imposed by donor governments in 1997 following allegations
of electoral fraud involving some Senate races and the resignation of the then-Prime Minister,
as mentioned above. The suspension continued through 1999 after President Pr6val refused to
extend the terms of sitting officials, effectively instituting rule by decree. The 2000 elections
were intended to resolve the political crisis but, with the vote-tallying dispute mentioned above,
instead became grounds for further contention.

The years of political stalemate, with the resulting cut-off of aid, have made day-to-day life in
Haiti ever more difficult, preventing any movement towards realisation of an adequate standard
of living, health care and education.10 Haiti is already an extremely impoverished country; in
2001 UNDP's Human Development Index ranked it 134th out a total of 162 countries

' Commission on Human Rights, Chair statement on Haiti. 57T session, 25 April 2001,
Cited in various press reports, most recently, "Haiti's Aristide Says 'Show Me the Money"', Wall Street
Journal, July 6, 2001.
10 See the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted and opened for
signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200 A(XXI) of 16 December 1966;
entry into force, 3 January 1976. See articles 6, 11, 12 and 13.

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worldwide," and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently listed it as one of
33 countries worldwide to be facing "exceptional food emergencies."'2 In July 2001 Secretary
General Annan indicated that resolution of the political crisis was a prerequisite for any
resumption of aid.13 Negotiations, supported mainly by the Organisation of American States
(OAS), are underway between FanmiLavalas and representatives of opposition parties in Haiti,
to resolve the crisis and so unblock international aid.

While still in exile and as a concession in the negotiations underway to enable his return,
Aristide issued a decree giving amnesty for political offenses14 committed between the
coup and 3 July 1993, when a political agreement for his return was first reached with
the military'5 Other offenses, including human rights violations committed by the army or
its supporters, were not included in the proposed amnesty. However, as the political
agreement was never fulfilled, the amnesty was never enacted.

After Aristide's return to Haiti in October 1994, he issued a decree abolishing the first
amnesty and replacing it with a more limited one, covering solely the act of the coup
itself."6 To date, no defendants have invoked this amnesty to contest prosecution.
In December 1994, Aristide established by decree the Commission national de vdritj etjustice
(CNVJ), the National Commission of Truth and Justice, to investigate human rights violations
committed under the de facto regime and to recommend reparations for victims and reforms of
state institutions.'6 The final report, Si MPa Rele ("If I Don't Cry Out"), was submitted in
February 1996. The report recommended steps to ensure effective reparation for victims of
human rights violations. In spite of some punctual measures, these and other of the report's
recommendations have yet to be acted on.

The most significant trial for human rights violations carried out during the coup period was the
November 2000judgment of those accused of the 1994 attack and massacre on the pro-Aristide
shantytown of Raboteau. Sixteen defendants, including members of the Haitian Armed Forces,
the Forces Armies d'Harti (FADH),and of the paramilitary Front Rdvolutionnaire Armd pour
le Progrbs d'Harti (FRAPH), Revolutionary Armed Front for the Progress of Haiti, were tried

"Human Development Report 2001, United Nations Development Program, 10 July 2001.
12 "Foodcrops and Shortages" report, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, 3 July 2001.

" UN NEWSERVICE, 18 May 2001: "Political stability needed for effective international aid to Haiti,
Annan says."
14 Constitutionally, the President of the Republic of Haiti can only grant amnesty with regard to 'matiere
politique', or political offenses (art. 147); these are understood to include, for example, the carrying out
of a coup against the constitutional order.

" This was the Governor's Island Agreement, signed by Aristide and coup leader General Raoul Cedras.

'6The text of the amnesty is as follows: "sont amnistids. les auteurs et complices du Coup d'Etat du
30 Septembre, 1991 qui a entraini le depart forced pour l'exil du Prdsident de la Ripublique .". See
Le Moniteur, 1 December 1994, at 55. (Unofficial translation: "Are hereby amnestied... the authors and
accomplices of the Coup d'Etat of September 30, 1991, which led to the forced departure for exile of the
President of the Republic...".)

