University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.74, Doc. 9 rev. 1 (1988).







1. The constituent and human rights instruments devised by the inter-American system require that the political organization of the member States be based on the effective exercise of representative democracy.2

2. The Charter of the Organization of American States has explicitly defined democracy to be the only acceptable form of political organization of the Member States in order for the aims of the Organization to be realized:

Article 3(d):

The solidarity of the American States and the high aims which are sought through it require the political organization of those States on the basis of the effective exercise of representative democracy.

3. The Preamble of the OAS Charter also posits regional solidarity based on the consolidation of democratic forms of government. The Preamble states:

Confident that the true significance of American solidarity and good neighborliness can only mean the consolidation on this continent, within the framework of democratic institutions, of a system of individual liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man;

4. For its part, the Commission has maintained that within the alternative forms of government recognized under different constitutions, the framework of a democratic regime must be the fundamental structure to allow for the full exercise of human rights.

5. Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights sets forth the political rights guaranteed by this Convention: the right to take part in public affairs, the right to vote and to be elected, and the right to have access to public service.

6. The Declaration of Santiago of 1959, adopted by the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, expressed the aspiration of the peoples of the Americas to live under democratic institutions "free from all intervention and all totalitarian influence".3 This historic document declared that the "existence of anti-democratic regimes constitutes a violation of the principles on which the Organization of American States is founded, and danger to united and peaceful relationships in the hemisphere".

7. In order to contribute "to the eradication of forms of dictatorship, despotism or tyranny" the Meeting of Consultation established certain "principles and attributes of the democratic system in the hemisphere" which would assist in a determination as to whether a certain government was democratic or not. These principles and attributes are the following:

1. The principle of the rule of law should be assured by the separation of powers, and by the control of the legality of governmental acts by competent organs of the state.

2. The governments of the American republics should be the result of free elections.

3. Perpetuation in power, or the exercise of power without a fixed term and with the manifest intent of perpetuation, is incompatible with the effective exercise of democracy.

4. The governments of the American states should maintain a system of freedom for the individual and of social justice based on respect for fundamental human rights.

5. The human rights incorporated into the legislation of the American states should be protected by effective judicial procedures.

6. The systematic use of political proscription is contrary to American democratic order.

7. Freedom of the press, radio, and television, and, in general, freedom of information and expression, are essential conditions for the existence of a democratic regime.

8. The American states, in order to strengthen democratic institutions, should cooperate among themselves within the limits of their resources and the framework of their laws so as to strengthen and develop their economic structure, and achieve just and humane living conditions for their peoples.

8. In application of these principles, the OAS General Assembly, in its consideration of the reports presented to it by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has repeatedly, in its resolutions, reiterated:

8. In application of these principles, the OAS General Assembly, in its consideration of the reports presented to it by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has repeatedly, in its resolutions, reiterated:

To those governments that have not yet reinstated the democratic form of government that it is urgently necessary to implement the pertinent institutional machinery to restore such a system in the shortest possible space of time, through free and open elections, by secret ballot, since democracy is the best possible guarantee for the full exercise of human rights and is a firm support for solidarity between the states of the hemisphere.

9. In addition, the OAS General Assembly, at its Sixteenth Regular Session, held in Guatemala from November 11-15, 1986, adopted a resolution on Human Rights and Democracy,5 which states in its operative part:



1. To reaffirm the inalienable right of all the peoples of the Americas freely to determine their political, economic and social system without outside interference, through a genuine democratic process and within a framework of social justice in which all sectors of the population will enjoy the guarantees necessary to participate freely and effectively through the exercise of universal suffrage.

2. To urge the governments of the Americas whose societies have problems that call for reconciliation and national unity to undertake or continue a genuine dialogue, pursuant to their respective legislations, with all political and social sectors until they reach a political solution that will put an end to conflicts and contribute decisively to improving the human rights situation and to strengthening the representative and pluralist democratic system.

10. In the experience of the political organs of the OAS, difficulties, at times, have arisen regarding the determination as to whether a certain matter is reserved to the internal jurisdiction of a State. Some states have taken the position that certain international obligations need not be complied with, arguing that these matters fall within the exclusive domestic jurisdiction of the State.

11. These difficulties motivate the Commission to consider the question of whether the principle of non-intervention, the cornerstone of the OAS Charter, is a bar to international examination of certain matters considered by some to be within the exclusive domestic jurisdiction of the State. In the Commission's view, as a matter of law, this is not the case where action is taken pursuant to a treaty to which the concerned State is a party.

12. Consequently, an issue dealing with human rights is no longer specifically reserved to the domestic jurisdiction of the State once the State has become a party to a human rights treaty which deals with that issue. To invoke the argument that international examination of an action which was taken by a state with respect to its own citizens is barred by the principle of non-intervention is to reject the international obligations assumed by the state when it became a party to the human rights instrument.

13. The issue of the use of force to support international law must be considered under the terms of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter and this a separate question which the Commission will not examine at this time.

