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Imericas Watch/National Coalition for Haitian Refugees/Caribbean Riglh
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THE MORE THINGS
HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI
The National Coalition for Haitian Refugees
Photos by Carol Halebian/Gamma-Liason
Front cover: Residents of Port-au-Prince examine campaign posters at
headquarters of Haitian Christian Democratic Party (November 1987).
Back cover: Headquarters of National Agricultural and Industrial
Party in Port-au-Prince (November 1987). The banner reads: "A people without
a memory is a people without a future."
Cover design by Charlotte Staub
This report is available for $10.00 from:
Americas Watch National Coalition or Haitian Refugees
36 West 44th Street or 275 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10036 New York, NY 10001
1989 Americas Watch, The National Coalition for Haitian Refugees
and Caribbean Rights
All rights reserved.
We dedicate this report to Michael S. Hooper, our cherished friend,
whose unparalleled devotion to human rights in Haiti and commitment to
Haitians fleeing abuses in their country will always serve as an inspiration to
those of us who seek to continue his work.
Table of Contents
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................... iii
I. INTRODUCTION ...................... 1
II. ATTEMPTS TO CONTROL THE ELECTORAL
PROCESS ............................ 9
A. Accelerating Violence ........................ 10
B. Logistical Obstructions . . . . . . 13
C. Election Day ............................. 16
D. The Substitute "Elections" . . . . . 19
E. Electoral Developments Under the Avril Government . 21
F. Requirements for Free and Fair Elections . . . 24
III. POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION .27
A. Overview ............................... 27
B. The National Governing Council . . . . 29
C. The Manigat Government ..................... 31
D. The Namphy Government ...................... 34
1. The Countryside ......................... 34
a. The Closing of Offices of The Federation
of Agricultural Workers ................... 34
b. The Murder of Four Members of the Labadie
Youth Movement ........................ 35
c. The Arrest and Beating of Eight Members
of the Papaye Peasant Movement ............. 36
d. Other Violence and Arrests ............... 37
e. The Expulsion of Father Rend Poirier ........... 38
2. Port-au-Prince ........................... 39
a. The Ransacking of the Home of Laennec Hurbon .... 39
b. The Murder of Lafontant Joseph ............. 40
c. Other Killings ......................... 41
d. The Attack on the Church of St. Jean Bosco . ... 42
E. The Avril Government ....................... 46
1. Attacks Against Outspoken Political Opponents ....... 48
a. The Murder of Two Members of V6rit6 .......... 48
b. The Arrest and Beating of Five Members of ANOP 49
c. The Killing of Luc B. Innocent ............
d. The Arrest of 15 Soldiers of the Presidential Guard .
e. The Arrest of Rockefeller Guerre and Sylvain Jolibois
2. Attacks on Freedom of Assembly and Association .
3. Land Disputes .
4. M military Thefts ..........................
5. Other Military Violence ...................
6. Unattributed "Insecurity" . . . . .
7. Military Interference with Legal Process . . .
IV. MISTREATMENT OF PRISONERS .........
A. Recherches Criminelles .....................
B. Casernes Dessalines .........................
C. Fort Dimanche ............................
D. The National Penitentiary ...... ..............
V. ATTACKS ON THE PRESS ...............
VI. FAILURE TO REDRESS PAST ABUSES ......
A. The Report on Violence Surrounding
the Elections of November 29, 1987 ..............
B. The Report on the Investigation into the Murder of Louis
Eugene Athis and Two Companions on August 2, 1987 .
C. Continuing Investigations ............... ......
1. The Murder of Yves Volel ...................
2. The Murder of Lafontant Joseph ..............
3. The Attack on the Church of St. Jean Bosco . . .
VII. ECONOMIC BACKGROUND ............
A. The CNG's Economic Policy . . . . .
B. The Suspension of Aid ......................
C. The Deteriorating Haitian Economy ..............
D. Future Prospects ..........................
VIII. US HUMAN RIGHTS POLICY IN HAITI .....
This is the eighth report on human rights in Haiti issued by Americas
Watch and the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees (NCHR) since 1983.
This report covers events since the issuance of the last report by these two or-
ganizations in mid-November 1987, Haiti: Terror and the 1987Elections. Join-
ing them in issuing this report is Caribbean Rights, a coalition of seven
nongovernmental human rights organizations from the Caribbean.
The report is based in substantial part on seven fact-finding missions
to Haiti. In November-December 1987, Americas Watch and NCHR estab-
lished an "Election Watch" office in Haiti for the purpose of monitoring human
rights conditions surrounding the scheduled national elections of November 29.
The office was manned by Michael S. Hooper, then Executive Director of
NCHR, and Jocelyn McCalla, then Associate Director and now Executive
Director of NCHR. During the days immediately surrounding the elections,
they were joined by two representatives of Americas Watch, Kenneth Roth,
Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch, and Stanley Engelstein, a member
of the board of directors of Americas Watch; and two representatives of Carib-
bean Rights, Frank Solomon, an attorney from Trinidad and Tobago, and Msgr.
Jan Caulewaert, a Roman Catholic Bishop from Belgium who is associated with
Pax Christi International.
Hooper returned to Haiti in January 1988 to monitor the human rights
conditions surrounding the substitute national elections called for January 17.
The mission was Hooper's last for our organizations; after many years of dedi-
cated and invaluable service, he died of cancer in September at the age of 41.
In May 1988, McCalla traveled to Haiti to'look into random killings
and other abuses committed during the presidency of Leslie Manigat.
In August 1988, a six-member delegation traveled to Haiti to inves-
tigate the deteriorating human rights situation under then President Lt. Gen.
Henri Namphy. The delegation was composed of Roth; McCalla; Marina Kauf-
man, a member of the board of directors of Americas Watch; Josh DeWind, a
member of the board of directors of NCHR; Michael McCormack, Executive
Secretary of Caribbean Rights; and Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, coordinator of the
Sao Paulo Human Rights Commission of the Federal Bar Association of Brazil.
The delegation was assisted during portions of its investigation by Maryse Fon-
tus, who joined Human Rights Watch in September as its Orville Schell Fellow.
Since Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril assumed the presidency, McCalla and
Anne Fuller, Assistant Director of NCHR, traveled to Haiti in November 1988;
McCalla returned in December 1988; and Fuller visited again in January 1989.
Fuller, McCalla, Fontus, Kaufman and Roth contributed to the writ-
ing of this report.
The National Coalition for Haitian Refugees is comprised of 47 legal,
human rights, civil rights, church, labor and Haitian community organizations
working together to seek justice for Haitian refugees in the United States and
to monitor and promote human rights in Haiti. Its Executive Director is Jocelyn
McCalla and its Assistant Director is Anne Fuller.
Americas Watch was established in 1981 to monitor and promote ob-
servance of free expression and other internationally recognized human rights
in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The Chairman is Adrian
W. DeWind and the Vice Chairmen are Aryeh Neier and Stephen Kass. The
staff consists of Juan E. Mendez, Executive Director; Cynthia Brown, Associate
Director; Jemera Rone, Counsel; Anne Manuel, Reports Editor; and Mary
Jane Camejo, Research Associate.
Americas Watch is part of Human Rights Watch, which also includes
Africa Watch, Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch. The Executive Committee of
Human Rights Watch consists of: Robert L. Bernstein, Chairman; Adrian W.
DeWind, Vice Chairman; Roland Algrant, Dorothy Cullman, Jack Greenberg,
Alice H. Henkin, Stephen Kass, Jeri Laber,* Aryeh Neier,* Matthew Nimetz,
Bruce Rabb and Kenneth Roth.* Its staff consists of: Aryeh Neier, Executive
Director; Kenneth Roth, Deputy Director; Holly Burkhalter, Associate Direc-
tor; Wendy Luers, Special Projects Director; Susan Osnos, Press Director; and
Joanna Weschler, Prisoner Watch Coordinator.
Caribbean Rights is composed of human rights organizations from the
Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and St. Vincent and the
Grenadines, with headquarters in Barbados. Its Executive Secretary is Michael
McCormack and its Coordinator is Wendy Singh.
The authors wish to thank the following Haitian human rights organiza-
tions for their assistance: the Ecumenical Center for Human Rights, the Haitian
Center for Human Rights, the Haitian League for Human Rights, the Institute
for Democratic Education, the Karl Leveque Center, and the League of Former
Copies of this report are available for $10.00 from:
Human Rights Watch
36 West 44th Street
New York, New York 10036
The National Coalition for Haitian Refugees
275 Seventh Avenue
New York, New York 10001
Since the downfall of the Duvalier dictatorship three years ago, Haiti
has been ruled by a series of military-dominated governments. Each, including
the current government of Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril, has vowed to usher in
democracy and respect human rights. Each, including the current one, has
mocked these vows by its actions. Today, Haiti is little closer to an elected, law-
ful government than it was on February 7, 1986, when "President-for-Life" Jean-
Claude Duvalier boarded a military transport plane for exile in France.
Violence directed or tolerated by the army continues to be the government's
principal medium for addressing the proliferation of popular organizations
pressing for democratic change.
The governments, to be sure, have had different faces. And at various
moments different factions of the army have been ascendant, frequently in con-
junction with allied paramilitary forces. But behind the rotating governments,
the changing facades and the competing military factions lies an unwavering
refusal by the army to relinquish its grip on power, together with the oppor-
tunities for corruption which power has implied. The toll for maintaining this
privileged position has been ongoing political violence and serious human rights
Gen. Avril, the current president, has been no exception to this dis-
turbing consistency. Among Haitian democrats and the human rights com-
munity, the cautious optimism that greeted Gen. Avril's rise to power in a
September 1988 coup has given way to deepening disappointment, as the Avril
government increasingly adopts the repressive practices of its predecessors. Al-
though Gen. Avril remains verbally committed to democratic changes, he has
proved unwilling to break with the reactionary forces that stand opposed to
This unwillingness cannot be explained by lack of opportunity. Gen.
Avril was brought to power by a group of noncommissioned officers who took
umbrage at the ascendancy and increasingly brazen violence of paramilitary for-
ces operating under the protection of Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy and his allies.
These soldiers continue to press for reforms and would be natural allies of a
government that acted to promote democracy and human rights.
Instead, Gen. Avril imprisoned fifteen of their leaders, holding them
for over two months without charge or trial, on unsubstantiated allegations of
plotting a coup. He has reinstated corrupt and violent commanders who had
been ousted by their troops. And he has halted significant efforts to disband the
paramilitary forces that have played a major role in the most violent episodes
in Haiti's recent past.
Large segments of the democratic opposition also greeted Gen. Avril's
rise to power with offers of dialogue and cooperation in moving toward elec-
tions and building respect for human rights. Gen. Avril has pursued a dialogue
with these groups and has vowed to permit an independent electoral commis-
sion to run elections. But he has not yet endorsed the full set of electoral terms
contained in the popularly enacted Constitution of March 1987, and he has
refused even to recognize the Constitution as a legally binding instrument.
Meanwhile, he has countenanced violence against critics and popular organiza-
tions, increasingly suggesting an intention to maintain military control of any fu-
ture elected government. These actions have added to the polarization of
Haitian society, leading growing numbers to doubt that an Avril government
can be trusted to hold free and fair elections.
This report covers the period since shortly before the crushed elec-
tions of November 29, 1987. In the fifteen months since then, despite periodic
fluctuations, there has been a disturbing persistence in the nature and intensity
of serious abuses. The report reaches the following conclusions:
Violence is regularly used by the army and its paramilitary allies to dis-
courage and at times prevent collective political activity. The most
common targets have been the popular organizations of the sort that
precipitated the ouster of the Duvalier dictatorship and have since led
the opposition to the various military-dominated governments: peasant
organizations, trade unions and the progressive church. Anti-govern-
ment demonstrations are also routinely dispersed, particularly outside
Port-au-Prince. Among the more deadly examples of this practice have
been the September 1988 attack on St. Jean Bosco church in Port-au-
Prince, which left a dozen dead and over 70 wounded, and the August
1988 attack on a peasant youth group in Labadie, which left four dead.
* Violence has also been used against outspoken opponents of the
government. Lafontant Joseph, a leading human rights attorney, was
killed in July 1988 in circumstances suggesting military involvement.
Luc B. Innocent, a vocal critic, was killed by an army patrol in October
1988. Michelet Dubreus and Jean FMlix, who issued a public letter iden-
tifying participants in the St. Jean Bosco massacre, were promptly mur-
dered by armed men led by a uniformed soldier in November 1988.
* Torture and killing in police custody continues, particularly in the
Criminal Investigations Unit of the Port-au-Prince Police Department
(Service des Recherches Criminelles), renamed the Anti-Gang Inves-
tigations Bureau (Service d'Investigations Anti-Gangs) by the Avril
government. At least through September 1988, inmates in Recherches
Criminelles regularly died from torture or starvation, and severe beat-
ings were routinely practiced. Although the Avril government claims
to have stopped detaining prisoners in the facility, approximately 40
were being held there as recently as January 1989, and reports of beat-
ings and at least one killing have emerged.
* Troops continue to use deadly force against the population-at-large
with seeming impunity. The problem is most pronounced among rural
section chiefs (chefs de sections), particularly in the Artibonite region
in central Haiti. Even within Port-au-Prince, killings and robberies in-
creasingly are committed by uniformed soldiers.
* This disregard for the rule of law has encouraged a resurgence of what
Haitians call "insecurity," the killing of seemingly random citizens by
unidentified gunmen. Reflecting an apparent attempt to terrorize the
population, bodies continue to appear periodically on the streets of
* Neither the Avril government nor its predecessors have made any
headway in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the many political
killings and other abuses that have continued to plague Haiti since the
fall of Duvalier. No prosecutions have been brought and no convictions
have been obtained for a single act of political violence. To the con-
trary, at the end of December 1988, the Avril government issued a safe
conduct out of the country to former Col. Franck Romain, a close as-
sociate of ousted Gen. Namphy, who is widely believed to have en-
gineered the St. Jean Bosco massacre.
* The few announced investigations into political murders have ended
in whitewash. In November 1988, the Avril government issued a report
on the August 1987 murder of presidential candidate Louis Eugene
Athis and his two aides which said that the victims should have known
better than to campaign in the area where they were killed; the widely
acknowledged mastermind of the killings, section chief David
Philogene, was released from protective custody and allowed to flee to
the Dominican Republic. Also in November 1988, the Avril govern-
ment issued a report on the November 1987 election day massacre
which failed to identify a single participant in the killings. Popular out-
rage at the report led the government to propose a new investigative
commission, but procedural constraints imposed by the government on
the proposed commission, such as a requirement that it complete its
work in one month, led Haitian human rights groups to reject the
proposal, and no further action has been taken. No new investigation
was even proposed into the Athis murder.
* At the request of the democratic groups which participated in a forum
organized by the government, Gen. Avril has agreed to establish an in-
dependent electoral council to run elections at a still-unspecified date.
Although the proposed council is modeled after the electoral council
called for by the Haitian Constitution, Gen. Avril has not reinstated
the widely popular constitutional provision barring from public office
for ten years those who were architects of the Duvalier dictatorship,
embezzled public funds or engaged in torture or murder of political
opponents. It remains to be seen whether a new electoral law will in-
corporate this constitutional provision and whether it will ensure the
genuine independence of the electoral council.
* Quite apart from the laws and institutions established to organize elec-
tions, future elections in Haiti are threatened by ongoing political
violence. The lesson of the failed November 1987 elections is that
voting cannot be expected to proceed while the army sponsors and
tolerates political violence and intimidation. Until political attacks are
stopped, paramilitary forces are disarmed and security is assured,
there is little likelihood that free and fair elections can proceed.
* The Haitian press, particularly the all-important radio stations, con-
tinue to be the targets of violence. Although certain radio stations, such
as the Catholic Church's Radio Soleil and the private Radio Haiti-
Inter, are particularly courageous in their willingness to report on
politically sensitive topics, self-censorship is prevalent in light of peri-
odic military and paramilitary assaults.
By cutting off most direct aid to the Haitian government following the
collapsed elections of November 1987, the United States provided a
powerful incentive for the Haitian military to embark on a democratic
and lawful path. Leading democrats and human rights monitors in
Haiti believe that they would now have little leverage to persuade the
army to reform if military leaders did not perceive that the renewal of
aid depended on respect for human rights and the holding of free and
fair elections. Unfortunately, on two occasions in 1988, the Reagan ad-
ministration undercut this stance by approving loan guarantees total-
ing $19 million to U.S. exporters. The guarantees allowed commercial
sales to the Haitian government to go forward, permitting the govern-
ment to resell the commodities at a profit and thus generate desperate-
ly needed revenues at a time when the effects of the aid suspension
were being acutely felt.
The U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince under Ambassador Brunson Mc-
Kinley has wasted its considerable moral influence by remaining large-
ly silent in the face of ongoing abuses. Rather than speaking out
consistently against human rights violations, Ambassador McKinley
has adopted a hurt silence since his plans for trusting the military to
permit elections exploded in the election day massacre of November
1987. In an August 1988 interview with our investigative mission to
Haiti, Ambassador McKinley excused his failure to protest abuses with
the quip that "repetition becomes boring," called human rights viola-
tions "endemic to the Haitian tradition," and referred to the Haitian
countryside as governed by "the law of the jungle."
It is not too late for the Haitian military to change its direction. The in-
itial popular reaction to the September 1988 coup showed a Haitian population
eager to embrace the army if it acts to promote democracy and defend human
rights. Although polarization has grown in the five months since that coup, there
remains an important and respected role for the army to play -- subordinate to
elected civilian authorities and respectful of human rights, but contributing ac-
tively and significantly to the pressing task of raising Haiti from its deepening
It is unfortunate that those who have headed the Haitian army in the
last three years have not had the vision to assume this role. They have not seen
the collapse of the Duvalier dictatorship as an opportunity for reform, but
remain entrenched in the corrupt and violent ways of the past, ready to sacrifice
the political and economic future of the nation for the rewards of profit and
We call on the Haitian military government to commit itself to uphold
democracy and respect human rights. Unlike the empty promises of the past,
however, we call on the military government to back up these vows with con-
crete actions, including by:
ordering a halt to all political violence by the military and those work-
ing in concert with it;
commencing aggressive and impartial investigations into all instances
of political violence, including those of the past, and prosecuting all
perpetrators before fair and public tribunals;
disarming paramilitary forces, both those attached to the army and
those operating independently, including by aggressively seeking out
and seizing weapons caches;
reinstating the March 1987 Constitution and publicly reaffirming the
rights that are contained in it, including freedom of association and as-
establishing an independent electoral council according to the proce-
dures outlined in the Constitution, agreeing to hold elections as soon
as the independent council deems appropriate, providing protection
for all electoral participants, permitting the elections to proceed free-
ly and fairly without interference, and abiding by the results of the elec-
We also call on the US government to maintain the suspension of aid
to the Haitian government until it takes the steps outlined above, and to ensure
that the purpose of this aid suspension is not undercut by funding provided
through indirect channels. And we urge the US, especially its embassy in Port-
au-Prince, to abandon its policy of silence by becoming a forceful and outspoken
voice protesting all serious abuses and actively pressing for democracy and
respect for human rights.
Finally, we call on the international community to direct its attention
to the persistent abuses in Haiti and to exert its influence on the military govern-
ment to cease the violent obstruction of democratic aspirations. The United Na-
tions Commission on Human Rights should begin public scrutiny of human
rights practices in Haiti by appointing a special rapporteur, with the aim of cur-
tailing abuses by exposing them and their perpetrators to world condemnation.
In addition, international donors to Haiti should ensure that no money is
delivered to or passed through the Haitian military government until that
military has relinquished power to an elected, civilian successor and has ceased
violating fundamental human rights.
II. ATTEMPTS TO CONTROL THE ELECTORAL PROCESS
On November 29,1987, as the world watched, Haiti's presidential elec-
tions -- the long-hailed centerpiece of its transition to democracy-- drowned in
a sea of blood, leaving Haiti more firmly than ever under the control of the
military and its Duvalierist allies. The tragedy for Haiti, where at least 34 people
died and 75 were wounded, was also a humiliating defeat for United States
policy. The Reagan administration had pushed the National Governing Coun-
cil (Conseil National de Gouvernement) (CNG) to pledge support for
democratic elections in which it had no interest, paid the government's bills with
doubled foreign aid, and overlooked the military's increasing violence, so long
as the CNG remained officially committed to holding elections.
