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ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
doc. 66 rev. 1
13 December 1979
OF HUMAN RIGHT
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20006
Approved by the Commission at its 644th session,
held December 13, 1979
INTRODUCTION ..................................................... 1
A. General Observations ..................................... 1
B. Organization and Work of the Special Commission......... 4
C. Sources................................................. 5
D. Organization of the Report................................ 6
E. Updating of the Current Report............................ 6
CHAPTER I - LEGAL FRAMEWORK....................................... 7
A. Haiti's international obligations in the field of
Human Rights............................................ 7
B. The 1964 Constitution and the Reforms of 1971........... 9
C. Emergency Legislation..................................... 12
1. State of Siege................................... 12
2. Full powers and suspension of constitutional
CHAPTER II - RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PERSONAL SECURITY........ 15
A. Constitutional Provisions................................. 15
B. Individual denunciations of violations of the Right
to life .................................................. 16
C. Other deaths in prison.................................... 19
D. Summary Executions......................................... 29
E. Personal Security.................... .................... 30
CHAPTER III - RIGHT OF PROTECTION FROM ARBITRARY ARREST AND
RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW......................... 36
CHAPTER IV - RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF INVESTIGATION, OPINION, EXPRESSION
AND DISSEMINIATION OF IDEAS, AND RIGHT TO RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM AND FREEDOM OF WORSHIP....................... 43
A. Freedom of investigation, opinion, expression and
B. Freedom of religion and worship........................... 60
CHAPTER V - RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY AND RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION............ 61
CHAPTER VI - RIGHT TO RESIDENCE AND MOVEMENT AND RIGHT TO
A. Right to residence and movement........................... 63
B. Right to nationality...................................... 65
CHAPTER VII - RIGHT TO VOTE AND TO PARTICIPATE IN GOVERNMENT...... 67
A. Legislative branch........................................ 67
B. Executive ................................................ 68
C. Political Parties........................................ 70
CHAPTER VIII - RIGHT TO EDUCATION AND RIGHT TO THE PRESERVATION
OF HEALTH AND TO WELL-BEING...................... 72
CHAPTER IX - RIGHT TO WORK AND TO FAIR WAGE..................... 77
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A. General Observations
1. An on-site investigation may be conducted either at the invita-
tion of the Government, or on the initiative of the Commission, but in
the latter case, the Government's consent is required. The present report
concerns the on-site observations conducted as the result of an invita-
tion by the Government of Haiti.
On September 27, 1977, at the time Haiti deposited its instrument
of accession to the American Convention on Human Rights, Ambassador Georges
Salomon, Permanent Representative of Haiti to the Organization of American
States, made the following statement:
And now the Government of Haiti, ever vigilant, ever respect-
ing law and order in this very over-populated country, turns to
the Organization of American States and particularly to the Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights, which it will soon be invited
to Haiti (I have already received instructions on this question).
The Commission will come, in part, to examine the few cases still
pending before the Commission, but mainly to study, in consultation
with the Government, what measures will best serve to make the Haitian
people aware of all their civil and political rights, and to promote
respect for and expansion of these rights, which are upheld in Haitian
domestic laws and in the Constitution.
The Haitian Government's invitation to the Commission, contained
in a telegram dated January 30, 1978, reads as follows:
I have the pleasure to inform you that the Government of Haiti
proposes to issue an official invitation to the Inter-American Com-
mission on Human Rights to visit Haiti at a mutually convenient
date. This visit will enable the Commission to assess the progress
the country has made in the area of human rights, and, in consulta-
tion with the Haitian authorities, to examine what measures would
best serve to consolidate this progress and make the Haitian people
aware of all their civic and political rights, and promote respect
for and expansion of human rights.
2. In a note dated February 3, 1978, the Commission notified the
Government of Haiti of its acceptance of this invitation.
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In its forty-third special session held in Caracas on January
26 through February 3, 1978, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights learned of your cable of January 30 addressed to the Executive
Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Edmundo Vargas Carreho.
The Commission would like to express its satisfaction at receiv-
ing this official communication, which confirms the Government of
Haiti's intention of inviting the Commission to visit the country,
annoui ed by you on September 7, 1977 at the time your country's
instrument of accession to the American Convention on Human Rights
Precise instructions have been given to the Executive Secretary
of the Commission, Mr, Edmundo Vargas Carreho, regarding the details
of the visit, which must be conducted according to the rules approved
by the Commission. Mr. Vargas Carreho will be in contact with Your
Excellency upon your return to Washington.
Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest con-
(s) Andr6s Aguilar M.
3, At its meeting held on May 31, 1978, the Commission formed a
special Commissfon to conduct the on-site investigations discussed in the
above comatinications, The Commission also decided to propose to the Govern-
ment of Haiti that the visit should take place from August 16 through
August 25, 1978, On August 2, 1978, the Permanent Mission of Haiti to
the Organization of American States replied in the following terms:
My dear Mr. Executive Secretary:
In reference to your letter of July 21, 1978, I have the honor
to inform you that the Government of Haiti gives its consent to the
on-site visit to Haiti by the Special Commission of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights to take place August 16 through 25.
I wish the members of the Ccomaission and the staff accompanying
them a fruitful and agreeable visit to the hospitable country of
Accept, Mr. Executive Secretary, the renewed assurances of my
(s) Georges Salomon
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4. The rules quoted by the President of the Commission in his note
of February 3, 1978 are contained in the resolution quoted below:
RESOLUTION ON ON-SITE OBSERVATIONS
Article 11 of the Statute of the Commission and Article 50 of its
Rules of Procedure empower the Commission to move to the territory of
any American State, with the consent or at the invitation of the Govern-
ment concerned, for the purpose of carrying out an on-site investigation,
The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights,
To establish the following rules:
1. On-site investigations that the Commission may decide to conduct
shall be carried out according to the following regulations:
a. The Commission shall determine the composition of the special
Commission responsible for on-site observations;
b. The special Commission or any of its members shall be able
to interview, freely and in private, persons, groups, en-
tities or institutions, the Government being obligated to
grant the pertinent guarantees to all those who may give
the Commission information, testimony or evidence of any
c. The members of the special Commission shall be able to travel
freely throughout the country, and shall be provided for
that purpose with an official travel document issued by
the Government for their identification;
d. The government shall assure the availability of local trans-
e. The members of the special Commission shall have access
to the jails and all other detention and interrogation cen-
ters, and shall be able to interview in private those persons
sentenced or detained;
f. The government shall provide the special Commission with
any document or information regarding the observance of
human rights that it may consider necessary for the prepara-
tion of its report;
g. The Special Commission shall be able to use any appropriate
method to collect, record and reproduce information that it
h. The government shall adopt appropriate measures of security
for the protection of the special Commission;
i. The government shall assure the availability of adequate
lodging for the members of the Commission.
2. The guarantees and facilities listed in the preceding paragraph
shall be extended to the Secretariat staff accompanying the Commission,,.
3. The expenses incurred by the special Commission, each of its
members and the Secretariat staff shall be borne by the Organization
of American States, subject to the pertinent provisions of the regulations.
B. Organization and Work of the Special Commission
1. The special Commission appointed by the Inter-American Commis-
sion on Human Rights to conduct the on-site observations in Haiti con-
sisted of three members: Mr. Andres Aguilar, Chairman of the Inter-American
Commission, Mr. Carlos Garcia Bauer and Mr. Marco Monroy Cabra. The Com-
mittee was assisted by staff of the Secretariat of the IACHR.
2. As usual, the Special Commission took steps to maintain its
independence, and prepared its schedule for the public and private sectors
in Haiti, in order to carry out its mission.
3. The observation visit took place from August 16 through August
25, 1978. Since Mr. Andres Aguilar had to leave for New York on August
20, the Special Commission continued to operate with two members, under
the chairmanship of Mr. Carlos Garcia Bauer. Upon its arrival in Haiti,
the Special Commission issued a press release, informing the public of
the reasons for the visit and inviting individuals or organizations to
present communications and to'comment on the subject of the observance
of human rights in Haiti. It also held a number of press conferences
explaining the nature of the Commission's functions and the purpose of
its visit. The activities of the Special Commission received satisfac-
tory coverage in the printed media and on the radio and television.
The Committee also received the necessary cooperation from the Haitian
)I. The Special Commission went, to Port-au-Prince, the capital of
11ai i, arnd to two cities in the interior of the country, Cap Ha'tien and
.Jacmx . In Port-au-Prince, the Commission met with the President of
the Hpublic, Mr. Jean-Claude Duvalier, the State Secretaries for the
Departments of the Interior and Defense, Foreign Affairs, Education,
Public Health and Population, and Social Affairs, and also with the
President of the Legislative Chamber and members of the Supreme Court.
It al:o met with the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, and had occasion to
,xc(hang views with members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the
Government of Haiti. In Cap Haltien and Jacmel, the Committee met with
local civil and military authorities.
In both Port-au-Prince and the other places visited, the Commission
received denunciations, and heard statements from a number of individuals
who wished to speak to it. It also heard from spokesmen from a number
of religious groups, and representatives of professional associations,
student groups, trade unions and political and civic organizations.
The Special Commission visited the National Penitentiary in Port-au-
Prince and local prisons in Cap HaLtien and Jacmel. It was able to talk
freely and in private with those prisoners it wanted to see, and with
those who had told the Committee of their desire to submit complaints.
The Committee inspected the cells and examined the prison conditions,
the medical care and the legal aid available to prisoners, and investigated
a]1 questions it considered useful in preparing the present report.
lThe Commission also visited a number of industries, in particular
Ciment d'Haiti where, some time earlier, there had been union troubles.
Ii these factories, the Commission met separately and in private, with
omnpiJoyers, workers and union leaders. Unfortunately, the Special Com-
miss;;ion was unable to interview workers and union leaders of the HASCO,
where according to information received, there had been labor conflicts
b)e~a-ius:; the manager or director of the factory, Mr. Hill, an American
citizen, had refused access to the factory premises.
5. The special Commission wishes to point out that the government
of Haiti cooperated fully with the Commission during its visit, provid-
ing it with the documents and data requested, and not interfering with
'The sources used in preparing the present report can be categorized
i.:, fo.lows: a. personal observations by members of the Special Commis-
sion; b. information obtained during the interviews; c. laws and in-
formation furnished by the government of Haiti; d. information obtained
from various source.; on the obmsrv.l-j.on of human rights in Haiti and
f. documents presented by the cumppl'ai.Lnts and other person.
D. Organization of the Report
1. The first chapter of the report deals with Haitian law from
the perspective of human rights: international obligations assumed by
Haiti, the Constitution and laws of the country, and government measures
taken in violation of constitutional principles. Subsequent chapters
discus, those rights that the Commission feels are particularly pertinent
to the situation of human rights in Haiti. The report ends with the Com-
mission's conclusions and recommendations.
o The individual cases brought to the
are cited in the present report, as well as other cases not reported
here, wilJ be the subject of separate studies, as called for in the reg-
ulations; of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
E, Updating of the Current Report
This report was delivered to the Permanent Mission of Haiti to the
OAS on Monday, July 2, 1979. At that time, the government of Haiti was
given the opportunity, if it so desired, to present within a period of
six weeks, its observations to the report. A representative of the govern-
ment, in a letter dated September 1, 1979, requested an extension of
that deadline to October 15. On November 27, 1979, the IACHR received
the response of the government of Haiti to the Commission's report.
Prior to that date, the government had forwarded a memorandum on the
report which was received on June 18, 3979, and some preliminary observa-
tions; dated August 1� of that same year.
On December '(, 3979, Mr. Endicott Pcabody, representative of the
government of Haiti, according to a note received on November 16,
1979, and accompanied by Messrs. James L('llinf,, David Taylor and Jorge
Co6rdova, made an oral presentation to members of the Inter-American Com-
mission. Following its visit to Haiti, members heard testimony and
received information from various sources on the situation of human rights
In light of the documents and the additional information received,
the Commission decided to update the report to December 13, 1979, the
date the report was adopted.
A. Haiti's international obligations in the field of
1. Haiti has assumed certain international obligations in the
field of human rights. It has signed the United Nations Charter and
the Charter of the OAS, and has approved the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights. Haiti is also a member of the ILO, UNESCO and other inter-
2. On February 27, 1977, Haiti deposited its instrument of accession
to the American Convention on Human Rights (Pact of San Jose). The Con-
vention entered into force on July 18, 1978. As a result, Haiti is legally
obliged to observe the rights and freedoms upheld in the Convention, and to
guarantee all persons under its jurisdiction free and full exercise of
their rights, without discrimination for reasons of race, color, sex,
language, religion, political or other opinions, national origin or social
position, economic situation, birth, or any other social condition (Article
1, paragraph 1).
Article 2 of the Convention obliges the States Parties to adopt such
domestic laws as may be necessary to make these rights and freedoms effec-
tive. The State Secretary for the Departments of the Interior and National
Defense referred to this issue in his note of August 25, 1978:
As of now, this legislation (i.e. decrees conferring full powers
on the Head of State) will henceforth be adapted to the Charter on
human rights, which has had the force of law in the country since it
was ratified. l/
1. Note from Mr. Ar6lien C. Jeanty, State Secretary for the Interior
and National Defense of Haiti, addressed to the President of the Inter-
American Comission on Human Rights, dated August 25, 1978 (No. D-6: 2030),
3. Haiti has also ratified international instruments regarding
the protection of specific rights, such as the Convention for the pre-
vention and repression of genocide, and the ILO Convention (No. 29) on
Forced Labor. 2/ Haiti has denounced the inter-American conventions on
the right of asylum, 3/ by issuing four decrees dated July 27, 1967.
These decrees were later annulled and replaced by four other decrees
dated January 28, 1973, "in order to re-establish in conformity with
prescribed procedures, the rights and obligations of the Republic of
Haiti as a party" to each of these conventions on asylum.
2. Haiti is a party to the following treaties: Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (December 9, 1948,
entered into force on January 12, 1951); Supplementary Convention on the
abolition of slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar
to Slavery (December 7, 1956 entered into force on April 30, 1957); Conven-
tion for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation
of the Prostitution of Others (March 21, 1950, entered into force on July
25, 1951); ILO Convention No. 29 concerning Forced or Compulsory labor
(1930, entered into force on May 1, 1932); ILO Convention No. 105 concern-
ing the Abolition of Forced Labor (June 25, 1957, entered into force on
January 17, 1959); ILO Convention No. 98 concerning the application of the
Principles of the Right to Organize and to Bargain Collectively (July 1,
1959, entered into force on July 18, 1951); Convention on the Political
Rights of Women (March 31, 1953 entered into force on July 7, 1954); Inter-
American Convention on the Granting of Political Rights to Women (May 2,
1948); Geneve Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the
Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field (August 12, 1949); Geneva
Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick and
Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea (August 12, 1949); Geneva Con-
vention relativeto the treatment of Prisoners of War (August 12, 1949);
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrim-
ination (December 21, 1965, entered into force on January 4, 1969); 1LO
Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for
Work of Equal Value (July 29, 1951, entered into force on May 23, 1953).
3. Inter-American Convention on the Right of Asylum (Havana, 1928),
Inter-American Convention on Politica? Asylum (Montevideo, 19355), Inter-
American Convention on Territorial Asylum (Caracas, 1954), Inter-American
Convention on Diplomatic Asylum (Caracas, 1954).
B. THE 1964 CONSTITUTION AND THE REFORMS OF 1971
1. The present Constitution in force in Haiti was promulgated
in 1964. 4/ The Constitution was amended on January l4i, 1971, by a
number of reforms dealing with the form of election of the President
for Life and the minimum age requirements for public office.2/ According
to the government, the Constitution was "repromulgated" in its entirety
by the National Assembly at that time.
The text of the Constitution adopted in 1971 consists of 201 articles
divided into 15 chapters. For the purposes of the present report, the
most important provisions are those defining the rights and guarantees of
the inhabitants of the Republic (Title I), those determining the organi-
zation of government (Title IV), and those regulating the state of siege
and amendments to the Constitution (Titles XIII and XIV).
2. The following individual rights and guarantees are upheld in
the 1971 Constitution: the right to personal freedom (Article 17), and
to personal security (Article 17, paragraph 8), the right to be judged
by one's peers (Article 18), the right to property (Article 22), freedom
of expression (Article 26), freedom of religion (Article 27), freedom of
assembly (Article 31), and the right of association (Article 32). It
also establishes the conditions for lawful arrests, detentions and
proceedings (Article 17); illegal search and seizure (Article 19), and of
illegal sentencing (nullum crime nulla poena sine lege) (Ar�ficle 21).
All cases of detention must be brought before a judge within forty-eight
hours to determine the legality of the measure (Article 17). The death
penalty is forbidden in political cases, except in the case of treason
(Article 25). It should be pointed out that the anti-communist law of
April 28, 1967 prescribed the death penalty for the mere expression of
ideas that are judged to be communist (See Chapter IV).