14. Pursuant to Article 23 of the American Convention, the Commission now considers the problem of political rights as they have evolved in Haiti. The previous chapter examined efforts by the Duvalier family to maintain itself in power indefinitely by periodic manipulation of the Haitian Constitution. This chapter analyzes the emergence of demands for political rights during the waning years of Jean-Claude Duvalier's administration; the provisions of the 1987 Constitution as regards political rights; other decrees affecting the exercise of political rights; the creation and functioning of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP); the elections of November 29, 1987; the dissolution of the CEP and the new elections of January 17, 1988; the installation of the Government of President Leslie Manigat on February 7, 1988, the coup d'etat on June 20, 1988 headed by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, and the coup within the coup of September 17, 1988, which resulted in the installation of the current President, Lt. Gen. prosper Avril.

a. The political situation in 1985

15. By 1985 President Jean-Claude Duvalier's Presidency-for-Life had become the single dominant political issue in Haiti. As early as April 19, 1985 three "political leaders' issued a declaration demanding, inter alia, "that the Constitution of August 27, 1983 be amended and the Presidency-for-Life abolished".6

16. President Duvalier's reply was his April 22, 1985 speech in which he announced the fact that he had taken "the irrevocable decision to modernize the Haitian political system" by progressively putting in place the institutional structures which correspond to the norms of liberal democracy and "respect the particular characteristics of the Haitian people".7

17. The widespread disillusion with, and criticism of, the constitutional amendments which were approved by the Legislative Chamber on June 6, and the political parties law on June 9, led one political figure, Hubert De Ronceray, to launch his attack on the Presidency-for-Life.

18. De Ronceray stated that the political parties law could be summarized in three points:

1. One can organize a political party but one does not have the right to organize an opposition party to the Government of Jean-Claude Duvalier.

2. No political party can aspire to take power by democratic and constitutional means. The only elective offices are those of deputies (Congressmen), mayors and rural administrators.

3. A political party has no financial, ideological, doctrinal or political autonomy. It depends exclusively on the decisions of the Minister of Interior and national Defense which at any time can order the suspension of its activities.

19. The result, stated de Ronceray, was that "the raison d'être and the purpose of a political party were denied and refused. One dressed with other words a one party dictatorship".8

20. De Ronceray, by letter dated June 5, 1985 to the Minister of Interior and National Defense requested authorization to organize "in the name of the Haitian youth" a peaceful march, without arms, towards the National Palace for he purpose of calling for the abolition of the Presidency-for-Life, and for the organization of presidential elections by direct suffrage.

21. At 4:00 p.m. on June 17, 1985 the Haitian Government issued a communiqué prohibiting the demonstration and deployed 5,000 troops throughout Port-au-Prince to ensure that the demonstration not take place. The Haitian government's communiqué9 prohibiting the march stated in relevant part:

The Government is obliged to refuse the requested authorization and has decided to prohibit said march for the following reasons:

1. violation of the constitutional order

2. violation of public order ("l'ordre public")

3. violation of police laws on public meetings

4. call for foreign involvement in the political life of the State

The demonstration, which was to be held in front of the National Palace, would have been the first such challenge to the "Presidency-for-Life".

b. The Referendum of July 22, 1985

22. The political criticism leveled against President Duvalier's constitutional amendments and the law on political parties motivated Duvalier on June 27, 1985 to call a national referendum. The Haitian people were asked to:

Please express your views through this Referendum on both the amendments to the existing Constitution of 1983 and on the new law regulating the functioning of political parties. The most significant of these changes include:

A. A Presidency-for-Life including the right to designate a successor.

B. The creation of the post of Prime Minister.

C. An increase in legislative influence over the government.

D. An official encouraging of the development of political pluralism.

Do you agree with this new political system?

23. The "political leaders", which had increased to five by this time, on July 1, 1985 united to produce a historic joint communiqué demanding that the July 22 vote become a national referendum on one question:10


24. The opposition leaders threatened to boycott if the Government ignore their demands.

25. The Government claimed that 99.98% of the population had voted in favor of the political changes. The Government had sought to disarm the "opposition", but, in fact, by announcing 2,375,011 YES votes and 448 NO votes in a nation of approximately 2,600,000 eligible voters, in a climate of what has been described as one of "massive apathy and abstention" by foreign observers, the Government belied its own "triumph".11 According to one foreign observer12:

Throughout the morning, packed buses were seen bringing people to vote at City Hall and taking them away. Some journalists followed one bus and said it stopped at three other polling places and waited while the passengers voted. (…) Voters were not required to give their names or show

Any kind of identification and no list was kept of who voted.

26. The very fact of seeking public legitimacy for a de facto rule which had existed in Haiti for over two decades, placed the issue of legitimacy in the public arena. Mr. Jean-Marie Chanoine, Minister of State for the Presidency, Information and Public Relations, stated on television, following the turnout of the referendum, that the opposition had two choices: either to leave the country or to support the Haitian Government.

c. Increasing demands for President Duvalier to step down

27. In spite of the formal and informal impediments to effective political opposition in Haiti, such opposition continued to mobilize throughout 1985 having created the issue that alone was able to unify it: the ouster of Duvalier. Grégoire Eugene became the first candidate to present his party's view of a new society in a book published July 22, 1985.13 His views inter alia called for an elected presidency, for a seven year term, without possibility of re-election.