The popular movement that had sprung up since Duvalier's departure
saw the elections as a way to make a break with the Duvalierist past, an oppor-
tunity for change. To these forces, the holding of elections was more important
than the politics of particular candidates. The most popular candidates (accord-
ing to a pre-election poll and returns from the first few hours of voting on
November 29) were those who had stood up to the Duvalier dictatorship: Syl-
vio Claude, a Protestant Minister who had been jailed numerous times for his
opposition activities; Gerard Gourgue, the long-time human rights activist;
Louis D6joie II, the son of a former opponent of the late Francois Duvalier; and
Marc Bazin, who had tried to clean up corruption in the Duvalier government.
Under the Duvaliers, the army had been kept at arms length from real
power by its rival, the Tontons Macoutes. Now, with Duvalier gone, the army
was in charge. Democratic groups in Haiti believed that pressure from allies
overseas who demonstrated support for the elections, particularly when back-
ed by the threat of a loss of aid, would be sufficient to push the CNG to live up
to its stated commitment to hold elections. These hopes were not without his-
torical precedent. Haiti had been expected to follow the Latin American trend
of military dictatorships giving way to civilian administrations. In the case of
Haiti, however, international pressure was not forthcoming. When the Reagan
administration reacted to the campaign of anti-election terror and obstruction
with no more than a shake of its finger, the CNG believed it could do as it
pleased. And it did.
A. Accelerating Violence
As outlined at greater length in the last report by the National Coali-
tion for Haitian Refugees and Americas Watch, Haiti: Terror and the 1987Elec-
tions (November 1987), there were many early signs that the Namphy
government was fundamentally opposed to free and fair elections. The CNG
first tried to control the electoral process by stacking with its own supporters
the constituent assembly that was to draw up a new constitution. Surprisingly,
however, that body produced a draft constitution which called for elections to
be run by an electoral commission that was independent of the military. The
draft constitution also barred from public office for ten years "architects" of the
Duvalier dictatorship as well as those who had embezzled public funds or tor-
tured or murdered political opponents. These provisions led to the adoption of
the Constitution by an overwhelming majority: 98.99% of the approximately 1.2
million voters in a referendum on March 29, 1987.
Faced with the prospect of a genuinely independent body to run the
elections, the Provisional Electoral Council (Conseil Electoral Provisoire)
(CEP), the CNG attempted, through legal maneuvers, to dominate the group
and limit its powers. On June 22, 1987, the CNG issued a decree that super-
seded the CEP's proposed electoral law with one giving responsibility for run-
ning the elections to the CNG. At a press conference, Information and
Coordination Minister Jacques Lorth6 announced: "Whether the CNG decree
is constitutional or not does not matter to us."
But when this move was met by international outrage and a widely sup-
ported general strike, the Namphy government backed down, only to unleash
its new strategy: a return to the naked terror of the Duvalier days. The army
took to shooting peaceful demonstrators, and death squads began leaving muti-
lated bodies on the streets of Port-au-Prince.
During the week of June 22, 1987, at least 35 persons were shot dead
in random attacks.* Deadly attacks on peaceful demonstrators continued in July
and August. And on August 2, one presidential candidate, Louis Eugene Athis,
was stoned and hacked to death by a mob led by the local section chief, David
Philogene, in the town of Logane.
Upon occasional U.S. demand, the CNG still intoned its commitment
to elections, but it was an empty pledge designed to cover up a campaign of ter-
ror aimed at discouraging participation in the elections. The emptiness was only
reinforced by the willingness of the Reagan administration to focus on words
instead of deeds. In the midst of the terror campaign, on July 23, 1987, U.S.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Richard Hol-
will testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the CNG had
"consistently stressed its commitment to the democratic transition" and had "on
balance" fulfilled its "contract with the Haitian people to deliver elections." By
contrast, in testimony at the same hearing the National Coalition for Haitian
Refugees and Americas Watch predicted more army repression unless the U.S.
halted military aid to the CNG and insisted on demonstrated respect for human
rights before approving aid of any sort. Nonetheless, on August 26, 1987, the
State Department certified to Congress that Haiti's human rights situation was
improving, placing its seal of approval on the army's violence of the previous
two months as it made the requisite finding to continue military aid.
In mid-October 1987, another presidential candidate, Yves Volel, was
shot in the head at close range by police detectives. The murder took place
directly in front of the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Unit (Ser-
vice des Recherches Criminelles) of the Port-au-Prince Police Department, in
full view of a group of Haitian and foreign journalists. The State Department
deplored the killing but failed to note the police involvement.
When the CEP on November 2 applied the anti-Duvalierist provision
of the Constitution, Article 291, and ruled 12Duvalierist presidential candidates
ineligible, renewed terror was unleashed. Twelve armed men blocked off the
* This figure was derived from visits by our representative to the public morgue, as well as
from official records of the University of Haiti Hospital.
street in front of the headquarters of the CEP, located just a few hundred yards
from police headquarters and the Casernes Dessalines, Haiti's largest military
barracks. They fired rounds of ammunition into the air to scare off passersby,
chiseled through heavy metal shutters to enter the premises, and set fire to the
building, destroying most of the CEP's records. Not a single police officer or
soldier responded to the attack.
That same night the offices of Continental Trading, a business owned
by CEP member Emmanuel Ambroise, were also destroyed by fire. The
Departmental Election Bureau, responsible for the voting in the Department
of the West which includes Port-au-Prince, was attacked by machine guns.
Throughout the night gangs of men in civilian clothes drove around the city,
spraying gunfire in all directions. Two days later, one of the three printing pres-
ses that were being used to print election materials -- ballots, voter registration
cards and voter education leaflets -- was destroyed in an arson attack.
No arrests were made in connection with any of this violence. The CEP
had made numerous requests to the government for protection, but none was
heeded. Only after CEP headquarters were burned down was an armed guard
On November 6, 1987, when Gen. Namphy appointed himself to a
three-year term as commander-in-chief of the army (an appointment that under
the Constitution should have been made by the elected president), he made no
mention of the violence but praised the army for "having always been consis-
tent." The only apparent "consistency" was the army's antipathy to the elections.
Attacks on candidates, election volunteers and local CEP offices con-
tinued on a regular basis throughout November. On November 25 in Gonaives,
for instance, 200 armed men paraded through the streets and shot up the local
electoral office. On November 27, in the rural town of Borel in the central Ar-
tibonite region, soldiers in a jeep opened fire on the home of senatorial can-
didate Victor Benoit, killing three peasant bystanders, including a secondary
school student; at least 12 people were also detained. Haitian human rights
monitors estimate that during this period an average of two or three bodies were
found each day on the streets of Port-au-Prince, with most of the killing per-
formed under cover of night.
The terror motivated residents of Port-au-Prince's poorest neighbor-
hoods to form self-defense committees (brigades de vigilance), which blocked
access to communities at night. On November 23, one such committee killed a
man caught with gasoline which it believed he was planning to use to set fire to
a market. The previous day, November 22, arsonists had destroyed the capital's
third largest open-air market, the March6 Solomon. Two other men said to have
taken part in election-related violence were also beaten to death by self-defense
Whereas the military government and the police had ignored the
dozens of earlier deaths at the hands of military and paramilitary forces, these
actions by neighborhood-based groups drew a prompt reaction from then
Defense and Interior Minister Gen. Williams R6gala. On November 25, he is-
sued a communique warning the self-defense committees that keeping order
was the "direct and exclusive" responsibility of the armed forces. "We will ab-
solutely not tolerate any group that tries to substitute for the armed forces, who
intend to carry out their duties by all possible means." The following morning,
eight bodies were found on the streets of Port-au-Prince, one identified by
Radio M6tropole as a member of a neighborhood patrol group.
B. Logistical Obstructions
In addition to its role in this terror campaign, the CNG worked to
obstruct the elections at a logistical level. It withheld all practical support from
the CEP, kept back millions of dollars in US-donated funds for the elections
until the very last minute, and denied the CEP television and radio time to ex-
plain election procedures. The CNG also refused the CEP use of army helicop-
ters, which were needed to transport election material to Haiti's many remote
villages. When the CEP leased two helicopters from a private Miami firm, the
Interior Ministry denied them flight permission.
Given the climate of fear and terror that surrounded the attempt to
carry out the elections, and the attendant logistical difficulties, it is not surpris-
ing that preparations for the planned elections were flawed. In the countryside,
where the military and paramilitary forces operated most freely, few candidates
dared to run for local posts. Local elections planned for July 1987 had to be
postponed until mid-December 1987, and when by November 16 only 9 can-
didates had registered for 137 mayoral posts and 17 candidates for 565 posi-
tions on rural councils, the elections were simply cancelled.*
In contrast, even following the CEP's disqualification of 12 presiden-
tial candidates under the constitutional provision barring former Duvalierists
from office, there remained 23 candidates for president, although a number of
them had ludicrous platforms and no constituency. Under the procedures es-
tablished for Haiti's largely illiterate population, each voter was supposed to
receive and choose from a package of ballots, with a separate ballot for each
candidate showing his name, picture and party emblem. That procedure re-
quired more than 60 million ballots for the presidential election alone. These
problems, which would have been a challenge to the most experienced and well-
funded electoral authority, were all the more difficult to surmount after the
CEP's headquarters were burned down on November 2.
The CEP's achievements under these conditions were remarkable.
Making use of a nationwide network of volunteers, the CEP in less than two
months managed to register 2.2 million people, or 73 percent of Haiti's voting-
Without helicopters and jeeps, election officials were forced to use the
most primitive methods to reach the electorate. The director of the elections
bureau for Port-au-Prince and its province told reporters two weeks before the
vote that he had only one jeep and one motorcycle to cover the entire Western
Department of Haiti. The ballots for the 56,000 residents of Cornillon, for ex-
ample, located 30 miles from any road, had to travel three days by mule.
As election day approached, hundreds of journalists and internation-
al observers gathered in Haiti. Usually a substantial force for ensuring free and
fair elections, these foreigners had little effect in weakening the determination
of the Haitian military authorities to stop the process. Throughout the two days
preceding November 29, some 15 armed men blocked cars carrying CEP offi-
* On January 31, 1988, elections were held for these rural councils, known as Conseils d'-
Administration des Sections Communales. or CASECS. The turnout was reportedly under
five percent of registered voters.
cials, international observers and journalists along the main road connecting
Port-au-Prince to the northern part of the country. They burned a truck carry-
ing 200 boxes of ballots and brandished pistols at foreign travelers.
Alain Hertoghe, a reporter for the French Catholic daily La Croix, was
part of a group that attempted to reach St. Marc. He recounted his experience
on the road a few miles south of his destination:
"Suddenly, at a turn, a road block stopped us. Two men came
toward the car brandishing machetes. At the same moment, a
civilian pick-up truck full of soldiers was let through the bar-
"My worried look meets nothing but indifference in the eyes
of two soldiers seated in the back of the vehicle. Already the
men with machetes are upon us, while the military abandons
us to our fate....
"A group of some 20 men arrive, led by a big peasant man in
a yellow t-shirt and armed with a pistol. One of the men bran-
dishes a can of gasoline....
"'Let's burn the jeep!' says the one carrying the can, in the
midst of the general commotion. The man with the revolver
indicates that we should take off our shirts, which we do with
the greatest calm, fear in our stomachs. 'Get back in the car!'
he then shouts.
"All of a sudden, another man, taking out a revolver, forbids
us from entering the vehicle. He forces my colleague to take
out his [Nagra sound] recorder and give it to him. Twice he
throws it on the ground, before striking it with the butt of his
weapon. Finally, he decides to shoot it but his gun doesn't
"The representative from the Haitian Collective [Collectif
Harti] attempts to calm the situation by showing his Observer
card. With a sharp gesture, the individual in the yellow t-shirt
sticks his revolver under his chin. A third man also takes out
a firearm. The machetes threaten. For an indeterminate mo-
ment I feel that our lives are in suspense.
"'Get in! Get in!' the man in the yellow t-shirt then shouts.
Rapidly we get into the car. He makes a sign that we should
leave. The car starts to move, while he runs, the revolver
pointed at Jean-Claude Patassini. Finally he stops, while the
others shout 'Shoot! Shoot!' Very rapidly, we are out of range."
Because of this roadblock, the CEP was forced to postpone elections
in five towns in the central Artibonite region, and few foreign journalists were
able to witness the electoral process in the northern half of Haiti. Local elec-
tion councils were also forced to postpone the polling in the Department of the
North, which includes Haiti's second largest city, Cap Haitien.
C. Election Day
During the early-morning hours of election day, November 29, 1987,
Port-au-Prince crackled with steady gunfire and occasional explosions as bands
of gunmen drove through the streets shooting randomly and setting fire to three
local electoral offices and a gas station. According to witnesses, about 30 army
soldiers launched a pre-dawn assault with automatic rifles and hand grenades
on the home of CEP treasurer Alain Rocourt. "We saw whole handfuls of shells
and seven used hand grenade clips," said an election observer, the Rev. Allan
Kirton of the Caribbean Conference of Churches, who was inside Rocourt's
house at mid-morning when troops returned to shower it again with gunfire.
At dawn at least seven bodies were found on the streets of Port-au-
Prince. But in defiance of the terror, Haitians lined up outside polling places,
which opened at 6 a.m.
In Petion-Ville, Delmas and Carrefours Feuilles, army troops fired into
the air to intimidate would-be voters. Outside the capital the violence was
widespread, but more difficult to monitor. In Gonaives, troops invaded polling
places, destroyed ballots and fired in the air to frighten away voters. In Les
Cayes, Haiti's third largest city, soldiers also fired into the air to scare off voters.
The most bloody incident occurred at a downtown Port-au-Prince poll-
ing place in an elementary school called the Ecole Argentine de Bellegarde.
Approximately 100 voters were in line at about 7:30 a.m. when at least 50 men
carrying automatic rifles and machetes burst into the courtyard and fired at
them. Witnesses said some of the attackers used their machetes to finish off the
wounded who lay screaming in pain from their bullet wounds. At least 14 people
When minutes later a group of journalists arrived on the scene, they,
too, were attacked. According to Jean-Bernard Diederich, a freelance photog-
rapher working for Time magazine, a grey jeep carrying helmeted army soldiers
drove up to the door and the troops opened fire into the school's courtyard. The
journalists fled under fire, leaping over walls and into people's homes to save
themselves. Dominican cameraman Carlos Grullon was shot at close range and
died at midday. Two members of an ABC News camera crew and their Haitian
driver were shot by a uniformed gunman who followed them behind a wall where
they had tried to hide, "took careful and deliberate aim," and fired at close range,
according to ABC correspondent Peter Collins.
Election observers said paramilitary forces attacked at least three
Catholic churches in Port-au-Prince, killing at least two worshippers. At one
church, Sacre Coeur, which was doubling as a polling station, Father Nicholas
Christian, the parish priest, reported that paramilitary troops interrupted the
morning mass, beat two women with the butts of their machetes, climbed on the
altar and destroyed several altar pieces.
Former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White, an inde-
pendent election observer, said he saw army troops remove a rock barricade
put up by neighborhood residents and allow a band of paramilitary troops to
pass. "The army totally abandoned its responsibility," he said. "It turned the
streets over to the Macoutes."
In a written report on election-day violence in Haiti's central Ar-
tibonite region issued on December 1, 1987, the Justice and Peace Commission
of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gonaives concluded that an operation "to
stop the democratic elections" was, in the Artibonite, planned by the army and
carried out with support from death squads and certain local Duvalierists. The
army, the report noted, enlisted a full array of sophisticated weapons in this ef-
"The arms used in the Artibonite directly against civilian ob-
jectives were semi-automatic weapons with very great
firepower. Everywhere machine guns on stands, which are
fired by pressing a pedal because of the force of the recoil,
were deployed. The impact of these bullets on the presbytery
of Petite Riviere measured more than 20 cm. in diameter. Wit-
nesses affirmed that other than grenades and bullets, the army
used bazookas, particularly in Gonaives. The army acted in
uniform under the command of its officers: in Gonaives Col.
Gambetta Hippolyte directed the firing against the BED
[Provincial Electoral Bureau.]"*
Another example of army involvement in the violence was provided by
the observation team sent by the International Federation of the Rights of Man,
a Paris-based non-governmental organization accredited to the United Nations.
The team reported seeing the following incident at 117 Rue des Miracles in
Port-au-Prince on November 29:
"The crowd of voters had just been dispersed by shots from a
car. While someone was explaining to us what had happened
the same car returned and we heard gunshots; we all had to
take shelter. Right next to us, a large military truck made no
move. Sixteen soldiers occupied the back of the vehicle: they
had seen everything without doing anything. They didn't in-
tervene until it became evident that the people, exasperated,
were going to go after the occupants of the car; they then in-
terposed themselves between the people and the Macoutes,
to protect the latter and escort them. We sawa person dressed
in a military uniform on the back seat of the Macoute vehicle."
At 9:05 a.m. the CEP was forced to announce the postponement of the
elections, and most of the nine electoral council members went into hiding. In
a telephone call from his hiding place, CEP President Ernst Mirville described
electoral officials as "walking dead men."
That afternoon, in flagrant violation of the Constitution, the CNG dis-
solved the CEP, claiming that the independent council had put itself above the
law and allowed itself to be influenced by foreign powers. The military govern-
ment had accomplished its goal: there would be no free elections.
* An official inquiry described "unidentified individuals" taking shelter in the Petite Riviere
presbytery and, from it, opening fire on the army barracks next door. A recent visit to the
site, however, showed that the church building was scarred by bullet holes while the bar-
racks walls were smooth and apparently untouched. Haiti Information Libre. No.34, August
1988, p. 11.
The violence had been so shocking that the US government, which up
to then had refrained from condemning the military government or threatening
to cut off aid, was finally moved to act. The Reagan administration announced
the suspension of most military and economic aid to the Haitian government.
Approximately $60 million in such aid planned for fiscal year 1988 was block-
ed but some $26 million in humanitarian aid, channeled through non-
governmental organizations, was left in place.
D. The Substitute "Elections"
Dismayed at the cutoff in aid, the CNG quickly pledged to reschedule
elections and set about organizing voting that it could control. From the start,
the substitute elections of January 17, 1988 bore little resemblance to the ear-
lier interrupted ones. All pretense of independence was removed from the new
CNG-appointed electoral council when, before the members were even named,
the CNG announced the date of the election. The new election law barred can-
didates, journalists and independent observers from polling places, but allowed
the army to be present and to inspect voters' ballots. Much of the burden for
printing and distributing ballots fell on the candidates themselves; since votes
could not be cast for a candidate whose ballots had not arrived at the polling
place, the candidates most favored by this abdication of responsibility for bal-
lot distribution were those with access to the nation's best equipped distribu-
tion network -- the army. The military-dominated Supreme Court was permitted
to review any CEP decision to bar former Duvalierist candidates. And anyone
who "mistakenly" urged people not to vote could be fined and jailed.
Faced with this electoral charade, the four leading presidential can-
didates from the aborted November election -- Marc Bazin, Sylvio Claude,
Louis D6joie II and Gerard Gourgue -- who together accounted for over 80 per-
cent of the anticipated November vote, announced that they would boycott the
proposed substitute elections. The Haitian people widely followed their ex-
The turnout for the January "contest" was generously estimated at no
more than 10 percent. There were widespread reports of irregularities and
fraud, including multiple voting, voting by minors and the purchasing of votes.
For example, our representatives, who visited 44 polling stations, saw
polling places in Turgeau and Bois Verna where fewer than five persons had
voted by 1:00 p.m. Five of the six largest polls in the capital never opened their
doors. At other polling places, we spoke with 14- and 15-year-old youths who
admitted having voted three or four times. At a site in Cite Soleil, Port-au-
Prince's poorest slum, people were seen voting and then getting into a bus to
drive to the Hotel de Ville to vote again. The drivers of some of these buses told
us that Franck Romain, who would be named the "victor" of the Port-au-Prince
mayoral election held the same day, had paid them to transport people to vote.
Some of the youths said they were being paid one or two dollars for each time
they voted. At some polling places, voters were permitted to vote more than
once -- but always for the army's preferred candidate, Leslie Manigat. Their
biggest problem was cleaning off the indelible ink into which voters were re-
quired to dip a fingertip.
