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ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
COLUMBIA LAW LIBRARY
APR 2 4 1991
May 8, 1990
ON THE SITUATION
OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20006
Approved by the Commission at its 1050th meeting,
held on May 8, 1990, during the 77th session held from May 7 to 18, 1990
TABLE OF CONTENTS
GENERAL BACKGROUND............................................ 1
CHAPTER I. POLITICAL RIGHTS................................... 9
1. The juridical framework and the Commission's
2. Background of the haitian situation................. 11
a. Since February 7, 1986 until
September 17, 1988............................. 11
b. Background to the Avril period................. 15
c. The new Pascal-Trouillot provisional
3. Structure of the State and posts to be filled
in the elections.................................... 21
4. The Elections....................................... 22
5. The Electoral Council............................... 22
6. The Electoral Law................................... 23
7. Organization of the electoral process............... 24
8. General conditions for the electoral process........ 24
9. The Upcoming elections and the
Duvalierist groups.................................. 27
10. Conclusions........................................ 27
CHAPTER II. RIGHT TO LIFE AND HUMANE TREATMENT.............. 29
1. Applicable laws..................................... 29
2. Background.......................................... 30
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3. Violations of the right to life.....................
a. Killings done by Army soldiers.................
b. Killings committed by sections chiefs
with the assistance of the army................
c. Killings perpetrated by the police.............
d. Killings committed by paramilitary groups,
possibly by Tonton-Macoutes....................
4. Violations of the right to humane treatment.........
RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND TO JUDICIAL GUARANTEES....
Legal Rules ....................................
Situation during the Avril Government..........
Arbitrary detentions ...........................
Situation since the beginning of President
Ertha Pascal-Trouillot's Provisional
Harassment of human rights groups..............
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ...............................
1. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has followed with
special attention the situation of human rights in Haiti virtually since
the Commission's foundation. The deplorable situation of human rights
under the regime of Frangois Duvalier (1957-1971) and later under his son
Jean Claude (1971-1986), led the Commission to draft a special report in
1979, after conducting an "on-site" observation, and to include the
corresponding sections on Haiti in its annual reports. In the course of
the nearly thirty years of the Duvaliers' regime, a complex legal and
political structure evolved, the effects of which on the observance of
human rights are still felt today.
2. In 1986, a few weeks before leaving Haiti, Jean Claude Duvalier
had invited the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to conduct an
on-site visit to the country, which never took place. On July 29, 1986,
the National Governing Council that succeeded Duvalier sent a new
invitation to the Inter-American Commission to observe the situation of
human rights in Haiti, and this visit was carried out by the entire
Commission from January 20-23, 1987.
3. Bearing in mind that a process of democratization was then
underway, and that it included drafting a new Constitution and holding
free and pluralistic elections in Haiti, scheduled for November 1987, the
Inter-American Commission expressed its concern about run-on human rights
to the Government of Haiti. The Commission sent a note to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, in which the Commission requested that it be granted the
necessary facilities to continue to observe the development of human
rights during that period.
4. In that note, the Inter-American Commission indicated that while
it noted positive advances with respect to freedom of expression and
association, the IACHR was concerned over the precarious situation of the
right to personal liberty and to due process, and about the deplorable
conditions in which detained persons were being held. The Commission also
stated that it was necessary to halt the use of violence by security
forces, which had committed serious abuses with respect to personal
integrity. Special mention was made of the disappearances of Haitian
citizens, which constituted a precedent of the utmost seriousness. In
addition, the Commission requested that the order of expulsion of an
opposition political figure be nullified.
5. After the annulment of the November 29, 1987 elections and the
tragic events that occurred on that date in Haiti, the Commission
considered the situation and in its press release of March 25, 1988, the
Inter-American Commission announced its decision to prepare a special
report on the situation of human rights in Haiti, and expressed its hope
that the Government would allow it to carry out an on-site visit to that
end. On April 26th, the Government of Manigat invited the Commission to
visit the country.
6. After a very tense period, the Manigat government was overthrown
and General Nanphy assumed control on June 20, 1988. In light of these
developments, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States
met on June 29, 1988, to consider the situation in Haiti and adopted a
resolution in which, among other things, it requests the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights to examine the situation of human rights in the
country in order to present a report to the next regular session of the
General Assembly. In the resolution, the Permanent Council reaffirmed
"the full validity of all the principles of the Charter ... those that
call for the effective exercise of representative democracy ... and full
enjoyment of fundamental human rights."
7. When the necessary arrangements had been made, a Special
Committee of the IACHR carried out an in loco visit to Haiti from August
29 to September 2, 1988. The outcome of that visit was the Report on the
Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, approved by the Commission on
September 7, 1988, which extensively discusses the ranqe of human rights
issues, including the background of the Duvaliers' regime, the
repercussions of which the Commission believes are still felt in Haiti.
In the Special Report, there is detailed analysis of both historical
developments and the legal framework, in particular with reference to the
Constitution of 1987, and the situation of a number of human rights
affected by the situation in Haiti.
8. A tragic series of events occurred on Septiember 11, 1988 at the
San Juan Bosco Church. Twelve parishioners died and more than eight were
injured when the temple was burned. On September 17 General Prosper Avril
takes power and pledged, among other commitments to reinstate observation
of the 1987 Constitution. During his regime, however, the human rights
situation begun to deteriorate once again. On February 23, the Permanent
Council of the Organization of American States convened a meeting to study
the situation in Haiti, and adopted the following resolution, which is
transcribed verbatim due to its importance:
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN HAITI
THE PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STArES,
RECALLING its resolution CP/RES. 441 (644/86) of February
14, 1986, affirming that the OAS, in strict adherence to the
principle of non-intervention, is prepared to cooperate with the
Republic of Haiti for the strengthening of representative
democracyy, a principle established in the Charter of the
RECALLING also resolution AG/RES. 824 (XVI-0/86) which
authorized the establishment of the Inter-American Fund for
Priority Assistance to Haiti;
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REAFFIRMING its resolution CP/RES. 489 (720/87) through
which it expressed its conviction that it is necessary for the
renewal of the democratic process in Haiti and for the adoption
of all necessary measures so that the Haitian people can express
their will through free elections without any form of pressure
BEARING IN MIND the resolution (AG/RES. 1022 (XIX-0/89)
which adopted the 1989 Annual Report of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights;
MINDFUL of the Special Report of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights in Haiti (OEA/Ser.L/V/11.74, Doc.9
rev. 1 of September 7, 1988) and the subsequent country report
included in the .1988-89 Annual Report of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (AG/doc.2418/89), and
IN VIEW OF the recent events in Haiti and having heard the
statement of the Representative of Haiti;
CONCERNED by the state of the fundamental human rights of
the people of Haiti and the difficulties in the process towards
the establishment of representative democracy in that country,
1. To reiterate its declaration in resolution AG/RES.
1022 (XIX-0/89) that "the best guarantee of human rights is the
real exercise of representative democracy".
2. To reaffirm its solidarity with the people of Haiti
and to reiterate its confidence that they will achieve their
legitimate aspirations for peace, freedom, and democracy,
without external interference and in exercise of their right to
3. To request the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, to continue giving priority attention to the human
rights situation in Haiti and, with the agreement of the
Government of that country, to make a further in situ visit and
report to the XX Regular Session of the General Assembly, with
prior consideration by the Permanent Council in accordance with
Article 90f of the Charter.
4. To recommend to the Secretary General the organization
of a Mission of observers to the next election in Haiti, if
requested by the Government of Haiti.
5. To urge the reactivation of cooperation with the
Government and people of Haiti for the development and
consolidation of representative democracy.
6. To request the Secretary General to continue assisting
Haiti under the Inter-American Fund for Priority Assistance to
Haiti in accordance with the terms outlined in resolution
AG/RES. 824 (XVI-0/86).
9. Faced with this Resolution, the President of the Inter-American
Commission instructed the Executive Secretary to finalize plans for the
the requested observation visit. The heightening of conflicts in Haiti
prevented General Avril from following up on the invitation before being
replaced by President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, who agreed that the visit
and inspection would be carried out April 17-20, 1990.
10. At the end of the visit, the delegation released the following
statement to the press:
Pursuant to Permanent Council Resolution 537 adopted on
February 23, 1990, by that body, the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights, in the exercise of its functions, visited
Haiti, following the deterioration in the human rights situation
in that country. That visit ended today. Under that Permanent
Council resolution, the Commission was to look into the human
rights situation in Haiti and prepare a full report to be
submitted to the General Assembly of the OAS. The delegation
was composed of Mr. Oliver H. Jackman, Chairman of the
Commission; Mr. Leo Valladares L., Vice Chairman; and, Mr.
Patrick L. Robinson, member of the IACHR; Mr. David J. Padilla,
Assistant Executive Secretary; Mr. Luis F. Jimenez and Mrs.
Bertha Santoscoy, human rights specialists from the Commision's
Executive Secretariat, and Miss Gloria Sakamoto, Secretary of
During its mission to Haiti, the delegation met with
President Ertha Pascal Trouillot, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs and Worship, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister
of National Defense, the Minister of Social Affairs, the Chief
Staff of the Armed Forces, the Minister of Justice and the
Council of State, and other government officials.
The delegation also met with representatives of human
rights organizations and political parties to hear about the
political situation as it relates to representative democracy.
It also met with media representatives, both press and radio, to
get a status report on the freedom of expression. The
delegation held meetings with Haitian jurists, union
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representatives, representatives of the industrial sector,
Chamber of Commerce, the Church, and other forces active in the
The delegation visited two prisons where it interviewed
those in charge: Penitencier National, in Port-au-Prince, and
the Centre de Detention, in Delmas. It also gathered
information on the investigation of several cases that had been
brought before it, notably, cases of arbitrary arrests and
murders committed during President Prosper Avril's government.
In Pont Sonde, St. Marc, and Piatre, the delegation
obtained information on human rights violations, and was able to
observe the serious damage inflicted on the latter community.
It also gave hearings to persons from various social strata from
whom it received complaints, communications, and reports
concerning respect for human rights.
Prior to its arrival in the country, the delegation had
spelled out what the objectives of its visit were, and announced
its intention of gathering all possible information on respect
for, and the promotion of, human rights in Haiti. The
Government gave the delegation every assurance that there would
be no reprisals against persons or groups meeting with the
From the many depositions it received the delegation was
able to establish several common threads. First was mention of
the need to create conditions of security that would enable the
population to exercise its political rights during the electoral
process, soon to start. These conditions, according to those
depositions, involved two factors: respect for basic human
rights, namely, personal freedom, right of association and of
assembly and the right to freedom of expression, among others.
Next, linked to security, was the need to bring to trial persons
accused of committing very serious human rights violations, as
in the case of the massacres of November 29, 1987 and the Saint
Jean Bosco Church of September 11, 1988.
The delegation notes that there is a consensus among major
sectors of Haitian society as to the lack of any serious
investigations, legal proceedings, and appropriate punishment of
persons responsible for gross human rights violations which, it
is felt, would prevent the candidates from waging their
electoral campaigns and would create a climate of mistrust and
fear in the electorate. This situation could in all likelihood
be the cause of a poor turnout at the elections.
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The delegation found it necessary to repeat, on several
occasions, that it was absolutely vital that there be a
separation between Police and Armed Forces in order to give the
police a professional character and provide the necessary
training for it to respect human rights.
The delegation was pleased to hear of the commitment made
by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Haiti to
accentuate professionalism in those Forces, subordinate them to
civil authority, and make of them a disciplined tool under the
Ministry of Justice, and the guardian of security in the
The significant amount of documentation gathered during
this visit will be the subject of careful analysis by the
delegation, and during the course of its next session, the
delegation will adopt a final report containing conclusions and
recommendations. The delegation is most pleased at the
expression of good will manifested by high Government officials
who are anxious to realize the effective exercise of political
rights and strengthen the protection of basic human rights.
The delegation must state once again that, as a party to
the American Convention on Human Rights, the Haitian State has
not only an obligation to respect those rights but also to
ensure the full and unrestricted exercise of them. The
delegation, therefore, trusts that in the course of the upcoming
elections these rights will be exercised under security
conditions that enable all political forces and the Haitian
population in general to express themselves and to act quite
freely and without fear so that the election per se will fit
into the process of democratization under way and into a broader
framework of general, basic human rights. These rights would
include economic, social, and cultural rights, the observation
of which is an indispensable element in meeting the legitimate
aspirations of the Haitian people and strengthening the
democratic system. The delegation has said that this system is
the best guarantee for the protection of human rights.
The delegation also had an opportunity to receive
cepositiors from members of the first Provisional Electoral
Board who were elected in that capacity in 1987, in accordance
with the Constitution. They were recently appointed to that
Board again after being removed from office by the de facto
government of General Henri Namphy. They told the delegation
with considerable force that the task of organizing and
conducting free, fair, and democratic elections could prove to
be extremely difficult if the Government did not take immediate
and positive measures to ensure the security of the vote and
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that of the members and personnel of the Board itself and
thereby avoid a repetition of the disastrous events of November
The delegation has also received specific requests from all
sectors that the electoral process be monitored by international
experts from its inception to its conclusion.
The presence of these international experts will instill
greater confidence in the population and reinforce the authority
of the electoral board.
A recurring theme in the course of the statements made
before the delegation was that of the role of armed groups in
Haiti. Several witnesses explained the inherent dangers in the
activities of former military officers and the rest of the civil
militia known as Tontons Macoutes, accused of systematically
terrorizing the population. In the eyes of the public, some
were involved in the many atrocities committed after Jean-Claude
Duvalier's departure in 1986, especially the massacre of
November 29, 1987. It was brought to the delegation's attention
that the immediate and full disarmament of these groups should
be the immediate priority of the provisional Government.
Persons who appeared before the delegation insisted that such an
atmosphere prevented witnesses from coming forward to file
complaints about such acts.
Time and time again, religious and political representatives
said that one of the chief causes of insecurity in the country
was the activity of the Chefs de section (Section Chiefs) in the
rural areas. The belief is that these persons who are appointed
by the Armed Forces and belong to them grossly overstep their
authority as rural police officers, and that they are
responsible for numerous arbitrary acts violating the rights of
the Haitian citizenry. It has been said that a restructuring of
this policing system was a sine qua non for the protection of
human rights in the rural areas and for ensuring that adequate
conditions are set in place for an unfettered electoral campaign
and a free ballot at the upcoming elections.
Media representatives further shared with the delegation
their fears that the prevailing insecurity could jeopardize the
lives of journalists wishing to give full coverage of the
The delegation must present a report on the status of human
rights in Haiti, which will discuss further its mission to that
country. The Commission will complete the report in the course
of its next session to begin on May 7, 1990, at its Headquarters
in Washington, D.C. Pursuant to Resolution 537, this report is
to be submitted to the General Assembly of the OAS at its
twentieth regular session in June, in accordance with Article
90.f of the Charter.
.The delegation wishes to underline the cooperation that was
extended to the delegation in the discharge of its mission and
to thank the Government and people of Haiti as well as the media
for their cooperation.
The Commission will continue to observe developments in the
human rights situation in Haiti during further visits, which
will take place in the near future.
