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 right to life, liberty and the security of the person are the most fundamental of all human rights. As one publicist has stated: "On these, all other rights depend, without these, other rights have little or no meaning."2 They are protected by Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article I of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. In the American Convention on Human Rights they are set forth in Articles 4, 5 and 7. These provisions of the American Convention form part of internal Haitian law.

2. In Haiti the rights to life, liberty and security historically have been at risk. For many Haitians the Duvalier era represented the absence of the rule of law, and consequently the violation of these rights could not be redressed by the domestic legal system. The National Governing Council (CNG), in spite of some early ambiguous attempts to bring high ranking former officials to justice, can be considered to have protected the Duvalierists. The 1987 Constitution attempted to remove Duvalierists from political life in Haiti for a 10 year period but the killings of November 29, 1987, and the ouster of President Leslie Manigat demonstrated that the military government is prepared to protect the Duvalierists in their political agenda.

3. Human rights violations and the repression institutionalized under the regime of François Duvalier (Papa Doc) were notorious.3 Killings in Haiti aroused no international indignation. Civil, political, economic, social or cultural rights were non-existent. Haiti has been considered the basked case of the hemisphere, compared by most international organizations to countries in Africa rather than the Americas. The human consequence has been an exodus of approximately one million Haitians who form the "diaspora", as the Haitians term their exile population. During the years of the dictatorship many of these Haitians assumed influential posts in the government of emerging African nations. At one point in time it was estimated that almost one thousand Haitians occupied official posts in the Congo.4 Given that the population of Haiti is not quite six million people, the government's relation to the diaspora is one of great importance, especially in light of the fact that the exiles include a significant sector of the Haitian educated class. The exodus of Haitians, in particular, the phenomenon of the "boat people" is a useful barometer in gauging the political climate. In 1988, applications for visas to the U.S. tripled as compared with applications in 1987, reflecting the disappointment and despair at a new dictatorship.5

4. With the departure of President-for-Life Jean Claude Duvalier on February 7, 1986 great expectations were created that the Duvalier era had ended. The Haitians considered February 7, 1986 their second independence Day, and "Haiti Libéree" became the public expression of the hour, repeated as graffiti, on T shirts and even as the name of one of the daily Haitian newspapers. The predictable underside of this liberation was the demand for justice mixed with revenge. The call for dechoukaj, which literally translates as "uprooting", was the call for the extirpation of Duvalierism.

5. As early as March 20, 1986, Mr. Gerard Gourgue, the most popular member of the CNG, and also the Minister of Justice, having been the only member of the new Government who had actively opposed Duvalier, resigned protesting the CNG's failure to satisfy the demands of the Haitian people for justice. Collaborators of Duvalier, such as Col. Albert Pierre, known as Ti Boulé, head of the secret police, had been allowed surreptitiously to depart into exile. These events were discussed in detail in the 1985-1986 Annual Report of the Commission. The IACHR, however, then, as now, was more concerned with the failure of the CNG to bring to justice persons responsible for the numerous killings which have occurred since February 7, 1986.

a. Violations of the Right to Life and the Failure of the Government

to investigate and punish those persons responsible

6. Numerous arbitrary killings occurred during the period 1985-1987, crescendoing in intensity during the period leading up to the November 29, 1987 presidential and legislative elections. The latter period of President Manigat's government, from approximately mid-April until the coup of June 19-20, 1988, was also characterized by a wave of violence - murders, armed robberies, kidnappings and random but routine night-time gunfire with cadavers left to lie on the streets the next morning, this wave of violence ceased with the assumption of power by the military.

7. One report of the execution-style nature of these killings stated:

During a two-week period from mid-April to early May 1988, 17 people, according to official state hospital records, were admitted dead-on-arrival at the hospital following shootings. This figure, it should be noted, does not take into account those people who died from gunshot wounds after being admitted; those whose bodies were taken by their assailants after they had been shot, and those who were taken from their houses at night by armed civilians and never seen again.

Little is known of the murder victims, even less of the murderers. But the execution-style killings have prompted suggestions that they could be politically related, or the final settling of old accounts and feuds.6

8. Precise information regarding the number of killings which occur on a monthly basis and the names of the victims is just beginning to be compiled by local human rights groups, and is not available for the period under consideration in this Report. Mr. Robert Duval, the head of the League of former Haitian Political prisoners (LAPPH) testified in March 1988 before the UN Human Rights Commission that the league estimated that approximately 1,500 Haitian citizens had been killed by the Armed forces and the Macoutes since February 7, 1986.7

9. Some killings reportedly involved Macoutes connected with the military who were settling accounts, other killings involved persons who were targeted because they had participated in the dechoukaj operations. One case, reported in the press, is as follows:

One body, found on April 1, 1988 on Route No. 1 near Laffiteau, was that of Jean Richard Alphonse, 25, resident of the Fontamara neighborhood. He was leader of a group which, in November 1987, had been involved in the dechoukaj of the house of Lafontaine Dominique, a well-known Duvalierist and voodoo priest. During the incident, an officer of the nearby Marine Corps had been wounded.

Just before his death, Alphonse had been asked to appear at the Marine Corps base, which he did. He never made it back home.

A friend of Alphonse, Charles Edouard Desgrottes, along with two other friends, Adrien Berthol and Jean Fleurant, was taken into custody by the Recherches Criminelles brigade in connection with Alphonse's murder.

Desgrottes was released after two weeks and quickly took refuge in New York. However, Berthol and Fleurant remained in custody, and have not been charged with any crime.

Although admitting that Alphonse, Berthol and Fleurant had participated in the ransacking of Lafontaine's house, Desgrottes denied having been involved in the killing of Alphonse. He said that macoutes connected with the military were settling accounts and were killing those who had participated in the dechoukaj operation.8

10. The politically motivated nature of this wave of violence is evidenced by the fact that it can be turned on and off by the military authorities. The terror campaign which characterized the period leading up to and including the day of the November 29, 1987 elections stands in marked contrast to the absence of violence during the period leading up to and including the January 17, 1988 elections. During both periods the military authorities were in charge, although during the period of the first elections the terror served the military's goals of having the elections cancelled. Similarly, as soon as President Manigat ceased to serve the goal of the military a terror campaign was once again unleashed to destabilize him. Once President Manigat was ousted from power the terror ceased. Except for the controversial arrest in May 1988 of eleven (ten military and one civilian) alleged death-squad figures by Col. Jean-Claude Paul, no one has been arrested for any of the acts committed during these terror campaigns. The fate of these eleven is also unknown.