The CNG made a two-pronged effort to legitimize the January 17 elec-
tions. First, on January 9, the military-controlled electoral council invoked Ar-
ticle 291 of the Constitution to reject eight presidential candidates as former
Duvalierists. Second, the CNG picked as its "victor" Leslie Manigat, a profes-
sor who had earned a certain credibility during his many years in exile from the
Why did the Namphy government bother? It seems clear that the strong
international reaction to the November 29 massacre, the suspension of substan-
tial quantities of international assistance, and the threats emanating from the
US of a possible trade boycott or even military intervention had an effect on
Haiti's rulers. Gen. Namphy hoped that by keeping the Duvalierist forces in the
background and electing someone like Manigat, he could overcome interna-
tional revulsion to the military regime and bring about the reestablishment of
at least some aid.
The Duvalierists went along quietly with these moves. Unlike Novem-
ber 1987, there was no uproar when their candidates were stricken from the lists
and no apparent disagreement with the Manigat choice. For all apparent pur-
poses the army and the Duvalierists were united in their approach to the sub-
stitute elections: having prevented a true reformer and democrat from being
elected on November 29, they were willing to compromise and place a
democratic figurehead in the presidency.
Despite certain anti-Duvalierist credentials, Manigat, as soon as he
agreed to go along with the military's choice, was essentially a kept man. "Even
if Manigat would like to permit certain liberties, certain political space," said
Serge Gilles of the National Front for Concerted Action (Front National de Con-
certation) (FNC), "it will be hard for him. Manigat will be the prisoner of a
Duvalierist Parliament, a Duvalierist Prime Minister and a Duvalierist army."
For unexplained reasons, the military-dominated electoral council did
not announce the election verdict until a full week after January 17. Leslie
Manigat was reported the winner with 50.38 percent of the vote, conveniently
surpassing the 50 percent majority needed under the Constitution to avoid a
runoff. The electoral council claimed that some 35 percent of Haiti's roughly 3
million voters had cast ballots, far above independent estimates.
E. Electoral Developments Under the Avril Government
Following the overthrow of the Manigat government in June 1988 and
the ouster of the successor Namphy government in September 1988, Lt. Gen.
Prosper Avril, a key behind-the-scenes actor in the previous governments, as-
sumed the presidency. In early November 1988, the Avril government, under
pressure from all sides to show some movement toward democracy, proposed
the creation of an Electoral College of Haiti (College Electoral d'Hairi)
(CEDHA), which was to have been under the jurisdiction of the Ministry ofJus-
tice. The proposed body would not have been independent, and its members
would have been subject to military influence.
As noted, the Haitian Constitution of 1987 called for elections to be
managed by an electoral council, the CEP, which operated independently of
the government. That independence was in large part guaranteed by the fact
that each of nine members of the CEP was designated by a different sector of
Haitian society (the Catholic Church, human rights groups, the Supreme Court,
etc.). The electoral college initially proposed by the Avril government, by
functioning under Justice Ministry supervision, would have lacked this crucial
independence. Moreover, the nine members of what would have been desig-
nated an Electoral Council within the college, instead of representing different
sectors of society, would have been chosen from the nine geographical depart-
ments of the country and appointed by "decree of the Executive Power," an in-
vitation to military influence.
The response to this proposal from political parties and human rights
groups was highly critical, with most groups rejecting the lack of independence
of the proposed college and underscoring the need for urgent measures to im-
prove security before elections could be considered. The Committee for
Democratic Unity (ComitW d'Entente Democratique) (CED), representing at
the time three of the leading presidential candidates in the aborted November
1987 elections, replied: "The Constitution of 1987 must be an indispensable
reference.... The absolute independence of the Electoral Council is a condition
of its credibility and hence its effectiveness..., independence ... not only with
regard to the government but also with regard to political parties and groups."
KONAKOM, the National Committee of the Congress of Democratic
Movements (Comit6 National du Congr6s des Mouvements Dimocratiques) said:
"It is inappropriate to launch moves toward the electoral process without set-
ting in motion a series of effective measures of security and justice, indispen-
sable conditions capable of restoring the confidence of the citizens and
encouraging them to participate seriously" in the elections. This coalition of
several hundred mass-based groups suggested that the government work with
the different political sectors in the country to develop a plan for an electoral
council that was independent and that would be granted all the necessary finan-
cial and logistical support, as well as security, necessary for its functioning.
The National Agricultural and Industrial Party (Parti Agricole et In-
dustriel National) (PAIN) of Louis D6joie described the proposal as unconstitu-
tional and called for a "return to the Constitution of 1987, with the exception of
arrangements contrary to the nature of the de facto provisional government ...
[as well as] disarming of paramilitary forces and judging the authors of the
crimes committed November 29, 1987 and September 11, 1988."
Three months after it was issued, Gen. Avril's proposal for an electoral
commission was debated in a forum with representatives of some 28 political,
labor and professional groups. These included the Movement to Establish
Democracy in Haiti (Mouvement pour l'Instauration de la Ddmocratie en Haiti)
(MIDH), the National Progressive Revolutionary Haitian Party (Parti Nation-
al Progressiste Revolutionnaire Hafrden) (PANPRHA), the Unified Haitian
Communist Party (PUCH), the 28th of November National Patriotic Movement
(Mouvement Patriotique National du 28Novembre) (MNP 28), the Independent
Federation of Haitian Workers affiliated with the Confederation of Latin
American Workers (CATH-CLAT), The Federation of Unionized Workers
(Federation des Ouvriers Syndiquds) (FOS) and several very minor groups. Par-
ticipants also included former Duvalier government officials and a political
figure associated with Gen. Namphy's government, Gregoire Eugene, who was
named special advisor to the president after Gen. Namphy ousted Leslie
Manigat on June 19-20, 1988.
A large number of democratic groups boycotted the forum because of
the mounting repression of the Avril government, detailed in Chapter IV.
Among them were KONAKOM; the Independent Federation of Haitian
Workers (Centrale Autonome des Travailleurs Haftiens) (CATH), the largest
and most politically active trade union in Haiti; the Haitian Christian
Democratic Party (PDCH); PAIN; and the Papaye Peasant Movement (Mouve-
ment Paysan de Papaye) (MPP), Haiti's largest peasant organization.
The forum, held on February 9 to 17, 1989, recommended the estab-
lishment of an independent electoral council to run the elections which closely
paralleled the original CEP established under Article 289 of the Constitution.
The proposed council would be composed of nine representatives from nine
different sectors of Haitian society, e.g., human rights groups, the journalists'
association, the Catholic Church, labor unions, including one seat for the
military government. On February 23,1989, the Avril government accepted this
proposal, although it has yet to be implemented as this report goes to press, and
no date for elections has been set. Nor have such crucial issues been addressed
as the manner in which the independence of the council would be guaranteed
or the status of Article 291 of the still-suspended Haitian Constitution, which,
as noted, bars from public office for ten years architects of the Duvalier dic-
tatorship as well as those who embezzled public funds or engaged in political
assassination or torture. Most important, as detailed in the remainder of this
report, the Avril government has yet to halt the ongoing political violence and
intimidation which threaten any future elections. To the contrary, at the same
time as he accepted the proposed council, Gen. Avril appointed Col. Ac6dius
Saint-Louis, an officer with a long established and apparently cultivated image
of brutality, to the top security post of Defense and Interior Minister, replacing
the more moderate Col. Carl Dorsainvil.
F. Requirements for Free and Fair Elections
In our view, quite apart from the body that will organize elections,
several steps are necessary to guarantee reasonably fair and free elections in
Haiti. First and foremost, the electoral process must be made free of violence
and the fear of violence. The acting government must exercise control over the
army, disarm paramilitary forces, and assure that voter registration, voter
education, campaigning and voting take place in a secure atmosphere in which
people can vote without fear of reprisal. The armed forces must act swiftly and
within the law against brutality or intimidation from any quarter, including its
own ranks. The government must make its opposition to rule by terror public,
firm and unyielding.
As part of this effort, the rule of law must be established. That means
that all sectors of society, including the military, must be subject to the law as
applied by independent judicial tribunals. An important starting point would
be ensuring that the authors of past violent crimes -- such as the killings of
November 1987 and the September 1988 massacre in St. Jean Bosco church, as
well as the terror of the Duvalier decades -- be sought out, prosecuted and tried
openly by an independent judiciary.
Second, basic freedoms of speech, association and assembly must be
assured. A fair election can take place only when candidates and the electorate
are free to speak and organize without endangering themselves or their families.
The media, including radio and television, must be permitted freely to cover the
campaign and the issues, presenting the candidates and their views to a wide
public. Haitians everywhere must feel free to form political parties, labor unions
and other civic organizations, which in turn must be free to take part in the elec-
tion. Only then will all adults be able to make an informed choice, based on
reasonably complete information about the issues and the views of various can-
Finally, as the democratic forum has proposed and the Avril govern-
ment apparently has accepted, an independent, nonpartisan authority, such as
the CEP envisioned in the March 1987 Constitution, must be in charge of or-
ganizing, carrying out and tallying the vote. This group must be free to carry out
its mandate without threats or intimidations, and with adequate funding and ac-
tive assistance from the acting government on both logistical and security mat-
III. POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION
While the violent crushing of the November 1987 elections was the most
visible indication that military and paramilitary forces were willing to resort to
violence rather than relinquish power to civilian democrats, it; unfortunately,
has not been the only such indication. Just as the crushed elections were
preceded by a summer and fall of often murderous attacks on demonstrators
and participants in the electoral process, so the following fifteen months have
been marked by repeated outbursts of officially sponsored and officially sanc-
tioned violence. This violence has occurred under each of the governments of
the last fifteen months, including the current government of Lt. Gen. Prosper
The intensity of the violence has varied, generally with the degree to
which ruling forces perceive their hold on power threatened. At times there has
been relatively little, as in the months immediately following the November 1987
elections, when the Haitian population remained cowed by the ruthless display
of force on election day. Other times violence has intensified, due either to tur-
moil within the military, as during the "insecurity" of April and May 1988, or to
increasingly assertive, though nonviolent, popular opposition to military rule,
as during the summer of 1988. As this report goes to press, both factors appear
to be contributing to persistent and possibly accelerating political violence.
Much of this military and paramilitary violence was directed against
those exercising their freedom of assembly and association. Frequent victims
were members of the 77Ti Legliz (religious base communities, or "Little Church")
and other progressive segments of the church; peasant organizations such as
the MPP and labor organizations affiliated with CATH. These groups were tar-
geted both because they had led the resistance to the old order under Duvalier
and because they have continued at the forefront of opposition to the military-
dominated governments that succeeded the Duvalier dictatorship. In certain
cases outspoken critics of the government were also the focus of abuses. And
in a significant number of cases, apparently random citizens were victimized.
As during the election day massacre of November 1987, paramilitary
forces were on the front line of much of the violence. These forces often were
composed in substantial part of the remnants of the dreaded Tontons Macoutes.
Although the Macoutes, known officially as the Volunteers for National
Security (Volontaires de la Slcurit6 Nationale) (VSN), were formally disbanded
following the departure of Duvalier, many VSN personnel were absorbed by
the military as attaches affiliated with such posts as the Dessalines Barracks
(Casernes Dessalines) and Recherches Criminelles. As attach6s, these
plainclothes military adjuncts were armed, authorized to carry weapons, and
given effective license to use deadly force. Other VSN personnel continued to
operate without known formal military affiliation, under such burgeoning
paramilitary organizations as the Sans Mamans, literally, the "Motherless
Ones." They were aided by the military's token efforts to disarm the Macoutes
following their formal dissolution, an effort which, by reliable estimates, left
several thousand weapons in private hands.
These paramilitary forces operated with considerable support from the
army, usually tacit but at times active. Uniformed soldiers frequently accom-
panied irregular forces as they engaged in acts of political violence, either
directing the violence or playing an important back-up role. Even when army
troops were not on the scene, their consistent failure to bring perpetrators to
justice gave a green light to further violence in defense of the established order.
These patterns have not been altered by the current government of
Gen. Avril. No prosecutorial effort has been made to curtail the activities of the
Sans Mamans and other paramilitary troops. Nor has there been any public ef-
fort to rein in the attaches. Largely as a result of pressure from the army rank
and file, the Avril government in its first month in power conducted several well-
publicized raids of paramilitary arsenals. But few weapons were recovered and
these efforts ceased after some of the junior officers and soldiers who pushed
for them were jailed. Violent attacks thus have continued, at times with the par-
ticipation of uniformed troops.
As a result, three years after the downfall of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the
political violence that characterized the Duvalier dictatorship has become a dis-
turbingly regular feature of the Haitian landscape. A cessation of that violence,
and the disarming of the irregular forces that are immediately responsible for
much of it, is a necessary condition of any move toward elected, civilian rule.
The Avril government has made painfully little progress in this regard.
B. The National Governing Council
The killings and brazen violence did not end with the collapse of the
November 1987 elections. There were other outbursts of violence over the next
two months as the CNG sought to compel the Haitian population to accept its
plan for substitute, military-controlled elections. On December 21, at a
memorial service for the victims of the November 29 massacre held at the
Basilica Notre Dame, three gunmen fired at protesters leaving the service. One
man, Merov6e Ideli, was killed, and at least three others, including Jean-Claude
Christophe and Jean-Claude Salomon, were wounded. According to some wit-
nesses, the gunmen were wearing police and army uniforms and arrived in a
On January 8, 1988, according to Radio M6tropole, the police in the
southern town of Cayes-Jacmel arrested and held overnight "many people" for
political activity in connection with an unnamed presidential candidate. Three
days later, Radio M6tropole also reported that squads of soldiers in the south-
western town of J6r6mie were rounding up those advocating a boycott of the
scheduled January 17 elections. Two of those arrested, according to the League
of Former Political Prisoners (Ligue desAnciens Prisonniers Politique Hartiens)
(LAPPH), were Michel Mdbreu and Mario Dominique.
In the period between the January 17 electoral charade and the in-
auguration of Leslie Manigat as president on February 7, 1988, Haitians sought
peaceful ways of protesting the sham electoral event that had led to Manigat's
selection by the army. Scores of people faced official reprisals for circulating a
petition challenging the elections. Among them, according to Radio Soleil, were
those actively soliciting signatures on behalf of the FNC. For example, on
January 28, Sgt. Leconte Christopher detained and beat Jean Herold Casimir,
a local coordinator for the FNC in Mirebalais in the Artibonite valley, for col-
lecting petition signatures.
Similarly, Radio Soleil reported on February 2, 1988 that several
peasants who had signed this petition in the Central Plateau were being
harassed by local authorities. One priest, Father Estim6, rector of the local
parish of La Victoire in the Central Plateau, was arrested on January 31 by the
local army commander, Gabriel Pinasse, while conducting a service in which he
informed his parishioners of the petition drive; he was released only after local
residents demonstrated in his favor in front of the police station. In addition,
residents of La Gonive, the island in the bay of Port-au-Prince, complained in
an interview broadcast by Radio Haiti-Inter that the local section chief had
detained and beaten them for denouncing the January 17 elections; they com-
plained that several peasants had been forced into hiding and that at least one
had been arrested.
On January 20, Louis D6joie II, one of the four major presidential can-
didates of the November 1987 elections and the head of PAIN, was arrested
upon returning from a trip abroad in which he had lobbied against recognizing
the legitimacy of the January 17 elections. After being held for four hours
without explanation at the airport, he was taken in handcuffs by plainclothes
police officers and shoved into a waiting pick-up truck. When he attempted to
speak with concerned supporters, he was slapped across the face by a police of-
ficer. The arresting officers were accompanied by troops from the Casernes
Dessalines. D6joie was released two days later, after considerable domestic and
The same day as D6joie's release, Dr. Louis Roy, the principal architect
of the Haitian Constitution, was detained without charge at the Port-au-Prince
airport as he arrived from Canada. He was released 2-1/2 hours later after
having been warned about statements he made while abroad that were critical
of the military-run elections.
Organized peasant movements were frequently the victims of violence
and intimidation efforts under the CNG. In January, at least 16 members of the
Small Peasants' Collective of St. Suzanne (Collectifpour l'Avancement des Petits
Paysans Haftiens) were arrested by local authorities; pleas for their release went
unanswered until their situation became public on February 27, when members
of the organization denounced the illegality of their continued detention.
Members of the MPP, which operates in the Central Plateau region,
were branded subversives by local authorities, particularly Maj. Serges David
and Lt. Gabriel Pinasse, and several had their huts ransacked. At least eleven
MPP members were detained for several hours on January 13, 1988. According
to the local priest, Father Gabriel Bien-Aim6, many were intimidated and
forced to flee the area for several weeks following the January 17 "elections," in-
cluding literacy workers, members of the 77 Legliz, and at least two physicians,
Drs. Henrys and Barbot, who ran a community clinic in Thomonde.
The Artibonite valley, the scene of several violent land disputes and a
"rice war" in 1987, remained volatile into 1988. On January 26, 1988, a military
raid in "Lachicote" left a number of peasants wounded by bullets or beatings
and produced several arrests. Several huts were also set on fire. The raid
stemmed from a dispute between peasants and Salim Athie, one of Haiti's
largest landlords. Athie had gained a reputation during the 1970's for having
acquired most of what now constitutes his property in the valley through the
forced expropriation of peasant land. This violent takeover of the land was
facilitated by Athie's close ties to officials of the Duvalier regime, on whom he
bestowed large favors, including gifts of portions of the land he illegally ac-
C. The Manigat Government
The advent of a civilian president, Leslie Manigat, did little to reduce
the use of political violence. Manigat's lack of impact on the military's use of
force for political purposes reflected his dependence on that institution for
having selected him, in patently fraudulent elections, to be its civilian face.
On March 25, 1988, military authorities forcibly dispersed a peaceful
demonstration by inhabitants of Gonaives to protest the illegal dumping of al-
legedly toxic waste on the shores of this city, the dumping of the toxic waste had
been authorized by then Commerce Minister Mario Celestin, and the fee for
permitting such dumping was widely believed to have been pocketed by Col.
Jean-Claude Paul and government associates. On March 29, local troops in the
northwestern town of Beauchamps dispersed a meeting of 40 peasants or-
ganized to celebrate the first anniversary of the popularly enacted Constitution;
all the participants were arrested without charge and placed in detention for 24
hours. Similarly, on April 4, military authorities broke up a peaceful demonstra-
tion in the town of Petit-Goave in southern Haiti, which was held to protest the
illegitimacy of Manigat's regime and to demand new national and local elec-
tions. And on May 3, in Port-au-Prince, a demonstration held by workers at
Chancerelles Manufacturing was broken up by the police, and several
demonstrators were severely beaten.
The offices and homes of several political figures in Port-au-Prince
were subjected to searches that appeared to be politically motivated. On March
22, 1987, armed men entered the home of Turneb Delpe, a leading member of
the National Progressive Democratic Party of Haiti (Parti National Democrati-
que Progressiste Ha'tien) (PNDPH), and seized Party documents. On March 24,
soldiers searched the headquarters of the United Front for the Liberation of
Haiti (Front Uni de Liberation Nationale d'Haiti) (FULNH) and confiscated all
documents written on the organization's letterhead. And on March 25, troops
from the Casernes Dessalines searched the Champs de Mars Pharmacy, owned
by Gladys Lauture, a leading member of the Brotherhood of Progressive
Religious Workers (Fratemitg des Laiques Engages) and a strong supporter of
Catholic priests identified with the TiLegliz movement increasingly be-
came the targets of attacks. On June 3, in Fond Verrettes, the presbytery and
the dispensary were shot at. On June 4, 1988, unidentified individuals fired gun-
shots at a church in Cayes-Jacmel, forcing Father Lorisme, several nuns and the
entire Saint-Theresa congregation to flee for their lives; the later discovery at
the scene of a bottle filled with gasoline, matches and some firewood led ob-
servers to conclude that the attack was a failed arson attempt.
Human rights monitors were also targeted. On May 21, 1988, Daniel
O'Bastiani was arrested by military authorities. O'Bastiani, acting on behalf of
the Ecumenical Center for Human Rights (Centre Oecuminique des Droits de
l'Homme), had served as a guide in the Central Plateau for two representatives
of the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. O'Bastiani was
taken to the military barracks in Gonaives where he was beaten and accused of
"bringing shame" to the country through his assistance of the Lawyers Commit-
tee representatives. An attorney for the Ecumenical Center obtained
O'Bastiani's release after visiting the barracks commander.