and convicted of involvement. Thirty seven others, including General Raoul C6dras, head
of the military government; Emmanuel Constant, founding leader of FRAPH; police chief
Michel Frangois; and C6dras' deputy Philippe Biamby were tried in absentia- and
sentenced to life in prison with hard labour and a fine amounting to one billion Haitian
gourdes, or roughly US$ 43 million.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to address other past abuses. The non-governmental organization
(NGO) Fondation 30 Septembre carries out weekly marches in several Haitian towns to press
for an end to impunity for past abuses and reparation for victims, while the NGO Map Viv
provides medical and psychological support to victims of past violations. Efforts at prosecution
also continue; on 28 May former military general Prosper Avril, who headed the country for two
years following a 1988 military coup, was arrested, reportedly on charges of assault, torture and
illegal arrest of six Haitian activists in 1989 and 1990.

By far the most serious obstacle to ending impunity is the largely dysfunctional state of the
justice system, discussed below. Another blockage is the refusal by the United States of
America (USA) to return intact nearly 160,000 pages of documents and other materials
confiscated from FRAPH and FADH headquarters, by US troops belonging to the multinational
force that restored President Aristide to power. The documents are believed to contain
information crucial to investigating past human rights violations in Haiti. When the Haitian
government requested that the USA return the materials, US authorities reviewed the documents
and reportedly blanked out sections where reference is believed to have been made to US
citizens or US government activities in the country. Haiti has refused to accept them unless they
are intact; however, the USA has consistently ignored international calls that the documents be
returned in their original form. Amnesty International believes that the USA has an obligation
to return the confiscated documents intact. Failure to do so constitutes a serious obstacle to the
effective investigation and prosecution of human rights violations during the military regime.


With the end of de facto military rule and the return of Aristide to the presidency in October
1994, the space for political debate and criticism of the authorities opened enormously. The
systematic repression of journalists, which had included killings, torture and arbitrary arrest,"8
was replaced by a broad spectrum of opinion expressed widely in print and by radio, which, due
to lack of infrastructure, poverty and low literacy levels, is Haiti's primary media. Popular

17 They currently live abroad, not in Haiti.
See, inter alia, Amnesty International, Haiti: Human rights gagged: attacks on freedom of expression, AI
Index: AMR 36/25/93, October 1993.

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meetings and demonstrations became common, and the latter were policed, with some
exceptions, without intimidation or repressive tactics.

1. Freedom of expression under threat
Recent developments in Haiti, however, have threatened this hard-won space. Growing political
tensions over the last year have helped to undermine respect and tolerance for differing
opinions. If this trend is not reversed, there is a risk of ever more serious human rights
violations as the tendency to repress and penalize dissent gains strength and begins to influence
the functioning of key institutions.

Journalist and political commentator Jean Dominique, longstanding critic of anti-democratic
tendencies within the Haitian political scene, was shot dead on 3 April 2000 by unknown
assailants who waited for him outside the courtyard of his radio station, Radio Haiti Inter.
Station guard Jean Claude Louissaint was killed with him. Thousands of people throughout the
country have repeatedly taken to the streets to demand that those responsible be brought to

Backed by this strong public concern, the investigating judge assigned to the case overcame
repeated obstacles to his investigation, posed, among others, by partisans of some of the
political figures summoned for questioning. However, on 14 June 2001 he resigned, citing
political pressures blocking his enquiry as well as threats to his security. It was only after the
Ministry of Justice committed itself to backing the investigation, to sanctioning those who
attempted to block it and to ensuring security that the judge resumed work on the case. The
results of his investigation have been passed to the public prosecutor for follow-up, but the
content of his findings has not been made public.

This is a crucial case for Haiti's future: impunity cannot be permitted if the country is to be truly
committed to freedom of expression and to justice. Judicial authorities must be given the support
and protection they need to conduct a full and impartial investigation, followed by a transparent
trial meeting domestic and international guarantees for due process.

Since the killing of Jean Dominique, journalists have received numerous threats and radio
stations have on occasion been attacked. These incidents have been reminiscent of those
carried out by supporters of the military regime against pro-Aristide media during the coup; and
in fact some of the stations targeted are the same as during the coup years. In recent incidents,
on 20 June Fritson Orius, another Radio Haiti Inter broadcaster was reportedly followed, forced
from his car and threatened by two armed men who claimed to be policemen. The men
reportedly claimed that they recognized the car he was driving as having belonged to Jean
Dominique. Meanwhile, the Haitian National Police denied that any of its officers had been
involved. On June 9, 10 and 11 the director of information of the Port-au-Prince-based radio
station Signal FM reportedly received anonymous death threats after questioning the behavior
of some Fanmi Lavalas-elected senators in his broadcast.

