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LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1 ', ll' K
Haiti: A Human Rights Nightmare
.;/'d LINDELL BLVD.
S E. LOUIS, MO 63106
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
330 Seventh Avenue, 10th floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 967-0916 (fax)
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
100 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Room 502
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 543-5999 (fax)
1992 Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
All Rights Reserved
Printed in the United States of America
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
Since 1978 the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights has worked
to promote international human rights and refugee law and legal
procedures in the United States and abroad. The Chairman of the
Lawyers Committee is Marvin E. Frankel; Tom A. Bernstein is its
President; Michael H. Posner is its Executive Director; William G.
O'Neill is the Deputy Director; Arthur C. Helton is the Director
of its Refugee Project; and Martha L. Doggett is the Coordinator
of its Americas Program.
-f- Copies of this report are available from:
8 Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
330 Seventh Avenue, 10th Floor
SNew York, New York 10001
I. Extrajudicial Executions .......................9
II. Arbitrary Arrests and Illegal Detentions ............ 11
A. Targeting the Catholic Church
and Religious Workers ................... 12
B. Attacks on the Church
and Church Officials in the Artibonite Valley .. 15
C. Attacks on Religious Figures in Les Cayes ......... 18
D. Arbitrary Arrests in Les Cayes. ................ 19
E. Targeting Students and Teachers ................ 20
III. Repression of the Right of Free Expression .......... 26
A. Print and Broadcast Media ................... 27
B. Repression of Expression in Rural Areas .......... 30
IV. Freedom of Assembly and Association ............. 33
A. Repression of Church Activities ............... 34
B. Repression of Rural Organizations .............. 36
C. Repression of Assembly in Urban Areas ........... 38
V. Torture and Mistreatment of Detainees and Prisoners 40
VI. Military Interference in the Judicial Process
A. Intimidation and Improper Influence
in the Case of Sister Clemencia ....
B. Military Impunity and Harassment
The Case of Jean-Mario Paul ......
C. Military Impunity and Intimidation
The Case of Manno Charlemagne .
D. Intimidation of Paul Yves Joseph ......
VII. Failure to Investigate and Prosecute
Human Rights Violations ...............
. .. 51
.... .. ... 53
... .... 54
VIII. Recommendations ..........................59
The 21 months since the Lawyers Committee issued Paper
Laws, Steel Bayonets: Breakdown of the Rule of Law in Haiti,1 our
report on the administration of justice in Haiti, have been emotionally
wrenching for all who care about human rights in Haiti. The promise
of a civil society that seemed imminent following the free, fair and
peaceful election of Jean Bertrand Aristide as President in December
1990 has given way to the return of authoritarian control and military
domination after a bloody coup forced him from the country on
September 30, 1991.
The military takeover has led to a clear deterioration in
respect for human rights and the rule of law. Sadly, the conclusions
and recommendations we offered 21 months ago in Paper Laws to aid
the new civilian government in reforming the administration of justice
and enhancing respect for human rights remain as relevant -- and even
more urgent -- today as when first written.
The human rights situation in Haiti is worse than at any time
since the Duvalier era. The military has executed, tortured and
illegally arrested countless Haitians. Government harassment and
intimidation of journalists, human rights monitors and lawyers,
priests, nuns and grass-roots leaders is intense. Popular expressions
of support for ousted President Aristide are routinely met with violent
reprisals by the military. Repression of any perceived threat to
military control has led the Haitian armed forces to place such
stringent restrictions on the right of association that foreign
development workers have been detained for meeting with the
members of agricultural cooperatives. Even priests and nuns, who
have historically enjoyed some special protection from illegal
'Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Paper Laws, Steel Bayonets:
Breakdown of the Rule of Law in Haiti. (New York: 1990) [hereafter "Paper
detention and arrest, have been targeted by military authorities. At
the same time, government interference in the judicial process has, if
anything, become more blatant.
Things were not expected to be this way. On December 16,
1990, Haitians turned out to vote in the first democratic presidential
elections in the country's history. The results were astonishing.
Popular support for the election of Jean Bertrand Aristide was
overwhelming, giving him a historic mandate for reform unparalleled
in modern Haitian history. In a crowded field of candidates, two-
thirds of Haitian voters chose Aristide, a priest who had been a fierce
critic of the military and an outspoken advocate of reform.
The election process was equally remarkable. First, it
represented the culmination of an extraordinary international effort to
launch Haiti on the path of democratic reform. Both the Organization
of American States and the United Nations actively participated in
assisting Haitian election authorities to assure the security and
integrity of the election process.
Second, voter turnout was an astounding 75%, despite
formidable logistical challenges. The dirt roads and mountain paths
of rural Haiti where 75 % of the population lives made the distribution
of election materials -- registration cards, voting lists, ballot boxes
and ballots -- treacherous and uncertain. The high illiteracy rate
among Haitians compounded the challenges of registering and voting.
Yet despite these obstacles, approximately 3.2 million Haitians
registered to vote and more than 2.4 million voted on election day.
Third, despite the logistical problems, virtually all observers
who monitored the voting, both international and domestic, attested
that the elections were free and fair and that voters experienced no
threats, intimidation or harassment.
Finally and perhaps most remarkable was the military's
peaceful role in the voting. Election Day 1990 was one of the most
peaceful, non-violent, days in Haiti's recent past. Throughout the
country, members of the Haitian armed forces, including rural section
chiefs and their deputies, contributed to the success of the elections
by patrolling polling places, controlling crowds with a minimum of
force, and exhibiting support for the democratic elections. The
military's positive role in the elections indicated the level of
organization, discipline and control that exists in the Haitian armed
forces. This behavior contradicts past and present claims by
apologists for the military that the army is nothing more than a loose
coalition of competing gangs and that the military hierarchy is unable
to control the actions of its subordinates.
Haiti's tenuous hold on democracy was first exposed on
January 6, 1991, when Roger Lafontant, former Minister of the
Interior and head of the Duvaliers' private militia, the Tontons
Macoutes, attempted to seize control of the government and prevent
the installation of Aristide as President. Though the coup attempt
failed, it served as an ominous reminder of the powerful forces in
Haiti that benefit from the absence of the rule of law and remain
unalterably opposed to democratic reform.
Those forces combined to frustrate President Aristide
following his formal inauguration on February 7, 1991, the fifth
anniversary of the end of the Duvalier dynasty. Aristide's electoral
mandate was not reflected in the new Haitian legislature. His late
entry into the presidential race had prevented his supporters from
fielding candidates in many of the races for deputy or senator. His
supporters were forced to throw their support to candidates who
seemed most favorable to Aristide. Consequently, only a minority of
the newly elected National Assembly and Senate were committed to
President Aristide or his program of reform.
Nevertheless, the Aristide government was able to take some
important steps to improve respect for the rule of law in Haiti. In
one of his first official acts at his inauguration, President Aristide
announced the retirement of senior military officials who had either
been implicated in past human rights violations or who had failed to
punish those responsible. He later named several new public
prosecutors, replacing corrupt officials who were often linked to the
military. At the same time, President Aristide announced the creation
of a human rights commission charged with investigating some of the
most notorious human rights abuses committed in the past.
Perhaps the most important step taken by the Aristide
government to improve respect for the rule of law was the dissolution
of the institution of rural section chiefs accountable to military
authority. As the Lawyers Committee documented in Paper Laws,
section chiefs have been at the heart of human rights abuses in Haiti.
Their unfettered authority over the lives of the peasants in the
communities under their control had led to systematic disregard for
individual liberties and for legal protection of fundamental rights. As
members of the military they enjoyed complete impunity from judicial
or civilian authority.
President Aristide dissolved the section chief system and
replaced it with a system of rural police under the jurisdiction of the
Ministry of Justice. To emphasize that the differences between the
new rural force and the old section chiefs were more than cosmetic,
the Aristide government refused to simply transfer section chiefs and
their staff to the new rural force; rather they appointed a new corps
of rural agents, individuals untainted by the abuses of the old system.
The steps to improve the institutions charged with protecting
human rights were sometimes accompanied by statements by President
Aristide which undermined his campaign promises to bring justice to
Haiti. On several occasions, President Aristide failed to condemn
publicly mob violence and threats directed at his political opponents.
His overwhelming electoral mandate provided a unique opportunity
to exhort Haitians to respect the rule of law and not take justice into
their own hands, an understandable sentiment given the deplorable
state of Haiti's justice system. Regrettably, at certain key moments
of his Presidency, Aristide failed to do so.
The trial of Roger Lafontant and his accomplices on July 29,
1991 took place under conditions which can only be categorized as
intimidating. Crowds ringed the courtroom and the courthouse,
jeering at the defendants and calling for conviction and death. Many
demonstrators carried tires, threatening to use them to "necklace" the
defendants and their advocates. This practice, known as "P're
Lebrun" in Haiti, consists of placing a tire around the victim's neck
and shoulders and then setting it ablaze.
In a speech to students on August 4, President Aristide
acknowledged that the jury in Roger Lafontant's trial was intimidated
by the crowd's threats of Pere Lebrun. He suggested that such
threats helped explain the jury's decision to sentence Lafontant to life
imprisonment, despite a legal maximum sentence of 15 years.
Similarly, President Aristide failed to condemn the crowds who, again
armed with tires, surrounded the National Assembly in early August
1991 and threatened legislators opposed to legislation introduced by
If President Aristide's silence failed to quell unrest, his
rhetoric sometimes inflamed public passions. On several widely
publicized occasions, his public statements were interpreted as
condoning mob violence. In an early September speech, President
Aristide sent contradictory signals about his commitment to the rule
of law -- pledging judicial independence while simultaneously urging
the people to monitor vigilantly the administration of justice:
Meanwhile, the executive power will keep a close
watch, without interfering in the judicial system. This
does not mean we are shirking our responsibility; we
are simply respecting the rules of democracy as
required by the Constitution, rules which have their
limitations because of the possibility of corruption
within the judicial system. Matters cannot always be
handled the way we the people would like them to be.
You have given me authority which I pass on to you.
This power entitles you to organize to defend your
rights wherever, however and whenever necessary.3
Finally, upon his triumphant return on September 27, 1991 from a
speech given to the United Nations General Assembly in New York,
Aristide declared on his arrival at Port-au-Prince's international
2Information Minister Marie-Laurence LassBgue, however, issued a statement
the next day calling on the population to respect one another's rights and extending
the government's sympathy to the victims of the violence. "Government Urges
Respect", Radio Mdtropole, Aug. 16, 1991, as reported in Foreign Broadcast
Information Service Daily Report (Latin America) [hereafter FBIS], Aug. 22, 1991
'"Aristide Addresses Current Domestic Issues," Radio Soleil, Sept. 12, 1991,
as reported in FBIS, Sept. 13, 1991 at 8.
Your tool is in your hand. Your instrument is in your
hand. Your Constitution is in your hand. Don't
neglect to give him what he deserves...
Your equipment is in your hand. Your trowel is in
your hand. Your pencil is in your hand. Your
Constitution is in your hand. Don't neglect to give
him what he deserves...
Throughout the four corners of the country, we are
watching, we are praying, we are watching, we are
praying, when we catch one of them, don't neglect to
give him what he deserves.
What a beautiful tool! What a beautiful instrument!
What a beautiful appliance! It's beautiful, it's
beautiful, it's pretty, it looks sharp! It's fashionable,
it smells good and wherever you go you want to smell
While the speech explicitly mentioned the Constitution as a "tool", it
arguably condoned the use of P&re Lebrun or other acts of vigilante
justice. This ambiguous message was quickly seized on by the
Haitian armed forces and their civilian allies as further proof of
President Aristide's selective belief in human rights.5 To be sure,
President Aristide also made speeches praising the rule of law and
urged his followers to turn over suspected criminals and Tontons
Macoutes to the police. But instead of communicating clear and
consistent support for the rule of law, his message remained equivocal
Two days after his return from New York, the military
overthrew President Aristide, citing his inflammatory rhetoric as
'Translation by the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, Americas Watch
and Caribbean Rights of a transcript of the speech which appeared in Halti
Observateur, Oct. 2-9, 1991, in The Aristide Government's Human Rights Record,
at 24-5 (Nov. 1991).
'Some observers have stated that President Aristide knew at the time of this
speech that the army was planning a coup and that he was extremely frustrated and
wanted to warn his followers of the impending crisis.
evidence of his betrayal of human rights and incitement of tensions
among Haitians. Yet the military's newfound concern for human
rights was merely a pretext; the army killed, tortured and illegally
arrested an untold number of Haitians in a spasm of violence the likes
of which has not been seen since the deadliest days under the
Duvaliers. No one knows exactly how many Haitians were killed by
the army in the violence that followed the ouster of Aristide. Some
of the most brutal violence took place in rural areas, far from the
prying eyes of the international community or foreign journalists.
The number of casualties in these regions, where most Haitians live,
is even harder to gauge.
The military promptly took steps to consolidate power. A
civilian government was named, including an interim President, to
complicate any sudden return of President Aristide. Systemic changes
introduced by the Aristide government were quickly reversed. Many
of the prosecutors and judicial officials appointed by Aristide were
fired or forced to flee. Prisoners, including some who had been
convicted during Aristide's tenure for human rights violations
committed during previous regimes, were freed. The National
Penitentiary was virtually emptied in the first few days following the
coup. The new system of rural police accountability to civilian
authority was eliminated, and the old section chief structure was
restored. Many section chiefs, including many known for committing
human rights abuses, were returned to power; they enlisted their old
private armies of dozens of deputies and reasserted their control over
This report examines the human rights situation in the country
since the coup, with particular focus on events in May, June and July
1992. Information about most of the cases described in this report
comes from a 10-day fact-finding mission to Haiti in May conducted
by William G. O'Neill, Deputy Director of the Lawyers Committee,
and Elliot J. Schrage, a consultant to the Committee. During their
mission, Lawyers Committee representatives interviewed dozens of
victims of human rights abuses, human rights lawyers and monitors,
journalists, priests, nuns, U.S embassy officials and representatives
of the de facto government in Port-au-Prince. In most cases, those
interviewed requested that their names not be published, fearing
reprisals by the Haitian armed forces or their civilian allies.