Similarly, at the end of May or the beginning of June 1988, the police
visited the Karl Leveque Center (Centre Karl Leveque) in downtown Port-au-
Prince, a human rights organization which addresses the plight of Haitians who
return to Haiti from the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. Claiming that
the Center was harboring a person accused of subversive activities, the police
entered the premises without a warrant and threatened employees and the
director, Paul Dejean.
A particularly striking episode of official violence occurred on May 28,
1988, when troops went on a rampage in an area known as Danti, in the Ar-
tibonite valley. According to witnesses, the troops carried automatic weapons,
grenades, gasoline and tear gas. They burned down at least 110 huts, beat and
arrested some peasants, and took off with the peasants' livestock, including
goats, chickens, cows and wild turkeys. The victims explained the rampage as
the result of the refusal of local authorities to implement an August 1986 order
of the Justice Ministry, which, at the insistence of the local population, had
reversed an earlier decision of the Duvalier government to transfer Danti from
the district of Gros Morne to that of Borgnes. The military authorities were
believed to have resorted to the extreme violence in May 1988 because the vil-
lagers had insisted on having the August 1986 order implemented.
Much of the violence during the four months of the Manigat presiden-
cy was directed against seemingly random targets. Referred to by Haitians as
the "insecurity," this violence, most pronounced in April and May, left bodies
on the streets of Port-au-Prince on a regular basis, sowing terror among the
citizenry. According to LAPPH, 17 were killed from bullet wounds in and
around Port-au-Prince between April 15 and May 4, 1988. Most of the victims
either were never identified or were uninvolved in politics.
Although it was difficult to determine who was responsible for these
killings, or their purpose, most observers attributed them to an attempt by Gen.
Namphy, at the time armed forces commander-in-chief, as well as those allied
with him, to destabilize the Manigat government and provide a pretext for
Namphy's return as head of state. Indeed, reliable reports indicated that a group
of army soldiers loyal to Gen. Namphy shed their uniforms and operated as a
death squad in Port-au-Prince. Reportedly, this group of soldiers was arrested
by troops of the Casernes Dessalines. Col. Jean-Claude Paul, then the com-
mander of the Dessalines Battalion, was said to have been motivated to make
the arrests because he had allied himself with Manigat, in part for support in
avoiding extradition to face charges of narcotics trafficking then pending against
him in Miami. The arrests prompted Namphy to attempt to dismiss Paul;
Manigat, in turn, attempted to dismiss Namphy and remove many of Namphy's
high-ranking military allies; Manigat then found himself overthrown by forces
loyal to Namphy, who assumed the presidency.
D. The Namphy Government
Buttressing the belief that much of the "insecurity" under the Manigat
government had been the work of forces allied with Gen. Namphy, these seem-
ingly random murders quickly subsided following the coup of June 19-20, 1988,
which returned Gen. Namphy to the head of government. Violence of a more
directed sort continued, however. Many of its victims were those seeking to or-
ganize the peasantry. The violence was most acute in the countryside, where ap-
proximately 80% of Haiti's population lives.
1. The Countryside
a. The Closing of Offices of The Federation of Agricultural
During our visit to Haiti in August 1988, we interviewed representatives
of two branches of the Federation of Agricultural Workers (Fdddration des
Travailleurs Agricoles), a CATH affiliate, which had recently been the subject
of violent attacks. They reported:
The Federation attempted to open an office in Gros Morne
on July 25, 1988. That night, at about midnight, automatic
weapon fire was sprayed at the office. Although the office was
located about 15 or 20 meters from the local police station, no
official intervened. The local authorities had accused CATH
of being a communist organization which only pretends to
help the peasants. Three days later, on July 28, the local
authorities in an open meeting announced to the nine rural
section chiefs of Gros Morne and other assembled Macoutes
and soldiers that they were not to allow any meetings to take
place without prior authorization. On August 4, that message
was reaffirmed by the district military commander.
The Federation office in St. Michel de l'Attalaye suffered a
similar fate. The office opened on June 26, 1988. On the night
of June 27, the military ransacked and destroyed the office.
They seized equipment and other material, then went to the
cemetery and burned it. Although the brick building housing
the offices was not destroyed, five wooden doors were
removed and burned. When the Federation members
reported the attack to the local magistrate, a woman named
"Levallat," and to the local lieutenant, a man named "Jules,"
they were told that the destruction of the office could have
been avoided if they had received authorization to establish
the office. They were told that they needed authorization to
function. When, on August 3, a representative from the
Federation office in St. Michel de l'Attalaye was preparing to
come to Port-au-Prince to report the incident, a member of
the local communal section assembly (CASEC) confronted
him and in an aggressive manner asked about his intentions,
his departure date, and his anticipated route.
b. The Murder of Four Members of the Labadie Youth Movement
As the summer progressed, abuses in the countryside became more
violent and deadly. On August 14, 1988, members of the Labadie Youth Move-
ment (Mouvement des Jeunes de Labadie) (MJL), a peasant youth organiza-
tion based in Labadie in the Artibonite, held a meeting to celebrate the second
anniversary of their founding. According to Radio Haiti-Inter and Radio An-
tilles Internationale, a few minutes after the meeting ended a group of assailants,
led by the town's prefect, Baguidy Grand Pierre, and the local section chief,
Esp6rance Charles, opened fire and killed four participants: Berson Etienne,
Doni Accdus, Armand Louismond and AlexAlexandre. At least ten others were
wounded. The next day, a combined military-civilian commission sent by the
Namphy government organized a meeting reportedly to investigate the attack.
According to the MJL, the commission included the two government officials
who had participated in the killings of the day before. Predictably, it blamed the
MJL for the incident and claimed that the organization was communist-led.
Since its creation, the MJL has called for land reform and for an end to over-
charging by collectors of market taxes. The August 14 killings crowned a long
list of arbitrary arrests and threats against MJL members.
c. The Arrest and Beating of Eight Members of the Papaye
Five days later, on August 19, eight members of the MPP were arrested
in Abriyo, a small settlement in the mountains near Hinche in the Central
Plateau. Those arrested were Elius Absalon, Rozan Deris, Lenoit Elisma,
Louima Ferile, Denis Francois, Letoit Frangois, Delius Saint-Hilaire and
Edouane Saintina. The MPP has been a forceful advocate for small farmers'
and peasants' rights. The eight MPP members were taken the following day,
August 20, to the office of Maj. Serge David, commander of the Central Military
Department. As they were being interrogated by Maj. David, they were hit
repeatedly -- often with cupped hands over the ears -- by soldiers standing be-
hind them, and they were threatened with death if they did not leave the MPP.
Saintina, who was identified as the leader of the eight, was subjected to par-
ticularly brutal treatment. Maj. David himself pulled and tore the beard of one
peasant, who fainted. The eight were released on August 22, after being charged
with refusing to pay market taxes. The same day, they were examined by a doc-
tor who found the following:
1. Edoane Saintina
-- Perforation of two eardrums; emission of blood and clear
liquid from both ears.
-- Bilateral conjunctiva ecchymosis (bruises to the membrane
which lines the eyelid).
-- Hematoma (swelling caused by loose blood under the skin)
on his buttocks.
2. Rozan Deris
-- Perforation of the right eardrum.
-- Conjunctiva ecchymosis.
3. Elius Absalon
-- Conjunctiva ecchymosis.
-- Hematoma on his buttocks.
4. Denis Frangois
-- Hematoma on the lower jaw.
5. Lenoit Elisma
-- Conjunctiva ecchymosis.
6. Louima Ferile
-- Conjunctiva ecchymosis.
7. Letoit Frangois
-- Strong headaches and pains in the jaw.
8. Delius Saint-Hilaire
-- Trauma of the left wrist consistent with a fracture of the
radius (the bone in the forearm on the thumb side), secondary
to a blow from a baton.
-- Conjunctiva ecchymosis.
Also on August 20, MPP leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste was arrested
at his home in Papaye, outside Hinche, and detained in the army barracks for
five hours. Charges of inciting subversion were later dropped.
d. Other Violence and Arrests
Other violence and arrests directed against peasant activities in the
countryside, according to LAPPH and the Haitian Center for Human Rights
(Centre Haftien de Defense des Libertis Publiques) (CHADEL), included the
On August 3, approximately 12 peasants in Cayes-Jacmel were
detained, mistreated and accused of being communists.
On August 5, in Les Cayes, Sergo Joseph was arrested and severely
beaten for writing anti-government slogans on walls during a tour of
the region by Gen. Namphy. He was hospitalized for nearly two months
in Les Cayes under military guard before being freed following the Sep-
tember 17 coup.
On August 6, after a meeting of the planters' union of Bayonais in the
Artibonite, two union leaders, Levelt Saint Louis and Toussaint Saint
Louis, were arrested and sent to prison in Gonaives.
On August 11, in Verrettes in the Artibonite, a paramilitary force set
fire to a peasant grain warehouse. According to the victims, the ar-
sonists vowed to set fire to all premises used by the 77 Legliz to hold
On August 16, in Bossou, a rural community near La Chapelle in the
Artibonite, a group of armed men led by the town's mayor opened fire
to disperse approximately 150 young people who had gathered in the
Catholic church to discuss the political situation. The assailants ar-
rested three participants in the meeting because it had been held
without prior authorization from the army.
e. The Expulsion of Father Ren6 Poirier
The case of Father Ren6 Poirier, a 54-year-old Canadian priest sta-
tioned in Grand Goave in southern Haiti, illustrates the pressures placed on
those seeking to organize or assemble the peasantry. On August 5, the govern-
ment announced that it had arrested and expelled Father Poirier because he
had made "public and insulting statements of a nature to compromise the politi-
cal and social order of the country." The government never clarified the nature
of Father Poirier's "insulting statements," but it was widely believed that he was
expelled for refusing an invitation to welcome Gen. Namphy as he passed
through Grand Goave.
The expulsion came at a time when the Namphy government, in power
for less than two months, had begun to take the offensive in seeking to establish
its legitimacy. Two weeks earlier, Gen. Namphy had announced, with great fan-
fare, the launching of various "microprojects" (microprojets) -- small water sys-
tems and other such development projects -- and had taken to the road in an
attempt to demonstrate popular backing. According to an August 6 press ad-
visory from the Information Ministry, everywhere Namphy went he was hailed
as a "symbol of courage" and a "champion of democracy." Father Poirier's "of-
fense" seems to have been his public refusal to share this view.
Father Poirier also offered a possible alternative explanation for his
expulsion: a long standing dispute with the rural section chief of St. Anne, known
as Danger. The conflict began when Danger insisted on knowing the identities
of those who attended services in the chapel, as well as what Father Poirier said
during those services. Replying that he did not make that kind of a report even
to his superiors, Father Poirier asked the section chief whether he was a
Macoute. Danger replied that he was baptized a Christian, to which Father
Poirier retorted: "Duvalier, too, was baptized."
On August 9, in reaction to the expulsion, about 500 supporters of
Father Poirier organized a vigil at the presbytery of Grand Goave. At 2 a.m.,
the army appeared, fired several shots in the air, and arrested five youths who
were guarding the entrance to the presbytery: Frantz Pascal, Nar61lien Normil,
Frantz Belrus, Kerline Belrus and Berrouet Lafontant. Three of the youths were
released on August 10. The other two, Pascal and Normil, were brought initial-
lybefore a judge in Grand Goave, who said the case was beyond his competence,
and then to the military barracks in Petit Goave. They were released a few days
later after extensive public protest. Father Poirier ultimately was permitted to
return to Haiti on October 9.
Although violence under Gen. Namphy was most pervasive in the
countryside, Port-au-Prince was not immune. The severity of the incidents ac-
celerated with time, ultimately leading to a bloody massacre that paved the way
for the overthrow of the Namphy government.
a. The Ransacking of the Home of Laennec Hurbon
On July 3, in Musseau, four men armed with Uzis and walkie-talkies
searched and ransacked the home of Laennec Hurbon. An ex-priest turned re-
searcher and writer, Hurbon reportedly had been collecting information on the
aborted elections of November 29, 1987.
b. The Murder of Lafontant Joseph
On July 11, the body of Lafontant Joseph, a 54-year-old human rights
attorney, was found in his jeep on a small street off the road to the internation-
al airport outside Port-au-Prince. The body was badly mutilated, one ear was
missing and the tongue had been partially cut off. There was a deep gash going
from the oesophagus to the liver which seemed to have been made by a bayonet
or similar sword. There was also a single gunshot wound.
Joseph had a long history of defending human rights. As an attorney,
he specialized in representing trade unions. He was one of the founders of the
Haitian League for Human Rights (Ligue Haitienne des Droits Humains) and
was Executive Secretary of the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights
(Centre de Promotion des Droits Humains). He had also been a candidate for
the senate in the aborted November 29 elections, running as a representative of
the FNC. Like most other candidates, he refused to participate in the substitute
elections of January 17,1988. He had been imprisoned twice under Jean-Claude
In the week before his death, Joseph received an anonymous telephone
call from someone threatening to kill him and to kidnap his seven-year-old son.
Joseph communicated this threat to Radio Soleil and Radio Haiti-Inter. Two
days before his death, he received another anonymous telephone call warning
him that he would be killed the following Sunday. Again, Joseph informed the
two radio stations. Joseph was killed sometime early the next Monday morning.
On the eve of his death, Joseph was last seen by his family at ap-
proximately 7:00 p.m. Joseph and three companions (two men and a woman)
reportedly were seen at a bar near Joseph's home at around midnight, as the
four left the bar. As detailed in Chapter VI, the government's investigation of
the Joseph killing has been far from satisfactory.
Joseph's funeral, scheduled for July 16, 1988 at Sacre Coeur church,
was canceled when the church received threats from unidentified telephone
callers. The family was forced to proceed directly to the cemetery. The
memorial mass was said a few days later by Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide
before approximately 1,000 mourners.
c. Other Killings
As the summer wore on, seemingly random killings resumed, as the
government appeared to promote or countenance violence as a tool for quell-
ing an increasingly restive populace. Most of the killings were by unidentified
gunmen. According to LAPPH and CHADEL:
On July 13, the decapitated body of a 35-year-old unidentified man was
found on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
On July 14, in Morne-a-Cabrit, northwest of Port-au-Prince on the
road to Mirebalais, the body of an unidentified young woman was
found in a pool of blood.
On July 25, armed men opened fire from a car on a group of people in
Delmas, part of metropolitan Port-au-Prince, wounding two: Jean-
Claude Francois and a man identified only as Pierre.
On July 26, the body of an unidentified young man was found riddled
with bullets on Ruelle Canne-A-Sucre in Carrefour, a section of Port-
On August 2, the body of an unidentified young man was found riddled
with bullets in Delmas.
On August 17, an unidentified man in his twenties was shot by a detec-
tive belonging to Recherches Criminelles. The detectives had tried to
arrest the man but he had refused by lying down on the pavement, near
the office of the national telephone company (Teleco) in downtown
Port-au-Prince. One of the detectives then pulled out his gun and shot
the man to death in full view of several witnesses.
On August 24, Jean Bodouin, a truck driver, was found dead at the
Bicentenaire in downtown Port-au-Prince.
On September 4, a traffic policeman shot Wickmy Malivert severely in
the stomach because Malivert had not paid his traffic ticket.
And on September 15, the body of an unidentified man was found at
the corner of the Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Rue Bonne
Foi in downtown Port-au-Prince.
d. The Attack on the Church of St. Jean Bosco
The most brutal attack in Haiti since the aborted November 1987 elec-
tions occurred on September 11, 1988 in the La Saline section of Port-au-Prince.
The target of the attack was the St. Jean Bosco church, where Father Jean-
Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic populist priest, was saying mass.
Shortly after the start of the 9:00 a.m. mass, thugs armed with guns and
wielding machetes stormed the church, killing 12 parishioners and wounding at
least 77. The church was doused in gasoline and set ablaze. The perpetrators,
believed to be former members of the Tontons Macoutes, committed these
crimes while uniformed army soldiers watched nearby and even cordoned off
the area, refusing to lend assistance to the victims or to intervene to stop the
killings and shootings.
A few hours later, both the Catholic Church's Radio Soleil and the in-
dependent Radio Cacique were attacked by the marauding gangs. The offices
of two political parties were also ransacked, as were two other churches, includ-
ing the Immaculate Conception Church of Father Arthur Volel in Cit6 Soleil,
known for the charitable role it plays in that slum. Witnesses to the killings in
the church identified at least two members of the gang as deputies of Col. Franck
Romain, then the Mayor of Port-au-Prince, who, in a public statement, justified
the murderous actions as legitimate. The next day, five self-described members
of the gang appeared on Radio M6tropole and T616 Haiti to warn that the
slaughter was mere "child's play" and to vow other attacks.
The following eyewitness testimony from a member of the church's
youth corps was recorded the day after the massacre by a reliable informant:
"The situation that evolved at St. Jean Bosco yesterday is a
situation that has been unfolding since last Sunday [a week
before the attack], or even earlier. Last Sunday, while Aristide
was saying mass, this guy appeared, but the church's youth had
been trying to assure the church's safety, and they suspected
this guy who in fact was carrying a gun. Well, he tried to get
through to the altar, but if you know St. Jean Bosco on a Sun-
day, there are a lot of people, a lot of them sitting on the floor,
and it's hard to get through. The guy tried to push people aside
so that he could pass, but the youths in charge of security
grabbed him, and he had a big gun on him, a .48. I don't know
arms very well, but anyway they grabbed him and they took his
.48, and he said to them "gimme my gun," but he saw that the
kids had it, and he ran away. There was no press there to take
his picture. He wasn't by himself. He was with two other guys,
but when they saw that he had been caught, they fled. We hit
the first guy a couple of times, and we kept his gun. He fled.
We called the Justice of the Peace to tell him that we had this
gun and we called the Papal Nuncio to come pick it up....
"On Tuesday evening, for Father Aristide's mass, we again es-
tablished security methods, we monitored the people coming
in.... Everything was tense. After the mass on Tuesday night,
there were threats and a rumor that an attack was coming. The
mass ended about seven, and people were leaving. Some of us
young people were inside, and we stayed. And then at 7:15, or
7:20, there came rocks and the bullets started flying. Everyone
inside ran for shelter; rocks and bullets kept coming, all night
they kept throwing rocks and shooting at the church.
"So that was the situation and we announced this to the press.
But all week there was a rumor that they were going to come
kill people, that they were going to make another Jean-Rabel
[a massacre during the summer of 1987 in the provincial town
of Jean-Rabel in which at least 135 people were killed] at the
church. We got phone calls daily telling us not to have the mass
on Sunday;, we knew we were facing danger.
"Sunday morning came, and we put our security plans into ac-
tion, so that we could combat whatever was going to happen
that morning.... Around eight o'clock, the faithful began to ar-
rive for the nine o'clock mass. The church was full, as usual.
We closed the big front gate as a security measure the minute
Aristide entered the church. As the people came in, they were
searched to make sure they did not carryweapons. So the mass
began; Aristide appeared, he read from the Gospels, and he
[unclear who] was in front of the gate with two other youths,
because although we had ordered the gate closed, we needed
someone there so that if people came late we could identify
them and let them in. And then, ten minutes after the mass
began, at about 9:15, they started throwing rocks again. Then,
even though the gate was closed, they came and broke it down.
It is clear that these were Franck Romain's people, that they
organized and planned the attack.
"Almost a hundred guys with machetes, spikes, knives and
guns, they walked over, they shot at the church, and then they
broke through the gates. It took them about five, ten minutes
from the beginning of the attack to when they broke through
the gates. I ran, some people who were in the church went into
the back courtyard, but since I couldn't get through, I ran
through the front courtyard over to the CORAN [the other
church building inside the front courtyard, catty corner to the
church], and I hid in a room from which I could watch the
whole street [Grand Rue, or Boulevard Dessalines, Port-au-
Prince's main street].