28. On August 23, 1985, 117 former ministers, Congressmen, military figures and supporters of President Duvalier formed a political party based on "Jean-Claudisme". This party was named the National Progressive Party, and its "leaders" requested on September 5, 1985 its registration.

29. On September 2, 1985, a letter signed by 381 youths invited the 5 opposition leaders to travel to the provinces and meet with the population of Léogâne, Petit Goâve, Miragoâne, Aquin, Cavaillon, Cayes and Marigot in order to carry on a dialogue about the problems of Haiti. Mr. Hubert de Ronceray, Rev. Sylvio Claude and Mr. Alexandre Lerouge responded that they would be favorably inclined to travel during the second week of September.

30. In fact, when Mr. Hubert de Ronceray, embarked on his "tour" he, his wife and three other members of his group, when they reached Petit Goave, were placed under what the police termed "protective custody" effectively preventing him from speaking to his supporters. The following week he was again prevented from meeting his supporters as he attempted to travel to Jacmel.

d. Mr. Grégoire Eugene's Defection

31. Following the arrest of Mr. Hubert de Ronceray as he attempted to travel to the provinces, Mr. François Guillaume the newly appointed Minister of Interior and National Defense, informed Grégoire Eugene, by letter dated September 17, 1985, that if he wished to carry out political activities he should carry out the formalities required by the political parties law. Mr. Eugene responded, by letter dated September 25, 1985, that his attachment to "political pluralism, democratic convictions, his legalist vocation and his religious respect for the Constitution" prohibited him from complying with the formalities imposed by the political parties' law.14

32. Notwithstanding the above, on November 7, 1985, Mr. Grégoire Eugene sought to register his party with the Ministry of the Interior. One of the reasons given for his change of mind was that, once having requested registration, Mr. Eugene could proceed to travel to the provinces and recruit members for his party.15

e. Gonaïves

33. Gonaïves, the fourth largest city in Haiti is known as the "City of Independence" because it was there that Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed independence from France on January 1, 1804 signaling the end to the independence struggle and the beginning of Haiti's future as the second independent nation in the Americas after the U.S. Gonaïves became the scene for two days of spontaneous student demonstrations which resulted in the deaths, on November 28, 1985, of three secondary school students.

34. As described by one foreign journalist:16

On that day 1,000 to 2,000 residents of the Raboteau shanty-town surged into the streets shouting anti-government slogans and wielding small, crude signs proclaiming "Down with Misery", "Down with Dictatorship", "Down with the Constitution" and "Long live the Army" - the latter an apparent call on the Haitian military to move against Duvalier.

The next day, November 28, students demonstrated outside a church-run Gonaïves high school. Soldiers, apparently at an officer's command, opened fire on the youths. Two died from bullet wounds and a third reportedly was killed from blows with rifle butts. A fourth youth reportedly died elsewhere under unclear circumstances. That death has not been confirmed.

News of the Gonaïves shootings, broadcast almost immediately by Radio Soleil, incensed other communities and within 24 to 48 hours solidarity demonstrations erupted in Petit-Goave, Jeremie, Jacmel and Les Cayes - all along Haiti's southern peninsula.

On December 4, police raided the home of prominent Haitian opposition leader Hubert de Ronceray, a native of Petit-Goave and a former Duvalier government social affairs minister.

De Ronceray was arrested on charges of having subversive documents, but foreign diplomats believe the real reason may have been fear that he was planning a demonstration in Port-au-Prince. His wife, Marie Michelle, said police officers were looking for arms.17

35. The Government in an official communiqué lamented the deaths in Gonaïves and placed the responsibility for the demonstrations on "professional agitators".18 Opposition and church leaders criticized what they termed the "overreaction" of the Government and the resultant deaths, and demonstrations, mostly organized by secondary school students, continued throughout the country during the following weeks. On January 28, 1986, on the second day of rioting, the events of Gonaïves repeated themselves, as three persons, including two children were killed and more than 30 persons wounded as security forces opened fire during one of the largest demonstrations against President Duvalier.19

36. On February 7, 1986 Jean-Claude Duvalier's Government collapsed as he departed into exile.


LEGAL SYSTEM (1986-1987)

37. Article 31 of Haiti's 1987 Constitution specifically authorizes the formation of political parties. Political parties are expressly allowed to function provided that they respect "the principles of national and democratic sovereignty".20 The law is "to determine the conditions for their recognition and operation, and the advantages and privileges reserved to them".21

a. Background to the Law Regulating the Organization of Political Parties

38. Lt. General Henri Namphy, who assumed power on February 7, 1986, informed the Haitian people on that date that the Army had intervened because the country was "on the verge of an abyss", threatened both by an "attack on the integrity of the nation

and by the terrible specter of a civil war.22 On February 10, 1986, Lt. Gen. Namphy promised constitutional elections which would permit first the election of a legislature resulting from free elections and then presidential elections by direct universal suffrage.23

39. As early as February 1986 several Haitian politicians declared themselves candidates in any future presidential election, in spite of the fact that no law had yet been decreed regulating the formation of political parties. By early March, more than 20 politicians, most of them with an extensive Duvalierist background, had announced their candidacies for the presidency of Haiti, although the CNG had not yet announced a date for the elections.24 In addition there existed no legal infrastructure.