The report exposes as a sham the human rights rationale used
to justify the removal of President Aristide. His ouster has meant the
reversal of judicial reforms and resulted in the return of widespread,
systematic human rights violations far exceeding any of the abuses
that occurred during the tenure of the Aristide government.
Extrajudicial executions, torture and mistreatment of detainees have
again become routine while illegal arrests occur with numbing
To assure their hold over the country, Haiti's military leaders
and their civilian allies have imposed greater restrictions on freedom
of expression, assembly and association than Haiti has known since
the end of the Duvalier dictatorship. Haiti is a human rights
nightmare where the most fundamental freedoms are violated and
where the violators enjoy virtual impunity.
I. Extrajudicial Executions
International law binding on Haiti contains absolute, non-
derogable prohibitions against summary or arbitrary executions.6
Nevertheless, since the military's coup d'etat on September 29, 1991,
the Haitian armed forces and their civilian agents have executed a
large but unknown number of Haitians.
The number of those killed since the coup by the Haitian
armed forces -- including the army, police and their civilian allies --
is impossible to verify, but based on reports from people who have
been able to visit the morgue and hospital in Port-au-Prince and other
reliable sources, the figure is at least 1,000 and could be significantly
higher.7 An official from the U.S. Consulate who visited the main
morgue in Port-au-Prince and morgues in private funeral homes in the
first half of October told the Lawyers Committee that each time he
went to the central morgue it was full to its capacity of 200, and most
of the bodies had bullet wounds.
The primary reason that the exact number of executions is not
known is because the Haitian armed forces have prohibited
journalists, human rights monitors and medical personnel from doing
their jobs. For example, in early October, the army threatened two
U.S. journalists, destroyed their notes and said they would kill the
journalists' interpreter during an investigation in Carrefour of an
alleged massacre of civilians by the army.
6Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights provides in relevant
part: "Everyone has the right to have his life respected... No one shall be arbitrarily
deprived of his life." Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights states: "Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall
be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."
7La Plate-Forme des Organismes Haltiens de Difense des Droits Humains (the
Platform of Haitian Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights) has documented
1,021 cases of extrajudicial executions from October 1991 to August 1992 and
estimates that the number of cases could be as high as 3,000. "Memorandum to the
OAS Mission to Haiti," Aug. 17, 1992 at 3.
In the early days of the coup, the executions were numerous
and always appeared to have a political purpose. Soldiers
intentionally entered neighborhoods known as Aristide strongholds
and executed countless people. As their reign of terror took hold, the
military targeted their victims with more precision, but one overriding
characteristic has remained constant: anyone known or suspected of
being an Aristide supporter or even member of a group promoting
goals consistent with Aristide's program, is at significant risk.
Executions have continued throughout the post-coup period.
A full accounting is beyond the scope of this report and will have to
await a fundamental change in conditions in Haiti allowing for proper
investigation.8 Yet an upsurge in executions in mid-1992 must be
For example, May saw a sharp increase in the number of
extrajudicial executions throughout the country. According to the
Platform of Haitian Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights,
24 people were killed in the month of May in circumstances
suggesting extrajudicial executions. Moreover, dozens of corpses
were found throughout the country, most in the Port-au-Prince area
and in particular, in the poorer sections of Cit6 Soleil and in
Carrefour.9 On May 19, one day after a plane had flown over Port-
au-Prince and dropped leaflets with President Aristide's picture, five
bodies were found on the street with bullet wounds.10 And on
August 19, the bodies of three young men who had been putting up
posters of President Aristide in preparation for an up-coming visit by
the Organization of American States were found in the Port-au-Prince
'Attached as Appendix A is one of a series of letters from the Lawyers
Committee to the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary or Arbitrary Executions,
dated Aug. 10, 1992, with details of certain cases and a request for action by the
Special Rapporteur. The cases in the letter are a small sample of those awaiting
9Platform of Haitian Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights, "Haiti:
Situation Report for the Month of May 1992" (Rapport de Situation: Moi de May
1992). Pub. No. 9, July 17, 1992 at App. 2.
'tHaiti: Risistance & Dimocratie, Bulletin No. 105, at 3, May 20, 1992.
morgue." The men had been arrested on August 18 by unknown
members of the Haitian security forces. One was 25-year-old Matine
R6milien, a co-founder of a new political party called "Open the
Gates" whose purpose is to work for the return of President Aristide.
II. Arbitrary Arrests and Illegal Detentions
The Haitian army and police, which remain one and the same
in violation of Article 263 of the 1987 Constitution,12 have illegally
and arbitrarily arrested and detained thousands of people since the
September coup. Although Haitian law requires a written warrant for
all arrests and prohibits arrests from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., except
when the army or police witness a crime being committed,1 Haitian
security forces have made countless illegal, warrantless arrests since
the September 1991 coup. The Constitution also requires that anyone
arrested be brought before a judge within 48 hours of arrest to
determine the legality of the arrest and the detention.'4 Yet
detainees are routinely kept for days, weeks, even months without
charge or the constitutionally-mandated hearing."
These practices also violate Article 7(3) of the American
Convention on Human Rights which states: "No one shall be subject
"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with Haitian human rights monitor
[name withheld on request], Aug. 19, 1992.
"Article 263 of the Constitution of the Republic of Haiti, 1987, [hereafter
Constitution] states: "The Corps insuring public order shall be composed of two
distinct bodies: 1) The Armed Forces of Haiti; 2) The Police Force" (Lawyers
"Id. at art. 24. "All arrests and detentions, except in the case offlagrant dflit,
must be made on the basis of a written warrant from the competent legal officer."
Article 24-3(d) provides "Except in cases of flagrant ddlit, no arrest or search can
take place between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m." (Lawyers Committee Translation).
4"d. at art. 26.
"For additional information on the legal criteria for arrest and detention and
proper judicial procedure, see Paper Laws, at 65-78.
to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment" and Article 9 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides in relevant part
that "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person." Haiti
has ratified both the American Convention and the International
The Haitian armed forces have targeted anyone suspected of
supporting President Aristide and have illegally, but far from
arbitrarily or haphazardly, arrested students, journalists, human rights
advocates, priests, nuns, rural and urban local community leaders,
and anyone else capable of organizing or participating in opposition
activities or of expressing dissent. Those who monitor rights
violations and defend people who have criticized the coup are most
According to a local human rights monitor, between
September 30, 1991 and April 30, 1992 there were 295 confirmed
cases of arbitrary arrest in the Gonaives region alone.'" The actual
number of arbitrary arrests is undoubtedly much higher, since the
severe repression makes gathering information in the region extremely
dangerous and difficult.
The Lawyers Committee has documented numerous cases of
illegal and arbitrary arrests and during the course of our mission
interviewed several victims of this practice.
A. Targeting the Catholic Church and Religious Workers
The Haitian military has singled out priests and nuns who
work in rural areas and with local grass-roots organizations in the
cities. This segment of the Haitian church has adamantly opposed the
coup and supported Aristide, sometimes opposing positions taken by
the Haitian bishops and the church hierarchy. Priests and nuns, often
the only source of information and an important, sometimes
moderating presence in the isolated countryside and teeming urban
slums, have been arrested, beaten and forced to abandon their
"Lawyers Committee interview with human rights monitor [name withheld on
request], Gonaives, May 5, 1992, [hereafter "Gonaives Interview"].
Sister Clemencia Ascanio. Sister Clemencia is a 30-year-old
Venezuelan nun in the order of the Dominicans of the Presentation.
She has worked in a rural section of the Artibonite Valley for two
years. Because of medical problems, she must make frequent visits
to the Dominican Republic for treatment.17 On April 27, 1992
Sister Clemencia boarded a bus in the Dominican Republic for her
return trip to Haiti following her most recent medical treatments. At
Jimani, a town near the border with Haiti, someone Sister Clemencia
knew asked her to take three packages back to Haiti.
Haitian soldiers stopped and searched the bus after it crossed
the Dominican-Haitian border at Malepasse at about 5:00 p.m. They
opened the packages that had been given to Sister Clemencia and
found copies of a calendar with President Aristide's picture and the
words (in Creole) "We have stumbled but we have not fallen.""8
The soldiers, without a warrant, promptly arrested all 18 passengers
on the bus, though no crime had been committed according to the
Haitian penal code. All the passengers were led to the military
barracks in Croix des Bouquets, the nearest large town.
All were detained overnight in the prison at Croix des
Bouquets. At 9:00 a.m. the next morning (April 28), soldiers
released all the passengers except for Sister Clemencia, the driver of
the bus and another passenger. The soldiers seemed particularly
incensed by the calendars and Sister Clemencia's Venezuelan
citizenship, calling her a "subversive" and part of an "international
plot."19 They apparently linked Sister Clemencia's nationality to the
fact that President Aristide had been staying in Venezuela since the
coup and that Carlos Andres Perez, Venezuela's President, is a strong
"While in Haiti in May 1992, the Lawyers Committee delegation examined
numerous recent prescriptions from Dominican doctors and results of various
medical exams given to Sister Clemencia in the Dominican Republic.
"A copy of this calendar can be found in Appendix B.
19Lawyers Committee interview with Sister Clemencia Ascanio, Port-au-Prince,
May 4, 1992.
Major Claudy Josephat, the military commander in Croix des
Bouquets, interrogated Sister Clemencia; he asked, "Do you know
Aristide? Do you like him? Who is supposed to receive these boxes?
Who was supposed to receive these calendars? Who else is in on the
plot?"20 He also tolerated the intimidating tactics of the soldiers
under his command who verbally abused her and threatened to beat
or kill her.
On Wednesday, April 29, soldiers took Sister Clemencia to
the prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince. Another member of her
order, Sister Oliva Zapata, a 50-year-old Colombian nun who has
lived in rural Haiti for 12 years, had waited there for two hours to
give Sister Clemencia medicine she is required to take. An army
officer told Sister Oliva, "It is too serious. A nun involved in
politics. She is going to the prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince.
There is nothing you can do."21
At the prosecutor's office, the soldiers not only refused to
permit Sister Oliva to give her colleague medicine but arrested her for
trying -- and for "talking to her." They called here "an accomplice
in the plot."22 Some soldiers pushed rifles into Sister Oliva's back
while others grabbed her around the neck and wrists. They forced
her into a police truck which took her to the Service d'Investigation
et de Recherches Anti-Gang (Anti-Gang Investigation Service)("Anti-
Gang"), a police station in Port-au-Prince long known for its harsh
treatment of detainees. Sister Oliva was detained there for five hours
before being released without explanation.
Sister Clemencia was also taken to Anti-Gang. Soldiers
handcuffed her and hit her with their rifle butts as she climbed into
the police pick-up truck. When she arrived, Captain Joanis, the
commanding officer, interrogated her personally. In a threatening
manner, he asked her: "What do you feel when someone is burned?
2'Lawyers Committee interview with Sister Oliva Zapata, Port-au-Prince, May
Do you share Aristide's attitude on inciting people to burn others?"23
Sister Clemencia and the two others from the bus spent the night in
a crowded cell in Anti-Gang where they slept on the floor and were
continually threatened and insulted by soldiers.
On Thursday, April 30, after another session at the
prosecutor's office, the three detainees were transferred to the
National Penitentiary where they were held until Saturday, May 2.
Conditions were marginally better at the Penitentiary where they
could receive visitors, food and medicine.
The following Saturday, the prosecutor told them that they
would all be expelled from Haiti. In fact, as the result of the
intervention of two bishops, all three were simply released. During
her five days in detention, Sister Clemencia never appeared before a
judge and was never charged with a crime.
B. Attacks on the Church and Church Officials in
the Artibonite Valley
A segment of the Haitian Catholic church known as the Ti
Legliz (Crdole for "little church") has been closely identified with
President Aristide and has been particularly active in rural areas,
especially in the fertile Artibonite valley north of Port-au-Prince. The
region has long been a hotbed of political activity and consequent
repression. In the longstanding conflicts between absentee landlords
and peasant farmers, the church has contributed greatly to informing
the region's residents about their legal rights. Peasant farmers
constituted perhaps the most concentrated base of support for the
Aristide presidential campaign; if anything, the coup has only
strengthened that base. Throughout rural Haiti, the military has
systematically targeted church officials or lay activists for arrest and
detention in order to diminish the power of the church and discredit
church leaders in their communities.
"Sister Clemencia interview, supra note 19.
Haitian Catechism Students and Father Gilles Danroc.
Father Gilles Danroc is a French priest who has lived and worked in
Haiti for 10 years. From his home parish in Verrettes, a large town
in the Artibonite Valley, Father Danroc frequently travels to isolated
outlying areas to say Mass. His status as a foreigner and an
outspoken critic of military abuses of human rights in Haiti made him
a natural target for the military.