Port of Prince, April 20, 1990
11. As a result of the completed observation, the Special Commission
sent its Report to the full Commission which considered the Report during
its 77th session and approved it. This report covers the events leading
up to the period of General Prosper Avril's government and includes
elements observed during the in loco visit. Starting from these elements,
the Commission draws the conclusions and.formulates the recommendations it
1. The juridical framework and the Commission's doctrine
12. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly
referred to the importance of the exercise of human rights in a framework
of representative democracy. The General Assembly of the Organization of
American States, too, has adopted many resolutions upholding
representative democracy as the system that best guarantees the effective
enjoyment of human rights. That system is, moreover, the form of
government explicitly adopted by the Member States in Article 3.d of the
Organization's Charter. That Article reads, as follows:
The solidarity of the American States and the high aims
which are sought through it require the political organization
of those States on the basis of the effective exercise of
13. One component of representative democracy is the exercise of the
political rights recognized in Article 23 of the American Convention on
Human Rights. That Article provides as follows:
1. Every citizen shall enjoy the following rights and
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 voters; and
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
14. It is important to note that Article 27 of the American
Convention on the suspension of guarantees "in time of war, public danger,
or other emergency that threatens the independence or security of a
State..." does not authorize suspension of the exercise of the political
rights listed in paragraph 2 of the Article.
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15. Meanwhile, in the development of legal doctrine throughout the
hemisphere a direct relationship has been repeatedly claimed between the
exercise of political rights so defined and the concept of democracy as a
form of organization of the State, which in turn presupposes the effective
enjoyment of other basic human rights. The concept of representative
democracy is rooted in the principle that political sovereignty is vested
in the people which, in the exercise of that sovereignty, elects its
representatives to exercise political power. Besides, these
representatives are elected by the citizenry to carry out specific
policies, which in turn implies that the nature of the policies to be
implemented has already been extensively discussed (freedom of expression)
among organized political groups (freedom of association) that have been
able to express themselves and meet publicly (right of assembly). This
all obviously presupposes that all the other basic rights --to life,
humane treatment and personal liberty, residence and movement, and so on--
have been guaranteed.
16. The effective enjoyment of these rights and freedoms requires a
legal and institutional order in which the law takes precedence over the
will of the rulers and some institutions have control over others in order
to preserve the integrity of the popular will (the constitutional state).
17. Many times has the Inter-American Commission stated its position
on this major aspect of the exercise of human rights, its connections
with representative democracy and its indissoluble ties to other human
rights (see, inter alia, 1978 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in
El Salvador, page 126; 1979-1980 Annual Report, page 143; 1980-81 Annual
Report, page 123; 1985-1986 Annual Report, page 203; 1987 Report on the
Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay, page 103).
18. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly
stated its views on various elections held in the exercise of political
rights. These statements have referred to the close correspondence that
should exist between the will of the voters and the results of those
elections, as provided in Article 23 of the American Convention. In a
negative sense, this close correspondence implies the absence of coercion
that distorts the will of the voters.
19. The Inter-American Commission has considered two types of
factors that influence the closeness of this correspondence: those
casEoiated with the general conditions in which the election is held, and
those deriving from the legal and institutional system that organizes and
conducts the elections, that is, everything directly and immediately
related to the casting of votes.
20. On the general conditions in which elections are held, the
Commission's view in its various pronouncements has been that the various
political groups shall participate in the election on an equal footing,
i.e., that the basic conditions for the conduct of a campaign are the same
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for all of them. In a negative sense, there must be no direct coercion or
undue advantage for any of the contending parties (see, among other
sources, 1979-1980 Annual Report, p. 122; 1982-1983 Annual Report, pp. 27
and 28; 1983-1984 Annual Report, p. 119; 1985 Report on the Situation of
Human Rights in Chile, pp. 297 and 308; 1986-87 Annual Report, p. 239;
1987 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay, pp. 106-107;
1987-1988 Annual Report, pp. 306-308).
21. Regarding the legal and institutional system under which the
activities involved in an election are carried on, the Commission has
examined the laws that regulate the process to determine whether those
laws guarantee both the proper casting and the accurate tallying of votes,
emphasizing the faculties vested in the agencies charged with carrying out
the operations involved in the electoral process and with monitoring both
the operations and the election results.
22. The purpose of this observation is to detect manipulation, if
any, of the process in favor of those who control the institutions
(generally the government, a political party, or the military), to
determine who decides on the validity of the election (the composition of
the electoral agencies) and the controls on their decisions (agencies of
23. The Commission has carried out observations of various aspects
of practical operations, such as election records and the conditions or
enrollment in them; the makeup of the electoral boards; the makeup and
faculties of the electoral tribunal; and the use of ballots that are easy
to understand and contain no messages designed to influence the voter (see
1978 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador, pp. 151 and
153; Seventh Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba, pp. 44, 45
and 48; 1987 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay, p.106);
and 1986-1987 Annual Report, p. 236).
24. The Commission interprets the purpose of universal suffrage as
to avert any exclusion on political or ideological grounds. The
Commission holds that this topic should include the consideration of
situations that have been preceded by high political and social tension
which prompted sizable numbers of people to leave the country (see the
Seventh Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba, pp. 44 and 46;
1985 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, pp. 289 and 290;
1987 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay, pp. 107 ff.).
2. Background of the haitian situation
a. Since February 7, 1986 until September 17, 1988
25. The Inter-American Commission has considered in various
opportunities the characteristics of the haitian political system and the
way in which political rights are exercised. The high tensions which
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preceded the exit of Jean Claude Duvalier from the country were followed
by the intentions to obtain democracy for the political regime through a
serious exercise of human rights. These intentions, however, have not
prospered, clearly, and have been frustrated on many opportunities, at
times at the high cost of human lives.
26. The following text has the objective of presenting the main
targets of the evolution that occurred in Haiti with relation to human
rights with the objective of extracting the most important conclusions and
proposing the recommendations that would grant in the opinion of the
Inter-American Commission on human Rights adequate attention to these
rights. We must keep in mind that the Commission has already referred in
extenso to the evolution that we describe in this text, particularly in
the Report of the Human Rights situation in Haiti in 1988, and the
corresponding section of the 1988-1989 Annual Report.
27. On February 7, 1986, with the departure of Jean Claude Duvalier
ended a regime that was characterized by frequent violation of human
rights, marked by authoritarism that consisted of the denial of the
exercise of political rights. During the almost 30 years of the Duvalier
regime, a complex legal and political structure was instituted which
effects on human rights is still felt today.
28. In order to manage the transition the National Council of
Government was formed, which integrated followers of Duvalier, as well as
identifying sectors with democratic tendencies and also, army officials.
It should be noted that the National Governing Council had dissolved the
Volunteers of National Security, better known as the Tontons Macoutes,
which had been a militia in the direct service of the Duvaliers. Although
some of them left the country and others were lynched by the populace in
the days following the departure of Jean Claude Duvalier, most of them
remained in Haiti, kept their weapons, and became a destabilizing force in
29. Another transcending measure adopted by the National Council of
Government was to convoke a Constitutional Assembly with the objective of
elaborating on a new Magna Carta that would be submitted to referendum.
On March 29, 1987, the Constitution drafted by the Constituent Assembly
was submitted to a popular vote and approved by 99.8% of the voters. This
Constitution imprints a profound change on the legal and political
structure of Haiti, and thus some of its provisions stirred tensions.
Among such provisions, the following should be mentioned: Article 291,
bars persons associated with the Duvaliers' regime from running for
public office for a period of ten years; Article 289, establishes the
Provisional Electoral Council, with the extensive participation of large
segments of society and empowered to organize elections and to conduct the
election process, a task which until that time had been the responsibility
of the Army. Article 289 also provides for the separation of the Armed
Forces from the State and all of its political functions, as well as a
separation of the Police, which was subordinated to the Ministry of
30. Tensions between the military government and the Provisional
Electoral Council, whose members officially assumed their offices on May
21, 1987, provoked numerous incidents. The underlying source of these
confrontations lay in the Council's demand for administrative independence
but,in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution. On June 5,
1987, the Electoral Council proposed before the Ministry of Justice an
Electoral Law hopeful that the Ministry of Justice would promptly enact
it. On June 22, however, the Government enacted its own Electoral Law
with the approval of the Ministry of the Interior in which the powers of
the Electoral Council were seriously reduced. This dispute coincided with
the onset of a strike declared by the Autonomous Federation of Haitian
Workers, thus producing a situation which coalesced together a number of
31. The acts of violence began to escalate and repression by the
Army provoked numerous deaths and casualties. Also occurring was the
renunciation of the leaders on insistent demand for a change in the
composition of the National Governing Council. Following the weeks of
violent disturbances and very serious repression, which included the
massacre of 300 peasants in Jean Rabel, the National Governing Council
issued the Electoral Law of the Electoral Council on August 10, and set
November 29 as the date of elections.
32. The ensuing period was characterized by nightly violence
attributable to death squads and paid assassins where corpses were left
out in the open as a warning signal. The Electoral Council demanded that
the military government guarantee public safety so that the elections
could be held without disruption, but the Government did not perform its
constitutional obligation. Moreover, the Electoral Council faced
countless obstacles in carrying out its responsibilities, including the
burning of its offices in Port-au-Prince. The military government did
nothing to address the problems besetting the Council. Two persons
lynched for attempted acts of terrorism were identified as members of the
33. On November 29, 1987, elections began in the midst of vandalism
and violence that escalated throughout the day and which led the Electoral
Council to cancel the election. Unofficial estimates found that there
were 200 deaths and a great many wounded as a result of the action of
.armed groups; of civilian:; acting with unfettered impunity. These armed
civilians, in many cases, were supported by uniformed soldiers. Together,
they killed defenseless civilians who were waiting in line to cast their
34. The National Governing Council proceeded to dissolve the
Electoral Council, holding it responsible for the failure of the
elections. The Governing Council then assumed control of the electoral
process, and set new elections for January 17, 1988. It appointed a new
Electoral Council, whose members were selected by the National Governing
Council, and issued an Electoral Law which failed to adequately protect a
secret ballot, among other shortcomings. The four major candidates for
the Presidency refused to participate in the elections, and three other
candidates later joined them in the boycot of the elections.
35. The elections were held in a calm atmosphere, but numerous and
serious irregularities prevailed. This led important sectors in Haitian
society, including the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church, to
disqualify the results. Candidate Leslie Manigat won the majority of
registered votes, despite heavy abstention, and took office on February 7,
1988. His cabinet was composed of some persons closely linked to the
regime of Duvalier, and included the same Minister of the Interior and
National Defense who had served in the government of Lieutenant-General
36. In its press release of March 25, 1988, the Inter-American
Commission announced its decision to prepare a special report on the
situation of human rights in Haiti, and expressed its hope that the
Government would allow it to carry out an on-site visit to that end. On
April 26th, the Government of Manigat invited the Commission to visit the
37. Several sources of conflict arose subsequently between the
civilian Government of Manigat and the Armed Forces, with some of the
latter's officers accused of links to drug trafficking. Tensions mounted
to the point that on June 20, 1988, Lieutenant-General Namphy announced to
the country, by television broadcast, that the Army had taken over. He
proceeded to announce that he would govern by decree and nullified the
1987 Constitution, declaring that no elections would be held until
appropriate conditions had been established. President Manigat left the
country in exile for the Dominican Republic.
38. In light of these developments, the Permanent Council of the
Organization of American States met on June 29, 1988, to consider the
situation in Haiti and adopted a resolution in which, among other things,
it requests the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to examine the
situation of human rights in the country in order to present a report to
the next regular session of the General Assembly. In the resolution, the
Permanent Council reaffirmed "the full validity of all the principles of
the -harter ... those that call for the effective exercise of
representative democracy ... and full enjoyment of fundamental human
39. When the necessary arrangements had been made, a Special
Commission of the IACHR carried out an in loco visit to Haiti from August
29 to September 2, 1988. The outcome of that visit was the Report on the
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Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, approved by the Commission on
September 7, 1988, which extensively discusses the range of human rights
issues, including the background of the Duvaliers' regime, the
repercussions of which the Commission believes are still felt in Haiti.
In the Special Report, there is detailed analysis of both historical
developments and the legal framework, in particular with reference to the
Constitution of 1987, and the situation of a number of human rights
affected by the situation in Haiti.
40. On September 11, 1988, another act of violence was committed.
The Church of San Juan Bosco in Port-au-Prince was attacked by a large
group of armed persons who entered the church and killed 12 parishioners,
wounded about 80 others, and set fire to the church. All of the events
took place without any interference by the Army barracks located near the
church. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a well-known critic of the
Government, who was conducting mass and was presumably the chief target of
the attack, escaped unharmed. The Inter-American Commission issued a
press release expressing its horror at this sanguinary incident.
b. Background to the Avril period
41. On September 17, 1988, a military coup deposed
Lieutenant-General Namphy and installed retired General Prosper Avril, who
had served on the first National Governing Council, appointed in part by
Jean-Claude Duvalier. Avril had been forced to resign from his position
by popular pressure due to his political background. Numerous
recommendations were made by the political parties to the new government
leader. Among the most prominent of these was a recommendation to restore
the validity of the Constitution of 1987; to identify and punish those
responsible for several massacres, in particular those that occurred on
election day and in the Church of San Juan Bosco; to set up a Provisional
Electoral Council to organize new elections; to disarm civilian groups;
and lastly, to empower with effective authority, the judiciary. Efforts
to improve the judicial system were made to halt the unjustifiable acts by
which the populace was pursuing justice by its own means.
42. Some of the early measures adopted by the Avril Government were
aimed at defusing the situation and protecting certain human rights.
Thus, the Armed Forces gave notice that private residences were not
subject to searches between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and that all
procedures of this kind in conformity with the Constitution, would be
conducted with a warrant and in the presence of a justice of the peace.
The Government also called for the surrender of weapons held by civilians
without proper police permits. In the international sphere, Haiti signed
the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Haiti also signed the
United Nations Convention against Torture. In addition, it nullified the
expulsion order against Father Rene Poirier, a Canadian priest. It should
be noted, however, that despite repeated promises made by General Avril
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himself to the United Nations, Haiti never ratified the above-mentioned
43. Soon after assuming power, General Avril announced the
establishment of an independent electoral body to undertake the
organization of new elections. On November 3, 1988, the Government issued
a draft decree that envisioned the establishment of an electoral council
under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. The draft was rejected by
several political figures who regarded it as contrary to the
Constitution. On February 9, 1989, the Government convoked a congress in
which 28 leaders of political parties, trade unions, and professional and
trade associations participated, in order to come to an agreement on the
outline of a new electoral council. From February 5-7, opposition leaders
had held a parallel meeting for the same purpose.