40. The legal system, such as it was, was a holdover from the Duvalier era, and there was no legislature to pass laws which could be considered to reflect the will of the people. All power was in the hands of the CNG which unilaterally determined its mandate and enlarged it, from the original intent of simply leading the country to elections, to maintaining itself in power for two years and arrogating to itself the authority to determine how the constitution would be drafted as well as all other aspects of national and international affairs.

41. In early June 1986, five consecutive days of riots throughout Haiti brought the country, in Lt. Gen. Namphy's words to the "verge of anarchy" and to "almost a civil war".25 The demonstrators were demanding that the CNG remove one of its members, Col. Williams Regala, and also Finance Minister, Leslie Delatour, and Deputy Information Minister, Aubelin Jolicoeur. In an attempt to quell the unrest, on June 8, 1986, Lt. Gen. Namphy announced that he would turn over power to a "freely elected" government on the second anniversary of Duvalier's departure - February 7, 1988.

42. The electoral timetable set by Lt. Gen. Namphy is the following:26


June 1986: Decree creating the Council for the Organization of the rural areas.

Decree creating an independent body charged to receive views and opinions of all citizens.

July 1986: Decree concerning the organization of political parties and the press.

September 1986: Decree creating a Constituent Assembly for the writing of a new constitution.

October 1986: Members of this constituent body will be elected by the people in every geographical department.

Members of the Constituent Assembly work on the new constitution.

January 1987: The Constitution is voted and proclaimed.

February 1987: The Constitution is ratified by a referendum.

March 1987: Decree concerning the elections.

May 1987: Campaign for the election of Mayors as well as members of the Council for the administration of rural areas.

July 1987: Elected Mayors and Members of the Council for the administration of rural areas are sworn in.

September 1987: Legislative and presidential elections begin.

November 1987: The President and Members of the Legislative Chamber are elected.

January 1988: The power of the Legislative corps is validated.

February 7, 1988: The elected President is sworn in.

43. On July 30, 1986 the CNG issued a decree on the formation of political parties.

b. The Decree Regulating the Organization of Political Parties27

44. Pursuant to this decree, to be a founding member of a Haitian political party the following requirements, set forth in Article 5, had to be met:

1. To be a Haitian, by origin, and never to have renounced one's nationality;

2. To be at least 18 years of age;

3. To exercise civil and political rights;

4. To reside and have one's domicile in Haiti.

Nationalized Haitians were not considered Haitians "by origin" and, therefore, were not permitted to establish political parties.

45. To establish a political party one had to register it within 30 days of formation with the Ministry of Justice. A document establishing the formation of the party is to be presented, which contains the names of at least 20 founding members. The party organizers are also required by this decree to provide information regarding the goals and ideology of the party, a detailed statute which is required to set out in some detail how the party will function and other information regarding the party's official representatives and headquarters.

46. The Ministry of Justice is required to respond to the request for registration within 30 days of the submission of these documents. If the decision is favorable, the Minister will inform the Official Representative that the party is authorized to function "provisionally". It then may disseminate its ideology and recruit members. If the request is denied, reasons must be specified by the Justice Minister, but the decree does not specify what kinds of political parties may not be formed.

47. In order to achieve "legal recognition" the provisionally formed party must return to the Ministry of Justice, within 6 months, with evidence that the party has a membership of at least 5,000 persons. The Ministry of Justice must then decide on the question of legal recognition within 30 days. If the decision is in the negative the party organizers may appeal the decision to the courts.

48. A legally established party is obliged to publish its program and the names of its organizers and leaders in a daily paper and may present candidates for public office pursuant to the Electoral Law which was scheduled to be decreed in March 1987. The candidates are entitled to a total of 2 hours of free television and radio time to be divided into 5-15 minute political commercials through the campaign. The law also limits the amount of money the political parties are allowed to receive from any political or international source.

49. The first elections following Jean-Claude Duvalier's departure were held on October 19, 1986.The vote was to elect 41 members of a 61 member Constituent Assembly, one for each district, but very few people participated. Twenty other members of the Constituent Assembly were appointed directly by the CNG.

50. On October 30, 1986 former followers of Duvalier announced the establishment of a political party to be known as the Party for National Reconciliation (PREN). Riots erupted as a reaction to the announcement of the formation of this party which continued for several days, in early November, throughout Haiti, and once again culminated in demands for the ouster of the CNG. Lt. Gen. Namphy, in light of the size of these demonstrations, which were estimated at about 50,000 people, addressed the nation on radio and television from the National Palace and for the first time repudiated Duvalierism. He announced that the CNG sought to put an end to the "arbitrary and repressive practices of the past," and to eliminate "once and for all the terrible specter of Macoutism".28 Regarding a possible political return of the Duvalierists, Lt. Gen. Namphy stated that the CNG and the Army would not permit the "return to the country of the totalitarian and bloody plage".29 Consequently, the neo-Duvalierist party, in view of the heated climate, decided to dissolve shortly after it had been established, on November 12, 1986.30

51. During the Commission's on-site visit in January 1987, it received complaints from political leaders that the CNG had not consulted the political parties or the public regarding the terms of this decree. The leaders of the opposition movement to Duvalier charged that the CNG's attempt to govern by decree, even prior to the adoption of the Constitution, rendered it (the CNG) an authoritarian government with dictatorial tendencies. Due to the unwillingness of many political leaders to subject the formation and membership of their parties to governmental scrutiny, few parties have complied with the requisites of this law.