"I saw guys from the Haitian army, in olive green, with big
trucks, accompanied by Franck Romain's men, the aggres-
sors, and the army was covering them, giving them security
while they were firing on the church. Meanwhile these guys
went into the church, they beat people, they shot them, they
killed them, and then some of them went and bought gasoline
so that they could set the church on fire. The whole time, the
army was protecting them, the "forces of order" had sur-
rounded the church, on every side, on the street next to the
Sal6sian Mother, on Delmas, everywhere, there were the
police, and there were Franck Romain's men, all wearing red
arm-bands. I saw Franck Romain with my own eyes, running
the show outside. He was in a white car, talking to the guys,
just before the whole thing began.
"So the shooting went on and on, people were dying. People
were wounded, they burned down the church, they burned all
the cars, almost all the cars in the courtyard, the cars of people
who had come to hear a mass, they burned all their cars, they
stole a car, they burned the car of a journalist who was there;
these guys did a lot of damage.
"I must say that some of us tried to defend ourselves, because
a few of them were injured too. When they finished burning
the church, they tried to get into the inner courtyard, but we
fought them off with rocks. So they couldn't get in where so
many of the faithful were hiding.
"The attack lasted two or three hours, from about nine until
about 11:30. Just before noon, they began to leave, the situa-
tion seemed calm. But there was still some shooting, and this
guy who had lost his red armband during the melee, he tried
to come in, acting like he wasn't one of them. But we recog-
nized him and we grabbed him, and that was when the police
came in, finally.
"Father M6sidor [the head of the Sal6sians, who arrived about
that time on the scene] asked us to open the gate [to the inner
courtyard], so we went to find the key for him, but meanwhile,
some high ranking officers from the police and a colonel and
a lieutenant appeared, and there was a man in civilian clothes
too; and while we were getting the key to open the gate for
Father M6sidor, they broke down the gate and came in.
"What were they looking for? They were looking for Franck
Romain's guy who had lost his armband, whom we were hold-
ing prisoner inside. So they released the guy and let him go.
They claimed they were here to provide security, which wasn't
true at all, because I saw them, they were the ones who ran the
"Chavannes Jean-Baptiste [head of the MPP] was also at the
mass. He and Father Aristide and the other priests went
upstairs [into the residence after the attack]. M6sidor came in
with some others and went upstairs to talk with them. Even-
tually at around 1:30 p.m. the police evacuated the [100-150]
people who were in the inner courtyard. They lined them up
and sent them out into the street, and told them to walk, to get
lost. The priests were still inside.
"After the police sent the people away, there were still some
guys in civilian clothes with guns who stayed behind, the same
guys who had attacked the church. They went upstairs and
searched the rooms in the priest's residence, they searched
and searched. They said they were looking for arms, a lie. They
were a bunch of thieves, they took a lot of jewelry from the
parishioners during the attack. "Give me your bag, give me
your bag," they were saying, while they were stabbing people,
"So they searched, but they didn't find what they were looking
for, they didn't find guns. They left instead with all the audio
cassettes that Aristide had in his room. Eventually the Papal
Nuncio came. Then the priests who were there, Mdsidor, Nau,
Aristide, Ddsir, they left in their cars, not with the police, who
had already left. The priests locked up the rooms and the
residence where they had been and they left with Chavannes
Jean-Baptiste in their cars to go somewhere safe. The Papal
Nuncio took them to a safe house."
Another eyewitness to the massacre at the church, a photo-journalist
whom we know to be reliable, confirmed most of the details of this account.
E. The Avril Government
Despite vows by Gen. Avril to respect human rights and to reinstate
the rule of law, and Gen. Avril's ratification of several international human
rights conventions,* abuses at the hands of the army have not ceased. Although
the brazen violence of the last week of Gen. Namphy's rule has not been
repeated, killings and other violent abuses at the hands of soldiers and
paramilitary forces continue to be a regular part of the Haitian landscape under
The targets of the violence under Gen. Avril are not significantly dif-
ferent from those victimized by the predecessor military governments. Peasant
associations, labor unions, church groups and political demonstrations are most
frequently selected. Occasionally, an outspoken critic of the government be-
comes the subject of violent attack. Common citizens also bear their share of
violence -- because they cross a local section chief or military official, because
they find themselves in the center of a land dispute, or because they happen to
be walking down the streets of Port-au-Prince at the moment that unidentified
gunmen take aim.
In early December 1988, the Avril government announced the ratification of the Interna-
tional Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, So-
cial and Cultural Rights; the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
and DegradingTreatment; the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture;
and the San Salvador Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights.
The responsibility for the violence has not always been clear under
Gen. Avril. As the Avril government has established itself, however, the violence
appears increasingly to be directed, at least in significant part, by the highest
echelons of the military government.
During the initial month or two of the Avril government, a case could
be made that regressive factions opposed to Gen. Avril were behind the politi-
cal violence in an effort to destabilize the government and install a more right-
wing head of state. This view was reinforced by the nature of the September 17
coup, led by junior officers who appeared to want to put an end to the shock-
ing violence epitomized by the St. Jean Bosco massacre.
Since then, however, indicators of the origin of the violence point in-
creasingly toward the National Palace. For one, in several well-publicized cases
outlined below, victims were arrested by soldiers and brought to detention
centers. Indeed, in one case, those arrested were brought to the National Palace
itself and beaten there. The army's willingness to use official channels in attack-
ing political opponents bespeaks confidence of high-level backing.
Even political violence of more ambiguous authorship increasingly ap-
pears to have government approval, as the Avril government persists in its
refusal to prosecute or discipline offenders. Indeed, in only the rarest instances
have troop commanders even acknowledged wrongdoing by their troops. The
lack of prosecutorial redress amounts to a tacit sanctioning of this violence by
the Avril government.
The growing contempt for the rule of law has also undoubtedly con-
tributed to the ongoing "insecurity" in and around Port-au-Prince. Although the
perpetrators of these killings generally are not known, the army's willingness to
resort to and tolerate violence for political purposes can only embolden those
behind the killings, regardless of their military connection.
In short, the honeymoon is over for the Avril government. The good
will it garnered upon assuming power from the murderous Namphy government
has long since been dissipated in a pattern of violence that increasingly bears
the imprints of the same military that has ruled Haiti for the past three years.
The head of government is certainly more clever than his predecessors, the
facade he presents generally appears more benign, but the continuing political
violence under his command evidences an unalloyed disdain for fundamental
human rights and for the basic foundations of democratic government that is
no different from earlier military governments. The following examples il-
lustrate this pattern of abuses.
1. Attacks Against Outspoken Political Opponents
The most visible targets of political violence under the Avril govern-
ments have been outspoken critics of the government and its policies. These in-
dividuals have tended to be tied to mass-based movements such as labor and
peasant organizations, or to reform factions of the army, and to lack the rela-
tive protection of a high political profile.
In a country where approximately 7,000 soldiers maintain control over
six million people, the military perceives the prospect of mass mobilization of
the country's poor, along with splits in its own ranks, as the greatest threats to
its power. Most of the leading politicians who today are freely voicing critical
opinions of the military do not represent such a threat. Separated from the
Haitian masses by language, education, wealth and social background, they tend
to lack the popular base that might threaten military dominance, and thus are
left relatively free to express their opinions.
Those associated with popular movements, however, have found their
ability to voice critical opinions seriously circumscribed. Because these cases
test the true limits of the Avril government's tolerance of dissent, we view them
as important indicators of the government's democratic intentions, in many
ways a more significant indicator than the level of discourse at meetings of lead-
ing politicians in Port-au-Prince.
a. The Murder of Two Members of VeritW
During the night of November 26-27,1988, a group of four plainclothes-
men and a uniformed soldier killed Michelet Dubreus and Jean F61ix. They also
arrested Rock Mond6sir without a warrant. The three men, residents of Cit6
Soleil on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince and members of a community organiza-
tion known as VWrit6, or Truth, had written a public letter to Haitian radio sta-
tions two days earlier identifying some of those believed to have participated in
the St. Jean Bosco massacre and expressing concern at their presence in Cit6
Soleil. Witnesses identified the plainclothesmen as former attaches, a reference
to armed, plainclothes forces that, at least through September 1988, had been
affiliated with the Casernes Dessalines and Recherches Criminelles. Mond6sir
was held in a series of detention centers, including the Anti-Gang Investigations
Unit (Service d'InvestigationsAnti-Gangs) (the new official name for Recherches
Criminelles) and the supposedly closed Fort Dimanche, before being brought
to the National Penitentiary, where he was kept until his provisional release at
the end of January 1989.
b. The Arrest and Beating of Five Members of ANOP
On January 16, 1989, soldiers arrested two members of the National
Assembly of Popular Organizations (Assemblee Nationale des Organisations
Populaires) (ANOP), Vesnel Jean-Frangois and Roland Pierre, who were writ-
ing anti-government slogans on walls and distributing anti-government
pamphlets in Cit6 Soleil. The two were taken to the National Palace, beaten,
and forced to spend the night on their knees holding rocks on their heads. Ac-
cording to Pierre, at the time of the arrest "one of the officers broke a branch
off a tree and beat me over the head with it, causing two deep wounds." The next
day they were taken to the Anti-Gangs Investigations Unit, where they were in-
terrogated and again beaten. "They wanted us to name the leaders of ANOP
and insisted that we were being paid for writing slogans on the wall, and so
wanted to know how much we were being paid," reported Pierre.
Three days later, on January 19, after securing an appointment with Lt.
Larochelle of the Anti-Gangs Unit to discuss the fate of the two detainees, the
ANOP leadership delegated five of its members to the meeting. While they
waited to meet Lt. Larochelle, two others -- Sgt. D6ju and an attache, Fritzner
Exum6 -- reportedly provoked a fight which lead to the beating and arrest of
three of the ANOP delegation, Yves Sanon, Roland Paul and Alain Z6phyr.
The three were detained overnight in the Anti-Gangs Unit, effectively chang-
ing places with Jean-Frangois and Pierre, who were released a short time later.
The next day, January 20, the three remaining ANOP detainees were brought
before Judge Julien Eustache, who ordered their release.
c. The Killing of Luc B. Innocent
Luc B. Innocent, a minor presidential candidate in the November 1987
election and leader of the Revolutionary Union Movement (Mouvement d'-
Union Rdvolutionnaire) (MUR), was killed on October 8,1988 by an army patrol
in Fonds-Verrettes in southeastern Haiti, near the Dominican border. Accord-
ing to a government communique, he was killed during an attempted take-over
of the local military barracks. He allegedly was planning to launch an armed in-
vasion to oust the Avril government, although he had crossed the border with
fewer than 10 followers. The government has offered no proof of this alleged
plan. Innocent's body was buried on the spot, without legal formalities or prior
notice to his relatives.
One MUR party member who survived the military attack and fled to
the Dominican Republic contradicted the official version. He said that troops,
suddenly and without warning, attacked a hut in which Innocent and his fol-
lowers had been meeting, killing Innocent and wounding others.*
Innocent spent years in exile in Venezuela. He returned to Haiti in
1986, and launched his campaign for the presidency in 1987. In April 1988, he
was forced to flee Haiti, requesting asylum in the Dominican Republic, when
the Manigat regime accused him of plotting its overthrow. In connection with
this accusation, a relative of Innocent, a notary named Camille Muzac, was ar-
rested and spent six months in detention without formal charges. The
government's evidence at the time consisted of several empty bottles found in
the courtyard of Muzac's house, which the government claimed Innocent was
planning to use as firebombs. Despite requests from several Haitian human
rights organizations, the Avril government so far has declined to investigate the
killing of Innocent.
* Haiti Solidaritd Internationale. Bulletin No. 25, September 26-October 11, 1988.
d. The Arrest of 15 Soldiers of the Presidential Guard
During the weekend of October 15-16, 1988, the army arrested fifteen
soldiers of the Presidential Guard. It also fired or forced into retirement several
junior officers. All of these soldiers had actively participated in the September
17 coup that brought Gen. Avril to power. Those arrested were:
Sgt. Patrick Frantz Beauchard
Sgt. Pierre-Louis Faudresse
Sgt. Germain Sonthonnax
Sgt. Philemon Ren6
Cpl. Vilex Saintil
Cpl. Althidor Jean-Alixon
Cpl. Septembre Luckner
Cpl. Timoth6e Jean-Frank
Priv. Delile Fricot
Priv. Jean Mathieu
Priv. Joseph Cl6bert
Priv. Figaro G6try
Priv. Cangar Robert
Priv. Joseph Job
Priv. Oupette Gasner
The junior officers included Maj. Pierre Cherubin and Lts. Richard
Salomon, Pierre Michel Lubin and Joseph Medard. They reportedly were
forced underground after army units attacked their homes with machine-gun
fire. Their removal and the imprisonment of the lower-ranking soldiers signaled
a dramatic step backward for the Avril government.
Following September 17, Gen. Avril found himself pressed from all
sides by rank-and-file soldiers seeking removal of their commanding officers.
According to reliable reports, Gen. Avril suggested to some of the junior of-
ficers and soldiers listed above that they form an advisory committee to present
the demands of the army's rank-and-file. The committee ended up ratifying the
ousters of commanding officers and pressing for further reforms within the
army, including the removal of high-ranking officers known to be involved in
the lucrative drug trade. Committee members were also determined to
eliminate the paramilitary forces which had continued to function with im-
Sgt. Patrick Beauchard distinguished himself by taking the lead in in-
itiating raids on known paramilitary headquarters and the residences of their
alleged leaders. It is widely believed that he forced Col. Jean-Claude Paul to
leave his command of the powerful Dessalines Battalion after storming with
tanks and heavy weaponry the headquarters -- a house in the Delmas section of
Port-au-Prince -- of a group of attaches linked to Paul. Reports that attach6s
had been launching their attacks on civilians from that house had circulated for
months, but previous governments had taken no action. While this particular
raid ended with only five arrests, the pictures of hundreds of attach6s were
recovered. Beauchard reportedly brought the five attaches he had captured to
the government-owned television station and forced them to reveal their affilia-
tion with Paul on a live broadcast. The same night, after several hours of high-
level negotiations, Paul agreed to retire.
Gen. Avril and other top associates evidently saw such bold assertive-
ness as a threat to their rule, and began a campaign to discredit Beauchard and
his allies. The government reportedly spread damaging rumors within army
ranks, and it appointed Beauchard to head the National Lottery while spread-
ing further rumors about alleged favoritism and corruption.
Although no formal charges were ever filed, the government alleged
that these soldiers and officers had plotted its overthrow. Among the alleged
co-conspirators was Col. Samuel J6r6mie, who is serving a 15-year prison sen-
tence for fatally shooting demonstrators in L6oganes in January 1986. Col.
J6r6mie had been briefly freed in the wake of the September 17 coup. No
evidence of this alleged plot was ever presented, nor were the fifteen imprisoned
soldiers brought before a court or permitted to see counsel. They were released
in December, after significant pressure from human rights and democratic for-
ces in Haiti. They had been held at the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince
and were not reported to have been mistreated while in custody.*
e. The Arrest of Rockefeller Guerre and Sylvain Jolibois
On February 6, 1989, Rockefeller Guerre, head of the Union of
Patriotic Democrats (Union des Democrats Patriotiques) (UDP), was arrested
at his home at 6:45 a.m. by three men from the Anti-Gang Investigations Unit,
two in uniform and the third in plainclothes. According to Guerre's wife, Guerre
drove his car to police headquarters accompanied by two of the detectives; the
third drove in a separate car with license plates indicating that it was a rented
vehicle. Guerre reportedly spent five hours in the offices of the Anti-Gang Unit
without being interrogated before being transferred to the National Peniten-
tiary. In a statement to Radio Soleil, Port-au-Prince Police Chief Col. Georges
Valcin charged Guerre with having been part of an attempt to place a grenade
beneath stands erected on the Champs de Mars in central Port-au-Prince during
the carnival celebrations. According to Col. Valcin, the police apprehended an
unnamed individual who had been given the task of detonating the grenade,
which in turn, Valcin implied without stating, led to the arrest of Guerre.
The timing of the arrest suggested that political motives were behind
it. Guerre had joined in a coalition with two of the four leading presidential can-
didates of the aborted November 1987 elections, Sylvio Claude of the PDCH
and Louis D6joie of PAIN, in opposition to participation by democratic groups
in the February 9 forum to discuss the Avril government's proposal for an elec-
toral commission. To underscore this opposition, the coalition had called for a
general strike on February 8 and 9.
* A similar though shorter detention occurred at the end of October 1988. Port-au-Prince
police chief Col. Georges Valcin announced the arrest of seven soldiers from Fort
Dimanche who had called for the removal of their commander. They were, according to
Radio Nationale: Jean-Baptiste Valere, Ruben Jean-Charles, Andre Sauveur, Elois
Deraline, Armand Christophe, Alexis Dorelus and Joseph Jean-Baptiste. The seven repor-
tedly were released in early November and expelled from the army.
Another outspoken opponent of the Avril government, Dr. Sylvain
Jolibois, was arrested the same day as Guerre. Both Guerre and Jolibois were
released on February 16 when charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.
2. Attacks on Freedom of Assembly and Association
Consistent with the military's apparent fear of popular mobilization,
the army has repeatedly acted to stop or disperse political rallies and
demonstrations. Not all rallies or gatherings have been barred; several have oc-
curred without incident in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. But evidently because
of the potential for such demonstrations to mobilize broad popular opposition
to military rule, they have been targeted for attack far more regularly than single
outspoken political leaders.
The frequency of the military's intervention to stop demonstrations in-
dicates that freedom of assembly and association exist today in Haiti largely at
military whim. As the following examples illustrate, the government has shown
no commitment to these freedoms as basic rights of the Haitian people.
On October 6, 1988, a popular demonstration took place in Desdunes
in the Artibonite to protest the inclusion in the Avril government of
several figures who had been associated with the policy of terror under
prior governments. One demonstrator, Evarold Racine, died, and
many were wounded when a sergeant identified as Dutroit Valcourt
opened fire on the demonstrators. On October 13, this same officer ar-
rested without a warrant Dufort Ch6rilus, an inhabitant of the Ar-
tibonite village of Estere, because he had denounced the presence of
paramilitary forces in the area.
On October 9, 1988, in the course of a demonstration in Petite Rivinre
de l'Artibonite, Dieunoula Joseph was arrested and brutally beaten by
soldiers identified as Cpls. Napol6on and K6breau.
On October 17, 1988, upon orders reportedly issued by the
department's military commander, army troops prohibited a popular
demonstration in Estere.
On October 24, 1988, in Port-au-Prince, the police used tear gas to
break up a demonstration organized by the Joint Committee of
Democratic Forces (Comitd de Liaison des Forces Dimocratiques).
The demonstrators were demanding that Gen. Avril step down, that
the 15 soldiers arrested on October 15-16 be released, and that Father
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been ordered out of the country by
the Sal6sian order, be permitted to stay.
* On October 24, 1988, in Port-au-Prince, a peaceful demonstration or-
ganized to demonstrate support for Father Aristide and to demand
that the Avril government step down was dispersed with night sticks
and tear gas.
* On November 29, 1988 the Federation of Neighborhood Associations
in Cap-Haitien organized a peaceful march of approximately 3,000 to
commemorate the victims of the massacre perpetrated on the day of
the aborted elections one year earlier. The military broke up the march
with tear gas. The home of Dr. Charles Manigat, a well-known
democratic figure who had run for senator under the banner of the
FNC, was also attacked with tear gas. Manigat and the head of the
Federation, Max Montreuil, had been arrested earlier that month on
charges that they had been inciting rioting and the looting of the
residences of a former Namphy government official. After being forced
to spend the night in jail, they were released when the charges were
dismissed for lack of evidence. Since then they have both been con-
tinually harassed by military authorities.
* On December 5, 1988, in Les Cayes in southwestern Haiti, the police
prohibited a gathering that was to have occurred the next day to com-
memorate the massacre of peasants in nearby Marchaterre on Decem-
ber 6, 1929. The police also arrested two organizers, Father R6nald
Cl6risme and agronomist Harry Abel. The next day, December 6, the
army fired shots into the air as it encircled the church in Les Cayes
where a mass was being performed to commemorate the Marchaterre
* On January 26, 1989, approximately 500 factory workers went to the
offices of the Ministry of Social Affairs in Delmas, in metropolitan
Port-au-Prince, to settle a dispute with their employer. The employees
of the Ministry evidently pani ked and called the Leopard battalion of
the army, which deployed troops to the scene. The Leopards encircled
the crowd and began randomly beating those gathered. According to
Col. Himmler Rebu, the Leopards were told that the crowd was going
to burn down the office.