11. In its discussion with Major Gen. Williams Regala, the Minister of the Interior and National Defense, during the Commission's on-site visit to Haiti in August 1988, the Commission raised the issue of the death-squads, the state of insecurity and the apparent impunity granted to these terrorists. Major Gen. Regala denied that the macoutes were perpetrating any such acts of terror and that a visitor to Haiti could feel more secure walking the streets of Port-au-Prince than in New York, Washington, D.C. or Kingston, Jamaica. In the Minister's view, the military was guaranteeing the security of the population and Haiti was now calm. The security of the Commission, he assured, was guaranteed. The Commission reminded the Minister that he had give that same guarantee to the Haitian people just before the November 29, 1987 elections.

12. The failure of the CNG to investigate and punish persons responsible for these death-squad type killings has been a matter of continuing concern to the Commission and leads it to conclude that these squads function because of the impunity granted to them by the military. A number of cases are discussed below which have been brought to the Commission and to which the Government of Haiti has formulated a response. These cases involve killings which occurred during the period of the first military government 1986-1988, the CNG, and during which time the Government did not investigate, or, if it did investigate, it found no one responsible.


13. In its 1985-1986 Annual Report the Commission stated:

On March 19, 1986, it was reported to the Commission that five civilians were shot dead by the Army's elite shock troops, the Leopards, and two days later two more shooting deaths occurred during peaceful demonstrations. On Saturday, April 26, six more civilians were killed and 48 wounded, many seriously, by the security forces at a commemoration ceremony of political opponents to the Duvalier regime who had been imprisoned at Fort Dimanche. The Commission finds no evidence that these acts imputed to the security forces have been investigated.

14. With regard to the killings at Martissant on March 19, 1986, the Commission opened Case No. 9699 and requested that the Government of Haiti supply whatever information it deemed appropriate. The Government replied:

A driver of a public transport vehicle, by the name of jean-Claude Roc, provoked a traffic jam on the road to Martissant by illegally wanting to pass the car of Army Captain Lyonel D. Sylvain. That pursuant to Article 31 of the Manual of Military Justice and 6-3 of the Regulations of the Haitian Armed Forces, the Captain was authorized to carry out the functions of a police officer. That the driver having refused to obey the orders of the Captain and having insulted him, was liable under the provisions of Article 51 of the Decree of April 14, 1979 on vehicle traffic. The opposition of the crowd to the arrest of the driver, its aggression against the military making use of sticks, stones and other makeshift weapons and the reaction of the latter caused:

1. 2 deaths on the part of the civilians and 3 injured

2. Hospitalization of 7 military

3. Damage caused to the vehicles one of which was an ambulance.

15. This case illustrates the high level of social frustration and animosity against the military in Haiti as early as one month after the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier. Similarly, the Government distrusts the civilian population and finds in favor of the military as regards the apportionment of responsibility for the killings.

16. The Commission had a number of opportunities to speak with members of the military during its on-site visit to Haiti in august 1988. During those talks it became clear to the Commission that the members of the Armed forces considered themselves superior to the so-called political leaders, who in the eyes of the military, have no following and no mass support. It was also evident that members of the military felt threatened by the campaign of rache manyok (calling for the ouster of the CNG during the summer of 1987) and that it would not again allow circumstance to reach such a threatening point where they might be ousted from power. One commander of a detention center expressed his disdain for the human rights groups and the press and indicated that the victims of several atrocious assassinations had been martyrized by these groups when, in fact, they were responsible for worse offenses. The human rights groups were clearly suspect to these military officials and, in some cases, unambiguously, their enemy.

Mr. Charlot Jacquelin (Case No. 9784)

17. In 1986, the case of the "disappearance" of Mr. Charlot Jacquelin, a teacher of the MISYON ALFA literacy campaign project of the Catholic Church, was brought to the attention of the Commission.

18. This case was presented to the Commission and opened as Case No. 9784 in October 1986. The Commission was informed that Mr. Charlot Jacquelin had been arrested on September 18, 1986 at his home in Cité Soleil. Two individuals, one plainclothes and the other dressed in the khaki colored uniform of the Army, reportedly entered his home at about 10 p.m., while two police officers, dressed in blue uniforms, posted guard outside. He was aroused from his bed, made to dress and taken to the local police station at Cité Soleil and afterwards eight police officers reportedly arrived and took him to an unknown destination. Since that time his whereabouts have not been revealed.

19. During the Commission's on-site visit to Haiti in January 1987 the Commission was able to confirm that there were a number of eye-witnesses to the arrest, and that a crowd had formed to follow the authorities leading Mr. Charlot Jacquelin to the Cité Soleil police station. In response the authorities fired shots in the air to disperse the crowd, which, in fact, dissolved.

20. Another eyewitness claimed to have seen Mr. Jacquelin escorted by eight soldiers being taken from the Cité Soleil police station in a green Jeep which was recognized as the jeep which normally travels from the police station to Ft. Dimanche.

21. Another witness testified that the arrest occurred for two reasons. Whenever there is an attack against the military or the police, - and the same week that Mr. Jacquelin was arrested there had been an attack at the local police station - the authorities arrest a large number of persons for "vengeance" and "to make money". This witness stated that every person who is arrested has to pay money in order to be released, and the arrest allows the security forces to blackmail the family of the detainee for money. Consequently, affirmed the witness, "one death in a neighborhood can permit the government to extort $10,000 in payments, by demanding protection money from 100 persons".

22. The Government of Haiti responded to the Commission's request for information in this case by stating that "Charlot Jacquelin had never been arrested by the police" in spite of the numerous eyewitnesses to the event. No additional information has been received by the Commission on this case in spite of the Government's expressed intent to pursue the facts leading to this disappearance.