44. On February 23, 1989, the Government issued a decree
establishing a Permanent Electoral Council, with attributes similar to
that called for in the Constitution. Until it was established, the
Executive Branch was to appoint its interim members. The proposal was
accepted by some political leaders, while others opposed it and called for
the resignation of Avril. Others pointed to the prevailing insecurity
which made it impossible to convene elections because repression against
the peasantry and people's organizations continued by the "chefs de
45. The advances described above gradually began to lose ground. As
they were weakened by other situations. First, two well-known leaders of
the Tonton Macoutes evaded judicial action: Franck Romain, former mayor
of Port-au-Prince and considered in many quarters to be the organizer of
the massacre of the Church of San Juan Bosco, left the country when the
Dominican Republic granted him diplomatic asylum. Also, the Government of
General Avril granted him a safe conduct during it, a purely diplomatic
matter. The second leader, David Philogene, who is charged with the
murder of known political figure Louis Eugene Athis, was released and
allowed to flee to the Dominican Republic. Second, none of the
investigations concerning the murder of political leaders; of voters on
November 29, 1987; and of parishioners of the Church of San Juan Bosco
were followed through.
46. At the same time, social unrest grew stronger, with calls for
strikes by the Autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers and alarming
levels of violence committed by Armed Groups, producing a monthly list of
dead and wounded. But, the police did not undertake neither effective
measures to halt the violence, nor investigations leading to the
identification and prosecution of those responsible.
47. In March of 1989, the 1987 Constitution was partially put into
effect, once again, through a decree, which also permitted the suspension
of 36 articles regarded as incompatible with the Government of Avril. On
March 30, 1989, the interim members of the Permanent Electoral Council
were elected, and sworn in between March and April. Also in March, the
President ordered the reform of the judicial system by which Avril brought
the prison system under the Ministry of Justice. The Government also
called for the resignation and change in posting of several members of the
Armed Forces accused of links to drug trafficking.
48. This last measure sharpened unrest within the Armed Forces,
which had hatched the first coup attempt against Avril on October 14,
1988. Combined with the unfolding of the events described in the
preceding paragraphs, it led to a second coup attempt, begun in the early
morning hours of April 2, 1989, in which the Presidential Guard, loyal to
Avril, first confronted the Corps of Leopards. Beginning on April 5, the
Dessalines Batallion rose in revolt. These violent confrontations, of
which the exact number of victims is unknown, culminated in the defeat of
the rebels and the dissolution of the rebel units. Also on April 5, the
Government imposed a State of Emergency (etat d'urgence) and press
censorship. On April 14, the curfew was lifted.
49. On June 16, 1989, the decree establishing the Permanent
Electoral Council went into effect. On September 23, the Electoral
Council submitted its timetable which allowed from October to December to
organize the operational structure of the Electoral Council at the
national, departmental, and communal levels and from January to March of
1990 to prepare the census and voter registration rolls. In April 1990,
elections would be held for the Administrative Councils of the Communal
Sections (CASCE) at three levels. In July of 1990, municipal and
legislative elections would be held and on October 17, 1990, the first
round of presidential elections would be held, finally, on November 11,
1990, the second round of the presidential elections.
50. Throughout 1989, however, the social and political situation had
sharply deteriorated, with marked insecurity in every aspect of life in
Haiti. Acts of violence, extortion by armed soldiers and serious
confrontations in agricultural zones arising from disputes between
peasants and landholders produced a monthly roll of dead and wounded. The
Office for the Protection of Citizens, instituted on September 14, 1989,
was clearly inadequate to adopt the measures that might have addressed
such a dramatic situation. Information received by the Inter-American
Commission describes the lack of initiative of the authorities of that
51. On September 27, 1989, 33 political and trade union
organizations called a general strike to protest the prevailing insecurity
in Haiti, the high cost of living, and to call for a postponement of the
economic measures advocated by the International Monetary Fund. The
strike was widely taken up in Port-au-Prince, and to a lesser degree in
- 18 -
52. On November 1, the persistent deterioration of the situation of
human rights was greatly exacerbated by the detention of trade union and
political leaders Jean-Auguste Mesyeux, Executive Secretary of the
Autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers (CATH); Evans Paul, leader of the
Committee for Unity and Democracy (KID); and Etienne Marineau, leader of
the People's Organization of 17th September (OP 17). This case is
thoroughly addressed in other sections of this Report. It will suffice to
indicate here that the brutality of the treatment of those mentioned above
by the organs of Haitian security, the demonstration on national
television of their faces bearing marks of torture, and the lack of
adequate medical attention for the victims by Haitian authorities are a
clear indication of the urgent need to remedy the deep-rooted causes that
have allowed this kind of act to be committed in Haitian society.
53. Political, trade union, and human rights organizations 'reacted
to this situation with a general strike held on November 7 and 8, and then
with a sequence of hunger strikes in solidarity with the three leaders who
were arrested, tortured and had begun a hunger strike of their own to
attain appropriate medical attention. In this climate of violence,
insecurity, and repression, the President of the Haitian League for Human
Rights, Joseph Maxi, was forced underground when his house was searched
and looted by military personnel. On November 22, 14 members of the
Haitian League of Former Political Prisoners were detained for "inciting"
the population to join in the hunger strike in support of the detained
leaders. On November 30, 3 members of the political movement of former
President Manigat were assassinated in Port-au-Prince --Auguste Lor6mus,
Israel Isophe, and Verelt Isophe-- although it remains unclear who was
responsible for these crimes.
54. On January 7, 1990, General Avril left Haiti on a trip to Taiwan
which was to last until the 15th of January. On January 9, 1990, three
prominent Haitian citizens belonging to the Group of Initiative of
Civilian Society for the Observance of the Constitution sent a cable to
the President of the Republic of China, stating that the people of Haiti
were not apprised of the reasons for the trip undertaken by President
Avril, and, hence, any commitments arising therefrom would not be
recognized by the people. It was signed by Father Antoine Adrien;
businessman Antoine Izmery, active member of the Chamber of Commerce; and
Dr. Luis E. Roy, founder of the Red Cross of Haiti and one of the chief
authors of the Constitution of 1987. In the meantime, a group of
political parties and trade union organizations titled Rassemblement
National called a general strike for January 12, and for the renunciation
of Avril, to no avail.
55. On his return from Taiwan on January 15, 1990, General Avril
gave a speech at the airport which was regarded as an incitement to
violence against the opposition to his government. On January 16, Jean
Wilfred Destin (Ti Will), a popular comedian who broadcasted on Radio
Cacique of Port-au-Prince, was killed by 3 unidentified persons. On
- 19 -
January 19, Colonel Andr6 Neptune of the Presidential Guard together with
his wife and housekeeper were shot to death while driving in their car.
56. On January 20, 1990, a state of siege was imposed for 30 days. A
corresponding decree was issued and stated that the occurrence of
incidents "which threaten the public order and which seek to impede the
normal operation of national institutions and disrupt the democratic
process ... in order to protect democratic advances away from terrorism or
any other attempt to use force that could lead to a civil war." The
decree suspended exercise of the right of every Haitian citizen not to be
deported nor to be deprived of his legal capacity or nationality (article
41 of the Constitution), and to enter the country without a visa
requirement (Article 41-1 of the Constitution). Also, articles 278 and
278-3 of the Constitution, which refer to the prohibition on imposition of
a state of siege except in the case of civil war or invasion by foreign
forces and the automatic suspension of a state of siege within fifteen
days of its imposition if not renewed by the National Assembly were also
suspended. Press censorship was also imposed.
57. On that same day, a decree was issued which reinstituted the
requirement of a visa for the entry of Haitian citizens into the country,
a requirement which had been in force in the Duvalier era and which had
been nullified in 1986 by the National Governing Council.
58. Beginning on January 20, 1990, there were numerous arrests,
mistreatments, and expulsions of important civic, political, and trade
union leaders. Bearing in mind that specific aspects of these acts are
covered in other chapters of this report, it will suffice to say that the
detentions were carried out without observing any of the established legal
formalities. Nearly all of those involved were seriously mistreated,
including obvious brutality used in the proceedings. The right to reside
and to leave the country voluntarily was also violated.
59. With these measures, the repression which until then had focused
on trade union and rural leaders spilled over to include known civil and
political leaders of the most diverse positions. The political thrust of
repression was clearly demonstrated, as was its serious impact on the
operation of such organizations at a time when they should have been
preparing for the election timetable.
60. The following persons were detained without formalities,
mistreated, and expelled from the country: Hubert de Ronceray, leader of
Mobilization for National Development and an important presidential
candidate; Dr. Luis Roy, prominent member of the Group of Civil Initiative
for Observance of the Constitution and author of the 1987 Constitution;
Serge Giles, leader of the Revolutionary Progressive National Party;
Gerard Emile "Aby" Brun of the Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM);
Max Bourjolly, of the Unified Party of Communists of Haiti; Sylvain
Jolibois of the Jean-Jacques Dessalines Nationalist Sector; Michel Legros,
of the League for Democracy; Max Montreuil, of the Neighborhood Committee
of Cap-Haitien; and businessman Antoine Izmery, one of the signatories of
the telegram to the President of the Republic of China concerning Avril's
61. Approximately 40 other activists were detained while other
important leaders such as the Pastor Sylvio Claude of the Christian
Democratic Party and Gerard Philippe-Auguste of the Movement of the
Country's Organizations went underground. The media adopted varying
approaches: Radio Antilles Internationale; Radio Metropole and Radio
Haiti chose to suspend their news segments; Radio Lumiere (Protestant) and
Radio Soleil (Catholic) reported on the events; Radio Cacique chose to
cancel all of its broadcasts.
62. A vigorous response to such heedless acts by the Government of
General Avril followed shortly. In a statement of January 26, 1990, the
Bishop's Conference of the Catholic Church of Haiti condemned the actions
of the Government, while the Government of France suspended all economic
assistance to Haiti, "due to the violations of human rights," and the
Government of the United States deplored the actions taken and adopted a
very critical position. The European Economic Community considered the
serious implications of these measures for political freedoms and human
rights, while the Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince regretted the
imposition of the state of siege and the measures adopted which could
affect the elections scheduled for that year. The Secretariat of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on instructions from its
President, sent a cable to the Government of Haiti urgently requesting
information and reminding the Government of the commitment to install a
63. On January 29, 1990, the Government lifted the state of siege
and announced that the expulsion of Haitian nationals had been nullified
and that the visa requirement for their return to the country had also
been nullified. In adopting these measures, the Government noted that the
exceptional measures had achieved their purpose and made it possible to
"overcome the crisis that threatened the future of democracy in Haiti."
64. On January 29, 1990, the Permanent Electoral Council released
the Electoral Law it had drafted. The reaction, however, was unabated
skepticism regarding the possibility of implementing the provisions of the
law in the prevailing cirrcu;stances. Thus, a group of prominent Haitian
citizens who nha been expelled (Messrs. Roy, Ronceray, Leger, and Izmery)
issued their view that no measure directed at obtaining from General Avril
a continuation of the process of democratization would be effective while
he remained in power, and that the first condition for democracy in Haiti
was, therefore, the departure of Avril. Rejecting any possibility of
accepting a new provisional military government, they advocated the
formation of a non-partisan and provisional civilian government, "whose
sole mission shall be to organize elections ... within a period of six
months and under international supervision." Having expressed their view
that it was too late to find constitutional solutions to the vacancy of
the presidency, which might bring another Duvalierist to power, they
reaffirmed their belief in the need to constitute a provisional government
that would be nonpartisan and free of external influence.
65. On February 7 1990, the Government granted a general amnesty to
restore freedom to all of those who were detained, while denunciations
persisted of further abuses committed by military personnel and armed
civilians. The Association of Haitian Journalists issued a press release
protesting the detention, on February 14, of journalist Herto Zamor of
Radio Metropole and his mistreatment while in custody.
66 On February 23, the Permanent Council of the Organization of
American States convened a meeting to study the situation in Haiti, and
adopted the resolution, in which the Inter-American Commission was ask to,
with the consent of the Haitian government, visit the country in order to
inform the next session of the General Assembly about the conditions of
human rights in Haiti.
67 On March 4, 1990, the Group of Twelve was established, comprised
of eleven political parties and a civic organization. On the following
day, a young girl, Rosaline Vaval, was killed by a shot fired by a soldier
in the town of Petite Goave. The following days violent demonstrations in
several haitian cities took place, including Port-au-Prince, which led to
an undetermined number of deaths. Reliable sources put the figure at
c. The new Pascal-Trouillot provisional Government
68. On March 10, 1990, Avril resigned and was transported in a U.S.
Air Force aircraft to Florida, while General Herard Abraham, Chief of
Staff, temporarily assumed the office of President. On March 13, Mrs.
Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, Judge of the Court de Cassation (Supreme Court)
was sworn in as President, with the consent of the Group of Twelve, and
proceeded to form a Council of State of 19 members comprised of the chief
political and civic associations of Haiti.
3. Structure of the State and posts to be filled in the elections
69. The structure of the Haitian State under the Constitution of
1987 is considered exhaustively in the Report on the Situation of Human
Rights in Haiti, prepared by the Inter-American Commission in 1988.
Accordingly, this section will treat only of the aspects bearing on
determination of the positions to be filled and the positions of those
responsible for security in the elections, and on identification of the
areas of the State machinery in which resistance may be encountered to the
full unfolding of the democratization process.
70. Article 134 of the Constitution provides that the President of
the Republic shall be elected by simple majority vote, and that a second
round of voting shall be held if no candidate attains that majority in the
first round. The President of the Republic is the Head of State and the
nominal chief of the Armed Forces--though he does not command them in
person--and appoints as Prime Minister and Head of the Government a member
of the party who has won a majority in the Congress; if no party has won
such majority, he appoints the Prime Minister in consultation with the
chairmen of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The Prime Minister
appoints his own Cabinet.
71. The deputies and senators, the three members of the Council of
every communal section, and the three members of the municipal council
that governs every commune (the smallest territorial subdivision) are all
elected directly as well.
4. The elections
72. Article 149 of the Constitution requires that elections be held
within not less than 45 and not more than 90 days after the Presidency
becomes vacant. The individuals expelled from the country by General
Avril felt that there was no time to comply with the letter of the
Constitution, and they proposed the holding of new elections in six months
73. During the on-site visit inquiries were made into this matter,
and a consensus was found that this problem should be solved by whatever
Electoral Council was designated. The IACHR Delegation heard the views of
prominent officials and leading politicians on the necessity of holding
the elections before September so that the transfer of power could take
place in October, and so coincide with the opening of the fiscal year, the
school year, etc.
5. The electoral council
74. .As noted, the Constitution of 1987 assigns a structure and
functions to the Electoral Council. The independence of this body an
essential condition, in the Commission's doctrine, if it is to perform its
functions to the full led to clashes with the Army and culminated in the
slaughter of voters on November 29, 1987, acquiesced in by the Army and
even joined in by some uniformed personnel. General Avril appointed a new
Electoral Council along lines relatively similar to those of the
75. The Electoral Council called for in the Constitution and
dissolved by the government of General Namphy has been reinstated by a
decree of April 19, 1990. Pursuant to Article 289 of the Constitution,
the functions of the Provisional Electoral Council are to draw up and
execute the Electoral Law that is to govern the coming elections. The
- 23 -
following institutions must each designate one member of this Council: the
Executive Branch, the Episcopal Conference, the Advisory Council, the
Court de Cassation (the Court of Appeal, the highest court in the
country), the organizations for the defense of human rights, the
University Council, the Newspapermen's Association, the churches of the
Reformed Church, and the National Council of Cooperatives. At the time of
the IACHR Delegation visit these institutions were considering the
designation of their delegates, especially whether they would be the same
people designated to the original Provisional Electoral Council. On April
29th, the Commission was informed of the membership of the new Provisional
Electoral Council: Pierre Gonzalez (Executive), Jean Casimir
(Universities), Ernst Nirville* (Journalist Assosiation of Haiti),
Philippe Jules* (Council of Cooperatives), Emmanuel Ambroise* (Bodies
Defending Human Rights), Jean Francis Merisier (Organized Labor), Rosemond
Jean-Philippe (Supreme Court), Arold Julien (Reformed Church), and Yva
Youance (Conference of Episcopal Churches).