52. In light of the work on the preparation of the 1987 Constitution the political parties law was soon overshadowed and, eventually ignored. Political parties continued to be established, and according to the U.S. based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, which played a role in sponsoring seminars for Haitian politicians on "institution-building" and "party-building in a traditional democracy," in the 21 months following Jean-Claude Duvalier's departure, until the November 29, 1987 elections, "more than 70" political parties had emerged.31

c. Background to the Creation of the Provisional Electoral Council

53. Ironically, Jean-Claude Duvalier wanted to see himself as the founder of political democracy in Haiti. On September 22, 1979, he proclaimed:

I would like to present myself before the tribunal of history as he who founded, in an irreversible manner, democracy in Haiti.

Indeed, the Haitian people considered his departure the beginning of the democratization process.

54. Jean-Claude Duvalier claimed that political liberalization and democratization had become established patterns of his policies. It is evident that Jean-Claude Duvalier considered "democratization" to be something other than what is commonly understood by this term. In a rare interview given in 1983, he stated:

In the coming four months (February 1984), honest and open parliamentary elections will be held throughout the nine geographical departments of the country. But we cannot have democracy like France or the United States. If we did have such a system, we would have a very catastrophic situation, because illiteracy touches around 80% of our people. The people can easily be influenced in one way or the other. We need a democracy that accords with our personality as a people and with our history and economic reality.32

55. On September 22, 1983, then President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier, in an address on the 26th Anniversary of "Duvalierism" announced that "totally free, honest and impartial" legislative elections would be held in Haiti. The legislative elections were held on February 12, 1984. Of the 309 candidates who ran to fill the 59 seats of the Chambre Législative, no opposition (i.e., non-Duvalierist) candidates were allowed to participate.

56. For example, Rev. Sylvio Claude was detained on October 9, 1983 with members of his party and held incommunicado for the sixth time in five years. Rev. Claude's detention followed the announcement that his 5-year old party intended to participate in the 1984 elections. The price for political participation under President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier's "democratization" period is best described in Rev. Sylvio Claude's own words:

On January 27, 1984, it will have been five years since the day I declared my candidacy for the elections of February 11, 1979. It will have been five years since I began to openly participate in the difficult and dangerous struggle to win freedom for all Haitians, regardless of their social condition, their political views, or their ideology. I have dedicated myself completely to this struggle, risking my own life and my family's, so that Haitians might be freed from oppression and so that true democracy may be established once and for all.

Since that time, I have believed that the best course of action to make that dream a reality would be to create a political organization in opposition to the ruling regime. Its ranks were to be composed of all nationalists, Haitian democrats both within and outside the country. I founded such an organization on October 5, 1978 so as to create a monolithic block for a determined and effective fight against the powerful Duvalier regime. Despite the strong efforts of the regime to squelch it, the party has held firm. Nevertheless, we have encountered so much apathy and lack of understanding among members of the traditional Haitian opposition that I could easily have become discouraged, had I not always been convinced that the Almighty had chosen me to carry out this difficult and sensitive task.

Despite the problems, from the beginning of this struggle my family and I, in addition to some members of the Party, have devoted ourselves to the cause completely, so as to win the trust of each and every individual and to prove the seriousness and the sincerity of our commitment. I think that everyone is aware of the dangers to which we are exposed. Personally, my life has been threatened - first because I have dared to oppose this totalitarian regime which does not tolerate any opposition, be it legal or illegal, and to reject all the attempts to corrupt me, to recruit me as they have so many others, even those in the ranks of the opposition itself; and second, and more important, because I have refused to leave the country. I need not mention how many times members of the PDCH, members of my family, and I have been arrested during these five years, or the torture and abuse that accompanied these arrests. Nevertheless, I must tell you about the arrest of October 9, 1983, which I consider to be the most brutal of all my arrests.

On September 9, when a convoy of about ten vehicles arrived, driven by agents of the political police, their intention was not to arrest me but to end my life under the cover of night. They intended to put an end, once and for all, to the Sylvio Claude phenomenon," to cite the exact words of Colonel Albert Pierre who, as he said, came personally for this purpose. There was a prize on my head, and a small fortune had been set aside for whoever would report my whereabouts. Fortunately, my Protector was looking after me. A militiaman had reported to the sergeant at Bon Repos - a small community some twenty kilometers from the capital - that could be found on my small farm, where I have been raising goats for the past six years. But the Almighty intervened, and did not allow the sergeant to alert his commanding officer.