The Killings in 1986-1987

23. In its 1986-1987 annual Report, the commission examined again the growing state of generalized violence in Haiti and the systematic attacks on the right to life. In that Report, the commission noted that the failure of the military government to put an end to the violence threatened the democratization process and, in particular, the ability of candidates to travel about the country to campaign. The 1986-1987 Annual Report of the Commission states:

As regards violations of the right to life which have taken place since the approval of the Commission's last Annual Report, hundreds of persons have died at the hands of agents of the armed forces since June 29, 1987. In addition, hundreds of persons have been wounded. Information from the Governmental Investigative Commission gave the final figure of 255 dead in Jean Rabel. For its part, the Haitian press has recently reported that the appearance of cadavers on the streets of Port-au-Prince has become practically a routine occurrence. The Commission finds that Haiti is currently living under a generalized state of violence.

The climate of violence is manifested in the fact that the population of Port-au-Prince does not go out on the street after 9:00 p.m. at night. Both persons and vehicles are the subject of attack, especially in the popular neighborhoods such as Bolosse, Cité Soleil and Bel'Air in the capital. For example, on he morning of September 2, 1987 the bodies of Rony Ambroise and Frequenz Charles were found machine-gunned. An eyewitness declared that they had been taken from their homes by the police during the night, killed and their bodies dumped on the road leading to the airport. The Commission has been informed that the appearance of dead bodies on he streets of Port-au-Prince has become a daily spectacle.

This climate of violence has also affected the political panorama of the country. Whereas the elections are scheduled for November, no candidate dares to organize an electoral campaign and travel to the provinces since Mr. Louis Eugene Athis was killed during a political meeting at the beginning of August.

On August 3, 1987 Louis Eugene Athis, 46 years of age, the founder and general coordinator of the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Haiti (MODELH) was assassinated together with two of his companions, Mr. Oscar Dorgevil and Mr. François Jean. Athis had traveled to Leogane, a town 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince, in order to hold a political meting. A group of persons armed with machetes, sticks and stones, stoned and hacked them to death accusing them of being communists. An additional companion Dominique Mercena, was beaten on the head, arms and left leg, escaped and was able to bear witness to the events. The Commission learned that the cadavers of Athis and his companions were doused with gasoline and burned. Athis, who had founded his party in 1964 in the Dominican Republic, was an active defender of the rights of the Haitian "braceros" who travel to that country to cut cane. Athis was also one of the founders of the democratic center, which is made up of other important presidential candidates such as Dejoie, Manigat and Bazin. His killing can be interpreted as a signal directed to the politicians in Haiti and it has had the result that no candidate is currently travelling in a campaign for votes.

As regards acts of violence imputed to governmental authorities the Commission has received, in general, information from the Haitian Government, exculpating its agents from responsibility. The conviction and sentencing of the military officer Robes Metellus for the killing of a transport worker, Jules Louis, is a notable exception to the above. But it should be stated that the transport workers staged a 5 day strike in November 1986 to guarantee that Metellus be put on trial.

24. As regards the case of Mr. Louis Eugène Athis, in spite of the fact that an eyewitness survived to tell of this brutal triple murder, no one, to date, has been brought to justice. The chef de section9 of this area was detained for questioning about the crime, but then unexpectedly released. The judicial apparatus has been mute, no one has been investigated or charged. Pursuant to the Haitian legal system, it appears as though no crime has been committed.

25. It is evident now that the generalized state of fear in Haiti was systematically created by the military government and the government-sponsored forces. The daily experience of cadavers which are left to lie in the streets is a potent message to the population not to challenge the authorities or the status quo. The failure of the government to investigate these killings and to bring anyone to justice grants impunity to the perpetrators and evidences the complicity of the government in these actions.

The Killings on November 28-29, 1987

26. The killings of November 28-29, 1987 were necessary for the CNG to regain control of the election process from the Provisional electoral Council. The CNG established a Special Commission of Inquiry on December 3, 1987, to investigate the events occurring at the time of the elections of November 29, 1987 (See Chapter II). The members of this Commission included Mr. Luc Michel (President), Yves Decady, Yvan Richard Maurasse, Col. Louis Thony Fils, Col. Fritz Courdet and Ulrick Noel. The Commission ostensibly submitted its report to the authorities on January 15, 1988, although it was not made public at that time. Radio Metropole announced on April 4, 1988 that the Commission had issued its report.

27. The Report of the Special Investigative committee consists of 25 pages and is the first investigative report that gives the appearance of being serious. The mandate of this body was to examine the causes and circumstances surrounding the events which occurred on November 29, 1987, and to identify the perpetrators.10

28. The Committee carried out its mandate by interviewing witnesses both in Port-au-Prince and in the provinces, visiting the hospital of the State University to speak with victims of the November 29, 1987 massacre, interviewing political leaders to receive their views on the national situation, and visiting the hospital at Canapé-Vert.11

29. The Report is unusual in its willingness to criticize the Duvalier-Macoute forces and in its analysis of the causes and circumstances surrounding the events of November 29, 1987, but its examination of the forces involved obeys the implicit governmental mandate not to implicate the military. As regards the Army the Report states that:

The Army did not participate in the struggle for power since it does not have any political ambitions…12

30. And as concerns the role of the Duvalierists:

The Duvalierists, insofar as they are the heirs of the revolutionary conquest of 1946, are intent upon reconquering power…13

31. The Report states that it is impossible to identify the individual perpetrators of the acts of violence and sabotage. In the provinces many of them were individuals who came from other areas and the majority of them were masked in order to hide their identities. In addition, "the strategy adopted by the perpetrators of the acts of violence and sabotage, which are the object of the present investigation, appears to have been not to leave any traces".14

32. The Report identifies responsibility with the Commissaire du Gouvernement, whose job it is to investigate crimes which have been committed; the Police, for not having established a cordon de sécurité; Ministry of Information and Coordination, for not having raised the educational level of the masses by means of programs dealing with civic education; the Public Authorities, for not having carried out a policy of firmness to prevent any actions which would lead to the deterioration of the political climate; and, lastly, the Provisional Electoral Council or having permitted foreign powers to be involved in domestic affairs and for not having recognized "the impossibility of carrying out these elections prior to the massacre which occurred on the ruelle Vaillant".15