76. Two members of the original Provisional Electoral Council,
Messrs. Phillippe Jules and Emmanuel Ambroise, called on the IACHR
Delegation and gave it a vivid account of their experiences in the process
that culminated in the failed elections of November 1987. They concluded
that every guarantee of personal safety should be provided for both the
population at large and the members of the Electoral Council, their
relatives, their personal belongings, and the assets of the Electoral
Council, to avert a recurrence of the events of 1987, when the members of
the Council were assaulted, their assets damaged, their homes raided, and
the premises of the Electoral Council subjected to several attacks and
even burned in places by arson, all while the forces of law and order
stood passively by. These two persons said that it would be hard to hold
elections without guarantees of safety; they proposed the establishment of
an independent Electoral Police and affirmed that it was essential to
disarm both civilians and retired military men.
6. The electoral law
77. A central point in the dispute between the original Provisional
Electoral Council and the National Council of Government under Namphy was
the Electoral Law, which resulted in a law riddled with flaws under which
Manigat was elected. General Avril issued a new law, which was not
di;c ;'u ;r l in dr t.nil owinq to widon pro,.d :;keptici!,m in tl.h pol it.ic.al
forces. When the IACHR DelegatLon IntL Hail i it haid not yet been decided
how this important matter would be dealt with; this would be decided by
the Provisional Electoral Council when its members had taken office.
* Members of the original 1987 PEC.
- 24 -
7. Organization of the electoral process
78. When the IACHR Delegation left Haiti preparations for the
electoral process had not yet begun because the Provisional Electoral
Council was not yet constituted. As pointed out earlier, the Electoral
Council was constituted in April 29, 1990 and begun to take measures for
the organization of the electoral process, aspect that the Commission will
have to monitor in the coming months.
8. General conditions for the electoral process
79. During its stay in Haiti the IACHR Delegation heard constantly,
and from different quarters, references to the insecurity of Haitians in
general and of those involved in political and electoral affairs in
particular. This insecurity applies to the exercise of all human rights
and, according to testimony heard, extends all the way to the most
elementary rights such as the rights to life and to humane treatment.
80. In the view of high officials of the Haitian Government who
spoke to the IACHR Delegation, Haiti was in a critical situation, as it
had to act against this insecurity and organize an electoral process in a
very short time. The insecurity took two main forms, according to the
testimony heard: one form generated by violence and the other associated
with the economic situation.
81. Regarding the insecurity generated by violence, the Delegation
was told that it sprang from the groups linked to the regime of the
Duvaliers, who, it was said, retained considerable influence in the
machinery of government, the judiciary and the armed forces. According to
testimony received, these groups are linked to the remnants of the
Volontaires de la Securite Nationale, or Tonton Macoutes, who still have
weapons. The Delegation was also told that common criminals were
frequently employed to commit crimes for money. Particularly harsh was
the violence practiced in rural areas by the Rural Police section chiefs,
who are part of the Army, who use their adjoints to oversee the peasants
and impose exactions on them, and guard the interests of the major
82. The Delegation heard opinions to the effect that there is great
economic insecurity because of the impoverished state of great masses of
the population, which generates an environment that is not only favorable
to outbreaks of violence, but makes it possible for popular discontent to
be manipulated by those opposed to the emergence of democratic ways. The
Delegation was also told that this impoverishment had seriously
contributed to the rise of common delinquency, from which victims defend
themselves with their own resources, sometimes using weapons in their
- 25 -
83. The resulting insecurity, the Delegation was informed, has found
expression in the commission of common crimes and acts of political
violence. Examples of the latter, as expressions of insecurity, are the
massacre of voters in the elections of 1987, of parishioners in the church
of St. Jean Bosco, the murder of three presidential candidates, one of
them a prominent champion of human rights. This political insecurity has
also been generated by the physical abuse and torture of labor and
political leaders under the preceding administration, and by expulsions
from the country. It was also mentioned that the insecurity had extended
to newspapermen and the media, which were the targets of frequent
attacks. The Delegation received valuable testimony in this regard from
representatives of Radio Haiti International and Radio Antilles
International, both of which cited the lack of guarantees for the normal
performance of journalistic functions, especially when it involves
traveling to the interior.
84. The people interviewed by the Delegation thought that a variety
of steps should be taken to counter this climate of insecurity, which
severely jeopardized the exercise of political rights in the electoral
process about be started. They mentioned, first of all, the absolute
necessity that the Armed Forces take a positive attitude and become
guardians of order and the safety of the population, the candidates and
the institutions involved, and guarantee the normal progress of the
electoral process. The Delegation received a promise of the Minister of
Defense, Mr. Jean Thomas, and the Commander of the Armed Forces,General
Herard Abraham, that they would become such guardians and that the events
of November 1987 would not be repeated.
85. Secondly, the Delegation received expressions of views that to
the effect that it was necessary to disarm the civilian groups who still
had arms in their possession and the retired military who had not yet
returned them. The Delegation did not hear from the Minister of Defense
or the Commander of the Armed Forces of the existence of any specific
plans for disarming the civilian population, but was told instead that the
Police were acting to seize illegally held arms on the basis of isolated
86. The Delegation was also told repeatedly of the need to separate
the Police from the Army and to give the former the function of keep
domestic order and training responsive to the requirements of respecting
the human rights of the population. The Delegation heard from high
government officers their commitment to realize the situation depicted in
the Constitution, to which end training programs were in progress in
collaboration with police of other countries. Nevertheless, it was
realized that it would be some time before a separation of the Police from
the Army could be carried out.
87. Finally it was noted that, to overcome the insecurity about
exercising political rights, it was indispensable to bring to justice the
persons charged with involvement in the grievous violations of human
- 26 -
rights that took place on November 29, 1987 and September 11, 1988, and
the crimes against presidential candidates, as this would set an example
that would deter others who might be contemplating similar acts. This
was, according to the witnesses, particularly important, since some of the
persons who had instigated and committed the outrages were still in the
country, and much of the government administration, including the
Ministries of the Interior, Justice and the Army were still heavily
influenced by those who had supported or committed those acts. These
persons said that failure to set this example prompted victims to take
justice into their own hands, often taking the lives of those whom they
regarded as the perpetrators of heinous crimes, which further heightened
the sense of insecurity.
88. The highest government officials told the Delegation that the
main impediment to the holding of trials was a lack of specific
complaints, as the National Prosecutor cannot initiate proceedings on its
own except in cases of flagrante delicto and, given the time elapsed since
the events took place, the crimes can not be investigated de oficio
because the situation of flagrancy has dissapeared. The Delegation heard
from the Minister of the Interior that investigations were under way for
the bringing of charges. It was explained to the Delegation that no
specific charges existed because the population feared that presented them
would provoke retaliation from those they accused.
89. The Inter-American Commission must observe that the absence of
judicial actions against persons suspected of having violated human rights
constitute an commission that must be promptly corrected. The Commission
is aware of the legal and practical difficulties that such actions face.
However, the Commission must point out that an action by the State in this
regard will contribute not only to repair the material and moral injuries
caused, but also will have a preventive effect in avoiding the recurrence
of new violations.
90. The Delegation must note that all the persons interviewed
acknowledged the Government's disposition to move forward in defense and
promotion of human rights and to take steps to establish a representative
democracy. The Commission's experience indicates that the armed forces
have been an obstacle for the free exercise of human rights, hence, the
Commission listened with special interest to the expressions by high
military authorities that they will act in conformity with the requirement
to protect the human rights of the population. They all said that the
present Government had not committed any violations of human rights since
taking office, though noting that the Armed Forces had used excessive
force when controlling demonstrations, causing the deaths and injuries
referred to in other chapters of this Report. They also emphasized the
need of a strong presence of international observers during the election
campaign, which they regarded as an important contribution to ensuring
that it is properly conducted and as a deterrent to violence.
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9. The Upcoming elections and the Duvalierists groups
91. Article 291 of the Constitution disqualifies persons who served
in the regime of the Duvaliers from public office for ten years. The
massacre of voters on November 29, 1987, was blamed by some people
--including President Namphy--on the exclusion of Duvalierist candidates,
who reacted violently to it. In the elections that made Manigat President
in January 1988 it was estimated that most of the deputies elected were
Duvalierists. General Avril himself was identified as one.
92. The IACHR Delegation heard views to the effect that candidates
should not be excluded from the next elections without sound reason. It
was noted that there was a contradiction between the permanent provisions
of the Constitution making all Haitian citizens equal and the transitory
provisions that debarred certain categories from public office for ten
years. It was said that this proscription could have been to blame for
the violence that marred the previous election. There were some who
thought that the Provisional Electoral Council should be "judicious" in
the acceptance and rejection of candidatures, and apply "flexibly" Article
291 of the Constitution, which forbids Duvalierists to stand for or hold
elective public office for ten years. The Commission must point out that
it was not informed of any judgment in a criminal suit that affected these
93. The Commission concludes from the information in this chapter
that, in the forthcoming electoral process, substantial hurdles to the
exercise of political rights will have to be overcome if the planned
elections are to be a genuine expression of the electorate's will. These
hurdles include the serious conflicts affecting Haitian society, which
tend to become violent, causing insecurity at all levels of society,
especially in connection with the exercise of political rights.
94. The intentions expressed by the highest officials of the Haitian
government and armed forces lead the Commission to conclude that they are
committed to overcoming limitations on the exercise of political rights
and the civil rights connected with them, by providing all citizens the
security they require to achieve the effective exercise of such rights.
95. Such good will expressions, however, can not be considered
sufficient. The evidence it gathered led the Commission to conclude that
to ensure secure conditions for the exercise of political rights, the
civilian groups still in unlawful possession of weapons should be disarmed
and all members of the armed forces should be subject to full civilian
control. The Commission also feels that the armed forces themselves
should begin to purge their ranks, bringing to justice those accused of
being involved in serious human rights violations. The Commission
believes that this will help generate an atmosphere of confidence in the
population so the exercise of political rights will not lead to
unfortunate occurrences such as those that aborted the 1987 elections.
RIGHT TO LIFE AND HUMANE TREATMENT
1. Applicable laws
96. The Right to life is recognized in Article 4 of the American
Convention on Human Rights in the following terms:
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
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
3. The death penalty shall not be reestablished 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 18 years of age
or over 70 years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant
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
97. The Right to humane treatment contained in Article 5 of the
cited Convention, resolves the following:
1. Every person has the right to have his physical, mental,
and moral integrity respected.
2. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman,
or degrading punishment or treatment. All persons deprived of
their liberty shall be treated with respect for the inherent
dignity of the human person.
3. Punishment shall not be extended to any person other than
4. Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances,
be segregated from convicted persons, and shall be subject to
separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted
5. Minors while subject to criminal proceedings shall be
separated from adults and brought before specialized tribunals,
as speedily as possible, so that they may be treated in
accordance with their status as minors.
6. Punishments consisting of deprivation of liberty shall
have as an essential aim the reform and social readaptation of
98. The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of Haiti, in Articles
19, 20, 25, and 27 establishes the guarantees regarding the right to
life and the humane treatment. These articles said:
The State has the absolute obligation to
guarantee the right to life, health, and respect
of the human person for all citizens without
distinction, in conformity with the Universal
Declaration of the Rights of Man.
The death penalty is abolished in all cases.
Any unnecessary force or restraint in the
apprehension of a person or in keeping him under
arrest, or any psychological pressure or physical
brutality, especially during interrogation, is
Any violation of the provisions on individual
liberty are arbitrary acts. Injured parties may,
without prior authorization, appeal to the
competent courts, to bring suit against the
authors and perpetrators of these arbitrary acts,
regardless of their rank or the body to which
99. The right to life is sine qua non for the enjoyment of all the
other human rights. It is recognized in the American Convention of
Human Rights (Article 4) cited above. Haiti has been a state party to
the American Convention since September 27, 1977. The right to life in
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Haiti, however, has been violated numerous times over the years during
the eras of Frangois Duvalier (Papa Doc), Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby
Doc), and their successors in power.
100. The special report issued by the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights in September of 1988 carefully documented many of these
violations in the latter period, that is, since February 7, 1986, when
President for-Life, Jean-Claude Duvalier's government collapsed and he
and his closest associates went into exile.
101. Since the publication of the Commission's 1988 report on the
human rights situation in Haiti, official violence in general has
continued unabated and the right to life in particular has been
102. These violations are endemic in the sense that- they occur with
frequency in the capital, Port of Prince, as well as other urban centers
throughout the Republic. The countryside too has been the scene of much
repression, mostly aimed at agricultural cooperatives, peasant
movements, and their leaders. Much of this violence arises from land
disputes, a chronic problem in the hinterland of Haiti.
103. So too, the forms of violence, sometimes leading to
assassinations, varies from incident to incident. To such an extent is
this the case that the word "insecurity" has entered the Haitian
vocabulary to describe the constant state of fear and instability that
permeates Haitian society.
104. Victims have been killed by uniformed soldiers as well as
paramilitary forces, heavily armed, and dressed as civilians. Sometimes
the killings appear to take place with the acquiescence of the Army or
police who fail to intervene to protect individuals. Motives range from
robbery to silencing witnesses to suppressing political or media
spokesmen. Personal vendettas also play a part in a situation where
impunity is generally the norm. More often than not, victims are killed
by gunshot although death by beating is not unknown.
3. Violations of the right to life
105. What follows is a partial list of violations of the right to
life that illustrate the general description just provided. It should
be noted that all of the deaths mentioned here are quite recent. These
prima facie violations are grouped in the following manner: the first
category includes killings done by Army soldiers. The second, those
committed by Section Chiefs with the assistance of the Army. The third,
those perpetrated by the police. Fourth, murders committed by
paramilitary groups, possibly Tonton Macoutes. Within these categories,
there are cases in which the apparent motive of the murder has been
brawl, robbery or debts. However, the purpose is to show that
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independently of the motive, the agents of the armed forces and police
has acted with impunity and violating fundamental rights of persons.
a. Killings done by Army soldiers:
106. Herold Lewis was killed on February 3, 1989, by gunshot by a
member of the Army Leopard Corps, named Llerisson Juste, in an argument
over a girlfriend.
107. Lazarre Lewis was killed on March 1, 1989, by Corporal Exant
Jerome over a small debt owed by the victim to a relative of the
killer. Jerome was reportedly arrested but it is not known whether he
was ever processed or whether he remains in detention. The violation
occurred in the capital.