At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 6, 1992, Father Danroc held
a special catechism class in the small town of La Chapelle to prepare
for Pentecost Sunday which was the following day. In compliance
with military regulations, Father Danroc had gone to the local
government official in charge of the town the previous day to inform
him of the time and place of the class. He was aware that the army
had banned all meetings in the area and wanted to insure that the
catechism class would not be disrupted.24
Just after the class began, two soldiers armed with rifles and
revolvers burst into the class and informed Father Danroc that he was
holding an "illegal" meeting; they announced that the priest and his
14 Haitian students -- including one pregnant 17-year-old -- were
under arrest. The soldiers, Corporal Claude and a colleague named
Fanfan, had no arrest warrants.25 They handcuffed Father Danroc
and the students and led the group to the army barracks in La
Chapelle. Around 5:00 p.m., after about seven hours' detention,
eight of those arrested, including Father Danroc, were taken to the
barracks in the larger town of Verrettes. The other seven detainees
remained in La Chapelle until the following afternoon when they were
also brought to Verrettes.
In Verrettes, the four male detainees were kept in a small dark
cell with five other men. They shared a cell measuring only 1.7 by
3.5 meters. The head of the military garrison in Verrettes questioned
"See Part IV infra for discussion on restrictions on the right of assembly.
"Lawyers Committee interview with Father Gilles Danroc, Paris, June 13, 1992.
the French priest and the students beginning around midnight; he also
threatened them and called them "subversives."26
As news of the arrests spread, a large gathering of
townspeople assembled in front of the barracks. A French priest
brought some food for the detainees who in turn gave some to the
prisoners who were already in the cell who apparently had not eaten
in several days.27
At approximately 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 7, the detainees
were taken in two separate public trucks, commandeered by the army
from their owners, to the prison in St. Marc. They were further
questioned and harangued by the St. Marc military authorities who
called them "communists" and "Lavalas supporters."28 Soldiers then
beat the seven students who were taken from Verrettes to St. Marc
with Father Danroc, including the pregnant 17-year-old, Georgette
In the early afternoon on Sunday, June 7, Father Danroc was
released without ever being brought before a judge or charged with
a crime. The seven students were released a few hours later. The
other seven students who had remained in Verrettes until they were
finally brought to St. Marc on Sunday evening, were not released
until Monday afternoon. Like Father Danroc, none of the students
ever appeared before a judge or was ever charged with a crime.
Father Danroc left Haiti for France on Tuesday, June 9,
uncertain about when or whether he would return.
"Lavalas is the Creole word for an intense tropical rain that washes away all
that stands in its way and is the label Aristide chose for his supporters during the
1990 presidential election.
29The names of the other six students who were beaten are: Luckner Simeus,
Guerda Exinor, Janise Laroche, Mutheren Elusma, Marie-Gurlande Mond6sir, and
Francois Distan. Verrettes has been a particular target of
military repression. On Sunday, November 17, 1991, the military
conducted warrantless searches in the homes of people active in parish
activities. This harassment was viewed by residents as particularly
threatening since exactly one week earlier two soldiers had arrested
Francois Distan, a member of the Youth Association for the Liturgy.
In that case, the soldiers took Distan away from his home without a
Distan's mistreatment was a signal to the community. He was
kept for eight days in the Verrettes prison where he was beaten and
tortured by the "djack" method.30 Soldiers subjected him to intense
questioning on the activities of the Catholic Church in the area and on
those of the local parish priest. Distan was then transported to the
prison at St. Marc where he remained until December 2. He spent
23 days in arbitrary and illegal detention without ever appearing
before a judge or participating in any judicial proceeding.31
C. Attacks on Religious Figures in Les Cayes
The Lawyers Committee interviewed Father Denis Verdier,
a 58 year-old Haitian priest who lives in the city of Les Cayes, who
described numerous arbitrary arrests and illegal searches of houses by
soldiers in the region. He noted that the arrests and searches were
particularly directed against grass roots organizations in both the city
and surrounding rural sections. Student groups were also targeted.
Father Verdier has himself been the target of military abuse
as a result of his leadership of the region's Commission on Justice
and Peace. In October 1991 his house was illegally searched by
'"The "djack" technique is perhaps the most serious form of torture employed
by the Haitian military to interrogate prisoners. Soldiers tie a victim's wrists to his
ankles, insert a pole underneath his chest and then lift the victim until he is
suspended helplessly in the air.
"Gonaives Justice and Peace Commission Report "Repression Against the
Clergy," No. CD/92-4, at 5, March 22, 1992, [hereafter "Repression Against
soldiers. At the time Father Verdier was at the Les Cayes Cathedral
when a friend telephoned to warn him that soldiers were waiting at
his home to arrest him when he returned.32 Father Verdier left the
Cathedral and went directly to a safe house, where he was still
resident at the time of the Lawyers Committee interview.
At approximately 9:00 a.m. on June 1, 1992, army officers
arrested Father Verdier and several others as they were travelling to
visit a local CARITAS project. At the same time, soldiers arrested
several priests who work on projects run by CARITAS in Les Cayes.
All those arrested were taken to the military barracks in the center of
the city.3 On June 2, soldiers broke into the Bishop's residence and
reportedly arrested and beat four priests who had sought refuge
there.34 Father Verdier was held for one week without ever being
charged with a crime and without having access to a lawyer. He was
reportedly shoved and hit on his feet and back, but apparently was not
D. Arbitrary Arrests in Les Cayes
Sunday, May 31 was Mother's Day in Haiti, and as the
congregation finished morning mass in the small town of Port Salut,
Lieutenant Duffet, from the military barracks in Les Cayes, arrived
in a jeep with four other soldiers. Other soldiers from the military
post in Port Salut joined them to search for people they expected had
returned home for the Mothers' Day celebration:
Myrzil Jean Claude, the Mayor and a teacher at a school in
Port Salut. When the soldiers could not find Jean Claude,
they arrested his wife and his three-month old child;
"Lawyers Committee interview with Father Denis Verdier, Les Cayes, May 9,
"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with human rights monitor, [name
withheld on request] Port-au-Prince, June 1, 1992.
Emmanuel Felix, a local government official and teacher, who
was able to flee;
Gilbert Louis, who was arrested;
Benel Louis, a former employee at the National Palace in
Port-au-Prince under President Aristide; he was also able to
flee after being warned by a friendly soldier;
Juneau Dorvil, a well-known Aristide supporter who remained
politically active following the coup; he was also able to flee;
Jean Hubert Feuille, a former Aristide bodyguard, who was
also able to flee."3
E. Targeting Students and Teachers
Haitian youth have been an important catalyst of change in
Haiti since the fall of Duvalier and, not surprisingly, the military has
targeted student leaders and student organizations for particularly
fierce treatment. Students have led the few peaceful protests
attempted since the coup. The army and police have usually reacted
quickly and violently to student marches or meetings. Soldiers have
prohibited student meetings, arrested and detained student leaders and
brutally beaten and in some cases tortured suspected student activists.
Meetings have been disrupted and schools forced to close for
The Haitian armed forces have continued to target students
throughout the spring and summer of 1992. On May 13, 1992 men
in civilian clothes and military uniforms beat a number of students at
the Faculty of Sciences Building at the University of Haiti in
"Letter received via telecopy from lawyer in Haiti [name withheld on request],
June 6, 1992.
downtown Port-au-Prince.36 On the evening of June 19, 1992,
dozens of soldiers surrounded the Ecole Normale Supdrieure
(Teachers' College) where approximately 250 students were meeting
to protest the inauguration of Marc Bazin as de facto prime minister.
Soldiers threatened the students and a tense stand-off ensued.
At the outset, the soldiers confiscated the keys to the building,
making the students prisoners in their own school. At around 10:30
p.m. armed civilians started to throw rocks at the building. Most of
the windows were broken. The 250 students and the four professors
trapped inside refused to leave while it was still dark because they
feared the soldiers and armed civilians who remained outside. It was
not until dawn on Saturday, June 20 that they were able to leave
under the protection of a priest who acted as an intermediary to
ensure that they were not harmed on their way out.37
On July 15, 1992, at least 60 police officers in uniform rushed
into a meeting of students at the medical school of the University of
Port-au-Prince. The meeting had followed a peaceful march through
the streets early that morning. A foreign diplomat attending the
meeting stated that soldiers fired their weapons but he could not
determine whether anyone had been hit. Reporters who examined the
scene afterwards saw blood stains on the floor.38 Eyewitnesses
stated that the police beat students and even curious by-standers from
the neighborhood. At least 20 students were arrested and were
reportedly taken to Anti-Gang, where they were detained for several
days without being charged.39
Some specific examples of illegal arrest and detention of
students and teachers follow.
"Hafti: Risistance & Democratie, Bulletin No. 103, at 4, May 15, 1992.
"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with human rights monitors [names
withheld on request] June 19 and 20, 1992.
""Police Disperse Students in Haiti," Washington Post, July 16, 1992 at A18.
"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with human rights monitors [names
withheld on request] July 16, 1992.
April 1992 Arrest of Cantave Gerson in Port-au-Prince.On
April 29, 1992, students at the Ecole Normale Supdrieure called for
a meeting to discuss the political crisis. At 10:00 a.m., just as the
meeting was about to begin, five men, some in police uniform,
disrupted the meeting and arrested Cantave Gerson, a student at the
school. He was arrested without a warrant and taken away in a police
Gerson reported that the police who arrested him beat him and
kicked him in the head. They took him to Anti-Gang where other
police hit him with their weapons. After a short detention, Gerson
was released without being charged with any criminal offense; indeed,
police never even told him why he had been targeted in the first
place. According to students who visited Gerson after his release,
soldiers had beaten him so severely that he required immediate
University of Haiti: November 1991 Illegal Arrests. In
response to the coup, the University Students Federation scheduled a
meeting at the Faculty of Sciences building at the University of Haiti
in Port-au-Prince for November 12, 1991 at 10:00 a.m. The purpose
of the meeting was to discuss the University's position following the
coup and the possible reopening of the University.
Around 8:30 a.m. students started to arrive to assure
themselves of a place in the 150-seat auditorium. At approximately
8:45 a.m., 15 police entered the auditorium and positioned themselves
at the front. A few minutes later another police unit of approximately
10 officers took up positions on a side street. One of the policemen
then asked a student leader to state the purpose of the meeting and the
topics to be discussed.41 After receiving the student's explanation,
the police departed.
The meeting finally began at 10:30 a.m. While a student
leader was reading the agenda, the audience suddenly heard heavy
'Lawyers Committee interview with student leader [name withheld on request],
Port-au-Prince, May 6, 1992.
regular blows being struck on the gate of the passageway leading to
the auditorium. A police unit was smashing the gate. When
neighbors came out of their homes to see what was going on, the
police threw rocks at them, forcing them to return to their homes.
After the police succeeded in smashing in the gate, about 20 police,
all heavily armed, invaded the auditorium. They attacked students in
the audience, beating them with batons, revolvers and their fists and
destroyed equipment of several journalists attending the meeting.
Approximately 100 students were illegally arrested at the auditorium.
An additional unknown number were arrested over the next few days.
One student leader interviewed by the Lawyers Committee
was taken by the police to Anti-Gang where he was beaten by
uniformed policemen and armed men in civilian clothes. He was
kicked on the neck and head and was beaten bloody.42 He saw
another arrested student, a woman, whose arm had been broken by
the police. The guards at Anti-Gang shouted threats at them and
called them "communists and trouble makers." After 45 minutes,
most of the students were taken to the National Penitentiary; a few
remained at Anti-Gang. As they entered the prison, the transferred
students were once again beaten by men in military uniform. Soldiers
hit them with helmets and rifle butts to the groin.
The students who evaded arrest at the auditorium did not
escape severe treatment. Many of those arrested in the "second
wave" were taken to a prison in Lamentin in the southwestern part of
Port-au-Prince. Several girls in this group were beaten severely and
two later said they were raped.43
Fifty-four students were released in a well publicized manner
a few days later, 36 on November 16 and another 18 students on
November 20. Their release was as politically motivated as was their
arrest. One student leader confirmed that Yvelie Honorat, the wife
of the then de facto Prime Minister and head of the Haitian Center for
Human Rights (CHADEL), ordered all the students to state that they
had not been mistreated as a condition of their release.' According
to the students' lawyer, Camille Leblanc, Mme Honorat insisted that
the students sign a document saying that CHADEL was responsible
for securing their release.45
Arrest of Lochard Murat In Port-de-Paix. At
approximately 11:00 a.m. on April 28, 1992, Lochard Murat, a
student at the University of Haiti, was arrested in the northwestern
city of Port-de-Paix. The soldiers who arrested him did not have a
warrant. They stopped Murat as he was walking to the local high
school where he taught. The soldiers took him to the military
barracks where a justice of the peace later issued a warrant for his
arrest. He was charged with setting fires that had erupted on April
11 at the local tax bureau and also at the Bishop's House.
Substantial evidence suggests that Murat's arrest was
politically motivated. Before the coup, Murat had served as a local
representative of President Aristide in Port-de-Paix. Like many other
prominent Aristide supporters, he had gone into hiding for several
months following the military coup in September 1991; he had only
returned to Port-de-Paix in early February. At the time he was
charged, Murat was also accused of having "photos of President
Aristide and money" which the soldiers alleged he had received to set
the fires.46 Since Murat's arrest, five or six other arrest warrants
have been issued for his friends, also well-known Aristide supporters.
Recognizing the political nature of the accusation, schools in Port-de-
Paix went on strike following his arrest.
Others also acknowledged the political importance of Murat's
arrest. Lawyers in both Port-de-Paix and Port-au-Prince refused
"Lawyers Committee interview with Camille Leblanc, Port-au-Prince, May 2,
"Lawyers Committee interview with leader of Haitian University students'
association [name withheld on request], Port-au-Prince, May 4, 1992.
requests to represent Murat, asserting that the case was "too
Haitian authorities repeatedly violated Murat's rights during
his detention. When soldiers searched his house, they did so without
a warrant in violation of Article 43 of the Constitution which requires
a warrant for all searches. Murat was detained from April 28 to May
4. He was not brought before a judge within the constitutionally
mandated period of 48 hours following his arrest. For the first three
days, he was not allowed visits from his lawyer or even his family.
He received no food. Reportedly, his clothes were confiscated and
he was forced to remain in the nude and handcuffed. On April 29,
Murat was transferred from the army barracks to the prison in Port-
de-Paix. Only after four days did military authorities permit Murat's
mother to visit her son and bring him some food.48
Harassment of Other Student Leaders in Port-de-Paix.
The Lawyers Committee interviewed another student leader who is
afraid to return to Port-de-Paix because of his work organizing
students. This leader requested that his name not be published for
fear that he and his family would be placed in greater jeopardy. On
May 2, friends from Port-de-Paix had told him that the military
authorities hold him responsible for sending pro-Aristide tracts and
photos of Aristide to the city. "I can't go back to Port-de-Paix. My
friends have told me not to come back. I don't know if it is true, but
this is what they tell me.""49 It must be emphasized that these
activities are not crimes under Haitian law, and whether or not the
student engaged in them should not be a matter of military -- or
judicial -- concern.
March 1992 Arrests of High School Students in Gonai'ves.
In early March, students at a high school in Gonaives held a rally at
the entry to the city. Shortly after the rally began, Haitian soldiers
arrived, broke it up and illegally arrested approximately 40 student
demonstrators. The arrests were illegal not only because they took
place without warrants, but because they attempted to criminalize
Haitians' constitutionally protected right of free assembly.o5 Other
students were arrested in early April for "spreading tracts" on behalf
of a local priest; three of them were severely beaten. Less than one
month later, on April 9, soldiers arrested and beat Georges Afred,
professor at a local school.5
Arrest of Sulfrid Jeune Exim6 in rural Gros Morne. At
7:00 p.m. on April 25, 1992, soldiers in Gros Morne arrested Sulfrid
Jeune Exime, a local high school teacher, for "passing out tracts.""52
The arrest occurred without a warrant. The soldiers took Exim6
directly to the prison; he was not brought before a judge within the
constitutionally required period of 48 hours.
Exim6 was later transferred to the prison in Gonaives. As of
May 5, the date the Lawyers Committee interviewed local human
rights monitors in the city, he had still not been brought before a
judge to determine the legality of his arrest and continuing detention.
III. Repression of the Right of Free Expression
The success of the coup against President Aristide has resulted
in the most severe repression of free expression in Haiti since the
Duvalier era. At all levels of society, communication of information
and the expression of opinions has become a potentially life-
threatening activity, endangering both the speaker as well as any
listener. Such restrictions violate guarantees included in the Haitian
"Constitution, art. 31.
"Gonaives Interview, supra note 16.
Constitution,s3 the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights,S and the American Convention on Human Rights.5 The
arrest and detention of Sister Clemencia Ascanio for transporting
calendars bearing the picture of President Aristide demonstrates the
extremes to which the military will go to dominate the flow of ideas
A. Print and Broadcast Media
The military has exerted strong control over both the print and
broadcast media. Following the coup almost all of the independent
radio stations that reported news ceased broadcasting. When a few
stations came back on the air, most did not broadcast news. Even
ostensibly apolitical communication has been controlled. On February
2, 1992, for example, soldiers in civilian clothes burst into a mass
being celebrated for the patron saint of the town of Gros-Morne to
prevent the retransmission of a religious sermon on the radio by the
Voice of America."
Print and broadcast journalists who report critically on the de
facto government or the military have been particular victims of
brutality. The following cases represent only a small sample of the
widescale repression of the media.58
'See text accompanying notes 17 to 23, supra.
"Repression Against Clergy Report, supra note 31, at 10.
"SFor additional recent examples, see Kim Brice, "The Long Shadow of Papa
Doc," Index on Censorship, at 23-26, July 1992.
Guy Delva. Guy Delva is a correspondent for the Voice of
America who has worked for several Haitian radio stations. Before
the coup, Delva lived with his family in the Delmas section of Port-
au-Prince. After the coup, he began to receive anonymous phone
calls threatening him because of his reporting. Callers told him that
"we'll kill you unless you stop. If in two days you are still reporting,
we will beat you."" As a precaution, Delva started sleeping in
different locations each night. In December 1991 soldiers came to his
family's neighborhood twice looking for him. He continued his
reporting but moved from his family's home.
Delva has reported extensively on Les Cayes, his native city,
providing key information on the torture and resulting death of Jean
Claude Museau by the military in January 1992. This reporting also
brought threats and recriminations.
A few months later, Delva organized a trip for representatives
of Amnesty International and some journalists to visit Jean-Mario
Paul, a Haitian journalist imprisoned by the military in Petit Goave.
Even though they had a court order authorizing their prison visit, the
soldier in charge refused them entry. He told them that only the
commandant could authorize such a visit. Since the commandant was
not there, the group was not allowed to see Paul.
When the group returned to Port-au-Prince, several gave
interviews on other radio stations describing the incident.
Subsequently, Delva received further threats, including one from a
soldier who told him "you are a trouble maker. You have sold the
country to foreigners. "'
The escalating threats and phone calls forced Delva to move
to the relative security of the Holiday Inn in downtown Port-au-
Prince, where he currently lives. His contacts with journalists outside
Haiti and his work for the Voice of America provide him a limited
form of protection.
Nonetheless, he remains exposed to the constant dangers
confronting all journalists working in Haiti. On May 22, 1992, he
5Lawyers Committee interview with Guy Delva, Port-au-Prince, May 4, 1992.
drove to the Lyc6e des Jeunes Filles in Port-au-Prince to cover a
demonstration by students at the girls' high school. Soldiers
surrounded the school and took up key locations in the
neighborhood. Delva was arrested in front of the school. As soon
as he got out of his car a soldier hit him with the butt of his rifle. He
was severely beaten by soldiers and men in civilian clothes. They
confiscated all his journalist's equipment, including his tape recorder,
cassettes, short-wave radio and notebook.61
Merle-India Augustine. On May 7, 1992, Merle India
Augustine, a 25-year-old part-time journalist, accompanied a
colleague from the United States to the prosecutor's office. The U.S.
journalist wanted to interview the prosecutor about the Sister
Clemencia case (described above) and asked Augustine to act as
The prosecutor reacted angrily when Augustine approached
him, telling her that he "hates white people."62 The prosecutor also
directed his anger at Augustine, threatening her "I can throw you in
prison." When Augustine responded that he could only imprison her
if she committed a crime, the prosecutor took offense. He ordered
the soldiers in his office to arrest her and left the building.
Soldiers placed Augustine in a holding cell in the building
where the prosecutor's office is located where she was held for
approximately 3 1/2 hours. It was only the intervention of an
influential friend that led to her release. She was never charged with
Sony Est6us. Sony Est6us, journalist for Radio Tropic FM,
was arrested and badly beaten on April 12, 1992. The police who
arrested him broke both his arms and several ribs. They charged
Esteus with distributing "anti-government tracts" earlier that day near
a church in Port-au-Prince.
6Hafti: Resistance & Dimocratie, Bulletin No. 106, at 6, May 22, 1992.
6Lawyers Committee interview with U.S. journalist [name withheld on request],
Port-au-Prince, May 7, 1992.
Three plainclothes police officers from Anti-Gang beat Esteus
until he agreed to confess to the charges. He was held for six hours,
never charged with a crime and upon his release required
hospitalization.63 Esteus described his torture to a reporter:
After several hard blows [with 3-foot long clubs]
Est6us said, he tried to cover part of his back with his
left arm, but another blow broke his arm. The middle
finger on his left hand is also broken. Six days after
the beating, his right wrist was badly sprained and
The violence against Est6us was part of a larger campaign to
intimidate Radio Tropic news coverage. According to the Index on
Censorship, the government radio station, Radio Nationale d'Haiti,
started a campaign against Radio Tropic and its news director, Henry
Alphonse; and on April 14 army personnel gave a "courteous
warning" to journalists at the station. Local news broadcasts were
B. Repression of Expression in Rural Areas
Military repression of the organized media in urban areas has
been matched by section chiefs in rural areas. Repression in rural
areas is so intense that even possessing or circulating pictures of
President Aristide usually triggers an arrest. In a number of cases,
the military has brutally punished entire communities where such
3"Haitian Reporter Reports Own Beating," Newsday, April 23, 1992 at 15.
"Id. A journalist who knows Est6us well was interviewed by the Lawyers
Committee and confirmed the arrest and the injuries. He showed members of the
delegation photo documentation of the extent of Est6us' injuries. Lawyers
Committee interview with journalist [name withheld on request], Port-au-Prince,
May 2, 1992. The Lawyers Committee delegation attempted to interview Mr.
Esteus but was unsuccessful since he was in hiding.
6"ndex on Censorship at 36, July 1992.
pictures -- or pictures accompanied by a brief text calling for the
return of President Aristide -- have appeared.
Harassment in the Central Plateau. At about the same time
as President Aristide was forced from Haiti on September 30 -
October 1, a detachment of 25 soldiers came from a nearby barracks
in Mirebalais to the commune of Sarazin in the Lower Plateau region
of central Haiti. They began shooting randomly into the homes of
residents, terrorizing the peasant farmers and their families. Ten
people were wounded and two were killed, including a pregnant
When the military government reestablished the section chief
system several weeks later, Marcel Mathurin, Sarazin's former
section chief, returned and enlisted about 300 deputies, each of whom
paid approximately $70 for the position. About half of them are
Several months later, on May 2, 1992, section chief Mathurin
arrived in Mirebalais at about 10:00 a.m. accompanied by about 30
armed soldiers in uniform. For four hours they terrorized the
community, arresting and beating residents, shooting into homes,
killing animals. They beat people with their fists and with sticks.
They targeted people who had supported President Aristide. Yves
Dubuisson was killed by Sovenay Gentil, a soldier from Sarazin who
had been stationed with the 33rd military company at the National
Palace since the coup but returned to the region to assist his
At about 2:00 p.m. the section chief and the soldiers split into
two groups. One, consisting of about 12 soldiers, took some
prisoners and headed out of town. The prisoners were cattle-tied,
with their arms pulled behind them and ropes around their hands.
The prisoners included Yves Theofil and Jean Daniel, both members
"Lawyers Committee interviews, Port-au-Prince, May 6, 1992 with Rodrigue
Paul, farmer and Coordinator of Projet Agricole de Devilopment Communal de
Sarazin (Agricultural and Development Project for the Commune of
Sarazin)("PADCS"), age 24; Flaubert Dubuisson, farmer and Secretary of PADCS,
age 30; and Marcel Fleurcil, farmer, age 42.
of Comitd de Defense des Planteurs du Monde Pierres (Defense
Committee of the Farmers of Monde Pierres).
The soldiers told the peasants that they had been arrested
because members of the community were distributing "tracts." The
"tracts" reportedly asserted that Aristide ought to return to complete
his term of office. The objectionable document consisted of one
sheet, a photo of Aristide and some text. Most of the prisoners
escaped or were permitted to flee; many of those who were not
arrested also fled the region. Many believe that if they return to the
community the soldiers will come back for them. Representatives of
PADCS presented the Lawyers Committee delegation with a
document listing residents who are afraid to return to their homes and
detailing their experiences.67
Repression in Pouly. On May 1, 1992 a number of leaflets
calling for the return of President Aristide appeared in the small
community of Pouly, located in the second section of Lascahobas in
the Lower Plateau. The leaflets, printed in different colors, consisted
of one sheet of paper, which included President Aristide's picture and
a brief text.
Between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. on May 2, 1992, section chief
Roland Vuyet, along with five armed soldiers and approximately 10-
12 deputies, arrived in the community. As one victim described:
[T]hey started roughing up residents, beating and
shooting into their homes. After a short time, one of
them whistled and another 25 or so deputies who had
been hiding on the outskirts of the community
appeared. I was in my farm working the field when
they arrested and beat me. The deputies holding me
told me that if I paid them they would free me. I
gave them $10 and ran away. They burned my home
and probably others as well. They killed 5 pigs of
mine and my neighbor's.
My friend, who is secretary of OMPP, Organisation
Mouvement des Paysans Pouly [Pouly Peasants'
Movement], sent me a list of the residents of Pouly
who were forced to flee.68
IV. Freedom of Assembly and Association
Haitian security forces and their agents have forbidden groups
from meeting and have persecuted certain individuals solely because
of their membership in groups perceived to be supportive of President
Aristide. The Haitian armed forces have illegally arrested and
detained people based on their affiliation -- real or suspected -- with
pro-Aristide groups, particularly students and members of the
clergy.69 These restrictions directly contradict the freedoms
enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights,70 the
"Lawyers Committee interview with a member of OMPP [name withheld on
request], Port-au-Prince, May 6, 1992.
69See discussion of illegal arrests and detention in Part II supra.
7Article 15 of the American Convention stipulates that: The right of peaceful
assembly, without arms, is recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the
exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and
necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security, public safety
or public order ...." Article 16 states:
(1) Everyone has the right to associate freely for ideological,
religious, political, economic, labor, social, cultural, sports or
(2) The exercise of this right shall be subject only to such
restrictions established by law as may be necessary in a
democratic society, in the interest of national security, public
safety or public order ....
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights71 and Haiti's
When they have disrupted peaceful meetings, prohibited
groups from meeting at all or destroyed the property and goods of
organizations, the Lawyers Committee knows of no instance in which
the Haitian armed forces and their civilian allies have cited and relied
upon the exceptions provided by law -- the need to preserve national
security, public safety, or public order -- to justify their extralegal
actions. While the church has been a prominent target for repression,
the military has systematically disrupted the operation of small-scale
self-help organizations promoting agricultural projects, literacy or
neighborhood improvements. Members of these organizations have
been forced into hiding; many thousands have sought escape on the
high seas or have fled to the Dominican Republic. A number of
A. Repression of Church Activities
Since the coup, the military has sought to make an example
of the church in order to crush peasant opposition to military control.
The Justice and Peace Commission for the Gonaives diocese described
the tactics used to control the church and their consequences for the
rights of association and assembly.
[T]he diocese has thirty priests covering its parishes;
yet only about half remain in their parishes to confront
in one way or another the military repression; [those
who remain] have become the objects of spies and
strict surveillance in their pastoral activities. Since
the military coup d'etat, all activities of the church
such as CARITAS, Justice and Peace, literacy
campaigns, church grassroots organizations and others
7Articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
provide in pertinent part that the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized and
that everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others.
2Constitution, art. 31.
have been suspended due to the blind and savage
In numerous parishes, even mass has had to be
suspended for certain times. A sophisticated spy
network covering religious ceremonies and masses has
been put in place by the army by putting in civilian
spies who, by their simple presence, prevent a free
and effective worship.
Finally, for the first time, the army has gone so far as
to shoot inside a cathedral in the presence of the
Bishop which happened on Monday, November 4,
1991. The Army proceeded to arrest numerous
Monsignor Emmanuel Constant, the Bishop of Gona'ives,
sharply condemned the pervasive repression within his diocese in a
speech on June 9, 1992. He stated that he had "come to speak the
truth in all that is going on in the Gonaives diocese because there are
no journalists in GonaYves [T]hey have all gone to the bush to
Harassment of Religious Leaders in Petite-Riviere de
l'Artibonite. On Friday, May 15, 1992 Father Max Leroy Mesidor
of Petite-Riviere de l'Artibonite discovered pamphlets in his parish
church and at the Catholic high school. The pamphlets called on the
priest to leave the area within 24 hours because he had spoken ill of
the army and of the coup.75 Father M6sidor refused to leave his post.
7Repression Against Clergy Report, supra note 31 at 4.
74 "Gonaives Bishop Condemns Tortures, Repressions," Radio Soleil, June 9,
1992, as reported in FBIS, June 10, 1992 at 14.
"Commission of Justice and Peace, Gonaives, Haiti Report No. PR/1-92, at 1,
May 27, 1992.
Five days later, on May 20, 1992, another series of pamphlets
appeared. These renewed criticism of the priest and also targeted the
nuns from the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis who teach at the school.
The pamphlets reiterated the warning to leave town within 24 hours.
All the religious workers stayed.
At 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, the lights and power for
the rectory and the convent went out when electricity was
mysteriously cut. At the same time, soldiers began firing rifles near
the rectory. At about 9:30 p.m., a group of men began stoning the
rectory, aiming at Father Mesidor's room. After about 30 minutes,
the group of men moved to the convent and began to throw stones at
Though the military barracks of Petite Riviere is within 50
yards of the rectory and convent, soldiers made no effort to
investigate the disturbance, let alone intervene to protect the church
officials. The next morning Father Mesidor and Sisters Marjorie
August, Josette Jeunes and Elza Lee were forced to flee the parish.
All schools in the town were forced to close as a result.76
This was not the first such incident in Petite Riviere. On
Sunday, October 6, 1991, at approximately 3:00 p.m., soldiers from
the barracks at Petite Riviere illegally entered the school run by the
Sisters of Charity of St. Louis and broke up a meeting that the nuns
were having with their lay teachers.7
B. Repression of Rural Organizations
Repression of Assembly in Northeast Haiti. Virtually all
peasant groups in northeastern Haiti have ceased meeting. A member
of one summed up the situation: "We are not free to do what we
want to do. We are not free to meet."78 A soldier in St. Marc in
the Artibonite echoed the rationale used all over rural Haiti for this
'Repression Against the Clergy Report, supra note 31 at 2.
7Lawyers Committee interview [name withheld on request], Port-au-Prince,May
blanket banning of meetings, saying: "Peasants have no role in
politics, they have no business having meetings." To underscore this
message, on April 28 and 29, soldiers in the Artibonite Valley town
of Desarmes held an unknown number of residents under house arrest
because the local commanding officer had not received notice of a
In another community, the army killed three members of a
peasant agricultural cooperative and destroyed their meeting place in
October 1991. Following that incident, local military authorities
informed community residents that they would have to give the
nearby barracks three days' advance notice of any meeting; in
addition, a soldier must be permitted to attend any such meeting.8"
The soldier in charge of the region told them that his superiors in the
departmental capital had set this policy. The combination of the new
policy and the previous violence led the group to suspend meetings
with their all members; they continued to hold their regular weekly
staff meetings without alerting the army.8s
In early January 1991, at approximately 8:45 a.m., soldiers
in uniform forced their way into the weekly staff meeting. The
soldiers were heavily armed and demanded to know why there had
been a meeting without prior notice being given to the army. Soldiers
blocked both doors to the meeting room and began to fire shots into
the air as they marched the 11 participants to the military barracks.
All were detained, the men in a small cell. Soldiers threatened and
insulted them until finally, at about 1:30 p.m., a 500 gourde ($60)
bribe was paid to the soldiers and all were released.
News of the meeting reached military headquarters in the
departmental capital and the local commander was furious. He
"A copy of the letter announcing this policy is attached as Appendix C to this
"Lawyers Committee interview [name withheld on request], Port-au-Prince,May
immediately forbade all meetings, saying "you may be having
political meetings, I don't know what you are doing up there.""2
Peasants Movement of Papeye. The military has effectively
destroyed the ability of the Peasants Movement of Papeye (PMP) to
operate. The PMP is a peasant self-help group that has been active
in development projects in the Central Plateau area of Haiti since the
end of the Duvalier dynasty. The military cracked down severely on
the PMP after the September coup and forced its leaders into hiding.
The PMP issued a detailed report in late January 1992 from a secret
location confirming information received previously by the Lawyers
Committee about systematic and targeted attacks on Aristide
supporters in the Haitian countryside.83 This report documents
numerous cases where soldiers conducted illegal house searches
looking for members of pro-Aristide groups.
C. Repression of Assembly in Urban Areas
The rights of assembly and association are also at risk in
urban areas. A recent incident occurred on the morning of July 15
when students gathered at the University of Haiti's medical school for
a peaceful meeting and march to protest the installation of Marc Bazin
as Prime Minister and his cabinet as Haiti's second de facto
government since the September 1991 coup. Approximately 60 police
surrounded the medical school and reportedly fired their weapons in
the air; according to one eyewitness, they also fired on the students
as the meeting began." According to other eyewitnesses, soldiers
beat a number of students, including: Roosevelt Millard, Ronald
Leon, Claude Lucien, D6sir Rosette, Canez Pr6vault and Esner
8Peasants' Movement of Papeye, "Summary of Military Repression between
December 12 and 30, 1991." Feb. 12, 1992 (Lawyers Committee Translation; on
file at the Lawyers Committee).
"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with human rights monitor [name
withheld on request], July 15, 1992.
Blaise.8s The National Federation of Haitian students reported that
at least 20 students were taken to Anti-Gang by the police.86
Other examples of the security forces's violation of the right
of assembly include:
-- On February 14, 1992, a meeting at the Holiday Inn in
downtown Port-au-Prince of two pro-Aristide groups was
broken up when a contingent of heavily armed soldiers
surrounded the hotel. After the intervention of several foreign
diplomats, soldiers allowed the participants to leave the hotel.
Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul, who attended the meeting,
declared that the military was clearly out to intimidate those
attending who included major political figures."7
On December 11, 1991, Haitian soldiers violently
dispersed a funeral procession filing through the St. Martin
section of Port-au-Prince, believing it to be a demonstration
in support of President Aristide.88
-- Soldiers opened fire on parishioners leaving the Gona'ives
cathedral following a Mass celebrated by Bishop Constant on
November 4, 1991, after several people started shouting pro-
Aristide slogans. Soldiers also shot directly into the
cathedral. They subsequently arrested several people
including one priest who was mistreated in detention."
"Ha'ti: Risistance et Dwmocratie, Special Edition, July 15, 1992.
"Id. Bulletin No. 126, at 4, July 16, 1992.
"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with human rights monitor [name
withheld on request] Feb. 14, 1992.
"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with human rights monitor [name
withheld on request] Dec. 11, 1991.
"Gonaives Interview, supra note 16.
-- On October 15, 1991, human rights lawyer Jean-Claude
Nord was illegally arrested and detained for several hours by
soldiers who suspected him of organizing a meeting of
V. Torture and Mistreatment of Detainees and Prisoners
The Haitian armed forces and their civilian allies have violated
the prohibition against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment specified in Article 5 of the American
Convention and Article 7 of the International Covenant.91 Security
forces, including the section chiefs and their deputies, have tortured
or mistreated an untold number of Haitians since the coup. The
armed forces routinely beat detainees upon arrest. Those known or
suspected of being supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide are
particularly at risk.
We interviewed several people tortured by the army who
described torture techniques previously identified in Paper Laws,
including the djack, beating on both sides of the head simultaneously
called Kalott Marasso in Cr6ole, and severe beatings on the back and
The following cases are only a sampling of the unknown
number of Haitians tortured or subjected to cruel, unusual or
9Lawyers Committee interview with Jean-Claude Nord, New York, Nov. 12,
9"Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights is non-derogable and
provides in relevant part:
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
Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights can never be
derogated from and provides that:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment...
degrading treatment or punishment since the September 1991 military
Jean-Mario Paul is a 25-year-old journalist who worked for
Radio Antilles. He reported from Grand Goave on events following
the overthrow of President Aristide, covering several demonstrations
and the burning of a police station outside the city. After receiving
numerous threats, he left his home and went in hiding -- sleeping at
the homes of friends.
One day Paul was told that soldiers from the neighboring town
of Petit Goave had burned his house and were looking to kill him."
He immediately fled to Port-au-Prince and hid in a friend's house for
one month. His family also left Petit Goave.
On Saturday, November 9, 1991 Paul travelled to a friend's
home in Port-au-Prince in search of information about his family.
While there, soldiers in civilian clothes entered the residence and
identified him. They started to beat him and eight of the soldiers hit
him with their weapons.
After the beating, the soldiers handcuffed Paul and took him
to Anti-Gang. They placed him in a cell with 35 to 40 other people.
The cell measured approximately 20 square meters and had no beds,
toilets, water or windows. Paul spent three days in this cell. On
November 11, at approximately 5 p.m., he was transferred from Port-
au-Prince to the military barracks in Petit Goave.
On his arrival in Petit Goave, Paul's mistreatment continued.
Soldiers hit and slapped him as he entered the barracks. An officer
at the barracks, a Captain Lulo, ordered that Paul's head be shaved.
Israel Pierre-Fils (nicknamed "Ti-rache" which means "little hatchet"
in Crdole), the commander of the military subdistrict, also was
present. Calling journalists "garbage and subversives," he swore at
Paul and gave soldiers orders to "beat him."93 He was placed in a
cell approximately 20 square meters with 30-35 prisoners. Like the
"Lawyers Committee interview with Jean-Mario Paul, Port-au-Prince, May 6,
1992 [hereafter "Paul Interview"].
cell in Anti-Gang, the cell in Petit GoAve had no windows, water,
beds or toilets.
On November 12, 12 soldiers brought Paul to Commander
Pierre-Fils and Captain Lulo for interrogation in the Commander's
office. Commander Pierre-Fils ordered that Paul's hands be tied and
that he be placed in the "djack" position. During the ensuing
interrogation, Paul was beaten with batons by the soldiers. He was
told that he had been arrested because he had broadcast false
information about the commander and had reported information that
the military was corrupt; this, they charged, had incited the
population to burn the police post. Paul lost consciousness three
times during this interrogation, which lasted approximately three
hours. Soldiers beat him at least 250 times on the stomach, back and
As a result of the torture, Paul was unable to stand or walk
for the next 15 days. He received no medical treatment and was
forced to crawl on his hands and knees to move around his cell.
After several appeals by his attorney, Camille Leblanc, the army
relented and allowed Paul to go to see a doctor; doctors were afraid
to admit him to the hospital because of pressure exerted on them by
soldiers. At the same time, Paul was finally brought before a judge,
well beyond the two-day limit specified in the Haitian constitution.
On November 25, Paul was finally admitted to the hospital.
His treatment was hardly conducive to a full recovery. His arms and
legs were tied to his bed. After six days' stay, soldiers who believed
he was faking his injuries threatened to shoot him. Dr. Saint-Ferm6,
who was attempting to treat him, was also threatened and intimidated
by soldiers; he was forced to release Paul to the prison on December
2, 1991. Paul spent the next four months there before finally being
transferred to the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince on April 2,
after numerous efforts by Camille Leblanc.95
9SSee discussion on military interference with the judiciary in Part VI infra.
When he was brought to the National Penitentiary, soldiers
beat Paul with their fists and batons on his back and stomach."
Soldiers shouted at him that they had received orders from the
prison's commanding officer to beat him for "spreading false
information about the army and their commander and for inciting the
population of Grand Goave." On April 29, 1992, the Court of
Appeals in Port-au-Prince dismissed all charges against Paul and
ordered his release.97
Octalouis Desnoyer. Octalouis Desnoyer, a 38-year-old
mason, was arrested by soldiers on October 10, 1991 near his home
in Grand Goave. He, along with Jean-Mario Paul was charged with
setting fire to the police station and justice of peace's court in Grand
Goave, illegal possession of weapons and ransacking a soldier's
house.98 When it freed Paul the Court of Appeals in Port-au-Prince
also dismissed the charges against Desnoyer and directed that he be
released." But in the intervening months, the Haitian army tortured
Desnoyer on at least six separate occasions.
Desnoyer remembers with great clarity each torture session
and the people who tortured him. The first session followed his
arrest and lasted for almost two hours. Soldiers beat him with batons
and rifle butts, demanding to know who else had participated in
setting the fires and the attack on a soldier's house." The second
torture session took place on October 12 and lasted for about one
hour. Once again, soldiers beat him with batons.
"Paul Interview, supra note 92.
"Order of the Port-au-Prince Court of Appeal, April 29, 1992 (on file at the
"Order of Investigating Judge Napol6on Eugene, Petit-Goave Civil Court,
undated (on file at the Lawyers Committee).
"Order of the Port-au-Prince Court of Appeal, April 29, 1992 (on file at the
'"Lawyers Committee interview with Octalouis Desnoyer, Port-au-Prince, May
The third session occurred the next day. Three soldiers sat on
a window sill behind him and three were in front of him. They hit
him on the back, head and arms with their batons. The beatings
lasted for more than one hour.
The fourth session took place under the direction of the
commander of the Petit Goave barracks, the infamous "Ti-rache."
The officer ordered Desnoyer to lie down on the ground and hit him
repeatedly with a baton that he derisively called "democracy." Ti-
rache also brutally kicked Desnoyer in the back with his boots.101
On October 20, Desnoyer was tortured for the fifth time. The
session lasted three hours. It began when a Haitian army sergeant,
Hillaire Frantz, held a .45 calibre pistol behind Desnoyer's head and
led him to Captain Lulo's office. The soldiers hit him on both sides
of the head around his ears 40-50 times. This type of torture, called
"Kalott Marasso," is common in Haitian army barracks and prisons.
The sergeant accused him of ransacking his house. The captain then
gave the order to put Desnoyer in the "djack" position. His ears were
bleeding this whole time. The soldiers interrogated Desnoyer about
a Canadian priest who supported Aristide, Father Ren6 Poirier, and
Jacques Sim6on, another well-known Aristide supporter. When
Desnoyer answered he knew nothing about these two men, the
soldiers would beat him.
At one point Ti-Rache entered the room and ordered the
soldiers "to tie his arms tighter. Get his arms well secured behind his
back in the djack."102 Ti-Rache himself then beat Desnoyer on his
feet. Desnoyer could not walk for several days following this
On April 2, 1992, Desnoyer was transferred to the National
Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince. His last beating took place soon after
he arrived at the prison.
Aland Chatelain. Aland Chatelain, a 29-year-old resident of
Gonaives, was illegally arrested and savagely beaten by the Haitian
military. According to human rights monitors who interviewed him
a week after his release, the evidence of Chatelain's beating was still
visible. Chatelain was held for 15 days in the Gonaives military
barracks without ever being charged with a crime or brought before
Chatelain was arrested on May 13, following a student
demonstration at several schools in the slum districts in Gonaives.
Military presence was heavy and Chatelain happened to leave one of
these slum districts to return to his house. As he was walking along
the street, a patrol of soldiers stopped Chatelain and two other men.
Soldiers beat Chatelain on the way to the barracks where he
was put into a small crowded cell. Chatelain told human rights
monitors that there were 62 people in the cell.103 Children, 13 and
14 years old, were mixed with adults in this prison, a blatant violation
of international standards.1"4
Chatelain stated that he was hit 84 times with a baton on his
ribs, and was beaten with a rifle on his left shoulder and on the back.
He was also hit on the left ear and behind the right ear, the Kalott
Marasso torture. He said he lost consciousness at one point.
Soldiers accused him of being involved in politics and of criticizing
the army captain in charge of the military district covering Gona'ives.
He did not receive any medical care during his detention, nor did he
ever appear in court.
On June 4, 23 days after his beating, the Catholic Church's
Commission of Justice and Peace examined Chatelain and saw that he
could walk only with great difficulty and observed that traces from
'"Commission of Justice and Peace, Report No. GO-92/5, Gonaives, Haiti, June
'"UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by the
First UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (1955)
and approved by the Economic and Social Council (1957 and 1977). Rule 8(d)
states "Young prisoners shall be kept separate from adults."
the wounds inflicted during the beating were still visible and swelling
was evident on parts of his body.
Preslay Previlus. Preslay Previlus, a 28-year-old native of
Gonaives, was arrested on Tuesday, May 26, 1992. Previlus gave his
deposition to the Commission of Justice and Peace of Gona'ives on
June 4, 1992.
Previlus told the Commission that one night a local
government official came to his home and told Prdvilus that he was
wanted in the nearby military barracks in the slum section of
Raboteau. The official told Previlus that he was suspected of burning
tires in this neighborhood, a well-known Aristide stronghold.
At about 8:00 a.m. on May 26, Pr6vilus arrived at the army
station where soldiers immediately began to slap him. Pr6vilus tried
to run away but they caught him and threw him on the ground and
continued to kick him. They brought him back to the barracks and
placed him in the "djack" position, beating him 70 times with a
After this beating, the soldiers took Pr6vilus to the principal
army barracks at the center of the city. Though the beating had
injured his legs, soldiers forced Pr6vilus to walk and hit him
throughout the journey. At the central barracks, soldiers there again
accused him of setting fire to tires. He was hit four times on the face
and on the right ear causing it to bleed.
Four days after his illegal arrest and detention, Previlus was
released. He was never formally charged with a crime and was never
formally presented before a judge as required by law. Despite the
severity of his beatings, Pr6vilus never received any medical attention
throughout his detention.
On June 4, 10 days after the beating, representatives of the
Commission of Justice and Peace examined Pr6vilus and could
observe evidence of his beating, in particular the traces of rope that
I'SCommission of Justice and Peace, Report Number GO-92/6, Gonaives, Haiti,
June 4, 1992.
had tied his hands as part of the "djack" torture.s" The
Commission representatives could also see that his ear had been
damaged and continued to exude fluid.
Altide Louisdor. Mere possession of materials showing
support for President Aristide continues to evoke brutal treatment
from the army. On June 7, 1992, Altide Louisdor, a member of a
local organization of peasants in the central plateau region was
arrested and brutalized by soldiers under the command of Major
Jostle Charles. Mrs. Louisdor had been in hiding in Port-au-Prince
for several months following the coup and had only recently returned
to her native Hinche because she could no longer support herself in
Port-au-Prince. She was arrested on the very day she returned.
Soldiers searched her house without a warrant and found photos of
President Aristide and also copies of an underground newspaper that
is pro-Aristide. Upon finding these materials, the soldiers severely
beat her and took her to the prison in Hinche where she remained in
very poor health.107 She was not released until the first week of
July; she thus spent nearly a month in prison and was never brought
before a judge the entire time.108
While soldiers routinely torture and beat prisoners and
detainees in prisons and detention centers throughout Haiti,
conditions in Haitian prisons are also life-threatening. In our 1990
report Paper Laws, Steel Bayonets, we noted:
The conditions of detention in prisons constitute severe and
systematic violations of both Haitian law and international
standards relating to the treatment of prisoners and detainees.
"1Hart: Resistance & Democratie, Bulletin No. 116, at 4, June 15, 1992.
1I81d. Bulletin No. 123, at 5, July 6, 1992.
Overcrowding, poor food, and lack of access to water,
medical care and legal counsel characterize Haitian
The prison in St. Marc provides a particularly vivid example
of the deep-rooted problems and how the coup has exacerbated an
already appalling situation.
On August 2, 1989 Robert Duval, then Executive Director of
the Haitian League of Former Political Prisoners and Moyse S6natus,
then director of the Haitian Lawyers Committee and now de facto
Minister of Justice, visited the prison in St. Marc, a city
approximately 90 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince and the gateway
to the southern Artibonite Valley. They found that conditions were
inhuman: disease was widespread, overcrowding severe and beatings
routine. The Lawyers Committee visited this prison nearly one year
later in June 1990 and interviewed several dozen prisoners. The
Lawyers Committee at that time found that beatings were common,
most prisoners had been arrested without a warrant and most had no
idea why they were in prison. Conditions were abominable, including
deficient food, horrendous sanitary problems, serious overcrowding
in cells and lack of any clean water or medical care.
The Catholic Church's Commission of Justice and Peace for
the Diocese of Gonaives issued a report on February 16, 1992
describing interviews it conducted with recently released prisoners
from the St. Marc prison. Based on these interviews, it appears that
the situation in St. Marc has not improved at all. In particular, the
prisoners described a pervasive system of corruption where detainees
must constantly bribe prison guards to avoid ill-treatment and to
obtain the barest necessities for survival.
One prisoner described how he had to pay a guard on entering
the prison so that the guard would not beat him.
As soon as you enter the door of the prison, to avoid
being beaten -- you have to understand how the prison
works -- you have time to speak to the head prisoner
9"Paper Laws at 17.
and give him and the other soldiers money. The head
prisoner is one of the oldest prisoners appointed by
the military to extort money from the other prisoners
and to monitor them. You have to give about $30 to
avoid being beaten and to receive slightly better
treatment than the others. "110
Other prisoners described how they had to pay so that their
heads would not be shaved, a common fate usually reserved for
political prisoners as a way to humiliate them. Former detainees in
the St. Marc prison also told how they had to pay to get out of the
"internal cell," the worst cell in the prison, without windows or light,
with suffocating heat and odors that contains between 75 and 100
prisoners while measuring 75 by 15 feet. Detainees also must pay $5
for family visits and must pay to avoid being tortured during
interrogations; the prisoner's family usually must pay between $60
and $100, according to one prisoner, to avoid torture.11
Released prisoners recounted that since the coup the justice
system in St. Marc has been completely paralyzed and that the only
way to obtain one's release from prison is to buy it. These prisoners
told the Commission of Justice and Peace representatives:
There is a "lawyer" who is in fact a retired soldier
who has good relations with the soldiers on duty. It
is this pseudo-lawyer that you and your family must
contact to be released. At that moment, you are
brought before a judge, distribute the money, and if
everything goes well, he will give you a paper calling
for your release. This costs a lot more for political
"'Commission of Justice and Peace, Gonaives, "Witnesses to the Conditions, St.
Marc Prison: Hell," at 7, Feb. 16, 1992 (Lawyers Committee translation, on file
at the Lawyers Committee).
According to this former detainee, the price varies between
$1,500 to $3,000. Another detainee told how he had paid a real
lawyer to seek his release and that this was a complete waste of
money. "The lawyers at this time of oppression cannot do anything,
even if you pay them." In effect, during this time, the only way a
political prisoner can be freed "is to take care of the situation not in
the courts but in the military barracks. It is the army that decides
everything, the prosecutor has no power. It is not the law that rules,
it is force and money. When the army wants you to be free then you
Corruption and Private Prisons. Corruption continues to
permeate Haiti's judicial system. Lawyer Camille Leblanc noted that
the present system only serves to "finance arbitrariness and
encourages further corruption and interference." If a lawyer can
intervene early on, the repression and abuses usually will stop
temporarily. Most people know that peasants especially cannot afford
a lawyer, so abuses and arbitrary arrests followed by demands for
payments for release or not to beat detainees are common practice in
the countryside. Peasants thus unwittingly finance this systematic and
Leblanc often travels to the Haitian countryside to try to help
peasants who suffer severe abuses at the hands of the recently
restored section chiefs. He recently traveled to St. Michel d'Attalaye
in the central part of Haiti. Several peasants there had been arrested
by the section chief and held for 10 days. They were being kept in
the section chiefs own personal prison which was a small room of
four square meters. This is completely illegal under Haitian law and
under international law which prohibits secret detention centers.114
The section chief was demanding $50 from each of the peasants for
their release. On Leblanc's intervention, the local prosecutor was
"*See UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any Form
of Detention or Imprisonment, adopted without a vote by the General Assembly
(1988). Principle 12(d) states "There shall be duly recorded.., precise information
concerning the place of custody."
able to secure their release. Leblanc has performed similar services
in southern Haiti and in the central plateau."u
VI. Military Interference in the Judicial Process
Outside interference in Haiti's justice system has always been
the rule."6 Such interference has intensified since the military's
coup in September 1991. In particular, lawyers attempting to defend
Aristide supporters, or those seeking to promote human rights, have
faced intensified repression including death threats. Lawyers Camille
Leblanc and Rend Julien, leading members of the Amicale de Juristes
(Lawyers' Society), a group of young lawyers dedicated to promoting
human rights and the rule of law, have been especially targeted.
A. Intimidation and Improper Influence
in the Case of Sister Clemencia
In the case of the illegal arrest and detention of Sister
Clemencia described above, soldiers threatened Rend Julien when he
attempted to speak with the nun. When he came to the prosecutor's
office to meet with his client, Sister Clemencia, after she arrived from
the provinces on April 29, he was told by a government official that
"you cannot defend partisans of Aristide.""7 Soldiers in the office
even wanted to handcuff Julien because he was "defending Aristide,
so he must be an 'accomplice'.""8 One soldier shouted "he's the
lawyer for the nun who is supporting Aristide, we must arrest
him.""' Soldiers actually approached Julien with handcuffs before
the prosecutor intervened and stopped them. The prosecutor,
"'Lawyers Committee interview with Camille Leblanc, Port-au-Prince, May 2,
"'See Paper Laws at 43-61 and 144-158.
"7Lawyers Committee interview with Ren6 Julien, Port-au-Prince, May 6, 1992.
however, made little effort to control the 20 or so people in his office
who continued shouting threats at Julien. The prosecutor refused to
let Julien consult with his client and after a brief hearing he ordered
her back to the police station.
On the following day, the atmosphere was calmer. At the
outset, Leblanc, who took over the case from Julien, was able to
consult with Sister Clemencia and at one point the prosecutor told him
to start drawing up papers allowing for her immediate release.
However, after the prosecutor received a phone call, his tone changed
completely. The prosecutor said that he had heard from the Prime
Minister that Sister Clemencia was a "terrorist" who is being sought
by the Dominican Republic. He stated that as an officer of the
government he was obliged to follow the directions of his superiors.
"I cannot do anything about this."120
Leblanc responded incredulously "what crime has she
committed? Having calendars with Aristide's picture is not a crime
and she cannot be imprisoned or expelled for this." The prosecutor
responded he was there to execute the government's orders, saying "I
cannot do anything.""12
B. Military Impunity and Harassment --
The Case of Jean-Mario Paul
In the case of Jean-Mario Paul, Camille Leblanc received a
court order on two different occasions authorizing him to visit his
client in the Petit Goave prison. Each time he was turned away. The
military asserted that they were in charge of the prison and they did
not recognize a judge's order.122 While representing Paul, Leblanc
received numerous threats over the phone. He also noted that men in
civilian clothes were often in front of the courthouse and he is certain
that he was being followed. Leblanc began to take certain
1Lawyers Committee interview with Camille Leblanc, Port-au-Prince, May 2,
precautions. He told the Lawyers Committee that he virtually never
goes out at night; he merely goes to his office and comes directly
C. Military Impunity and Intimidation --
The Case of Manno Charlemagne
Camille Leblanc was also the lawyer for Manno Charlemagne.
Charlemagne, a popular singer and a staunch Aristide supporter, went
into hiding immediately after the coup but was arrested on October 11
when someone pointed out his hiding place to a military patrol.
Charlemagne's songs are so influential that Haitian army General
Williams Regala once reportedly offered him $25,000 not to sing a
song he had written criticizing Regala. General Regala is one of the
alleged masterminds of the November 1987 election day massacre
where soldiers and Tontons Macoutes killed more than 30 people
waiting to vote.
Leblanc was able to get an order calling for Charlemagne's
release from the National Penitentiary a week later. On October 18,
Leblanc went to the prison and, in a rare example of the judicial
process working, was able to get the order enforced. He and his
client left the prison at about 3:00 p.m.
As they left the main entrance, they were immediately
surrounded by policemen in civilian clothes and several in uniform.
The police insisted they had just received an order to arrest
Charlemagne. Leblanc demanded to see this new arrest order and
stated he was Charlemagne's lawyer.1" One of the men took out
his revolver and said "I am not interested in lawyer's discussions."
The men took Charlemagne away in a car; he was in fact re-arrested
and was held in detention for another week before he was finally
released and fled from Haiti.
Leblanc told the Lawyers Committee that after this
intervention he received many threats. His partner, Ren6 Julien,
received a call from someone who said they were from army
headquarters and that they had decided to silence Leblanc.124
Anonymous phone calls continued to pour into their law office, some
from people pretending to be friends who told Leblanc "they have
decided to eliminate you. Pay attention. Get out of the country."
Leblanc faced similar obstacles and received identical threats
for his work in getting the university students released in late
November 1991. Leblanc went to the civil court in Port-au-Prince
and asked to have all the students freed, most importantly, even those
students whose names had not been placed on any list of inmates.
Leblanc had the names of only about 75 students, but most people
believe that at least 200 were arrested.
D. Intimidation of Paul Yves Joseph
Lawyer Paul Yves Joseph of Les Cayes has long been active
in teaching human rights and basic legal issues to paralegals in
southwestern Haiti. He is also an educator with his own school and
a teacher at Les Cayes' main high school. Because of his educational
work, President Aristide named him director of education for the
region in 1991.
Joseph was legal counsel for Jean Claude Museau, the young
man in Les Cayes who had been arrested, tortured and who ultimately
died from his torture in January 1992. Joseph said that because of his
role as Museau's lawyer, he received anonymous threats. He believes
that he is a marked man because he gives free legal help to the poor.
He has represented people who have been illegally arrested and he
noted that it is extremely rare that anyone is ever arrested with a
On May 5, 1992, between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m., two heavily
armed soldiers came to the front gate of Joseph's house which also
serves as his law office and school. The soldiers had grenades, one
rifle, a revolver, a baton and tear gas canisters. The soldiers called
to him from the street saying "come here."'25 He believes the
soldiers names were Lorcey and Eliscard.
Joseph promptly closed the gate and the soldiers became
angry, asking why he refused to come when the police called him.
He responded "if the police need me, that's no problem. Leave your
arms and grenades outside and I'll be happy to receive you."126
The soldiers became very agitated and threatened him, brandishing
their arms. Joseph immediately went to the telephone to call
colleagues in Port-au-Prince to let them know what was happening.
Other soldiers were waiting nearby watching all that
happened. In a further exchange with Lorcey and Eliscard, Joseph
asked them if they had a warrant to search his house. Though the
soldiers responded "yes", they never presented him with a warrant.
The stalemate lasted for about 15 or 20 minutes, and then the
Joseph was extremely frightened by the incident. He had not
left his house from the time of the military visit to the time he was
interviewed by Lawyers Committee representatives four days later.
He did not go into town to teach his classes at the Lyc6e Philippe
Guerrier for the next three days because he was afraid of being
arrested or worse. His fears increased when a law student, Olivier
Zamor, who had been recently released from detention in the police
station in Les Cayes said he had seen a list of people to be arrested
and that Joseph's name was listed first."27
Soldiers returned to Joseph's house on Saturday morning, May
30. This time their visit did not end so peacefully. Joseph and his
family were out shopping at the time. The soldiers broke into the
house and ransacked it thoroughly. Papers from his law office and
school were destroyed or thrown into the street. Neighbors warned
Joseph that the army had come to his house and that he should not
'"Lawyers Committee interview with Paul Yves Joseph, Les Cayes, May 9,
return home.128 Joseph's wife and two children immediately went
into hiding.129 Joseph went up into the nearby hills where he
remained in hiding until he was able to make his way to Port-au-
Prince where he now is in hiding.130
VII. Failure to Investigate and Prosecute
Human Rights Violations
Each of the post-coup de facto governments has violated its
obligation under international law to prosecute those responsible for
gross and systematic violations of human rights. Despite the
thousands of human rights violations committed by the Haitian
security forces and their civilian agents, the Lawyers Committee is
aware of only a single person who has been brought to justice for a
human rights violation.13' Yet this report alone has identified a
number of people who should be the subject of criminal
This failure to investigate violations and prosecute human
rights violators is a blatant violation of international law as specified
in the American Convention and the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights. Article 25(1) of the American Convention
'"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with human rights monitor [name
withheld on request], Port-au-Prince, June 1, 1992.
'29Lawyers Committee telephone interview with Mrs. Paul Yves Joseph [location
withheld on request], June 1, 1992.
"Lawyers Committee telephone interview with Paul Yves Joseph, Port-au-
Prince, June 16, 1992.
"'On July 18, 1992, a jury in Grande Riviere du Nord convicted section chief
Iliome Pierre for the December 15, 1991 murder of Astrel Charles, the elected
deputy for the region in Haiti's National Parliament. "Murderer of Deputy Charles
Sentenced to Life," Radio Tropic FM, July 21, 1992, as reported in FBIS, July 22,
1992 at 6.
provides for the right to a remedy for rights violations.132 The
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, charged with
interpreting the American Convention, has found that the
Convention's "right to a remedy" creates a duty binding on the State
Party to investigate and prosecute.133 Moreover, the Inter-American
Court has held that a State Party has the affirmative obligation to
investigate, prosecute and punish violations of human rights based on
language in Article 1 requiring States Parties to "respect and ensure"
Similarly, Article 2(3) of the International Covenant defines
the right to a remedy.'35 The Human Rights Committee, charged
with interpreting the International Covenant, held in a landmark case
of illegal arrest and detention of a Uruguayan national that the
Uruguayan government had a duty to
take effective steps (i) to establish what has happened to
Eduardo Bleier since October 1975; to bring to justice any
"2"Everyone has a right to simple and prompt recourse ... against acts that
violate his fundamental rights recognized by the constitution or laws of the state
concerned or by this Convention." American Convention, Article 25(1).
"'See Roht-Arriaza, "State Responsibility to Investigate and Prosecute Grave
Human Rights Violations in International Law," 78 Cal. L. Rev. 451, 478 (1990).
"'Velasquez Rodriguez Case, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. 35, OAS/ser. L/V/I1 19, doc.
13, app. VI (1988).
"'Article 2(3) of the Covenant states that "Each State Party to the present
(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein
recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy, notwithstanding that
the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity;
(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have
his right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or
legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by
the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial
(c) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such
remedies when granted."
persons found to be responsiblefor his death, disappearance
or ill-treatment; and to pay compensation to him or his family
for any injury which he has suffered; and (ii) to ensure that
similar violations do not occur in the future.'36
Haiti's de facto authorities have failed to investigate, prosecute
or punish those responsible for the executions, "disappearances,"
torture, mistreatment, arbitrary arrest and detention of an untold
number of Haitian citizens. A climate of impunity reigns where those
who commit violations are only encouraged to commit further abuses,
thereby endangering the lives and well-being of all Haitians.
"6Irene Bleier Lewenhoff & Rosa Valino de Bleier v. Uruguay, UN Hum. Rts.
Comm. No. 30/1978, para. 15, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/OP/1 (1985) (emphasis added).
To the Haitian Authorities:
1. Haitian authorities must insure that the procedures for
arrest and detention specified in the Haitian Constitution and in the
Haitian Code of Criminal Procedure be strictly followed by the armed
forces. Haitian criminal procedure governing criminal investigations
must also be observed.
2. The Haitian police must be separated from the army
as required by the 1987 Haitian Constitution. The police must be put
under the control of the Minister of Justice. Rural section chiefs and
their assistants, currently under the army's command, must also be
placed under the control of the Ministry of Justice. Section chiefs
must have no more than two deputies as specified by Haitian law and
they must act in strict conformity with the law which requires them
to protect, not persecute, the inhabitants in their respective sections.
All members of the police should receive ongoing training that
includes specialized courses on their obligations toward protecting the
rights of all Haitians.
3. Prisons and detention centers must also be placed
under the control of the Ministry of Justice. Food, water and access
to medical attention and legal counsel must be assured to all prisoners
and detainees as required under Haitian law and the UN Standard
Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Judicial proceedings
must be brought against any official who violates the rights of
prisoners. The International Committee of the Red Cross should have
free access to all prisons and detention centers. All prisons and
detention centers must keep a register with the name, date and reasons
for arrest for every prisoner; a Justice Ministry official must make
regular inspections in every prison and every detention center. Secret
prisons must be abolished immediately.
4. Judges must be appointed in a way that guarantees
their independence and ensures their impartiality; judicial salaries and
working conditions should be adjusted to enhance this independence
5. The independence of the judiciary from the military
and other branches of government must be guaranteed. Any
interference by the military or any other branch of government in
judicial matters should be subject to clearly defined -- and enforced -
6. The Haitian government must develop a comprehensive
training program for judges. It is important that investigating judges
in particular receive thorough and complete training in the techniques
necessary to investigate crimes.
7. Investigations of human rights violations must be
pursued. Those found responsible for abuses must be brought to
justice. The authorities must provide those in the Justice Ministry
responsible for such investigations and prosecutions all necessary
assurances and adopt all necessary measures to fulfill their duties and
to ensure their safety.
8. Lawyers must have the freedom necessary to fulfill
their professional functions. Lawyers must be able to represent any
client, even in politically sensitive cases, without fear of reprisals.
Lawyers must be able to communicate freely with their clients and
other lawyers and must have access to their clients in prisons as
provided under Haitian and international law.
9. Military personnel should be tried in military courts
only in those instances specified in Article 42-2 of the Haitian
Constitution. In all other cases, the military must be subject to the
jurisdiction of the civilian courts. The military should no longer
shield its enlisted men and officers in cases that properly belong
before the civilian courts under the Haitian Constitution.
10. Haitian law governing criminal investigations must be
revised to become consistent with modem reform efforts in other civil
law countries. The law must clearly assign responsibility to
investigate abuses and crimes and establish penalties for delay or
inaction in performing these duties.
To the United States Government:
1. The Bush administration should immediately freeze all
the assets in the United States of those Haitians identified by former
U.S. Ambassador Alvin Adams as having supported the military coup
financially and by other means.
2. In addition to the 20 or so already cancelled, the Bush
administration should cancel the visas of all those Haitians both
military and civilians who have participated in or supported the coup.