The Constitution also establishes the principle of the supremacy of
the Constitution (Article 38), the principle of the non-retroactivity of
legislation (the most benignant penal laws) (Article 20), inviolability of
the mails (Article 54) and the principle of equality before the law
(Article 16), a principle that is limited in the case of aliens (Title II,
4. Le Moniteur, (Official Gazette), June 21, 1964.
5. Le Moniteur, (Official Gazette), January 20, 1971.* This
edition will be considered as the official text for the purposes of the
- 10 -
As will be seen below, the rights, guarantees and principles men-
tioned above are subject in many cases to certain duties and to limita-
tions set forth in the regulations.
3. The 1971 Constitution organizes the government into three
branches: The executive, the legislative and the judiciary (Article 47).
The three branches of government are independent of each other and may
not delegate their powers nor exceed their mandates (Article 48).
Legislative authority is exercised by a single chamber called the
Legislative Chamber (Article 49). In certain cases, notably for purposes
of revising the Constitution or when it serves as the Supreme Court of
Justice, the Chamber takes the name of the National Assembly (Articles 55
and 56). The Chamber normally sits for only three months of the year,
but the session may be prolonged (Article 61). Laws are passed by the
Chamber and promulgated by the Executive, which has the right of veto.
Nonetheless, it is not an absolute veto power since it can be over-ridden
by a two-thirds vote of the members of the Chamber (Articles 68 and 79).
The Constitution is precise and detailed in spelling out the inviolability
of the members of the Legislature (Articles 70, 71 and 72).
Executive authority is conferred upon a citizen titled President of
the Republic (Article 90). The minimum age at which one can become presi-
dent was 40 under the 1964 Constitution and has been reduced to 18 by the
1971 amendments (Article 91). Article 87 of the 1957 Constitution, which
limited the President's term of office to six years, was deleted from the
1964 and 1971 texts. Dr. Francois Duvalier was designated President-for-
Life (Article 99), with the authority to appoint his successor (Article
100), who also has a mandate for life (Article 104).
The Executive Branch has very considerable powers. The President
is responsible for the overall administration of the country, for the
appointment and dismissal of Cabinet members and public servants, for
promulgating the laws, for adopting regulations for the conduct of foreign
affairs, and for commanding the Armed Forces, the Police and the National
Security Volunteers (Articles 93 and 187). Nonetheless, the President may
not grant amnesties except for political matters, and in accordance with
the law (Article 93, last paragraph), and in general, has only those powers
granted him under the Constitution and the laws (Article 95).
Judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation),
the Courts of Appeal and the lower courts. Judges are appointed by the
President for six years; they may not be removed from their positions
during their term, except for "special laws setting forth the reasons for
which they are to be removed from that post" (Article 111). Employees of
the Public Prosecutor's Office and justices of the peace may be appointed
and dismissed by the President without restriction.
- 11 -
The Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) has the power of judicial
review by which it can declare laws unconstitutional in all cases
brought before it. It also acts as an appeals court for all military
court decisions (Articles 121 and 120). As a general rule, the courts
may not enforce governmental administrative orders or decrees unless
they are in conformity with the law (Article 125). Except for certain
limitations all hearings must be public, however, cases involving poli-
tical or press ofences are prohibited from being heard in private
4. The 1964 and 1971 Constitutions are flexible. The Legislature
may rule on the need for total or partial amendment, without the need for
special majorities. It may continue to sit under the name of National
Assembly, decree such amendments as it deems useful (Article 198, official
text: Article 199, text of the version of the National Press of Haiti).
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C. EMERGENCY LEGISLATION
1. State of Siege
On May 2, 1958, the Haitian Legislature proclaimed the state of
siege. 6/ This law also authorized the Executive to determine what
portion of the territory was placed under a state of siege, and sus-
pended certain individual guarantees defined in the Constitution then
On the same date, an Executive Order extended the state of siege
to the entire national territory. J/ Shortly afterwards, the Legisla-
ture adopted a decree suspending other guarantees and conferring full
powers on the President for a six-month period "to take all measures
he considers necessary for the internal and external security of the
state, and to safeguard the interests of the nation, by means of Decrees
having the force of law." 8/ In its observations, the Government makes
known that due to the repromulgation of its Constitution in 1971, the
existence of the state of siege ceased at that time.
Article 195 of the 1964 Constitution stipulated as follows:
No place and no part of the territory may be declared to be
in a state of siege except in cases of a civil disorder or an
imminent invasion by foreign forces.
An act issued by the President of the Republic declaring a
state of siege must be signed by all the State Secretaries and shall
provide for the immediate convocation of the Legislature to rule on
the appropriateness of the measure.
The Legislature shall decree, with the Executive Branch, which
of the constitutional guarantees may be suspended in the parts of
the territory placed under a state of siege.
The impact of the state of siege on the country shall be governed
by a special law.
The 1971 Constitution has an identical text (Article 197, official edition;
Article 198, edition of .the National Press of Haiti). 2/
6. Law of May 2, 1958, Article 1.
7. Order of May 2, 1958, Article 1.
8. Decree of the Legislative Body, July 31, 1958, Article 2.
9. The text of the 1957 Constitution was practically identical to
the present text. 1957 Constitution, Article 185.
- 13 -
2. Full powers and suspension of
Both during the presidency of Franqois Duvalier and under the
present government, the Legislature at the end of its annual sessions
has been in the habit of passing a number of decrees conferring full
powers on the Chief Executive during the legislative recesses, and sus-
pending the most important constitutional guarantees for the same period
of time. Generally speaking, these recesses last from August until
April of the following year, during which time the Haitian people are
deprived of the constitutional protection of their most fundamental
Each year from 1964 to 1970, under the regime of the 1964 Constitu-
tion, the Legislature suspended the guarantees upheld in twenty-four
(later twenty-three) articles of the Constitution. 10/ From 1971 to the
present, it has been much more difficult to determine which guarantees
have been affected by the decrees in question. By way of example, the
Legislative Decree of August 25, 1977 ll/ provides as follows:
Article 1. The Guarantees set forth in Articles 17, 18, 19,
20, 25, 31, 34, 48, 70, 71, 72, 93 (last paragraph), 95, 112, 113,
122 (second paragraph), 150, 151, 155, 193 and 198 of the Constitu-
tion are hereby suspended.
Article 2. Full powers are hereby given to the Chief Executive
to enable him, until the second Monday in April 1978, to take all
measures he may deem necessary to safeguard the territorial integrity
of the nation and the sovereignty of the State, to consolidate peace
and order, to maintain national political, economic and financial
stability, to expand the well-being of the rural and urban population
and to defend the general interest of the Republic, by means of
decrees having the force of law.
From 1964-1971, during which time the Constitution was in force, the
most important individual guarantees were suspended each year for long
periods of time, as a matter of routine. The result was that without
these guarantees, there was insufficient protection for the rights con-
secrated in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
10. Article 216 of the 1964 Constitution (now Article 129) was
affected by the 1966 decree, but in 1970, was excluded from the list
of suspended provisions. See the decrees of the Legislative Chamber of
September 17, 1966 and August 20, 1970.
11. Le Moniteur, August 25, 1977.
- 14 -
Government spokesmen have insisted that the annual decrees of full
powers and suspension of guarantees are vital if government programs
are to be carried out, and that the practice must therefore be con-
tinued in the future. The Government has nonetheless stated that in
the future these decrees must abide by the standards of the American
Convention on Human Rights. 1/
It should be noted that the February 1979 legislative elections
were held during a period of full powers (pleins pouvoirs), during
which the constitutional protection of the fundamental rights was
12. Note from Mr. Aurdlien C. Jeanty, Secretary of State for the
Interior and National Defense, to the President of the Comission, August
25, 1978, page 1.
- 15 -
RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PERSONAL SECURITY
The American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man
Every human being has the right
to life, liberty and the security
of his person.i/
A. CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS
1. Article 5 of the 1964 Constitution of Haiti, as amended in 1971,
expressly declares that: "The life and liberty of Haitians are sacred
rind must be respected by individuals and by the State."
P. Nonetheless, Article 25 provides for capital punishment in the
case of treason: "Capital punishment may not be imposed for any political
offense except treason." This article defines treason as "taking up arms
against the Republic of Haiti, joining avowed enemies of Haiti, and giving
them aid and comfort."
I. American Convention on Human Rights
Article 4 - Right to life
1. Every person has the right to have his life respected. This
right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of
conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
2. In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, it may
be imposed only for the most serious crimes and pursuant to a final
judgment rendered by a competent court and in accordance with a law
establishing such punishment, enacted prior to the commission of the
crime. The application of such punishment shall not be extended to
crimes to which it does not presently apply.
3. The death penalty shall not be re-established in states that
have abolished it.
4. In no case shall capital punishment be inflicted for political
offenses or related common crimes.
5. Capital punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who, at
the time the crime was committed were under eighteen years of age or
over seventy years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant women.
6. Every person condemned to death shall have the right to apply
for amnesty, pardon, or commutation of sentence, which may be granted
in all cases. Capital punishment shall not be imposed while such a
petition is pending decision by the competent authority.
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B. IND I VIDUAI DENUNCIATIONS OF VIOLATIONS OF THE RIGHT TO LIFE
3. A communication of July 8, .971 denounced the arbitrary deten-
tion of Jos(eph Nicolas Gaetjens, a Haitian citizen, who was arrested in
Port-au-Prince on July 8, 1964 at 10:00 a.m. by an armed, uniformed police
officer, Lt. Edouard Guillot, and by two armed plain clothes men. The
arrest took place in the presence of numerous people. The complainant
.l.Mates that since that time, there has been no more information about
Mr. Gaetjens, whereabouts or his situation as a whole. It is
stated that no proof has been shown that he was brought before the
competent authorities, and that there is fear for his life.
The government of Haiti has not replied to the Commission's
request for information on this affair, with the result that, at its
thirtieth session, the IACHR decided to invoke Article 51 of its
. regulations, and presume the events denounced to be confirmed; the
Commission advised the Haitian authorities that these facts constitute
an extremely serious violation of the right to freedom and personal
The fact that Mr. Gaetjens, a football player of international
standing, has not been seen since his detention in 1964, leads to the
conclusion that he is dead since he was in the hands of the Haitian
authorities under circumstances that have never been made public.
14. In ?[ letter dated January 20, 1972, the Commission was informed
a t: follows:
On April 26, 1963, between two and three in the afternoon,
[oul]uid Chassagne, who worked in the workshop of the Deschamps
Company, located on the Boulevard Jean Jacques Dessalines in
Port-au-Prince, was arrested by four Tonton-Macoutes, who were
under the command of a certain attorney named Durand, who lived
on Clerveaux street in Petionville. Georges Chassagne, brother
of Roland Chas.;agne, was a witness to the arrest. The group left
in a car in the general direction of the Department of the Interior,
the Police Headquarters, and the National Palace.
A few minutes later, Georges Chassagne learned that his
brother had been taken to Fort Dimanche.
Georges Chassagne obtained an interview with the State
Secretary of the Interior, to whom he recounted his brother's
illegal arrest, and demanded that he be released. The Secretary
responded that the question would be studied, but since that time
no further information was provided.
- 17 -
The government reports that no person of that name was arrested
on the date indicated, and made no comment when documents providing
these facts were cent to it. The 1ACHR, in its thirtieth session,
invoked Article 51, and presumed the events denounced to be true,
declaring that this was an extremely serious violation of human rights.
During the Special Commission's visit to Haiti, the government
provided a "List of requests for death certificates," in which the name
of Roland Chassagne appears. It indicated that Mr. Maurice Vilaire
had filed a request on May 2, 1978. In January 1979, the government
was asked to provide more extensive information with regard to this
request. The government did so, but did not indicate the circumstances
5. Another case brought to the Commission's attention is that of
Hubert Legros. The Commission was informed that Legros had been de-
tained without trial and without any preliminary investigation by the
State's attorney, for a period of two and a half years until December
1972, at which time, he appeared on the list of 72 people granted
amnesty by President Jean Claude Duvalier. It was subsequently alleged
that three weeks after being released, Legros was arrested and imprisoned
in Fort Dimanche because he had supported other prisoners who had been
pardoned but who had not been released. In a note dated August 28, 1975,
the government reported that Hubert Legros had "received clemency from
the President-for-life of the Republic, which reduced his sentence."
The government has never informed the Commission of the details of the
trial nor of the sentence which was subsequently reduced. The IACHR
received this information, from the government, but the circumstances repard-
inig his death were not explained. The government informed the IACHR on
October 5, 1977 that as regards the request for more specific informa-
tion, "it is up to his parents to file a petition with the civil courts
in Port-au-Prince, which will shortly provide them with all the necessary
The name of Legros appears on the "List of requests for death
certificates," with the observation that Mrs. Andr6e Bruts asked for a
decision on June 29, 1978.
6. On March 10, 1971, the Commission received a cable asking it
to intervene in the affair of 14 people arrested in April 1970, who
had been given a secret trial.
Despite repeated demands, notably with respect to Kesner Blain,
the government replied only in general terms questioning the Commis-
:;ion':. jurisdiction in this area.
- 18 -
With regard Lo another case, the government informed the 1ACIIR
:', follow.: "Ex-colonel Kesner Blaini will be brought before : military
(:,urt and tried by hi:; peers in the regular manner for the crime of
conspiracy and high treason."
'l1The Commission a:;ked for specific information on the question of
Ko.:ncr .lain on September 19, 1977. It particularly asked about the
date on which he war brought to trial and about the sentence he was
given. Instead of providing the information asked for, the government
informed the Commission that "the parents of Ex-colonel Kesner Blain
may file a petition with the civil courts of Port-au-Prince, which will
c-hortly provide them with all the necessary information.*"
- 19 -
C. OTHER DEATHS IN PRISON
7. After the visit of the Special Commission, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights sent the Government a note on September 11,
1978, with the following list of 151 individuals who, according to the
allegations of accusers, were executed while in prison or who died in
prison because of lack of medical care.
LIST OF DEAD PRISONERS
AUGUSTERE - cell 1, Plaine du Cul de Sac, poet, journalist, arrested in
January 1971, released in December 1972, re-arrested in
January 1973, died in 1975 of diarrhea.
Joseph ALEXANDRE - cell 3, known as Djo Malaca, Port-au-Prince, died on
November 1, 1975, of physical weakness and mental illness.
Gerard AUGUSTIN, cell 1, St. Marc, 53 years old, sociologist, imprisoned
3 times, died on September 19 at 4:00 p.m. of tuberculosis.
Marcus ANDRE - cell 7, Jeremie, professor, died in 1975 of diarrhea.
Jenn-Claude ALEXANDRE - cell 7, Jdrdmie, professor, died in 1975 of
Ez6chiel ABELARD - cell 6, died in September 1976 of tuberculosis.
Massena ANIBOT - cell 8, died in August 1976 of tuberculosis and mal-
nutrition, a peasant from l'Arcahaie.
kobert ACHIADE - cell 7, Arcahaie, died in 1975.
Joseph BRIOLLI - cell 4, Port-au-Prince, a former macoute, died in 1976
of diarrhea and tuberculosis.
Jean-Robert BELLEVUE - cell 1, Plaine du Cul de Sac, professor of history,
died in August 1975 of tuberculosis.
Georges BISRETE - cell 2, Fond des Blancs, speculator, died in February
1976 of rheumatism and tuberculosis.
Andre BIEN-AIME - cell 3, Cayes, worked in the Chamber of Deputies, died
in July 1976 of malnutrition.
Renel BAPTISTE - cell 7, Jacmel, lived in the Dominican Republic, worked
in Africa on filming The Comedians, died on July 19, 1974
Fred BAPTISTE - cell 1, Jacmel, died on June 16, 1974 of tuberculosis
and mental illness.
- 20 -
Justin BERTRAND - cell 5, Port-au-Prince, a former macoute chief, died
on August 26, 1975 of tuberculosis and diarrhea.
Ronel BERTRAND - cell 2, Port-au-Prince, a former macoute chief, died
in February 1976 of rheumatism and tuberculosis.
Paul BLANC - cell 4, husband of the deputy Madame Paul Blanc, died in
July 1976 of diarrhea.
Kesner BLAIN - cell 3, Port-au-Prince, ex-colonel, died on February 1,
1976 of tuberculosis.
Fritz BAUDET - cell 3, Port-au-Prince, coastguard, died in July 1975
Noly BURON - cell 3, sailor, died in 1976 of tuberculosis.
Jean-Claude BOUCICAUT - cell 4, Port-au-Prince, former macoute, died
in January 19, of tuberculosis.
Hora BATISTAIN - cell 3, tin-smith, died in February 1973 of typhoid.
Julien BANO - cell 1, Arcahaie, died in 1975 of diarrhea.
Henri BAFARD - cell 4, Thiotte region, died in January 1973.
Sifra CESAR - cell 8, died in 1972 of tuberculosis.
Daul COMPERE* - executed on August 7, 1974.
Muscadet CAJUSTE - cell 8, former corporal in the Police Department,
died in 1976 of tuberculosis.
L4on CHERY - cell 2, Cayes, an old man in his sixties, died on December
10, 1976 of physical weakness.
Gilbert CADOSTIN - cell 2, chauffeur, died on October 2, 1976, of
Camille CEBASTIEN - cell li Port-au-Prince, pharmacist, owner of the
Pharmacie de Lion, died in 1976 of lung congestion.