108. Iramis La Croix was shot and killed on March 9, 1989, by a
soldier during a street argument on a main thoroughfare in
Port-au-Prince. La Croix's killer was then shot by another soldier
during the dispute.
109. Gerard Laforest had been head of the State Lottery. The day
before his murder, April 1989, a soldier guarding a lottery drawing
tried to change a number drawn and a shoot-out ensued. This was
televised nationally. Laforest, an anti-Duvalierist, was known for his
honesty and his efforts to eliminate corruption in the lottery system.
He was shot and left in his car. A soldier named Celidon Watson was
arrested but the case has not been processed.
110. Justin Ocanne was shot and robbed on April 4, 1989, by a
soldier in Port-au-Prince. Ocanne was a moneylender.
111. Regis Charlot was a student and Koyo, Tito, and Ti Simon were
peasants. On May 1989, they were involved in trying to reclaim land
from a former Tonton Macoute named Charidieu Joseph. When Joseph
complained to the Army in St. Marc, a group of soldiers was dispatched
to the scene and killed the four victims. Local peasants subsequently
attacked and killed Joseph's mother, Jeanette Dor. This was following
by an Army attack on the peasants whose homes were burned. A number
were wounded by soldiers.
112. On May 7, 1989, Corporal Maxo Crib shot Delbau LeBlanc, three
times in the head, when he intervened to protect his elderly father who
was being beaten by Corporal Crib.
113. Gilles Charles was shot On May 27, 1989, by two soldiers who
had broken into the studio of Radio Men Kontre. Charles was ranting but
did not threaten the soldiers. The radio station later protested by
going off the air for several days.
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114. Michel Jean Ronald was shot to death on July 7, 1989, in the
Bourdon neighborhood of the Capital. A witness indicated that one of
the killers wore a military uniform. It is believed that he was
eliminated for having been a witness to the election day massacre of
November 29, 1987.
115. On July 11, 1989, Joanis Malvoisin was shot (and later died at
a hospital) by a group of soldiers from the Petite Riviere barracks.
*The leader of the squad was Corporal Wilfred Pierre-Louis. The attack
occurred in the victim's home. It appears that the killing was part of
a larger repression of local peasants in the Savien section of Petite
Riviere de l'Artibonite, led by Section Chief Jean LaCoste Edouard.
116. On September 1, 1989, Jean-Robert Dorvil was taken by soldiers
from his home in the Correfour neighborhood at night; his body was found
the following day, bullet ridden.
117. Daniel (last name unknown) was killed on September 6, 1989, by
Sergeant Seymour Seide when he intervened in a fight with the Sergeant's
cousin. When the fight ended the Sergeant returned with a group of
armed men. The victim was also robbed of $60 according to his mother.
118. Jean Fleriste was beaten to death on October 18, 1989, by
soldiers who accused him of being a subversive in the Ferrier
neighborhood of the town of Fort Liberte.
119. Saul Saint Come was killed and robbed of $2,000 by soldiers at
1:00 a.m., at Boudette-Petite-Place, on November 12, 1989, in Marchand
120. Charles (last name unknown), along with Jaures Celeste and
Mercidieu Gregoire, were arrested on November 18, 1989, by soldiers led
by Corporal Smith and Attache St. Gel at Petite Riviere de l'Artibonite
and accused of theft. Beaten severely, Charles died at the local
military post on November 25.
121. Benicier Rene, a leader of the Regional Organization of
Planters in Arcahaie, was shot in the chest on December 7, 1989, by men
in Army uniforms at his home in Arcahaie. He died of his wounds.
122. Norvillen Maxime was arrested on December 14, 1989, as he alit
from a bus by Corporal Raymond Cadet and a man known only as Jose.
Taken to the Limbe Army base, he died on December 20. His relatives
state that his body showed signs of torture.
123. Jean Wilfred Destin, a popular radio satirist known as Ti
Will, was shot three times and killed on January 16, 1990, by three
plainclothesmen following a sarcastic evening broadcast over
Port-au-Prince Radio Cacique, in which he had poked fun at General
Prosper Avril's trip to Taiwan.
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b. Killings committed by section chiefs with the assistance
of the army:
124. Ogenio Benoit wi:; shoL on M.iy 3, 1989, by Edouard Francois,
the Section Chief of a town called Lestage. Benoit was shot while
trying to flee from a voodoo session which had been interrupted by an
infuriated Franqois who was subsequently given Army protection.
125. Onondieu Franqois and Jean Robert Frangois were peasants
involved in a land dispute. On June 4, 1989, Section Chief Archange and
his assistant Vercy Dorce shot them and wounded five others. Later they
burned down 28 peasant homes. No action has been taken against the
126. Wisly Laurius was murdered on June 8, 1989, by Section Chief
Chrisner Adrien in the Basse-Terre area of Marchand-Dessalines. The 20
year-old victim was involved in a land dispute. No prosecution has been
127. Wilson Richardson was shot and killed, on October 12, 1989, in
a land dispute by a group composed of Charidieu Joseph, Section Chief
Hyppolite Pierre, Second Lt; Ernst Cadet, and four other soldiers in the
Pont-Dujour area of Marchand-Dessalines.
128. n March 12, 1990, according to testimonies taken by the
special Commission during its on-site visit to Haiti, the local Section
Chief of Piatre, accompanied by a policeman entered the area and killed
a peasant who was involved in a four-year old land dispute with a large
landowner named Nadal. Thereafter, the residents of Piatre avenged the
peasant's death by killing the Section Chief and policeman. When these
events became known, another group of peasants from a different nearby
locale called Deluge went to Piatre to threaten peasants residing
there. The Deluge group was thereupon repulsed by the inhabitants of
Piatre. The former group then withdrew only to return accompanied by
between 30-50 uniformed soldiers who proceeded to attack the Piatre
peasants burning their homes, a total of 335 residences, and killing
eleven peasants including children, and wounding an unknown number of
others. In addition, the Piatre peasants' cattle were slain and their
crops burned. The beseiged peasants then fled for their lives. The
witnesses/survivors showed members of the special Commission a large
number of spent cartridges that had been fired upon them by members of
the Army. The special Commission visually verified the destruction of
the peasants' homes and other property.
129. The Army version of these events, however, is entirely
different. Officers claim that they intervened merely to separate two
warring groups of peasants and that no one died in this action.
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c. Killings perpetrated by the police:
130. Ernest LeBlanc was killed on August 25, 1989, by the Anti-Gang
Investigation Unit agent Claudy Joachim when he left the courthouse in
Port-au-Prince after paying a fee to the court clerk. The victim had been
sued for a personal debt.
131. Francky Jean-Louis was killed on September 21, 1989, by three
plainclothes detectives when he became involved with the arrest of a
street vendor. Jean-Louis was 30 years old.
d. Killings committed by paramilitary groups, possibly Tonton
132. Telison Releus was killed on May 9, 1989, by a group of armed
men in the Duval neighborhood of Croix des Bouquets near Port-au-Prince.
The victim had worked for the Electric Company. His wife was raped and
his small daughter was shot in the leg.
133. Samson Frangois was shot on a public street by three armed men
on June 16, 1989. Later the same day three armed civilians grabbed
another young man for no apparent reason and shot him three times. These
murders occurred on busy Port-au-Prince streets. A witness identified one
of the men as Aji Mal, a former local government official.
134. Gregory Delpe was murdered on July 5, 1989, at his home at
night. The victim had been a student leader and his brother heads a
political party. The perpetrators, dressed in civilian clothes, accused
the victim of opposing the Avril Government, threatened the rest of the
family and stole $4,000 from the family grocery business. The prosecutor
closed the case insinuating that it was a family affair.
135. Elie Antoine and Cedul Erneus were killed on July 10, 1989, in
an armed attack by 20 men at 2:00 a.m. in the Cite Soleil section, known
as Cite Carton. The victims died in their homes of gunshot wounds. No
investigation is known to have been conducted.
136. Philippe Smith was killed on September 24, 1989, while defending
his mother who was being attacked by four armed men. The mother was
seriously injured. The victim was a 22 year old plumber.
137. Vilme Eliazar was stabbed to death on October 6, 1989, by
unknown assassins after a protest against the general state of insecurity
by the Catholic Church's Justice and Peace Commission, of which the victim
was a member.
138. Israel Isophe, Verel Isophe, and Dragus Lorneus were killed in
Drouillard outside of Port-au-Prince on November 17-18, 1989, for putting
up pro-Manigat posters. The perpetrators, dressed in civilian clothes and
- 36 -
driving a gray truck, beat and shot to death Israel Isophe and Dragus
Lorneus. Verel Isophe was dragged by a rope around his neck behind the
truck until he was dead. The killings appear to be politically motivated.
139. Col. Andre Neptune was a veteran officer of the Haitian Army.
On January 19, 1990, was shot and killed along with his wife and servant
at approximately 8:30 p.m. Col. Neptune's body was left near the home of
opposition leader Hubert de Ronceray. Following Col. Neptune's murder a
30 days state of siege was imposed.
140. More recently, in the week just prior to the downfall of the
Avril government, press reports indicated that 20 more persons died at the
hands of the Armed Forces and more than 100 were wounded, mostly during
street demonstrations against the government.
141. To a great extent the violence of the week of March 4-11, 1990,
was prompted by the killing of a schoolgirl, Rosaline Vaval, by a
soldier's stray bullet in the town of Petit Goave. From there the street
demonstrations throughout Haiti grew to the point that General Avril was
forced to leave the country.
4. Violations of the right of humane treatment
142. Besides the numerous violations of the right to life detailed
above, the recent history of Haiti is replete with the violation of the
related right of humane treatment.
143. Typically violations of the physical integrity of persons in
Haiti consists in the wanton beatings and flailings of soldiers, police,
Tonton Macoutes, and rural section chiefs perpetrated against individuals
for political, personal or venal motives alike. Literal stompings into
submission are hardly uncommon in a virtually lawless society.
144. This is not to say that more systematic forms of premeditated
torture have been superceded. On the contrary, prisons and jails are
sites in which coercion, confession wrenching, and general information are
squeezed from helpless victims not unlike the manner in which this was
done in the times of Papa Doc, his son, and their successors.
What follows are graphic examples of these practices:
145. Naly Beauhanais is the president of the Public Transportation
Workers Union. On January 12, 1989, following his arrest at 5:00 a.m. on
a day designated for a general strike, was taken to an Army camp near
Lamentin and beaten for an hour with clubs and gun butts on his ears,
head, and buttocks. He was released on January 31, having never been
charged with a crime.
- 37 -
146. Jude L. Jean Jacques, the youth leader, was shot at 6:00 a.m. on
the day of the national strike, January 12, 1989, by uninformed men. This
occurred in Port-au-Prince. He later recovered from his shoulder wound.
147. Ernst Charles and Vaudre Abelard, leaders that had helped
organize a demonstration by the Association of the Revolutionary
Unemployed were taken on March 4, 1989, to Fort Dimarche, where they were
beaten, and released after a few hours. They later had to go to the
hospital for treatment.
148. Fred Pierre, Alzy Henriot, Gabriel Dugne, and Rony Serat belong
to the Popular Literary Movement. On June 17, 1989, they were arrested by
soldiers in Limbe, badly beaten, and released the next day. Henriot's arm
149. Thomas Odena was arrested on June 19, 1989, by Section Chief
Merilien Pierre for his work in Konakom, the National Committee of the
Congress of Democratic Movements. During his eight day detention he was
hit 30 times with a truncheon.
150. On June 29, 1989, Lyonel Theodore and Paul La Roche, two
organizers of a market protest in Port-au-Prince were arrested, beaten,
and released after several hours by a judge.
151. Prudent Juste and Luxine, Cedieu, Lousine, and Moise Eltine
belong to the Labadie Youth Movement in the Artibonite Valley. On July
10, 1989, they were arrested in Labaret by six men dressed in civilian
clothes, including the Section Chief named Receve. They were held for 23
days at the Petit-Riviere jail. While there they were subjected to a
torture called the "Piquet" which consisted in standing on their toes and
leaning against a wall supporting their weight with two fingers. When the
prisoners moved from that position, they were subject to a beating. All
five were beaten regularly with sticks. Their torturers included one
Sergeant Alexis and one Corporal Smith.
152. Following his arrest on August 1, 1989, Jean Robert Lalanne, a
leader of the National Popular Assembly, was suspended around a pole and
beaten to a point where he lost count after some 40 blows. Major
Coulanges Justafort was present along with five other soldiers. A man
named Phonor administered the beating. After his release the following
day, Lalanne had to be hospitalized.
153. Celifaite Dumesle, a member of Tet Kole, a national peasant
movement, was arrested on August 2, 1989, by a Section Chief of Cabaret,
one Anovil St. Vil, who personally kicked and punched him during his
detention. He was later beaten with a night stick by soldiers at the jail
in Jean Rabel. Never charged with a crime, he was released at the end of
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154. Inalia Analion, also a member of Tet Kole, was beaten to the
point of bleeding by Lt. Adrien Saint-Julien during her arrest on August
2, 1989. Never formally charged, she was released at the end of August.
155. Florvil Guillaume who was involved in a land dispute in the
Sixth Communal Section of Petite Riviere de l'\rtibonite, was arrested and
severely beaten on August 18, 1989, by the Section Chief's assistant,
known simply as Senor. He was held for four days.
156. On September 26, 1989, Guito Geauvy was arrested and shot in the
hand by a soldier named Raymond Fenelon for supporting a general strike.
157. On November 1, 1989, Jean Auguste Mesyeux, Evans Paul, and
Etienne Marineau, three political opposition leaders, were beaten terribly
following their arrest and then shown, battered and bloody, on national
television. Their treatment included kicks and stomping while
handcuffed. Night sticks were used on the soles of their feet, their
kidneys and testicles. Their noses were burned with lighters. Their
torturers included General Andre Jean-Pierre, soldier Jean-Pierre Bismark,
and Second Lieutenants Delius Joseph, Fritz Pierre, and Faustin Miradieu,
all of the Presidential Guard. The beatings lasted hours over a period of
days. Paul suffered five broken ribs and a crushed hip. One of Etienne's
eardrums was punctured and he suffered a broken finger. His injuries made
it impossible for him to stand. After three months of imprisonment, the
three were released.
158. Louis Jerome Michel was attacked and beaten by three
unidentified men on November 5, 1989, following a radio interview in which
he told of the killing of his younger brother earlier in the same year by
a soldier dressed in civilian clothes.
159. Faya Jean-Baptiste was robbed of a small portable radio and
beaten by soldiers of the Presidential Guard in front of the National
Palace on November 14, 1989.
160. On November 15, 1989, Soland Cameau, Nelson Ceramy, Orelus
Bernard, and Camille Marceau, four peasant activists, were arrested and
charged with being communists. They were beaten and released after 14
days of confinement.
161. On December 1, 1989, Robert Pierre-Louis was beaten by a group
of soldiers belonging to the Presidential Guard for allegedly having
criticized General Avril.
162. Patrick Beauchard, a former Sergeant in the National Army and
leader of the coup that overthrew Gen. Namphy, was arrested on December
13, 1989, near Petit Goave by members of the Presidential Guard. Later
his sister reported on Radio Antilles that her brother had been so
severely beaten that his face and eyes were terribly swollen, and that
- 39 -
among other things, he could no longer see out of one eye as the result of
having been hit by a gun butt.