33. The Report concludes that it is possible to believe that (il est permis de croire) the Duvalier-Macoute forces were the perpetrators of these atrocities. However, the Report attempts to justify their actions as a form of self-defense:

Decapitated, hounded, persecuted and burned alive following February 6, 1986, and in the face of the imminent resurgence of such acts following the results of the elections of last November, as a consequence of their will to survive, the macoutes would be constrained to defend themselves.16

34. As regards the accusation that Macoute-Army forces were also involved, the Report states that it is not possible "to establish that there were Macoute-Army forces involved in the acts of November," however, it avoids a categorical denial by explaining that it is "inappropriate to accuse the Army as a whole, despite the continuing conflict between the CEP/CNG, for the electoral violence for which certain elements are guilty which have been difficult to identify".17

35. The Commission concludes that it was unable to identify the perpetrators because the witnesses, such as the members of the CEP, refused to testify before the Commission, and the victims, fearing reprisals, refused to speak the truth. Given the fact that two Colonels comprised part of this Investigative Commission, the reticence of the members of the CEP and of the victims is easily understood. The Report states that although the Commission has been unable to identify the individual perpetrators, it has been able to identify them "collectively", and calls upon the Commissaire du Gouvernement to investigate the punish these crimes.18

36. This odd bit of "legalism", handing the problem over to the Commissaire du Gouvernement is in curious contradiction with the Report's earlier finding that the judicial system was "pusillanimous and impotent" as regards bringing to justice those participants in the dechoukaj who burned alive notorious macoutes.

37. The Report recommends that the investigation remain open and that reparations be made to those persons who suffered material and physical damages on November 29, 1987.

38. During the visit of the Commission to Haiti in August 1988, it asked the Minister of Justice questions regarding some conclusions and recommendations in this Report, in particular, why the persons responsible for the killings of November 29, 1987 had not been prosecuted and whether a reparations policy had been instituted for the victims and their relatives who had suffered corporal or material damages as a result of the events of November 29, 1987. The Minister replied that no prosecutions had been initiated against the perpetrators of the killings and other acts of violence on election day because the Ministry "cannot find the victims". As regards the issue of reparations the Minister had not seen the Report of the Commission of Inquiry and was unfamiliar with its recommendations. Mr. Yvan-Richard Maurasse, currently the head of the Department of Detention in the Ministry of Justice was present at the meeting of the IACHR delegation with the Minister of Justice. Mr. Maurasse was asked how could it be possible that a member of the staff of the Justice Ministry who was also a member of the Commission of Inquiry, had not communicated the results of this Report to the Minister of Justice. The reply was that the Commission of Inquiry submitted its Report to the CNG but that it had not been communicated by the CNG to the respective Ministers. The IACHR delegation provided the Minister with its copy of the Report and a photocopy was made. The IACHR delegation asked the Minister whether he would support a policy of reparations for the victims of the November 29, 1987 violence and the Minister replied that the matter did not fall within his competence.

39. The Report also recommended some sweeping measures for dealing with the security problem. It recommended that "energetic and appropriate measures … be taken by the Police in order to eliminate any individual agitator ("perturbateur") or person susceptible of disturbing the ordre public, and to dismantle the identified breeding centers of crime which serve as a culture medium for anti-social conduct".19 This recommendation can be read on its face, as a carte blanche to the authorities to eliminate any assembled group of unionized workers, students, religious workers, and the like, who are against the government. Another excessive measure recommended by the Report is one which calls for "periodic searches" to be conducted throughout the country in order to locate and seize illegal arms.20 The searches which have been carried out have not been conducted pursuant to the dictates of the Haitian Constitution of 1987 (infra).

40. Whereas Brig. Gen. Hérard Abraham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with the delegation of the IACHR in August 1988 in civilian attire, the Minister of Justice, Brig. Gen. Fritz Antoine, was in uniform. The Minister of Justice described to the Commission his efforts to improve the administration of justice in Port-au-Prince and in the provinces. He gave the Commission copies of two speeches he had delivered on August 26, 1988, one in Saint Marc and the other in Gonaives. These speeches call on the Justice Ministry officials in the Artibonite region to serve Law and Justice. "The time has come", he stated "for Haitian Justice to be transparent at all levels of our judicial institutions". The Minister of Justice stated that he is visiting all 15 judicial jurisdictions of the country, and that in light of the "endemic violence" in the Artibonite, Lt. Gen. Namphy plans to put an end to the "turpitudes of certain functionaries and agents of the Ministry of Justice" so that peace will return to the region.

41. In fact, as Chapter IV (infra) discusses in greater detail, the Government of President Manigat sought to remove Captain Ernst Ravix from his post as commander of the district of Saint Marc in the Artibonite and after Manigat's ouster, Lt. Gen. Namphy reinstated him. The same occurred with warrant officer Gabriel Pinasse, who after Manigat's ouster was reinstated as Commander of the sub-district of Thomonde.

42. In summary, in the view of the Commission, in order for the Justice Ministry to improve the administration of justice in Haiti, the justice system must be demilitarized. At present, the Minister of Justice gives speeches regarding his good intentions to clean-up lower level functionaries in the Justice Ministry while the military commanders of these areas, who are considered "tyrants" by the local population, are reinstated and continue to terrorize the people. Similarly, if these Commissions of Inquiry are to have any meaning, the findings of these Commissions should be communicated to the relevant Ministers for the appropriate action.

43. It is difficult to escape the conclusion however, that these "reform" measures are taken to appease international opinion and not from any real interest in improving the situation.

The Killing of Mr. Lafontant Joseph (Case No. 10.209)

44. On July 11, 1988 the body of Mr. Lafontant Joseph was found dead behind the steering wheel of his car near the road leading to the international airport. Mar. Joseph, age 54, was a leading human rights lawyer, who defended opposition political figures jailed during the two-year government of the CNG. His slaying is the first such apparent political attack since the military coup of June 20, 1988, and the first killing of an individual on a death-squad hit list.