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Supporters of the Lavalas movement and of exiled president Aristide were those most at risk
of violence and repression during the coup and throughout the years of military rule.
Throughout the 2000 elections party supporters, most frequently those claiming to represent
Fanmi Lavalas, have themselves engaged in violence and intimidation against opposition
meetings and demonstrations. At times this violence has been led by local officials elected
under the Fanmi Lavalas banner."9

On numerous occasions police, though present, have been overwhelmed, or have simply not
intervened at all. In a few instances police were seen to overtly comply with Fanmi Lavalas
partisans, allowing them to mistreat demonstrators or opposition figures. The current Fanmi
Lavalas party has generally ignored calls that it condemn violence and intimidation committed
in its name and that it cooperate in bringing those responsible to justice.

2. Difficult situation of human rights defenders
Grassroots and human rights organizations suffered greatly under the coup, with many members
killed, imprisoned or driven into hiding or exile. With the return of Aristide this situation
improved, and NGOs such as the Justice and Peace Commission, the National Coalition for
Haitian Rights, other members of the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations and
other organizations were able to regroup. NGOs have carried out extensive popular education
on human rights issues, have formed a prison observation network, and regularly investigate and
report on a range of human rights violations by police and other actors. The Office de la
Protection du Citoyen or ombudsman's office, opened in November 1997, provides Haitians
with another channel for complaints of misconduct by officials. As with all governmental
institutions, the issue of political impartiality is key with regard to this office.

Though the situation for human rights defenders does not approach the severity of the coup
years, they continue to face serious obstacles and dangers. Freedom of expression and
association are increasingly being curtailed, most often by political partisans or local officials.
Human rights groups and their individual members have come under intimidation, for example
in 1999 with the circulation of anonymous tracts containing threats against specific activists.


1. Security forces: the shadow of the past
Haiti has a long history of repressive security forces at the service of those with political power.
The security apparatus at the time of the coup was effective for widespread repression, with the
Haitian Armed Forces, of which the Military Police formed a part, supported in the extensive

" See Amnesty International, Haiti: Human Rights Challenges Facing the New Government, AI Index:
AMR 36/002/2001, April 2001.

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rural areas by the notorious chefs de section system of rural police chiefs under their command.
The reach of these forces was further extended by corps of attaches, or armed civilian
auxiliaries. Finally, the paramilitary group FRAPH worked closely with the armed forces and
its members were frequently implicated in killings and other serious human rights

As Aristide returned to Haiti in October 1994 along with a multinational force, the leaders
of the Haitian security forces fled the country. One of the most significant steps taken by
Aristide in human rights terms was to reduce the size of the armed forces and to separate
police powers from those of the army. After six months he officially announced the abolition
of the armed forces, including the military police; a Women's Ministry was created and given
offices in the old FADH headquarters. The chefs de section were also disbanded. In
November 1994 a law was passed creating the civilian Police Nationale d'Haiti, Haitian
National Police (HNP).

The new police force was put together relatively quickly, with the guidance of UN advisors and
trainers, in response to the need to ensure public security. In a move that generated some
criticism, some 1,500 former military were included in the force, which numbered 5,000 officers
by 1996. At the same time, important efforts were made to include human rights components
in the training of new recruits. In 1995 aCode de D&ontologie, Code of Conduct, was published
and an Inspection Gindrale, Office of the Inspector-General, established to investigate alleged
human rights violations or administrative misconduct by police officers. Although the latter has
yet to consistently fulfill its mandate, its creation demonstrated a new awareness of the need for
accountability by the public force. HNP police officers have committed some serious human
rights violations, but overall the force has a significantly better human rights record than that
of the old armed forces, military police andchefs de section. However, serious concerns remain
about the functioning of the current security forces.