163. Lemoine Auguste was arrested on December 15, 1989, by Section
Chief Carobert Deronville in Grand Plaine area of the Isle of Gonaive. He
was severely beaten for "having criticized the government."
164. Wilfred Pierre was arrested and beaten on December 16, 1989, by
a policeman named Paul Pierre-Louis in Costa, the Third Communal Section
of Les Anglais. The problem grew out of a dispute at a cockfight. Pierre
was set free several hours later.
165. Jean Charles Mayol, leader of the November 28 National
Progressive Movement, was police arrested on December 19, 1989, in the
Artibonite Valley, beat him at the Marchand Dessaline jail and robbed him
of $30. He was freed on December 26. He stated that he had been accused
of carrying a machete which he was using to work his land.
166. Dr. Louis Roy, the 74 year-old constitutional lawyer, was
arrested at his home on January 20, 1990, by an Army captain and two
soldiers. He was taken to the police station where some thirty soldiers
were beating a large number of persons. Dr. Roy himself was hit about the
ears and punched in the face. Later he was exiled to Miami.
167. Herbert de Ronceray, the president of Mobilization for National
Development, was arrested at his home along with 20 fellow members on
January 20, 1990. Soldiers outside kept guard while "civilians"
handcuffed him. His arrestors broke his glasses, beat him on the chest
and head and poked him in the eye with a lit cigarette. He was later sent
168. On January 20, 1990, Michel Legros, a member of the League to
Install Democracy in Haiti, was arrested at his home, severely beaten, and
sent into exile.
169. Dr. Sylvan Jolibois, a political leader of the Jean-Jacques
Dessalines Nationalist Sector, was arrested at his clinic on January 20,
1990, by plain clothes police and taken to the National Penitentiary. His
beating was so severe he spit up blood. No reason was given for his
arrest. He was later released.
170. On January 20, 1990, Fernand Gerard La Foret and Marie Denise
Douyon were stopped at a police checkpoint on the road and accused of
carrying weapons. They were taken to the Anti-Gang Investigation Service
of the Police, questioned and beaten. La Foret's hands and legs were tied
together to form a circle. He was then hung around a pole and his back
was whipped. This lasted three hours. Thereafter he was denied food and
medical treatment for a number of days. His companion, Marie Denise
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Douyon, was beaten about the head and body aggravating a pre-existing
ovary condition. She is still recovering.
171. Serge Gilles, an intellectual and leader of the Nationalistic
and Progressive Revolutionary Party, was detained at his home along with
several colleagues on January 20, 1990, by six heavily armed men dressed
in civilian clothing without a warrant. Thrown on the floor, he and his
company were kicked, beaten and otherwise brutalized in front of his wife
and two children. His home was sacked. Transported to the Anti-Gang
Investigation Service, Gilles received a blow on his ear that ruptured the
eardrum. After 30 minutes in a cell, they were delivered to the local
police who treated them correctly. Major Clerjeune apologized for the
"mistake." The apology was reiterated by Colonel Romulus and the men were
172. Joseph Fernel Manigat, a political leader of the Alliance of
Popular Organizations, was detained on January 22, 1990, in Cap Haitien,
taken to the police station and severely beaten. When he was released on
February 1, he gave a statement over Radio Metropole describing how he had
been hit some 40 times about the head with a stick, seriously injuring his
173. On January 25, 1990, Dicertain Armand was arrested along with a
number of fellow Christian Democrats by civilian and military officials
including the Mayor of Thomazeau and his assistant named Kesner Pongnon
and Rossuel F6vrier, respectively. While still at home, Armand was tied
up and hit with a gun butt. He was later released.
174. The rights to life and humane treatment have been repeatedly
violated in Haiti during the period covered by this report up until the
time of the installation of the new civilian Government of Ertha Pascal
Trouillot. These violations were committed mostly by elements of the
Haitian Army or paramilitary forces acting in collusion with the Armed
Forces or with their acquiescence. Substantial numbers of paramilitary
forces known formerly, rural section chiefs frequently commit abuses of
these rights in their treatment of peasants and peasant leaders.
175. What emerges then is a clear picture of institutionalized
violence practice by the very forces whose obligation it is to preserve
the peace and protect citizens from violations of the right to life. The
same conclusion can be reached with regard to the physical integrity of
citizens. The institutional forces consisting of the army, the police,
the section chiefs and their para-military henchmen, far from assuring
humane treatment of prisoners, are chronic violations of this basic human
RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY AND JUDICIAL GUARANTEES
1. Legal Rules
176. The Right to Personal Liberty is recognized in Article 7 of the
American Convention on Human Rights in the following terms:
1. Every person has the right to personal liberty and security.
2. No one shall be deprived of his physical liberty except for
the reasons and under the conditions established beforehand by
the constitution of the State Party concerned or by a law
established pursuant thereto.
3. No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment.
4. Anyone who is detained shall be informed of the reasons for
his detention and shall be promptly notified of the charge or
charges against him.
5. Any person detained shall be brought promptly before a
judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial
power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or
to be released without prejudice to the continuation of the
proceedings. His release may be subject to guarantees to assure
his appearance for trial.
6. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty shall be entitled to
recourse to a competent court, in order that the court may
decide without delay on the lawfulness of his arrest or
detention and order his release if the arrest or detention is
unlawful. In States Parties whose laws provide that anyone who
believes himself to be threatened with deprivation of his
liberty is entitled to recourse to a competent court in order
that it may decide on the lawfulness of such threat, this remedy
may not be restricted or abolished. The interested party or
another person in his behalf is entitled to seek these remedies.
7. No one shall be detained for debt. This principle shall
not limit the orders of a competent judicial authority issued
for nonfulfillment of duties of support.
177. The Right to Judicial Guarantees is contained in Article 8 of
the above-cited Convention, which stipulates the following:
1. Every person has the right to a hearing, with due
guarantees and within a reasonable time, by a competent,
- 42 -
independent, and impartial tribunal, previously established by
law, in the substantiation of any accusation of a criminal
nature made against aim or for the determination of his rights
and obligations of a civil, labor, fiscal, or any other nature.
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 minimum
a. the right of the accused to be assisted without charge by a
translator or interpreter, if he does not 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.
- 43 -
178. The Haitian Constitution of 1987 sets forth in Articles 24, 25,
26, 27 and 27-1, the legal guarantees of the individual in Haiti as
regards the right to individual liberty. These articles read as follows:
Individual liberty is guaranteed and protected
by the State.
No one may be prosecuted, arrested or detained
except in the cases determined by law and in
the manner it prescribes.
Except where the perpetrator of a crime is
caught in the act, no one may be arrested or
detained other than by written order of a
legally competent official.
For such an order to be carried out, the
following requirements must be met:
a. It must formally state the reason in Creole and in French
for the arrest or detention and the provision of the law
that provides for punishment of the act charged;
b. Legal notice must be given and a copy of the order must be
left with the accused at the time of its execution;
c. The accused must be notified of his right to be assisted by
counsel at all phases of the investigation of the case up to
the final judgment;
d. Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the
act, no arrest by warrant and no search may take place
between six (6) p.m. and six (6) a.m.
e. Responsibility for an offense is personal, and no one may be
arrested in the place of another.
No one may be interrogated without his attorney
or a witness of his choice being present.
No one may be kept under arrest more than
forty-eight (48) hours unless he has appeared
before a judge asked to rule on the legality of
the arrest and the judge has confirmed the
arrest by a well-founded decision.
In the case of a petty violation, the accused
shall be referred to a justice of the peace,
who shall then hand down a final decision.
- 44 -
In the case of more serious offenses or crimes,
an appeal may be filed, without prior
permission, simply by addressing a petition to
the presiding judge of the competent civil
court, who, on the basis of the oral statement
of the prosecutor, shall rule on the legality
of the arrest and detention, in a special
session of the court, without postponement or
rotation of judges, all other cases being
If the arrest is judged to be illegal, the
judge shall order the immediate release of the
arrested person and that order shall be
enforceable immediately, regardless of any
appeal to a higher court or the Supreme Court
for an order forbidding enforcement of the
Any violation of the provisions on individual
liberty are arbitrary acts. Injured parties
may, without prior authorization, appeal to the
competent courts, to bring suit against the
authors and perpetrators of these arbitrary
acts, regardless of their rank or the body to
which they belong.
Government officials and employees are directly
liable under civil and administrative criminal
law for acts carried out in violation of
rights. In such cases, civil liability extends
to the State as well.
179. The legal system of Haiti establishes certain official positions
which are intended to serve the State in connection with the prosecution
of criminals and the safeguarding of individual rights: the Commissaire
du Gouvernement (Public Prosecutor) and the Juge d'Instruction (Examining
2. Situation during the Avril Government
180. According to information received by the Commission, the right
to personal liberty and to judicial guarantees was seriously compromised
in Haiti beginning in September, 1989. The early months of the period
covered by this report witnessed a steady intensification of "insecurity",
as evidenced in arbitrary detentions, many of them effected by "chiefs of
section" and their deputies. For its part, the judicial system has
demonstrated neither effectiveness nor decisiveness in pursuing
investigations of such violations.
- 45 -
181. Beginning in November, arbitrary detentions became more
selective, and in most cases targeted popular leaders who demonstrated
their opposition to the Government, and thus a systematic campaign of
intimidation of the populace was established.
182. Finally, the arbitrary detentions that took place under the
Decree of State of Siege declared by General Prosper Avril on January 20,
1990, were frequently followed by expulsion from the country of detainees,
although they were charged with no crime and there was no sign that due
process had been observed. Authorities sought to justify arbitrary
detentions and expulsions as a measure to "neutralize terrorists" who had
created a "climate of tension" and "poisoned the atmosphere."
3. Arbitrary detentions
183. Several examples are given below of illegal arbitrary detentions
that were carried out without a proper warrant for arrest or search of
private homes. These arrests were frequently effected violently,
violating the right to physical integrity, and the reader will therefore
note that some of the victims have been named in the preceding chapter.
In some of these cases, the victims were released a few days later,
without being charged, and in other cases it is not known with certainty
whether these individuals remain in prison.
184. On September 4, 1989 in Terre-Nette, VI Section Communal de
Verrettes, Mr. Jeannot Alexandre was detained by Milord Joseph, Chief of
Section, who accused him of being a communist.
185. On the same day in Montrouis, at 10:00 a.m., the Chief of
Section Difficile St. Georges illegally detained Emilia Fleuvant, who had
organized a prayer meeting, and he beat those in attendance, claiming that
all meetings were prohibited.
186. On September 6, in Petite Riviere de l'Artibonite, Mr. Bernard
Fleuvant was arbitrarily detained and beaten by Dieubon, commanding
officer of the military garrison of that city.
187. Daubermane Dorvilus and Souvenir Joseph were detained
arbitrarily by Chief of Section Pierre Hyppolite on September 7 in Grand
Bois, in Marchard-Dessalines, accused of being agitators.
188. On the same day at approximately 2:00 p.m. Pierre Daniel Edm6
was detained in Port-au-Prince without an arrest warrant by two men
dressed in olive green uniforms.
189. On September 11, Edouard Joseph was arbitrarily detained and
beaten by Chief of Section Gerard Lubin and his deputy in Belle Fontaine,
Section Communale de Kenscoff. Mr. Edouard Joseph is being held in the
military garrison of that city.
- 46 -
190. Herve Durand and Charles Romain, members of the Neighborhood
Council Federation (FEDKA) were arbitrarily detained by the police of
Petion-Ville in Port-au-Prince on September 16.
191. On the same day, in Delmas 33, at approximately midnight,
Lherisson Dor was detained by military officers and his house was
searched. It is believed that Dor was first taken to the National Palace
and later to the Anti-Gang Investigations Center, before being transferred
to the National Pententiary. However, relatives of Lherisson visited all
of the detention centers without locating the victim. According to
information provided by his brother Salomon Justin, Lherisson was charged
with planning the assassination of Sergeant Joseph Heubreux, a trusted
ally of General Avril.
192. Also on September 16, in St. Michel de l'Attalave at 4:00 a.m.,
two deputies of the Section Communale (district division) illegally
detained Mr. Val Cesar, and charged him without being out too early. They
,took him to the military barracks, where a soldier wounded him by gunshot
and another cut off his left arm. The victim was hospitalized.
193. On September 20 in Champagne, in the area of Borgne, deputies of
the Section Communale, following orders of the Chief of Section, Liverdieu
Andresi, illegally detained Noisens Petit Negre for holding a meeting of
the town's Popular Assembly (APL). Noisens Petit Negre was released after
paying the equivalent of fifty dollars.
194. Jean Lafor&t was illegally detained on September 22 by two
military officers for having said that the National Palace was protecting
"macoutes". Laforet was taken to the prison in Port-au-Prince.
195. On September 26 in Petit-Goave, at approximately 11:45 p.m.,
Guito Geauvy was detained and wounded by gunshot by soldier Raymond
Fenelon. The victim was accused of instigating the general strike called
for September 27.
196. Max Bourjolly, a member of the United Party of Haitian
Communists (PUCH) and his bodyguard were detained on September 20, accused
of illegal possession of weapons. The accusation was apparently based on
a decree dated March 23, which had not been published. Mr. Bourjolly was
released two days later.
197. On October 18, Arsene Moyse was illegally detained by soldiers
of the city's garrison during a public demonstration in Gonaives. Arsene
Moyse is a militant of the group known as Tambour Verite Jeunes Gonaives.
198. On the same day in Petit Goave, Savary Zanny was arbitrarily
detained during a public demonstration, accused of being an agitator.
- 47 -
199. On October 22, Jean "Madichon" was arbitrarily detained by the
police in Cayes; the reasons for his detention remain unknown.
200. On October 25, in Savannette, a region on Haiti's western
border, a delegation of the League of Former Haitian Prisoners (LAPPH),
comprised of Marc-Elie Blanc and Daniel Andre, attorneys, and Jacquese
Juste, their driver, were arbitrarily detained and taken to the military
garrison. This delegation had travelled to Savannette to investigate
military persecution in that region against certain citizens who had been
forced into hiding. The two attorneys and the driver were released the
next day, following protests by the National Coalition of Haitian Refugees
and America Watch.
201. During the month of November, the Government of President
Prosper Avril was noted for its arrests of popular leaders associated with
the political opposition, which had for some time refused to participate
in the elections organized by the Avril Government.
Evans Paul, Jean Auguste Mesyeux and Etienne Marineau
(the Detainees of La Toussaint)
202. On November 14, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
received a denunciation regarding the detention of Messrs Jean Auguste
Mesyeux, member of the Autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers (CATH),
Evans Paul, member of the Committee for Unity and Democracy (KID), and
Etienne Marineau, deputy leader of the People's Organization of September
17, a radical group of the former Presidential Guard.