45. The alleged death-squad hit list was presented to the Commission during its on-site investigation in August 1988. It is dated May 25, 1988, and is entitled, in Creole, "OPERASYON BALEWOUZE TOUT KOMINIS ANACHIS MACHAN'N PEYI" (OPERATION MOP-UP OF ALL THE COMMUNISTS AND ANARCHISTS WHO ARE SELLING THE COUNTRY). There are 164 names included on this list although certain individuals are targeted with their families, such as "XX, his wife and children" (XX, sa femme et enfants)". In light of the fact that certain Ministers claimed to have no knowledge of this list, it is published to alert the relevant authorities to protect any future potential victims from danger:

Jean Bertrand Aristide Antoine Adrien

Williams Smarth Jean-Marie Vincent

Liliane Pierre-Paul Willy Romulus

Anthony Pascal (Konpè Filo) Vénel Rémarais

Thony Bélizaire Marcus Plaisimont

James Rosefort Ardy Jean-Gardy

Jean Max-Blanc Marie Laurence Lassèque

Ben Dupuis Evans Paul (konpè Plim)

Jean Dominique Jean-Robert Aupont

Dominique Levanti Konpè Moloskòt

Hailé Alix Damour

Suzy Castor Claudette Wourley

Joseph Senat Georges Honorat

Odette Fonbrum Gladys Lauture et son mari

Mme. Lina MacNally et son Mari Yves Déjean-Los

Michel Soucar Rénald Trouillot

Jean Claude Pierre-Louis Cajuste Lexius

Joubert François Carl Henri Guito

Lafontan Joseph Joseph Manicy Pierre

Jean-Jacques Honorat Daniel Narcisse

Eddy Volel Rose-Marie Biamby-Volel

Michel Hector Guy Pierre

Max Chancy Gérard Jean-Juste

Manno Charlemagne Didier Dominique et Rachelle

Alain Rocourt Emmanuel Ambroise

Jean Robert Sabala Michel Roy

Louis Roy André Arcelin

Chavannes Jean-Baptiste Jean-Paul Duperval

Elie Cantave Paul Latortue

Edzer Dorsainvil Konpè Zòbey

Patrix Dacius Suzette Fan'm Vanyan

Mme. Cathérine Roley Joseph Maxi

Paola Tet Ansan'm Jean Rabael Augustin Feneh

Marcel Mondesir Sylvain Jolibois

Abner François Cliford Larose

Mésidor Gérard Jean-Marie Salvant

Jean-Laurent Nelson Mirabeau Louis

Ogesse St. Jean Sylvio C. Claude

Louis Déjoie II Gerard Gourgue

Marc L. Bazin Hubert de Ronceray et femme

Luc B. Innocent Paul Arcelin

Benard Sançariq, femme et enfants René Théodore

Max Bourjolly Alexandre Azard

Pasteur Desarmes Joachin Pierre

Jean Marie Benoit Serge Gilles

Victor Benoit Jean Claude Bajeux

Félix Paul Arnold Antonin

Turneb Delpé Gilles Hendrick

François Pierre-Louis Frantz L. Jean

Jean Robert Lalane Paul Déjean

Robert Duval Yves Antoine Richard

Gerard Pierre Charles Gerard Toussaint

Claude René Yves Champagne

Auguste Mesyeux Marie-Paul Jeune

Mme. Lafontant Joseph Rockfeller Guerre

Idly Cameau Blain Kennedy

Jean-Baptiste Hilaire Gabriel Miracle

Eddy Jeune Jonas Pierre-Louis

Yves Sanon Lesley Ambroise

Michelle Montas Raymond Joseph

Frantz Jean-Marie Jude L. Jean-Jacques

Jacques Pascal-Zel Ronald St. Jean

Roselaine Gilbert Rénald Clérismé

Frantz Grandois Ernst Verdiu

Roméo - Radio Lumière Monique Jean Baptiste

Maria Terentia Dehoux Karline Champagne

Joel Lorquet Harry Louis

René Exumé Absalon-Radio Centre Ville

Robert Angalde Clitandre Pierre

Cajuste Linhardt Roger Gaillard

Nègre Lakay Duly Brutus

Sincius Deli (Milo) Dutel Lamour

Carlo Désinor Alex Etienne

Eilson Désir Mécène Richemond

Guy Gilbert Marc Garcia

Nicole Magloire Kyle Richemond

Jacquelin (Prensa Latina) Point du jour yves (kamokin

nan péyi blanc)

Pasteur Porris Jean-Baptiste Gérard Dormévil (Gonaives)

Serge Jovein Moises Senatus

Franck Tomas Larneck Hurbon

46. From information presented to the Commission during its on-site investigation, the IACHR learned that Mr. Joseph received numerous death threats, by telephone, saying that he would be killed on July 11, 1988. Mr. Lafontant had two sons, Lafontant Joseph, aged 14, and Hérold Joseph, aged 6. The younger son received a menacing phone call informing him that his father would be killed.

47. On Sunday, July 10, 1988 Mr. Lafontant Joseph returned home at approximately 6:30 p.m. and then went out again to see some neighbors. At 8 p.m. he left and no one knows where he went. The owners of the Restaurant Market One Stop, at Delmas 29 Street, said that they saw him at approximately 11:45 p.m. That night he was killed, apparently some 4 meters from his car where a large pool of blood was found at the scene. Witnesses who heard his screams said that it took about 35 minutes to kill him. He had been dragged in the mud from the scene of the crime and then dumped over the steering wheel of his car. He had multiple knife wounds all over his body, his left arm and teeth had been broken, part of his left ear was cut off, and he had gash marks across his chest. His tongue and his heart reportedly had also been cut out. There were no bullet holes in the body.