* In a confidential memorandum to Gen. Avril dated January 13, 1989 -
leaked to Radio Soleil at the end of January and later authenticated
by the government -- Antony Virginie Saint-Pierre, minister of infor-
mation and coordination, called on the Haitian armed forces to be
placed on a state of alert against alleged efforts to destabilize the
government in the Central Plateau, particularly the area around
Hinche, Savanette, Belladdre, Mirebalais and Thomassique. Accord-
ing to the memorandum, those behind the supposed destabilization ef-
fort were the MPP, the FNC (by then defunct), PUCH, the
Charlemagne P6ralte Front (Front Charlemagne Pdralte) and the 77Ti
Legliz. The evidence presented to demonstrate this alleged effort was
thin, however: a certain Idly Cameau purportedly had traveled to
Savanette to contact other named individuals and to ensure com-
munication between Savanette and Mirebalais; the MPP allegedly had
received funds from unnamed Belgian associations; and the FNC sup-
posedly had distributed money to peasant groups and voodoo priests
to help them commemorate an important voodoo holiday. The
memorandum appears to have been initialed by Gen. Avril with a note
that it should be discussed at a meeting of the army's general staff at
11:00 a.m. on January 20, 1989. At least several of the recommenda-
tions contained in the memorandum reportedly were adopted, indicat-
ing that the basic thrust of the memorandum was accepted. Among the
actions taken were the sending of envoys to the Central Plateau to col-
lect intelligence, the establishment of roadblocks to monitor comings
and goings in the region, and the deployment of troops to Hinche to
reinforce existing forces and to "sensitize the department commander
to the political reality that is developing under his eyes." In the face of
outcries and protests, the Avril government reaffirmed the Saint-
Pierre memorandum. Then Defense and Interior Minister Col. Carl
Dorsainvil stated in a communiqu6 that the government's investigation
revealed "the existence of certain problems that truly deserve that ur-
gent solutions be considered by the government to benefit the popula-
tions in question." Neither the problems nor the proposed solutions
were specified. Faced with increasing protests and press inquiries, the
Avril government's most recent explanation has been that it was "trying
to prevent another Jean-Rabel," a reference to the bloody massacre on
July 23, 1987, in which thugs loyal to wealthy landowners killed at least
135 members of a local peasant organization.
On February 15, 1989, in Port-au-Prince, troops attacked a peaceful
demonstration organized by the National Organization for the Defense
of Youth (Organisation Nationale de la Defense de la Jeunesse)
(ONADEJ), midway on their planned march from Bel Aire to the
Palace of Justice. The youths were demanding freedom for jailed op-
position leaders Rockefeller Guerre and Dr. Sylvain Jolibois and
protesting the threats contained in the above-mentioned memorandum
from the Information Minister. The troops attacked with tear gas and
beat a number of demonstrators. Reporters covering the event were
also assaulted, as detailed in Chapter V.
3. Land Disputes
In an overpopulated country, where erosion caused by deforestation
and primitive farming techniques regularly reduces the amount of arable land,
it is no surprise that much of the dispute over political power reduces to a dis-
pute over land. In rural areas, local military commanders and section chiefs who
have long profited from financial arrangements reached with large landowners
have assumed the role of defending landed interests against peasant chal-
lengers. In this sense, the army in rural Haiti plays much the same role as it did
under the Duvalier dictatorship -- a law unto itself in the service of the economi-
The March 1987 Constitution was to have altered this rural power
relationship by replacing the section chiefs with administrative councils under
popular control -- the Administrative Councils of the Communal Sections (Con-
seils d'Administration des Sections Communales), commonly referred to as
CASECs. The failure to hold fair CASEC elections has meant that this project
is unfulfilled, and that the law in rural Haiti continues to reside in the hands of
corrupt military officials who for years have seen service to their pocketbooks
as a higher duty than service to their constituencies.
The following accounts illustrate this pattern of military involvement
in land disputes and the often-violent abuses that result:
On October 27, 1988, in the course of a land dispute between two
groups of peasants in Estere in the Artibonite, one group, armed with
sticks and spikes, enlisted a Sgt. Charles and a Cpl. Rosemond. They
then proceeded to kill three members of the opposing group -- Verit6
Franqois, Luckner Noel and St. Jean Sylvestre -- and wounded five, in-
cluding Dieuseul J6r6me, Jean-Baptiste Francois and Luckner
On October 29,1988, Jacques Philippe, a lawyer who was representing
peasants from St. Marc in a land dispute with the town's section chief,
was killed by a man in uniform and a plainclothesman on his way from
St. Marc to Port-au-Prince. The two assailants, who had ridden with
Philippe since St. Marc, shot him to death in Bon Repos, 20 kilometers
north of Port-au-Prince.
On November 1, 1988, Jean Lacoste Edouard, a section chief in Petite
Riviere de l'Artibonite, and his assistants, Fritz Alvarez and M6reste
Fadadl, fired numerous shots into the air to force Lafrance Toussaint
and Pr6dinord Louis to abandon a piece of property.
On December 6, 1988, in Mddor, in the sixth communal section of
Petite Riviere de l'Artibonite, section chief Presendieu Merthus beat
Gr6cius Francine in the course of a land dispute between Francine and
two of Merthus's assistants, Clercius Piersil and Anilius Piersil. Fran-
cine took flight following the beating. On December 8, 1988, in Dod-
dard, in the fifth communal section of Petite Riviere de l'Artibonite,
section chief Nicolas Riche illegally arrested Vanes S6nadieu in the
course of a land conflict with Terrilus Tuly, a large landowner in the
On December 18, 1988, at the request of Jean-Norbert Montero, an
ex-offical of the Namphy government, the section chief in Savanette ar-
rested Lenord Petit Fabre, Desanord Joseph, Colobri Altenor, Mon-
telis Petit Fabre and Dieurifils Saimphar. These peasants were arrested
because they rejected and protested Montero's attempts to expel them
from their land. Four of the five were released on December 26 follow-
ing considerable public protest.
On December 26, 1988, in Bois l'Estere, in the third communal section
of Marchand-Dessalines, an assistant to the section chief known as
Dieuliphete illegally arrested a man known as Chesnel following a land
dispute between Chesnel and Dieudonne Jules, a large landowner in
4. Military Thefts
Corruption and violence are linked not only in the context of land dis-
putes. Increasingly, common thefts are reportedly committed by men in
uniform. Their participation in this ordinary criminal activity is facilitated by
the impunity seemingly accorded most soldiers before the law.
On October 10, 1988, in Delmas, a uniformed soldier shot and killed
Pasteur Rodrigue Renaud and wounded his companion, Lionel Saget.
The soldier made off with over US$3,000.
On November 22,1988, in Port-au-Prince, 24-year-old Lesly B6jin was
killed at approximately 9:00 p.m. by a group of uniformed men armed
with Uzi machine-guns. The men had just committed a robbery and,
after insisting that B6jin give them a ride in his car, murdered him.
During the night of December 17-18, 1988, in La Vall6e-de-Jacmel in
southern Haiti, four individuals in green-olive uniforms, armed with
revolvers, spikes and sticks, stabbed and beat Franck L1o'n, manager
of the small cooperative savings fund in the town.
During the night of December 21-22, 1988, in Port-au-Prince, a pawn
shop named "Confiance en Dieu" was ransacked by a group of about a
dozen, some dressed in green-olive.
On December 23,1988, on the rue des Miracles in downtown Port-au-
Prince, Maret Louis was kidnapped as he left a bank by two uniformed
soldiers. The soldiers drove Louis near the international airport, stole
$640, and left.
5. Other Military Violence
It is a reflection of the breakdown in law and order as applied to military
troops that often it is impossible to determine the motive for acts of violence
committed by soldiers. Whatever the reasons behind the killings, shootings and
beatings outlined below, these disturbingly regular incidents reflect indif-
ference, if not encouragement, from the military high command. On several oc-
casions, army troops have engaged in acts of violence for no apparent political
or financial motive. The brazenness of these abuses reflects a disturbing will-
ingness by the army to disregard the law, a willingness that continues under the
On October 21, 1988, an attach of the Anti-Gang Investigations Unit
wounded Alex Bernard with a gunshot.
On October 23 1988, in the Bizoton section of Port-au-Prince, two
armed men, one in a green-olive uniform, entered a house near the Nir-
vana market, arrested two men and two women, and drove toward the
center of town. One man was killed, and his body dumped on the Bicen-
tennaire in downtown Port-au-Prince. The other man, Dorvilien M6ry,
was wounded. The two women were released unharmed.
* On October 24,1988, Cpl. Delva Osius of the Fort Dimanche battalion
murdered a young man known as By at Croix-des-Bossales on the out-
skirts of Port-au-Prince. The next day, Cpl. Osius beat a witness to the
murder, Fritz Altidor.
* Also on October 24, in Cit6 Soleil, a sergeant from the Casernes Des-
salines wounded Daniel Laurent with three bullets in the right hand
and left side.
* At 5 a.m. on October 26, 1988, a uniformed soldier accompanied by
two others wounded a man known as Jean-Claude with a gunshot to
* On November 2, 1988, Roland Joseph, known as Roland d'Haiti, a
former soldier widely believed to be a drug smuggler and assassin-for-
hire, was shot to death with his maid by soldiers who were attempting
to enter and search his house in Bon Repos, just north of Port-au-
Prince. An official military communique reported that Joseph had
been killed while resisting the soldiers. A mason working in the house,
however, said that the soldiers found Joseph hiding behind a
refrigerator and shot him.
* On November 23, 1988, in the Carrefour-Feuilles section of Port-au-
Prince, a sergeant in the Presidential Guard known as Camy killed Ed-
wine Petit Frere, an employee of the Ministry of Commerce and
Industry, and wounded two others.
* On December 9, 1988, on rue Tiremasse in Port-au-Prince, Sgt. Macly
Longchamps of the aviation corps fatally shot himself after a dispute
with his mistress, L6onne Germain. The next day, December 10, sol-
diers from the aviation corps invaded rue Tiremasse, sealed off the
neighborhood, and arrested and beat numerous residents and pas-
sersby, among them G6rard Paul, Pierre Joseph, Paul Ilrick, Frantz
Paul, and Frantz Milord. In a highly unusual move -- apparently related
to the fact that the soldiers' attack took place on the day that Gen. Avril
announced the ratification of several international human rights instru-
ments -- Lt. Col. Renan Jean-Louis, the commander of the aviation
corps, later issued a press release stating that the soldiers had acted
without his authorization and would be subjected to disciplinary
measures. The soldiers were fired.
On December 15, 1988, Cl6danor Nonsant, having been arrested in
November in L.ogane and then transferred to Petit Goave (both in
southern Haiti), died after brutal beatings in both towns by law enfor-
6. Unattributed "Insecurity"
As under other recent governments, "insecurity" -- the killing of seem-
ingly random individuals by unidentified gunmen -- has become a recurrent
problem under Gen. Avril. By definition, responsibility in these cases is difficult
to determine. The correlation between the frequency of such killings and politi-
cal tensions over the past year, in a country that traditionally had little common
crime, suggests that political motives often lie behind the murders, even if the
particular victims appear not to be chosen for political reasons.
One or both of two different groups are probably behind the killings.
Just as forces loyal to Gen. Namphy appeared to have been behind the killings
in the spring of 1988, so military or paramilitary opponents of Gen. Avril may
be behind the killings today. Under this view, the killings are designed to des-
tabilize the Avril government with the aim of replacing it with a more right-wing
It may also, however, be in the interest of Gen. Avril and his allies that
the killings continue. From their perspective, the killings have the advantage of
terrorizing the population and thus discouraging organized opposition.
Moreover, as Port-au-Prince police chief Col. Georges Valcin has done, the
killings can be used to argue that existing police and military forces lack the
strength to maintain order and thus that international aid must be resumed.
(This argument conveniently glosses over the demonstrated ability of the army
and the police to make a powerful show of force when they seek to prevent
popular protests, as they did on November 29, 1988, the first anniversary of the
Regardless of motives, however, the fact remains that the Avril govern-
ment has encouraged the "insecurity" by its passive attitude toward violence
generally. This is highlighted by its refusal to prosecute even the most egregious
military and paramilitary violence. The following killings, reported by LAPPH
and CHADEL*nsecurity" under Gen. Avril's reign:
On October 5, 1988, in a ravine in Delmas, a young woman was found
bludgeoned to death.
On October 12, 1988, three bodies were discovered in three different
locations in Port-au-Prince: the rue du Quai, the rue Bonnefois and
On October 30, 1988, Jean Saintilus, a driver for CATH, narrowly es-
caped death when the car he was driving in Port-au-Prince was riddled
with bullets fired by two unidentified men.
On October 27, 1988, Thomas Nicolas, father of the army chief of staff
under the Namphy government, Carl Michel Nicolas, was shot to death
in his home.
On November 3,1988, on the Bicentenaire near the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs in Port-au-Prince, the body of an unidentified young man was
found dead of gunshot wounds. His hands had been tied.
On November 14, 1988, in Leogane, the body of Marcel Jeanty was
found having been stabbed to death.
On November 16, 1988, at 10:45 p.m. in Carrefour, a group of armed
individuals killed Philippe Overty and shot his wife in the left thigh.
On November 24, 1988, two unidentified men were founded shot to
death in front of St. Jean Bosco church in Port-au-Prince. Those who
live nearby reported not having heard gunfire, suggesting that the two
had been killed elsewhere and transported to the sight of the Septem-
ber 11 massacre.
On December 2, 1988, a young man was found shot to death in Port-
au-Prince on the road to the international airport.
7. Military Interference with Legal Process
Contributing to the ready use of violence in Haiti is a contempt shown
by soldiers for legal processes generally. Both a cause and a reflection of the
breakdown in the rule of law, this flouting of legal procedures continued under
the Avril government. For example:
During the popular reprisals against alleged participants in the St. Jean
Bosco massacre following the Avril coup, soldiers handed over
presumed participants to mobs for them to be killed and burned. In at
least one instance, the soldiers finished off the presumed participant
before delivering his body to the vengeful mob.
* On October 4, 1988, in Gonaives, armed soldiers in uniform forced
Commissaire du Gouvemement (the local prosecutor) Me. Dieuseul
Placide to sign an order releasing from prison Auguste Mag6ne, a
former Tonton Macoute accused of murdering Makenson Michel, a
schoolboy killed in November 1985 in the course of anti-Duvalier
* According to CHADEL, at 2 a.m. on November 10, 1988, at 7 rue Oge
in P6tion-Ville, four individuals were caught in the process of setting
fire to a house. One was captured by neighbors and taken to the local
police station. The police refused to take custody of the alleged arsonist
or to charge him. With legal redress denied them, the neighbors took
matters into their own hands and killed the man. The police then ar-
rested five of the neighbors.
* CHADEL also reported that on November 28, 1988, on the lie de la
Tortue in northern Haiti, a soldier named Jean-Yves Th6ogene and
two other soldiers arrested Henry Joseph, the justice of the peace of
the town, after Joseph had rendered a judgment against the three sol-
diers. The soldiers took the justice of the peace before the local military
* On December 10, 1988, soldiers of the region refused to bring Nateste
Sintisma, an assistant of the section chief, before a tribunal to which he
was summoned by the local Commissaire du Gouvemement Eddy
* On January 21, 1989, Mireille Delinois -- former wife of Col. Jean-
Claude Paul, who died under circumstances suggesting poisoning on
November 6, 1988 -- returned to Paul's home in Duplan, near Fer-
mathe, accompanied by an attorney and a justice of the peace and
armed with a court order permitting her to enter the house, which had
been officially sealed, to remove her belongings. As the truck brought
by Delinois was almost loaded, troops from the Casernes Dessalines
arrived, apparently summoned by Claude's relatives, and prevented
her from proceeding, in defiance of the court order.
IV. MISTREATMENT OF PRISONERS
During our August 1988 visit to Haiti, we requested permission to see
four detention facilities in Port-au-Prince: the National Penitentiary (Piniten-
cierNational), Fort Dimanche, Casernes Dessalines and the Criminal Investiga-
tions Unit of the Port-au-Prince Police Department (Service des Recherches
Criminelles). Our principal concern was to investigate reports that prisoners
were being killed on a regular basis by torture and starvation in Recherches
Criminelles. We also hoped to determine whether prisoners were severely
mistreated in the other three facilities.
Our visit to the detention facilities was extremely abbreviated; we were
given one day to visit three of the four facilities. Nonetheless, we were able to
determine that torture and extreme mistreatment continued in Recherches
Criminelles at the time of our visit. We were unable to draw definitive con-
clusions regarding the other facilities, for the reasons outlined below.
A. Recherches Criminelles
Recherches Criminelles, which, as noted, was renamed the Anti-Gang
Investigations Unit (Service d'InvestigationsAnti-Gangs) following the Septem-
ber 1988 coup, is located in a yellow, low-lying building opposite the National
Palace in downtown Port-au-Prince. The building houses offices and a small
detention area. At the time of our visit, Recherches Criminelles was under the
authority of Col. Joseph Baguidy. Following the September coup, Col. Baguidy
was relieved of his duties and replaced by Capt. Coulanges Justafort. In Novem-
ber, Justafort reportedly was replaced by Maj. Eugene Jose.
Recherches Criminelles has long been notorious for the torture and kill-
ing that occurred there. In March 1986, reports began to emerge of gross
mistreatment of detainees. More recently, CHADEL reported that the follow-
ing prisoners had been murdered in Recherches Criminelles between April and
early July 1988:
Pierre (Last Name Unknown)
Camille (Last Name Unknown)
Cause of Death
Similarly, in an October 1987 incident described in Chapter VI of this
report, presidential candidate Yves Volel was murdered in front of Recherches
Criminelles as he was about to enter the facility to investigate reports of abuse
of a client being held there. A former Recherches Criminelles detainee, Yves
Auguste, who was held there in March and April 1987, said he saw four brothers
beaten to death for refusing to tell the police chief where they had hidden money
they had been accused of stealing. And on May 17, 1988 Amnesty Internation-
al reported that Rene Pierre Louis, an engineer, had been held for between five
and six months at Recherches Criminelles without access to a lawyer. He was
beaten on the buttocks, back, head, ankles and soles of his feet. Although the
resulting wounds became infected, he was not allowed to see a doctor. Other
such reports have emerged periodically.
With this history in mind, we pressed for an opportunity to investigate
conditions within Recherches Criminelles. Brig. Gen. Fritz Antoine, then the
Minister of Justice, gave our delegation written permission to tour the four
detention facilities in Port-au-Prince which we had requested to see, including
Recherches Criminelles. He also arranged for a civilian attorney from the Min-
istry of Justice to accompany us and to facilitate our entry into the facilities.
Despite this attorney's presentation of a written authorization for us to enter
Recherches Criminelles, signed personally by the Minister of Justice, we were
denied entrance to the facility. Numerous plainclothes employees, known as at-
tach6s, lingered at the entrance while we were there. We suspect that the rela-
tively impromptu nature of our visit accounted for the reluctance of the
authorities at Recherches Criminelles to grant us admission; two weeks later, a
delegation from the Organization of American States' (OAS) Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights was admitted to the facility after substantial
forewarning, by which time the facility had been largely emptied of inmates.
We were, however, able to obtain first-hand information on conditions
in Recherches Criminelles by interviewing prisoners in the National Penitentiary
who had been transferred from Recherches Criminelles just the day before our
August 13 visit. Although the circumstances of these interviews were not ideal
in that they took place in a large room filled with many inmates, we were able
to interview the prisoners individually, with no guards present, and at a suffi-
cient distance from other inmates to ensure a modicum of privacy. The infor-
mation we were able to collect corroborated the horror stories we had heard
about conditions in Recherches Criminelles. We repeat three accounts below:
Andr6 Dalusma had just spent seven days in Recherches Criminelles.
Interviewed while lying face down on a cot, he had buttocks that were
so badly cut up and bruised from having been beaten with a baton that
he was unable to pull up his pants. Dalusma reported that the beating,
which occurred in the course of an interrogation, had been ordered by
Capt. Justaford, and had been carried out by an unidentified attach.