203. According to information received, the Ministry of Information
published a communique on November 2, reporting on the arrest of these
three individuals, accused of conspiring to assassinate President Prosper
Avril and the Military High Command. They were detained in a private home
by members of the Presidential Guard on November 1, 1989. The communique
from the Ministry of Information is transcribed below:
The Office of the Director of Information of the Ministry
of Information and Coordination, following the communique
received from the headquarters of the Police of Port-au-Prince,
is able to report on the events of Wednesday, November 1, 1989,
at 5:45 p.m., in Oleon Street, in connection with the arrest of
Evans Paul, Etienne Marineau, Jean Auguste Mesyeux. Found in
their possession were three M-14 rifles, three Uzi machine guns,
a disassembled Galil rifle, a package of 9 mm. cartridges, and
The purposes of the group were to initiate terrorist
activities in an attempt on the life of the President of the
Military Government, to physically eliminate all officers of the
Armed Forces of Haiti, to physically eliminate certain civilian
figures, and to impose a people's militia.
- 48 -
Patrick Beauchard, Germain Sonthonax, Saintil Villex,
Joseph Klebert, Phil6mon Rene, Oupette Casner, Altidor Jean
Allipson, Getry Figaro and Thimotee Jean Franck, who are
likewise implicated in this affair, are being actively sought by
204. On the day before the arrest of Evans, Mesyeux and Marineau, the
Rassemblement Nationale, a confederation of political and trade union
organizations, had announced its plans to hold a month of peaceful
protests in opposition to the Avril regime, culminating with a mass
demonstration on November 29, anniversary of the failed elections of 1987.
205. On November 2, the arrested leaders were shown on State
Television, bearing obvious signs of torture. In addition, the
authorities showed weapons, ammunition and dynamite, allegedly found in
their automobile. According to Commander L6opold Clerjeune, head of the
Anti-Gang Brigade, Etienne Marineau and Patrick Beauchard had offered a
guard $7,000.00 to place dynamite in the Palace of Government. The
detainees were held incommunicado for eight days, despite the fact that
the Constitution of 1987 provides that individuals arrested be brought
before a magistrate within 48 hours. The Government refused for two weeks
to allow independent doctors to examine the detainees and on November 13
the three prisoners began a hunger strike in protest.
206. The Commission requested that the Government of Haiti take the
necessary measures to transfer Messrs. Mesyeux, Paul and Marineau to a
hospital for humanitarian reasons, given their precarious health condition.
207. The Government of Haiti responded to the Commission's request
for information on November 17, stating the following:
Doctors of the Haitian Red Cross visited the three
defendants on Friday, November 10, and recommended that they be
given proper beds and wool blankets. Unfortunately, the
defendants chose not to use the beds placed at their disposal,
and instead spread the blankets on the ground.
Moreover, they received tetanus shots and had access to
X-ray examinations. The three defendants are regularly visited
by the doctor of the National Penitentiary Center.
In the specific case of Marino Etinne,' he was today
taken to the Military Hospital today, where he refused the
proffered treatment. He requested the presence of his private
physician, but the latter could not be located. The Government
intends to request the Haitian Medical Association to undertake
1. The correct name is Etienne Marineau.
- 49 -
to provide the services of one of its members to Marino Etienne,
should he accept this offer.
Although only Marino Etienne appears to require
hospitalization, the Government of Haiti, in response to the
request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has
decided to allow the hospitalization of the three detainees,
until a government physician, in agreement with the private
physician of each detainee, finds that his hospitalization is no
208. The prisoners requested attention by their private physicians
and after two doctors assigned by the Haitian Medical Association visited
the prisoners on November 19 and 23, the Armed Foreces of Haiti published
a press communique accusing them of attempting to assassinate Etienne by
administering improper medication. Finally, on December 1, authorities
transferred the three defendants to the National Penitentiary Center. The
three detainees suspended their hunger strike on December 11.
209. The Haitian League of Human Rights pointed to the irregularities
that took place in connection with the detention of Mesyeux, Paul and
Marineau, and in the judicial proceedings. The arrest was carried out in
a private home, after 6:00 p.m., without a court order and without
information regarding the in flagrante delicto detention. The defendants
were subjected to severe torture and were not immediately allowed the care
of their private physicians. The right to defense was not duly exercised,
as they were not allowed to communicate freely with their attorneys, who
were formally prohibited from visiting their clients later in the military
210. The arrest and presentation on television of the detainees,
bloodied as a result of torture, was criticized by public opinion and
interpreted by the opposition and by human rights groups as an attempt to
intimidate the populace.
211. The CATH and the Rassemblement National called a strike for
November 7 and 8 which paralyzed Port-au-Prince and nearly all the
provinces, in order to demand an immediate release of the three
detainees. Subsequently, CATH, together with the OP-17 and the KID issued
an order for a 24-hour general strike for November 22, calling again for
the release of the detainees. Also, Reverend Max Dominique, Louis Roy,
Antoine Izmery, Sabine de Manigat, Guy Beauduy, Ren6 Theodore, Gabriel
Miracle, Arthemise Paul, Irene Paul and their two children aged 11 and 13
began a hunger strike, in solidarity with the general protests, to obtain
the release of the detainees.
212. The leader of the Group of September 17, former Sergeant Patrick
Beauchard, who had been arrested before in October of 1988 and
subsequently released, escaped capture on November 7 together with Paul,
- 50 -
Mesyeux and Etienne, because he arrived late to the meeting at which the
others had been arrested. On seeing soldiers surrounding the house,
Beauchard escaped, hiding with 8 other persons also accused of conspiring
to assassinate President Avril.
213. Two days later, on November 9 at 2:00 a.m., three jeeps arrived
at Hinche, carrying 25 military officials, who identified themselves as
members of the Presidential Guard of Port-au-Prince. Led by Captain
Placide Jolicocur, Commander of the military district of that locality,
they invaded the home of Bonny Beauchard under the pretext of seeking her
cousin, former Sergeant Patrick Beauchard, who was accused of conspiring
against the Government of Avril. When the military personnel did not find
Patrick Beauchard, they detained and beat Bonny and Charles Beauchard.
The Commission was later informed that Bonny and Charles Beauchard were
released a few days later.
214. The Commission was informed that Patrick Beauchard had been
arrested on December 13 at 4:00 a.m., and beaten by soldiers of the
Presidential Guard, near Petit Goave, and taken to the garrison for
questioning. Hebert Beauchard, Patrick's brother, Sosthene St. Jean, the
local Section Chief, and his deputy Valles Plaisival and his wife, were
also detained, accused of harboring Beauchard.
215. On November 18, Gaston Jean-Baptiste, Archange Mardi and
Germaine Louis Mai, members of the Haitian League of former Political
Prisoners (LAPPH) were detained without a court order by the Armed Forces
in Tiotte (in the southeast of Haiti) and taken to the local military
216. On November 22, 12 more people were detained by members of the
same Tiotte garrison, in Anse a Pitres, among them two young boys and the
well known political figure, Guy Baudy. They were accused of meeting
illegally to incite the local population to a hunger strike to demand the
release of the three detainees in Port-au-Prince. Gast6n Jean-Baptiste
and Guy Baudy were beaten while held in custody. On November 27 they were
all released without being formally charged.
217. On November 19, Mario Scott, regional delegate of the RDNP, and
his assistant Roland St. Louis, were detained arbitrarily in Hinche (in
the central region of the country), by military officials, and released a
few days later.
218. On November 25, Frantz L. Jean, member of the National People's
Assembly (APN), Aloute Jean-Louis, and Ilio Alexis, members of the Peasant
Association of Meloniere (APM), were detained by Brigadier Vilson Ledon,
as they attended a meeting to discuss problems relating to the Meloniere
community. The three were accused of meeting without the presence of
local officials. They were taken to a nearby prison in the city of
Chantal, and released 2 days later.
- 51 -
219. On December 4, in Petite Riviere de la Artibonite, Pierre
Berthelus was detained and beaten by a policeman known as "Stavien".
Berthelus remained in prison until January.
220. On December 14, in P6tite Riviere de la Artibonite, three
officers of the garrison, armed with clubs, illegally detained Joachim
Charles, for unknown reasons.
221. On December 15, in Grande Plaine, Section Communale de la
Gonave, the Chief of Section, Carobert D6vonville, aribitrarily detained
Lemoine Auguste, beat him brutally, and accused him of criticizing the
222. On December 25 in Roche-Plate, Baptiste, in the area of
Mirebalais, at approximately 2:00 a.m., eight military officials and
several deputies of the Section commanded by Sergeant Id6ric Calixte
arbitrarily detained Br6nevil Cameau, Sadrack Cameau, Elie Cameau, Raoul
Cameau, and Excene Louis, all members of the Rassemblement des Paysans de
Baptiste, accused of being communists. The victims were beaten at the
time of their detention and later taken to the nearby prison in
Belladere. According to the testimony of a member of the organization,
the detention took place with the complicity of former Tonton-Macoute,
Jean Ernst Charles. The victims were freed on January 9, although they
were unable to return to their homes in light of the overt hostility of
local authorities to members of their organization.
223. On January 8, 1990, in Touche Moulin, IV Section Communale de
Petite Riviere de la Artibonite, Police Officer Lereste Florestal
arbitrarily detained Wilfrid Souvenance, accusing him of being a member of
the Youth Movement of Labadie (MJL).
224. On January 10, in Petit Grove, the police detained Yvon Pascal
for having participated in a demonstration.
225. On January 12, in Carrefour at approximately 2:00 a.m., Naly
Beauhanais, Secretary General of the Haitian Transportation Workers Union
(CSTH) was detained by a group of military officials and armed civilians.
Beauhanais was accused of being an agitator and was brutally beaten by
soldiers commanded by Captain Serge Dopoux before being sent to the Camp
d'application (training base) of Lamentin. Beauhanais was held for 19
days in the National Penitentiary without being brought before an
Examining Judge. On January 31, he was released and two days later
several soldiers appeared to search his house, in order to intimidate him
not to take any action against them.
226. On January 13, in Point-Benoit, Petite Riviere de la Artibonite,
Wildor Jn. Baptiste and Miguel Exilhomme were detained illegally and
accused of subversion by Chief of Section Seland Georges.
- 52 -
227. On January 15, in Cap-Haitien, at 1:00 a.m., Stanley Jean Marie
was arbitrarily detained by policeman Robert Lecorps, who accused him of
going to Port-au-Prince to participate in the assassination of President
Avril upon his return from Taiwan. Jean Marie was taken to the police
station and freed six hours later.
228. On Janaury 19, Marie-Denise Douyon and Dr. Gerard Laforet were
detained as they were going to the beach at Aquin by several soldiers who
searched their automobile, and upon finding a hunting rifle, proceeded to
beat them. Douyon and Laforet were taken to the Anti-Gang prison. Three
days later the soldiers took them to the home of Douyon's mother to search
the house and later took them to the prison where they were again
tortured, and left in very serious condition. Marie-Denise was
transferred to a women's prison in Port-au-Prince and Laforet was taken to
an infirmary,' given his serious health condition.
229. On January 19, in Grande Anse de Tiburon, Sergeant Jean Michel
detained Pierre St. Germain, accusing him of organizing meetings
prohibited by the Government.
230. With the municipal elections only three months away in Haiti,
General Prosper Avril proclaimed a state of siege on January 20, 1990.
This measure was taken after the assassination of Andr6 Neptune, Colonel
of the Presidential Guard, on January 19, to protect the country from
"terrorism" and "civil war". The arrest of various political leaders is
231. Dr. Louis Roy, head of the Organization for the Defense of the
Constitution and member of a civic society was accused of treason by
General Prosper Avril on January 15, for having sent a telegram to the
Government of Taiwan where Avril was travelling on an official visit, in
which he announced that the people of Haiti would not recognize any
agreements between the two governments. Roy was beaten during his
detention, on January 20, and expelled from the country the following day.
232. Hubert De Ronceray, leader of the centrist Mobilization for
National Development (MDN) was detained on January 20 by a large number of
soldiers in civilian dress, who beat him and put out a cigarette on his
eyelid. During Avril's trip to Taiwan, Dr. Ronceray had requested the
Chief of Staff of the Army (Herard Abrahams) to remove General Avril from
office, accusing him of seeking "to rig the upcoming elections to remain
in power." Dr. Ronceray was expelled from the country on January 21.
233. Serge Gilles, leader of the Nationalist Revolutionary
Progressive Party (PANPRA) was detained on January 20 at his home and
beaten in front of his family and again later in the National Palace.
Gilles was released after authorities declared that his arrest had been a
- 53 -
234. Gerard-Emile (Abi) Brun, member of the National Committee of the
Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM), was detained together with 25
others members of KONAKOM on January 20 as they met at the headquarters of
the Ecumenical Center of Human Rights. The headquarters was searched and
Brun and others were beaten. Gerard-Emile Brun was expelled from the
country the next day.
235. Dr. Sylvan Jolibois, member of the Nationalist Jean-Jacques
Dessalines Sector was detained on January 20 at the clinic where he was
working. Dr. Jolibois was beaten in front of patients and taken to the
National Penitentiary where he was again mistreated and where he was not
allowed to receive medical attention or to see his family.
236. Max Carre, member of the MDN, Gesner Prudent and Philippe
Stevenson, members of the Movement for the Implementation of Democracy
(MIDH) and Georges Werliegh, member of PANPRA, were detained on January 20
and released a few days later.
237. Max Bourjolly, Secretary General of the Communist Party (PUCH),
and Michel Legros, member of the League for Democracy, were detained on
January 21 and expelled from the country the next day.
238. Frank Senat, leader of the Democratic Bloc and President of the
Federated of Workers Union was detained on January 21 by a group of
soldiers belonging to the Anti-Gang Service. The soldiers broke a window
of Senat's home to gain entry and gave no reason for the arrest.
239. Max Monteuil, leader of the Neighborhood Committee of
Cap-Haitien was detained on January 21 and expelled from the country the
240. Antoine Izmery, a prominent businessman, was detained on January
23 and expelled from the country the next day.
241. Franck Rene, member of the Haitian Liberation Party was detained
in Marchand Dessalines on the night of January 27 and taken to the
242. Illegal detentions also took place in the provinces. Joseph
Frenel Manigat, member of the National Alliance of People's Organizations
(ANOP), was removed by force from Radio Citadel, where he had gone to read
a communique from his organization against Avril. Manigat was detained by
armed civilians and taken to the Cap-Haitien prison on January 23, where
he was severely beaten. Manigat was released on February 1.
243. During the night of January 25 and January 27, in Dalon and
Terre Rouge (Grand Boulay), 13 peasants, members of the Christian
Democratic Party (PDCH) were detained and beaten by soldiers commanded by
Kesner Pongnon, the Prefect and Commander of the military district of
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Thomazeau. Some of the homes of the peasants were ransacked by the
soldiers, who inquired about the whereabouts of Rev. Silvio Claude and the
weapons he allegedly gave to the peasants. The peasants were taken to the
Thomazeau jail and only a few were released on January 31.