48. The Criminal Investigations Department of the Police, headed by Lt. Col. Joseph Baguidy is in charge of the criminal investigation. The Commission was informed that no one has yet been arrested. The Minister of Justice informed the commission that the Examining Judge (Juge d'Instruction) had opened an "Information against X" in the Lafontant Joseph case. The Public Prosecutor (Commissaire du Gouvernement) stated that the family was not cooperating with the Investigation, but during the investigative phase of the case the individuals could be arrested if they do not want to talk. No attempts have been made to trace the menacing phone calls. Radio Soleil informed that Mr. Joseph had come to the newsroom on June 6, 1988 at 6:15 p.m. to say that "people were calling him non-stop on the phone to tell him that they were going to kill him that very night, June 6, 1988. They said, furthermore, that nothing, nor anyone, could prevent them from assassinating him".21 This was reported that same day on Radio Soleil on the 8:30 p.m. newscast.

49. Mr. Joseph was a co-founder of the Haitian League for Human Rights, of which he was also, for a time, the Secretary General. At the time of his death he was the Executive Director of the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights, an independent non-governmental human rights organization in Haiti, as well as Director of the Elliot Pierre school. In the November 29, 1987 elections he had been a candidate for the Senate. On June 29, 1988, Mr. Lafontant, as Executive Secretary of the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights, co-signed, with five other human rights organizations, a communiqué published in the press, attacking the coup as a violation of the 1987 Constitution, and calling for a return to "institutional norms" and respect for the "provisions of the Constitution".22

50. On July 16, 1988, Mr. Lafontant Joseph was buried in the Port-au-Prince cemetery in the presence of a certain number of friends and relatives. There was no religious service because five minutes before the funeral was scheduled to begin the priest of the Sacre Coeur Church received a threatening phone call warning him that if a religious funeral were to be carried out the Church would be blown up with everyone inside and the presbytery would be set on fire.

51. Despite the secret burial, on Tuesday, July 19, 1988 a religious ceremony was held at Saint Jean Bosco Church in Port-au-Prince, to pay final tribute to Mr. Lafontant Joseph. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide said mass to the approximately 1,000 persons present and highlighted the role Mr. Joseph had played in the struggle for liberation being waged in Haiti.

52. During the Commission's August 1988 on-site investigation in Haiti the fear was expressed that a similar fate could at any time befall any one who was in active opposition to the government. The Justice Ministry, in a press release, condemned the murder of Mr. Lafontant Joseph which stated that "the perpetrators of the crime were being sought and would be prosecuted in conformity with the law".23 The Commission met with Col. Joseph D. Baguidy, who is responsible for Recherches Criminelles, the police investigations unit. In Haiti the Armed Forces carry out police functions and Col. Baguidy is in charge of the investigation of serious crimes. The delegation of the Commission asked Col. Baguidy about the investigation he was carrying out on the Lafontant Joseph killing. He stated that the investigation began immediately and that the police had contacted his family but that the family would not cooperate. In the view of Col. Baguidy, Mr. Joseph had "a woman on every street" and a pair of woman's sandals were found in the car. The sister of Mr. Lafontant Joseph "knows the name of the woman" who allegedly was with him and the woman was not killed, but the sister will not talk. Col. Baguidy attributed the crime to "a jealous husband". The delegation of the Commission inquired as to whether the Colonel was of the opinion that jealous husbands had drawn up the death-squad list. Col. Baguidy denied knowing of the existence of the list or of the numerous threats made against Mr. Lafontant Joseph's life.

53. On July 14, 1988 a decapitated body was found in Port-au-Prince. The judicial authorities could not identify the male cadaver, but that it involved a man of approximately 35 years of age. The morticians at the hospital admitted that this was the first time that they had received a body without a head.24 Also, two other unidentified bodies were found in different parts of the city. One was burned beyond recognition and the other had been shot several times.

The Killings at the St. jean Bosco Church

54. The St. Jean Bosco Church, site of the final tribute paid to Mr. Lafontant Joseph on July 19, 1988, became the target of a death-squad attack on Sunday, September 11, 1988 reminiscent of the methods employed on November 29, 1987. The assailants, wearing red armbands, were armed with guns and machetes and threw rocks at he church creating panic among the parishioners. The attackers assaulted the nearly 1,000 parishioners and according to press reports shouted "Communists" as they started shooting and stabbing men, women and children. They reportedly stabbed a woman who was pregnant and another man who ran outside and died. Soldiers across the street, according to eyewitnesses watched the attack but did not intervene. Some witnesses stated that the bodies could not be removed before the attackers set the Church on fire and torched nearby parked cars.

55. The target of the attack was Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, an outspoken opponent of the military government who escaped unharmed. Also targeted were people dressed in white clothing. The Committee for the Constitution urged Haitians to dress in white Sunday to protest Namphy's voiding of the 1987 Constitution. Following the attack on the church, Radio Soleil and Radio Cacique were also attacked. Unidentified men injured three employees of Radio Cacique and made off with the broadcasting equipment. The police did not respond to a telephone call for help from Radio Cacique. The headquarters of the politicians Louis Dejoie II, and Rev. Sylvio Claude were also attacked.

56. The Commission met with Father Aristide during its August 1988 visit and the priest stated that he had been the target of three attempts on his life and that he frequently received death threats. Father Aristide also figures as the first name on the death-squad hit list (supra para. 45). The designated mayor of Pot-au-Prince and former Army Colonel, Mr. Franck Romain, former chief of police under Duvalier, stated on the Radio that he believed Father Aristide had been "justly punished". "Father Aristide has always preached violence… he who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind" he stated. City hall employees were identified as the perpetrators of the violence, to which the mayor simply replied "If (City Hall) employees are involved ... I don't see how I am concerned".

57. The official death toll from the attack on the St. Jean Bosco Church is 13 dead and 77 injured. On Tuesday the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in Cite Soleil, was also set on fire. Six people had claimed responsibility for the attack on St. Jean Bosco on the government controlled television station without apparent fear of arrest. They also spoke on the radio. They claimed the violence at St. Jean Bosco was related to an internal conflict within the church and threatened "a heap of corpses" at any mass celebrated by Aristide.