Accompanied by four VSN (Volontaires de la Securité Nationale), commonly known as Tontons Macoutes of Bon Repos, the sergeant placed me under arrest on Sunday, October 9, 1983, at about 9:00 a.m. With my two wrists bound behind my back, I suffered bitterly from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The all-powerful Duvalier henchman, Colonel Albert Pierre, who had been notified by phone of my arrest, came quickly to the Bon Repos police station to take me into his custody. He reprimanded the sergeant for not having informed him of my presence in this out of the way place, where, he said, he would have had an ideal opportunity to put an end to what he called the "Silvio Claude phenomenon".

Then, to conceal the arrest from the public, he gagged me with an orange and a piece of cloth and hid my face by putting a sack over it, carefully tying the sack to my pelvis. He threw me into the trunk of a car, just as if I were a bundle, and closed the trunk securely. After an intentional detour, I was taken to Croix-des-Bouquets (about twelve kilometers from Port-au-Prince). After passing about four hours in a small prison, kept bound as I was when I left the Bon Repos station, I shrewdly devised a strategy to prevent the beating that the torturers were planning for me. I led them to believe that they thought they could accomplish a dream they had had for five years: banishing me from Haiti. Easily persuaded them to take me to the Casernes Dessalines. There, at about 9:00 p.m., I was informed of the Government's definitive decision: "If you want to live, you must leave the country. This is your last chance; otherwise, you will not get out alive". There is no need to describe the panic that seized me, after having suffered terribly for twelve hours. Instead of better conditions, I was faced with a choice to which I had to answer at all costs.

I pretended to agree to the proposal of these men, who said that they were in a great hurry. Informed them that I had intended to go to the United States and that, therefore, a visa request had been sent to the American Embassy on my behalf. It was then that the conditions of my imprisonment improved.

Fourteen days later, on Thursday, October 13, I was face-to-face with the political attaché and Consul of the American Embassy, who were there to convince me to leave Haiti. I had to be an absolute strategist to thwart their plans even temporarily. The political attaché, having understood me very well and being a good diplomat, quickly invoked American law. He told Colonel Albert Pierre and Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Orcel that he would contact the State Department to find out if I qualified for a visa. Fifteen days later the Colonel, more determined than every, summoned me to inform me that he had received no answer from the State Department, and that the Government could wait no longer. He told me also that the Ambassadors of France and of West Germany had expressed their desire to see me.

I was told that I had to choose one of these two countries to go to. After a few moments of indecision and reflection, I demanded to see the West German Ambassador with my wife and my daughter Jocelyne. I would not yield when he tried to convince me that it was not necessary for my family to see the Ambassador with me.

On November 4, the West German Ambassador came to see me. He was accompanied by the Interior Secretary, Mr. Roger Lafontant, but not by my wife and my daughter. I made it clear to the Ambassador that the decision I was about to make was of utmost importance, and would affect the life of all members of my family. Because of that, the decision would have to be made with my wife and my daughter Jocelyne. The Ambassador acquiesced. Finally, the day of decision arrived, the day when I came within a hair's breadth of death. It was on Monday, the 14th November. I met with Colonel Albert Pierre, Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Orcel, the Ambassador of Germany, and my wife and daughter. The Ambassador asked me, "Mr. Claude, what can I do for you? " I responded:

"Mr. Ambassador, before explaining to you my tragic decision, must bring to your attention the fact that I did not personally, on my own initiative, ask to see you. Since having been brought to the Casernes Dessalines, I learned that both you and the French Ambassador wanted to see me. So I am only responding to your invitation. I had planned to travel to the United States to learn English when I was supposedly a free man. When I arrived here after my arrest on October 9, I was presented with a choice, a 'take it or leave it' situation. The choice was the following: 'Either you leave, or you will not get out of here alive. This is your last chance.'

"Since all men want to live, as life is sweet - unless it happens to be the day God has decided you are to leave this earth, in which case such a decision must be accepted, whether we like it or not… Faced with such a choice, Mr. Ambassador, you will understand why I chose to leave, under the one condition that I would be released first so as to arrange my affairs before leaving. That was my decision and t still stands.

When I originally made the decision to travel, I was not forced to do so. No, I am forced to leave, with the threat of losing my life if I stay here. If the latter is God's will, so be it. If it is impossible for me to regain the freedom I lost more than three years ago - although I have been pardoned by the Head of State - may God's will be done, because when a man's soul is called he cannot escape divine will, no matter where he may go.

Mr. Ambassador, I thank you for your efforts to help me regain my freedom. I beg you also to thank your Government for the effort6s it has made to free me. Unfortunately, this freedom has so far been denied to me. Moreover, the worst is yet to come."

Immediately after my declaration and after the departure of the Ambassador, I was taken to the torture room while my wife and daughter, under heavy pressure, were detained. They were held for five hours. Under orders from Colonel Albert Pierre, who was present, two torturers hoisted me up (in Creole: "djake" a common form of torture in Haitian prisons, where the prisoner is hauled up to be beaten to a pulp) and began a beating that ended only when I lost consciousness. During the night, I fainted again, and the guard on duty had difficulty finding a doctor. He thought that I was dying. On December 24, still in pain, I was taken to my home under heavy guard. The house was guarded by three soldiers posted in front, so that I could not leave the premises. I learned that the Haitian Government had assured the American Government that would be freed so that I could participate in the legislative elections to be held on February 12, 1984.33

57. In spite of the Haitian Government's reported assurances to the U.S. Embassy, Rev. Sylvio Claude was not permitted to participate in the February 1984 "elections".