244. As part of an effort to justify the repressive measures carried
out in recent months, the Government of President Prosper Avril published
a press release on February 7, 1990, announcing an amnesty for 19
political detainees in the following terms:
The Director of Public Information of the Ministry of
Information, Culture and Coordination announces to the public
that by administrative order dated February 6, 1990, a complete
amnesty has been granted to the following persons:
Fernand Gerard Laforet
Marie Denise Douyon
Jean Auguste Mesyeux
Louis Jean Duval
Gelsey Joseph Fils
Amazone Jean Franckel
Dimanche Jean Renel
Franz Patrick Beauchard
This Office, on February 7, 1990, mindful of the decision of the
people of Haiti to build a future of freedom, fraternity and
human solidarity, wishes to emphasize that this amnesty reflects
the unanimous desire of the Government of the Republic to work
untiringly to build a FUTURE DEMOCRACY unhindered by extremism
or any form of violence, at a time when our society aspires to
harmonize its development, since September 17, 1988, with the
great currents of change that today dominate current events.
February 7, 1990
Director of Public Information
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245. Despite the fact that the Government pardoned several political
detainees, authorities in the provinces continued the practice of
arbitrary arrests. On February 15, the Commission was informed by the
Haitian Association of Journalists of the detention of Herto Zamor,
journalist and correspondent of Radio Metropole in Grand-Anse. At the
time of his detention, Zamor was mistreated and forced to lie in excrement.
246. During the visit in loco from April 17 to 20, the Delegation
from the IACHR received word from human rights groups of the release of
the following persons:
Herve Durand y Charles Romain
Sosthene St. Jean
4. Situation since the beginning of President Ertha Pascal
Trouillot's Provisional Government
247. The situation on the day following the installation of the civil
government headed by Ertha Pascal Trouillot was particularly critical. On
one hand, the presence of the "Macoutes" generated an atmosphere of
insecurity in the population, and on the other hand, the Army showed
itself to be more repressive toward the movements of popular organizations.
248. On March 17th, in Baptiste, a community located 19 kilometers
from Belladere, the section chief "macoute de Mon Leon", Level Latis,
accompanied by Sergeant Iderick Joseph, detained three militant members of
popular organizations: Baldomere and Romenet Cameau, members of the
Rassemblement des Paysans de Baptiste and Antelet Cameau, member of the
Comite de Jeunes Paysans Haitians. The victims were beaten at the time of
their detention and were accused of being subversives.
249. On March 19th, en Borgne, an area in northern Haiti, the Borgne
Peasant's Movement (BPM), which unifies several popular assemblies, held a
meeting in the Grand Plaza of Borgne. Around 20,000 peasants from all
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hearby communities met to protest against the presence of the "macoutes"
in the inner circle of public administration, in order to demand the
expulsion of the section chiefs who terrorize the people. The Military
shot at the demonstrators, leaving more than 150 wounded, and detained
more than 300 people. Among the victims detained were Ruben Lamour,
member of the BPM, Desir Pierre, seriously injured in the leg, and
Nicodeme St. Cyr.
250. On April 2, en Valliere Elie Garsonville, mayor of the city, was
detained and beaten by members of the military for having ordered an
investigation of violence committed by the military. Garsonville is still
being held in the Valliere jail.
251. During the on-site visit, the Special Commission went to Piatre,
where it was informed of the following occurences: In February 1986,
after Jean-Claude Duvalier left Haiti, the peasants of Piatre decided to
initiate legal action to recover territory form which they had been
expelled by landowner Olivier Nadal, beginning the appropriate judicial
process with the presentation of their titles to the land. According to
information released to the Commission, the lands occupied by Nadal are
worked by peasants from the community of Deluge, generating conflicts
between them and the peasants from Piatre.
252. As was demonstrated to the Special Commission during its visit
to Piatre, the lack of efficiency within the judicial system to resolve
these problems lies at the base of the grave problems that have arisen in
the area. It was also mentioned to the Commission that this judicial
inefficiency is present in the entire Artibonita region and is manifested
in difference forms through serious conflict. In Sonde the Commission
delegation heard similar claims of how the peasants lack effective
judicial remedies to defend their territorial rights, which constitutes a
violation of their human rights, and specifically, of article 25 of the
American Convention on Human Rights, to which Haiti is a party. It should
be noted that these conflicts have provoked numerous deaths and the arrest
of Jean Milius Jean Baptiste, who after nine months remains in the Saint
Marc prison without trial or process of any kind.
253. The inefficiency of the judicial system was explained to the
Commission to be the result of the great influence over the judiciary
excersise by the landowners, who have been evicting peasants from their
lands. To accomplish the action described, the landowners resort to the
military and the section chiefs to repress any form of resistance. The
Commission was able to observe how the peasants in Piatre have been forced
to move to the high area of the mountains, where the means of subsistence
are extremely scarce.
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5. Harassment of human rights groups
254. During the period covered by this report, persons directly
involved in human rights advocacy have been subject to arbitrary arrest on
orders from President Avril's Government. Despite the legal restrictions,
the Armed Forces have continued to search the headquarters of human rights
groups without a warrant.
255. One of the people who suffered such harassment from the
authorities is Joseph Maxi, Attorney-at-Law and President of the Haitian
Human Rights League. On November 3, 1989, on the air, Mr. Maxi offered
legal assistance to Evans Paul, Etienne Marineau, and Jean Auguste Mesyeux
who had been arrested and tortured. Immediately following this
announcement, his home was searched by the National Police Guard, and was
under military surveillance, thereby preventing him from returning to his
256. On November 18, Gaston Jean-Baptiste, Archange Mardi, and
Germaine Louis Mai, members of the League of ex-Political Prisoners of
Haiti (LAPH), a human rights group headquartered in Port-au-Prince, were
arrested by the Armed Forces in Tiotte (to the Southeast of Haiti),
without warrant, and taken to the barracks there. The military accused
them of meeting illegally to encourage the local population to go on a
hunger strike as a means of seeking the release of Mesyeux, Paul, and
Marineau. Gaston Jean-Baptiste was beaten while in custody. On November
27, they were released with the formal charge being made.
257. On January 20, 1990, at around 3:00 p.m., a group of armed men,
accompanied by police soldiers, burst into the premises of the Ecumenical
Human Rights Center in Port-au-Prince. They shot the front door open,
removed the filing cabinets and book shelves, and ripped out the telephone
wires. At the time, there were approximately 30 delegates of KONAKOM
holding their weekly meeting and they were abused by the assailants who
identified themselves as members of the Presidential Guard. One of the
members of the National Secretariat of KONAKOM, Gerald-Emile Brun, an
architect, was beaten and taken to the Presidential Palace along with the
other delegates. Most of the prisoners were released on the same day, but
Brun remained in military custody until the night of January 21, when he
was expelled from the country. On arrival in Miami, Brun had to spend a
few days in the hospital because of the blows sustained.
258. On January 21, at around 10:00 p.m., a group or armed men (two
in uniform) appeared at the home of Robert Duval, President of the League
of ex-Political Prisoners of Haiti, and finding no family member there,
beat the servant taken care of the house. Robert Duval and his family did
not return home for fear of being arrested.
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259. Examination of the practices of the Government and of the
denunciations made before this Commission shows a series of violations
originating in the Government of General Prosper Avril which led to a
state of irregularity and complete lack of protection for the population
with respect to measures adopted against them by agents of the State.
260. The practice of the Government of Haiti under Avril's regime
consisted of detaining political opposition without meeting the minimum
requirements of the law. Most of the detentions took place during hours
proscribed by the Constitution, private homes were searched without a
court order and methods were used that violated the physical integrity of
261. The incapacity of the judicial system to combat the atmosphere
of insecurity that has prevailed in both the capital and rural areas was
recognized by the Government itself. The Minister of the Interior and
Armed Forces, Ac6dius Saint Louis, in an interview given on September 7,
1989, said: "The forces of law and order are neither psychologically nor
materially prepared to deal with the lack of security in the country".
262. There is a consensus among important sectors of haitian society
that the persons accused of having committed human rights violations in
incidents like the massacres of November 29, 1987 and at the San Juan
Bosco Church on September 11, 19881 should be brought to justice.
However, President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot's provisional government has
mentioned that the lack of complaints prevents justice from being carried
out; for example, in January 1988 and investigative committee was formed
to look into the November 29 massacre and it received no complaints on the
subject. As for the San Juan Bosco massacre, Justice Minister Pierre
Labissiere informed the IACHR Delegation that based on a complaint Elise
Francois had been arrested in connection with the occurences at the
church, and that procedures established by law would be followed.
263. The majority of the arbitrary detentions have been carried out
by the "section chiefs" and the "assistants" who are designated by and
form part of the Armed Forces. The activities of these individuals have
far exceeded their function as rural police officers, leading to an
atmosphere of insecurity among the population. According to information
received by the Commission, the judicial authorities have shown neither
efficiency nor decisiveness in resolving the investigations ot these
1. The massacres of November 29, 1987 and the one of the San Juan
Bosco Church of September 11, 1988, are mentioned in the Report on the
Human Rights Situation in Haiti, 1988 page 81 and 103.
264. As can be seen from the denunciations received, in certain cases
detentions have been extended for long periods, and in other cases the
victims have been released after a few days, but in all cases they have
been kept incommunicado, no charges have been brought against them, and
they have not been afforded the guarantees of due process. In this
respect, the violation of the right to personal liberty allows the
emergence of an atmosphere that is propitious to the violation of other
human rights, such as the right to judicial guarantees and personal safety.
265. The description given in this chapter points to the conclusion
that the rights to personal liberty and to judicial guarantees have been
gravely compromised during the period covered by General Avril's regime.
Since the inception of President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot's provisional
government, the Commission has been able to observe a considerable decline
in human rights violations.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
266. From the above exposition the Inter-American Commission is able
to draw conclusions and make recommendations. First of all, it wishes to
state that it has found in the highest officers of the Government of Haiti
a positive attitude to move forward in the protection and promotion of
human rights, including political rights, through the exercise of which it
is sought to establish representative democracy. The Commission heard
with satisfaction the commitment on the part of the Government that the
Armed Forces of Haiti, will guard order and safety of the population and
of the candidates during the electoral process to begin shortly and will
prevent a recurrence of the events of November 29, 1987.
267. The Commission sensed a climate of latent insecurity that tends
to break out in response to a variety of problems, sometimes culminating
in acts of utmost severity. The extreme violence of agents of the Army,
and of the section chiefs and armed civilians associated with ruling
sectors that have fallen from power, prompts harsh acts of violence by
victims, which in turn are put down by the Armed Forces. In the
Commission's view, it is essential that this vicious circle of violence
be broken, and the main burden of responsibility for accomplishing this
devolves upon the Army and the Police. They must respect the human rights
of civilians in their demonstration control methods, and effectively
protect civilians who are set upon by groups of armed civilians or by
soldiers in their own ranks. In this regard is for the Government to take
the initiative that members of the Armed Forces and Police, in charge of
maintaining safety, will receive exemplary sanctions when found
responsible of abuses against the civilian population.
268. What emerges then is a clear picture of institutionalized
violence by the very forces whose obligation it is to preserve the peace
and protect citizens from violations of the right to life. The same
conclusion can be reached with regard to the physical integrity of
citizens. The institutional forces consisting of the army, the police,
the section chiefs and their para-military henchmen, far from assuring
humane treatment of prisoners, are chronic violations of this basic human
269. The Inter-american Commission must observe that the absence of
judicial actions against persons suspected responsible for grave human
rights violations constitute an commission that must be promptly
corrected. The Commission is aware of the legal and factual difficulties
that such actions face. However, the Commission must point out that an
action by the State in this regard will contribute not only to repair the
material and moral injuries caused, but also will have a preventive effect
to avoid the recurrence of new violations.
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270. The inefficiency of the Judicial Branch and the fact that it is
to a degree the captive of the power interests, make the populace highly
insecure about the safety of their rights, and are cited by some people as
the reason for taking the law into their own hands. This situation is
particularly dramatic in rural areas, where the inhabitants are bereft of
any legal recourse for the assertion of their rights and are at the mercy
of the section chiefs and their "adjoints." The testimony taken and
information gathered have convinced the Commission that, in practice, the
section chiefs widely exceed their assigned functions, and it feels,
therefore, that the system must be radically changed so that those police
officers will be truly responsive to the will of the people democratically
expressed. This is why the Commission has listened attentively to the
statements of both the Minister of the Interior and the Commander-in-Chief
of the Armed Forces with a view changing the duties, functions and origins
of the section chiefs.
271. The inefficiency of the Judicial Branch is also reflected in the
irregular procedural status of many individuals in custody. It is
therefore of the essence to take a census of the penal population in order
to ascertain their procedural status and set at liberty those against whom
there are no well-founded charges. This will help improve the deplorable
conditions that the Commission found in the jails.
272. The Commission observed the presence of a healthy freedom of
expression in Haiti, though it was told that there are restrictions on
this right that must be quickly changed. The Commission finds that the
journalists and owners of mass media have good reason to fear the
possibility of something happening to them, especially during the election
campaign and in the countryside. Because of this, the Commission is of
the view that the Government and the Armed Forces must make every possible
effort to protect the journalists and guarantee their safety in the real
exercise of their right to freedom of expression, an essential
prerequisite for truly free and honest elections.
273. It is also for the Government to disarm the groups of civilians
and retired military men who still are in illegal possession of weapons.
The Commission is convinced that this would measurably reduce the
insecurity of the population and help avert an escalation of conflict and
additions to the terrible loss of life that has already taken place. The
Commission must express its satisfaction at hearing that the highest
authorities are putting into practice programs that will separate the
Police from the Army as prescribed by the Constitution, and hopes this
process will be completed as quickly as possible.
274. The Commission has further observed that political, labor and
humanitarian groups are exercising their right to association. However,
the freedom to exercise this right is under the same cloud of insecurity
that lowers over all the others, and the Commission is of the view that
the Government should enforce continued freedom to exercise it.
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275. Finally, the Commission must reaffirm that the Haitian State, as
a party to the American Convention on Human Rights, is under the
obligation not only to respect those rights, but also to enforce the
freedom to exercise them fully. It hopes that in the coming election
campaign, human rights will be exercised in a climate of security that
will enable all political forces and the Haitian population at large to
express themselves and act in complete freedom and without fear. In this
way, it feels, the current democratization will surround the act of voting
with the broadest range of human rights, including the economic, social
and cultural rights, whose realization is essential to attainment of the
Haitian people's legitimate aspiration to a decent life. This, in the
view of the Commission, would truly strengthen representative democracy
which, as has been repeatedly stated, affords the best guarantee of the
full realization of human 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 aid 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-Amer-
ican Economic and Social Council, and the Inter-American Council for Education, Science, and
Culture); the Inter-American Juridical Committee; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights;
the General Secretariat; the Specialized Conferences; and the Specialized Organizations.
The General Assembly holds regular sessions once a year and special sessions when circum-
stances 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 implemen-
tation 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. Its Charter was signed in Bogota in 1948 and
entered into force on December 13, 1951. It was amended by the Protocol of Buenos Aires signed in
1967 and in force since February 27,1970. It was later amended by the Protocol of Cartagena de Indias
signed in 1985 and in force since November 16, 1988. Today the OAS has thirty-three member states.
MEMBER STATES: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, The Bahamas, (Commonwealth of), Barba-
dos, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, (Commonwealth of),
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica,
Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and
the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.