Jean Roland CELESTIN - cell 1, Port-au-Prince, topographer, died in 1975
of typhoid and tuberculosis.
Paul DONNEUR - cell 7, Port-au-Prince, artisan, died in 1976 of diarrhea.
- 21 -
Ambroise DERSAVINES - cell 7, Port-au-Prince, artisan, died in 1976
Sergo DE RU1SSEAU - cell 3, Arcahaie, student, died in 1976 of
Murat DARELUS - cell 1, Petion-Ville, carpenter, died in February 1975.
Kernizan DUPONT - National Penitentiary, M6yotte, Petion-Ville, workman,
died in 1975 of liver disease.
Ronald DUCHEMINk - executed in March 1976.
Guelo DACCUEIL - cell 3, Arcahaie, peasant, 48 years old, died in 1976
Horace DACCUEIL - cell 7, Arcahaie, peasant, brother of Guelo, died in
1976 of diarrhea.
Fritz DUGASON - cell 5, JAremie, mechanic, died on June 2, 1975 of
Philippe DULORHER - cell 5, Cazal, died on December 18, 1975 of
Clothaire DORNEVAL - cell 5, Arcahaie, died on January 24, 1976 of
Raphael DELVA - cell 1, Gonaives, died in June 1976 of tuberculosis.
Jean-Claude DUVAL - cell 9, worked at Alpha, died on December 5, 1975
of tuberculosis and physical weakness.
Ovhz DUQUESNE - died in August 1976.
Thomas DOMINIQUE - cell 6, Plaine du Cul de Sac, chauffeur, died in
July 1976 of tuberculosis.
Cadeau Jean DERISIE - cell 1, Nan Bannanan, section chief, died in
July 1976 of tuberculosis.
Arche DENIS - cell 2, Port-au-Prince, son of Lorimer Denis (co-author
with Francois Duvalier of a number of books), former spy
who made his reports directly to Duvalier, arrested by
Luc Desir after the death of Francois Duvalier, died in
1976 of typhoid.
- 22 -
V6nique DUCALIRON - National Penitentiary, died in 1973.
oerge DONATIEN - cell 1, Artibonite, arrested in February 1975, 25
years old, died in March 1976 of diarrhea.
DATO - cell 1, section chief of Thiotte, died in 1976.
Jacques DELILLE - died in 1975.
Servilus EXANTUS - cell 7, Cul de Sac, attorney, professor, released
in 1972, arrested again in January 1973, died in July 1976
Ponax EXANTUS - cell 8, Arcahaie, student, died in 1975 of tuberculosis.
Rameau ESTIME - cell 1, deputy, Duvalier supporter from the first, died
on May 13, 1976 of diarrhea and malnutrition.
Wilerrm ESTIME - cell 5, died in 1976.
Gc nulm6 EU'GENE - cell 1, Plaine du Cul de Sac, teacher, released in
1972, arrested again in 1973, died in 1976 of tuberculosis.
EXANTE - cell 2, Arcahaie, died in 1976.
Francis FTLS-AIME - cell 1, Fort-Libert6, former leopard, died in 1976
Pierre REQUIERE - cell 2, Port-au-Prince (Delmas), workman, died in
1976 of tuberculosis.
Ken6 FRANEXx - executed on August 7, 1974.
Marie-Th6rese FEVAL* - executed in March 1976.
Hikitt FLORESTAL* - executed on August 7, 1974.
Marcel GUEHRIER - cell 5, Plaine du Cul de Sac, died on October 6,
1975 of tuberculosis.
Marie Th6rese GASNEIR - cell 10, died in 1976 of tuberculosis.
Pierre GUERRIER - died in 1976.
Jean HORNER - Duvalierville, coastguard, died in 1975.
Fritz ICARD - cell 2, Miragoane, died on November 13, 1975 of mental
- 23 -
G6rard JOSEPH - cell 7, known as Ibert Jn. Baptiste, Gonaives, arrested
on July 3, 1973, Place Ste. Anne, died in 1975 of tuber-
Dagobert JEAN - cell 2, Hinche, former leopard, died in April 1976 of
Theocel JEAN - died in April 1976 in the National Penitentiary.
Ricot JUNIOR - died in August 1975 in the National Penitentiary.
Pierre JEAN* - known as D'Haiti, executed in March 1976.
Maurice JEAN BAPTISTE - cell 1, Jacmel, died on December 4, 1976 of
Samson JEAN-BAPTISTE* - executed on August 7, 1974.
Antonio JEAN-BAPTISTE - cell 3, Jeremie, typographer, worked in the
State Printing Office, died in 1976 of tuberculosis.
Lucio JULES - cell 3, Jeremie, died on October 10, 1976 of typhoid.
Alius JOLIMO - cell 3, Plaine du Cul de Sac, peasant, died in 1975 of
Vergnaut JOSEPH - cell 6, attorney, and old man of 60 years of age,
died in 1976 of physical weakness.
Morency JEAN - cell 3, Marchand, peasant, died in 1977 of tuberculosis.
Franck JASSIN - cell 7, Port-au-Prince (Section Sou Dalle), teacher,
died in 1976 of tuberculosis.
Lession JOSEPH - cell 6, Arcahaie, hougan (voodoo priest), died in
1975 of tuberculosis.
Saint-Vilus JEAN PIERRE - cell 5, Plaine du Cul de Sac, peasant, died
on March 10 of infectious diarrhea and pulmonary tuber-
Antoine JEAN NOEL - cell 3, Quanaminthep died in February 1974 of
malaria and physical weakness.
Resius JEAN BAPTISTE - cell 1, Petion-Ville, died in February 1975,
constipated for 22 days.
- 24 -
Emmanuel JEAN POIS - cell 1, Croix des Bouquets, shopkeeper, died in
1975 of tuberculosis.
Henri JEAN - cell 4, Port-au-Prince, died in 1976 of tuberculosis.
Oswald JULES - Verrettes, Assistant Government Commissioner, died
Chery LOUISSAINT - cell 8, Arcahaie, student, died in 1976 of
Marcel LAFORET - cell 8, J6remie, agronomist, living in St. Marc,
producer of "Niko", 'clairin' (local rum drink), died in
July 1975 of tuberculosis and mental illness.
Pierre LAURENT - cell 8, Port-au-Prince, tailor, arrested after the
Gaillard affair, died in 1975 of tuberculosis.
Hubert LEGROS, cell 6, Por-au-Prince, died on December 19, 1975 at
5:00 a.m. of diarrhea and tuberculosis.
Loner LIVERT - cell 5, Port-h-Piment, student, died on July 19, 1976
Rodrigue LAFORTUNE - cell 5, Plaine du Cul de Sac, peasant, died on
November 18, 1975 of tuberculosis.
Ives MUZAC - cell 1, Jacmel, student, died in June 1976 of tuberculosis.
G6rard MICHEL - died in 1975.
MERCERON - cell 7, known as Guantanamo, Port-au-Prince, sailor, died
in 1976 of tuberculosis.
MENELAS - cell 8, known under the name of Ayisi, Plaine du Cul de Sac,
brought up in the Dominican Republic, former jailer in the
Great Prison, involved with Kesner Blain, died in 1976 of
Cheres Louis MAX - cell 2, Plaine du Cul de Sac, peasant, died in
October 1975 of tuberculosis.
Louis NOEL - cell 6, Quanaminthe, died in 1976 of a liver ailment.
Jean NAPOLEON - Croix des Bouquets, died in December 1972.
Jean Marc NERESTAN - cell 3, Port-a-Piment, tailor, died in 1976 of
- 25 -
Semonvil OSIAS - cell 2, Cap-Haitien, attorney, died in June 1975.
Cambrone OBANO - cell 8, Arcahaie, died in July 1976 of diarrhea.
Charles OCTA - Arcahaie, died in 1975 of diarrhea.
Salma PIERRE-PAUL - cell 3, St. Marc, lawyer, professor, died on
September 17 of tuberculosis.
PTPIRITE - cell 3, Barradere, died in 1976 of diarrhea.
Charles PIERREx - executed on August 7, 1974.
Darty PHILIPPE - cell 3, Limb6, died in November 1973 of tuberculosis.
Oveny PAULx - executed on August 7, 1974.
Luc PIERRE-PAUL - cell 2, Port-au-Prince, accountant working with an
English insurance company, died in July 1976, suffering
from mental illness.
Jacques PAUL - cell 8, Port-au-Prince, son of Paulette Sicot, died in
1976 of tuberculosis.
Lubin PIERRE-LOUIS - cell 5, Arcahaie, died on November 1, 1975 of
Edouard PIERRE - arrested in 1974, died in 1975.
Eddy PRICE - died in March 1976.
Des I'EDESTANTx - executed in August 1974.
Jean-Claude PIIANOR - cell 2, former leopard, died on May 3, 1976.
Ronald PERARD* - executed in August 1974.
Bertrand RAYMOND - cell 1, known as Ti Baron, Plaine du Cul de Sac,
professor, died in 1975 of tuberculosis.
Jean-Louis ROYA - executed in March 1976.
Jean ROBERT - cell 6, alias Derecul, Arcahaie, coastguard, died in
1976 of tuberculosis.
Timothy ROSSINI - cell 6, mason, Arcahaie (Carrefour Pois), died in
1975 of diarrhea.
- 26 -
RAOUL - cell 4, former detective, militia-man, died in 1976 of
ROMEL - cell 7, died in 1975 of tuberculosis.
Annouce REBECCA - cell 3, Cavaillon, former militia-man, died on
October 10, 1972 of tuberculosis.
REYNOLD - companion of Dagobert Jean (former leopard), died in
Jilmiste SYLVESTRE - cell , shoemaker, Port-au-Prince, died on
November 1, 1976 of tuberculosis.
Thelismon SALADIN - cell 1, La Tremblay, peasant, died on December
Raymond SAINT-LOUIS - died on September 11, 1976 of tuberculosis.
John SOUFFRANTx - executed on August 7, 1974.
Georges ST. MERZIER - cell 4, Jeremie, scrap merchant, died in 1976
Jean-Claude ST. LOUIS - cell 7, Port-au-Prince, died on November 13,
1975 of tuberculosis.
Luc. ST. VIL - cell 5, Fort-Liberte, former leopard, died in
September 1976 of tuberculosis.
Gasner SIMEON - cell 7, sailor en route to Nassau, ran aground at
Guantanamo, handed over to the Haitian government by an
American boat, died in 1976 of tuberculosis.
SANTIAGUE - cell 7, Arcahaie, former sergeant, died in October 1976
Jacques ST. AMAND
Reynold TIMOLEON* - executed on August 7, 1974.
Alix THOMASx - executed on August 7, 1974.
Clarel TERVILd - executed in March 1976.
TINTIN - cell 9, Limb6, died in 2971 of tuberculosis.
- '7 -
Thelismon TONY - La Tremblay (Croix des Bouquets) arrested in 1969,
released in 1972, re-arrested in February 1973, died in
1976 of diarrhea.
Auguste THENOR - cell 1, died in December 1974.
Edner THEAGENE - died in 1975.
Jean Rifla VASSEAUx - executed in March 1976.
Joseph VILFORT - cell 3, Kenscoff, tinsmith, died in 1976 of tuber-
Th6ophile VICTOME - cell 5, Cazale, died on January 2, 1975 of
Pierre Michel VITAL - cell 6, Jeremie, released then re-arrested, died
in February 1977 of tuberculosis.
Volmar VOLCY - cell 6, died in July 1976.
Durena WASHINGTON - cell 5, coastguard, died on October 19, 1974, of
Elie WELLINGTON - cell , son of Jamaica, well-known in Port-au-Prince,
died in October 1976 of tuberculosis and physical weakness.
Romuls VILBRUN - cell 3, Plaine du Cul de Sac, cabinet-maker, died on
February 16, 1977 of tuberculosis.
It should be noted that most of the deaths, according to allega-
tions, occurred in 1975 and 1976. According to this information, the 1
principal cases of death were tuberculosis (71 cases) and diarrhea
(22), in addition to physical exhaustion, malnutrition and other ail-
ments generally related to the lack of satisfactory medical care.
The case of 17 individuals who, it is said, were executed in 1974
and 1976 is examined later in the present chapter.
It should be noted that while it is true that more than half the
deaths occurring in jail took place, according to allegations, as recently
as 1976, the list contains only two deaths in 1977 and no reported case
In a note dated October 6, 1978, the government acknowledged that
a number of individuals had died in jail. The pertinent parts of the
text read as follows:
- 28 -
Within its means, the Haitian government has always provided
medical and other care to prisoners. Doubtless, some individuals
were unable to accustom themselves to the prison system, and a
number of deaths resulted from this, which is to be deplored.
Moreover, the individuals whose names appear on the list sent to
us are dangerous terrorists responsible for numerous acts of
vandalism; some of them died, weapons in hand, during alterca-
tions with the forces of order.
In a note of December 27, 1978, the Commission asked the govern-
ment for more specific information, notably for the names of indivi-
duals who had died in prison, and of those who "had died, weapons in
hand." To date, no response to this request has been forthcoming.
Nonetheless, during the Commission's visit, the government pro-
vided it with a "list of requests for death certificates" on which 32
cases presented regarding prison deaths appeared. In response to the
Commission's request about the results of these "requests and judge-
ments," the government furnished declaratory judgments of death by
the civil courts of Port-au-Prince, but without indicating the cause
On December 7, 1979, the government of Haiti stated that an
absence of information on many of the names in government records
suggests that "many names may have been fictitious."
- 29 -
D. SUMMARY EXECUTIONS
8. In a note dated December 27, 1978, the Commission asked for in-
formation on the allegation that, in 1974 and 1976, Haitian citizens
were summarily executed. Their names appear in the list of 151 indi-
viduals who are said have died in prison.
Summary executions take place in Fort Dimanche. The executions of
1974 and 1976 may be cited as examples. On August 7, 1974, a number of
prisoners were executed at Fort Dimanche. They included:
Charles PIERRE Daule COMPERE
Samson JN. BAPTISTE Rikitt FLORESTAL
(nicknamed Don Fred)
Reynold TIMOLEON John SOUFFRANT
Alix THOMAS Ronale PERARD
Rene FRANEX Oveny PAUL
Seven persons were executed in March 1976. They included:
Clarel TERVIL Jn. Louis ROY
Marie Therese FEVAL Ronal DUCHEMIN
Pierre Jean Jn. Rifla VASSEAU
The form of execution is barbarous. In recent years, they haven't
been wasting bullets on executing prisoners. They make prisoners walk
forward one by one in the night towards the sea. And they club them on
the back of the neck, like dogs. The soft thud of the clubs can be heard
in the cells.
The government did not furnish any information on the matter until
December 7, 1979, at which time it stated that "no executions were carried
out at Fort Dimanche in 1974, 1975 or 1976, nor were any persons with
names similar to those listed on page 25 executed by the government of
Haiti at any time during the period in question." The government also
challenged the statement that "the thud of the blows can be heard in the
cells" as a physical impossibility. However, the Commission has in its
power an eyewitness declaration giving the following additional details:
Between Fort Dimanche Prison and the ocean, no more than a
mile in distance, there is a wooded area in which, under cover of
night, the executioners of Duvalier's government carry out summary
executions. Assisted by the calm of night, and doubtless carried
by the ocean wind, the cries of the victims reach us clearly in
our cells. The place of execution is about 50 meters from the
- 30 -
prison, i.e. from the rear wall. It is this area that the
prisoners call the "bayarons" or the secret graveyard of
E. PERSONAL SECURITY
Article 17 of the Constitution of Haiti expressly declares "that
any unnecessary force or restraint used in the arrest or detention of
a person, any moral pressure or physical brutality is forbidden."
Moreover, in December 1972, President Jean Claude Duvalier sent
a memorandum to all the commanders of the Military Department and Chiefs
of Special Services, in which he stated:
I am certain, Mr. Minister of Justice, that you have grasped
the full import of my thinking, and that you will never fail to
act according to the law, so that justice may be rendered to whom
justice is due.
I ask that as soon as you receive the present Message, you take
all steps that may be required to eliminate any abuse of authority that
could be committed in your Military Departments and in your various
I want the soldiers of the Young Army of the New Haiti to under-
stand that they, like their commanders, cannot use violence with impu-
nity or cause it to be used on any person without legitimate reason,
in the exercise or during the course of the exercise of their duties.
I feel a sense of pride in seeing them refrain from any intrusion
into homes and from any arrests motivated by personal interest.
I ask you to urge the soldiers in your Departments and services
to obey the law.
Thus they will help My Government ensure order, security, social
peace and harmony, justice and the common good at all times.
A copy of this memorandum appears in the note dated January 8,
1975 received from the government of Haiti in response to a request
9. Despite this provision in the Constitution, and despite the
instructions of the President, the Commission has received complaints
from a number of individuals released after the presidential amnesty.