58. Following his release, Rev. Sylvio Claude was kept under surveillance. His house was watched by three policemen: one in uniform and two in plainclothes. When he went anywhere, such as to Church, he was accompanied by an officer.

59. Mr. Grégoire Eugene, head of the (at that time) only other opposition political party, had been expelled from Haiti on December 2, 1980. He was not permitted to return to Haiti until February 22, 1984, under an amnesty declared by President Duvalier, subsequent to the elections.

60. The only candidate of the 309 who participated in the legislative "elections" who did not belong to Jean/Claude Duvalier's party was Mr. Serge Beaulieu. The Government arrested the poll-watchers of Mr. Serge Beaulieu,34 and he was defeated. After the "elections" Mr. Beaulieu" was arrested.35

61. In summation, "elections" under the Duvalierists, and even under the so-called democratization and liberalization period of Jean-Claude Duvalier, signified elections under circumstances in which no opposition political party was allowed to participate. The few mavericks who attempted to form political parties and attempted to declare themselves candidates in these "open and free" elections were harassed, detained, subject to torture or, in some cases, summarily deported.

62. During the Commission's 1987 on-site visit, one political leader informed the Commission that Haiti's numerous political leaders and candidates for the presidency reflected a phenomenon which was common to countries emerging from a long period of dictatorship. Multiple political parties were formed in the Dominican Republic after the departure of Trujillo, and similarly in Portugal after Salazar's departure and, of course, in Spain after Franco.

63. The people are content, this politician insisted, they want to assert themselves, take initiatives but there are many crazies as well, who don't understand anything, at the beginning. In the second stage, the formation of political parties and ideologies begins to occur. An in the third stage, three or four major currents emerge and it is at this time that democracy takes root. This political leader hoped that the same thing would happen in Haiti. He stated that the political parties in January 1987 were in the second stage, that is, that they were being formed and attempting to each agreements among themselves. Ten political parties had reached agreement and signed a text calling on the CNG to form an independent electoral council.

64. The political parties called for the creation of an independent body to run the elections because they wanted the elections to be removed from the control of the Duvalierists who, for almost thirty years, had determined their outcome.

d. The Creation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)

65. The 1987 Constitution provides for the creation of a Permanent Electoral Council to organize and control, "with complete independence," all electoral procedures throughout Haiti.36 The nine members of the Permanent Electoral Council are to be designated as follows: (1) 3 by the Executive Branch; (2) 3 by the Supreme Court, and (3) 3 by the National Assembly.37 In light of the fact that these institutions did not yet exist, the 1987 Constitution provided for a "Provisional Electoral Council" (CEP) of nine members who were to be designated by nine entities representing nine sectors of Haitian society (see p. 55 supra).38

66. The draft Constitution contained a provision for the creation of a Provisional Electoral Commission, but the March 29, 1987 referendum on the Constitution was organized, as were the October 19, 1986 elections, by the Ministry of the Interior, which, it was charged, remained under the control of persons closely associated with Jean-Claude Duvalier. The Provisional Electoral Council was created following the referendum which approved the Constitution.

67. On May 21, 1987 the members of the Provisional electoral Council (CEP), were sworn in and officially assumed their functions.39 The following nine persons were designated members of the CEP: Me. Napoléon Eugène; M. Ernst Verdieu; M. Carlo Dupiton; Me. Pierre Labissière; M. Emmanuel Ambroise; Dr. Charles Poisset Romain; Dr. Ernst Mirville; Rev. Sem Marseille and M. Philippe Jules.

68. On May 13, 1987 the CNG purported to issue a decree creating the CEP, an attempt which was repudiated by the CEP as soon as its members were installed and assumed their functions. By letter dated May 21, 1987, the members of the CEP criticized the CNG's decree of May 13th and reaffirmed the CEP's autonomy and independence. It surprised some observers that the member of the CEP designated by the CNG, and the member designated by the University40, who was also considered a government loyalist, also signed the letter affirming the CEP's autonomy, and therefore the CEP was able to take decisions by consensus. As had been the case with the Constituent Assembly, the Provisional Electoral Council assumed, from its very beginning, an esprit de corps as a result of its empowerment by the Constitution and the popular support of the population.

69. In its May 21, 1987 letter to the CNG, the CEP affirmed that it has been created by the 1987 Constitution, and not by the decree of the CNG. Since the decree violated the spirit and the letter of the Constitution, the CEP considered it unconstitutional and recommended that it be repealed. The CEP reaffirmed that it was mandated by the Constitution to prepare the Electoral Law and not merely the draft of an Electoral Law. In its view, the document to be submitted to the CNG was to be the law which was not to be modified by the CNG, and which was to be submitted to the CNG solely for the formal act of promulgation.


