This item is only available as the following downloads:
This volume was donated to LLMC
to enrich its on-line offerings and
for purposes of long-term preservation by
Columbia University Law Library
The Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights
36 West 44th Street, New York, New York 10036 (212) 921-2160
Michael H. Posner
vin E. Frankel
v York, New York 10022
RECENT VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS 'IN'HAITI
S\RD OF DIRECTORS
reen R. Berman
ert L. Bernstein
ael 1. Davis
an W. DeWind
e J. Ennis
nia A. Leary
ara A. Schatz
le H. Schell
s R. Silkenat
AN UPDATE OF THE JUNE 1980 REPORT OF THE
LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR INTERNATIONAL HUMAN
RIGHTS SUBMITTED TO THE UNITED NATIONS
ECOSOC RESOLUTION 1503 (XLVIII)
This summary of events in Haiti describes recent
incidents that have contributed to the continuing erosion
in the protection of basic human rights in that country.
Since November 28, 1980, a wave of detentions, illegal
under Haitian law, has resulted in the imprisonment
without charge of over 100 persons including virtually
all human rights activists, independent journalists,
radio broadcasters, and independent politicians in Port-
au-Prince. This complete breakdown in the rule of law
in Haiti has removed any remaining credibility from the
Government's program of "liberalization," so strongly
emphasized since 1977.
FOUNDED BY THE INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE COUNCIL OF NEW YORK LAW ASSOCIATES
The following information is intended to supplement
the June 1980 Report of the Lawyers Committee to the United
Nations entitled "Violations of Human Rights in Haiti." The
conclusions of this report and a summary of the December 1979
Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of
the Organization of American States are attached as Appendix
A and B.
BREAKDOWN IN THE RULE OF LAW AND DENIALS
OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH, PRESS AND ASSEMBLY
Beginning on November 28, 1980 approximately 100 persons
including virtually all Haitian human rights activists, most
independent journalists, and many defense lawyers were detained
and imprisoned by the military police without explanation.
The basis for, and conditions of these detentions, are illegal
under both the Haitian Constitution and relevant international
law. None of those who have been arrested have been formally
charged with any crime or allowed access to lawyers or visitors
and all are being held incommunicado. All were first taken
to the Cassernes Dessalines, a national prison in Port-au-
Prince for interrogation. Beginning on December 2, 1980, a
total of sixteen of these persons were forcibly exiled from
H X i
Haiti without ever having been charged with any specific
crime or given any explanation of their imprisonment. These
persons include, among others:
Gregoire Eugene founder of the Haitian Social Christian
Party, publisher of the influential magazine Fraternite, and
a professor of civil and constitutional law;
Jean-Jacques Honorat, lawyer, author and founder of
the Haitian Institute for Technology and Animation, a non-
governmental economic development project;
Pierre Clitandre and Jean-Robert Herard, respectively,
the Editor and Political Editor of Le Petit Samedi Soir
Haiti's most respected opposition weekly;
Richard Brisson and Michele Montas, respectively, Program
Director and Reporter for Haiti's largest independent radio
station Radio Haiti Inter; and physicians Dr. Gregoire Eugene,
Jr., and Dr. Nicole Magloire. Clitandre and Brisson were
beaten while detained, and all were imprisoned without expla-
nation and held incommunicado.
Most of those who were arrested were not exiled, and
many remain incommunicado in prison without explanation as
of February 22, 1981. For example, Lafontant Joseph, lawyer
and General Secretary of the Haitian League for Human Rights
was held in cell No. 5 at the Cassernes Dessalines for
approximately six weeks without explanation and was severely
mistreated while incarcerated. With one notable exception,
all of the most respected independent newspaper editors and
writers, and radio station owners, managers, and broadcasters
were illegally detained beginning on November 28. (Jean
Dominique, owner of Radio Haiti Inter fled to the Venezuelan
Embassy, and is now in the United States.) Effectively,
the following newspapers and radio stations have thus been
closed down as of the date of these arrests: Radio Haiti
Inter, Radio Metropole, Radio Cacique, Fraternite, Le
Conviction, Le Petit Samedi Soir, Regard, Coquerico, and
The only official explanation for these arrests
was given by military police chief Colonel Jean Valme,
asserting that all those arrested are part of a communist
conspiracy. Under the Haitian "Loi Anti-Communiste," virtually
anyone who expresses opinions that are not supportive of the
Duvalier government can be charged under this provision.
The Anti-Communist Law provides in part that persons who
have made 'any declarations of belief in communism, verbal or
written, public or private' or propagated 'communist or
anarchist doctrines by conferences, speeches, conversations,
by leaflets, posters and newspapers' will be charged with crimes
against the state, tried by a military court and if convicted
may be 'punished by the death penalty.'
On January 14, 1981 the Department of Foreign Affairs
of Haiti circulated an explanation of these mass arrests to
most foreign embassies in Port-au-Prince. This communication
asserts that many of those arrested have purportedly committed
"terrorist acts" including "arson," advocated the "pillage of
commercial establishments", "assassination," and "the kidnap
of diplomats." Absolutely no evidence is presented in this
official communication or in the government controlled press
to support any of these general accusations.
On September 28, 1979, the government enacted a restrictive
new press law that requires registration and approval of all
persons by the government before they can work as journalists,
prior government approval of publications before they can be
circulated, and a number of generalised provisions making it
a crime to insult the President-for-Life or his family.
Following worldwide protest, this law was amended on March 31,
1980, but none of the provisions mentioned above were sub-
stantially modified. Despite numerous constitutional guarantees
to the contrary, these press laws, and various state security
provisions including the Anti-Communist law, have resulted in
a complete denial of basic freedoms of speech and press to
FURTHER RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM TO
PARTICIPATE IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS
The Re-Arrest of Sylvio Claude
On October 13, 1980 Sylvio Claude was again arrested
at his home in Port-au-Prince. Claude, founder and President
of the Haitian Christian Democratic Party, was taken to the
Cassernes Dessalines (a prison in Port-au-Prince) where he
was held without warrant or charge and denied access to his
lawyers and other visitors. Claude's wife and daughter were
also arrested without charge, though they were later released.
Claude's detention constituted his fourth arrest in the
past 21 months. He was initially arrested on February 19,
1979 after he had declared his candidacy for the Legislative
Assembly in the country's first elections in two decades.
Following his arrest in February, Claude whose candidacy had
been declared illegal, was severely beaten and tortured with
electric shocks by Government Security Forces. He was held
for two months without charge before he finally was released
and exiled to Colombia in May.
Following his return to Haiti, he was arrested twice more
in retaliation for his work with the Haitian Christian Demo-
Three days after his arrest in October 1980 Claude was
brought before the Commissariat de Police. Though never formally
brought before a juge d'instruction, as required by Article 17
of the Haitian Constitution, he apparently has been charged
with violation of Articles 28 and 38 of the Press Law. These
charges related to material published in Claude's newspaper
La Conviction which the Government believes to be violative
of Haiti's new press law. Despite international attention
regarding his case, Claude has continuously been denied
access to his attorneys from the Haitian League for Human
Rights. There is considerable concern that Claude has again
been subjected to torture and physical abuse during his most
On October 27 Claude's daughter Marie-France Claude, a
Vice President of the Christian Democratic Party was arrested
and taken to Cassernes Dessalines. According to reliable
reports as many as 39 people from Claude's party were arrested
at the same time in Port-au-Prince. The identities of at
least five of these individuals are known: Ebenezer Jean,
Ernest Benjamin, Augustine Auguste, Raoul Acean and Jean St.
Lieu. All are apparently still under detention. As of
February 22, 1981, Marie-France Claude was still being held
incommunicado, and has not been charged with any crime.
Government interference with Sylvio Claude and the
Haitian Christian Democratic Party is part of a broader pat-
tern of governmental intolerance of political activity.
Commenting on the effect of pressure against Haiti's only
other opposition political parties in 1979, the IACHR Report
The Haitian Christian Democratic Party of
June 27, founded by Gregoire Eugene, has
since ceased active operations because of
government harassment, according to
Eugene. (IACHR Report At p. 70)
It also reports that the Parti Democratique ceased its
operations in 1979 when its leader, Rene Deravine, was exposed
to significant government "pressure."
In an effort to effectively maintain control, in Septem-
ber 1979 President Duvalier publically called his Security
Forces back to their position of official prominence. On
September 22, 1979 he told them:
"Men and women of the Militia, you are
the linchpin of my government, the major
force on which I can base myself."