Dalusma was given food and water during his stay at Recherches
Wilson Desir, who had also just spent five days at Recherches Criminel-
les, had a visible bullet wound in his side. He reported having been shot
by a police officer while still in the street because his car had acciden-
tally crashed into a police car. At Recherches Criminelles, in an initial
beating, Desir had been hit, approximately fifty times by his estimate,
with a baton on the side of his rib cage; four bruises were clearly visible
on his side below his armpit. During a second beating, Desir reported
being hit approximately twenty times with a baton on his buttocks. In
a third beating, he said hands were clapped approximately ten times
over both his ears. Desir was asked no questions in the course of these
Yves Alexandre, who had just spent two days at Recherches Criminel-
les, reported having been hit three times in the head near his ear with
the butt of a revolver. He had not been questioned and had been given
nothing to eat.
We were also able to interview a number of other prisoners at the Na-
tional Penitentiary who had been transferred from Recherches Criminelles some
months before. These interviews were conducted in more suitable settings,
without guards or other inmates presents. Among the reports we received were
Cador Deresil spent three months in Recherches Criminelles between
February and April 1987, in a cell with thirty to forty others. While he
was there, inmates died of torture or starvation on a daily basis. There
was no water in his cell, and the guards gave him no food. Other
prisoners in the cell who "had privileges" received food and water and
shared it with their fellow inmates. Deresil's hands were handcuffed
behind his back the entire time. He estimates he was beaten on average
every other day, often by a group of policemen. The police often ques-
tioned him about politics. One time, the police tried to remove his
fingernails with a pincer, but did not succeed. Another time, a
policeman bit his right ear; the ear still bears a visible scar. Electric
shocks were also applied, through a band attached to his head.
Another prisoner, who refused to give us his name out of fear of
reprisal, spent two months in Recherches Criminelles in February and
March 1988. He was kept in an area that he estimated was meant to
house 30 to 40 but in fact housed 140 to 150. Twelve inmates died during
his stay, some during beatings and some during the night for lack of
water. There was no water in the cell, and the authorities provided no
food. The prisoner's wife came on a daily basis to provide food and
water. The prisoner was beaten by a baton and was subjected to electric
shocks, which were applied through rings attached to his fingers. The
prisoner paid $1,000 simply to be transferred from Recherches
Criminelles to the National Penitentiary.
Jean Louis Sinell spent three months in Recherches Criminelles, during
which he saw 24 people die. His hands were cuffed and irons were kept
on his feet. He was beaten daily, and showed us scars on his neck,
forehead, wrists and ankles. There was "practically no food" at the
Col. Weber Jodesty, at the time the warden of the National Peniten-
tiary, was extremely open and helpful in allowing us to interview prisoners of
our choice. Upon request, he brought us to see the prisoners who had just ar-
rived from Recherches Criminelles. According to a government official in a posi-
tion to know, Col. Jodesty's cooperation may have stemmed from his desire to
clean up Recherches Criminelles. This official informed us that Col. Jodesty had
on several occasions refused to accept the transfer of prisoners from Recher-
ches Criminelles who were almost dead and were being passed on to the Nation-
al Penitentiary in the apparent hope that their deaths would not be attributed
to Recherches Criminelles. In addition, at the time of our visit, Col. Jodesty was
sending two members of his staff to attend classes on human rights at CHADEL.
Unfortunately, shortly after the September coup, Gen. Avril removed Col.
Jodesty from his post, transferring him to a desk assignment.
As noted, shortly after Avril's assumption of the presidency, Recher-
ches Criminelles was renamed the Anti-Gang Investigations Unit and Capt. Jus-
tafort, who had ordered the beating of Andre Dalusma described above, was
named the new commander. The Avril government vowed that the facilitywould
no longer be used as a detention center. Nonetheless, there is evidence suggest-
ing that the facility is still used and that the abuses of the past continue under
the Avril government:
On November 15, 1988, Phael Joseph was arrested for a theft that had
occurred in the store where he worked. Joseph was taken to the Anti-
Gang Investigations Unit and held without any of the required legal
documents being completed. Nine days later, on November 24, his
parents recovered his body from the morgue of the State University
Hospital in Port-au-Prince. The body reportedly bore signs of torture.
On January 19, 1989, as noted previously, Ives Sanon, Reynald Paul
and Alain Zephir, all members of ANOP, were detained and beaten at
the Anti-Gang Investigations Unit. They had come with a judicial order
to seek the release of two other ANOP members, Jean Frangois and
Roland Pierre, who had been arrested three days earlier for writing
anti-government slogans on walls and distributing anti-government
pamphlets. Francois and Pierre were beaten in the National Palace.
The ANOP members reported that approximately 40 people were
detained in the Anti-Gang Investigations Unit while they were there.
B. Casernes Dessalines
We were admitted to the Casernes Dessalines by the commander of
the facility, Col. Jean-Claude Paul, who greeted us and spoke with us at length
before personally giving us a tour of the facility.* A large, fortress-like facility
located behind the National Palace, the Casernes Dessalines houses four in-
fantry battalions, the 16th, 18th, 21st and 28th, which together account for ap-
proximately 800 troops. It also contains a small area for detaining prisoners.
The detention area is divided into two wings. One wing consists of two
rows of ten cells each on either side of a long corridor which receives natural
light. The second wing is subdivided into two areas, each containing the same
number of cells as the first wing; only one of these areas, however, receives
natural light. The cells themselves are no bigger than three feet by six feet and
are secured by heavy metal doors painted black, which darken the interiors of
the cells so that even in the areas where natural light shines, prisoners would
have extremely limited lighting available to them.
No prisoners were in the facility during our tour. Col. Paul reported to
us that the facility was no longer in use, and has not been used other than to
detain a prisoner briefly while he is identified before sending him to regularized
custody at the National Penitentiary.
Three pieces of evidence made us doubt Col. Paul's claim that the
detention area was not then being used. First, as we drove into the central court-
Col. Paul was later replaced by Lt. Col. Guy Francois. As noted above, Paul died, apparent-
ly by poisoning, on November 6, 1988.
yard of the Casernes, immediately in front of Col. Paul's office and opposite the
detention area, we saw four or five uniformed soldiers with guns quickly usher-
ing another four or five men in civilian clothes out of the detention area and into
a waiting truck, which then drove out of the courtyard area. Although the men
in civilian clothing were not handcuffed, their behavior was consistent with
prisoners being quickly removed from their cells. Second, unlike the other por-
tions of the detention facility, the set of cells which received no natural light
emitted a tremendous stench, suggestive of recent occupation of more than a
transitory nature, and the floors were wet with water, as if they had just been
washed during the course of our interview with Col. Paul. Third, as Col. Paul
brought us on a tour of the facility, he initially showed us only the portion of the
facility which received natural sunlight. Not until an explicit request to see the
rest of the detention area from members of our delegation who previously had
visited all parts of the facility in March 1986 -- at the time when Gerard Gour-
gue was Justice Minister and a member of the CNG -- did Col. Paul lead us to
the second wing.
The sole prisoner we interviewed at the National Penitentiary who had
spent time incarcerated in the Casernes Dessalines was Joseph Douze. Douze
said he spent approximately one month in April 1988 in a dark, six-foot-by-six-
foot cell. He reported that four other people were kept in his row of cells, and
that one was beaten daily. Douze, a dual US and Haitian citizen who was incar-
cerated on gun charges, was not beaten.
On September 2, 1988, in what turned out to be its waning days, the
Namphy government made the unprecedented announcement that Lt. Antoine
Metellus of the Casernes Dessalines was going to be prosecuted for having
caused the death by torture of Schubert Jean-Baptiste, a 30-year-old employee
of the government television station, who was arrested at his home by an armed
civilian on August 20, 1988, reportedly because he owed Metellus money. An
investigation was said to have begun. Neither the Namphy nor the Avril govern-
ment has reported any progress in the investigation, and the whereabouts of Lt.
Metellus are unknown.
C. Fort Dimanche
Fort Dimanche lies on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, near La Saline
and the factory of the Haitian-American Sugar Company (HASCO). Like other
prisons, it is also home to an army battalion. Under Francois Duvalier especial-
ly, it was infamous as the prison where political prisoners were sent and in many
cases never emerged alive. Its commander took his orders directly from the
President-for-Life, although prisoners were also sent there by the chiefs of the
Secret Police, the VSN, and the Presidential Guard. According to a former sol-
dier who was stationed at Fort Dimanche from 1968 to 1984:
"Virtually every morning Lt. Louis Joseph and Lt. Fred Delva
interrogated prisoners. Beatings were a regular part of these
interrogations, and torture frequently was too.... All of the
prisoners, political as well as regular, were subjected to the
'interrogations'.... Prisoners were executed at Fort Dimanche
between about midnight and one a.m., never during the
daytime.... The holes into which the bodies fell as they were
shot were a permanent fixture, already dug by prisoners. A
few prisoners would then throw dirt over the bodies. The of-
ficers had flashlights which assisted during the executions.
They did not check carefully to see if the people were dead,
counting on the dirt to finish them off."
We did not receive a complete tour of Fort Dimanche. The military
complex consists of an administration building near the entrance to the facility
and two other detention facilities behind the administration building. Of the two
detention facilities, we were only permitted to tour one, the newer facility on
the left as one enters the complex. It consisted of approximately a dozen large
cells which were empty at the time of our visit. Judging from the animal drop-
pings scattered about most of the rooms of this facility, it had not been used for
A delegation from the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, which toured Fort Dimanche in August 1988, was able to visit the entire
facility. It reported encountering two prisoners in the second, older building.
The last time that Fort Dimanche was openly used as a detention
facility was in June 1988, when at least 16 members and alleged associates of
the government of deposed president Manigat, including members of his party,
Rally of National Progressive Democrats (Rassemblement des D6mocrates
Nationaux Progressistes) (RDNP), were kept there for about one week. In an
interview with New York-based weekly Haiti Observateur, Lionel Deschamps,
secretary to the Manigat cabinet, reported that the detainees were generally not
mistreated except that, during their first night in custody, they were forced to
lie on the ground as soldiers stepped on them. On October 13, 1988, the Avril
government announced that it would close this symbol of political killing and
torture before January 1989, but as of the publication of this report, Fort
Dimanche remains open.
D. The National Penitentiary
Because our time in the National Penitentiary was brief, we focused
our attention on locating prisoners who could describe the atrocities taking
place in Recherches Criminelles, which we regarded as our first priority. As a
result, we were able to gather only a superficial, nonsystematic impression of
conditions in the National Penitentiary. The largest prison structure in Haiti,
occupying two city blocks in the middle of downtown Port-au-Prince, the Na-
tional Penitentiary housed on the day of our visit 284 prisoners, according to
Col. Jodesty, including 169 civilian men, 27 civilian women and 19 soldiers await-
ing trial; and 62 civilian men, 3 civilian women and 4 soldiers serving sentences
after convictions. Built during colonial times and partially restored during the
US occupation of Haiti earlier in this century, the conditions were primitive. Of
the approximately four women and eleven men whom we interviewed under
conditions of privacy, away from any guards, none complained about mistreat-
ment while housed in the National Penitentiary. We note, however, that we did
not have time to conduct a systematic study of this issue, and others have
reported beatings within the National Penitentiary. For example, according to
CHADEL, Adolphe Mondelis and Jean-Claude Duperval were severely beaten
on March 18, 1988 for having advanced unspecified complaints on behalf of fel-
Another matter of concern to us, which we did not have time to inves-
tigate in the course of our brief visit to the National Penitentiary, is the practice
of confining prisoners for lengthy periods without legal process, in violation of
both Articles 24 and 26 of the 1987 Constitution and Articles 5, 7 and 8 of the
American Convention on Human Rights, which Haiti ratified in 1977.* In a May
6,1988 report, for example, CHADEL listed 72 inmates at the National Peniten-
tiary who had been held for up to 25 months without any legal order having been
issued. Similarly, when the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
toured the National Penitentiary two weeks after our visit, they were told by Col.
Jodesty that there were 298 inmates in the National Penitentiary. However, a
list given to them of inmates who were at some stage of legal proceedings con-
tained only 165 names. The difference of 133 names appears to reflect inmates
who are being incarcerated without any legal formality. Clearly, this apparent
practice of detaining people for lengthy periods without legal process merits
Article 24 of the Haitian Constitution provides in pertinent part: "Except where the per-
petrator of a crime is caught in the act, no one may be arrested or detained other than by
written order of a legally competent official." Article 26 provides in pertinent part: "No one
may be kept under arrest more than forty eight (48) hours unless he has appeared before
a judge asked to rule on the legality of the arrest and the judge has confirmed the arrest by
a well-founded decision."
V. ATTACKS ON THE PRESS
While the Haitian press operates without any formal or legal censor-
ship, self-censorship is routinely practiced on issues of political sensitivity.
Editors and station managers have experienced intermittent attacks on their
reporters and premises since February 1986, and these have made them
cautious of inflaming the army or the Duvalierist holdovers.
The military-dominated regimes that have ruled Haiti since February
1986 have alternated between tolerating a degree of outspokenness in the press
and looking the other way as armed gunmen physically assailed the offending
media. Buffeted by political currents out of their control and vulnerable to such
armed attacks, Haiti's independent newspapers and radio stations have been
forced to adapt, curbing their coverage of a variety of issues.
Haiti's domestic newspapers do little in the way of investigative report-
ing, rarely initiate stories and seldom interview ordinary Haitians. Coverage of
stories outside Port-au-Prince is sporadic. In the place of hard-hitting report-
ing, the newspapers are filled with communiques from the government and
private organizations, columns of commentary, as well as sports, literary fea-
tures and the like. The most incisive reporting, in Le Nouvelliste, for example,
usually comes from the French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Newspapers are relatively expensive (60 cents an issue, as compared to an offi-
cial minimum wage of $3 per day) and circulate almost exclusively in the capi-
The Haitian newspapers published in New York and Miami are freer
to criticize the government and to report on topics considered too sensitive by
the regular Haitian press. Their distribution in Haiti for the most part has
remained free of interference.
With 80 percent of the country illiterate, the impact of the written press
is limited to the educated elite. Haiti's radio stations are the most important
medium for informing the populace, and they generally have been more
courageous in their reporting than the printed media. The largest independent
radio stations are Radio Soleil, the station of the Catholic Church; Radio
Lumiere, the station of the Protestant Church; and Radio Haiti-Inter and Radio
M6tropole, both unaffiliated. The reporters from these four stations are usual-
ly the only members of the national press to venture outside Port-au-Prince.
Other independent radio stations broadcasting in Port-au-Prince include Radio
Cacique, Radio Antilles, Radio Caraibes and Radio Arc-en-Ciel. The govern-
ment-run station is Radio Nationale.
In implicit recognition of the powerful role played by radio in Haiti,
the independent radio stations have been the subject of several violent attacks
at sensitive political moments, particularly during the week before the aborted
elections of November 29,1987 -- when assaults on the Haitian and foreign press
reached an all-time high -- and in the week following the massacre of Septem-
ber 11, 1988 at St. Jean Bosco church.
In the period leading to the scheduled national elections in November
1987, the radio stations came under sustained attack, apparently because of
their fairly extensive reporting on the campaigns of various candidates as well
as their accounts of the violence directed against the CEP and other participants
in the electoral process. These attacks included:
On November 21, 1987, four armed men blew up the transmitter of
On the eve of the scheduled elections, a squad of 16 uniformed army
troops lobbed grenades and firebombs at the transmitter of Radio
Soleil. The attack partially destroyed the transmitter and injured a
watchman guarding the facility. The watchman later died of his
Shots were also fired during the night of November 28-29 at the studios
of Radio Lumiere, Radio Antilles, Radio Cacique and Radio Haiti-
Inter, forcing them to shut down, in some cases for several weeks.
By the time the polls opened on election day, November 29, only Radio Nation-
ale and Radio M6tropole were functioning in the capital.
In addition, both Haitian and foreign reporters who set out to witness
the voting came under attack:
At the polling place located in the Ecole Argentine de Bellegarde in
Port-au-Prince, where some 14 voters were murdered, reporters arriv-
ing at the scene a short time later were fired upon by army troops in a
gray jeep, according to Jean-Bernard Diederich, a freelance photog-
rapher for Time magazine. Dominican cameraman and reporter Car-
los Grullon was shot at close range and died later that day. A British
photographer, Goeffrey Smith, was wounded by gunfire. Two members
of an ABC News camera crew, Javier Carillo, a Mexican, and Alfredo
Mejia, a Salvadoran, and their Haitian driver, Franklin Ver, were also
shot by a gunman who followed them to where they tried to hide be-
hind a wall, "took careful and deliberate aim," and fired at close range,
according to ABC correspondent Peter Collins. Other journalists
jumped walls and hid in private homes to escape the shooting.
Voice of America correspondent Greg Flakus and three other jour-
nalists were chased out of another Port-au-Prince voting station by pis-
tol-firing thugs. They took refuge in a private home while the gunmen
unsuccessfully scoured the neighborhood in search of them.
Thugs knocked out Bernard Eth6art, a reporter for the Miami-based
weekly Haiti en Marche, with a strong blow to the head.
In one particularly chilling incident, Steve Wilson, an American
freelance photographer, was accosted by four gunmen as he drove past
a body lying in a pool of blood in downtown Port-au-Prince. Armed
with two automatic rifles and two automatic pistols, the gunmen took
Wilson's camera equipment as they forced him out of his car and on to
his knees. One gunman bolted his rifle and was about to shoot when
the group decided to heed Wilson's pleas for his life and send him back
to his car. As he drove away, they blasted his windshield with gunshots.
After a day of such incidents, one veteran reporter remarked: "Press badges had
become targets rather than shields."
Violence returned on January 17, 1988, the day of the substitute,
military-run elections. Troops forced their way into the offices of Radio Arc-
en-Ciel, a small station in Port-au-Prince, and destroyed its equipment. They
accused reporters there of broadcasting a statement, allegedly from the banned
independent CEP, annulling the day's vote. While such a statement had been
sent to the radio stations, none had broadcast it, including Radio Arc-en-Ciel,
sensing a trap.
During the short-lived regime of Leslie Manigat, two toughly worded
communiques were issued to the Haitian press regarding their reporting of the
US investigation and indictment of Col. Jean-Claude Paul on drug-trafficking
charges. On February 23, 1988, Brig. Gen. Carl Michel Nicholas of the Army
High Command warned the press not to repeat "unfounded rumors," and on
March 7,1988, Minister of Information and Coordination Roger Savain warned
the press that the government would not tolerate "cynical insinuations," "false
accusations and public insults." The apparent motive for these warnings was that
President Manigat, as he maneuvered to stay in power, had turned for support
to powerful army factions led by Col. Paul, and, hence, could not tolerate open
discussion of the charges.
The press responded to the warnings by curbing its coverage of Col.
Paul's alleged drug trafficking. Radio Soleil, for instance, used only wire-ser-
vice stories on the subject. Radio Haiti-Inter also limited itself to reporting wire-
service dispatches, except that it took the added precaution of never mentioning
Col. Paul by name, until the army issued a communique naming Paul.
The radio stations have developed various strategies for addressing
other sensitive subjects as well. As violence in rural areas became a growing
problem under the Manigat and Namphy governments, journalists reported on
the situation but took steps to avoid themselves becoming victims. Reflecting
the belief that factual reports of events would be deemed acceptable by those
in power while opinions about those events might not, they eschewed overt
editorials but engaged in a certain degree of investigative reporting, with the
factual nature of the reporting providing a perceived cover for the value judg-
ments implicit in the choice of topic. Other radio stations also adopted this
strategy, but those that lack Radio Soleil's backing by the Catholic Church
tended to be less venturesome in their reporting.
Travel by journalists outside of Port-au-Prince also at times was
restricted. In August 1988, for example, a foreign correspondent was barred
from traveling through the Central Plateau by the local military commander,
Gabriel Pinasse, who claimed that a passport was needed, although none was
Not long after the massacre at St. Jean Bosco on September 11, 1988,
armed individuals attacked the offices of Radio Cacique and Radio Soleil. A
witness described one of the gunmen who attacked Radio Soleil as shouting, in
reference to the station personnel, "it's the same band as Father Aristide, the
same people who are bothering us."
Radio Cacique was attacked again on September 13, and much of its
equipment was stolen or destroyed. When the incident was reported to Recher-
ches Criminelles, the police called it unimportant and declined to investigate.