1. Article 23 of the American Convention provides: 1) Every citizen shall enjoy the following rights and opportunities: a. to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives; b. to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot that guarantees the free expression of the will of the voters; and c. to have access, under general conditions of equality, to the public service of his country. 2) The law may regulate the exercise of the rights and opportunities referred to in the preceding paragraph only on the basis of age, nationality, residence, language, education, civil and mental capacity, or sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings.

2. See, for example, the Preamble of the OAS Charter, Article 3, (d) of the Charter, Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and the Preamble of the American Convention on Human Rights.

3. See, OEA Quinta Reunión de Consulta de Ministros de Relaciones Exteriores, Actas y Documentos, Santiago de Chile, 12-18 August 1959. (1961)

4. The most recent expression is in the Resolution adopted on November 15, 1986, AG/RES. 835 (XVI-0/86).

5. AG/RES. 837 (XVI-0/86).

6. This "Joint Declaration of the Leaders of the Opposition in Haiti was signed by Sylvio Claude, Hubert De Ronceray and Alexandre Le Rouge, and demanded: "We demand from the Government of the Republic: a) that the Constitution of August 27, 1983 be amended and the presidency for life abolished; b) that a Constituent Assembly is formed, representing all political ideologies and charged with drawing for Haiti a new fundamental Charter; c) that the law on the organization of political parties is submitted for the consideration of the leaders of the opposition; d) that the electoral law is decreed and general elections declared all over the national territory.

7. For the entire text, see: Le Petit Samedi Soir, April 27-3, 1985.

8. Inferno: "Hubert De Ronceray lance un appel a l'unité de l'Opposition". Vol. II, No. 15, 1-15 July 1985.

9. Le Nouveau Monde, June 18, 1985.

10. The five leaders are: Hubert De Ronceray, Sylvio Claude, Grégoire Eugene, Constante Pongnon (who formed a party called PADRANA in June 1981) and Alexandre Lerouge (Former Congressman from Cap Haitien).

11. Referenda are not unusual in Haiti. In 1964 François Duvalier asked the people to confirm his adoption of the presidency-for-life, and the Government stated that the vote was 2,800,000 in favor, 3,232 against. In 1971 a poll was called to approve Jean-Claude Duvalier's succession. According to the Government the result was 2,391,916 votes in favor and none opposed.

12. "Fraud is charged in Haitian voting", Joseph B. Treaster, New York Times, July 23, 1985.

13. Grégoire Eugene: Le Miracle est Possible (Un Plaidoyer pour Le Développement) (1985).

14. Letters published in the "Haiti Observateur" newspaper, October 4-11, 1985.

15. Le Petit Samedi Soir: "Le Leader Grégoire Eugène après la demande d'enregistrement de son parti, fait des declarations pertinentes au Petit Samedi Soir". 16-22 November, 1985.

16. See, Alfonso Chardy: "Unrest subsides in Haiti, but tension hasn't ended" in The Miami Herald, December 16, 1985.

17. De Ronceray was released in January 1986.

18. Communiqué of Jean-Marie Chanoine, Secretary of State, Ministry of the Interior and National Defense, November 28, 1985.

19. "Three Dead as Haitians Protest Anew", Phil Davison, The Washington Post, January 28, 1986.

20. Article 31-1 of the 1987 Constitution.

21. Id.

22. FBIS, 10 February 1986.

23. FBIS, 11 February 1986. On February 13, 1986, opposition leader, Rev. Sylvio Claude stated that the majority of the new Cabinet members were Duvalierists or former Duvalier Ministers. Rev. Claude stated that the CNG should name a provisional government in one month with representatives of all opposition parties and he called for the restoration of the 1950 Constitution.

24. Eq. Franck Romain, mayor of Port-au-Prince and personal friend of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier. See: FBIS 18 February 1986 and FBIS 5 March 1986.

25. FBIS, 6 June 1986.

26. Source: 10 June 1986 Press Release of the Haitian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

27. The law appeared in the weekend edition of the newspaper Le Nouvelliste on 2-3 August 1986.

28. FBIS, 13 November 1986.

29. Id.

30. FBIS 13 November 1986.

31. NDIIA: Haiti Presidential/Legislative elections Report of the NDI International Observer Delegation, November 29, 1987.

32. "Democracy could be 'Very Catastrophic' for Haiti," U.S. News and World report, October 31, 1983 at p. 44.

33. From the files of the OAS Inter-American commission on Human Rights.

34. See "Prepared Statement of Elliot Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs" before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations, U.S. House of Representatives, April 17, 1985.

35. UPI Press Release dated March 3, 1985.

36. Article 191 of the 1987 Constitution.

37. Article 192 of the 1987 Constitution.

38. Article 289 of the 1987 Constitution.

39. Le Nouvelliste, May 21, 1987.

40. On May 14, 1987, the prominent Haitian Intellectual Roger Gaillard was removed by the governmental authorities from his post as Rector of the University of Haiti in supposed reaction to his efforts towards establishing the autonomy of the University pursuant to terms of the 1987 Constitution.


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