- 31 -
One denunciation transmitted by the Inter-American Commission to
the government of Haiti on September 11, 1978 reported as follows:
Political prisoners arrive at Fort-Dimanche only after a fairly
long detention in the Dessalines Barracks. It is in fact to the barracks
that the forces of repression take prisoners for interrogation in the
first instance after their arrest. Once there, prisoners are always
savagely tortured. After this stage, detention begins in Fort-Dimanche.
Fort-Dimanche is one element in the whole system of repression, and
as a place of detention, it serves to depersonalize political prisoners,
reduce them to the state of animals before their death. Political pris-
oners are conditioned on arrival at Fort-Dimanche. They are undressed
and examined like beasts of burden, not for medical purposes, but in
order to humiliate them. Face to the wall, head lowered, the prisoner
is insulted by the jailer, who reduces him to the status of an object,
a mere number. He is then taken under the wing of the major of his
cell, that is to say, by the prisoner responsible for the cell. This
cell-major is responsible for helping the jailer in the depersonaliza-
tion process. He is generally a prisoner who, after a long period of
detention, is completely under the jailer's thumb, and shows himself
willing to collaborate with him in this depersonalization exercise.
Still pursuing the goal of depersonalizing the prisoner, the jailer
gives him psychological conditioning and often forces him to react to
sounds and to gestures. No matter what he needs, and no matter what the
reason, the prisoner does not have the right to speak to the jailer.
This is a serious violation that is severely punished. Only the cell-
major can serve as intermediary between the jailer and the prisoner, if
he feels it necessary.
The cell, which generally.measures 3 meters by 3 meters, has only
one window of 1 meter by 70 centimeters, in which cement blocks are
placed, with the result that very little light or air penetrates. The
cell is intended for 22 or 33 prisoners. Each prisoner, therefore, has
a space that is only 30 centimeters wide.
At night, the prisoners sleep in relays. The first group sleeps
from 8:30 till 11:00 p.m., and the next group from 11:00 to 1:30 in the
morning. Generally, newcomers sleep on the cement floor for the first
three months of their detention. Then they receive a mat of woven straw,
which is 1 millimeter thick and less than 1 1/2 meters long. In the
hot season--which is almost nine months of the year--the prisoner is
dying of heat, is bathed in sweat at night; during the three-month cold
season, he is shivering day and night.
- 32 -
Piled up like sardines in this cell, which is never swept or dis-
infected, the prisoners are eaten up by vermin (body lice, head lice,
bed bugs) and by mosquitoes that come up from the swamps surrounding
the prison and carry malaria and other illnesses. The cell always
stinks of the foul odor from the five-gallon recipient we use as a
latrine. The bucket is never disinfected, it is covered with dried
fecal matter, and one of us has to go out of the cell to empty it into
a hole that has been dug for this purpose at the end of the prison.
Some prisoners who, after a certain time in detention, have become
physically weaker, unfortunately sometimes let the bucket drop in
the corridor; they are therefore obliged to pick everything up with
their hands, under penalty of very severe punishments. The prisoner
does not get any toilet paper or soap. When what remains of his under-
wear gets too dirty, he has to wash it with urine because there is no
Nobody takes a bath at Fort-Dimanche. Nonetheless, we are awakened
at 2:00 o'clock in the morning so that we can be taken to a standpipe
where there is a trickle of water. The prisoner can either drink a
little water, or wash out his mouth, because a cell of 22 to 33 people
is given only five minutes for this operation. Anyone who breaks the
regulations is badly beaten up.
The prisoner's daily ration is a small loaf of bread weighing 20
grams, ;t little bit of corn mash sprinkled with a few macaroni, with-
out spices, with no oil and sometimes almost raw. The food, of which
there is very little, has no substance to it, which explains why the
prisoners are hungry and why they have vitamin deficiencies. We are
never given meat, vegetables, milk or fruit, we never have any of the
foods the human body needs. In fact, we use the floor for a plate,
because the jailer gives the plate with one hand and takes it away
with the other. We are served on the same plates, which are not
washed, despite the dangers of contamination.
Water is rationed, Each prisoner is entitled to only two glasses
a day, and the prison has only 18 glasses for approximately 195 pris-
oners. We receive water in a big pail which can be overturned by a
mishap: then we simply lose the whole day's ration.
Dr. Trevan, who is responsible for medical care, visits the prison
only two or three times a year. He does not even come to register a
- 33 -
death. Medical care is more properly speaking under the responsibility
of a nursing aide, and he makes only one visit a month. This means that
people with tuberculosis or vitamin deficiencies or any other kind of
illness may receive an aspirin before they die. The sick are given no
care at Fort-Dimanche. "Medicine is far too expensive for scum like
you," said Enos St. Pierre, the hangman-jailer who was appointed direct-
ly by Duvalier. "We do not stop people from dying. If you are tired,
stick your head in the latrine bucket, commit suicide, outside, they
know that you are already dead." Those are the kind of things the as-
sistant jailer, Enos St. Pierre and Captain Jean-Joseph of the Presi-
dential Guard, head of the prison, say to the prisoners. These two
officers of the Haitian Army take pleasure, indeed show a sadistic
zeal in making prisoners die little by little, and in humiliating them
before their death. For example, Enos St. Pierre was unmoved, indeed
was snickering at a dying man who was asking for a little water before
he died. The prisoner must have died about half an hour after the
Illnesses - Mortality Rate
Illness is frequent at Fort-Dimanche. The most common maladies
are pulmonary tuberculosis, vitamin deficiency, dysentery, mental prob-
lems and diarrhea. The diseases characteristic of Fort-Fimanche are
tuberculosis, diarrhea and edema caused by worms burrowing under the
skin. To cure stomach problems, diarrhea or malaria, the prisoner
uses urine to wash his head, or drinks a little urine. Is urine of
any therapeutic value? I leave it up to medical scientists to answer
that question, but a sick man uses it; whether it comforts or con-
soles him, I don't know.
The amount of contagion is extremely high because of the severe
overcrowding in the cells. All of this explains why the average
survival time in Fort-Dimanche is for rarely more than one year.
Sixty percent of the deaths are.due to tuberculosis, and forty per-
cent to vitamin deficiencies and diarrhea. The death rate at Fort-
Dimanche is very high. These totally inhuman conditions of detention
became considerably worse in 1976, at the very time when the Duvalier
Government was talking about liberalization and improving prison con-
In fact, 96 deaths were registered at Fort-Dimanche in 1976,
particularly during the months of October, November and December.
This is a record for the number of crimes committed in one year at
Fort-Dimanche. The preceding year, 1975, there were 55 deaths for
an average of 170 prisoners. It could thus be said that in recent
years, death was a constant presence at Fort-Dimanche. Prisoners
always know when death has struck, that it is hovering in the cells,
because each time some dies, the prisoners strike up a chorus of
- 34 -
"It is only 'au revoir'," and then '"Nearer my God to thee." Sometimes,
the body stays in the cell for some hours after the death, until the
jail officer deigns to authorize its removal. Sometimes, the prisoners
are obliged to eat their meager meals over the corpse of a prison com-
panion who has just died. The dead man is rolled up in the thin straw
mat that had been his bed, and is carried by the prisoners out to the
brush-covered piece of land where common-law prisoners bury him under
a thin layer of earth. It has sometimes happened that dogs eat the
This account concurs with what other former prisoners have said.
The government informed the Commission that "it has always given
medical and other care to prisoners, within its means."
The government has stressed on various occasions, including during
-the visit of the Special Commission that Fort-Dimanche was closed in
1977 by order of President Jean-Claude Duvalier. However, the Commis-
sion has received repeated denunciations to the effect that not all of
Fort-D)imanche was closed, but rather only the area of collective cells,
called "Nirvana." The Commission has even received testimony that cer-
tain construction has taken place at Fort-Dimanche, which has increased
the number of solitary cells, among other changes.
10. During its mission to Haiti, the Special Commission visited
the National Penitentiary and talked to a large number of prisoners.
None complained of physical ill-treatment, but certain prisoners said
that they did not have the legal defense they needed, because of the
fact that there were not sufficient legal aid attorneys.
The Commission has received testimony, both written and oral, which
states that conditions in the Haitian prisons, particularly those in
Port-au-Prince, have worsened since the visit of the Special Commission.
One Haitian, who was in prison at the time, has provided the Commission
with (details of conditions just before,, during and after the visit:
Some time in August, things began to improve and we could
hear on the guards' radios that a team from the OAS Commission
on Human Rights was going to visit the prison. One week before
the visit, they began to prepare. A large number of prisoners
left. They were transferred elsewhere or set free. After the
Commission left, an old prisoner of the Penitentiary came back
and told me that he and many others were transferred to Fort-
Dimanche or to Croix-desTBouquets. Conditions of the few
prisoners who were not transferred also changed greatly. For
example, they reduced the number of persons per cell to two
or three. The cells were re-painted. There were beds. We
were well clothed and given tennis shoes. The food ration
- 35 -
was increased and improved. Some days before the visit, Col.
Louis Charles, together with Major Orcel of the Detective
Service, came to each cell and told us that the Commission
would ask us certain questions, and they gave us the answers
to make. The Commission came to the prison one day around
11:00 a.m. All the prisoners were taken to the central court-
yard, where there were several members of the Commission,
Colonel Louis Charles and the Government Commissioner,
Rodrigue Casimir. The latter were present throughout the
questioning of all the prisoners by members of the Commission.
When my turn came, I answered as I had been told to do. At
6:00 p.m., everything given out for the occasion, except the
clothing, was taken away. Soon after the Commission's depar-
ture, many prisoners were returned to the Penitentiary.
11. In a decree of September 29, 1977, the Haitian government
decided to grant "full and complete amnesty... to all citizens ac-
cused of terrorism or of any other subversive act perpetrated against
the security of the State."
During its time in Haiti, the Special Commission visited the follow-
ing penitentiaries: the National Penitentiary, and the Cap-Haitien and
Jacmel Barracks, but fond no political prisoners.
- 7/ -
RIGHT OF PROTECTION FROM ARBITRARY ARREST AND
RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW
The American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man
No person may be deprived of his liberty
except in the cases and according to the
procedures established by pre-existing law.
No person may be deprived of liberty for
nonfulfillment of obligations of a purely
Every individual who has been deprived of
his liberty has the right to have the le-
gality of his detention ascertained with-
out delay by a court, and the right to be
tried without undue delay or, otherwise, to
be released. He also has the right to humane
treatment during the time he is in custody.
Every accused person is presumed to be
innocent until proved guilty.
Every person accused of an offense has the
right to be given an impartial and public
hearing, and to be tried by courts previously
established in accordance with pre-existing
laws, and not to receive cruel, infamous or
unusual punishment. l/
1. American Convention on Human Rights
Article 8 - Right to a Fair Trial
1. Every person has the right to a hearing, with due guarantees
and within a reasonable time, by a competent, independent, and impartial
tribunal, previously established by law, in the substantiation of any
accusation of a criminal nature made against him or for the determination
of his rights and obligations of a civil, labor, fiscal, or any other
2. Every person accused of a criminal offense has the right to be
presumed innocent so long as his guilt has not been proven according to
law. During the proceedings, every person is entitled, with full
equality, to the following minimun guarantees:
a. the right of the accused to be assisted without charge by a
translator or interpreter, if he does understand or does not
speak the language of the tribunal or court;
b. prior notification in detail to the accused of the charges
c. adequate time and means for the preparation of his defense;
d. the right of the accused to defend himself personally or to be
assisted by legal counsel of his own choosing, and to communicate
freely and privately with his counsel;
e. the inalienable right to be assisted by counsel provided by the
state, paid or not as the domestic law provides, if the accused
does not defend himself personally or engage his own counsel
within the time period established by law;
f. the right of the defense to examine witnesses present in the
court and to obtain the appearance, as witnesses, of experts or
other persons who may throw light on the facts;
g. the right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself or
to plead guilty; and
h. the right to appeal the judgment to a higher court.
3. A confession of guilt by the accused shall be valid only if it
is made without coercion of any kind.
4. An accused person acquitted by a nonappealable judgment shall
not be subjected to a new trial for the same cause.
5. Criminal proceedings shall be public, except insofar as may be
necessary to protect the interests of justice.
- 37 -
- 58 -
1. Articles 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the Haitian Constitution
protect the Haitian people against violations by government agents of
the right referred to in the present chapter. These articles read as
Article 17. Individual liberty shall be guaranteed. No one may
be prosecuted, arrested or detained except in the cases determined by
law and in the manner which it prescribes.
In addition, no one may be arrested or detained except by order of
a legally competent official.
For the execution of such an order it is necessary:
1. That it formally state the reason for the arrest and the law
that punishes the act charged;
2. That legal notice of it be given and that a copy of the order
be left with the accused at the time of its execution, except
in cases of flagrante delicto.
No one may be kept under arrest more than forty-eight hours unless he
has appeared before a judge who is assigned to rule on the legality of the
arrest and the judge has confirmed the arrest by a decision giving reasons.
In the case of a petty offense, the arrested person shall be referred
to the Justice of the Peace, who will then pronounce a final decision.
In the case of more .serious offenses, an appeal may be filed, with-
out prior permission, simply by addressing a petition to the presiding
judge of the relevant Civil Court, who, on the basis of the prosecutor's
oral statement, shall rule on the legality of the arrest in a special
session of the court, without postponement or rotation of judges, all
other cases being suspended.
In each case, if the arrest is judged illegal, the arrested person
shall be released, any appeal to a higher court or to the Supreme Court
(Cour de Cassation), notwithstanding. Any unnecessary force or restraint
in the arrest or detention of a person, any moral pressure or physical
brutality is forbidden.'
All violations of these provisions shall be considered arbitrary
acts against which the injured parties may, without prior authorization,
appeal to the competent courts, prosecuting either the authors or the
perpetrators, regardless of their rank or the body to which they belong.
Article 18. No one may be denied access to the judges to whom the
Constitution or the law assigns him. A civilian may not be tried by a
Military Court, nor may a military person be denied access to a court
of ordinary law, in an exclusively civil matter, except when a state of
siege has been declared by law.
- 59 -
On December 7, 1979, the government informed the Commission that it
is interpreting Article 17 in such a way that when detention follows an
arrest made pursuant to an arrest warrant, the forty-eight hour require-
ment within which the accused must be taken before a judge is deemed
satisfied by the initial judicial determination of issuance of the warrant.
Article 19. House searches and seizures of papers shall be prohibited
except pursuant to the law in accordance with legally prescribed procedures.
Article 20. No law shall be applied retroactively, except in
criminal cases and only when it is favorable to the offender.
The law shall be retroactive in effect whenever it takes away vested
Article 21. No penalty may be established except by law or imposed
in the cases provided by law.
2. Over the last two years, the Commission has received denunciations
of violations of these constitutional provisions. For example, a com-
munication dated December 6, 1975 states as follows:
On May 19, 1974, Mr. Marc Romulus was arbitrarily arrested in
Port-au-Prince by government authorities, and was detained under
inhuman conditions in Fort-Dimanche, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Since
his arrest one year and six months ago, he has not been brought to
trial, nor has he had legal counsel. He has not been permitted to
communicate with his family or a priest.
At first, the Government denied that Mr. Marc Romulus had been
detained but it then acknowledged openly that he had been kept in secret
detention without trial for more than two years.
Later, at its 41st Session in May 1977, the Commission applied
Article 51 of its Regulations, and decided to take the events thus
denounced as having been confirmed.
Mr. Romulus was released as part of the general amnesty decree issued
by President Duvalier in September 1977.
Also at the 41st Session, the Commission took up a case (No.1944)
concerning 72 individuals who, according to the denunciation, were not
given due process of law, even though they had been detained for a number
of years. Following an exchange of correspondence with the government of
Haiti, the Commission decided to apply Article 51 of its Regulations, and
to take the events thus denounced concerning 54 of these persons (whose
names appear in an appendix to the resolution) as having been confirmed.
- 40 -
The resolutions in these two cases appear in the 1977 Annual Report of
the Commission presented to the OAS General Assembly in June 1978, prior
to the SpeciaL Comm mission's visit to Haiti.
In its preliminary observations on the Commission's Report, the
government itself admits that there are serious problems in the admin-
istration of justice in Haiti. The Commission finds it appropriate to
cite some of these remarks:
Many of the accused persons held in Port-au-Prince (and of
course in other urban areas) are poor and illiterate, hardly speak
or understand French (which is the official language of the Court),
and have a very poor understanding of how Haitian justice works.
Moreover, despite the government's efforts in this regard, the
Haitian people are not always fully aware of the rights guaranteed
to all citizens by the Penal Code and the Constitution of Haiti.