58. The modus operandi of these attacks on the parishioners in the St. Jean Bosco Church is a repetition of the modus operandi employed in the death squad attacks perpetrated against the voters on November 29, 1987. These individuals function openly, without disguise, are recognized and identified by the victims and function with complete impunity. The fact that six of the perpetrators of these attacks appeared on television and acknowledged their responsibility in these actions and were not arrested leads the Commission to the inescapable conclusion that the death squads function with the acquiescence, if not at the instigation of the armed forces. As a consequence of the coup within the coup on September 17, 1988 three of these death-squad figures were captured and burned alive.

59. In spite of the number of election observers and journalists who traveled to Haiti for the November 29 elections, in recent years Haiti has not been the focus of many in-depth human rights investigations and the organizations which have investigated the human rights situation in general, have not been granted access to detention centers. In addition, human rights defenders in Haiti have only been allowed to function with some measure of freedom since the fall of Duvalier and they have not been able to compile complete lists of names of persons currently in detention.

60. The International Committee of the Red Cross, while providing some relief assistance, has not been permitted to visit detainees in Haiti since March 1985.

61. Consequently, the situation of detainees in Haiti has not been examined on-the-spot except for isolated ad hoc visits to one or two detention centers. The information used in this chapter is obtained primarily from the Commission's August 1988 visit to Fort Dimanche, the National Penitentiary, Recherches Criminelles and Casernes Dessalines, testimony from human rights organizations, former prisoners, or their legal representatives, regarding persons who were in detention primarily in 1987; and information received by the Commission during its on-site visit in January 1987.


62. The Haitian Constitution of 1987 sets forth in Articles 24 to 27-1 the legal guarantees of the individual in Haiti as regards the right to individual liberty. These articles stipulate the following:

Article 24: Individual liberty is guaranteed and protected by

the State.

Article 24-1: No one may be prosecuted, arrested or detained except in the cases determined by law and in the manner it prescribes.

Article 24-2: Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no one may be arrested or detained other than by written order of a legally competent official.

Article 24-3: For such an order to be carried out, the following requirements must be met:

a. It must formally state the reason in Creole and in French for the arrest or detention and the provision of the law that provides for punishment of the act charged.

b. Legal notice must be given and a copy of the order must be left with the accused at the time of its execution;

c. The accused must be notified of his right to be assisted by counsel at all phases of the investigation of the case up to the final judgment;

d. Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no arrest by warrant and no search may take place between six (6) p.m. and six (6) a.m.

e. Responsibility for an offense is personal, and no one may be arrested in the place of another.

Article 25: Any unnecessary force or restraint in the apprehension of a person or in keeping him under arrest, or any psychological pressure or physical brutality, especially during interrogation, is forbidden.

Article 25-1: No one may be interrogated without his attorney or a witness of his choice being present.

Article 26: No one may be kept under arrest more than forty-eight (48) hours unless he has appeared before a judge asked to rule on the legality of the arrest and the judge has confirmed the arrest by a well-founded decision.

Article 26-1: In the case of a petty violation, the accused shall be referred to a justice of the peace, who shall then hand down a final decision.

In the case of more serious offenses or crimes, an appeal may be filed, without prior permission, simply by addressing a petition to the presiding judge of the competent civil court, who, on the basis of the oral statement of the prosecutor, shall rule on the legality of the arrest and detention, in a special session of the court, without postponement or rotation of judges, all other cases being suspended.

Article 26-2: If the arrest is judged to be illegal, the judge shall order the immediate release of the arrested person and that order shall be enforceable immediately, regardless of any appeal to a higher court or the Supreme Court for an order forbidding enforcement of the judgment

Article 27: Any violation of the provisions on individual liberty are arbitrary acts. Injured parties may, without prior authorization, appeal to the competent courts, to bring suit against the authors and perpetrators of these arbitrary acts, regardless of their rank or the body to which they belong.

Article 27-1: Government officials and employees are directly liable under civil and administrative criminal law for acts carried out in violation of rights. In such cases, civil liability extends to the State as well.

63. The Haitian legal system provides for two public officials whose functions are to serve the State as regards the prosecution of offenders but also to safeguard the rights of the individual. These two officials are the Commissaire du Gouvernement (a prosecutor for a specific court district) and the Juge d'Instruction (the Examining Judge).

a. The Commissaire du Gouvernement

64. Pursuant to Article 13 of the Haitian Code of Criminal Procedure the Commissaire du Gouvernement is charged with the investigation and prosecution of all offenses over which the civilian courts have jurisdiction.

65. During the Commission's August 1988 visit to Haiti it met with Mme. Mireille Z. Pluviose, the Commissaire du Gouvernement for Port-au-Prince. She explained her functions as investigative, the Commissaire's job is to apprehend perpetrators of offenses, to refer them to the courts and to follow their trials to the end. There are 15 civil jurisdictions in Haiti, and consequently there are 15 commissaires. Mme. Pluviose is chief of the Parquet in Port-au-Prince but she has 6 "substitutes" who also have the title of "Commissaire" and who assist her in her duties. They are assisted by the police since their investigative functions involve police work.

66. Mme. Pluviose described her position to the Commission as that of being "the eyes of the Executive within the Judiciary", whereas the Juge d'Instruction is independent and does not receive instructions from the Executive. The Commissaire is charged with overseeing the conditions in the detention centers ' their location, their cleanliness, the hygiene of prisoners, and the like.25 This provision of the Code is designed to prevent the establishment of irregular or clandestine detention centers.

67. Haitian law also provides that the Commissaire du Gouvernement visit "at least once a month" all the detention centers in which the accused, or the persons who have been sentenced, are held within the Court's jurisdiction.26 Consequently, it is to be expected that the Commissaire would have information regarding the number and the whereabouts of all persons currently in detention in Haiti. The Commission asked Mme. Pluviose which detention centers she regularly visited and she replied that she only visited the National Penitentiary, since any other center in Port-au-Prince is illegal. She stated that prisoners are no longer detained in Fort Dimanche. As regards Recherches Criminelles, after 30 years of bad habits things are beginning to change, "bad habits are like weeds", she added, but she and her staff are "pushing people" to transfer detainees to the National Penitentiary within 48 hours of their arrest. Mme. Pluviose gave the Commission's delegation a copy of a "Circular to the Justice of the Peace in the Jurisdiction of Port-au-Prince" dated July 21, 1988 which calls upon them to assure that detainees are brought before the Parquet within 48 hours of arrest to avoid their remaining in places such as Fort Dimanche and Recherches Criminelles.

b. The Juge d'Instruction

68. It is the role of the Juge d'Instruction to decide whether or not to bring charges. If the Juge decides that there is no reason to prosecute, and if the suspect has been arrested, the suspect will be placed at liberty.27

69. Article 119 of the Code provides that if the Juge d'Instruction considers that there do exist grounds for prosecution, the suspect (l'inculpé) will be brought before the criminal court and the dossier transmitted to the Commissaire du Gouvernement, who will then proceed to issue the indictment (l'accusation).