Ten years ago, Haiti's military leaders had an array of security corps, both official and
unofficial, to impose their will. This changed with the disbanding of the military and the chefs
de section system; without them, theattachi network and FRAPH faded as well. In a worrying
throwback to old practices, local officials in some areas have begun creating their own illegal
'security forces' either to supplement scant police presence or to act as independent enforcers.
These forces are most often made up of those who supported the officials' electoral campaign.
They have no legal standing and are not legally accountable to anyone, even the official who
created them. They often act in a politicized fashion, targeting those believed to oppose their
own party. These forces further undermine the functioning and authority of the police in the
areas where they operate.20

20 See Amnesty International, Haiti: Human Rights Challenges Facing the New Government, AI Index:
AMR 36/002/2001, April 2001.

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When faced with armed groups acting illegally under the auspices of electedFanmi Lavalas
officials, police have generally backed down; on some occasions, in behavior uncomfortably
reminiscent of Haiti's past security forces, police appeared to actively collude with them. As
seen in the discussion of freedom of expression, police officers have been accused of
partisanship in failing to protect participants in opposition demonstrations or meetings from
violent individuals claiming to act on behalf of FanmiLavalas. Such acquiescence must cease
immediately if the police are to fulfill their mandate as an independent and impartial body.
Officers must be reminded of their duty to protect citizens from violence, and must be
reinforced in doing so even when this entails confronting those who act in the name of the
dominant political party. Similarly, any partisan behaviour by individual police agents must be
investigated by the Inspection Gindrale unit and, if warranted, they should be dismissed.
Recruitment to all branches of the HNP must be based strictly on merit. Similarly, the rural
police force (under discussion as a means of increasing scant police presence in the countryside)
must be created under central control rather than subject to local bodies which may themselves
be liable to act in a partisan fashion.

Some reports of violations continue, for example of beatings of criminal suspects during arrest
by the police. To combat this, theInspection Gnderale unit must be strengthened and offenders
sanctioned; and where appropriate they must be tried openly and transparently, in compliance
with international standards. More on the issue of prosecutions for human rights violations is
included below.

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number and use of illegally held firearms,
linked in part to a rise, relative to ten years ago, in the use of Haiti as a transit point for drug
trafficking. In the face of violent and often organized crime, police have been seen as
ineffective, and have been criticized for not adequately fulfilling their duty to protect Haiti's
citizens. This failure to protect has in turn been used as a pretext by sectors interested in the re-
establishment of the armed forces, rather than in strengthening the existing civilian police.
Tensions around this issue were exacerbated by a series of attacks on police stations, between
27 and 29 July 2001, in which five police officers were reportedly killed. These attacks were
allegedly carried out by members of the former military or their supporters.

2. Judicial independence jeopardized
Like the armed forces, the justice system was created as a means of control; as such it was never
intended to function as an effective means of redress or protection. Following the return of
Aristide to power the security forces were dismantled altogether and then reconstructed, but not
so the judiciary. Recommendations of the CNVJ report notwithstanding, the political deadlock
of the past several years has prevented an overarching judicial reform programme from being
agreed upon, much less implemented. As a result, while the institution has proven that it can
mobilize effectively around key trials such as Raboteau and Carrefour-Feuilles (see below), as

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a whole it remains largely dysfunctional; and the vast majority of Haitians remain without
effective access to justice.

Some efforts have been made to deal with violations by actors more closely linked to the current
authorities. In September 2000 four police officers, including a Commissioner, were
sentenced to three years in prison for their role in the May 1999 extrajudicial executions of
eleven men in the Carrefour-Feuilles neighborhood. Although some criticism was levied at
the application of the minimum sentence, the fact that the accused were arrested and tried was
an important demonstration of the will to hold the HNP accountable for human rights violations.

In spite of the absence of a comprehensive reform programme, some important initiatives have
been taken. The constitutionally-mandated Ecole de la Magistrature, Magistrates College,
inaugurated in July 1995, trains justices of the peace and other judges and sets guidelines for
judicial personnel. Draft bills were prepared under the Pr6val administration to address key
issues such as the administration of justice and political impartiality of judges and prosecutors.
The United Nations Development Programme reportedly has a project to assist the Haitian
authorities with some of these issues. The main challenges are described below.