The accused can therefore languish in prison for minor infractions
as well as for serious crimes without being brought to justice,
because they have been arrested arbitrarily, due to delays in
drawing up the reasons for the accusations, due to delays in bring-
ing the accused before the judge, or due to the limited number of
In the opinion of the government, most of the problems in the
administration of penal justice in Haiti stem from a lack of re-
sources that would enable the accused to be brought before the
competent judicial authorities as prescribed by the Constitution
and Penal Code. Even though the law is still violated at every
level, despite the imipovements introduced over the last seven years,
violations are most often due to the fact that this administration
is overburdened, understaffed, or does not act unless pressure is
applied:, not to mention that the number of accused to be brought before
the courts is very substantial. Moreover, even though the edministra-
tion of penal justice has been revived from the period prior to 1971,
it is still basically based on the 19th Century French model estab-
lished several decades ago before the populations of Port-au-Prince
and the rest of Haiti had increased considerably and reached their
Since the services of the Pablic Prosecutor's Office and of the
Examining Magistrate' are overburdened, there is strong pressure to
get around the procedures designed to ensure that the accused are
dealt with fairly. For example, the rule whereby a person under
arrest must be brought before a judge within 48 hours is often the
first to be violated. The rule for a speedy trial is another such
example. Since there are simply too many accused, the government
knows that nainy of them are judged out of court. Whether or not the
prisoners appear before the court, each case is often dealt with on
an individual basis, and imprisonment is determined by a whole
set of factors such as the seriousness of the crime, the time already
spent in prison, the accused's socioeconomic position and/or nationality,
- 41 -
the number of detainees waiting to appear, and--an important
factor--whether the accused has an attorney to look out for his
Given the nature of the problems set forth above, the govern-
ment of Haiti has approved a plan proposed by the Bar Association
of Port-au-Prince whereby it will establish a free legal aid service
for defendants who face a prison sentence and who lack the means
to pay an attorney.
Although establishment of this service does not guarantee that
all defendants will have a speedy hearing or be judged impartially,
it will surely make it possible to reduce the cases of injustified
and prolonged detention. In the long run, it will also make it
possible to make the administration of Haitian criminal justice more
efficient and more equitable.
The government has also approved another plan for the administra-
tion of criminal justice whereby a Legal Bureau would be established
at the Central Police Station of Port-au-Prince. This office will be
modeled after the legal counsel offices which have been created in
the United States during the last 15 years in most central police
stations. In the United States, their purpose has been to provide
the police chiefs with the legal assistance they need and to assist
the police stations in their relations with the courts and with the
entire judicial system.
3. During its visit to detention centers in a number of places in
Haiti, the Special Commission heard prisoner complaints about their lack
of access to attorneys. Prisoners in the National Penitentiary in Port-au-
Prince showed considerable lack of confidence in the few legal aid attorneys
available to them.
During its visit to the towns in the interior of the country, the
Special Commission interviewed prisoners in local jails, who informed it
that a large number of prisoners had been condemned to between three and
six months imprisonment without the benefit of due process.
The prisoners, notable those in Jacmel, declared that while they had
not been mistreated in the local prison, they had been subjected to
physical abuse at the time they were arrested by the section chief. This
official seems to be responsible for maintaining order in the rural sec-
tion under his control, and for arresting all persons accused of serious
Another aspect or the situation observed by the Special Commission
during its visit was, as has been observed, the interference of the
Executive in the affairs of the Judiciary.
4. Special mention should be made of the State Security Tribunal,
which was created by an Act of August 25, 1977 of the Legislature. This
special court, established to punish offenses affecting national (internal
and external) security, covers "infractions whose ends or motives are
political." The judges are appointed by Presidential Decree, as is an
active-duty military officer to aid the public prosecutor of the State
Security Tribunal. According to Article 15 of the law, the indictment
is served on the accused three days before he is scheduled to appear in
court. Article 18 states that the court hearing shall begin only at the
order of the public prosecutor, following the decision of the State
Secretary of the Department of Justice. In addition, any one accused
of a felony or a misdemeanor who has not yet been judged was given over
to the jurisdiction of the newly created State Security Tribunal.
On December 7, the government informed the Commission that the law
had been amended in March 1979 in order "to integrate the Tribunal into
the normal judicial structure of the Port-au-Prince Court System, and
to assure defendants the rights to counsel and to appeal both in timely
5. In conclusion, it should be pointed out that after the Special
Commission's visit, the Haitian Legislature, since its closing session
on September 19, 1978, has again given full powers to the President-for-
Lifr and has suspended Articles 17, 18, 19 and 20, thus restricting the
protection given under the Constitution.
- 4:, -
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF INVESTIGATION, OPINION, EXPRESSION AND
DISSEMINATION OF IDEAS, AND RIGHT TO RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM AND FREEDOM OF WORSHIP
The American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man
Every person has the right freely to
profess a religious faith and to mani-
fest and practice it both in public
Every person has the right to freedom
of investigation, of opinion, and of
the expression and dissemination of
ideas, by any medium whatsoever.l/
A. FREEDOM OF INVESTIGATION, OPINION, EXPRESSION AND DISSEMINATION
1. Article 26 of the 1957 Constitution sets forth the right to
freedom of expression in the following terms:
Everyone has the right to express his opinion on any matter
and in any means within his power. The expression of thought,
whatever form it takes, may not be subject to prior censorship
except when a state of war has been declared.
1. American Convention on Human Rights
Article 12 - Freedom of Conscience and Religion
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and of religion.
This right includes freedom to maintain or to change one's religion or
beliefs, and freedom to profess or disseminate one's religion or beliefs,
either individually or together with others, in public or in private.
2. No one shall be subject to restrictions that might impair his
freedom to maintain or to change his religion or beliefs.
3. Freedom to manifest one's religion and beliefs may be subject
only to the limitations prescribed by law that are necessary to protect
public safety, order, health, or morals, or the rights or freedoms of
- 3' -
Abuses of tlhe right to freedom of speech shall be defined and
punished by law, but this shall not infringe upon the right of the
freedom of speech.
The underlined phrase was deleted from the 1964/1971 text currently in
force (Article ;'6).
Current Haitian legislation contains a number of legal provisions
that place considerable restrictions on the freedom of speech. The most
important of these is the law of April 28, 1969:
Article 1. Communist activities, no matter what their form, are
hereby declared crimes against the security of the State: all verbal or
written, public or private expressions of communist teaching; all propaga-
tion of communist or anarchist doctrine by lectures, speeches, conversa-
tions, reading, public or private meetings; by tracts, placards, periodi-
ca;.:, newspaper articles, brochures, books, pictures, all written corres-
pondence or verbal contact with local or foreign associations, or with
persons involved in spreading communist or anarchist ideas, and receiving,
collecting or providing funds directly or indirectly for the propagation
of such ideas;
)J. Parents or guardians, as the case may be, have the right to pro-
vide for the religious and moral education of their children or wards that
ij, -in accord with their own convictions.
Article 13 - Freedom of Thought and Expression
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression.
Thi,'. right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and
:idea;; of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing,
in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice.
. The xerc.ie of the right provided for in the foregoing para-
graph shall not be subject to prior censorship but shall be subject to
subsequent imposition of liability, which shall be expressly established
by law to the extent necessary to ensure:
a. respect for the rights or reputations of others; or
b. the protection of national security, public order, or public
health or morals.
3. The right of expression may not be restricted by indirect methods
or means, such as the abuse of government or private controls over news-
print, radio broadcasting frequencies, or equipment used in the dissemina-
tion of information, or by any other means tending to impede the communi-
cation and circulation of ideas and opinions.
4. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 2 above, public
entertainments may be subject by law to prior censorship for the sole
purpose of regulating, access to them for the moral protection of child-
hood and adolescence.
- Il)l -
- 45 -
Article 2. All those, in whatever capacity: bookseller; owner or
manager of a printing establishment; owner, manager or lessor of public
or private meeting halls; owner, lessor or lessee of residences, religious
minister, missionary, preacher, professor, primary school teacher, etc.,
who may have suggested or facilitated execution of such crimes, or harbored
or given assistance to the authors of those crimes shall be declared guilty
of the very same crimes;
Article 3. Individuals prosecuted under Articles 1 and 2 of the pre-
sent law shall be tried before a permanent military court martial proceeding;
Article 4. The authors of and accomplices in crimes listed above
shall receive the death penalty, and their goods and chattels shall be
confiscated and sold for the benefit of the State;
Article 5. All individuals seized in flagrante delicto engaged in
anarchist or terrorist activities is declared outlaws;
Article 6. The present law repeals all laws or provisions of laws,
all decrees or provisions of decrees, all decree-laws or provisions of
decree-laws that are contrary to it, and it shall be deligently executed
by the State Secretaries for the Interior, Defense and/or Justice, as
Done in the Legislature, Port-au-Prince, this 28th day of April 1969,
in the 166th year of Independence.
The above provisions punish the mere expression of certain ideas or the mere
profession, even in private, of certain articles of political belief by the
death penalty. No specific action against the duly constituted powers of
the state nor the creation of a danger for those powers is needed to make it
a crime. Secondly, there is no specific legal definition of the ideologies
condemned by this law.2/
5. Any propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial, or
religious hatred that constitute incitements to lawless violence or to any
other similar illegal action against any person or group of persons on any
grounds including those of race, color, religion, language, or national
origin shall be considered as offenses punishable by law.
2. A communication received by the Commission declares as follows:
Promulgation of such a law seeks to make every patriot, every democrat,
every non-supporter of Duvalier into a communist agent, in an effort to
discourage all attempts to contest or oppose the Duvalier Regime. This law
authorizes abusive interpretations of citizens' actions, and justifies the
worst kinds of repressive measures. It even allows citizens' intentions to
be pre-judged ... The iniquitous character of this law becomes all the more
- 16 -
In short, the very broad principle uf power granted under Article
2; cn only servc as.: a brake or obstacle to free expression and disaemina-
tion of ideas in general. The same latitude is found in the decree of
August 6, 1958 which punishes with imprisonment "authors and propagators
of ralse information and rumours that could disturb the peace." /
The dissemination of ideas by the broadcast media or written press
: regulated, in addition to the aforementioned provisions, 'by a decree-
law of June 13, 1950 4/ and by a decree of August 26, 1957. 5j The former
decree-law imposes fines and prison on the press for insulting or libelling
the President of the Republic, but the truth of the allegation may not be
used as a defense (Articles 7 and 13). The second decree takes up the theme
of the earlier decree, and calls for additional sentences for authors of
"designs, engravings, pictures, writings or any other mode of expression
of thought (which) is intended to undermine the authority of one or more
members of the constituent bodies of the State" (Articles 2 and 3). 6/
- since there is no communist organization or party in official
existence in the country;
- since the criteria whereby a citizen can be accused of communism (
have never been defined;
- no communists have ever been brought to trial;
- since assassinations have been committed, in the name of this law
coveted goods have been appropriated, competitors have been
eliminated, witnesses have disappeared, and power based on terror
has been imposed;
- since an individual, even a communist, is not a citizen without
3. Le Moniteur, 11 August 1958.
4. Le Moniteur, June 19, 1950.
5. Le Moniteur, August 27, 1957.
6. The two decrees stipulate that damages and libel committed by the
broadcast or print media against civilian or military authorities are not
considered as political crimes (Articles 16 and 1 respectively). Any vio-
lations of the decree of August 26, 1957 entail, as a matter of course, as
a supplementary penalty, the closing of the broadcasting station that aired
the damages or libel (Article 4). A decree of October 12, 1977 (Le Moniteur,
December l, 1977) prohibits ham-radio operators from transmitting or receiv-
ing messages of political or religious nature, or from transmitting news or
making allusions against the authorities or friendly states (Article 102).
This same decree also stipulates that those responsible for commercial
stations must "check programs to prevent information, even if correct,
from causing damage, or alarming the population by their form, presentation
or timing" (Article 51).
- 47 -
The Press Law of September 28, 1979
In the months prior to enactment of this law, government authori-
ties had called in members of both the written and broadcast media and
issued them warnings not to print or broadcast any information or com-
ments on the government of Haiti or its top officials without prior ap-
proval. For example, there was no news at all about the damage caused
by Hurricane David in September of 1979. These warnings, which were for
the most part heeded, have now been codified into the present law.
The press law was also presaged by an official communique dated
May 9, 1979 and signed by three government Ministers, which required
that all films and theatre plays must be reviewed by an official commit-
tee, whose members are appointed by the government. This communique
provoked a strong reaction in Haiti to the extent that some 200 intellec-
tuals in the country signed a declaration opposing this form of prior
Any analysis of the law should begin with Title III, "Freedom of
the Press and its Limitations," Article 21 of which begins with a ring-
ing declaration of freedom of the press: "There is full freedom of the
right to express thoughts and opinions on all subjects"; but it continues
with a general qualifying clause by which exception is made for "instances
of press abuse or violations determined by the law." More seriously and
even more broadly, Article 22 prohibits the press organs "from offending
the Chief of State or the First Lady of the Republic" and "from making
any attack against the integrity of the people's culture." It is obvious
that the interpretations that might be given this article leave little
room for the press to treat important facets of the national life without
running the risk of being brought to court charged with violation of these
prohibitions. Violation of the former carries with it imprisonment of one
year and a fine of 2,000 to 5,000 gourdes. Also punishable by a fine of
1,000 to 2,000 gourdes and imprisonment of six months to two years are
"any offense, any defamatory allegation or insinuation, or any wrong com-
mitted by the press against a Foreign Chief of State, a member of the
diplomatic corps accredited to the country, a member of the Executive
Branch other than the Chief of State, a member of the Legislative Branch,
a member of the Court of Appeals or of the staff of that court in the
exercise of their duties, a senior official" (Art. 41). These as well as
other provisions of the law extend not only to the author of the offense
but also to any accomplice, such as editors, publishers and vendors.
Other parts of the law that merit discussion because of their possi-
ble influence on freedom of the press include Article 29, which prohibits
"the entry, circulation and sale in the country of a foreign publication
that is subversive or against good morals." The phrase which we have
underlined is so vague as to be susceptible of easy abuse. Moreover,
- 48 -
Article )i requires that "at the time of publication and before any dis-
tri bution, fivu copies; of the printed matter shall be deposited" with
the Secretary for the Defense and Interior. Deposit before distribution
opens the door for a prior censorship and destruction of the edition,
such as happened with the Petit Samedi Soir at the time of the February
Finally, any discretion is taken from the press by Article 67 which
states that the press must report "every official statement, every message
or address by the Chief of State."
In its Report to the XXXV General Assembly of the Inter-American
[Press Association, the Commission on Freedom of the Press and Information,
held in Toronto, Canada, October 19-25, 1979, stated that with the en-
actment of the new press law, which creates a National Press Association,
all hope is lost of establishing freedom of expression in the country,
since the Association will be able to decide who can and who cannot be a
reporter in Haiti. The General Assembly itself resolved that the press
law made freedom of' the press impossible in Haiti and asked that President
Duvalier amend the law before it entered into force in accord with his
promise of democratization and freedom of expression.
2. Because of the legal restrictions described in the preceding para-
graph, freedom of expression has in fact been extremely limited under the
last two governments. According to denunciations received by the Commis-
sion, government acts restricting or abolishing freedom of expression have
taken the following forms:
a. Admonitions and warnings, of an increasingly severe nature, to
journalists about the tenor of their articles or broadcasts; Z/
b. Prior censorship, notably, prohibition of new publications; 8/
c. Closing of existing newspapers on account of the ideas publi-
d. Personal threats against journalists and other citizens on
account of their ideas or expressions; IY
e. Personal aggression against journalists or other citizens on
account of ideas they have expressed or circulated; I/
7/ See the Jean Dominique affair below.
E?/ See the Aedipe affair (November 1977) below.
2/ See Regard affair (November 1977) below.
10/ See the Dieudonn6 Fardin affair, below.
11/ See the Luc Ner6e affair (December 1977) below.
- 49 -
f. Imprisonment of journalists and other citizens on account of
their ideas; 12/
g. Death of journalists and other citizens on account of their
ideas or expressions, either by simple homicide 13/ or by
execution in prison. L4/
Illustrations of these denunciations are provided in the cases
described below. To these must be added the cases described in preceding
chapters, particularly as regards the right to life, liberty and personal
security, to the extent that those violations were motivated by the victims'
ideas, speech or dissemination.
3. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received
communications denouncing violation of the right to the freedom of inquiry,
opinion, expression and dissemination in the following specific cases:
12. See the Ezechiel Ab6lard, affair (November 1975) below.
13. See the Gasner Raymond affair (June 1976) below.
14. See the cases mentioned in previous chapters.
- 50 -
According to denunciations concerning this case, Mr. Ezdchiel Abelard,
a night-time radio announcer on Radio Metropole was arrested in October
1975 and taken to Fort Dimanche, where he was held in cell No. 6. In
September 1976, without having had the benefit of any legal proceeding,
Mr. Ab lard died in prison of tuberculosis. The Commission transmitted
the pertinent elements of these denunciations to the government.
Other information received by the Commission reports that Mr. Abdlard
was not involve in political affairs, but at the time he was arrested,
was -onducting a survey on a housing project planned by the Ministry of
On June 1st, 1976, Mr. Gasner Raymond, a twenty-three year old
journalist, was found dead by the side of the road leading from Port-au-
Prince to LWogane. Mr. Raymond was a reporter for the independent weekly
Le Petit Samedi Soir.
Two week; before his death, an article appeared in Le Petit Samedi
Soir under Mr. Raymond's by line, in which he violently criticized the
government for having used troops to stop a worker's strike in the Haitian
Cement Factory; it appeared that this was the first labor intervention
of this; type in 16 years. In earlier articles, Mr. Raymond had denounced
corruption and immorality among the Catholic clergy in Haiti.