Six weeks later on November 9, 1979, approximately 60
Tonton Macoutes (Security Force Personnel) dressed in civilian
clothes, violently disrupted the first public human rights
meeting ever held in Haiti. The meeting which was organized
by the Haitian League for Human Rights was held at a church-
school run by the Peres Salesiens. At the meeting which was
attended by more than 1000 people, Prof. Gerard Gourgue,
Chairman of the League, was scheduled to speak on "The Poli-
tical Atmosphere and Human Rights." As he began to speak,
the Security Force members charged the podium and began to
beat up both participants and observers. According to one
account of the incident:
Several men leaped to the stage, ripped
Gourgue's speech from his hands, and beat
him with their fists and feet as he fell
to the floor.
In all more than 100 people were injured, including representa-
tives of the United States, French, Canadian and West German
Another observer who witnessed the raid described
those who were involved:
The 60 or so attackers, many of them middle-
aged, began shouting "Jean-Claude Duvalier"
and then started beating members of the
audience. Some who reached their cars
were dragged out and beaten some mcre.
The Inter-American Commission's Report concluded that the
disruption of the Haitian League's November meeting
...raises serious doubts about the possibility
of holding assemblies to discuss this sub-
ject, and also causes concern about the con-
tinued effective operation of programs and
organizations dedicated to the promotion and
protection of human rights.
(IACER Report At p. 60)
BREAKDOWN IN THE RULE OF LAW:
TRIAL OF THE ST. MARC DEFENDANTS
The Haitian Constitution and laws state in theory a
series of important protections of individual rights. How-
ever, in practice, these rights have been and are being
systematically denied. In fact, formal emergency legislation
and state security laws result in "states of exception" under
which President-for-Life Duvalier annually suspends the
basic constitutional protections of the Haitian Constitution.
A legislative declaration of "plein pouvoirs" for the President-
for-Life results in a formal suspension of constitutional
rights during the 7-8 months per year when the legislature
is not in session, and a "state of seige" or a suspension of
individual guarantees often accomplishes the same thing for
the balance of the year. A series of state security laws,
including the "Loi-Anti Communist," further undermine the
legal rights of Haitian citizens. Moreover Haitian citizens
are routinely arrested without charge, detained without access
to formal legal proceedings and subjected to various forms
of mistreatment while they are held in custody.
When formal trials do occur, formal procedures, and
constitutional guarantees of due process are virtually ignored.
Thus in July 1980 four defendants, Gustave Colos, Ulrich Desire,
Emanual Noel and Robert Jacques Thelusma were tried in closed
court after 18 months imprisonment without charge or access
to attorneys. Three of these individuals had been declared
prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International in early
1980 and a worldwide appeal had been made in their behalf.
When they were finally tried on charges of committing "crimes
against the security of the state" trial transcripts show
that no specific evidence was introduced relating to the
crime with which they were charged. Nonetheless, they were
found guilty and sentenced to nine years at hard labor. The
government had asked for the death penalty.
More typical is the case of Yvens Paul, a noted creole
playwright and journalist from Radio Cacique who was
arrested on October 16, 1980. Paul was arrested at Duvalier
Airport in Port-au-Prince after returning to Haiti on a flight
from New York. Following his arrest, he was held incommunicado.
On October 24 Paul was released without any explanation, never
having been charged with any crime or allowed access to counsel
or other visitors. While in detention Yvens Paul was sub-
jected to physical harassment and abuse. To date the govern-
ment has taken no steps to investigate the mistreatment of
Mr. Paul and has offered no explanations as to why he was
arrested. In its 1980 Country Report on Human Rights Practices
the United States Department of State concludes that in
Haiti, "beatings continued to be administered almost routinely
in connection with interrogation of suspects and incarcera-
tion of prisoners." "Physical facilities, medical care and
diet in incarcerative facilities are generally crude."
(Country Reports at 459.)
This report was prepared by Michael S. Hooper, Director of
Research for the Lawyers Committee for International Human
Rights. The Lawyers Committee is a non-governmental organization
based in New York which seeks to promote the development of in-
ternational human rights law. It was founded in 1975 by the
International League for Human Rights and the Council of New York
CONCLUSIONS OF THE LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS' JUNE 1980 REPORT
"VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI"
Analysis of the current situation in Haiti reveals a
consistent pattern of gross violations of basic human rights.
The following is a summary of the principal conclusions of this
1. There has been a complete breakdown in the rule of
law in Haiti. "Emergency" legislation and a series of State
Security Laws give President-for-Life Duvalier the authority
to suspend basic constitutional protections of individual rights
and he has consistently used this authority.
2. The administration of justice in Haiti is poor.
Haitian citizens are regularly arrested without charge, detained
without trial and denied virtually every protection provided by
the formal legal system.
3. Lawyers are afraid to represent clients in contro-
versial cases. When they do represent clients they are
ineffective in safeguarding the basic rights of due process
guaranteed by the Haitian Constitution.
4. The courts in Haiti lack the independence necessary
to protect individuals, and the authority to challenge the abuses
perpetrated by Government security forces.
5. A complex network of Government security forces has
severely undermined the Rule of Law in Haiti. These forces are
responsible for the illegal arrest, interrogation, imprisonment
and torture and/or killing of Haitian citizens.
6. Conditions in the prisons have undergone little
change in the past 23 years. Political prisoners continue to
face systematic maltreatment including beating, interrogation
under torture, starvation, disease and death.
7. The Haitian Government continues to suppress effective
political activity. Following elections in Feburary 1979,
there were numerous reports of vote fraud and government coercion
and intimidation to guarantee support of government candidates.
8. Open and effective -political activity has been
effectively stifled in Haiti. The leaders of the three politi-
cal parties which were formed after these elections have been
harassed or arrested.
9. Freedom of the press is severely curtailed by state
security legislation, and a series of press laws including the
highly restrictive law enacted in September 1979 and
amended in March 1980.
10. The Haitian Government is not willing to tolerate the
existence of any person or organization that effectively advocates
the promotion of human rights in Haiti. In November 1979,
Government Security Forces violently distrupted a public meeting
of the Haitian League for Human Rights.
11. The Governments failure to protect civil and
political rights has served to exacerbate Haiti's already
desperate economic situation.
12. In Haiti today there continues to be broadscale
government corruption and mismanagement of public funds. In
its April 19 report, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights of the OAS concluded:
"Under these conditions it is questionable
whether badly needed foreign assistance
programs effectively reach their targets."
(IACHR Report, At 74)
13. This pattern of corruption affects the country's rural
population particularly harshly. In rural areas, Civilian Security
Forces engage in a pattern of wholesale extortion and forced
expropriation of private land. In these areas the Haitian
Government has given these forces license to extort with impunity.
14. Those returning to Haiti from exile in other countries
face particularly harsh treatment. Government Security Forces
have standing authority to arrest returnees. Some returnees are
known to have been arrested, interrogated and subjected to gross
mistreatment by Government Security Forces.
CONCLUSIONS OF THE DECEMBER 1979
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
"REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI"
Following its on-site observation in Haiti, and in consideration
of the other evidence listed in the present report, the Commission has
reached the following conclusions:
1. Two stages in the observance of human rights can be distinguish-
ed in Haiti: a. the first is characterized by the nonobservance of
human rights, the right to life, personal security or personal freedom,
or the right to due process. b. the second stage, which began in 1971.
During the visit, there were certain indications that the current
government wishes to improve the situation with regard to respect for and
observance of human rights. The President of the Republic expressed his
intention personally to the Special Commission. Nevertheless, the Commission
has information of events that have happened and on legal acts passed after
the visit of the Special Commission, which leads it to believe that this
intention has not been carried out.
2. During this latter period, the right to life was violated par-
ticularly in 1975 and 1976; it has in fact been proven that numerous
people died in summary executions or during their stay in prison, or
because of lack of medical care. It should nonetheless be observed
that there has been a notable improvement as regards this right.
3. There are reliable indicators that many individuals were victims
of torture inflicted in certain cases by the neighborhood chiefs, both
during interrogations after arrests and during imprisonment.
4. It has been proven that numerous persons are detained without
having benefitted from any form of legal procedure, and without having
access to an attorney. There is no clear-cut separation of powers in
Haiti. Legal guarantees are seriously restricted by virtue of the "state of
siege" that are in effect on an almost permanent basis, and by virtue
of the Security Court instituted by the law of August 25, 1977, establish-
ing procedures with limited guarantees as to the right of a legal defense.
The Judiciary does not appear to have the independence necessary to
exercise its functions.
5. It may be said that freedom of inquiry, opinion, speech and dis-
semination of thought does not exist. There are taboo questions which
cannot be discussed, such as all matters concerning the President's family,
the dictatorship, the extra-budgetary revenues of the Regie du Tabac, etc.
There is recourse to procedures such as warnings and admonitions of in-
creasing severity to journalists, issued by the Ministry of the Interior;
there is also prior censorship, closing of newspapers, threats, assaults
6. Freedom of religion and freedom of worship are fully guaranteed.
7. Freedom of association is extremely restricted. Article 236
(bis) of the 1948 Penal Code, which requires government authorization to
form a group of more than twenty people, prevents the creation of any
literary, political or other type of association. Trade union freedom
does not exist as such. There are neither federations nor confederations
or trade unions; the right to strike is limited. The government has made
it difficult to form political parties and associations in general.
8. There have been violations of the right to residence, movement
and nationality. In fact, numerous people have been exiled and, despite
the amnesty, certain of them not been able to return to the country.
Likewise, numerous persons have been deprived of their nationality for
their political ideas.
9. While it is true that there have been legislative elections, the law
of September 19, 1978, gives the President of the Republic full powers, and
suspends numerous civil and political rights and certain prerogatives of
the Judiciary. Moreover, there are no political parties and the people
do not effectively participate in government affairs.
10. With regard to the effectiveness of the right to education,
health, welfare, and the right to work and to a fair wage, it may be
said that it is almcst nonexistent, particularly because of the extreme
poverty, illiteracy, poor hygiene, high birth rate and high infant mor-
tality rate, high rate of unemployment, the lack of medical materials,
the low per capital income, etc., which prevent the citizens from enjoy-
ing the economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the OAS Charter
and in numerous international instruments.
OFFICIAL HAITIAN GOVERNMENT LIST OF THOSE
IMPRISONED BEGINNING NOVEMBER 28, 1980
Michel Francois, alias Chocho
Frantz Doussous, alias Toto
Jacques Perard Berthulien
Mme Thermitus Myrthil
Constant D. Pongnon
Jacques Yvan Bastien
Franck Dominique Simon
Mme Rita Barrella Pean
Mme Henry Alphonse,
nee Magalie Marcelin
Mme Emmanuel Jn-Louis
PERSONS IMPRISONED AND FORCEABLY EXILED
December 2, 1980
Marc-Aurele Garcia dit Marcus
December 3, 1980
Pierre Andre Clitandre
December 3, 1980
December 25, 1980
Yves Richard Antoine
The Commission on Human Rights,
Conscious of its particular responsibility to promote
and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental free-
doms for all, and determined to remain vigilant with regard
to violations of human rights wherever they occur,
Noting that all member states have an obligation to
protect and promote human rights and to carry out responsi-
bilities they have undertaken under specific international
human rights instruments,
Recalling the General Assembly resolution 34/175 of
17 December 1979 on effective action against mass and flagrant
violations of human rights,
Having taken cognizance of reports on continuing gross
violations of human rights.in Haiti,
Taking note of the Report on the Situation of Human
Rights in Haiti approved by the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights of the Organization of American States at its
644th session held 13 December 1979,
1. Expresses its grave concern at the deterioration of
the human rights situation in Haiti,
2. Notes with particular concern the mass arrests of
human rights activists, journalists and independent politicians;
the virtual elimination of formally guaranteed rights of
free speech, press and assembly, the official prevention
of all independent political activity, the constant violation
of procedural rights of detainees including arrest without
charge, imprisonment without explanation, lack of access to
lawyers or visitors, and frequent beatings and torture, and the
lack of independence of the Haitian judiciary,
3. Strongly urges the appointment of a Special Rapporteur
to thoroughly study the human rights situation in Haiti
and report to the Commission on Human Rights at its thirty-
eighth (38th) session,
4. Strongly urges the Haitian authorities to respect
and promote human rights in accordance with these obligations
under various international instruments.