However, it remains the case that most Haitians still have no access to the judicial system. The
majority of crimes go uninvestigated and unpunished, and the existing laws are not consistently
applied. Accusations of corruption are frequent. As a result, neighborhood crime watch brigades
commonly carry out 'popular justice' lynchings of suspected criminals. Police officers have
attempted to justify extrajudicial executions and other illegal killings of suspects on the grounds
that the justice system is too corrupt and ineffective to prevent violent criminals from ending
up back on the street.

Judicial investigations are meant to be independent and impartial; yet the investigation of the
killing of Jean Dominique (see above) provides several examples of political figures' attempts
to obstruct the process. In addition to general reform efforts to safeguard impartiality, in
individual cases such as this one central authorities must do all in their power to support the
independence of judges and prosecutors in the face of external pressures. Moreover, judges at
all levels must be recruited on the basis of merit alone. Such measures would go a long way to
increasing the credibility of the system and to providing Haiti, for the first time in its history,
with a functioning and independent justice system.

Failure to investigate and try suspects leads to a growing backlog of pre-trial detainees in Haiti's
prisons, contributing to mass overcrowding and extremely poor conditions as described below.
Due to the system's lack of credibility and a general fear of reprisals citizens are at times
reluctant to serve jury duty, making it even more difficult to try cases.

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3. Prison conditions remain intolerable
Before Aristide's return, the prison system was run by the armed forces, and prisons were the
scene of egregious violations. In June 1995 a separate prison guard corps was created; it is now
integrated into the HNP. With collaboration from the United Nations Development Programme,
specialized training, guidelines, a code of conduct and an internal oversight mechanism were
created for prison guards. As a result, the prisons are significantly more well-managed than they
were ten years ago. Limited improvements to infrastructure have been carried out, but a great
deal remains unaddressed.

Exacerbated by overcrowding due to the backlog of cases before the justice system, prison
conditions generally do not meet international standards, jeopardizing the health and safety of
detainees. The government must prioritize resolving blockages in the food pipeline, which are
reportedly related in part to the lack of controls and monitoring of food supplies; these
blockages have serious repercussions for detainees, especially in the National Penitentiary,
where many prisoners are from the countryside and do not receive regular food supplements
from home.

Under Haitian law, no one under 16 can be sent to prison; rather, they must receive
rehabilitative care at home or in an appropriate education or health center. However, in spite
of the law, which dates from 1961, there is still no rehabilitation facility for minors; they, along
with women, are housed in an old telecommunications station inadequately converted to serve
as a prison. Setting up adequate facilities for minors and women must be a priority. More
efforts are required to ensure that minors are never held with adults.

There have been some allegations of misconduct by agents of theDirection de l 'Administration
Pinitentiaire (DAP), Direction of Penitentiary Administration, and these seem to have generally
been addressed by the general inspection unit. All allegations of human rights violations must
be fully investigated and those accused held accountable.


The scale and intensity of human rights violations in Haiti today does not approach the severity
of those committed in the years following the coup. However, since the electoral period in 2000
the human rights situation has deteriorated more than at any point since the return to
constitutional order in 1994. Political pressures on the police and the judiciary; the failure of
those institutions to fulfill their duties in protecting the rights of Haitians; and crackdowns on
the exercise of fundamental freedoms have undone some of the progress achieved in recent
years. If not reversed, this deterioration could lead to ever more serious violations of human

Amnesty International September 2001

Al Index: AMR 36/010/2001

President Aristide, party leaders, the primarily Fanmi Lavalas officials at all levels of
government and party supporters should be unusually sensitive to these issues, due to their own
experience of extreme state brutality during the coup. Their dominant position on the Haitian
political scene gives them unprecedented influence and scope for addressing these concerns.
However, partisans' attacks on freedom of expression remain largely unchecked and
unrestrained by party leaders; and appointed and elected officials have themselves been
implicated in attempts to undermine and politicize the institutions most implicated in protecting
human rights. As a result the functioning of the institutions themselves has declined.

President Aristide, party leaders and appointed and elected officials at all levels must take
immediate measures to reverse the deterioration in human rights protection. The
overwhelmingly Fanmi Lavalas officials now in power are accountable for what happens in
Haiti under their authority; they must ensure that the suffering endured under the military
dictatorship does not reoccur under their government, and that the human rights gains made at
such a high price are not irreversibly lost.

Amnesty International September 2001

Al Index: AMR 36/010/2001