According to denunciations received by the Commission shortly before
hit:i death, Mr. Raymond had received death threats from the police because
of his article on the strike at the Haitian Cement plant.
Two and half months before Mr. Raymond's death, Le Petit Samedi Soir
published an article reporting that Gasner Raymond and other reporters
had been interrogated for four hours by authorities of Petit-Goave. The
article mentioned the threats and the -pressures to which the reporters
were subjected and commented:
We still feel a certain anxiety when we are waiting for Carl
Henry Guiteau, Jules Nicolas or Gasner Raymond, when they are expected
back from following up a lead.15/
The denunciation received about this case describes Mr. Raymond's
death as an assassination; it places responsibility in the hands of the
15. Le Petit Samedi Soir, No. 137, March 13-19, 1976, page 12.
- 51 -
security forces, and suggests that the motives therefore were Mr. Raymond's
articles on the strike and the desire to make an example of him, and
use his death as a warning.
The government of Haiti replied in the following terms to the requests
for information, as called for under the Regulations:
This affair could well be classed, like so many others throughout
the world, as one of those that upsets and confuses public opinion,
and disconcerts the police and the courts. Here are the unvarnished
One morning, a body was discovered on the road from Port-au-
Prince to Leogane, it was Gasner RAYMOND. The editor of the news-
paper where he worked wrote to the Ministry of the Interior asking
him to open an inquiry on the murder. A communique from the As-
sociation of Haitian Journalists acknowledged that the necessary
investigations had been conducted, but that despite the efforts of
the military and judicial authorities, there was no evidence on
which to base a charge. Ill-intentioned people attempted to bring
politics into this affair, but were never able to provide any proof.
The Question is still there, and neither the Police nor the
Courts have abandoned their efforts to shed light on this deplorable
According to Le Petit Samedi Soir, the results of the official in-
quiries have not yet been published.17/ The Person denouncing this affair
Since Haiti has no.independent inquest services or judiciary
services, it may be concluded in advance that neither the military
or police authorities nor the courts would have found sufficient
evidence to warrant an accusation in this affair...an accusation
which could implicate their own services.
According to Le Petit Samedi Soir, the official enquiry was headed by
Major Maxime Antoine, of the Criminal Investigation Divison and by Colonel
Jean Valm6, of the Dessalines Barracks.l8/
16. Note from Mr. Edner Brutus, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
to the Commission, March 23, 1977 (POL/NAL: 64).
17. Le Petit Samedi Soir, No. 242, May 27 through June 2, 1978, page 5.
18. Idem, p. 7.
- 5: -
Another denunciation received by the Commission describes "Militia-
men" from the Port-au-Prince Police Headquarters as having perpetrated
the crime, and quotes Mr. Joseph Rend, a current member of the National
Jeanclaudiste Action Council, Mr. Ti-Georges Sailld, owner of houses of
prostitution in the capital city, and Mr. Azis, director of the Ciment
d'Haiti Corporation, as investigators. The Commission has transmitted
the pertinent elements of this communication to the government, along
with part of a newspaper article giving further information on Mr.
Raymond's movements two hours before his corpse was discovered.
On December 7, 1979, the government stated that "any allegation that
the police made threats against Mr. Raymond's life because of an article
written about the strike is specious, false and malicious." The govern-
.ment also stated that the investigation of Raymond's death is being carried
on by the police force, and noted that the case is still "open" and the
investigation is continuing.
The Commission is continuing its processing of this case.
The facts in this case may be summarized by quoting part of a recent
report on freedom of the press in Haiti. This is the report of the Inter-
American Press Association on the status of the press in Haiti, drawn up
by Messrs. Wilbur Landrey and Alex W. Maldonado, dated February 27, 1978:
Since the case of Hebdo Jeune Presse is the cause of the present
gloom among young Haitian newsmen, we will go into it in some detail.
In November, when Bob Nerde, editor of Jeune Presse was in France
at the invitation of the French government, a succession of articles
appeared in Hebdo Jeune Presse that were daring for Haiti. One was
about the Amnesty International report on deaths in Haitian prisons
in the early 1970s. Another was a story about the new role of the
Haitian army. Another said liberty begins with freedom of the press.
And then came the article about the National Security Volunteers,
the militia formed by Francois Duvalier to support him in power. That
article recounted that these Tonton Macoutes, more discreet since the
younger Duvalier had come to office, were resuming their old bad ways
in many parts of the country. The key phrase was the recommendation
that the army be used to curb the excesses of the VSN.
Almost every week Bob's father, Rev. Neree, who was acting editor
in Bob's absence, was called in and warned by Interior Minister Aure'ien
Jeanty that the newspaper was going too far. On the same afternoon
- 53 -
that the criticism on the VSN appeared--on Dec. 8, a Thursday--
Rev. Ner6e was summoned again. Present this time were also Col.
Jean Valm6, chief of security at the Dessalines barracks, and his
two principal assistants. Valm6 is in charge of internal security.
The Nerdes do not want to talk about any of this, but at that
meeting, Jeanty i�: reported to have told the elder Ner6e that this
was the last warning. Jeanty is also reported to have said he would
be watching for the next issue of the newspaper and to have told the
elder Nerec that if he thought President Carter could do something
for him, he would see it wasn't true.
Three days after that meeting, on Sunday, Bob Nerde returned
home from Europe. Then on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the attack came on his
It was in the evening. Rev. Nerde came out of his church after
Bible Class and got into his car with his sister-in-law, Bob's aunt.
The account we got of this from several sources is that they then
drove away from the church on the divided highway and made a U-turn
to come back in the other lane. When they were almost in front of
the church again, a red car cut them off and forced Rev. Nerde to
stop. Then it deliberately backed into his car.
Two men got out, and came back to him. They were later iden-
tified a:; VSN members. They told him to get out and look at the
damage he had caused. At the urging of his sister-in-law, he refused,
suggesting that an insurance agent be called. By this time, another
car had driven up behind. The driver of that car got out, walked
to the aunt's side of the car, dragged her out, knocked her down and
kicked her under the car.
There is some confusion about what followed, but the car went
to the police headquarters, where policemen took notes, and then to
the hospital. One of the local VSN leaders, a Weber Guerrier, was
said by some reports to have arrived at the police station to have
demanded why Ner6e had not been taken instead to the notorious poli-
tical prison of Fort Dimanche.
When Bob Nerde and his friends heard about the beating, they
immediately began spreading the word. They informed the U.S. Embassy,
the story began going out on the radio stations, even on the govern-
ment station until it suddenly quit mentioning the incident the next
day. When the newspapers came out, Le Matin reported what became the
government line--that it was a traffic accident. The government news-
paper, Le Nouveau Monde, reported that it didn't have enough details
to say exactly what happened. Le Nouvelliste, an independent newspaper
and the oldest in Haiti, reported that Neree had been attacked.
At a press conference, the government issued a communique
saying the beating appeared to have resulted from a dispute over
a traffic accident. At the same time, the communique defended the
mission of the VC'N and then reiterated the principles of "demo-
cratization and liberalization." It also called on the press to
cooperate in development of the country and said the press would
benefit from public security.
The communique was not good enough for the Haitian newsmen,
and the press conference itself was an indication of how far things
have moved in Haiti. The newsmen present threw hard questions at
Jeanty about what had happened, about how their security would be
guaranteed. The communique mentioned that the men involved in the
Ner6e affair would be judged. The questioners asked who would
judge them and elicited their names. And the newsmen pushed Jeanty
to make a significant statement 'You must know that you cannot just
write anything,' he said 'You must know that in writing, you inform
and at the same tim', you educate. It's your duty.' These were almost
the same words the President used when he talked to us.
The text of this extraordinary (for Haiti) press conference was
printed in Le Nouvelliste, a fact that was also extraordinary. And
the same newspaper printed an agency story on the Nerde attack which
was at variance with the government communique.
On behalf of the Association of Haitian journalists, Chnarlier
also issued a communjqu4 on the Thursday of the press conference.
It protested the unjustified attack on Ner4e by two citizens after
an auto accident. Some other newsmen we talked to considered the
communique both tardy and weak. They saw it as another example of
their charge that the association did not really represent the in-
terest of Haitian newsmen.
Nothing has been heard of any trial of the attackers since the
press conference. Newsmen and diplomats we talked to reported that
the men involved were released after being in custody overnight.
Meanwhile, after the attack, Bob Nerde simply suspended the
publication of his newspaper in protest and it hasn't appeared since.
The attack left Rev. Ner4e paralyzed on one side and 42 days later
he underwent surgery to relieve a subdural hematoma that was causing
the paralysis. It was successful. "We stopped publication of Jeune
Presse because we don't think the necessary work conditions or guar-
antees for press freedom as we conceive them exist in Haiti."
The Commission has received additional information on this case,
according to which, one of the ears involved in the incident belonged
- 55 -
to Mr. Weber Guerrier, head of the National Security Volunteers.
The material authors of the attack, according to the denunciations
received, were given very light sentences, were released a few
days after the trial ended, and continued to receive their salaries
during the time they were under sentence. On July 29, 1978, at
the Militia Day celebrations, these two individuals were standing
just behind the President of the Republic.
The Commission has transmitted to the government the pertinent
parts of the denunciations received in this case.
The government, on December 7, 1979, reported that Rev. Luc
NWree is not paralyzed or incapacitated in any way, and has been
carrying out all of his former functions, except with respect to
the newspaper with which he was formally associated.
The weekly magazine Regard was founded by Mr. Guay C4sar in
October 1977. The first issue appeared on October 14 of that year,
under the editorial direction of its founder. According to denun-
ciations received, on November 3, 1977, the State Secretary for the
Interior and Defense, Mr. Aurdlien C. Jeanty, called Mr. Cesar to
his office to tell him that the Government had decided to close
Regard. No valid reason was given to warrant closing the magazine.
On March 13, 1979, Mr. Cesar informed the Commission that Rdgard
would reopen on March 31.
On December 7, 1979, the government informed the Commission that
"Mr. Guay Cesar, owner of the magazine, began publication without heed-
ing the long-established law to deliver a small number of copies to the
Ministry of- the Interior in advance of publication. The Ministry of
the Interior did call Mr. Cesar in to draw his attention to this rule.
This was the sole purpose of the meeting. It is also believed that
the true reason for closing the magazine was a lack of capital and
the small sales volume. The government has at present, and has had
in the past, no objection to resumption of publication of Mr. C4sar's
- 56 -
The following quotation is found in the Langrey-Maldonado report of
February 27, 1978 to the Inter-American Press Society:
"Jean Magloire served as Minister of Interior in the Franqois
Duvalier government. During Duvalier's heart attack in 1959, Magloire
in effect ran the country. Owner of a sand and concrete construction
company, he is a member of the small Haitian wealthy class.
"During the previous regime, Magloire published his newspaper
Aedipe. Six years ago, however, following Franqois Duvalier's death,
Magloire was called by a high military officer and ordered to suspend
publication. The officer said the orders came from 'higher up'. In
September of 1973 Magloire tried again to publish a newspaper and
was again ordered to stop.
"In the still optimistic days of November, 1977, Magloire
attempted once more to publish Aedipe. The first issue ran an
editorial quoting the President's statements on freedom of the
press. It also called for free elections. After several copies
reached the street, Magloire was called by the Minister of the
Interior and ordered to stop publication. The paper has not reap-
peared. It i<, generally believed that the government considers
Magloire as a potential source of conservative political opposition."
On December 7, 1979, the government stated that the editor of the
journal Aedipe had been called to the Ministry of the Interior for the
same reason as that given in the Regard case and not with a view to order-
Jng -usponsion of publication. Indeed, since, the editor of Aedipe
publicly sympathizes with the political views of the President of
Haiti, it is a rather dubious proposition that suspension of the
journal was influenced by government action.
Le Petit Samedi Soir Case
Following legislative elections on February 11, 1979, the weekly
Le Petit Samedi Soir devoted its February 17-19 edition to a critical
analysis of the electoral process and the results of the recent ballots.
At 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 16, when the issue was ready for
distribution, the editor of the journal was called, along with other
journalists, to a press conference organized by the Ministers of the
interior, Justice and Information. It emerged from this meeting that
the government was asking journalists "to refrain from all criticism of
past electoral activities." The representative of Le Petit Samedi Soir
called the Ministers' attention to the fact that the journal "was already
printed, and contained a criticism of the legislative elections." He
was told "to bear in mind what had just been said."
As a result of this official intervention, the editors of Le Petit
Samedi Soir decided to burn the entire issue. The government of Haiti
stresses that it reimbursed the journal for all losses incurred in con-
nection with the abandoned issue.
4. The Special Commission would like to emphasize its activities
during the period it spent in Haiti were reported in full in the Haitian
press, which also published a series of articles on human rights in general
immediately prior thereto . The press releases issued, by the Special
Commission, were printed in full.
5. In connection with the dissemination of ideas, the Special Commis-
sion was impressed by an informative booklet published in Creole by the
Catholic Church on many aspects of human rights. This document not only
informs about the different human rights but also tells what can be done
if violations occur.
The members of the Special Commission were assured that these infor-
mational documents were being freely distributed by the Catholic Church
without any government interference.
6. The Minister of Education told the members of the Special Com-
mission that there was a program for the teaching of human rights in
school. However, subsequent interviews did not turn up any cases where
the program had been implemented. With regard to the particular question
of human righs education, it should be indicated that the Catholic Church
conducts a number of programs for this purpose, and has distributed a text
in Creole of the American Declaration on Human Rights, several copies of
which were forwarded to the Special Commission.
7. With regard to the press after our visit, it would be very useful
to quote in full the section on Haiti in the Report by the Commission on
Freedom of the Press and Information presented to the XIV General Assembly
of the Inter-American Press Association in October 1978;
Some unusual things have happened in Haiti since the inter-
American Press Association's mission to that country in February
1. Three newspapers, Le Matin, Panorama and Le Nouvelliste,
published the complete text of the extensive report on freedom of
the press in Haiti. A number of rndio stations read the report in
its entirety. Since certain sections of the report criticized the
government, its publication is unprecedented in the recent history
- 58 -
2. Two men were brought to trial, found guilty and sentenced
to four months in prison for the attack on Rev. Neree, editor of a
weekly that was often critical of the government.
3. About thirty Haitian journalists signed ap appeal that the
Haitian Press Association, this far a tool of the government, be
4. For the first time, Haitian publications and radio programs
began to publish information and commentaries on abuses by the police
and on other violations of human rights. Last September, Mr. Dieudonne
Fardin, editor of the weekly Le Petit Soir even published a forced
editorial criticizing the Haitian Legislature for having passed in
law giving excessive powers to the President. The weekly maintained
that this law was unconstitutional.
These and other facts, in the context of the realities of Haiti are
obvious evidence that the Inter-American Press Association (SIP) can play
a constructive and important role in obtaining freedom of the press in
Haiti. However, the positive situation has changed significantly over the
last few weeks, as a SIP mission has realized.
1. The radio stations are silent: progressive journalists in the
radio stations are imposing their own censure. They are receiving threats,
some say from the government, others from the "economic powers." Journalists
are being accused of provoking str.-ies. A government service put out a
declaration reporting that severe measures would be taken against any indi-
vidual fomenting unrest amongst the workers. Following these measures, the
radio stations decided to remain silent, not only about labor questions,
but about all issues that might be controversial.
2. Direct censorship; on Tuesday October 4, the director of a major
industrial firm called a press conference attended by 25 journalists and
by representatives of a number of embassies, including the French and United
States embassies. This unusual interest was due to the fact that the firm,
HAMASCO, S.A., is owned by the Duvalier family, and has been the subject of
a serious family quarrel. In the afternoon, the Minister of Information
personally telephoned the journalists who had been at the press conference,
and forbade them to publish a single word. No-one did.
3. Persecution: Jean Dominique is the leading radio commentator
insisting on greater freedom of the press. Some time ago, in the govern-
ment newspaper, he was accused of being "a liar." Members of the armed
forces telephoned him to tell him that he should stop publishing informa-
tion about strikes. The owners of his station asked for an indemnity of
$20,000; their lawyer's main argument was that Dominique had made their
radio station into a movement "of policial opposition" to the government.
- 59 -
If he loses the case, it is probable that Dominique will lose his
station. Since he was denounced in the government newspaper, Dominique
has maintained absolute silence.
I. Franz Joseph, the most well-known neurologist in Haiti, was
exiled about two weeks ago. He was accused of being an agitator.
Nothing has been published about Joseph's exile. Journalists admit
that they are afraid to write anything.
With the exception of Mr. Charlier, a journalist who forms part of the
government, all the people the last SIP mission met stated that there has
been no progress in Haiti as regards freedom of the press since its last
visit. Some even say that the situation has become worse,
Last August, the Organization of American States sent a Human Rights
Commission to Haiti. The independent radio stations were inundated with
people, many of whom, came from rural areas in the interior of the country,
asking to be allowed to air their complaints against the police and the
armed forces on the radio. At least one station, Radio Haiti Inter, did
so. And Le Petit Samedi Soir published articles and editorials on human
It seems that "hawks" within the government reacted sharply to the
OAS' visit. The energetic measures against the press started after the
Commission left the country.
These journalists need our help.
8. The Gourgue case (Case No. 4670)
On Friday evening, November 9, 1979, the Chairman of the Haitian
League for Human Rights, Professor Gerard Gourgue, was scheduled to speak
at the P1eres Salesiens building in Port-au-Prince on the "Political
Atmosphere and Human Rights." As Prof. Gourgue began his address after
being introduced by a follow officer of the League, the audience for the
most part students, but also invited guests from the diplomatic community
broke into confusion, as a result of which many persons, including Mr.
Gourgue and his family, were hospitalized due to injuries caused by blows
received, flying objects, and even gun shots.
It is claimed that 200 persons in an estimated crowd of between 1,000 and
6,000 persons had been placed in the audience by the government to create
the disturbance. It is also alleged that the police in attendance did
nothing to quell the outbreak or to protect those ih attendance from assault.
In attempting to help the victims, the Salesian Fathers were "brutally handled."
- 60 -
This information was forwarded to the government of Haiti in a
cable of November 13, 1979, followed by additional data two weeks later.
By a note of November 21, received at the Secretariat on December 3, 1979,
the government stated that "downright abuse had been leveled at the govern-
ment, which unfortunately overheated the atmosphere." In the government's
opinion, the scuffle was caused by a clash that pitted supporters and op-
ponents of the speaker, against each other, but the police intervened rapidly
and re-established order.
The disruption of this meeting on human rights, attended by several
prominent members of the Haitian League for Human Rights, raises serious
doubts about the possibility of holding assemblies to discuss this subject,
and also causes concern about the continued effective operation of programs
of organizations dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights.
B. FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND WORSHIP
The Constitution guarantees the Haitian people freedom of religion
in the following terms: "All religions and faiths shall be equally
recognized and free. Every one may profess his religion and practice his
faith, provided he does not disturb law and order. No one may be compel-
led to belong to a religious organization or to follow a religious teach-
ing contrary to his convictions." (Article 27).
During their visit, the members of the Special Commission met with
representatives of a number of religious groups, and have no reason to
believe that the rights set forth in Article 27 are impeded by government
- 61 -
RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY AND EIGHT OF ASSOCIATION
American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man
Every person has the right to assemble
peaceably with others in a formal public
meeting or an informal gathering, in
connection with matters of common in-
terest of any nature.
Every person has the right to associate
with others to promote, exercise and
protect his legitimate interests of a
political, economic, religious, social,
cultural, professional, labor union or
1. American Convention on Human Rights
Article 15. Right of Assembly
The right of peaceful assembly, without arms, is recognized. No
restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those
imposed in conformity with the law and necessary in a democratic society
in the interest of national security, public safety or public order, or
to protect public health or morals or the rights or freedoms of others.
Article 16. Freedom of Association
1. Everyone has the right to associate freely for ideological
religious, political, economic, labor, social, cultural, sports, or
2. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to such
restrictions established by law as may be necessary in a democratic
society, in the interest of national security, public safety or public
order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights and freedoms
3. The provisions of this article do not bar the imposition of
legal restrictions, including even deprivation of the exercise of the
right of association, on members of the armed forces and the police.
- 62 -
1. Articles 31 and 32 of the Constitution of Haiti guarantee the
rights of assembly and association. These articles read as follows:
Haitians may assemble peaceably and without arms, even for
the purpose of discussing political affairs, without prior autho-
rization, in conformity with the laws governing the exercise of
this right. This provision shall not apply to public gatherings
which shall be entirely subject to police regulations (Article 31).
Haitians shall have the right of association, of forming
political parties, labor unions and cooperatives (Article 32).
2. The right of assembly guaranteed by the Constitution has been
seriously restricted in practice, mainly for political reasons, by the
measures taken by the government to prevent the organization and devel-
opment of political parties in the country.
3. Moreover, Article 31 on the right of assembly is one of those
articles that the Legislature has often suspended, as it has done at
the present time (Decree of September 19, 1978).
4. While the right of association was not one of the rights sus-
pended by the Legislature, it was severely limited by Article 236 (bis)
of the 1948 Penal Code, which requires government authorization to form
a group of more than 20 persons desiring to meet regularly for religious,
literary, political or other purposes. The text of this regulation is
as follows: "No association of more than 20 persons whose purpose is
to meet daily or on certain regular days, to discuss religious, literary,
political or other matters may be formed except with the consent of the
government, and under such conditions as the authorities may wish to set.
The total number of persons indicated in this article shall not include
those persons living in the house where the association is meeting."
5. This article may also serve to prevent any political group or
association, no matter what its nature, from acting freely.
6. One of the matters that was of particular interest to the Special
Commission was trade union freedom. This is what prompted members of the
Commission to visit a number of factories to interview workers. It is
evident that, far from being promoted, unionization is discouraged by
intimidation. The workers consulted said that they wanted to form trade
unions, but were afraid of losing their jobs if they were active in this
area. At the Ciment d'Haiti, the Special Commission met with union
groups, one of which had been elected by middle management and the other
by the blue-collar workers. It was alleged that the firm tolerated the
relatively moderate demands of these groups so that it could show that
trade union freedom did indeed exist. The Special Commission also notes
the fact that there are no labor federations or confederations operating
- 63 -
RIGHT TO RESIDENCE AND MOVEMENT AND RIGHT TO NATIONALITY
The American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man
Every Person has the right to fix his
residence within the territory of the
State of which he is a national, to
move about freely within such territory,
and not to leave it except by his own
Every person has the right to the na-
tionality to which he is entitled by
law and to change it if he so wishes,
for the nationality of any other
country that is willing to grant it
A. RIGHT TO RESIDENCE AND MOVEMENT
1. During its visit, the Special Commission received a series of
cables and other communications from Haitian citizens reporting that
despite President Duvalier's statements to the effect that all Haitians
living abroad could return to Haiti and live in the country without any
problems, they had been refused permission to return to Haiti to testify
before the Commission.
1. American Convention on Human Rights
Article 22. Freedom of Movement and Residence
1. Every person lawfully in the territory of a State Party has
the right to move about in it, and to reside in it subject to the
provisions of the law.
2. Every person has the right to leave any country freely, includ-
ing his own.
3. The exercise of the foregoing rights may be restricted only
pursuant to a law to the extent necessary in a democratic society to
prevent crime or to protect national security, public safety, public
order, public morals, public health, or the rights or freedoms of others.
4. The exercise of the rights recognized in paragraph 1 may also
be restricted by law in designated zones for reasons of public interest.
- 64 -
2. One of these cables, dated August 18, 1978, raises the question
in the following terms:
Wish to inform you that the Haitian Consul in Puerto Rico,
Pierre Chavenet, on instructions from Minister of Foreign Affairs,
is using delaying tactics in order not to deliver visas and pass-
ports to Haitians wishing to testify before the Inter-American
Commission. On government orders, airlines flying to Haiti refuse
Haitian passengers wishing to return to their country who do not
have a passport and entry visa issued within the previous 30 days
by a Haitian Consul. Refusal by Haitian government to deliver
passports and visas for entry to their own country to Haitian
citizens living abroad is a flagrant violation of human rights.
The government of Haiti states that "the action of the Consul
was taken in contravention of government policies, and the individual
concerned was suspended and relieved of his responsibilities because
of this incident. The only Haitians refused re-entry as a result of
government policy have been those who are known subversives and whose
stated intentions are to overthrow by force the duly constituted
government of Haiti. As to these individuals, the government can see
no justification for their return, and does not feel that its actions
constitute A breach of any of the obligations to which it is bound."
3. Another cable from ten Haitians who wanted to re-enter their
country to talk to the Commission quoted similar cases in which the
Consuls-General of Haiti in New York and Montreal had refused them
visas. They too protested that "any American, Frenchman or Canadian
can enter Haiti without a visa, while a Haitian citizen who was born
in the country, cannot do so."
5. No one can be expelled from the territory of the state of which
he is a national or be deprived of the right to enter it.
6. An alien lawfully in the territory of a State Party to this
Convention may be expelled from it only pursuant to a decision reached
in accordance with law.
7. Every person has the right to seek and be granted asylum in a
foreign territory, in accordance with the legislation of the state and
international conventions, in the event he is being pursued for political
offenses or related common crimes.
8. In no case may an alien be deported or returned to a country,
regardless of whether or not it is his country of origin, if in that
country his right to life or personal freedom is in danger of being
violated because of his race, nationality, religion, social status,
or political opinions.
9. The collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited.
Article 20. Right to Nationality
1. Every person has the right to a nationality.
2. Every person has the right to the nationality of the state in
whose territory he was born if he does not have the right to any other
3. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality or of
the right to change it.
- 65 -
4. The question was raised with high-level government authorities,
who admitted to the Commission that certain individuals who were Haitian
citizens by birth had not received permission to re-enter their country
for security reasons.
B. RIGHT TO NATIONALITY
5. Contrary to the clauses on nationality in the American Declara-
tion, the Legislature of Haiti, in a Decree dated August 23, 1963,
stripped 54 individuals accused of treasonable activities of their
citizenship. This measure was taken the day after the pertinent Consti-
tutional guarantees were suspended. Moreover, the individuals in ques-
tion were stripped of their retirement, and their property was confis-
cated and passed to the State.
6. Subsequently, the Presidential Decree of February 27, 1974
defined the conditions under which Haitian citizenship could be acquired
and lost. The Commission is particularly interested in the two para-
graphs of Article 17 that prescribe loss of citizenship "(5) for all
services rendered to the enemies of the Republic or for transactions
conducted with them" and "(6) for final sentencing, after a full hearing,
to life imprisonment for infamous crimes."
7. We believe it would be very useful to repeat what the Commis-
sion said on another occasion on the subject of loss of citizenship:2/
Loss of citizenship is sometimes a tactic in a political
struggle, but it always has the effect of leaving a citizen without
a land and without a roof of his own, and of forcing him to take
refuge abroad. On another plane, it has an inevitable impact on
foreign jurisdictions and no State may arrogate to itself the
power of taking measures of this type. If the practice of stripping
citizens of their nationality were to become generalized, for what-
ever reason and for whatever purposes, the world would have a new
machinery for producing stateless persons. And this at the time
when there has been a world-wide crusade to relieve the suffering
of thousands of stateless persons and refugees forced into exile
by political violence or war and by the other tragedies that have
afflicted a large part of humanity in recent years, obliged to
seek shelter in a foreign home. For these reasons, and for many
2. "Third report on the situation of human rights in Chile"
(OEA/Ser.L/V/IT.40, doc.10, February 11, 1977).
- 66 -
other considerations that are not pertinent here, the Commission
feels that this anachronistic, uncivilized punishment, which is
legally unjustifiable in any part of the world, is a thousand
times more odious and reprehensible in our countries of the
Americas, and should therefore be permanently forbidden in the
practice of all governments.
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RIGHT TO VOTE AND TO PARTICIPATE IN GOVERNMENT
The American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man
Every person having legal capacity is
entitled to participate in the govern-
ment of his country, directly or through
his representatives, and to take part
in popular elections, which shall be by
secret ballot, and shall be honest,
periodic and free.I/
Article 16 of the Haitian Constitution proclaims that "Every Haitian
may take an active part in his country's government, hold public office,
or be appointed to a government position, without distinction as to color,
sex or religion," and Article 40 stipulates that "For the citizen, voting
is not only a right but an obligation imposed by his civic duty."
A. LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
The 1964 Constitution established a uni-cameral legislature, and
there has been no subsequent amendment of this provision. The chamber
of 58 deputies is elected by a Primary Assembly according to conditions
set by law. Geographical representation has no place in the Constitution,
1. American Convention on Human Rights
Article 23. Right to Participate in Government
1. Every citizen shall enjoy the following rights and opportunities:
a. To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or
through freely chosen representatives;
b. to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections,
which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret
ballot that guarantees the free expression of the will of the
c. to have access, under general conditions of equality, to the
public service of his country.
2. The law may regulate the exercise of the rights and opportunities
referred to in the preceding paragraph only on the basis of age, nationality,
residence, language, education, civil and mental capacity, or sentencing
by a competent court in criminal proceedings.
- 68 -
whether in terms of population, economic importance or number of re-
gistered voters. Haiti is still without permanent electoral laws, but
rather promulgates a new law each time the Executive finds it necessary
to call elections for local posts or for the Legislature. The legisla-
tors serve for a six-year term: elections are held for new terms of
office and to replace those who resign, die, are dismissed, etc.
Electoral procedure is that the President of the Republic chooses
and nominates those citizens who are to be elected by the Primary
Assembly; thus, the Legislature is not in a position to exercise the
powers granted it under the Constitution, and does not represent the
popular will, but rather the will of the Executive.
The legislative elections announced by the government, the first
since the elections at the beginning of the sixties, were held on
February 11, 1979. Two members of the opposition were candidates for
seats in parliament. The candidate from the city of Cap Haitien, who
is opposed to the present regime, won easily over his opponent, a
former member of the President's cabinet, who was supported by the
government. The candidate from the city of Port-au-Prince said after
his defeat that there had been irregularities and fraud in the elections.
President Franqois Duvalier was elected in accordance with Article
77 of the Constitution of September 22, 1959, which stipulates that:
The President of the Republic shall be elected for six years.
He may not be re-elected immediately, and in no case may his term
of office be extended.
Two other articles in that Constitution are interesting on the
subject of the presidential election.
The President of the Republic shall be elected by secret
ballot, by direct suffrage, by a majority of the votes cast by all
electors of the "Republic" .(Article 88).
Four months before expiration of the President's term of
office, he shall convoke the Primary Assemblies, which shall meet,
as a result of this convocation, or as established by law, on the
first Sunday in April, in order to elect the President of the
Republic (Article 89).
The new Constitution adopted by the National Assembly in 1957 keeps
this provision on the form of electing the President and on his term of
- 69 -
Later, on April 30, 1961, the National Assembly became unicameral.
The Legislature that was thus created replaced the 1957 Constitution
by the 1964 Constitution, which gave much more extensive powers to the
new President, and bestowed the title of President-for-Life on Franqois
Duvalier (Article 196).
In January 1971, President Duvalier had the 1964 Constitution
amended so that his son, Jean Claude Duvalier, could replace him as
President-for-Life. In order to do this, it was necessary to change
the minimum age, which had been 40, so that his son, who was at that
time 18 years old, could become President. Other provisions were added
also so that President Franqois Duvalier could designate his successor,
also for life (Articles 102 and 104). This happened despite the fact
that Article 46 stipulates that "national sovereignty is vested in all
the citizens. The people shall exercise the prerogatives of sovereignty
directly by: 1. election of the President of the Republic."
As a result, Haitians have had no say in choosing the head of the
Executive Branch for the last fifteen years. Freedom to participate
in government is incompatible with the institution of a presidency for
- 70 -
C. POLITICAL PARTIES
While it is true that Article 32 of the Constitution, which grants
Haitians the right of association, refers specifically to the creation
of political parties, it was seen in Chapter V that section 236 (bis)
of the Penal Code requires the consent of the government in order to
form a group of more than twenty persons.
In his interview with members of the Special Commission, the
President responded to a question about the absence of political parties
in Haiti by saying that there have never been any, and that he thought
it would not be possible to form any because the people were not prepared.
Sylvio Claude Case
At the beginning of July 1979, Sylvio Claude publicly announced
the formation of the Haitian Christian Democratic Party. This party,
the Haitian Christian Democratic Party of June 27 and the Haitian
National Christian Party, were formed during the period of liberaliza-
tion of President Jean Claude Duvalier, and were the first independent
political parties in Haiti in the last two decades. The Haitian
Christian Democractic Party of June 27, founded by Gr6goire Eugene,
has since ceased active operation because of government harassment,
according to Eug'ene.
On August 30, 1979, police arrived at the headquarters of the
Christian Democratic Party in Port-au-Prince with the purpose of arrest-
ing Sylvio Claude. Claude escaped through a rear window although he
suffered a gun shot wound in the hand. He fled to Radio Station RGR
and informed the radio audience about the attack on the Christian De-
mocratic Party and the attempt to arrest him. He also gave details
of his arrest at the beginning of the year and alleged that he had
been severely tortured at that time in the Dessalines barracks and
that he feared for his life. The police arrested Claude and G6rard
R6sil, Director of Radio RGR, at the station at approximately 5 p.m.
R6sil was released the following day, but only after a public apology.
Claude was taken to the Dessalines barracks, where it is presumed he
is still being held.
Prior to his arrest on August 30, Claude had declared as a candidate
in the February 1979 elections for the constituency of Mirebalais. His
opponent was Madame Max Adolphe, a strong government supporter known for
her interrogation of political prisoners. Before the election, how-
ever, the government declared Claude's candidacy illegal and forced
him to withdraw from the race. Shortly thereafter, Claude was arbi-
trarily arrested by security police in civilian clothes, accompanied
by an army sergeant, and taken to the Dessalines barracks where he
- 71 -
claims he was beaten and tortured by electric shocks applied to the
soles of his feet. He was then summarily put on a plane to Colombia.
He returned to Haiti some months later.
In connection with the August arrest of Sylvio Claude, a group
of police in civilian clothes went to the office of the Christian
Democratic Party where they arrested Me. Dupleix Jn-Baptiste, Me.
Valere Augustine and Me. Edouard Franck, who happened to be there
at the time. Al three are members of the Haitian League for Human
Rights. They were taken to the Dessalines barracks where, it is
claimed, they were mistreated before being interrogated.
The allegations concerning the August arrest of Sylvio Claude were
transmitted to the government of Haiti on October 26, 1979.
The Claude case has been cited as a reflection of various phases
of the current situation of human rights in Haiti. First, the arrest
of Claude and the ransacking of the party headquarters can be seen as
an attempt to stifle the fledgling political parties. Moreover, it
shows a judicial system that permits Claude to be held without charges
and without trial for more than three months. Finally, the detention
of Gerard Resil for the sole "crime" of having allowed a Haitian
citizen an opportunity to explain his predicament directly affects the
right to information and dissemination of ideas.
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RIGHT TO EDUCATION AND RIGHT TO THE PRESERVATION
OF HEALTH AND TO WELL-BEING
American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man
Every person has the right to an edu-
cation, which should be based on the
principles of liberty, morality and
Likewise every person has the right
to an education that will prepare him
to attain a decent life, to raise his
standard of living, and to be a use-
ful member of society.
The right to an education includes
the right to equality of opportunity
in every case, in accordance with na-
tural talents, merit and the desire
to utilize the resources that the
state or the community is in a posi-
tion to provide.
Every person has the right to receive,
free, at least a primary education.
Every person has the right to the pre-
servation of his health through sani-
tary and social measures relating to
food, clothing, housing and medical
care, to the extent permitted by pub-
& lic and community resources.l/
1. American Convention on Human Rights
Article 26. Progressive Development
The States Parties undertake to adopt measures, both internal-
ly and through international cooperation, especially those of an eco-
nomic and technical nature, with a view to achieving progressively, by
legislation or other appropriate means, the full realization of the
rights implicit in the economic, social, educational, scientific, and
cultural standards set forth in the Charter of the Organization of
American States as amended by the Protocol of Buenos Aires.
- 73 -
1. It is difficult to evaluate the Haitian government's effort
to promote these fundamental rights and the basic right to work
discussed in the next chapter because of its reluctance to provide
up-dated statistics to the relevant international agencies. While
the Haitian Constitution clearly establishes these rights (Art. X),
there is little concrete evidence that there has been any systematic
effort to ensure their full development.
2. A commitment to the full development of these rights is se-
riously limited in Haiti by a complex of restraining political and
historical factors which exacerbate problems created by conditions of
absolute poverty. A December 1978 World Bank Report estimates that
89.7 % of the total population has a per capital income lower than the
income required for the Minimum Necessary Consumer expenditure, and
that 94.4% of the rural population lives in this state of deprivation.
Only 30% of the land in Haiti can be cultivated because of its general-
ly mountainous character, and much of this relatively small area
consists of plots that have been subdivided so many times that they
cannot provide subsistence for a family. Erosion is a devastating
problem caused by the wholesale scalping of the forests for wood for
export in the 19th century and for the production of charcoal in this
century, and is seriously compounded by the lack of any governmental
programs for the improvement of agricultural techniques. There have
been no official land reform measures undertaken by the Haitian gov-
ernment, a condition that is exacerbated by the large-scale seizure of
peasant lands by local Ton Ton Macoutes following any dispute or de-
nunciation. Physical and political constraints substantially overlap
in Haiti: a population density of 395 persons per square kilometer of
arable land, a GNP of $232 per capital in 1977, and severe over-utiliza-
tion and erosion of the soil, combine with and result from a history
of government neglect of the vast majority of the population/ Govern-
ment services that do exist, such as the agricultural support services
of the Department of Agriculture, are hampered by deficient funding and
The degree to which the economic fortunes of the Haitian people
are shaped by the contemporary political reality is reflected by the
World Bank's analysis of governmental budgetary procedures. In 1977,
300 of all expenditures and 55% of total revenues were chanelled
through special checking accounts held at the National Bank that made it
virtually impossible to determine their sources or eventual disposition.
2. World Bank Report, December 1978.
- 74 -
Under these conditions, it is questionable whether badly needed
foreign assistance programs effectively reach their targets. The
operations of the government's R4gie du Tabac also indicate the vast
reforms necessary before respect for human rights can be more than
a goal. (As a monopoly of the Duvalier family, the R6gie du Tabac
has exclusive control over the distribution of fish, cotton, evap-
orated, condensed and fresh milk, butter, cheese, margerine, wine,
champagne, whiskey, rum, perfumes, dental products, soap, bandages,
air conditioners, automobiles, airplanes and most electrical ap-
pliances.) Additionally in 1977, the R6gie collected G4.9 million
but made only G2.9 million available to the public treasury for gen-
eral budgetary expenditures, with the disposition of the remaining
two million Gourdes not being revealed. 4/ In analysing these pat-
terns, it is apparent that specific political reforms must occur be-
fore the goals set forth in the Haitian Constitution can begin to be
fulfilled in the area of basic rights to education and health.
3. A-oticles 29 and 180-1 of the Haitian Constitution establish
a goal of free, mandatory primary school education to reduce illiter-
acy. The most recent figures available indicate that 76.7% of the
Haitian population is illiterate.5/ The same source indicates that
85.5% of the population had no schooling in 1971, and that only 4% had
ever finished primary school. Haiti's compulsory education laws are
of little more than academic interest because there are often no suit-
able schools within reasonable distance in the rural areas. As of
1974, the last year for which data is available, the total government
expenditure for education officially equalled only G24 500 000 or
$4,8 million representing expenditures of 0.7%o of the GNP.6/_ The
World Eu a in 1978 calculated that this was the lowest rate of ex-
penditure Lu thc world, adding that illiteracy was the highest in the
hemisphere at 8j/l, reaching ova-. 90% in rural areas.
I:. The Haitian government's formal commitment to the preserva-
tion of health and the general welfare is set out in Article 159 of
the Constitution: "The aim ui' ,he economic system is to ensure to
all members of the national community a decent life. It is based
chiefly on the principles of social justice." However, in reality,
"the simplest necessities of life: shoes, adequate shelter, clean water
5. 1U J rSCO, Statistical Yearbook 1977, 45 p.
- 75 -
to drink and bathe in, are luxuries beyond the average family's
means."7/ For example, according to a 1978 World Bank Report, the
most recent estimates are that over 96% of occupied dwelling are
without piped water and less than 30 of all dwellings have access to
5. Haitian life-expectancy is among the lowest in the Western
hemisphere, estimated at just over 52 years in the 1978 Report of the
World Bank. This same report gives the infant mortality as 149.1 per
1 000 live births, a figure surpassed by only one other country in
the hemisphere. The 1978 World Bank Report cites the death rate for
children age 1-4 at 33 per 1 000 in 1970, which represents an increase
from 27 per 1 000 in 1960. In the latest WHO Vital Statistics Reports,
the Haitian government supplied only one of five figures requested
from participating governments. It is therefore impossible to assess
the improvement or worsening of Haiti's infant health status.
6. The nutritional status of Haitians is probably the worst in
the Western hemisphere, leaving them most susceptible to disease, with
over 75% of children under the age of five suffering from malnutri-
tion.8/ From the age of four months, children in Haiti exhibit subnor-
mal growth rates which worsen continuously, due to both caloric and
protein deficiencies. Subnormal growth culminates in great differences
between the 5% of urban children raised in wealthy families, and the
average rural child: by the teen years, there is a 50 pound difference
in weight and a six inch difference in height between these children.@/
The morbidity and mortality rates of contagious diseases as-
sociated with malnutrition--hyperendemic malaria, diarrhea, ameobiasis,
tuberculosis, kwashiorkor, avitiminosis, marasmus, tetnus and yaws
exist at perhaps the highest rates in the Western hemisphere.10/ In
addition to children, women of childbearing age and men active in the
labor force have been selectively studied and found to be nutritionl-
ly deficient, leading to low levels of both health and productivity:
the average protein intake per day is 39 grams, and the average calorie
intake is 1 700, figures which are very inferior to calculated minimum
~7T Vera Rubin and Richard P. Schaeder, Eds. 1975. The Haitian
Potential: Research and Resources of Haiti. N.Y. Teachers College
Press. p. 158.
8. World Bank Report, p. 30
9. Rubin and Schaeder, supra, p. 148.
10. WHO Statistical Annual, 1978.
- 76 -
The World Bank estimates that the minimum per capital cost for
consumption of the recommended minimum diet and essential nonfood
items would be Gl 000 ($200) annually. By these estimates, over 90%
of Haiti's population cannot afford this minimal standard of consump-
tion. So, the recommended minimum per capital calorie intake for Haiti
is of the order of 2 000 calories per day, yet a U.S. HEW study quoted
by the World Bank in 1979 found a national average of approximately
1 700 per day, totally unbalanced in proteins and fats. Many people
suffer from multiple nutritional deficiencies, with only 13% of all
Haitian children considered normally nourished in 1975. Il Even this
number appear high when compared with the 9.6% in northern urban and
8.1% in northern rural areas who are adequately nourished. According
to the 1978 Peport of the World Bank, 2/ more than 50% of Haitian Chil-
dren under 5 suffer from such malnutrition as to require medical care.
The same report notes that Haiti was unique in the hemisphere in
.having the highest decline in calorie intake while at the same time
having the lowest per capital calorie intake in 1971-75. Dr. Kendall
W. King concluded that, "Unless means can be found to reactivate such
vital governmental services as public works, education, agriculture
and health, it is unrealistic to anticipate any major improvement in
the nutritional status of the population." 13/ The Duvalier government
has taken few, if any, steps to reduce this debilitating and pervasive
malnutrition. In fact, a 1978 IADB Report shows that the situation
in some cases has worsened.
7. According to the World Bank, public health in Haiti in 1978
was completely insufficient. Medical facilities and trained person-
nel in the country are minimal. In 1970, there was one physician per
15 000 inhabitants, one nurse for 7 500 inhabitants, and 1.37 hospital
beds per 1 000 inhabitants. However, in reality the situation is worse:
one-half of all physicians and high proportions of all health facili-
ties are concentrated in Port-au-Prince, and the majority of the
population receives no medical care. Over one-half of all doctors and
nurses trained in Haiti have gone into exile for political and economic
11. World Bank Report of 1978, p. 64.
12. Economic and Social Progress in Latin America 1978, p. 138.
13. Rubin and Schaeder, supra, p. 156.
- 77 -
RIGHT TO WORK AND TO A FAIR WAGE
American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man
Every person has the right to work,
under proper conditions, and to fol-
low his vocation freely, in so far
as existing conditions of employment
Every person who works has the right
to receive such remuneration as will,
in proportion to his capacity and
skill, assure him a standard of liv-
ing suitable for himself and for his
1. Article 24 of the Constitution of Haiti grants full enjoyment of
this right to the Haitian people.
Every worker shall be entitled to a fair wage, job training,
health protection, social security, and the welfare of his family
insofar as his country's economic development permits.
Any worker may participate, through his representatives, in
the collective determination of working conditions. All workers
shall be entitled to rest and leisure.
All workers may protect their interests through trade-union
activities. Each worker shall belong to the trade union represent-
ing his particular occupation.
Annual vacations with pay shall be compulsory.
2. Article 173 reads as follows:
Work, a social function, shall enjoy the protection of the
state and shall not be subject to exploitation.
The state shall endeavor to provide the manual or intellectual
worker with an occupation that will enable him to provide his family,
as well as himself, with the economic conditions of a decent life.
- 78 -
3. The 1978 ILO Yearbook of Labor Statistics demonstrates that
the economically active population of' Haiti is very high, yet this music,
be understood in conjunction with an elevated unemployment rate and a
very low salary range. Additionally, workers are sometimes not paid,
are accorded no paid annual vacation, no transportation allowance, no
medical assistance or any other social service. According to the World
Bank Report of 1978, sixty per cent of the Haitian population live on
incomes of G 300 ($60), and 90% cannot afford necessary minimum food
and essential non-food items. Continuing inflation exacerbates this
problem. According to the World Bank report of 1976, unemployment in
Haiti is rampant. Real unemployment was estimated at 12.3% in the
whole country and 16.2% in Port-au-Prince. Almost 80fo of the economically
active population is employed in agriculture, and of these 75% are clas-
sified as underemployed. An ILO report estimates that real unemployment
reaches 49% in the agricultural sector and as high 62% for the country
as a whole, making the right to work somewhat illusory. This figure
includes unemployment as well as underemployment.
4. Despite the Constitutional guarantees of Article 24, numerous
obstacles prevent the formation and existence of unions in Haiti, not
the least of which is Law 236 (bis), already mentioned in the Report,
that requires the authorization of the government prior to the formation
of any group of more than 20 persons. No major unions workers associa-
tions have existed- in Haiti since 1962, and the country is unaware of all
the conventions of the International Labour Organisation.
5. The Haitian government recently announced a new minimum wage of
11 Gourdes a day beginning in December 1979. It is useful to note that
this is equivalent to 3234 Gourdes a year, a sum achieved by less than
5% of the economically active population in Haiti. Despite repeated
references to the minimum wage laws, the Haitian government has never
explained this discrepancy.
- 79 -
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
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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 almost 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.
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In light of the preceding conclusions, and taking into account the
background information and the events that took place after its visit, the
Commission recommends to the government of Haiti:
1. That it bring its domestic legislation into line with the pro-
visions of the American Convention on Human Rights to which Haiti is a
Party. That this end,
a. it repeal Article 236 (bis) of the 1948 Penal Code which
seriously hampers exercise of the right of association;
b. it repeal the law authorizing loss of citizenship, except
for cases called for under international law;
c. it repeal the Press Law of September 28, 1979, which
seriously hampers exercise of freedom of information.
2. That it investigate and punish those responsible for the nume-
rous violations of the right to life and physical security.
3. That it eliminate the numerous restrictions imposed in practice
on freedom of expression and dissemination of ideas.
4. That it permit, without restriction or conditions, entry into
the country of Haitian nationals who are living abroad as a result of
expulsions decreed by the government, or for any other reason, and who
wish to return to their country.
5. That it make the amendments needed to the Constitution so that
the actual exercise of the political rights upheld in Article 23 of the
American Convention can be guaranteed.
6. That it take the measures needed to improve prison conditions.
7. That it take such measures as may be necessary, using all
resources available, to improve the social and economic conditions of
the country, in order to lessen the inequalities which are an obstacle
to observation of human rights. Cooperation will be needed from inter-
national agencies, particularly from the Organization of American States,
if this is to be achieved.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights makes a special appeal
to international organizations to give Haiti the aid it urgently needs
to improve living conditions among the population and to exploit its
resources, so that the country can establish respect for and full enjoy-
ment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
The purposes of the Organization of American States (OAS) are to strengthen the peace and
security of the Hemisphere; to prevent possible causes of difficulties and to ensure the pacific
settlement of disputes that may arise among the member states; to provide for common action
on the part of those states in the event of aggression; to seek the solution of political, juridical,
and economic problems that may arise among them; and to promote, by cooperative action,
their economic, social, and cultural development.
To achieve these objectives, the OAS acts through the General Assembly; the Meeting of
Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs; the three Councils (the Permanent Council, the
Inter-American Economic and Social Council, and the Inter-American Council for Education,
Science, and Culture); the Inter-American Juridical Committee; the Inter-American Commis-
sion on Human Rights; the General Secretariat; the Specialized Conferences; and the
The General Assembly holds regular sessions once a year and special sessions when
circumstances warrant. The Meeting of Consultation is convened to consider urgent matters of
common interest and to serve as Organ of Consultation in the application of the Inter-American
Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (known as the Rio Treaty), which is the main instrument for joint
action in the event of aggression. The Permanent Council takes cognizance of matters referred
to it by the General Assembly or the Meeting of Consultation and carries out the decisions of
both when their implementation has not been assigned to any other body; monitors the
maintenance of friendly relations among the member states and the observance of the standards
governing General Secretariat operations; and, in certain instances specified in the Charter of
the Organization, acts provisionally as Organ of Consultation under the Rio Treaty. The other
two Councils, each of which has a Permanent Executive Committee, organize inter-American
action in their areas and hold regular meetings once a year. The General Secretariat is the
central, permanent organ of the OAS. The headquarters of both the Permanent Council and the
General Secretariat is in Washington, D.C.
The Organization of American States is the oldest regional society of nations in the world,
dating back to the First International Conference of American States, held in Washington, D.C.,
which on April 14, 1890, established the International Union of American Republics. When the
United Nations was established, the OAS joined it as a regional organization. The Charter
governing the OAS was signed in Bogota in 1948 and amended by the Protocol of Buenos Aires,
which entered into force in February 1970. Today the OAS is made up of twenty-eight member
MEMBER STATES: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Commonwealth of
Dominica, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala,
Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Lucia, Suriname,
Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.