The government of Prosper Avril initially followed a hands-off ap-
proach to the media. As one of his first acts, the new minister of information
and coordination, Antony Virginie Saint-Pierre, paid a visit to Radio Cacique,
where he reportedly discussed the attacks on the station and pledged govern-
ment support for rebuilding the station's facilities. The owners declined the
offer out of fear of compromising their independence.
The Avril government has not, however, deterred continuing harass-
ment and intimidation of the press, as the following encounters demonstrate:
On October 14, 1988, following a minor incident involving a hawker of
the daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste, three soldiers from the Casernes
Dessalines who were summoned to the scene beat the newspaper's
guard with nightsticks, thoroughly searched its print shop and briefly
detained the guard together with Max Chauvet, the publisher of the
On October 15, Edouard Gaetjens of Radio Cacique and Manson Wil-
liams of Radio Haiti-Inter went to the military barracks of Mirebalais
to interview troops. Soldiers there accused the reporters of having
broadcast a report alleging that soldiers had accepted a bribe of $1,000
from the town's mayor to protect him from being "uprooted" -- removed
from office, perhaps violently -- by the local population. Gaetjens was
On December 21, 1988, in Port-au-Prince, Huggens Voltaire, a jour-
nalist for the weekly Liberation, was brutally beaten by soldiers and
armed plainclothes men in front of the National Penitentiary, where he
was covering the release of 12 of the 15 soldiers imprisoned for pur-
portedly plotting a coup. Voltaire was arrested and taken before Col.
Christophe Dardompre, commander of the penitentiary, who ordered
* On February 7, 1989, the commander of the military garrison in
Hinche, Col. Ulysse Alcena, demanded that the Hinche correspondent
for Radio Lumiere, Delil Lexil, turn over a copy of a letter signed by
30 people criticizing the Avril government. The letter, which had been
read over the air, protested the government's plans to repress an al-
leged peasant uprising in the Central Plateau as revealed in a leaked
memorandum from the Information Minister. (See Chapter III.) When
Lexil refused, Alcena threatened to close down the radio station. A
week later, on February 14, three men in civilian clothes handcuffed an
employee of Radio Luminere in Port-au-Prince after following him for
several hours. They freed him only after he convinced them he was not
* On February 15, 1989, in the course of breaking up a peaceful
demonstration in Port-au-Prince, troops badly beat Thony Belizair, a
reporter for AFP, as well as correspondents for Radio Cacique and
Radio Arc-en-Ciel. Other journalists had their cameras smashed and
VI. FAILURE TO REDRESS PAST ABUSES
When the Haitian people overthrew Jean-Claude Duvalier in February
1986, they looked to the regime that replaced him to investigate the crimes of
three decades of Duvalier dictatorship and to bring the culprits to justice. But
the CNG and the military-dominated regimes that succeeded it showed little
interest in delving into the misdeeds of those years, let alone in bringing char-
ges against people who remained close to power in Haiti.
Most of the major figures implicated in torture and murder under the
Duvaliers -- including Rosalie Adolphe, chief of the Tontons Macoutes, and
Col. Albert Pierre, chief of the Secret Police -- were allowed to leave the country.
The CNG's Justice Ministers made token attempts to force a few leading
Duvalierists to stand trial. But only two important figures from the Duvalier era
were ever found guilty and forced to serve a sentence: former Secret Police
Chief Luc Desyr, and the particularly ruthless army Col. Samuel Jeremie. Even
in those cases, the CNG presented a narrow case which avoided the full breadth
of the defendants' crimes, with the apparent aim of not implicating those who
remained in office.
The military's reluctance to take action on past abuses mirrored its own
growing contempt for the rule of law. During the period of CNG rule, the brief
Manigat months and the return to direct military rule under Gen. Namphy, the
military remained largely above the law. Abuses in the countryside were par-
ticularly likely to go unpunished, and even in Port-au-Prince the rule of law was
honored only in the breach.
In the wake of particularly heinous crimes that have been committed
with disturbing regularity -- such as the massacre of peasants in Jean Rabel in
July 1987, the murder of presidential candidates Louis Eugene Athis and Yves
Volel in August and October 1987, the election day killings of November 1987,
the murder of human rights lawyer Lafontant Joseph in July 1988, the killing of
four members of a youth organization in Labadie in August 1988, and the mas-
sacre at St. Jean Bosco church in September 1988 -- the various post-Duvalier
governments usually have called for investigations. To date, however, not one
person has been arrested or charged in connection with any of these inquiries,
leading to the conclusion that investigations are announced more to diffuse
popular outrage than to identify and apprehend perpetrators.
The Avril government continued this trend in two reports that it
released on November 15, 1988 -- one on the investigation into the widespread
killing and terror that took place throughout Haiti on election day, November
29, 1987, and the other on the murder of presidential candidate Louis Eugene
Athis on August 2, 1987. Although the first was written by a team of five men
headed by a civilian and the second by a local military commander, both
reflected a similar contempt for the norms of judicial inquiry as well as for the
reader's common sense. They made a mockery of claims to objectivity and in-
dependence, ignoring readily available evidence, blaming the victims of
violence, exempting the military from all culpability, and failing to identify a
single person to arrest. Both investigations apparently had been completed and
the resulting reports written within a month of the events they cover, but for un-
explained reasons formal issuance of the reports was delayed in each case for
approximately a year, although the report on the election day violence was
leaked to the press in April 1988.
Gen. Avril's decision to release the reports without comment appeared
to indicate support for their findings, while at the same time allowing him to test
the waters before formally endorsing their conclusions. Once condemnations
of the findings were heard from the democratic opposition in Haiti, as well as
from concerned members of the US Congress -- who hold the key to resumed
aid to Haiti -- Gen. Avril made a strategic retreat. On the eve of the first an-
niversary of the aborted November 29, 1987 elections, the Avril government an-
nulled the findings of the report on the electoral violence which it had released
just two weeks earlier. It called for a new five-member commission of inquiry
presided over by a representative of Haitian human rights groups. The proposed
commission would also include one representative of the press, one repre-
sentative of the Bar Association and two representatives of the military govern-
ment. The human rights community has called for major changes in the
proposal to ensure the security of the investigators and to protect the inde-
pendence of their inquiry. The Association of Haitian Journalists has endorsed
the position of the human rights organizations, and the bar, claiming possible
conflict of interest, has refused to participate on the commission. It remains un-
clear whether the proposed commission will be constituted.
While the call for a new investigation is welcome, the process leading
to it does not instill confidence in Gen. Avril as a leader committed to punish-
ing past abusers. That is all the more so because Gen. Avril did not rescind the
report on the Athis murder, which, as we show below, was an equally objec-
Other official investigations, as detailed below, have yet to yield results.
In the case of the St. Jean Bosco massacre, for example, the Avril government
has obstructed efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. Nor do other repor-
tedly ongoing investigations reflect a determination to get at the truth.
A. The Report on Violence Surrounding
the Elections of November 29, 1987
On December 3, 1987, four days after national elections had been
violently aborted, the CNG issued a decree naming a commission to investigate
the widespread violence surrounding the elections. Headed by Assistant to the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Luc D. Michel, the commission also in-
cluded Yvan-Richard Maurrasse, a lawyer in private practice who supervises
the detention of prisoners at the National Penitentiary on behalf of the justice
ministry; Ulrick Noel, another lawyer; and two army officers, Cols. Fritz Gour-
det and Louis Thony Fils. The commission submitted its report to the CNG on
January 15, 1988.
The report began by examining the social and political situation
prevailing in Haiti before the elections, betraying a disturbingly limited view of
democracy. Describing what it considered dangerous anarchy, the report con-
demned the fact that 'improvised leaders have suddenly sprung up,"
"anonymous persons have declared themselves leaders of democratic groups,"
"radio and television stations have offered their time to all individuals who
proclaim themselves democrats," and "strikes and demonstrations of all sort
have become common occurrences." The report also blamed the CEP for its
"patent hostility with regard to the Duvalierists" -- an allusion to the CEP's dis-
qualification of 12 of the 35 presidential candidates because of their Duvalierist
pasts -- without mentioning that the March 1987 Constitution, which was then
in force, required the CEP to ban corrupt and abusive Duvalierists from com-
peting in elections for ten years.
The army, on the other hand, was described as "not participating in the
struggle for the conquest of power because it has never had political ambitions."
Rather, the report concluded, the army undertook simply "to manage the tran-
sition and deliver power to a constitutional government established following
elections." As detailed in Chapter II above, this surreal picture of the army's
role in the electoral violence is contradicted in nearly every report on the elec-
tions issued by independent observers and journalists.
The official commission's report sifted through what it called the
numerous "theses" regarding the play of forces behind the violence. It admitted
a fondness for the idea that the extreme left was responsible but concluded that,
"despite the attractiveness of this thesis, it does not hold up under examina-
tion...." The notion that foreign powers were responsible -- "through agents of
the CIA in the heart of the CEP" -- was entertained but largely dismissed.
The conclusion reached by most independent Haitian and foreign ob-
servers -- that the violence was the product of collaboration between military
and paramilitary forces -- was rejected: "Despite a meticulous investigation, the
data collected does not permit one to establish that joint Macoute and army for-
ces were involved in November's misdeeds." Notably, the only evidence that the
report cited to support the "thesis" of Macoute-army collusion was an accusa-
tion by an anonymous US State Department official and the fact that troops
from the Dessalines Battalion were providing security on the streets on the night
of the violence. Inexplicably, the report neglected to take account of the
numerous, well publicized reports by eyewitnesses that the election day violence
was in many instances the product of uniformed soldiers working in tandem with
plainclothes, paramilitary forces.
Moreover, the report took the next step of attempting to provide an ex-
cuse for the army in the face of widespread criticisms for its failure to halt the
electoral violence. The report noted that, "on the government's side, the least
intervention by the forces of order is openly criticized to the point where the
power in place has often hesitated to take energetic measures in order not to
deviate from the democratic line it assigned itself at the time of its investiture."
As if this were not enough, the report also suggested that even if, hypothetical-
ly, individual soldiers might be found responsible for the electoral violence, "it
is ... inappropriate to accuse the army as a whole -- despite the persistence of
the CEP-CNG conflict -- of the electoral violence for which only certain ele-
ments, which it has been difficult to identify, are allegedly responsible."
Another theory, according to the commission's report, was that
Duvalierist-Macoutes forces were responsible for most of the violence. The
report implied, however, that if these forces were responsible, they had good
reason to be concerned about the way things were going. In one of the report's
most shocking passages, the killing of innocent voters is described as a kind of
self-defense by Duvalierist forces:
"It is conceivable that Macoutes and Duvalierists, collectively
given no alternative but to struggle against banishment, might
have been the authors [of the violence]. Decapitated, hunted
down, persecuted, and burned alive after February 7, 1986,
and in the face of the imminence of a resurgence of such acts
following the results of last November's elections, out of a
desire to survive, the Macoutes were conceivably forced to
The only evidence that the report cited of "the imminence of a resurgence" of
acts of violence against Macoutes and Duvalierists was its authors' perception
that the winner of the November 29 presidential election would have been
Gerard Gourgue, the candidate of the FNC and the founder of the Haitian
League for Human Rights, who the report said was "perceived as an anti-
Duvalierist and anti-Macoutes alternative."
The commission was unable to conclude decisively who the authors of
the violence were:
"In this imbroglio, it is extremely difficult to locate individual
actors, taking into account the insufficiency and incomplete-
ness of the elements and clues turned up in the different in-
terrogations. Despite rumors and accusations against certain
people, it has not been possible for the Commission, in an af-
fair so serious, to designate the true authors, given the fact that
the statements collected did not provide sufficient elements
The report went on to note that the commission was impeded in its
work because many witnesses, including the members of the CEP, declined to
appear before it. The CEP members, it should be recalled, had gone into hiding
by mid-day on November 29, in fear for their lives.
Moreover, hundreds of reporters and official observers had flown to
Haiti to witness what were supposed to be the country's first free presidential
elections. None was interviewed by the commission, which noted only that:
"Although the media identified the perpetrators by name, it
was not possible -- even after viewing the film of the massacre
recorded at the Ruelle Vaillant [the Argentine school] -- to
spot them. In the opinion of experts in cinematography, the
film is, they say, a series of scattered scenes of the monstrous
acts that occurred on Ruelle Vaillant."
The report observed that "the people interviewed are unanimous in
recognizing the impossibility of identifying their aggressors.... They say these
are individuals from other areas who perpetrated the crimes and acts of ban-
ditry on them. These last, as a group, were strangers to the region and for the
most part were masked in a way to disguise their identity." This flies in the face
of testimony by numerous foreign observers and journalists.
These "conclusions" were followed by a series of recommendations, in-
cluding that the number of military personnel stationed in Haiti's cities be in-
creased, that periodic searches for illegally held arms be conducted, and that
reparations be paid to the victims of the November 29 massacre and their
families. Since the report did not list the names of the people killed or wounded
-- nor even give casualty figures -- it is not surprising that no "reparations" have
been paid. The report also gave no indication of whom the commission inter-
viewed or which methods of investigation it employed.
A leading Haitian human rights group, the Institute for Democratic
Education (Institute Mobile d'Education Ddmocratique) (IMED), commented,
"For all those who lived through that period in Haiti, this report is a slap in the
face of the truth and also dishonors its sponsors and its signatories." The
Haitians who braved gunfire and machetes that day to do something most
Americans take for granted -- cast a ballot -- deserve better.
Although we fervently hope that the new commission of inquiry will be
established and that it will be more successful in identifying the perpetrators of
the November 1987 electoral violence, our hopes are tempered by the substan-
tial obstacles that it will face, many of which have been imposed by the Avril
government. First, the decree issued by Gen. Avril and his cabinet imposed a
one-month time limit on the commission which, in light of the magnitude of the
task confronting it, seems arbitrarily and unreasonably short, despite the
widespread desire for speedy results. Second, because two of the five members
of the proposed commission are to be members of the current military govern-
ment -- a government which, in popular perception at least, continues to have
links with members of the military who share responsibility for the November
violence -- witnesses are likely to continue to be reluctant to come forward with
evidence they possess. Third, unless the Avril government orders the full
cooperation of top-ranking army officers who might have been involved in the
electoral violence or who might possess information about those responsible for
the violence, a source of information which in the view of many is crucial to un-
derstanding the cause of the electoral collapse will remain untapped.
In addition, Haitian human rights organizations have raised a series of
legal concerns with regard to the proposed commission. For instance, they note
that the decree limits the persons to be called in for questioning to those "who
have been denounced by witnesses" and that, as a consequence, hearsay tes-
timony from victims of abuses and other witnesses, as well as other forms of
proof, may be inadmissible, thus placing a severe evidentiary restriction on the
commission's investigative abilities. In addition, mindful of past commissions
that did not receive government protection in the face of violent attacks, such
as the CEP, the human rights organizations have requested that the Avril
government give strong guarantees that the safety of the members of the
proposed commission would be assured. The Avril government has yet to satis-
fy these concerns. Quite apart from the form and powers of the proposed in-
vestigative commission, other potential obstacles remain. According to the
Namphy government, the files of the original investigation are no longer avail-
able. In a meeting with our delegation in August 1988, Brig. Gen. Fritz Antoine,
then Minister of Justice, informed us that the dossier of the investigation into
the November 29 violence had been misplaced and that he had been unable to
find it. Gen. Antoine may have made this statement in anticipation of a request
by us to see the dossier, but it raises the possibility that the CNG or the Manigat
or Namphy government saw fit to destroy some of whatever evidence had been
Finally, it is possible that some of the participants in the electoral
violence may now be dead. As noted, on November 2, 1988, Roland Joseph,
known as "Roland d'Haiti," a former soldier widely believed to be a drug smug-
gler and a hired assassin, was shot by a military patrol at his house in Bonepos.
Although the army claimed to have shot Joseph after he had thrown a grenade,
witnesses on the scene describe the killing as a premeditated murder. One pos-
sible motive for such a murder would be the elimination of a witness who could
have provided embarrassing testimony regarding the army's involvement in the
drug trade and the November 1987 killings. The government has not officially
refuted that account.
Similarly, the death of Col. Jean-Claude Paul four days later, on
November 6, 1988, eliminated a military commander who is widely perceived as
having significant knowledge about the source of the November violence.* Col.
Georges Valcin of the Port-au-Prince Police Department reported that Paul
appears to have been poisoned to death. The death is all the more suspicious
because, according to Gen. Antoine during his meeting with our delegation in
August 1988, Col.Paul was not interviewed regarding the November 29 mas-
B. The Report on the Investigation into the Murder of Louis
Eugene Athis and Two Companions on August 2, 1987
While the violence of November 29, 1987 was viewed on television
screens around the world, the murder of presidential candidate Louis Eugene
Athis is less well known. Athis was a moderate politician who spent many of the
Duvalier years in exile in the Dominican Republic, where he founded his politi-
cal party, the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Haiti (Mouvement
Ddmocratique de Libdration d'Haiti) (MODELH), to which he gained adherents
largely among Haitians laboring in the sugar-cane bateys. Returning to Haiti
* That Col. Paul had been less than candid about the extent of the army's involvement in the
violence of 1987 became clear to us during an interview that our delegation had with him in
his office in the Casernes Dessalines in August 1988. When questioned about the involve-
ment of troops from the Dessalines Battalion in the murder of scores of peaceful
demonstrators in Port-au-Prince during the summer of 1987, Col. Paul suggested that
provocateurs among the demonstrators must have been responsible for the murders. He
reasoned that because the army's weapons are capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute,
hundreds, not scores, of demonstrators would have been killed if the army had been respon-
sible. When we noted that the weapons he had mentioned were capable of firing not only
automatically, that is, multiple rounds at a time, but also semi-automatically, that is, a single
shot at a time, so that the army could well have been responsible for the killings, Col. Paul
launched into a monologue to the effect that his soldiers were "not criminals," that theywere
"trained to protect the people," and that their "mission is to protect people not kill them."
He concluded by noting: "A soldier will not shoot the crowd even if you order him to do so,
because the people and the army are one."
** By contrast, Gen. Antoine indicated that Claude Raymond, a notorious Macoute leader
who others reported seeing at the sight of the massacre at the Ecole Argentine, had been
interviewed but that Raymond had denied involvement in the massacre.
after the downfall of Jean-Claude Duvalier, he soon declared his candidacy for
the presidency and began campaigning in different parts of the country.
Athis and two supporters, Frangois Jean and Oscar Dongerville, were
stoned and hacked to death by a mob in the seventh rural section of Logane,
known as Aux Parques, on August 2, 1987. Athis had come to the area to cam-
paign on behalf of his party.
Witnesses from L6ogane have charged David Philogene, the local army
section chief, with organizing the mob. A former Justice Minister under the
CNG, Frangois Latortue, who is a member of MODELH, has also accused
Philogene of responsibility for the deaths. In a letter to then CNG Justice Min-
ister Francois St. Fleur, Latortue wrote that Philogene "assembled a number of
peasants, announced to them that enemies would be arriving in the village of
Opac [Aux Parques] at .around 12:00 p.m. on August 2 and asked them to
sharpen their machetes and to arm themselves with clubs and rocks in order to
exterminate the visitors." As the crowd attacked Athis and his aides, Philogene
"was an undismayed witness to all this.... He did not sway or do anything at all
to calm the fury of the peasants."
The government's report on these murders, based on an investigation
conducted by Capt. Duvernac Renois, the army commander for the separate
district of Croix-de-Bouquets, offered a very different view of events. It placed
most of the blame for the killings on one of Athis's companions, Oscar Donger-
ville, who, as noted, was killed himself in the attack. The report claimed that
Dongerville, as a native of the L6ogane area, knew that area residents were fier-
cely anti-communist; that he knew the residents believed Athis's party, as well
as Dongerville, were communists; and that Dongerville had received "warnings
from two peasants that anyone in [his] company ... might be killed." Nonethe-
less, the report contended, Dongerville went ahead and brought Athis to the
area for a meeting. "Mr. Dongerville wanted to gain personal profit from the
presence of Mr. Athis," the report charged.
The introductory section of the report, which was written by Gen. Carl
Michel Nicolas, then chief of staff of the army, summed up the investigation's
findings this way: