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ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Doc. 10 rev.
February 9, 1995
OF HUMAN RIGHTS
MAY 1 7 1995
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
INTRODUCTION ...................................... 1
CHAPTER I: BACKGROUND .......... ............... 3
CHAPTER II: THE COMMISSION'S ACTIVITIES IN HAITI IN 1994
1. IACHR Report to the Permanent Council of the OAS 7
2. IACHR's On-site Visit, May 16-20, 1994 ........... 7
3. Visit of observation on the haitian
refugees' situation in The Bahamas .............. 9
4. Submission of the Report on Haiti to the 24th OAS
General Assembly .......................... 10
5. Arrangements for a Further On-Site Visit .......... 11
6. Hearings at the 87th Period of IACHR
Sessions, September 19-30, 1994 ............... 11
7. IACHR's On-Site Visit, October 24-27, 1994 ....... 13
CHAPTER III: THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN HAITI
1. Introduction ............................... 17
2. Return of the OAS/UN Mission ............... .. 17
3. New Efforts to Pursue the Negotiation Process 18
4. Widening of Sanctions under the Embargo and its
Political Im pact ................... ......... 19
5. Resolution 6/94, "Call for a Return to Democracy
in Haiti," by the Ad Hoc Meeting of Foreign Ministers
of the OA S ................... ............ 22
6. Measures to Force the Military Authorities to Leave 23
7. Expulsion of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission 24
8. Resolution 940 of the UN Security Council ... 25
9. Agreement Between the US Government and the
Haitian M military ............................ 28
10. Arrival of the Multinational Force ................ 28
CHAPTER IV: THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI
1. Introduction .............................. 33
2. Repression in Haiti .......................... 33
3. Consequences of the Repression ............... 36
A) The "marronage" phenomenon ............. 36
B) Violence against women and sexual abuse ..... 39
C) Violations of the rights of children ........... 46
4. Cases of Human Rights Violations ............... 47
A ) Right to life ........................... 47
B) Right to personal liberty and humane
treatm ent ................... ......... 55
C) Rights to Freedom of Expression and of
A ssem bly ................... ......... 61
D) Right to Private Property . ..... 65
5. Refugees (boat people) ................... .... 67
CHAPTER V: THE RETURN OF THE DEMOCRATIC REGIME TO HAITI
1. Reinstallation of the Democratic Regime ........... 77
2. The Human Rights Situation Under the Regime
of President Aristide ........................ 78
3. The Judicial System ........................ 84
4. The situation in the prisons ................... 87
A. National Penitentiary Center ............. 88
B. Prisons at Saint Marc and Gona'ves .......... 89
C. Prisoners detained by the Multinational Force 90
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............... 93
i Tables about human rights violations ......... 99
ii Press Communiques of the IACHR .......... 102
iii Resolution 6/94 "Call for the return
of democracy in Haiti" from the Ad hoc
Meeting of the OAS Foreign Affairs Ministers 116
iv UN Security Counsil Resolution 940 . 122
v OAS Proposal for Providing Immediate Support
to the Government of Haiti . 126
REPORT ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
1. The information included in the present report covers the period
between January 1994 through January 1995. During the months
between January and september 1994, the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights recorded a large number of systematic human rights
violations in Haiti. Most of these violations were committed by the illegal
de facto regime, which, in its attempt to stay in power, resorted to all
kinds of oppressive acts against the Haitian people, particularly those
sectors supporting the return of the democratic regime.
2. The oppression took on new characteristics, with increasingly cruel
crimes committed by the military and paramilitary forces, resulting in
massacres and rape. The rights of children were also violated as a result
of reprisals taken against the families of political militants, who had to go
3. The violent situation found by the Commission in its on-site visits
disminish with the arrival of the Multinational Force authorized by the
United Nations. The reinstallation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in
Haiti on October 15, 1994, opened the way for dialogue and national
reconciliation. However, there are serious problems inherited by the
constitutional government which now has the responsibility to rebuild the
economy of a country regarded as the poorest in the hemisphere and at
the same time to lay the basis for a government of law, a condition sine
qua non for representative democracy.
4. The international community's commitment to help rebuild Haiti will
be reflected in the establishment of institutions for the protection of civil
and political rights, as well as the socio-economic and cultural rights of
the Haitian people.
CHAPTER I: BACKGROUND
5. In view of the worsening human rights situation in Haiti, the Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) continued to give
priority to its work in this area and has presented a special report to the
General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) each
year concerning violations of rights in Haiti. These reports describe the
political situation prevailing in Haiti, which has generated a considerable
increase in violations of people's personal guarantees by way of the
repression carried out by the authorities illegally governing the country.
6. Since the overthrow of the constitutional Government of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the IACHR has made four on-site visits
and noted, on the basis of a continuous review of the Haitian situation,
an alarming number of human rights violations. The last Special Report
on Haiti described the activities of the Commission between the coup
d'6tat of September 29, 1991 and February 1994.1
7. The above-mentioned report describes the steps taken by the OAS
and the United Nations Organization (UN) to facilitate political dialogue
between the parties concerned, with a view to President Aristide's return
and the restoration of democracy in Haiti. These steps occurred in the
context of various agreements: first, the Washington Agreements of
February 1992, which were ignored by the de facto authorities, and up
to the Governors Island Agreement and the subsequent New York Pact,
which were both signed in July 1993.2 These latter agreements
facilitated the Haitian National Assembly's confirmation of the candidate
proposed by President Aristide for the post of Prime Minister.
8. Almost at the same time as the confirmation of Robert Malval as
Prime Minister, the OAS recommended the lifting of the embargo imposed
on October 8, 1991 on the de facto Government of Haiti. Also, the
1 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti. OEA/Ser.L/V/II.85, Doc. 9
rev., of February 11, 1994.
2 Ibid., pp 54-55.
UN Security Council proclaimed the immediate suspension of the
sanctions imposed on June 16, 1993. The same report contained an
analysis of the process related to the creation of the OAS/UN
International Civilian Mission up to the time it was evacuated from Haiti
in October 1993, when the Haitian soldiers ignored the Governors Island
Agreement and intensified its repression against the people, particularly
against the sectors made up of Aristide's supporters. The prospects of
a return of the democratic regime caused fear and opposition in military
9. During its visit, August 23-27, 1993, the Commission found people
terrorized by soldiers and the paramilitary groups assisting them, called
attaches or zenglendos, who operated with full impunity in view of the
inefficiency and subordination of the judicial authorities, who sometimes
feared reprisals by representatives of the Armed Forces.
10. During the period covered in that special report, the systematic
violation of human rights continued after the Governors Island Agreement
was signed. Despite steps taken by the international community with
respect to the lifting of the embargo, the situation continued to worsen
and became critical as of September 1993. Most of the acts of violence
were directed toward preventing the installation and functioning of the
new government, and some of the newly appointed civil servants were
unable to take control of their offices, while others had to abandon their
homes after receiving death threats.
11. The climate in Haiti continued to be characterized by repression and
terror. The soldiers acted with greater cynicism, as was clear with the
public assassination of President Aristide's prominent supporter
Antoine Izmery in September 19933 and, one month later, the
assassination of the Minister of Justice Guy Malary,4 as well as the acts
of intimidation perpetrated against members of the OAS/UN International
Civilian Mission. In rural areas, there was an increase in cases of arbitrary
3 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti. OAS/Ser.L/V/II.85, Doc. 9
rev., pp. 79-80.
4 Ibid., p. 80.
arrest, beatings, illegal raids and confiscation of property, disappearances,
and torture, leading more and more persons to go into hiding or to
abandon their homes. Throughout the country, violations occurred with
the active participation or the acquiescence of the police and the military
forces. The violence was directed against the unarmed civilian
population, which at no time took recourse to violence against
representatives of the state.
12. On September 23, the UN Security Council, by Resolution 867,
approved the dispatch of a mission to Haiti (UNMIH), composed of 1,300
persons who would act as supervisors of the police and military
instructors and included a construction engineering unit. However, the
acts of violence organized by the so-called Front for Advancement and
Progress in Haiti (FRAPH) and by other paramilitary groups prevented
disembarkation from the "Harlam County" that transported members of
the technical assistance mission (UNMIH). The United States Government
ordered the withdrawal of the boat, and Canada withdrew a detachment
of 50 policemen.
13. Considering that the agreements entered into for the restoration of
democracy in Haiti had not been observed, the UN Security Council, by
Resolution 873 of October 13, 1993, reinstated the oil and arms embargo
against Haiti and froze the Haitian military authorities' financial assets
abroad. In the same spirit, the Permanent Council of the OAS issued
Resolution 610 of October 18 and instructed the Special Commission
responsible for monitoring compliance with the trade embargo in Haiti to
resume its activities.5 This embargo was followed by a naval blockade
authorized by the UN Security Council, since the Head of the Haitian
Army General Raoul C6dras refused to step down. Following the naval
blockade, observers from the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission were
evacuated to the Dominican Republic, and the Government of the
Dominican Republic placed its entire border with Haiti under surveillance.
14. Given the lack of progress in obtaining President Aristide's return to
Haiti and the fact that the political situation remained deadlocked,
representatives of four "Friends of Haiti" countries (Canada, the United
5 "Situation in Haiti," CP/RES.610 (968/93) of October 18, 1993.
States, France, and Venezuela) met in Paris on December 13, 1993 and
decided to send a high-level military mission to Haiti to speak with the
Haitian military leaders, who refused to receive it.
15. As a part of the efforts to find a solution to the Haitian crisis,
President Aristide convened a conference in Miami, January 14-16, 1994,
which culminated in an appeal by the deposed Constitutional President for
unity among the Haitian people and a request for support and prompt
observance of the Governors Island Agreement and the New York Pact,
also with a recommendation for the start of the process for the
appointment of a new Prime Minister and a government of reconciliation.
16. The Special Report on Haiti that the Commission submitted to the
24th OAS General Assembly in Belem do Para concluded as follows:
"During the period in question, the Commission recorded many deaths
whose political connections were fully demonstrated by the fact that the
military could instigate or stop them. Furthermore, as in the present
situation, not only did it provoke and sponsor them, but the soldiers also
failed to investigate and punish the perpetrators of these murders, who
operated in death-squad like fashion. This prompts the conclusion that
they operate because they are granted impunity by the military."6
6 Ibid., p. 150.
CHAPTER II: THE COMMISSION'S ACTIVITIES IN HAITI IN 1994
1. IACHR Report to the Permanent Council of the OAS
17. By invitation of the Permanent Council of the OAS, representative
of the IACHR Professor Claudio Grossman testified before that political
body on May 11, 1994 on the human rights situation in Haiti, pointing out
that the Commission was continuing to give priority to observing the
human rights situation in that country. He indicated that on the basis of
the visits carried out, the Commission noted that the abuses performed
by military and paramilitary elements took place with full impunity, that
the general situation of human rights in Haiti continued to worsen
severely, and that there was no judicial authority that could protect
people from these violations.
18. Thus, by virtue of the regime of terror promoted by the Armed
Forces and its continued rejection of the political agreements aimed at
restoring democracy in Haiti, he announced the Commission's decision to
carry out a further on-site visit, starting on May 16, 1994.
2. IACHR's On-site Visit, May 16-20, 1994
19. During its 84th period of sessions that took place in February 1994,
the IACHR decided to carry out an on-site visit, in light of the worsening
human rights situation in Haiti. The observation visit took place May 16-
20. The Commission's delegation was composed of its members
Dr. Patrick Robinson, Ambassador John Donaldson, and
Professor Claudio Grossman. It was assisted by Executive Secretary of
the IACHR Dr. Edith Marquez Rodrfguez, Senior Specialist in charge of
Haitian Affairs Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro, IACHR Attorneys Relinda Eddie
and Isabel Ricupero, OAS interpreter Serge Bellegarde, and secretary of
the delegation Cecilia Adriazola.
21. During its visit, the Commission met with the following eminent
persons: Prime Minister Robert Malval, accompanied by Ministers
Victor Benoit, Rosemont Pradel, Louis Dejoie II, Berthony Berry; Director
of the OAS-UN International Civilian Mission
Ambassador Colin Granderson and a member of the Mission, Tiebil6
Drom6; Monsignor Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Apostolic Nuncio; President of
the Chamber of Deputies, Frantz Robert Monde, and President of the
Senate, Firmin Jean-Louis. The Commission also requested a meeting
with Haitian Armed Forces Head General Raoul C6dras and members of
the Staff and with the Chief of Police Lieutenant-Colonel Michel Francois,
but received no reply.
22. The Commission also met with the Coordinator of the former
Presidential Commission, Father Antoine Adrien, and with representatives
of nongovernmental organizations--popular grassroots bodies, human
rights groups, and leaders of various political parties--with the aim of
collecting information on the human rights situation in Haiti. Similarly,
meetings were held with radio and newspaper representatives, who
provided testimonies on the situation regarding freedom of expression in
Haiti, and with representatives of the industrial sector and of various
23. The lack of authorization prevented the delegation from visiting the
National Penitentiary of Port-au-Prince and gaining first-hand information
on the legal situation of prisoners and on the general conditions in which
the detention center is maintained.
24. During its visit, the Commission collected abundant information and
listened to the testimonies of the victims of human rights violations.
Thanks to the cooperation of members of the International Civilian
Mission and human rights groups helping to coordinate interviews with
victims, who did not accept to meet with the Commission at the place
where interviews were being conducted for fear of being identified, the
IACHR delegation broke up into five groups in an attempt to deal with a
large number of complaints at secret locations.
25. A fact that revealed the sound basis for the fear of the Haitian
people was that on the date that had been fixed for receiving individual
complaints, the Delegation was informed that the hotel was surrounded
by armed men. This created a situation of panic among the petitioners,
who fled into a room, refusing to come out for several hours.
Subsequently, with the help of the Venezuelan Representative
Ambassador Elsa Boccheciampe, the IACHR delegation managed to get
the Haitians out in various automobiles, and they were taken to a place
far from the hotel, from which they could return home without being
26. The delegation was able to verify the serious worsening of the
human rights situation in Haiti since its last visit in August 1993, and
attributed responsibility for those violations to the de facto Haitian
authorities, whose behavior justified accusations against them for the
perpetration of international crimes, implicating the responsibility of
3. Visit of observation on the haitian refugees' situation in The
27. Following its visit to Haiti and at the prior invitation of the
Government, the Commission traveled to The Bahamas for the purpose
of observing the situation of Haitian refugees in that country, where it
carried out a visit, May 22-27, 1994. The special IACHR delegation was
composed of Professor Michael Reisman, President of the Commission;
Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Vice-President; and
Ambassador John Donaldson. The Commission was assisted by
Dr. Edith Marquez Rodrfguez, Executive Secretary of the Commission;
Dr. David Padilla, Deputy Executive Secretary; Dr. Relinda Eddie, Human
Rights Specialist; and Mrs. Rosario Mclntyre, Secretary of the IACHR.
28. During its stay, the IACHR delegation had the cooperation of the
Government of The Bahamas, official agencies, and representatives of
29. The Commission met with the following persons: the Prime
Minister, Mr. Orville A. Turnquest; the Minister of Social Development,
Mrs. Theresa Moxey Ingraham; Sir Lynden Pindling, Leader of the
Opposition; Sir Clement Maynard; Dr. Bernard Nottage and Independent
Senator Fred Mitchell; Mark Wilson, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry
of Public Security and Transportation; and representatives of other
ministries; Mrs. Marina Glinton, Director of the Red Cross;
Winifred Murray, an official of the Department of Welfare; and
Charles Drummond, Director of the Salvation Army. Representatives of
various churches also met with the delegation.
30. The Commission's delegation visited Haitian shanty towns in Grand
Abaco (Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay), Grand Bahama (Freeport),
Eleuthera, and New Providence. It also visited the Carmichael Road
31. The Commission was impressed by the fact that The Bahamas
provided a whole series of basic social services for Haitians fleeing their
country, and Haitian children attend school in the same conditions as
Bahamian children. This meant that The Bahamas was absorbing a
proportionately larger share of the Haitian diaspora than any other state
in the hemisphere, a fact that weighed heavily on its budget and on its
infrastructure. The Commission therefore considered that The Bahamas
deserved to receive assistance from the international community.
4. Submission of the Report on Haiti to the 24th OAS General
32. The Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti was
submitted to the 24th Ordinary Meeting of the OAS General Assembly,
which took place in Belem do Para, Brazil, June 6-10, 1994. Also during
this meeting, President of the IACHR Professor Michael Reisman and
IACHR member and Rapporteur for Haiti Dr. Patrick Robinson submitted
to the Ad Hoc Meeting of Foreign Ministers and to the OAS General
Assembly an additional report on the visit recently made to Haiti, May 16-
20, 1994, in accordance with the request contained in Permanent Council
Resolution 6307. Also present at the General Assembly were Vice-
Presidents of the Commission Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza and
Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejfa who were assisted by Executive
7 See page 21
Secretary Dr. Edith Marquez Rodrfguez, Deputy Executive Secretary
Dr. David Padilla, and Attorney in charge of Haitian Affairs
Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro.
5. Arrangements for a Further On-Site Visit
33. Considering that the expulsion of the International Civilian Mission
(July 11, 1994) meant there was no presence of any international agency
recording in a coordinated way the systematic violations occurring in
Haiti, President of the Commission Prof. Michael Reisman instructed the
Secretary to start making relevant arrangements for a further on-site visit.
The Commission issued a press release on July 27, 1994, expressing its
concern with the International Civilian Mission's departure and indicating
its decision to make a visit to Haiti8.
34. On August 8, the Secretary requested an interview with the Head
of the Armed Forces and the Staff, which was refused at end-August. In
view of the soldiers' negative reaction and logistical problems caused by
the suspension of all commercial flights and the lack of authorization from
the de facto Government for private flights to land, the Commission
published a second press release on August 31, denouncing the cold-
blooded assassination, committed ten days earlier, of Father Jean-
Marie Vincent and announced its intention to devote a part of its next
session, in September 1994, to a detailed review of the situation in Haiti
and measures that could be taken to contribute to alleviating the
continuous pattern of human rights violations in the country.
6. Hearings at the 87th Period of IACHR Sessions, September 19-30,
35. During its 87th period of sessions, the Commission received in
audience Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, UN Rapporteur on the human rights
situation in Haiti, who took the opportunity to state that the environment
in Haiti warranted the development and formalization of plans for closer
cooperation with other intergovernmental organizations, which he felt
8 See annex page 105
could be achieved with the IACHR, within the framework of the
promotion and defense of human rights, by virtue of the jurisdiction
enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights.
36. The Commission also received in audience Ambassador Jean
Casimir, Representative of the Haitian Permanent Mission to the OAS,
who described before the Commission the events that had occurred most
recently in Haiti in regard to the political situation and human rights.
Ambassador Casimir called upon the Commission to establish a presence
in Haiti as soon as possible, even before October 15, 1994, for the
purpose of observing the human rights situation and providing assistance
for the country's democratization plans.
37. Ambassador Casimir explained that the wish of the democratic
Haitian Government was for the Commission, in addition to carrying out
an on-site visit, to prepare a program of activities not only based on
observations of human rights violations, but also including a program of
prevention and promotion of the rights of individuals, to be implemented
in the short and medium terms. This program would contain advice on
measures for financing such activities. He added that, to the extent
possible, such a program could be associated with the Unit for the
Promotion of Democracy, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the
Inter-American Women's Commission, and any other institution that the
IACHR considered it useful to include.
38. Among representatives of nongovernmental organizations received
at hearings was Mr. William O'Neill of the National Coalition for Haitian
Refugees, who requested the Commission to carry out an emergency visit
to Haiti, so that its presence might have a dissuasive effect on human
rights violations and to let the Haitian people know that they had not been
abandoned by the international agencies responsible for promoting the
defense of personal guarantees. Mr. O'Neill stressed the importance of
the presence of human rights observers in Haiti to inform the international
community on complaints of violations, especially at a time when the
OAS/UN International Civilian Mission was not in the country.
39. Lastly, the Commission received the following representatives of
nongovernmental organizations at hearings: Prof. Rhonda Copelan
(International Women's Human Rights Clinic, Cuny Law School),
Dr. Deborah Anker and Nancy Kelly (Women's Refugee Project),
Jennifer Green (Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School),
Dr. Wallie Mason and Anna Marie Gallagher (Center for Human Rights
Legal Action), Beth Stephens (Center for Constitutional Rights);
Sabine Millien (Haitian Women's Advocacy Network), Portia R. Moore and
Joyce Jones (Morrison and Foerster), and Jacqueline A. McNeal, who
wrote a report on the grave human rights situation prevailing in Haiti
stressing in particular the women's situation. At the same time, the
Commission was handed over various documents on alleged human rights
40. Also presented to the Commission was one of the victims of human
rights violations, who testified regarding the atrocities personally borne
at the hands of soldiers in Haiti.
41. The International Women's Human Rights Clinic expressly requested
of the Commission: (a) that the IACHR recognize rape as a form of
torture in the Convention and cover such violations in its special reports;
(b) that it send an emergency mission to Haiti for the purpose of
compiling new information; (c) that it adopt a very special leadership role
to achieve the disarmament of the army and the police; (d) that an
international criminal tribunal be established to deal with violations
committed in Haiti; and (e) that proposals be drawn up for a methodology
of investigating human rights violations against women in Haiti.
7. IACHR On-Site Visit, October 24-27, 1994
42. Following its 87th period of sessions, September 19-30, 1994, the
Commission accepted the invitation of the Constitutional Government of
Haiti to carry out an on-site visit to observe the human rights situation in
the country. This visit took place October 24-27, 1994.
43. The Delegation was composed of IACHR President Prof. Michael
Reisman, Commission members Mr. Patrick Robinson and Prof. Claudio
Grossman, Senior Human Rights Specialist in charge of Haitian Affairs Dr.
Bertha Santoscoy-Noro, Attorneys of the Commission Dr. Relinda Eddie,
Dr. Meredith Caplan, and Dr. Isabel Ricupero, OAS interpreter Mr. Serge
Bellegarde, and IACHR secretaries Mrs. Cecilia Adriazola and Mrs. Gloria
44. During its visit, the IACHR Delegation met with the President of the
Republic Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to whom it expressed its deep
satisfaction at the restoration of the democratic regime in Haiti. The
Delegation reiterated its interest in maintaining cooperation on the study
of all matters relating to its terms of reference.
45. The Delegation held interviews with the then Chief of the Armed
Forces, General Jean-Claude Duperval, to obtain information on the
changes that would be made within the army and the police, in
accordance with the decisions that had been taken at the international
and national levels.
46. The IACHR Delegation also held discussions with Director of the
OAS/UN International Civilian Mission Ambassador Colin Granderson, and
Head of the Human Rights Directorate Mr. Ti6bile Drom6. It also met
with the diplomatic representatives of the five "Friends of Haiti"
countries, namely, Argentina, the United States, Canada, France, and
Venezuela; with members of Parliament, with Coordinator of the former
Presidential Commission Father Antoine Adrien, and with Mayor of Port-
au-Prince Mr. Evans Paul.
47. Similarly, the Delegation met with representatives of human rights
organizations, with grassroots groups, with leaders of political parties,
and with representatives of radio stations, the International Red Cross
Committee, unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the industrial sector, and
various religious denominations.
48. The Delegation visited the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince and
traveled to the towns of Saint-Marc and Gona'ves, where meetings were
held with victims of human rights violations committed during the period
of military dictatorship. The Delegation visited the penitentiaries in the
above-mentioned towns to collect information directly on the legal
situation, the hygienic conditions, and the food of prisoners, as well as
general conditions in the prisons.
49. During its stay, the Commission received substantial information on
the general situation in Haiti and numerous complaints from victims of
human rights violations committed by the dictatorial regime. That
information will be analyzed in Chapter IV of this report.
CHAPTER III: THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN HAITI
50. The purpose of this chapter is to provide information on how the
political process is being pursued in Haiti and on the negotiations and
steps taken by the OAS and the UN with the aim of finding a solution to
the Haitian crisis. The Commission does not claim that the information
it provides is exhaustive. It merely gives an account of the most
significant decisions taken by the international community since
January 1994, the political reactions in Haiti, and their impact in regard
to human rights.
2. Return of the OAS/UN Mission
51. Given the stalemate in the Haitian political situation and the
worsening of the human rights situation, in early January 1994 OAS/UN
Special Envoy Mr. Dante Caputo recommended the return to Haiti of the
International Civilian Mission. On January 26, the first group of
22 observers arrived there, to be joined later by the rest of the team,
which was in Santo Domingo. Upon its arrival, the International Civilian
Mission concentrated on Port-au-Prince and observed a resurgence of
violence in both the capital and its environs. The number of murders was
still alarming, especially extrajudicial executions. In certain cases, the
International Civilian Mission obtained information that allowed it to
conclude that members of the Armed Forces, their auxiliaries, and FRAPH
members were responsible. In other cases, testimony received by the
Mission pointed to armed civilians as the aggressors, but it was not
possible in such circumstances to establish whether these were attaches
or armed bands acting with the complicity of the Armed Forces.
52. Within two months of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission's
arrival, it published 11 press releases pointing out the worsening of the
human rights situation, the wave of repression in rural areas,
disappearances, and the existence of clandestine detention centers.
Notwithstanding the presence and the efforts deployed by the
International Civilian Mission, the situation continued to worsen and
became critical toward the end of April, when a number of FRAPH
militants and soldiers massacred more than 20 persons in Raboteau,
which is an area of GonaTves.
3. New Efforts to Pursue the Negotiation Process
53. With February 1994 came the so-called Parliamentarians' Plan,
which proposed the appointment of a new Prime Minister, the withdrawal
of General C6dras, the passing of the amnesty law, and the approval,
once the new Government had been installed, of the law creating a police
force. Finally, it provided for the return of President Aristide, but fixed no
date for this. The plan failed because of a lack of support from any of the
"Friends of Haiti" countries. Neither was it accepted by
President Aristide, because this plan represented a departure from the
Governors Island Agreement.
54. Also in February, the Senate became divided when five senators of
the Alliance for Parliamentary Unity and eight senators elected in the
controverted elections of September 18, 1993 violently expelled President
of the Haitian Senate Firmin Jean-Louis together with twelve democratic
elected senators and appointed Bernard Sansaricq. Despite the fact that
this implied a parallel representation of the Senate, the faction led by
Bernard Sansaricq never was recognized by the international community.
55. On March 23, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 903
whereby the term of office of the UN Mission (UNMIH), which had in fact
not yet been deployed in Haiti, was extended to June 30, 1994 and
requested the Secretary-General to inform it when the necessary
conditions existed for the dispatch of that Mission. Also in March, the
OAS and the UN launched an appeal in favor of a so-called Humanitarian
Action Plan aimed at meeting the most urgent needs of the Haitian
people. The proposal to implement the plan of assistance was evaluated
at $62.7 million, which would be distributed in various areas, namely,
health, nutrition, agriculture, and education. As contributions did not
prove sufficient, the two organizations had to make an appeal to obtain
funds available within the context of their national programs in order to
carry out the activities.
56. In his April report, the UN Secretary-General indicated that the
negotiations conducted to that date had not led to concrete progress, and
it was therefore necessary to recommend that a more precisely Haitian
solution be found. He therefore stated that it would be desirable for
those involved, with the support of the international community, to
resume a real role in this process. He added that the international
community, particularly the most concerned countries, should seek unity
in its approach at this stage, taking into account the recent stalemate in
4. Widening of Sanctions under the Embargo and its Political Impact
57. On the one hand, the two-week hunger strike by well-known human
rights defender and director of the TransAfrica group Randall Robinson,
the arrest of six members of Congress who were demonstrating in front
of the White House, and the sharp criticism by President Aristide of the
Clinton Government's policy. On the other hand, the criticism by
nongovernmental human rights groups on the lack of political will to take
firm decisions to reinstate Aristide in power and to change the policy of
summarily repatriating Haitian refugees and the worsening human rights
situation in Haiti led to a revision of the United States Government's
policy. There was also talk of requesting the UN Security Council to
apply a total embargo against the de facto regime in Haiti.
58. Following the change in policy announced by the United States
Government, Adviser on Haiti at the State Department Lawrence Pezzullo
resigned on April 27 and was replaced as Special Adviser by
William Gray, a Democrat and former member of Congress.
59. Among efforts made to resolve the crisis in Haiti by peaceful means,
the UN Security Council on May 6 approved Resolution 917 broadening
the sanctions under the embargo imposed on Haiti in October 1993,
which had not had the desired effect, mainly along the lengthy border
between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
60. The sanctions covered in Resolution 917 would enter into force
within 15 days, and as of that date every state would: 1) deny
permission to any aircraft to take off, land, or fly over its territory if the
aircraft's destination or place of departure was Haitian territory, except
where such flights had been approved for humanitarian reasons; 2) ban
the entry on its territory of any military officials from Haiti, including
members of the police and their immediate family members and the main
participants in the 1991 coup d'6tat and their family members; 3) prohibit
the import into its territory of any goods and products originating in Haiti
and exported from that country, except those sent for humanitarian
reasons; and 4) be urged to impose an immediate freeze on the funds and
financial resources of the above-mentioned persons.
61. In its Resolution 917, the Council warned in five points that the
sanctions would not be fully removed until:
a) the withdrawal of the Commander-in-Chief of the Haitian
Armed Forces and the resignation or departure from Haiti of the Chief of
Police of Port-au-Prince and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces;
b) a total change, through resignation or departure from Haiti, in
the top staff of the police and the high military commands, as provided
for in the Governors Island Agreement;
c) the adoption of the legislative measures provided for in the
Governors Island Agreement, as well as the creation of adequate
conditions for the organization of free and fair legislative elections within
the framework of a full restoration of democracy in Haiti;
d) the establishment by the authorities of adequate conditions for
the deployment of the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH); and
e) the return, as soon as possible, of the democratically elected
President and the maintenance of constitutional order, these conditions
being necessary for full observance of the Governors Island Agreement.
62. In view of the deterioration in the human rights situation in Haiti, the
Permanent Council of the OAS, by Resolution 630 of May 9,9 strongly
condemned the massive violations committed under Haiti's military regime
and mentioned, in that connection, the recent reports of massacres and
arson that occurred in Cit6 Soleil, Borgne, and Raboteau, which
represented a serious obstacle to full pursuit of the proposals whose
implementation was sought by the Ad Hoc Meeting of Foreign Ministers
and an attempt to nullify any proposal for a total exercise of the Haitian
nation's political sovereignty.
63. In the same resolution, the Permanent Council requested the IACHR
to give priority to investigating cases of massive executions, sexual
abuses, and kidnapping of minors, especially when these were used as
methods of political terror, and to inform the General Assembly at its 24th
ordinary period of sessions of the results of the next observation visit in
64. Prior to the date when Resolution 917 adopted by the UN Security
Council was to come into force and in open defiance of the international
community, Emile Jonassaint'1, a magistrate of the Supreme Court, was
designated Provisional President of Haiti, with the backing of five senators
led by Sansaricq and supported by the military establishment, in the
presence of Head of the Armed Forces Raoul Cedras.
65. The appointment of Jonassaint was immediately rejected by the UN
and the OAS. The latter's Permanent Council unanimously declared that
the Haitian crisis would be solved only with the return of Aristide and that
any action taken by the illegitimate government, including any call for
elections, would be considered worthless." Subsequently, because of
the lack of legitimacy in the appointment of Jonassaint, politicians who
supported him were isolated, and the Chamber of Deputies indicated that
it would not recognize that government or any decisions it adopted.
9 OEA/Ser. G, CP/RES 630 (987/94) of May 9, 1994.
10 Was designated President of the Suprem Court as a result of the Coup d'etat
11 OEA/Ser.G, CP/DEC.18 (986/94) of May 11, 1994.
66. The IACHR, which was present in Haiti at that time (from May 16
to 20), indicated that the fact of installing a "government" without a
popular vote and of contravening the Haitian Constitution represented
flagrant violation of the political rights of the Haitian people and of the
rights to political participation enshrined in Article 23 of the American
Convention on Human Rights.
67. The IACHR carried out a visit to observe the situation of human
rights in Haiti. During this visit, in spite of having been prevented by the
military authorities from carrying out a part of its work agenda and the
fear expressed by many persons of being interviewed in public places, the
Commission met at clandestine locations and obtained abundant
68. At the end of its visit, the Commission provided the information, at
a press conference, that because of the numerous testimonies of victims
of violations, it was able to report on the serious deterioration in the
situation of human rights in Haiti since its last visit in August 1993. The
documentation received by the Commission indicated, among other
violations, 133 cases of extrajudicial executions that had occurred
between February and May 1994. Also, the Commission received
information on the existence of severely mutilated corpses in the streets
of Port-au-Prince and directly verified one such case. The Commission
pointed out that the purpose of these acts was to terrorize the people.12
69. Given the military establishment's refusal to come to a solution of
the political crisis, the sanctions imposed in UN Resolution 917 entered
into force on May 21, 1994.
5. Resolution 6/94, "Call for a Return to Democracy in Haiti," by the
Ad Hoc Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the OAS
70. During the 24th ordinary meeting of the OAS General Assembly,
which took place in Belem do Para, Brazil, June 6-10, 1994, the Ad Hoc
12 The information obtained during this visit is analyzed in the chapter on the
human rights situation.
Meeting of Foreign Ministers, taking account of the reports submitted by
the IACHR and by the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission, issued
Resolution No. 6/94, "Call for a Return to Democracy in Haiti," in which
it condemned the continuation of delaying and intimidating tactics by the
de facto military authorities and the repression exercised by the latter
against supporters of democracy.
71. In this resolution, a request was also made: 1) for support to
strengthen the International Civilian Mission so that it could increase its
staff; and 2) for the IACHR to continue drawing attention to violations
against the Haitian people's human rights, to pursue its investigations on
the conduct of the de facto authorities so as to help identify those
responsible for the violations committed, to cooperate with the
Government of Haiti in the preparation and implementation of programs
to reform the country's judicial institutions, and to continue cooperating
with the International Civilian Mission.
72. Finally, Resolution 6/94 urged all member states to support the UN's
measures to strengthen its mission in Haiti (UNMIH), so that it can assist
in restoring democracy by making the Armed Forces a professional body
and training the new police force, helping to maintain public order, and
protecting the staff of international organizations and other organizations
participating in humanitarian and human rights efforts in Haiti. The
Resolution also contained an appeal to the international community to
cooperate in dealing with the problem of persons fleeing Haiti and to help
in attending to their requests for asylum in their capacity as refugees,
offering them protection when they meet the relevant conditions.
6. Measures to Force the Haitian Military Authorities to Leave
73. On June 10, the United States Government announced its
determination to seek the economic, financial, and air isolation of Haiti,
in a further attempt to force the soldiers to leave power. Consequently,
President Clinton ordered the suspension of United States commercial
flights to Haiti as of June 25, thus giving time for United States citizens
residing in that country and wishing to leave it, to do so. Canada and
Panama adopted similar measures. As of that date, the only air
communications from Haiti would be assured by the Dutch company ALM
and by Air France, which later also suspended their flights.
74. On June 30, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 933/94, in
which it requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Council, by July
15, 1994 at the latest, a report containing concrete recommendations on
the staffing, composition, cost, and duration of UNMIH, with a view to
increasing and deploying that mission that would provide assistance,
when the time came, to the democratic Government of Haiti to guarantee
the security of the international presence, senior officials of the
Government of Haiti, and essential installations and to provide assistance
for the maintenance of public order and the holding of legislative
elections, which would have to be convened by the legitimate
constitutional authorities. It also decided to extend the mandate of
UNMIH to July 31, 1994.
7. Expulsion of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission
75. Without warning, the Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs and
Workship sent a note to the International Civilian Mission on July 5,
informing it that its term of office had expired, that it was continuing to
function in "undefined, irregular" circumstances, and that he was
therefore indicating that it should suspend its activities. Then on July 11,
the de facto authorities handed Ambassador Colin Granderson, Director
of the International Civilian Mission, a decree issued by the President who
had not been recognized by the international community,
Emile Jonassaint, in which he declared the members of the Mission
"undesirable" and gave them 48 hours to leave Haiti. The Secretaries of
the OAS and the UN immediately issued a joint statement, in which they
condemned the deplorable act13 and ordered the evacuation of the
76. On the one hand, the expulsion of the International Civilian Mission
was yet further proof of the clear contempt in which the de facto
13 Situation of the International OAS/UN Civilian Mission. OEA/Ser.G,
CP/RES.633 (995/94), Corr. 1, July 11, 1994.
authorities held the international community. On the other hand, the
Haitian people experienced a feeling of despair and abandonment in view
of the human rights violations, which were becoming increasingly evident,
against persons maintaining a direct rapport with the democratic regime.
77. By a press release of July 2714, the IACHR expressed its concern
about the expulsion of the International Civilian Mission, pointing out that
this was depriving the Haitian people of a witness of the violations and
robbing human rights institutions of a source of information that was
essential for their work. As a result of these events, the Commission
considered it suitable to carry out an immediate visit to Haiti, for the
purpose of observing the human rights situation in accordance with the
American Convention on Human Rights, to explore methods of ending
those violations, and to develop alternative information media.
78. On July 27, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission submitted a
report entitled "Situation of Democracy and Human Rights in Haiti,"15
covering the period January 31-June 30, 1994, in which it draws
attention to the political repression carried out by soldiers and the
numerous human rights violations resulting from them. The report also
refers to incidents of harassment and intimidation to which members of
the International Civilian Mission were subjected at the hands of the de
facto authorities for the purpose of opposing their activities.
8. Resolution 940 of the UN Security Council
79. Given the recent events and the resurgence of violence in Haiti,
President Aristide requested the international community, by letter of
July 29 addressed to the UN Secretary-General, to take speedy and
decisive action under the authority of the UN, so as to facilitate total
15 Doc. A/48/532/Add.3 of July 27, 1994.
14 See annex page 105
80. On July 31, 1994, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution
No. 940/94, in which it:
"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
authorizes Member States to form a multinational force under unified
command and control and, in this framework, to use all necessary means
to facilitate the departure from Haiti of the military leadership, consistent
with the Governors Island Agreement, the prompt return of the
legitimately elected President and the restoration of the legitimate
authorities of the Government of Haiti, and to establish and maintain a
secure and stable environment that will permit implementation of the
Governors Island Agreement..."
81. Following this resolution, the de facto authorities of Haiti
immediately decreed a state of siege, and the idea of a United States
intervention led the Haitian military to recruit many people by force and
train them to defend the country.
82. The situation in Haiti became extremely tense in August, and some
embassies withdrew their diplomatic staff. Telephone lines were often
cut, leaving the country incommunicado. Attacks on the press became
constant, and it was often prohibited, by decree of the de facto
authorities, to distribute information from embassies (especially the United
States embassy). Journalists who tried to enter the country via the
Dominican Republic were not allowed to do so unless they paid $500,
and this gave them access only to certain events and locations.
83. The human rights situation in Haiti continued to worsen even
further. The cold-blooded murder on August 28 of Father Jean-
Marie Vincent, a close friend and supporter of Aristide, was one more act
in the series of violations committed with impunity. His death was a
harsh blow against the sector that supported the return of the democratic
regime and Christian resources in grassroots communities. The Haitian
Armed Forces continued to defy the international community, committing
all types of violent act to pursue the repression against the unfortunate
people, who were also carrying the burden of the sanctions applied under
the embargo. An economy on the brink of collapse, with a terrible
- 27 -
scarcity of goods and more than 80 percent unemployed, and obstacles
created by the de facto authorities that tended to prevent the distribution
of humanitarian assistance for nearly one month.
84. In mid-August 1994, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Ghali, had
announced the dispatch of a UN mission to hold discussions with the
Haitian military authorities. His emissary Mr. Rolf Knutsson traveled
beforehand to the Dominican Republic and from there, he was to make
the necessary arrangements for them to receive the mission, which would
deal with the peaceful departure of the military authorities. However, the
latter let it be known that they would have to speak with the President of
the Chambers of Deputy and Bernard Sansaricq who was acting as
President of the Senate to discuss a national reconciliation plan, rather
than the implementation of Resolution 940.
85. On August 30, Boutros Ghali announced the failure of the initiative
in question, at the same pointing out that the situation in Haiti was
intolerable for the Haitian people, given the repression and human rights
violations, and indicated that countries that had received a mandate to
intervene in Haiti should take their own decisions.
86. During the August 30 meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM), attended by United States Undersecretary of
State Strobe Talbott and Undersecretary of Defense John Deutch, a
number of points of Resolution 940 that referred to the multinational
force were discussed. This resolution provided for an operation in two
phases: the first, a multinational force that would invade Haiti and take
control, and then a UN-UNMIH mission composed of 6,000 persons
would maintain peace and control the Haitian security forces. For a start,
four countries (Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago)
stated they would contribute with a CARICOM peace force of 266
members to maintain order in Haiti following the overthrow of the military
authorities. The United Kingdom stated it would participate in the
multinational force. It was hoped that other countries would contribute
during the second phase of the operation.
- 28 -
87. On the other hand, 88 UN observers, the Multinational Observer
Group (MOG), were assigned at the end of August to the border between
the Dominican Republic and Haiti to prevent contraband fuel and other
goods entering Haitian territory, in accordance with the embargo decreed
by the UN. Canada, Argentina, Jamaica, Barbados, and Antigua
participated in this group. The Army of the Dominican Republic also
dispatched 15,000 soldiers to the border region. However, according to
certain information, contraband fuel continued to pass between the two
9. Agreement Between the US Government and the Haitian Military
88. In view of the critical situation that Haiti was undergoing and an
imminent invasion, the Commission stated, on August 31, that at its next
session in September it would examine the Haitian situation in detail and
any measures it could take to help alleviate the continuous pattern of
human rights violations in that country.
89. On September 15, 1994, given the refusal of the military authorities
to leave power, President Clinton announced the invasion of Haiti. The
following day, he let it be known that as a last effort to avoid the armed
intervention, a mission would be sent, composed of former President
James Carter, General Colin Powell, and Senator Sam Nunn, to discuss
terms for the departure of the military leaders from the country. On
September 18, the United States Government issued information on the
agreement obtained with General C6dras to leave power peacefully with
a time limit until October 15, and during that period, the Haitian
Parliament would work on the amnesty law. A part of the agreement
stipulated that the Haitian police and military forces would work in close
cooperation with the United States military mission. This agreement was
received in various quarters with many questions.
10. Arrival of the Multinational Force
90. The Multinational Force headed by the United States arrived on
September 19 in Port-au-Prince and would remain in the country until the
arrival of UNMIH. On that same day, the OAS/UN Special Representative
for Haiti Mr. Dante Caputo offered his resignation, indicating in his letter
the total absence of consultation between the United States and the UN
and the decision taken unilaterally in the Haitian process. Four days later,
the UN Secretary-General appointed the former Foreign Minister of Algeria
Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi as his Special Representative for Haitian Affairs.
91. In view of the pending disembarkation of United States marines, a
large sector of Haitians had gathered in Port-au-Prince to observe their
arrival and demonstrate their joy at what, for them, meant protection of
their personal guarantees, when haitian policemen dispersed people,
severely beating demonstrators in the presence of members of the United
States force, who did not intervene. These acts of violence left a toll of
two dead and several wounded. Days later, at Cap Haitien, there was an
armed clash between a patrol of the Multinational Force and Haitian
military operatives, in which ten of the latter died.
92. The acts of violence were denounced by the Permanent Council of
the OAS in its Statement CP/DEC. 21 (1006/94) of September 22, 1994,
in which it requested the return of the International Civilian Mission to
Haiti and urged the IACHR, in accordance with President Aristide's
request for a visit to be carried out, to help defend and promote human
rights in Haiti. In the same statement, the Council, like the UN, expressed
its satisfaction with the progress that had been achieved in the quest for
a peaceful solution to the Haitian crisis.
93. On September 29, 1994, the United Nations Security Council
approved Resolution 944 asking the Secretary General to take the
necessary steps for immediate deployment of observers and other
members of the advanced group of the United Nations Mission in Haiti.15
94. On October 5, 1994, the Haitian Parliament initiated the draft
amnesty law for members of the military who took part in the coup that
overthrew constitutionally elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The new bill
contains an amendment to article 3 of the old 1860 amnesty law, which
15. Resolution 944/94, of the UN Security Council, S/1994, of September 29, 1994.
stipulates that, under the Constitution, only the head of state may grant
amnesty, and only in political cases, that is, cases of crimes or offenses
against the public interest (res publica, or against the country's interior
and exterior security for crimes against public order, plus crimes and
accessory offenses defined as such by the Penal Code. The law was
passed on October 6, 1994.
95. Since the Governors Island Accord in July 1993, Haitian military
leaders have demanded that they be given amnesty in exchange for the
return of President Aristide. They have insisted on a broad law covering
all violations resulting from the coup d'6tat of September 30, 1991.
96. On October 3, 1993, President Aristide had issued an amnesty
decree covering the political violations committed from September 29,
1991 to July 3, 1993. This amnesty did not cover common crimes, nor
would it protect against civil suits against those responsible for human
rights violations committed in Haiti after that date. The decree was
rejected by the military leaders, who demanded a law covering the entire
period of the de facto regime.
97. On October 10, one day before his term was to expire, General
C6dras announced he would leave the country and transferred command
of the armed forces to Major General Jean-Claude Duperval, who had
been officially appointed to that post by President Aristide in December
1993. Under the asylum granted by the Government of Panama,
Generals Raoul C6dras and Philippe Biamby and 14 members of their
families left the country on October 12. A week earlier, Lieutenant
Joseph Michel Francois, the Haitian Chief of Police, had entered the
Dominican Republic under a tourist visa issued by the Dominican
Government authorizing him to stay there temporarily while he was
arranging for permanent residence in some other country. Later, most of
the officers of the same rank as C6dras left Haiti to take military attach
posts in various countries.
98. In a note of October 11, the OAS Secretary General announced the
end of OAS sanctions against Haiti, after consulting with the ministers of
foreign affairs of OAS member countries, and at the request of President
Aristide. The suspension of commercial flights and international financial
transactions with Haiti were lifted, while the other sanctions remained in
force until President Aristide returned to office.
CHAPTER IV: THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI
99. This chapter deals with the situation of human rights in Haiti from
January to August 1994. The analysis of the situation is based mainly
on the information obtained during on-site visits carried out in Haiti in May
and October 1994, through direct testimonies and documentation
received from nongovernmental groups and individual complaints, and
documentation received at the Commission's headquarters and in the
information provided by the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission.
100. This chapter offers a general overview of the situation of human
rights in Haiti during the period of January-August and presents examples
of cases that illustrate the types of violation that the Commission
observed most often. And new represive methods are mentioned as used
by the military or para military groups: the massacres against the rural
population; the appearance, in Port-au-Prince's streets of mutilated and
disfigured corpses; violence perpetrated against women and rape, are also
covered and violations against children's rights. Most of the violations
denounced to the Commission and described in this chapter refer to acts
committed during the dictatorial regime.
101. Most of the violations recorded by the Commission refer to acts
committed between January and September 1994 by representatives of
the Armed Forces, paramilitary groups, and members of Revolutionary
Front for the Advancement and progress of Haiti (FRAPH), whose
operations were coordinated with the army and the police. Despite the
condemnation by the international community, the harsh information on
Haiti presented by OAS and UN agencies permanently responsible for
monitoring human rights and by the International Civilian Mission, as well
as the widening of sanctions imposed under the embargo, the military
authorities did not meet human rights commitments. On the contrary,
whenever there was an attempt at political expression, the soldiers
intensified the repression against the Haitian people.
102. Since the coup d'6tat of September 29, 1991, an estimated 3,000
persons were murdered. In 1993, following the signing of the Governors
Island Agreement, the repression escalated to alarming levels when the
people, encouraged by this agreement, publicly expressed their support
for President Aristide. Cases of arbitrary arrest, beating, illegal search,
confiscation of goods and arson, abduction, and torture increased, and
this forced victims and their family members to abandon their homes and
live underground. President Aristide stated, mid-1994, that the number
of deaths had risen to 5,000.
103. The repression that was systematically carried out by the soldiers
was aimed at destroying any type of organization, right of expression, or
activity in support of the democratic regime. As of January 1994, the de
facto regime applied new methods that were particularly effective for
spreading terror among the people, including practices such as raping the
wives or family members of militants in favor of Aristide's return. When
the soldiers, attaches, or FRAPH members did not find such militants,
they abused the women and children who were present. Sexual abuse
was thus used as an instrument of repression and political persecution.
During the IACHR's visit to Haiti in May 1994, in spite of victims'
reluctance to denounce such crimes, the Commission received 21 reports
of rape and sexual abuse and directly interviewed the victims of this
horrible practice. On that occasion, the Commission pointed out that the
international community had repeatedly recognized the universal nature
of the rights of women, as well as the fact that these violations
constituted one of the worst crimes against them.
104. Another method of terrorizing the people consisted of leaving in the
streets of Port-au-Prince the severely mutilated corpses of victims, which
were partly eaten by animals in view of the fact that the authorities in
power took no action. These reprehensible acts had the dual purpose of
preventing victims' identification by family members, thus preventing the
latter from seeking legal recourse, and creating an atmosphere of
repression to prevent any type of popular demonstration.
105. In the interior of the country also, the number and the brutality of
human rights violations increased. The Commission obtained testimonies
that irrefutably established the army's responsibility in the massacre of
defenseless people in Raboteau, GonaYves, D6partement of Artibonite, on
March 22, 1994. There, 15-20 persons were executed with no
justification whatsoever. Also, the army attacked people in the
D6partements of the Center (Saut d'Eau) and the North (Borgne). The
Commission received information on the campaign of repression that was
carried out in Borgne, where arson was used as a strategy of terror.
106. These attacks all showed similar characteristics: veritable military
campaigns in which army units, assisted by FRAPH and other paramilitary
groups, surrounded and erupted in localities under the pretext of
combating subversive groups and locating illegal arms, indiscriminately
beating up people and committing acts of arson, destruction of their crops
and robberies, followed by arbitrary arrest. During such raids, farmers
were forced to pay "ransom" so as not to become the victims of these
107. During the Commission's visit in May 1994, it also observed that
most violations of which it was informed followed a systematic pattern
of repression, revealing a political plan of intimidation and terror against
the Haitian people, especially in sectors that supported President Aristide
or that had demonstrated in favor of democracy in Haiti. Thus, in the
marginal slums of Port-au-Prince, such as Cit6 Soleil, Sarthe, Carrefour,
and Fonds Tamara, armed paramilitary groups carried out raids late at
night, murdering and robbing people living there. At other times,
according to information received, victims were abducted; they were
forced to get into vehicles and were led blindfolded to clandestine
detention centers, where they were interrogated and tortured. Some of
the victims were freed after several days, while others succumbed to the
severe blows inflicted on them. During its stay in Haiti, the Commission
received information on 133 cases of extrajudicial executions perpetrated
between February and May 1994.
108. The Commission noted that the exercise of the right of assembly did
not exist for those who supported the return of democracy. When groups
of individuals tried to exercise it, they were arrested and brutally beaten
by soldiers and policemen, who accused them of being terrorists. One
example of these acts was the arrest of a group of 20 persons in Hinche,
in the Central D6partement, on April 29, 1994.
109. The same situation occurred with respect to the right of expression.
Information received by the Commission made it possible to confirm the
constraints suffered by representatives of the Haitian press and radio who
were subjected to acts of intimidation and repression, and this led to the
self-censorship by the information media. Most radio stations
concentrated on providing musical programs, for fear they would be
destroyed, and news on the political situation in the country was spread
by foreign journalists, who did so under many constraints and at their
110. Acts of repression and intimidation also affected members of the
International Civilian Mission, who were harassed by the Haitian
authorities on various occasions. On March 23, 1994, members of the
Mission in the region of Hinche (Plateau Central) were assaulted by
numerous demonstrators led by members of FRAPH, with local military
authorities making no move to stop their acts and thus clearly showing
their complicity with members of the attacking group.
111. At the end of its visit in Haiti on May 1994, the Commission
concluded that the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in
keeping with a plan of intimidation and terror against defenseless people.
It held the authorities holding de facto power in Haiti accountable for
these violations, since they engaged in conduct that justified accusations
of international crimes that generate individual responsibilities.
3. Consequences of the Repression
A. The "marronage" phenomenon
112. Since the coup d'6tat in 1991, the climate of terror and lack of
security that prevailed in Haiti led a large portion of the people to move
to the interior of the country or from rural areas to the capital, in search
of refuge. They were thus forced to abandon their homes and go into
continuous hiding. In its report on Haiti of 1991, the Commission
indicated that approximately 300,000 persons had been affected by this
massive displacement.16 During its on-site visit in May 1994, the
Commission stated its concern with the number of displaced Haitians who
were obliged to choose to live like fugitives in their own country. This
continued to increase in alarming proportions.
113. The phenomenon of massive displacement as a result of the
repression is known in Haiti as marronage (marronage) and has become
a strategy used by the soldiers to eliminate all types of opposition to the
de facto regime. The constant flight of a large portion of the population
has damaged its ability to become organized, thus suffocating the
political, social, and economic structures that might have represented a
threat to the illegal regime installed by the military authorities.
114. Marronage has affected persons and organizations of different
levels, including politicians, journalists, priests, members of human rights
groups, grassroots groups, unions, and a large number of inhabitants of
the highly populated slums. A high percentage of the cases of marronage
involved persons who openly supported the democratic regime. For the
most part, they were men, but there were also numerous cases of women
or entire families who took refuge underground. Numerous civil servants
of the legitimate Government were forced to go into hiding; this included
the case of Mayor of Port-au-Prince Evans Paul, whose reinstatement
under Prime Minister Malval was violently interrupted by armed men.
Many grassroots organizations, such as rural cooperatives and
development, educational, and civic associations also went into hiding,
attempting to maintain contact and mutual help among their members,
while others simply disbanded in the process of flight.
115. The common element in the marronage phenomenon was the fear
experienced by these persons, which forces them to sleep away from
their homes, moving every night to different locations so as not to be
16 Annual Report of the IACHR for 1991, pp. 225-247.
found, or moving to another location so as to flee repression.
Unfortunately, displaced persons did not always find places where they
can remain continuously, and this obligated some to leave their family life.
For many of them it was impossible to get back with their families. In
this way, there emerged a virtual disintegration of the family unit, and
there were very frequent cases of displaced persons not managing to
obtain news of their wives or children. As a result of the constant flight,
jobs were abandoned, and political and social activities became restricted
116. The de facto regime's ability to make displace persons within the
country itself was a result of the absolute impunity enjoyed by those
carrying out the repression. For example, in some cases, local authorities
ordered prisoners to leave the region once they had been freed or were
arrested again. Some who tried to return were arrested and in some
117. As stated above, the phenomenon of marronage began with the
coup d'6tat of 1991, but this reached alarming proportions following the
signing of the Governors Island Agreement, as a result of the resurgence
of the repression by soldiers. As of 1993, with the emergence of FRAPH
acting in complicity or with the help of the soldiers, veritable systematic
attacks were launched against the people. One of these attacks was the
burning down of a section of Cit6 Soleil, which left tens of dead persons,
hundreds of homes destroyed, and thousands of persons displaced.
Further examples of the collective displacement as a result of these
attacks were the Raboteau massacres and the fires at Borgne.17
118. Another consequence generated by marronage is the economic
problem, since when a person who represents the economic support of
a family is forced to flee, the family's means of subsistence are cut off
abruptly. In rural areas, displacement has meant that the fields remain
deserted and crops are lost. In some cases, section chiefs have seized
the lands and property of fleeing families.
17 See the section on the right to life and on property right.
B. Violence against women and sexual abuse
119. As mentioned above, since the coup d'6tat against President Jean-
Bertrand Aristide, the illegal de facto regime has committed a multitude
of human rights abuses against the civilian population, particularly since
mid-1993 after the failure of the Governors Island Agreement. The
destruction of democratic movements in Haiti has created a climate of
terror, and women have been used as victims. The primary instruments
of the repression inflicted on women and children in Haiti have been rapes
and other types of violence and abuse committed by members of the
army and police forces, their armed civilian auxiliaries, the attaches,
paramilitary groups, and members of FRAPH, acting with complete
120. Women of varying ages and circumstances, from pregnant women
to five year-old girls, are among the victims of rape. Women who played
an important role in the formation of democratic institutions in Haiti were
identified because of their political activities. Many Haitian women's
organizations were attacked; others were destroyed. Other women were
identified because of their personal links and family relationships, and
reprisals were taken against them for the political ideas and activities of
a spouse, son, father, nephew, or other male family member. Some
women were identified because of their own status and role in helping the
civil society. The fact of belonging to a popular organization or being
involved in an activity whose purpose was to improve the local
community was considered as the expression of a political opinion in
favor of President Aristide. Numerous women were abused merely
because they lived in a slum that supports President Aristide (Cit6 Soleil).
Remaining alone to care for their children because their husbands had to
flee or were murdered, many of them were easy, defenseless prey.
121. The OAS/UN Mission affirmed, in this respect: "It always happens
in the same way: armed men, frequently soldiers or FRAPH members,
violently enter the house of a political militant to arrest him. When he is
not there and the family cannot say where he is, the intruders turn
against his wife, sister, daughter, or cousin."18
122. Sexual abuse against Haitian women was carried out in various
ways, but with a single aim: to create a climate of terror among people
supporting Aristide. Women were generally raped by several men on the
same occasion. Pregnant women and those who had just given birth
were not safe from these crimes. Often, a violation occurred in the home
of the victim, in front of the children and other family members, and thus
not only the woman, but the entire family was terrorized. In many cases,
the woman was forced to witness the rape or murder of her daughter or
other family member before being herself raped. In one case of which the
IACHR was informed, a 15 year-old was forced to rape his own mother.
123. Other forms of sexual torture included blows to the breasts and
stomach, often inflicted on pregnant women with the intention of causing
them to abort or damage their ability to have children. Many women
were brutally murdered by soldiers or attaches, who shot them or pushed
sharp objects in their vagina. In addition to the sexual abuse, women
were illegally detained and subjected to other forms of torture that
resulted in mutilation.
124. Haitian women have rarely presented complaints about violations to
the police, partly because of fear of reprisals, since in many cases the
perpetrators were soldiers who were part of the police. Historically in
Haiti, the police force has been a part of the army, and it is essentially
soldiers who carried out policing functions. In the few cases where
women attempted to report violations committed by soldiers and their
auxiliaries, the authorities threatened them with reprisals, or simply did
not investigate their complaints. On the other hand, there was the
corruption and inefficiency in the judicial system and, in practical terms,
in contradiction with the 1987 Constitution (Articles 42 and 43), the
army, rather than the civilian authorities, investigated such cases. On the
other hand, neither does the shame imposed by society on a woman who
OAS/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti. Press release, ref. CP/94/20 of
May 19, 1994.
has been raped encouraged her to make a report on the attack. This
underlines the importance of clearly recognizing sexual violence as a
serious human rights violation.
125. The wounds inflicted on women who were abused sexually are both
physical and psychological. Many of them feel shame and, what is more,
cannot return to their hometowns for fear of rejection. In numerous
cases, their private lives and family relationships have deteriorated. In
other cases, the results of medical tests carried out on some women
showed them to be HIV positive, while other women died because of
126. During its visit to Haiti in May 1994, the IACHR received news of
21 cases of rape. Victims who gave their testimonies before the IACHR
Delegation refused to give their names for fear of reprisals. The
Commission presents a summary report of two cases which have the
same elements and characteristics as contained in the 21 cases of rape.
"The victim is 42 years old and a member of the National
Front for the Change and Democracy (FNCD). Her husband
was murdered, and she was persecuted by members of
FRAPH and "macoutes." In October 1993, about 7:00 or
8:00 p.m., members of these groups went to her daughter's
house to find out where she was and kill her. Three men
entered the house; the others remained outside. The men
were dressed in olive green clothing and carried Uzis. They
threatened her: "You support Aristide. You are a "Lavalas."
We'll kill everyone we find in the house." Two of them raped
her and they took away everything she had, including money.
The victim stated that she had a medical certificate. After the
above-mentioned events, the victim hid a few days at the
home of friends, who finally asked her to leave because they
were afraid. The victim and her five children now have
nowhere to live. In May 1994, she received further threats
and was beaten by two civilians"
"The victim is 46 years old. Around midnight on
November 29, 1993 as she slept, three men entered her
home. They were wearing olive green uniforms and carrying
Uzis and pistols. Some wore hoods. A number of them raped
her; they beat her and destroyed her property. They also
threatened her, saying that if there was talk of the incident the
next day on the radio, they would return and kill her. They told
her what occurred took place because she was an Aristide
supporter. Although the neighbors heard noises, no one came
out of their house to help her for fear of being killed".
127. This campaign of violations increased in intensity in early 1994.
The OAS/UN International Civilian Mission pointed out that between
February and July 1994, 77 cases of sexual violation were reported,
including 55 against women who were militant or had close relations with
male militants. Some human rights groups working specifically on the
issue of women indicate that they have counted up to 18 violations in a
single day, many of which were clearly reprisals for political activities.
This use of sexual violence was documented in reports made by the
IACHR, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission, nongovernmental
organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the National Coalition for
Haitian Refugees, and a number of Haitian women who fled Haiti and
obtained refuge in the United States.
128. The exhaustive and detailed information presented to the IACHR by
representatives of nongovernmental organizations, such as Haitian
Women's Advocacy Network, International Women's Human Rights of
CUNY Law School, Human Rights Program, Immigration and Refugee
Program of Harvard Law School, Women Refugees Project, Center for
Human Rights Legal Action, Center for Constitutional Rights, MADRE, and
the Law Office of Morrison and Foerster, clearly shows sexual violations
and other types of violence against Haitian women as a form of reprisal,
intimidation, terror, and degradation of women.
129. In the great majority of cases, it was demonstrated that the acts of
sexual abuse were committed by representatives of the army and the
police and their armed civilian auxiliaries, with the authorization or
tolerance of the illegal regime. This therefore constitutes a violation of
Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which deals with
the right to humane treatment, and Article 11 concerning the protection
of honor and dignity.
130. These abuses against Haitian women also constitute violations of
other provisions of the Convention and of the American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man, as well as of other international treaties that
Haiti has ratified and is obliged to respect: the Inter-American Convention
to Prevent and Punish Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The relevance is also
noteworthy of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention,
Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women, recently
approved at the meeting of the OAS General Assembly in June 1994 in
Belem do Para, Brazil.
131. In the past, the Commission considered a number of cases of sexual
and other abuses against women, as a result condemning violations of the
rights contained in the Convention and the American Declaration.
132. In the case of Haiti, sexual violations were the result of a repression
for political purposes. The intention of those in power has been to
destroy any democratic movement whatever, through the terror created
by this series of sexual crimes.
133. The Commission considers that rape represents not only inhumane
treatment that infringes upon physical and moral integrity under Article 5
of the Convention, but also a form of torture in the sense of Article 5(2)
of that instrument.
134. Consistent with the definitions elaborated in the Inter-American
Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Torture,19 which Haiti has
signed, and the United Nations's Convention Against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,20 the
Commission considers that the rape and other sexual abuse of Haitian
women inflicted physical and mental pain and suffering in order to punish
women for their militancy and/or their association with militant family
members and to intimidate or destroy their capacity to resist the regime
and sustain the civil society particularly in the poor communities. Rape
and the threat of rape against women also qualifies as torture in that it
represents a brutal expression of discrimination against them as women.
From the testimonies and expert opinions provided in the documentation
to the Commission, it is clear that in the experience of torture victims,
rape and sexual abuse are forms of torture which produce some of the
most severe and long-lasting traumatic effects.
19 Article 2 of the Inter-American Torture Convention defines torture as:
any act intentionally performed whereby physical or mental pain or
suffering is inflicted on a person for purposes of criminal investigation,
as a means of intimidation, as personal punishment, as a preventive
measure, as a penalty, or for any other purpose. Torture shall also be
understood to be the use of methods upon a person intended to
obliterate the personality of the victim or to diminish his physical or
mental capacities, even if they do not cause physical pain or mental
Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System,
OAS 1992, page 83.
20 The UN Convention Against Torture defines torture as:
...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental,
is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from
him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him (her) for
an act (s) he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having
committed, or intimidating or coercing him (her) or a third person, or for
any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or
suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or
acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official
A Compilation of International Instruments, Volume I (first part) UN 1993, page
135. The facts submitted to the Commission reflect that rape was neither
random nor occasional but widespread, open and routine. Whether this
occurred by direction of or with the encouragement or acquiescence of
the illegal regime, the Commission considers that such use of rape as a
weapon of terror also constitutes a crime against humanity under
customary international law.
136. The Commission notes recognition in recent years of the gravity of
rape in international human rights law, including the emphasis by World
Conference on Human Rights on the gravity of violence against women
in general and in particular, of "systematic rape..." brought to the fore by
the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia,21 the approval by the General
Assembly of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against
Women22 and most specifically, the reports of the Special Rapporteur on
Torture to the Human Rights Commission who described rape in detention
as a form of torture.23 We also note that in the international
humanitarian law, torture has been treated as a "grave breach" of the
Geneva Conventions by the UN Human Rights Commission and by the
International Committee for the Red Cross.24 The Statute of the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia incorporates rape
21 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, Report of the World Conference
of Human Rights, Vienna 1993, A/CONF. 157/23 (12 July 1993) paras. 18, 28 & 38.
22 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. Dec. 20, 1993, 850
Reunion General Assembly ONU.
23 See, e.g., Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment: Report
by the Special Rapporteur (Kooijimans), UN ESCOR Hum Rts. Comm. para. 119, UN
Doc. E/CN.4/1986. See also, Preparatory document submitted by the Special
Rapporteur, Ms. Linda Chavez on the question of systematic rape, sexual slavery and
slavery-like practices during wartime, UN ESCOR Sub-Comm. on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities/45th Sess. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/44 (7
September 1993) para. 1.
24 Resolution on Integrating the Rights of Women into the Mechanisms of the
United Nations, UNESCOR Hum. Rts. Commission 50th Sess., at 2, 4, UN Doc.
E/CN.4/1994/L.8 rev. 1 (1994); International Committee for the Red Cross, Aide
as a "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions (article 2) and a violation
of the laws and customs of war (article 3), and, explicitly names rape as
a crime against humanity (article 5(g)).25
C. Violations of the rights of children
137. Children have also suffered violations of their human rights for the
purposes of the repression carried out by soldiers. They have been
victims of summary executions, attacks on their physical integrity, and
other inhumane and degrading treatment. As a result of the wave of
repression against the Haitian population, families and children have been
affected. For example, the phenomenon of marronage mentioned above
has led children to flee with their families and suffer the same dangers to
which the adults have been exposed, putting a sudden stop to their
childhood and their school routine. In some cases, minors have been left
completely on their own, since their parents were murdered.
138. In its report of July 1994, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission
noted that it had received news of 51 cases of human rights violations
against children between February 1 and May 31. The ages of the
victims varied between five months and 17 years. One half of the cases
occurred in the Port-au-Prince slum, Cit6 Soleil. In spite of the fact that
the authors of the violations wore civilian clothing, on some occasions
they were identified by the local people as members of the Armed Forces
or FRAPH. Similarly, the Mission indicated it had received news of
23 cases of extrajudicial executions, deaths in suspicious circumstances,
and deaths as a result of torture or cruel treatment against children.26
25 The Tribunal Statute is contained in Report of the Secretary General Pursuant
to Par. 8 of Security Council Resolution 808, UN Doc. 5/25704 (1993), approved SC
Res. 527 (25 May 1993).
26 Report of the OAS/UN Civilian Mission: "Situation of Democracy and Human
Rights in Haiti," doc. A/48/532/Add.3 of July 27, 1994.
139. The Permanent Council of the OAS, by its Resolution 630, had
expressed its concern with this type of violation and requested the IACHR
to give priority to the investigation of child abductions. During its visit in
May 1994, the IACHR received the testimony of members of the family
of a four year-old boy who had been kidnapped in March 1994.
According to the statement, three armed men arrived, saying they were
looking for the child's father who was a member of a political organization
of young people in Cite Soleil. When they did not find the man, they
raped his wife and took away the child. The child was found unharmed
four days later at a radio station.
140. Also during this visit, the Commission received information that
mothers were raped in the presence of their children. In some cases,
sexual violations were committed against girls aged 10 and 12 years. In
the cases of arbitrary arrest, parents were detained along with their
4. Cases of Human Rights Violations
A. Right to life
141. As a result of the visits in Haiti carried out in May and
October 1994, the IACHR observed an unprecedented increase in the
number of extrajudicial executions. The Commission was able, thanks to
information provided by local agencies for the defense of human rights
and testimonies presented by family members of victims, to establish a
large number of violations of the right to life, which is enshrined in
Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
142. From January 31 to May 31, 1994, 210 cases of extrajudicial
executions were recorded, according to data collected by the IACHR on
the occasion of its on-site visit carried out in May. However, the OAS/UN
International Civilian Mission has established 340 cases reported between
February and June 1994.
143. The causes of these executions stemmed from the political situation
in Haiti; the paralysis of the judicial system and the complicity of the
police and the legal establishment blocked all attempts at investigation
and official identification of victims; the police took no action to identify
and arrest the perpetrators of these violations. The official records at the
morgue were not properly maintained; families of victims generally did not
take any action before the law or the police, through fear of reprisals, and
were not informed, in most cases, when the body of their family member
has been identified. In addition, the impossibility of identifying corpses,
which often appeared severely mutilated or partly eaten by animals, made
it more difficult to go to court.
144. The information gathered by the IACHR shows, however, that these
executions were carried out systematically and were mainly directed at
civilian groups joining together because of shared political convictions, or
at those who merely were members of sectors of society considered
hostile to the de facto government: clergymen, peasants, students, and
the urban poor. Although such executions have normally been attributed
to armed civilians, the information received demonstrates the link that
exists between the latter and members of the Armed Forces, and this
makes it possible to conclude that these are paramilitary groups acting in
the manner of death squads. In other cases, the direct participation of
members of the Haitian Armed Forces and members or sympathizers of
Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH)
was proved by testimonies submitted.
145. Hereunder are some of the complaints received by the Commission
during the on-site visits it carried out in 1994:
146. An active member of the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP), Elie was
knifed to death on January 18, 1994. He was executed at his home by
a group of 15-18 masked men, in the presence of his 12 children who
had first been handcuffed by the assassins.
147. He was murdered on January 26, 1994. His body was found in a
Port-au-Prince street two days after he was abducted, with a cord around
his neck, his hands tied, his eyes crushed, his right ear missing, his
tongue cut, and traces of bullet wounds and machete chops on his body.
Oman Desanges was 27 years old. He was the president of the
Youth for Progress Association, which was founded in 1990. Since
September 1991, he had been forced to live underground to escape the
soldiers who were looking for him. In February 1992, he tried to obtain
political asylum in the United States, but his request was refused. On
trying to return to his house in December 1993, he was jailed for five
days, during which time he was savagely beaten. His mother then
succeeded in obtaining his freedom by paying 300 gourdes ($25).
Mitchel and Bernard Casimir and Louis Jeanty
148. During the night of April 26-27, 1994, a commando of heavily
armed civilians wreaked terror for several hours in the area of Papo, Croix-
des-Missions (north of Port-au-Prince), killing three persons, raping a
young woman, and roughing up inhabitants, including an eight year-old
Apparently, the attackers entered houses in small groups. In one
house, the armed men killed the brothers, Mitchel (27 years old) and
Bernard Casimir (20 years old) in their rooms. First, the attackers had tied
up the victims' father and beaten him with the butts of their weapons,
accusing the family of being responsible for the embargo.
In another house, the assaulters shot Louis Jeanty, who was trying
to escape when they arrived. Jeanty was hit by a shot and fell to the
ground, before he was riddled with bullets.
Throughout this operation, which lasted several hours, people
remained totally without protection, since at no time did the police
Emmanuel Joseph, Merci Dieu Bontemps, St. Louis, and Serge
149. On May 23, 1994, the bodies of these four political militants were
found in the Cit6 Soleil slum. All had been murdered by gunshots.
Emmanuel Joseph, 38 years old and a member of the "T't Ansam
Cit6 Soleil" Association, was gunned down by two armed individuals who
entered his house, had forced him to lie on the floor, and killed him with
a burst of automatic gunfire.
Mr. Merci Dieu Bontemps, 43 years old, and Mr. St. Louis, 26 years
old, both members of the Young Persons Association of Cit6 Soleil, were
each executed with a bullet in the temple.
The body of Serge Joseph, a 19 year-old member of the Alliance of
Revolutionary Patriotic Democrats, was found the same day. He had
been murdered in the same manner, with gunshot wounds.
Given the information received locally, it can be concluded that the
same group of individuals is responsible for the four murders. They are
heavily armed civilians whose exact number could not be determined.
Marie Auxiliatrice Decossa
150. On June 15, 1994, in Port-au-Prince, three attaches and two
soldiers in uniform entered the house of Marie Auxiliatrice Decossa, a
militant in the "Sendika Nasyonal ti Machann-yo" organization. After
reproaching her for her activities within this workers' union, they beat her
up in the presence of her three children and took her outside. As she
attempted to push away one of the soldiers, he became furious and shot
her in the stomach. As a result of the wounds she received,
Mrs. Decossa died the following day.
Jean Marie Vincent
151. During the night of August 28, 1994, Father Jean Marie Vincent
was murdered by a group of heavily armed men who were waiting for him
at the entrance to the residence of the Monfortain Priests in Port-au-
Prince. Father Vincent had escaped two attacks in August 1986 and in
August 1987. On the latter occasion, he was severely wounded, when
a group of priests intervened to save his life during an attack on Aristide
in the Fraiscineau area following a mass in memory of the peasants
murdered during the Jean Rabel massacre.
Jean Marie Vincent had dedicated his life to the promotion of human
rights and basic freedoms in Haiti. Founder of the peasant "Tet Ansam"
movement of Jean Rabel, he was also a member of the "Caritas" and
"Fonades" foundations for the economic development of Haiti.
Cases of abduction and forced disappearance
152. During the IACHR's on-site visit in May 1994, it received much
information on cases of forced disappearance and abduction. Testimonies
presented to the Commission show that the procedure most used in
kidnapping was as follows:
153. Victims were abducted from their homes or in the street by armed
civilians operating from vehicles. It was sometimes established that the
abductors wore army or police uniforms. In most cases, they beat
victims when they were abducting them, handcuffed them, blindfolded
them, and took them to clandestine detention locations. In those places,
detainees were interrogated regarding their political or union activities.
Interrogations were accompanied by beating, mistreatment and torture,
failure to provide water or food.
154. In some cases, bodies of kidnapped persons were found showing
signs of severe torture. This situation became more worrisome in April
and May 1994, when numerous unidentified and severely mutilated
corpses were regularly found in the streets of Port-au-Prince.
Massacre perpetrated in Raboteau
155. Several localities in the Northern D6partement were victims of
systematic military repression following the coup d'6tat of 1991. The
well-known support of the D6partement for President Aristide and the
recognized presence of militants among the people exacerbated the
soldiers' hate, and they carried out raids and acts of violence throughout
this period. To sum up those acts, there were cases of murder, arbitrary
arrest, torture, fire that destroyed hundreds of homes, and destruction of
crops and livestock.
156. Raboteau is a poor seaside slum to the north-west of the coastal
town of Gona'ves. The repression against its inhabitants, who are
Aristide supporters for the most part, was systematic. Political militants
and members of organizations based in this slum took the habit of
sleeping next to their boats to escape frequent raids by the army and
157. On April 18, 1994, two soldiers, accompanied by a local FRAPH
leader, went to Raboteau in search of Amio Metayer, nicknamed
"Cubain," whom the army suspected of being the leader of an armed
group calling for the return of Aristide. The search ended with the
sacking of various houses, blows and beatings inflicted on inhabitants
who tried to flee, and numerous arrests.
158. Four days later, a larger number of soldiers, accompanied by FRAPH
members, took control of Raboteau from early in the morning. They
attacked and looted about a dozen houses and beat the inhabitants before
summarily executing, on the coast or in boats, many persons who were
trying to flee by sea.
159. International observers who went to the site on April 27-28, 1994
could not establish with certainty the number of victims, since many of
them had been buried hurriedly the day after the massacre by prisoners
under army orders.
160. The OAS/UN International Civilian Mission indicated that at least
12 persons had been murdered by shots fired by soldiers wearing tactical
squad uniforms. Other reliable sources indicated that at least 28 persons
had been murdered.
161. Numerous testimonies indicated that those responsible for this
massacre were soldiers from the Toussaint Louverture barracks, acting
under the orders of Roland Depton, Delegate of the Artibonite
D6partement, and Jean Tatoune, a former political militant and a
collaborator with the soldiers.
162. During 1994, the government's efforts to silence all opponents
resulted in a large number of extra-judicial executions. Although the Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights, in cooperation with the
international observer missions and the human rights agencies on-site in
Haiti, has compiled some figures, the exact number of these extrajudicial
executions is impossible to determine.
163. The Commission is submitting a partial list of the extrajudicial
executions that took place from January to June 1994. The names on
the list were compiled by human rights groups working in Haiti. The list
is not exhaustive, since it contains only the names of persons whose
bodies could be identified and about which the human rights groups were
January and February
In Cit6 Soleil, Port-au-Prince
January 15, a woman named Jeanne, 35 years old
January 28, 1994, journalist Michelet Dominique, 30 years old
A man called Tizo, about 30 years old
February 2, 1994, Chevalier Pascal, 38 years old, an immigration employee
February 3, 1994, Charles Alexandre, 24 years old, a student
A young man named Miguel, 25 years old
February 10, 1994, Thermidor Josu6, 28 years old
Ernst Theodore, 26 years old
February 12, 1994, Ti-Blanc, 34 years old
February 20, 1994, C6savoire Jean Vernet
In the interior of the country
January 10, 1994, T6ya Th6rese, a member of MOJEP
January 10, 1994, Elukner Elie, a leader of the Papaye Peasant Movement
January 11, 1994, Rozius Frangois
January 22, 1994, Robert Jean
January 31, 1994, Delance Augustin, an engineer
In Morne Cabrit
February 22, 1994, Beauvais Leonard F6lix
March and April
In Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince
- March 6, 1994, Valmel Cassamajor
- March 10, 1994, a young man, 26 years old, named Lambert
- March 11, 1994, M. Pierre
March 17, 1994, Dietner Auguste, 34 years old
- March 25, 1994, a man called Joreks, 27 years old
- April 4, 1994, Kesner Bruno, 19 years old
- April 7, 1994, Mrs. P6tion, 46 years old
April 14, 1994, Marie Louis
April 16, 1994, M. Avril
March 5, 1994, Massadieu Massillia, a primary school student
- 55 -
March 15, 1994, Lukner Auguste, 40 years old
March 20, 1994, Lamante Paul, 28 years old
March 21, 1994, Dargil Theodore
April 9, 1994, Fils Aim6 Jasmin, 32 years old
April 19, 1994, Lafond Harold
In St. Michel de I'Attalaye
April 10, 1994, Myrlande Francius, 18 years old
April 23, 1994, Pierre Philippe
May and June 1994
June 23, 1994, Florestal Sheila and Florius
July 1, 1994, Paul Pierre, 40 years old
June 9, 1994, Fridner Jean
July 31, 1994, a man named Alfred, 35 years old
B. Right to personal liberty and humane treatment
1 64. During the period between January and september 1994, the Haitian
people continued to give testimony of numerous human rights violations,
particularly with reference to personal liberty and humane treatment as
respectively reflected in articles 7 and 5 of the American Convention. As
outlined in the previous special report on the situation of human rights in
Haiti, following the overthrow of the democratic government of
President Aristide, cases of arbitrary arrest, disappearance, mistreatment,
and torture became a part of daily life.
165. The violations of these rights were closely linked to the systematic
oppression carried out by the armed forces, since in all cases of
detention, the victims were beaten and subjected to other physical
abuses. Many of the detentions took place outside the hour stipulated by
the Haitian Constitution for making arrests. Such detentions were carried
out without any court authorization whatever, and in no case could
persons detained appear before a judge.
166. Soldiers systematically applied themselves to the task of repressing
any support that the democratic government may had, by persecuting its
supporters and destroying any attempt at popular organization, regardless
of whether such organization had political objectives. The loss of liberty
was generally accompanied by beating, torture, death threat, and other
inhumane and degrading treatment.
167. On other occasions, victims had not been deprived of their liberty,
but as part of the policy maintained by the regime to terrorize people,
they were sought out in their own homes, or sometimes intercepted in the
street, and savagely beaten.
168. A frequent practice was to abduct a close family member of the
person they were looking for, when the latter was not found at home. In
many cases reported to the Commission, it was hard to obtain news of
abducted family members and they were considered missing.
169. Also, arbitrary arrests were often an additional source of enrichment
for soldiers or policemen, who created a sort of bargaining process in
which family members of victims were obliged to pay large amounts of
money to secure the freeing of detainees or at least to put an end to
170. During the two visits carried out by the Commission in 1994, it
received a large number of complaints against violations of the right to
humane treatment and personal liberty. Below, a few cases are presented
by way of illustration:
Gala Jean Rhoud
171. On June 20, 1993, in Ldogane, Jean Rhoud Gala was arrested by
the area's police chief and detained for two days. He was tortured by the
police chief and his aides during the interrogation they carried out.
Gala Jean Rhoud was freed after his family paid his captors
172. He was illegally arrested by soldiers on September 14, 1993, spent
seven days in prison, and had to pay a sum of 700 gourdes to be freed
on September 21, 1993. Two days later, as word reached him that he
would again be arrested, he was forced to flee into clandestinity with his
wife and children in Borgne. On October 28 of the same year, the section
chief in Au Borgne, accompanied by soldiers, had 300 houses burnt
down. Numerous people were beaten up and many animals were
173. A person close to President Aristide, he was arrested on
September 30, 1993 and taken to Fort Dimanche where he remained for
15 days, during which he was severely beaten. They placed a plastic bag
on his head trying to suffocate him.
On April 28, 1994, he was again detained on the Bon Repos road
(Cul-de-sac, Port-au-Prince) by soldiers from the area and taken to the
military post. The next day, he was transferred to the post at Croix-des-
Bouquets. Sony Lefort had marks on his body that proved he had been
severely beaten, and this was confirmed by other sources. His wife
Bertha Romelus, accompanied by other persons, went to the Croix-des-
Bouquets post to take him food and clothing. They found the detainee
sitting in the guard room with his face inflamed. When he was asked
what had happened, he replied that Captain Mond6sir had given the order
to arrest him, but he still did not know for what reason. The victim's
wife then went to one of the soldiers in the guard room to ask him if she
- 58 -
could give food and clothes to the detainee. Following a lengthy
discussion with the captain, he finally agreed that the detainee could be
given food and clothes, but he said the detainee had to remain in
detention, since he had not finished with him. Since then, the family has
not been allowed to communicate with Sony Lefort.
174. An Aristide supporter along with her husband, she was abducted
from her home on October 16, 1993 by armed civilian members of
FRAPH when the latter did not find here husband there, as he had
managed to escape through a window. Mrs. Balance was taken to
Titanyen, a place known as a common grave for those executed
extrajudicially, where she was brutally tortured, mutilated, and left for
dead from machete chops to the face, neck, and extremities. In spite of
the serious wounds received, Mrs. Balance managed to drag herself to the
street, ask for help, and save her life, thanks to the medical treatment she
175. At the beginning of May 1994, toward 10:00 p.m., the house of
this committee member in the Grand-Goave shanty town was stoned for
a half-hour. On May 4, three men--a soldier in olive green uniform and
two men in civilian dress--came to his house to arrest him. Saurel was
taken to the Grand-Goave barracks where, without being questioned, he
received about 100 blows with a baton on the buttocks. They then
applied the "kalot marasa," which is a method whereby they apply blows
to both sides of the victim's head, often causing serious lesions on the
ears, including perforation of the eardrum, infections, and loss of hearing.
After being accused of setting fire to the Grand-Goave barracks on
September 30, 1991, he was taken to prison.
The following day, a sergeant named Daniel went to fetch him in the
cell and took him to the guard room, where he gave him more than 300
blows with a baton. The sergeant showed him a piece of paper on which
were written the names of all the people's organizations in Grand-Goave
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and ordered him to tell him the addresses of the members of those
organizations, following which he was taken back to prison. During the
night of May 5-6, toward 3:00 a.m., the commander of the barracks
decided to free him, warning him that he should leave town, since if he
did not, he would not hesitate to kill him at the next opportunity.
Jean Kroutchev Clestin
176. A member of the Coordination of Shanty Town Committees
(COCOQ), he was abducted on May 14, 1994 toward 8:00 p.m. by four
armed civilians in a Rocky jeep, after they had sprayed paralyzing gas in
his eyes. Once he was in the jeep, the men interrogated him regarding
the names of members of the Platform of Carrefour Feuilles, to which Mr.
C6lestin replied that he knew nothing. On arriving at their destination,
they blindfolded him and tied him up in the "djak"27 position with a cord
to lower him into an underground cell. The following day, after the cord
and the blindfold were removed, he was taken to a room where he was
interrogated regarding the activities of his organization and on the
financing of "Lavalas" organizations. In the process, Mr. C6lestin was
savagely beaten in the head and back.
Mr. C6lestin spent seven days at that place and was beaten daily
during interrogations. They subsequently offered him to join their group.
When he refused, he was again tied up and locked in the vehicle.
Mr. Cl6estin managed to jump out of the automobile and escape from the
shots fired by his tormentors.
Events at Borqne
177. Localities in the region of Borgne were subjected to numerous
military raids since 1991. The repression never ceased to increase during
the period, leaving dozens of victims and hundreds of persons homeless.
27 "Djak" (sometimes written "djack") is the word used for a special type of
torture in which a person's wrists are tied to his ankles and a pole is inserted
transversally to his chest so that he can be suspended in the air and beaten in that
178. The many raids that took place between 1991 and 1994 resulted
in the destruction of more than 250 houses by fire, the slaughter of
livestock, and crops destroyed.
179. Many peasants were mistreated and harassed. Concordant
testimonies from reliable sources confirm that there were summary
executions of persons sought out by the Armed Forces of the de facto
regime, and rapes of women who refused to give information on where
the persons sought were hiding.
180. Since April 7, 1994, the Haitian Armed Forces have maintained a
state of siege in this area, prohibiting access to it by the Civilian Mission
181. Alarming testimonies from varied sources, as well as the visit that
the Civilian Mission was finally able to make, April 27-30, made it
possible to establish the nature of the crimes committed.
182. On April 8, 1994, a large-scale military operation began in the area
of Petit-Bourg-du-Borgne, Port-Margot, and Ravine-Trompette, with
movements of armed groups from Cap Haltien and Limb6 and a convoy
of ambulances going toward the area. On April 9, 1994, a commando of
about 300 heavily armed men, including the Captain of the Limb6 District,
various section chiefs, attaches, and members of the FRAPH in Borgne,
attacked Bassin Ca'man in the Boucau Michel section of Borgne and
183. The attack started toward 10:00 a.m., with the burning of six
houses in Petite Rivibre and Tripot. On the road from Collette and Bassin
CaYman, they burned down 35 houses belonging to 17 families, destroyed
about 50 gardens, and killed or stole more than 150 head of livestock.
184. During these operations, many women and children were raped.
More than 200 peasants had to pay extortion of 50 to 2,000 gourdes.
Various illegal and arbitrary arrests took place, including those of the
Mayor of Borgne, B6lizaire Fils Aim6, who was held incommunicado.
C. Rights to freedom of expression and of assembly
185. The rights to freedom of expression and of assembly are enshrined
in Articles 13 and 15, respectively, of the American Convention on
Human Rights, and are intimately connected under the plan of repression
pursued by the de facto regime in Haiti, which undertook the task of
persecuting any form of political organization and popular grassroots
groups and of keeping a grip of steel on the communications media.
186. The soldiers who assumed power following the overthrow of the
democratic regime exercised extraordinary censorship on the
communications media, along with the cancellation of any possibility of
holding meetings of any type.
187. Many attacks on the right of expression and the right of peaceful
assembly were brought to the attention of the IACHR and the OAS/UN
International Civilian Mission. Members of popular organizations were the
first victims of such violations. The repression was so systematic and
reached such a level of brutality that Aristide's supporters and all those
who desired a return of the democratic order often seemed to give up
exercising their rights for fear of reprisals.
188. The repression of the freedom of the press is particularly illustrative:
several Haitian journalists were murdered during and following the coup.
Others are missing, presumably dead. Six radio stations were
permanently silenced, and at least 30 journalists fled the country in
August 1994. In addition, foreign journalists were routinely expelled from
the country for the smallest gesture that the soldiers of the de facto
government deemed inappropriate.
189. In a decree issued on August 2, 1994, the illegal de facto
government warned the communications media that the military
authorities would take measures against the transmission of "alarmist and
tendentious news," especially information from embassies (most
particularly that of the United States), and seized the opportunity to
reiterate the warning formulated in May that foreign journalists would be
deported if they were found within a radius of three kilometers from
airports, military barracks, border posts, police stations, and other
190. A paramilitary group called the Haitian Resistance League, closely
linked to the Haitian security forces, warned owners of communications
media about the transmission of statements by antimilitary groups.
Haitian television crews and interpreters working under contract with
foreign journalists were warned by the government that they could be
accused of working with the enemy.
191. The Commission considers that the control the de facto military
government tried to impose on the people resulted in a severe wave of
oppression. The main victims of the oppression were members of people'
organizations endeavoring to exercise their fundamental rights; journalists
and the communications media in general. Merely doing their normal
work placed journalists in imminent danger of reprisals in the form of
detentions, beatings, and even death. The mere suspicion of belonging
to or being affiliated with an organization regarded as supporting
President Aristide was also sufficient reason to be detained.
192. Below are presented a few of the cases received by the Commission
during its on-site visits in May and October 1994 on the right of
expression and assembly:
193. On September 5, 1993, he signed a press release published by the
Fort St. ClaO Platform, calling on General C6dras and members of the
Senate to respect the Governors Island Agreement, which was broadcast
by various radio stations in Haiti.
Armed civilians immediately started to look for him at various places
in Port-au-Prince. Finally, on September 7, he was held by three attaches
as he returned home. He remained detained in prison a whole day, during
which he was severely beaten. On February 11, 1994, following
statements on the radio, Adner D'Haiti was again arrested and beaten by
Thibault Jm. Mozart
194. President Aristide's press officer prior to his overthrow and currently
a member of the Belle-Anse Foundation, he had been appointed by the
Foundation to collect information on human rights violations in the Belle-
Anse District. On May 13, 1994, he was arrested by a soldier named
Abessis Noel and taken to the barracks, he was received by the
commander of the Military District of Fliotte, Oreste S6ripahen, who
questioned him on the support that Aristide was receiving. In view
of Jm. Mozart Thibault's refusal to talk, the commander ordered that he
be beaten on the ears. As a result of the mistreatment to which he was
subjected, Mr. Thibault has hearing problems and difficulty controlling the
modulation of his voice.
195. A 27-year-old journalist, who was reported missing on August 4,
1994 by Radio Tropic FM, the station where he was working. His family
and colleagues at work saw him for the last time on July 31. His last
radio program was broadcast during a ceremony organized by the military
authorities. Ocean had been detained by soldiers in 1993, accused of
distributing leaflets supporting deposed President Aristide.
196. A delegate of the Savane Peasant Movement for Social
Development (MPSDS), on July 15, 1993 he was at a meeting of about
50 persons in the Pandiason shanty town in Hinche, which was
interrupted by a band of armed civilians who arrested half of the
participants. On August 20, while participating in another meeting, he
was again arrested by armed civilians.
On September 15, 1993, during a meeting of his association at
which plans were being made for the return of Aristide, the local section
chief came to interrupt the meeting, and various participants were beaten.
On December 27, 1993, during reprisals carried out by FRAPH in Cit6
Soleil to avenge the death of Issa Paul, Marcelin Clotaire was arrested and
taken to the Anti-Gang Brigade, where he was severely beaten.
Franze Lamisere and Gerald Duverger
197. The persecution of members of an ecological organization, the
National Union of Progressists for Reforestation and the Environment
(UNPREN), of which Mrs. Lamisere is a member, began on July 25, 1993
with the violent interruption of one of its meetings by order of section
chief Vancol Adam.
On October 26, 1993, when Mrs. Lamisere was at another meeting,
it was interrupted by armed civilians who pursued them to their own
homes, attacked them and their family members, and ransacked their
houses. Delegate G6rald Duverger, who was also at the meeting, was
severely beaten and taken to a location where he was left for dead. As
they were threatened with death, the organization's entire leadership was
forced to remain in "marronage."
Mr. Destaul and Natacha Destaul
198. A member of the Young Peasants' Movement (OMJPC) in C6tes de
Fer, Mr. Destaul was presiding over a meeting of the OMJPC on
October 30, 1993, when suddenly various soldiers and armed civilians
erupted in the church where the meeting was being held and at which his
wife was also present. Mr. Destaul was beaten and taken to the Cotes
de Fer barracks, where he was held for three days before being freed on
November 1, 1993. In prison, he was informed that he had no right to
hold a meeting on that day. Although Mr. Destaul obtained treatment for
his wounds once he was freed, he still has deep scars from the
mistreatment and blows he suffered.
On November 2, he was accused by a military commander of
burning down his house, an incident in which the soldier lost a son. In
reprisal, various soldiers and armed civilians then burned down the offices
of the OMJPC and the home of Mr. and Mrs. Destaul. After that
Mr. Destaul was in clandestinity, or "marronage."
In February 1994, seven soldiers and armed civilians went to
Mrs. Destaul's home asking to see her husband. As he was not there and
despite the fact that she was seven months' pregnant, she was beaten
and lost consciousness.
199. As a member of the Federation of Young Patriots of Jean Denis
(FJPJ), of KODET, and of KONAKOM, he was subjected to constant
persecution by soldiers.
Arnaud Elisias was always involved in the defense of peasants and
in the organization of popular demonstrations. He also devoted himself
to distributing pamphlets in public places in favor of Aristide. He
constantly defended peasants against abuses by the local authorities and
was therefore not allowed to live in the region of Jean Denis, Petite
Riviere, in Artibonite, Section I of Bac Cousin.
Arnaud endured the murder of his son, and both his wife and his
sister were raped on two occasions. Since the coup d'6tat of
September 1991, he has had to remain in clandestinity. The last act he
has had to endure, as reported to the Commission, was the burning of his
house and the murder of his brother, Olden Elisias, at the hands of
soldiers as he tried to prevent them from getting into the house.
D. Right to private property
200. The repression carried out by the de facto regime was not limited to
physical persecution of citizens and brutal attacks against the personal
integrity of those who opposed the regime. It also involved the
destruction of whatever few belongings they owned.
201. The right to property is set forth in article 21.2 of the American
Convention on Human Rights, which states: "No one shall be deprived of
his property except upon payment of just compensation, for reasons of
public utility or social interest, and in the cases and according to the
forms established by law."
202. The numerous cases recorded by the Commission show that
frequently the military or armed civilian oppressive forces, acting under
army orders, destroyed the homes of persons sought (usually supporters
of President Aristide), as part of the terrorist policy. These actions
produced heartrending situations in which the father had to abandon his
family and go into hiding, and the family was left completely abandoned,
without housing to shelter them.
203. The Commission observed that it was the practice of military and
paramilitary forces to sack their victims' homes before burning them to
the ground. Along with these abuses of property rights, the commission
learned of cases in which the "section chiefs" seized the land and crops
of victims when they had to go into hiding "marronage" (clandestinity).
204. In that regard, the officials of the illegal de facto government and
the armed civilians of FRAPH frequently used the destruction of the
homes of opponents of the regime as a repressive measure.
205. The following are some of the cases reported to the Commission.
206. On June 10, 1992, armed civilians attacked him while he was at a
sports center with other persons, accusing him of being a Lavalas
member. After beating him savagely and believing him to be dead, his
attackers tried to hide his body.
On October 30, 1993 he was arbitrarily arrested and had to spend
the first three days of his detention without food. He was accused of
being a member of the AJPS (Association of Young Underground
Progressists), a group that works in favor of Aristide. His house was
burned down, and he had to abandon his wife and children, hiding
constantly, seeking refuge in churches until he was again arrested on
March 23, 1994 for distributing photographs of Aristide.
Leroy Charles Vigne
207. Following the overthrow of President Aristide, numerous members
of the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) were arrested, beaten, and
murdered. However, MPP member Mr. Leroy Charles Vigne managed to
escape during the night of July 1, 1993 from soldiers who were trying to
arrest him. When they could not find him, they looted and destroyed his
house. Since then, Mrs. Leroy Charles Vigne and her five children had no
home and feared for their lives in view of possible reprisals by the
208. On December 27, 1993, the corpse of FRAPH treasurer Issa Paul
was found in Cit6 Soleil. FRAPH members then accused Ryfelle D'Ha'ti
of being responsible for the murder, because he was a member of a
popular organization that had published a communique criticizing the
army. He was arrested and beaten, as was his wife. Thanks to a
sergeant's intervention, they were freed. However, all his belongings
were burned. On the same occasion, more than 200 homes were burned
down in the Cit6 Soleil slum during acts of reprisal carried out by FRAPH
5. Refugees (boat people)
209. Since September 29, 1991 when the Armed Forces overthrew
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Commission has been observing the
human rights situation of Haitian refugees. In each of its special reports
on Haiti covering the periods of 1992 and 1993, the Commission devoted
a special chapter to the subject.28
210. The repression against the Haitian people started immediately after
the coup d'6tat and took the form of murders, abductions, tortures, and
28 Doc. OEA/Ser.L/V/II.83, doc. 18 of March 9, 1993, pp. 41-45; Doc.
OEA/Ser.L/V/11.85, doc. 9 rev. of February 11, 1994, pp. 135-148.
- 68 -
politically motivated arrests. The systematic human rights violations
perpetrated by soldiers caused a massive exodus of Haitians, primarily
from the sectors that backed President Aristide. Thousands of Haitians
fled the country, escaping from the severe repression across the border
with the Dominican Republic or aboard small, unsafe boats headed for the
United States. Other boats headed for The Bahamas, Belize, Cuba,
Honduras, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela, where their
passengers sought asylum. Many of these boats were intercepted by the
United States Coast Guard Service, while an incalculable number of them
sank, and their passengers drowned.
211. In its last report, the Commission pointed out that over 41,000
Haitians29 had been intercepted, 30,000 of whom were returned to
Haiti. The practice of interdiction and forced repatriation by the United
States has been the target of constant criticism by nongovernmental
organizations for the defense of human rights. The latter have argued
that this practice violates international law, specifically the provisions of
Article 1(A) of the United Nations Protocol relating to the Situation of
Refugees, to which the United States is a party and in which a refugee
is defined as:
"any person who, for reasons of race, religion, nationality,
adherence to a given social group, or political opinion, is
outside of the country of his nationality and cannot obtain the
protection of that country or ... is unwilling to do so ..."
and finally, Article 33 of the above-mentioned Convention of 1951, which
"No Contracting State may in any manner expel or return
("refouler") a refugee to a territory within whose borders his life or
freedom may be at risk by virtue of his race, religion, nationality,
adherence to a given social group, or political opinion."
29 Doc. OEA/Ser.L/V/1.85, doc. 9 rev. of February 11, 1994, p. 135.
212. Human rights groups that defend refugees' rights have argued that
the practice applied also violates United States law, which prohibits
"refoulement" or the forceful return of persons genuinely fleeing the
persecution to which they are subjected in their country of origin.
213. On June 21, 1993, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the
President's power to repatriate aliens without papers who had been
intercepted on the high seas was not subject to any restriction and that
the right to be not subjected to "refoulement" applied only to aliens who
were physically present in the host country. In this respect, some
organizations concerned on human rights, alleged that those persons who
were intercepted in international waters were bereft of any juridical
remedy, and unless the legislation in force were amended by the
Congress, the Haitians would continue to be repatriated without being
granted a hearing to present arguments in their quest for asylum.
214. In early-February 1994, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide announced
that he would denounce the agreement that permitted the United States
to repatriate, without process, Haitian refugees intercepted on the high
seas, citing the clause that provides for denouncing of the agreement
between the two countries, with six months' advance notice.
President Aristide's communique was issued after four corpses of Haitian
refugees, including two children, were found on the beaches of Florida.
215. The criticism by certain domestic sectors in the United States
against President William Clinton's policy of intercepting and returning
"boat people" to Haiti intensified in early-1994. In March, a group of
congressmen, particularly the Black Caucus members, artistes, and
leaders of the Black movement in the United States, launched a campaign
to obtain a change in the United States Government's policy. The group
described President Clinton's policy as racist and asked for the removal
of Lawrence Pezzullo, Special Advisor on the Haitian crisis at the State
216. On April 11, the Executive Director of the TransAfrica group,
Randall Robinson, began a hunger strike in opposition to the policy of
summary repatriation of refugees. Also in April, President Aristide
maintained his criticism, accusing the United States Government of
implementing a racist policy by returning Haitian intercepted at sea to
their country of origin without giving them the option of requesting
217. During its visit to Haiti in May 1994, the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights received complaints from a number of people who were
victims of human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions after
being returned to Haiti from Guantanamo. Amnesty International
recorded some cases, including the following:
218. Oman Desanges, founder and chairman of the neighborhood
committee, the Association of Young Progressives of Martissant
(Association des Jeunes Progressistes de Martissant). A few days after
the September 1991 coup, soldiers tried to detain him, and in February
1992, he fled in a boat with his family. The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted
and took a number of Haitians to Guantanamo, where some were selected
to enter the United States for processing their request for asylum.
In spite of this, and apparently due to a mistake, Oman Desanges
and several members of his family were returned to Haiti in May 1992.
On January 26, 1994, the body of Oman Desanges was found near the
Port-au-Prince international airport. His arms were tied, a rope was
around his neck, and a red scarf bearing the words "President of the Red
Army" and "Indigent Lavallassien" was wrapped around his arm. His
eyes had been torn out, an ear had been cut off, and his stomach was
split open. Two days before, a group of soldiers and attaches had taken
him into custody from his home in Martissant, Port-au-Prince.
Apparently, while he was detained, they had blinded, beaten and knifed
him, and then had shot him to death.23
219. At end-April, there was a change in President Clinton's policy, when
411 refugees intercepted four miles from the coast of Florida were
admitted to United States territory. However, it was not until May 8 that
23. Report of Amnesty International, "Between the sword and the wall: military
repression or foreign invasion? August 1994, p. 18.
President Clinton announced that the United States would not
systematically return all refugees intercepted at sea, and a system was
established for interviews to be conducted aboard ships of the United
States fleet to determine if the Haitians qualified, as required by
international law, for political refugee status. Interviews would be
conducted by representatives of the United States Immigration and
Naturalization Service, assisted and supervised by representatives of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Persons who did not
qualify would be returned to Haiti. At the same time, the United States
Government continued to ask Haitians to make their requests for political
asylum in Haiti.
220. As part of the United States Government's change of policy,
Democrat and former congressman William Gray was appointed Special
Advisor and Secretary of State for Haitian Affairs, replacing
221. On the other hand, the United States Government began a campaign
to ask other countries to accept Haitian refugees or allow interviews to
be conducted on their territory. Members of the "Friends of Haiti" group,
composed of Argentina, Canada, United States, France, and Venezuela,
and countries of the Caribbean and Central America were solicited in this
respect. The Turks and Caicos Islands announced they would receive
some Haitians. The United States Government indicated it would pay the
expenses that this would incur for governments which agreed to
222. The new system of processing refugees was initiated on
June 16, 1994 aboard the United States ship, "Comfort," in the bay of
Kingston, Jamaica. The system adopted increased the possibility of
acceptance of Haitian refugees much more than anticipated. Originally,
the United States administration thought that approximately 5 percent of
the persons intercepted would be sent to the United States. However,
the real index was about 30 percent. Similarly, the procedure on board
the United States ship, "Comfort," was much longer than foreseen, and
intercepted Haitians who did not qualify to leave for the United States
were not immediately returned to Haiti. This created the impression in
Haiti that the number of persons who succeeded in obtaining political
asylum was greater than it really was.
223. In a short space of time, the number of intercepted persons spiralled
upward. On June 28, the United States Coast Guard intercepted 1,486
Haitians, and on the same day President Clinton announced that the
Guantanamo military base would once again be used to process refugees.
On July 4, 3,247 refugees were intercepted, and the number of Haitians
intercepted in only 11 days thus rose to about 10,000. According to
information from the State Department, between mid-June and July,
20,190 Haitians were intercepted.
224. A large number of Haitians went to the Dominican Republic, and in
May it was estimated that half a million Haitians were residing there
illegally after fleeing the difficult political and economic situation in Haiti.
The tension created by the massive exodus led certain sectors to propose
the creation of refugee camps for Haitians.
225. The military authorities in Haiti tried to control the departure of
refugees, apparently in an effort to reduce the threat of an invasion. In
May, illegal de facto President Emile Jonaissaint announced that anyone
trying to leave by boat would be imprisoned. Subsequently, numerous
incidents were recorded of attacks, arrests, and torture by .soldiers
against persons who were trying to flee the country. During the night of
May 16, soldiers surprised about 200 people who were trying to leave
from Trou Chou Chou, Petit Goave; 50 of them were taken to prison. On
May 22, a group of 30 persons who were preparing to board a boat were
attacked by uniformed men in the Ti Guin6e slum, Petit Goave.
226. In view of the enormous flow of refugees, on July 5, the United
States Government announced that it would no longer consider persons
intercepted at sea as candidates for political asylum in that country. Only
persons who managed to obtain the status of political refugee in Haiti
would be accepted on United States territory. Refugees intercepted at
sea would be accommodated at Guantanamo military base or at other
refugee camps, where they would stay until other countries accepted to
receive them or until a final solution was found to the crisis.
227. Since the Panamanian Government changed its mind about receiving
10,000 refugees who were to be installed on a deserted island (San
Jos6), the United States Government made great efforts to find countries
in the region that would accept to offer "safe havens" temporarily to
Haitians. However, 13 Caribbean Heads of State meeting in Barbados
declared their opposition to the United States proposal to set up camps
in the region to receive refugees.
228. The massive exodus of Haitians was the cause of a large number of
deaths. On June 30, about 30 persons died by drowning when shots
were fired from a police boat on a boatload of refugees, causing panic on
board. On July 4, about 150 Haitians died when a boat carrying 320
persons sank near the coast of Saint Marc.
229. On July 20, President Clinton's administration announced that the
number of boat people had declined dramatically. Of the 16,000 refugees
who had been accommodated at Guant6namo military base, 2,000
preferred to return to Haiti.
230. A problem which arose after the imposition of the total embargo and
the suspension of flights to Haiti was the impossibility of leaving the
country for those persons who had submitted to the process of selection
in Haiti to obtain asylum in the United States. On August 18, the
spokesperson for the American Embassy in Haiti declared that 894
persons who had completed the required procedures could not leave the
country. Up to end-August, the United States Government managed to
obtain permission from the de facto authorities for 91 persons to leave
Haiti in a bus that took them to the Dominican Republic. Subsequently,
the de facto authorities accepted the departure of two buses per week.
231. The situation of the refugees accommodated at Guantanamo was
becoming increasingly tense. On August 13, hundreds of refugees tried
to flee following four hours of protests. The demonstration was called to
demand that political asylum in the United States be granted or that the
United States invade Haiti to end the crisis. The Haitians also demanded
better living conditions in refugee camps.
232. Of the 16,000 Haitians accommodated at these installations, more
than 750 participated in the disturbances. About 120 managed to scale
the fence around the United States base and plunged into the bay,
apparently hoping to swim to another place on the island of Cuba. During
the demonstration, 65 persons were wounded, including 20 United States
soldiers. After the incident, about 329 refugees involved in it were
isolated in another location at the bay.
233. The future of the Haitian refugees became more uncertain since,
with the decline in the number of intercepted persons, the problem
became less urgent for the United States authorities, and the idea of
establishing refugee camps in other countries came to be considered as
too expensive and not very practical. In early-August, the massive
exodus of Cuban refugees toward Florida led the United States
Government also to accommodate at the Guantanamo military base all the
Cubans who were intercepted at sea.
234. At end-August, the search for "safe havens" for the Haitian refugees
was linked to the search for havens for the Cubans also. On August 24,
the United States Government announced that Suriname, Saint Lucia, and
Dominica had agreed to receive Haitian refugees. Honduras had
previously accepted a few Haitians.
235. Following the occupation of Haiti by the Multinational Force, the
Haitian refugees accommodated at Guantanamo began to return to Haiti.
Within a few weeks, about 3,000 Haitians were repatriated. This time,
the refugees returned voluntarily; most of them were tired of living
conditions at Guantanamo. However, some stated that they had agreed
to return after being informed that everyone would be repatriated.
236. Among the refugees who returned, 1,000 were recruited for the
new Haitian police unit called the "Public Security Corps." Recruits
received three weeks of training at the Guant6namo base itself. In mid-
October, the United States authorities indicated that about 10,332
refugees remained at Guantanamo and that by end-November, all would
have returned to Haiti.
237. In early January 1995, Haitian refugees still in the Guantanamo
refugee camp began to be repatriated against their will.
238. The international community's reaction to the problem of the
massive flow of refugees in the wake of the military coup in Haiti was
characterized by lack of coordination. In general, throughout most of the
period during which the crisis lasted the countries affected by the exodus
were obligated to struggle with the problem individually according to their
political and economic capabilities. At no time, except toward the end,
when the United States was compelled to seek the support of other
countries to take in refugees intercepted at sea, were any attempts made
to coordinate the policy toward the Haitians in order to lighten the burden
of the countries most affected by the problem. Consequently, countries
such as The Bahamas had their public assistance services overwhelmed
by the massive influx of refugees. This situation caused serious human
rights problems, with a large number of persons being interned in refugee
camps lacking the minimum infrastructure to properly house them.
239. The Commission would like to observe that the member countries
of the Organization of American States have an obligation, whenever a
major crisis such as the present one occurs in the hemisphere to confront
the resulting problems jointly. The refugee question gave rise to grave
human rights problems that demanded positive action from all States
subject to the obligations enshrined in the Chart of the Organization of
American States, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of
Man and the American Convention on Human Rights.
CHAPTER V: THE RETURN OF THE DEMOCRATIC REGIME TO HAITI
1. Reinstallation of the Democratic Regime
240. On October 15, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti
and resumed his administration after a three-year exile. Upon his arrival
at the National Palace, he gave a speech to a crowd of cheering well
wishers in which he thanked the foreign forces for their assistance, and
asked that an end be put to violence, saying: "Vengeance, no; Violence,
no; Reconciliation, yes."
241. On that same date, the United Nations Security Council confirmed
resolution 944/94 of September 29, lifting the economic embargo and
other coercive measures imposed by the UN. The OAS likewise lifted the
sanctions it had imposed since October 11.
242. A few days after his reinstallation, President Aristide took important
steps to rebuild his country: The Haitian Senate approved a draft law to
dismantle the paramilitary groups, banning them and any armed forces
not provided for in the Constitution.
243. On October 24, President Aristide appointed as Prime Minister Mr.
Smarck Michel, a businessman and close supporter, who was minister of
trade and industry in the Aristide administration in 1991. In his general
policy statement to the Haitian Parliament, Mr. Michel said that the three
principles of the government would be "democracy, justice and
244. As part of his political program, President Aristide met with leaders
of all political parties in the country to discuss the schedule for the
legislative elections in December. Although initially President Aristide had
favored the establishment of a Provisional Electoral Council, most of the
leaders at the meeting supported a Permanent Electoral Council.
However, establishing a Permanent Council would require postponing the
elections until the laws required by the Constitution had been enacted.
In a compromise effort, it was decided to designate a Provisional Electoral
Council to organize the legislative elections in 1995.
245. Accordingly, the Provisional Electoral Council was established on
December 20, with nine members, three selected by the President, three
by the Supreme Court (Tribunal de Cassation) and three by the
246. In late December, the OAS Secretary General, Dr. C6sar Gaviria,
submitted to the Haitian Government an OAS proposal to provide
immediate support to the government, including immediate as well as
short and mid-term cooperation measures to provide support in the
following areas: governance, human rights, elections; and institutional
building, and strengthening of democracy.
2. The Human Rights Situation Under the Regime of President Aristide
247. Once President Jean-Bertrand Aristide had returned, a process of
fundamental changes began in Haiti, especially in relation to the human
rights situation. Nine days after the democratic government had been
reinstated, the Commission carried out an observation visit to Haiti and
was able to note an especially significant change, contrasting with the
situation observed on the previous visit in May 1994. The departure of
the dictatorial regime put an end to the climate of terror and violations
that existed in Haiti. In Port-au-Prince and in some of the major urban
areas, people now enjoy the freedom to express their support for the
constitutional regime. The freedoms of expression, of the press, and of
association have been restored. The Commission also observed a
resumption of political activity in many areas of the country.
248. Despite the significant changes seen during the Commission's visit,
on October 24-27, it was clear that there remained serious problems
inherited from the military dictatorship. One of the most difficult tasks of
the transition to a civilian society with a constitutional culture is the
disarmament of paramilitary groups. During the military dictatorship,
paramilitary groups were armed; they were responsible for numerous
violations of human rights. In the weeks prior to the arrival of the
Multinational Force, the military dictatorship had publicly declared its
intention to distribute arms to irregular forces. To date, the Multinational
Force has confiscated what seems to be a relatively small quantity of
arms, and there are reports of arms caches that have not yet been
249. According to information provided to the Commission, the
Multinational Force destroyed the Haitian Army's heavy artillery that was
used in the 1991 coup d'6tat. However, the arms and apparatus of the
dictatorship remain critical factors in some areas of the country where the
Multinational Force had not yet established its presence. During its last
visit, october 1994, the Commission obtained evidence of the existence
of a state of insecurity in the areas of Artibonite, Jacmel, Petit Goave,
and Desdunes, to mention only a few examples. One of the signs of
insecurity is "marronage," as well as the continued displacement of
persons. In some D6partements, section chiefs continue to function
although they had been involved in human rights violations.
250. Persons who met with the Commission during the on-site visit, who
represented a wide range of positions and opinions, agreed that the
disarmament of paramilitary groups was an essential step and a
prerequisite for the restoration of a civilian society based on the rule of
251. Two of the most serious problems in Haiti are the lack of a
legitimate police force and the absence of an adequate and efficient
judicial system. The Commission pointed out at the time that: "Public
order relies on the presence of the Multinational Force (MNF). Although
the moderation and civility demonstrated by the Haitian people thus far
have been extraordinary, the MNF, on occasion, has found itself drawn
into a police function for serious and urgent situations. There has also
been an anomalous situation in which known Attaches and Macoutes
have been apprehended by the MNF and turned over to the Haitian police,
who have released them. As a result, the system has not yet been able
to begin to deal with those who might have been implicated in
international crimes and crimes against humanity".
252. During its stay in Haiti, the Commission listened with satisfaction to
the plans for the creation of a Police Academy as a means of training
professional cadres. However, it noted that there was immediate need
for a police force and a judicial system operating independently and
efficiently. It was therefore essential, apart from the undertakings to
build permanent institutions such as the establishment of a neutral police
force, to deploy a provisional force immediately. Such a force should
have legitimacy and satisfy the needs of the people in regard to public
order. The Commission also pointed out that the Haitian Government
should apply the strictest criteria when selecting police officers, it being
understood that in a constitutional system the police should come under
the orders of the civilian authority.
253. By late December, the Interim Public Security Forces trained by the
International Criminal Investigation Training Assistance Program (ICITAP),
under a bilateral agreement between Haiti and the United States, selected
approximately 3,000 men.
254. The personnel was selected from the FADH by a Haitian committee
composed of four colonels and headed by the new Commander-in-Chief
of the Armed Forces, General Bernardin Poisson. The classification
process was questioned by some people's organizations, such as "Justice
and Peace" (Justice et Paix) in Gonaives, which claim that known, human
rights violators have been accepted. On the other hand, there has been
criticism that rejected military personnel have not been given the
possibility to defend themselves.
255. President Aristide has placed the Public Security Forces under the
command of a three-member commission, headed by Major Dany
Toussaint, which is under the Ministry of Justice. The Interim Forces
have been deployed in ten cities, in addition to Port-au-Prince, and have
visited over 120 localities. However, they have not been deployed in
some areas of the north and southwest. The Law on the creation of a
Civil Police was adopted later on December 23, 1994.
256. Similarly, despite the fact that a start was being made to implement
plans for restructuring the judicial branch, there was an urgent need to
- 81 -
have training programs for establishing a provisional judicial system, in
this way placing emphasis on human rights, the integrity of persons, and
support for constitutional government and justice.
257. The Commission considers it necessary to know exactly what
happened during the military dictatorship and, in particular, to relate in
detail the human rights violations to which the Haitian people were
subjected, so that Haiti can reconstruct its society and its government.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American
Court on Human Rights have argued that in cases of human rights
violations, the government has the obligation to investigate, establish
liabilities, and publish its conclusions. The absence of juridical procedures
to carry out this task not only represents a violation of the American
Convention on Human Rights, but is also a serious obstacle to the healing
of the society's wounds, through truth and reconciliation. There are
many models, both national and international, for complying with this
obligation, but the Commission does not suggest any particular one. The
Commission reiterates, however, that the investigation of human rights
violations is a responsibility that can never be given up.
258. The Commission hopes that the Haitian Government will take steps
rapidly to establish, by law, a National Committee on Compensation,
made up of eminent Haitian jurists, to receive complaints from Haitians
who were subjected to human rights violations. Complaints were
received that some subjects involved or closely associated with the army
illegally seized items of private property, whereas the right to property is
also protected by the American Convention on Human Rights. It is
necessary to hear the complaints as soon as possible and establish the
compensation to which those acts give rise. Any new committee, like the
judicial system that is being established, should use creole as its working
259. On November 22, 1994, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission
published a communique announcing that it had resumed its activities as
of October 26 and pointing out that in less than one month, 800 persons
had presented themselves to the Mission to provide their testimonies on
human rights violations or to request medical or legal assistance. The
Mission indicated that the information received made it clear that the
human rights situation had improved considerably, and numerous persons
displaced within the country who had been forced by the repression and
the climate of insecurity to abandon their homes were gradually returning
to them. The sectors that suffered from the coup d'6tat were appealing
for lawsuits to be brought against the perpetrators of human rights
260. The Civilian Mission also indicated that in spite of the presence of
the Multinational Force, a certain level of political violence had prevailed
until end-October 1994. Without having totally ceased, violent incidents
had declined since then. The Mission also collected testimonies on acts
of violence committed by partisans of the President of the Republic
against members of the Haitian Armed Forces, FRAPH, and auxiliaries,
particularly during the week following the President's return. Cases of
arson, looting, and destruction of homes and shops were also reported to
the Mission. The constitutional authorities reacted rapidly to these acts
by denouncing them, taking the measures required by the circumstances,
and recommending reconciliation.
261. The IACHR was informed about recent human rights violations,
including the murder of four persons in Carrefour Rocher, Chenot, a
municipal section of Marchand Dessalines, on October 9, 1994. Human
rights groups pointed out that the "section chief" Paul Onondieu opened
fire on pro-Aristide demonstrators, wounding several persons, who were
then finished off with machetes. The Commission was likewise informed
of the subsequent killing of an attachh" in vengeance for the above
262. Later, three civilians and two Haitian soldiers were killed in a
confrontation on October 12 in Montagne Terrible, a municipal section of
Saut d'Eau. It was reported that the two soldiers, who were from Saut
d'Eau, Semelis Louisant and Jean-Colin Antenor, arrested several Aristide
supporters when a hostile crowd confronted them. The soldiers were
killed by the crowd after they opened fire and wounded two persons,
known as Ti Bien and San Fanmi.
263. On October 15, some Haitian soldiers in Anse d'Hainault under the
orders of Lieutenant Lom fired on pro-Aristide demonstrators, killing
Brunache Klarenase, a 15-year-old. Likewise, Lieutenant Pierre Joseph
Mesadieu, the army post commander in Cabaret, opened fire on a crowd
of pro-Aristide demonstrators on October 15, killing Jean Smith, 22, and
wounding a 15-year-old youth.
264. The Second Deputy Mayor of Mirebalais, Cadet Damzal, was killed
during the night of November 4. His decapitated body was found the
following day in a river on the outskirts of the town. To date, despite
investigations by the Multinational Force, responsibility for this murder
has not been determined. Cadet Damzal represented the FNCD, a pro-
Aristide electoral coalition, and he recently had been helping victims of
abuse to bring suit and obtain compensation.
265. Recent information shows that in Port-au-Prince, there is one murder
almost daily. Unidentified groups are obtaining goods and money by
extortion from local merchants, while other criminal groups erect
roadblocks to stop vehicles and rob the passengers.
266. In the interior of the country, there are one or two victims of
common violence daily. In some departments, continuous abuses by the
section chiefs are reported, and there are bands of former "attaches" or
FRAPH members, which are particularly active in the Artibonite region.
Old land disputes are also the cause of violence.
267. Until the January 12, 1955 incident in which two members of the
United States Special Forces were attacked at a roadblock in Gonaives,
with one of them and one of aggressors killed, there have been virtually
no incidents against international personnel since September 24, 1994,
the date of the confrontation between the Multinational Force and the
FADH in Cap Haitien.
268. The Report of United Nations Secretary General Boutros Ghali of
January 17, 1995 points out that "the relative security now enjoyed by
the Haitian people is very fragile," and regarding the acts of violence
recorded in Haiti, he states the following:
"Although there is no evidence that these criminal acts are politically
motivated, they are often committed by groups armed with high caliber
weapons, including automatic weapons, which indicates a probable link
with the old paramilitary networks. Whatever their motivation, these acts
of violence affect security and might have a destabilizing effect if they are
3. The Justicial System
269. One of the most serious problems inherited by the constitutional
government of Haiti from the military dictatorship is the judiciary. The
chronic incapacity and ineffectiveness of the administration of justice
worsened during the three years of the illegal government of military
leaders who overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991. This
period was characterized by systematic repression and domination of the
members of the judiciary.
270. Among the priority objectives of the democratic government,
supported by the international community, is reestablishment of social
and public order; and in order to achieve genuine protection of the rights
of citizens, the judiciary must be overhauled as soon as possible, to
ensure that those guilty of criminal acts are brought to justice.
271. The Commission has continuously monitored the human rights
situation in Haiti and has found that among the rights violated in the
country, the right to a fair trial and due process are of primary
importance, since the victims of the violations described in the previous
chapter could not find a judicial organ that would protect their rights. In
this way, the military and their auxiliaries violently oppressed the people
with complete impunity.
272. While the Haitian Constitution and some laws provided for respect
for individual rights, actual practice has been another matter. A number
24 Report of the Secretary General on the Question Concerning Haiti. Doc.
S/1995/46, January 17, 1995.
of obstacles, both economic and political, prevented the judicial system
from meting out impartial and equal justice. The lack of independence of
the judiciary and the military's control over judges, their presence in the
courts, and their constant intervention in judicial processes constituted
continuous pressure, preventing any initiative of the courts against
members of the armed forces, paramilitary groups or other supporters of
the illegal de facto regime.
273. Often judges refused to initiate preliminary investigations into cases
out of fear of reprisals by the military, who threatened them and their
families with death or with removal from their posts. Some judges were
murdered, and others were detained or beaten, which caused members
of the judiciary to go into hiding ("marronage"). In the rare cases where
judges ordered an investigation or the arrest of a suspect, the military or
the police simply took no action. Instead, they threatened the victims's
families to discourage them from having recourse to law.
274. The problem of the lack of an effective judicial system is closely
related to the lack of an independent police system that inspires
confidence in the people and enforces the decisions of the judiciary.
Since the 1991 coup d'6tat, the judiciary was directed by the military,
who installed most of the justices of the peace, judicial officers, including
administrative staff, and quasi-judicial personnel such as the section
chiefs. More specifically, the section chiefs, who operated at the
community level in rural areas (where 75% of the Haitian people live),
took upon themselves powers far beyond their mandates and virtually
established their own local government system, performing the functions
of the police, the public prosecutor's office, and the courts, and collecting
illegal taxes from the people.
275. Another factor adding to the malfunction of the justice system is the
economic problem. The lack of material and financial resources helped to
impede the exercise of justice since most of the courts do not have basic
supplies for their work, such as legal texts, file paper, telephones, etc.
Moreover, the low salaries of judges and justice officials explains the
magnitude of the corruption problem in the judicial system.
276. Another problem in the judiciary is that justice is not administered
in a juridical manner. This is due to the fact that most of the judges and
judicial officials have not received legal training, and have been appointed
on the basis of political or social standing. This explains why the Haitian
judicial system is compared to a market where everything is for sale and
everything can be bought. People must pay to avoid being sent to or to
get out of prison, and even to send someone to prison and make sure he
277. The absence of professionalism in selecting and training members
of the judiciary, together with the corruption prevailing in the system
causes both improper enforcement of the law and application of the law
in violation of the Haitian constitution. The number of judges who still
respect professional ethics do so at the risk of the consequences they
278. In the present situation, there is no court that inspires confidence in
the Haitian people that their civil or penal disputes can be settled. The
judiciary's lack of credibility sometimes caused the Haitian people to take
justice into their own hands. However, such actions were violently
repressed by the armed forces.
279. With the return of the democratic government, plans and programs
have been initiated to reorganize the judiciary. However, there is an
urgent need for training programs to set up a provisional judiciary to deal
with the people's current problems while the judiciary is being reformed
and a new police force in the service of the law is being established.
280. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers that
genuine reform of the judicial system requires emphasizing the legal and
moral character of the members of the judiciary, their commitment to
human rights and their support of the democratic regime. Financial
support from the international community is essential to achieve this
important task, and the United States, France and Canada, as well as the
UN and the OAS have expressed interest in helping to rebuild Haiti's legal
4. The situation in the prisons
281. One of the activities for the defense and promotion of human rights
carried out by the Commission is the observation of such rights in
penitentiary centers. During all of the visits made by the Commission in
Haiti following the coup d'6tat, it inspected the situation in the prisons
and the legal status of prisoners, except for during the visit of May 1994,
when the military leaders did not authorize entry into any detention
282. During these visits, the Commission observed that the procedures
and conditions of detention violated the norms stipulated in both domestic
and international law. Although there are 15 prisons in Haiti, many
detainees were held at military barracks or posts throughout their
incarceration. In its report covering 1993, the Commission indicated:
"Numerous persons are illegally detained and held for long periods of
time, in some cases up to two years. Conditions of imprisonment in the
prisons, which are administered by the Armed Forces of Haiti, remain bad.
Commission members who visited some of the prisons observed
overcrowding and signs of malnutrition among some of the prisoners.
They also heard of prisoners being subjected to mistreatment and
beatings by prison guards."26
283. During its on-site visit in October 1994, the Commission visited the
National Penitentiary Center in Port-au-Prince and traveled to the prisons
in the towns of Saint Marc and Gonaives, where they met with officials
in charge of the detention centers in question and spoke privately with
prisoners. It requested direct information on the juridical situation and the
hygiene and nutrition conditions for detainees, as well as on prison
conditions in general.
284. In the three detention centers inspected on October 25, 1994, the
Commission observed that the Multinational Force was in control of the
prisons. However, Haitian Army officials were in charge of the prisoners.
25 Doc. OEA/Ser.L/V/II.85, doc. 9, rev. of February 11, 1994, p. 69.
A. National Penitentiary Center
285. The IACHR delegation which visited the National Penitentiary Center
in Port-au-Prince met with Major Serge Justafort, an official of that
prison, who stated that about 186 prisoners were there at the time, only
28 percent of whom had been sentenced. He indicated that on
October 15, with President Aristide's arrival, there was a mass escape
from the Central Penitentiary, when about 300 prisoners managed to flee.
Justafort pointed out that most of the offenders were sent by the Anti-
Gang (Investigation Service) [Brigade] and that prisons came under the
authority of the "Grand Quartier G6neral" [Military Headquarters].
286. The Commission was able to verify that there was no separation
between prisoners who had been sentenced and those who were in
preventive detention. As for prisoners who were minors, Major Justafort
stated they were picked up by the social system. However, during the
visit, the Commission met a boy who said he was 14 years old and had
been imprisoned since the age of 12.
287. Major Justafort explained that the budget was not adequate to feed
the prisoners, nor did it manage to cover health expenses, which was
why the prisoners did not receive medical assistance. He added that staff
in charge of the prison changed constantly, and this caused instability in
288. The Commission asked about disciplinary measures in the prison and
was told that the measure most widely used was that of keeping the
prisoners in their cells for the whole day and suspending visits. In
extreme cases, they were taken to an isolated cell.
289. The Commission met with three groups of prisoners: women,
soldiers, and common offenders. The three groups were accommodated
in an old building in insanitary conditions and separated in different
sections. The offenders in the three groups all complained about the
following: 1) the lack of food, since they were fed only once a day, and
they pointed out that the guards often stole the food that family members
brought for the prisoners; 2) the lack of hygiene, since the only source of
water was a tank located on the patio, which was used for drinking,
bathing, and washing clothes; 3) the lack of medical assistance was also
a motive for general complaint; and 4) everyone complained about the
fact that they could not see their family members since, because of the
breakout that occurred on October 15, 1994, visits had been suspended.
290. About 90 percent of the prisoners stated they had not been
sentenced. Many of them had been arrested six months earlier and some
had done up to 22 months without a judicial decision having been taken.
The military prisoners stated they had been accused of desertion,
indiscipline, or political crimes and were requesting a presidential pardon
for all of them.
B. Prisons at Gonalves and Saint Marc
291. With respect to the prisons at GonaYves and Saint Marc, the
Commission noted the prisoners' overcrowded situation in insanitary,
poorly ventilated cells and a total lack of hygienic services. The
prisoners' ages ranged from 16 to 63, and there were generally more than
25 prisoners to a tiny cell.
292. The Commission was informed by the offenders themselves that
they received no food whatever from the prison authorities. Some
complained they had not eaten for several days. A number of them
showed their emaciated bodies, while others stated that their family
members brought them food, which they sometimes shared with others
who had nothing to eat. Drinking water was a scarce resource.
293. The prisoners did not have access to any medical service. The
Commission spoke with a young man who showed his infected hand and
with two others lying on the ground, who affirmed they had been sick for
three days and had not received any medical treatment. The IACHR
President asked the commander of the prison to ensure that the sick
persons were examined and taken to hospital. A request was also made
to remedy the lack of food for the prisoners.
294. On the other hand, the Commission noted that family members were
permitted to visit, and there was no evidence that women and men were
detained in the same prison quarters.
295. Upon the Commission's arrival in Haiti, it was informed that various
prisons in the country had been opened or that prisoners had escaped a
week before the restoration of the democratic regime. At the time of its
visit to the detention centers, the Commission verified that prisoners had
been arrested October 15-25 for common-law offenses. Up to that date,
they had not been taken before a judge.
C. Prisoners detained by the Multinational Force
296. During the on-site visit in October, the Commission was informed
of the existence of numerous prisoners detained by the Multinational
Force in the days preceding the occupation in Haiti. The Commission met
with military officials of this institution, who indicated that, at the
beginning, 150 persons had been arrested; many of them had been freed
after their cases were investigated, and others had been handed over to
the local authorities. At that time, there were only 37 prisoners at a
Center of detention situated near the airport.
297. The Commission was informed that the policy of the Multinational
Force was not to intervene as a police force in internal Haitian affairs,
except in those cases that represented a threat to the Multinational Force,
or when a serious crime had been committed under Haitian law. To that
end, the peacetime rules of engagement (ROE), which went into force on
September 21, 1994, during the civilian-military operation in Haiti,
stipulate the following, among others:26
Use all necessary force, up to and including deadly force, to
defend us forces, us citizens, or designated foreign nationals
against an attack or threat of imminent attack. When deadly
26 Peacetime Rules of Engagement (ROE) in effect during Civil Military Operations
force is employed, engage targets with observed, deliberately
Civilians may be stopped if they appear to be a threat to us
forces, protected persons, key facilities, or property
designated mission-essential by CJTF 180. If determined to
be a threat, they may be further detained, if not, they will be
Persons observed committing serious criminal acts will be
detained using minimal force necessary up to and including
deadly force. Serious criminal acts include homicide,
aggravated assault, rape, arson and robbery. Non-lethal force
is authorized to detain persons observed committing burglary
or larceny. Release persons suspected of serious criminal acts
to haitian law enforcement officials/other appropriate
authorities as soon as possible.
298. Regarding the conditions of inmates, attorneys of the Multinational
Force told the Commission that, in such cases, the international principles
of humanitarian law in the Geneva Conventions apply. Visits of families
and attorneys are allowed, as are visits of the International Committee of
the Red Cross. This was corroborated by various sources, including
families of some inmates.
299. Finally, the Commission was informed that detainees would be
handed over to the Haitian judicial authorities, once the justice system
was in a position to take adequate and efficient action.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
300. Based on the account of the development of the political and human
rights situation in Haiti in 1994, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights offers the following conclusions and recommendations.
301. The deterioration in the human rights situation in the first eight
months covered by this report (January-August) had a devastating impact
on the Haitian people as a result of the violence against them by the
302. Subsequently, with the change in the political situation resulting
from the military occupation of Haiti by the Multinational Force, pursuant
to UN Security Council Resolution 940, enabling constitutional President
Jean- Bertrand Aristide to be reinstated, the Commission notes the
beginning of fundamental changes, especially in the human rights
situation. The departure of the dictatorial regime put an end to the
general climate of terror and human rights violations that prevailed in
Haiti, and enabled political activities to resume in many areas of the
country and substantial freedom of the press to be reinstituted. However,
the Commission is aware that serious problems inherited from the military
regime remain for the constitutional government to deal with as soon as
possible to keep them from endangering the newly formed democracy.
303. The systematic oppression during the military regime was designed
to wipe out any kind of organized activity, freedom of speech and of
assembly, and any activity in support of the democratic regime. Cases
of arbitrary arrest, beatings, illegal raids, confiscation and burning of
property, forced disappearances and torture increased during the year
covered by this report, compelling the victims and their families to
abandon their homes and go into hiding, thereby trampling on the rights
of the children. The continuing flight of the people inhibited their ability
to organize, thereby weakening the political, social and economic
structures that might have threatened the illegal de facto regime. As a
consequence of this oppression, the guarantees set forth in articles 4, 5,