3. Given the systematic and gross human rights violations
documented in this report, the Bush administration should
immediately revoke the President's May 24, 1992 Executive Order
which requires the U.S. Coast Guard to return all Haitian asylum-
seekers picked up on the high seas without first attempting to
determine whether any person has a plausible claim for political
asylum. This policy is a blatant violation by the U.S. of binding
international law as well as U.S. domestic law that prohibits the
return of refugees to places of persecution.
To the United Nations:
1. Members of the Security Council should discuss and
consider the adoption and implementation of an immediate and
universal embargo on all trade with Haiti -- including arms and oil --
that is binding on all UN member states. This would send a clear
message to the Haitian military that the United Nations, at the highest
level, has taken up the issue.
2. The Security Council should demand full and
immediate access to Haiti for international humanitarian organizations
and obtain the consent of the Haitian authorities to the deployment of
a team of United Nations-sponsored human rights monitors who
would remain in Haiti until the human rights situation has
for Human Rights
Michael H. Posner, Executive Director
William G. O'Neill, Deputy Director
Arthur C. Helton, Director. Refugee Project
330 Seventh Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10001
Telephone: (212) 629-6170
FAX: (212) 967-0916
August 10, 1992
Board of Directors
Marvin E Frankel. Chairman
Tom A. Bernstein. President
Bacre Waly Ndiaye
M. Bernard Aidlnoff
Susan Berkwe-nMalefakis Special Rapporteur
Robert L Bernstein on Summary or Arbitrary Executions
Charles R. Breyer Human Rights Centre
Alce L Brown United Nations
Michael I. Davis
Drew s. Days, III Palais des Nations
Adrian W DeWmd CH-1211
Norman Dorsen Geneva 10
Fr Robert F Dnnan Swi
A, Whitney Ellsworth Switzerland
Kenneth R, Feinberg
Stephen J Friedman Dear Mr. Ndiaye:
R Scott Greathead
Deborah M. Greenberg
Lan Guinrer Extrajudicial executions continue to plague Haiti. The sheer number of
Harold R. Handler executions since May 1992 has increased at an alarming rate. The following is only a
Louis Henkin sample of those executions the Lawyers Committee has been able to confirm:
Robert D. Joffe
Robert E Juceam
Lewis B. Kaden Georges Izmery was executed on May 26, 1992 at approximately 6:00
Rhoda H. Karpatkin p.m. Mr. Izmery was leaving his office and walking to his car when
Kerry Kennedy Cuomo he was shot two times in the back in front of hundreds of witnesses
Philip A. Lacovara less than 200 feet from a major police station in downtown Port-au-
Jo R. Backer Laird Prince. Mr. Izmery'd brother Antoine is a well known supporter of
R Todd Lang President Aristide and he has received death threats.
Charles E Lister
Charles McC Mathias Six cadavers of young men who had been executed were discovered at
Bernard W. Nussbaum Morne Carbrit, about 30 miles north of Port-au-Prince on June 24,
Bruce Rabb 1992. Their bodies were in an advanced state of decay. Each showed
Barbara A. Schatz bullet wounds.
Steven R. Shapiro
Jerome J Shestack On June 24, 1992, Gary JManty, 23 years old, from Santos was
Roese Syrkena assassinated by a sergeant in the Haitian army nicknamed "Taye
Jay Topkis Pwel". Reports indicate that the sergeant was later arrested but we
George A. Vradenburg. Ill have no details on whether he has been charged or whether he remains
Sigourney Weaver in detention.
William D. Zabel On May 19, 1992, five bodies were found on the Delmas road to the
Selg Zises Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville. All five bodies had bullet
Washington, D.C. Office: wounds. The executions occurred one day after a plane had,flown
100 Maryland Avenue, N E., Suite 502 over Port-au-Prince and dropped leaflets with President Aristide's
Washington, D.C. 20002 picture.
Telephone (202) 547-5692
FAX (202) 543-5999
The Lawyers Committee has formal relations with the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity and the Organization of American States.
on Summary or Arbitrary Executions
August 10, 1992
In Anse-d'Hainault, in southwestern Haiti, a soldier named Tourbeck
arrested and beat to death an unnamed young man approximately 20
years old. This young man had been detained in prison and had
vomited blood for several hours and received no medical attention
On July 9, in the industrial zone near the Port-au-Prince airport, three
workers, two women and one man, were executed by armed civilians
who jumped out of a jeep and shot them. This occurred at
approximately 2:00 p.m. on the road to the airport.
On July 15, 1992, at approximately 4:00 a.m. an armed civilian shot
and killed a young man named Wilfred who was putting up photos of
President Aristide on walls in the Cit6 Soliel section of Port-au-Prince.
The body was not taken away until 7:00 p.m. the same day.
On August 3, 1992, Mr. Robinson Joseph, former director of the
Protestant Church radio station, Radio Lumitre, was shot and killed
by soldiers in downtown Port-au-Prince. The soldiers were in the
process of searching all houses and cars in this section of Port-au-
Prince following an attack the previous day on a police station.
Soldiers allege that they thought Mr. Robinson was trying to avoid the
search and shot him twice in the head killing him. Numerous other
rounds were fired into his car. Even if true, the use of deadly force
by the Haitian armed forces seems completely unwarranted and illegal
under international law. The Lawyers Committee has been informed
that the Haitian army has begun an investigation into the killing.
The Lawyers Committee is trying to obtain more information about an
extremely disturbing report. On July 19, 1992, a group of 86 Haitians attempted to
leave the country on an overcrowded boat from the area called Sources Puantes,
approximately 20 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince. After paying approximately $500
each to the owner of the boat, the boat began its departure at approximately 5:00 a.m.
The boat had barely left the dock when it is reported that a truckload of soldiers
arrived and began firing on the boat. Several bodies were later recovered reportedly
with bullet wounds and some also showed signs of having been strangled. As of
Wednesday, July 22, it is reported that 35 corpses had been recovered. Because of
the danger of doing follow up human rights work in Haiti, various human rights
on Summary or Arbitrary Executions
August 10, 1992
organizations around the country have only been able to compile a partial list of
names. Once further information is obtained, I will send you details about this
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need additional
information. The situation in Haiti has reached alarming proportions. Whatever
emergency measures are available to the Special Rapporteur should be undertaken as
quickly as possible.
;L", 2. 0
William G. O'Neill
CC: Mr. Marco Tulio Bruni-Celli
Gen. Raoul Cedras
Mr. Marc Bazin
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FORCES ARMEES D'HAITI
QU.P,..I:'--9;i-'.E! L DU DISTP.7IC'jT OU.A.AM!ITIEET
Ou;.n:e'..int.h, R6publiaue d'Haiti
Lc 24 Pevrier 1992.
1I m'cet unic ob'...;ttion do vous accuscr la reception de
votre lettre dat6o du 23 Jar.vier 1992 dans laquelle vous m'avez pearl'
de l'intordiction dc certaincc rounions.Cot officee a pour devoir de
vous donner uno pIcine ot cntiero autorisation pour continue ses tra-
vaux tout en avisrant lc polic Ciin Jours avant la date fixde pour la
reunion et 1'agent de Police rurvle de la Zone aurait du present a cet-
te fin. J'ai recu votro lettre lo 23 Fevrior 1992 a 2:20 P-M.
Recover i:onsieur mes salutations distinsudes.
Lieutenant Forces Armees d'Haiti
Commandant du District de Ouanaminthe
et chef de la Police
-- -- -- -- -- ----------------------- --- ---- -- -- -- ----
[Lawyers Committee translation of letter from Haitian Army
Armed Forces of Haiti
Ouanaminthe District Headquarters
February 24, 1992
I am responding to your letter dated January 28 in which you
discuss the prohibition of certain meetings. This office
authorizes you to continue your work as long as you notify the
police five days in advance of the date of your meeting so that
an officer of the rural police can be present at the meeting. I
received your letter on February 23 at 2:20 p.m.
Lieutenant, Armed Forces of
Commander of Ouanaminthe
District and Chief of Police
LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Marvin E. Frankel, Chairman
M. Bernard Aidinoff
Robert L. Bernstein
Tom A. Bernstein
Charles R. Breyer
Alice L. Brown
Michael I. Davis
Drew S. Days, III
Adrian W. DeWind
Fr. Robert F. Drinan
A. Whitney Ellsworth
Kenneth R. Feinberg
Stephen J. Friedman
R. Scott Greathead
Deborah M. Greenberg
Harold R. Handler
Robert D. Joffe
Robert E. Juceam
Lewis B. Kaden
Rhoda H. Karpatkin
Kerry Kennedy Cuomo
Philip A. Lacovara
Jo R. Backer Laird
R. Todd Lang
Charles E. Lister
Charles McC. Mathias
Bernard W. Nussbaum
Barbara A. Schatz
Steven R. Shapiro
Jerome J. Shestack
James R. Silkenat
Rose B. Styron
George A. Vradenburg, III
William D. Zabel
LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
MICHAEL H. POSNER ARTHUR C. HELTON
Executive Director Director, Refugee Project
WILLIAM G. O'NEILL MARGARET NICHOLSON
Deputy Director Director of Operations/
LAURA ADJANGBA, Program Assistant
PATRICIA ARMSTRONG, Pro Bono Projects
NICK ASCHEIM, Legal Assistant
JOHN ASSADI, Staff Attorney, part-time
LILI BROWN, Development Director
LISA BROWN, Reception
JEFFREY CHASE, Staff Attorney, part-time
TINA CHRISTOPULOS, Program Assistant
SANDRA COLE, Finance & Personnel
MARTHA DOGGETT, Latin America & the Caribbean
JOSEPH ELDRIDGE, Director, Washington Office
ZAIRA FLORES, Program Assistant
ERIC HACKWORTH, Office Services
NEIL HICKS, Middle East/North Africa
MARY HOLLAND, Europe/Eurasia
ANNE HOYT, Development Coordinator
ANNA LING, Legal Assistant
VIRGINIA PETERS MANN, Executive Assistant
STEPHANIE MARKS, Asylum Representation Program
-JtNEEN M. MASIH, Lawyer-to-Lawyer Network
ELISA C. MASSIMINO, Staff Attorney, Washington Office
LISA Z. MONTRONE, Administrative Assistant, Development
BINAIFER NOWROJEE, Africa
ANNETTE O'DONNELL, Executive Assistant
COURTNAY PETERS, Program Assistant
JAMES D. ROSS, Asia
DEBORAH STEWART, Reception
RACHEL WALDSTEIN, Office Administrator, Washington Office
WALTER WEISS, Staff Attorney, part-time
EMILY WHITFIELD, Executive Assistant
Since 1978, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights has worked to
protect and promote fundamental human rights. Its work is impartial,
holding each government to the standards affirmed in the International
Bill of Human Rights, including
S the right to be free from torture, summary execution, abduction
* the right to be free from arbitrary arrest, imprisonment without
charge or trial, and indefinite incommunicado detention; and
* the right to due process and a fair trial before an independent
The Committee conducts fact-finding missions and publishes reports
which serve as a starting point for sustained follow-up work in three
areas: with locally-based human rights lawyers and activists; with
policymakers involved in formulating U.S. foreign policy; and with
intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations, the
Organization of American States and the Organization of African Unity.
The Committee's Refugee Project seeks to provide legal protection for
refugees including the right to dignified treatment and a permanent home.
It provides legal representation, without charge, to indigent refugees in
the United States in flight from political persecution. With the assistance
of hundreds of volunteer attorneys, the Project's staff also undertakes
broader efforts -- including participation in lawsuits of potential national
significance -- to protect the right to seek political asylum as guaranteed
by U.S. and international law.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE A COPY OF THE COMMITTEE'S 1991
ANNUAL REPORT OR A REPORT ON OUR FIRST 10 YEARS,
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SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY LAW LIBRARY
xliii JC599 H2 H34 1992
HE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN
HAITI IS WORSE THAN AT ANY TIME
SINCE THE DUVALIER ERA. THE MILI-
TARY HAS EXECUTED, TORTURED
AND ILLEGALLY ARRESTED COUNTLESS
HAITIANS. GOVERNMENT HARASSMENT AND
INTIMIDATION OF JOURNALISTS, HUMAN
RIGHTS MONITORS AND LAWYERS, PRIESTS,
NUNS, AND GRASS-ROOTS LEADERS IS
INTENSE. POPULAR EXPRESSIONS OF SUPPORT
FOR OUSTED PRESIDENT ARISTIDE ARE ROU-
TINELY MET WITH VIOLENT REPRISALS BY THE
MILITARY. REPRESSION OF ANY PERCEIVED
THREAT TO MILITARY CONTROL HAS LED THE
HAITIAN ARMED FORCES TO PLACE SUCH
STRINGENT RESTRICTIONS ON THE RIGHT OF
ASSOCIATION THAT FOREIGN DEVELOPMENT
WORKERS HAVE BEEN DETAINED FOR MEET-
ING WITH THE MEMBERS OF AGRICULTURAL
COOPERATIVES. EVEN PRIESTS AND NUNS,
WHO HAVE HISTORICALLY ENJOYED SOME
SPECIAL PROTECTION FROM ILLEGAL DETEN-
TION AND ARREST, HAVE BEEN TARGETED BY
MILITARY AUTHORITIES. THIS BEHAVIOR CON-
TRADICTS PAST AND PRESENT CLAIMS BY
APOLOGISTS FOR THE MILITARY THAT THE
ARMY IS NOTHING MORE THAN A LOOSE
COALITION OF COMPETING GANGS AND THAT
THE MILITARY HIERARCHY IS UNABLE TO CON-
TROL THE ACTIONS OF ITS SUBORDINATES.
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COVER DBSIGNt LISA DOUGLIS