70. Procedurally, the Juge d'Instruction issues either an "ordonnance de non lieu" in the case of the detainee who is to be placed at liberty, or an "ordonnance de renvoi" also called "ordonnance de prise de corps" in which case the suspect is returned to prison.28

71. The Code of Criminal procedure provides that persons who have been sentenced are to be detained in places which are distinct from those where persons who have only been arrested or charged are to be held.29 In addition, Article 443 of the code requires that both the detention centers and the prisons maintain a registry of names of the detainees and those serving sentence. This registry is to be signed, on each page, by the Juge d'Instruction for the detention centers, and by the Commissaire du Gouvernement for the prisons.

72. In the case of an illegal detention, the person who carries out the illegal arrest is subject to one to five years in prison, if the arrest is carried out without an order of the competent authorities.30 Anyone who cooperates in the illegal arrest by furnishing a place for the detention or kidnapping will be subject to the same penalty.31 In practice, however, as the case of Mr. Laurentis Robuste (infra) illustrates, it is virtually impossible to bring suit for false imprisonment because of the difficulty for the victim to prove that the illegal detention took place.





1. Article 4 of the American Convention provides: 1. Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. 2. In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, it may be imposed only for the most serious crimes and pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court and in accordance with a law establishing such punishment, enacted prior to the commission of the crime. The application of such punishment shall not be extended to crimes to which it does not presently apply. 3. The death penalty shall not be reestablished in states that have abolished it. 4. In no case shall capital punishment be inflicted for political offenses or related common crimes. 5. Capital punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who, at the time the crime was committed, were under 18 years of age or over 70 years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant women. 6. Every person condemned to death shall have the right to apply for amnesty, pardon, or commutation of sentence, which may be granted in all cases. Capital punishment shall not be imposed while such a petition is pending decision by the competent authority.

Article 5 of the American Convention provides: 1. Every person has the right to have his physical, mental, and moral integrity respected. 2. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment. All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. 3. Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons, and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons. 4. Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons, and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons. 5. Minors while subject to criminal proceedings shall be separated from adults and brought before specialized tribunals, as speedily as possible, so that they may be treated in accordance with their status as minors. 6. Punishments consisting of deprivation of liberty shall have as an essential aim the reform and social readaptation of the prisoners.

Article 7 of the American Convention provides: 1. Every person has the right to personal liberty and security. 2. No one shall be deprived of his physical liberty except for the reasons and under the conditions established beforehand by the constitution of the State Party concerned or by a law established pursuant thereto. 3. No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment. 4. Anyone who is detained shall be informed of the reasons for his detention and shall be promptly notified of the charge or charges against him. 5. Any person detained shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be brought to trial within a reasonable time, or to be released without prejudice to the continuation of the proceedings. His release may be subject to guarantees to assure his appearance for trial. 6. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty shall be entitled to recourse to a competent court, in order that the court may decide without daily on the lawfulness of his arrest or detention, and order his release if the arrest or detention is unlawful. In States Parties the laws of which provide that anyone who believes himself to be threatened with deprivation of his liberty has the right of recourse to a competent tribunal in order that it may decide on the legality of such threat, this remedy may not be restricted or abolished. The interested party, or another person on his behalf, is entitled to invoke these remedies. 7. No one shall be detained for debt. This principle shall not limit the orders of a competent judicial authority issued for nonfulfillment of duties of support.

2. See, Yoram Dinstein: "The Right to Life, Physical Integrity and Liberty" in The International Bill of Rights, Ed. Louis Henkin (1981).

3. See, for example, Papa Doc and the Tonton Macoutes by Bernard Diederich and Al Burt (reissued 1986).

4. Id. At p. 370.

5. Communiqué de l'USIS "Procédures à suivre pour l'obtention du visa de non-immigrant" in Le Petit Samedi Soir No. 723, 6-12 August 1988.

6. "Crime or Politics", Jean-Pierre Cloutier, Haiti Times, The English language newspaper of Haiti, June 1988.

7. LAPPH: Le Militant, No. 8, Mai 1988.

8. See, note 6 (supra)

9. The chef de section in the Duvalierist political structure was the head of the smallest territorial grouping. These chefs were handpicked by the president himself.

10. See, Rapport de la Commission d'Enquête, January 1988.

11. Id.

12. Id. at p. 6.

13. Id.

14. Id. at p. 17.

15. Id. at pp. 19-20.

16. Id. at p. 21.

17. Id. at p. 22.

18. Id. at p. 24.

19. Id. at p. 25.

20. Id.

21. "Station Comments", FBIS July 12, 1988.

22. See, Le Nouvelliste 1-3 July 1988.

23. "Justice Ministry", FBIS July 14, 1988.

24. Le Nouvelliste 15-17 July 1988.

25. Code d'Instruction Criminelle, avec les dernières modifications, annoté par A. Rigal. Article 442.

26. Id., Article 447.

27. Id., Article 115.

28. Two notorious officials during the Duvalier era benefited from an ordonnance de non lieu in a military court: Col. Franck Romain (until September 17, 1988 the Mayor of Port-au-Prince) and Col. Jean Valmé. Col. Valmé was for more than 10 years Chief of Duvalier's political police (the "Service detectif") in Casernes Dessalines and responsible for Fort Dimanche.

29. Code d'Instruction Criminelle, Article 442.

30. Code Penal (1961), Article 289.



Home || Treaties || Search || Links