A. RESOLUTION NO. 502 ADOPTED BY HE OAS PERMANENT COUNCIL
1. On June 29, 1988, the OAS Permanent Council met in Washington, D.C., to consider the military takeover and the ensuing events which had occurred in Haiti. At that meeting a resolution was adopted on "The Situation in Haiti and (the) Validity of the principles of the OAS Charter." This Resolution, inter alia, called upon the Inter/American Commission on Human Rights to investigate the human rights situation in Haiti and to submit its Report thereon to the OAS General Assembly, scheduled to begin on November 14, 1988 in El Salvador.
2. The text of Resolution No. 502 is as follows:
THE PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES, TAKING
The events that have transpired in Haiti since June 20, the date on which a government headed by General Henri Namphy forcibly took power, and especially the reports of certain measures taken by that government that would affect the human rights enshrined in instruments of the inter-American system to which Haiti is a party;
The principles of the Charter of the Organization of American States and the high aims sought through them, in particular those requiring the political organization of the member states on the basis of the exercise of representative democracy and full respect for fundamental human rights; and
Its resolution CP/RES. 441 (644/86) of February 14, 1986, which states that the organization of American States, adhering strictly to the principle of nonintervention, is prepared to cooperate with the Republic of Haiti in any way that will lead to strengthening the essential principles of representative democracy enshrined in the Charter of the organization, as well as its resolution CP/Res. 489 (720/87) OF December 7, 1987, through which it expresses its conviction that it is necessary to resume the democratic process in Haiti and to adopt all necessary measures so that the people of Haiti may express their will through free elections, without pressure or interference of any type.
1. To reaffirm the full validity of all the principles of the Charter of the Organization of American States and, in particular, in light of the deplorable events that have transpired in Haiti, those that call for the effective exercise of representative democracy as a requirement for the solidarity of the American states, the high aims sought by the Organization, and full enjoyment of fundamental human rights.
2. To reiterate, within the context of the principle of nonintervention, its solidarity with the Haitian people as well as its hope that they will be able to realize their legitimate aspirations to peace, freedom, and democracy by exercising their right to self-determination.
3. To request the Inter-American Commission on Human rights to examine the human rights situation in Haiti and to submit a complete report thereon to the General Assembly at its next regular session.
4. To await the report that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will submit to the General Assembly and to make such comments to the Assembly as it deems appropriate on the progressive development of human rights in Haiti.
3. Pursuant to the terms of this mandate of the OAS Permanent Council, the Commission on June 30, 1988, requested the consent of the military regime of Lt. General Henri Namphy to send a delegation to Haiti to conduct an on-site observation of the human rights situation. On July 12, 1988 the Commission received a cable from General Abraham, Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs, granting consent for the visit to take place. Following discussions between representatives of the Haitian military government and the Commission, the dates August 29-September 2, 1988, were agreed upon for the visit of the Commission.
4. Ms. Christina M. Cerna, the lawyer on the Commission's Secretariat responsible for Haiti, traveled to Haiti from August 1-6, 1988, in order to make the necessary arrangements for the visit. During this preparatory visit a press communiqué was released in Haiti announcing the Commission's visit and Ms. Cerna and the representative of the OAS in Haiti, Mr. Ragnar Arnesen, gave interviews to the television press regarding the composition of the delegation and the purpose of the upcoming mission.
a. Activities of the Commission during its On-site Observation
5. During its visit the Commission requested a meeting with the President of the military government, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, to which no response was given. The Commission was advised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had requested the meeting with the President for the Commission, and until the last day of the Commission's stay no response had been made. The delegation did meet with the Foreign Minister, Brig. Gen. Hérard Abraham and Brig. Gen. Fritz Antoine, the Minister of Justice, as well as with Maj. Gen. Williams Regala, the Minister of Interior and National Defense and many other government officials. The President of the military government and the ministers had all held similar positions while constituted as the National Council of government from February 7, 1986 to February 7, 1988.
6. The Commission met with Mme. Mireille Pluviose, the Commissaire du Gouvernement (Public Prosecutor) for Port-au-Prince, as well as with Col. Joseph D. Baguidy, who is in charge of the police headquarters, Recherches Criminelles. The Commission also met with Col. Jean-Claude Paul, responsible for the military headquarters Casernes Dessalines in Port-au-Prince, and with Major Isidor Pognon, head of Fort Dimanche and Col. Weber Jodesty, head of the National Penitentiary. The Commission met with the authorities at these detention centers and then visited the detention areas and interviewed detainees in private. It requested to see the registry of detainees in each location and to interview some prisoners, by name, and others were selected at random. The Commission requested to see the registry of detainees at Recherches Criminelles, however Col. Baguidy refused to make the registry available to the Commission, stating that he had received no instructions to do so. Col. Paul stated that no one was detained at Casernes Dessalines, therefore, there was no registry. As during its previous visit the Commission inspected the cells and examined the prison conditions and investigated all matters it considered useful as regards the medical care and legal assistance available to the detainees.
7. The Commission met with representatives of many human rights groups. The commission received testimony from Mr. Jean-Jacques Honorat, head of the Haitian Center for the Defense of Public Liberties (CHADEL); from Mr. Jean-Claude Bajeux, the head of the Ecumenical Center for Human Rights (CEDH); from Mr. Arnold Antonin, head of the National Network for Human Rights Defense (RENADDWAM); from Mr. Gérard Toussaint, the General Secretary of the League of former Political Prisoners (LAPPH); from Mrs. Raymonde Joseph, widow of Mr. Lafontant Joseph and head of the Women's Committee against Torture; from Mr. Renaud Pierre, head of the League for the Protection of Children and from Messrs. Joseph Maxi, the President and Jean-Claude Nord, the Secretary General, of the Haitian League for Human Rights. In light of the recent assassination of Mr. Lafontant Joseph, the former head of the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights, special attention was given to this case and the impact of this killing on the human rights community.
8. The Commission interviewed many political leaders in order to receive their views on the situation and the prospects for a return to the democratization process: Rev. Sylvio Claude, President of the Parti Democrat Chrétien Haitien (PDCH); Mr. Louis Dejoie II, President of the Parti Agricole Industriel National (PAIN); Mr. Gérard Gourgue, candidate for the presidency in the elections of November 1987 of the Front National de Concertation (FNC); Mr. Hubert de Ronceray, President of the Mobilisation pour le Developpement National (MDN) party; Mr. Grégoire Eugène, President of the Parti Social Chretien (PSCH); Mr. Serge Gilles, President of the Parti National Progressiste Revolutionnaire (PANAPRA-Socialist) and spokesman for the Patriotic Unitarian Bloc (BIP) comprised of PANAPRA, the PNPDH of Dr. Turneb Delpé and the Mouvement de 28 November 1980 headed by Mr. Max Paen; and Mr. Victor Benoit, National Secretary of the National Committee of the Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM). The Commission also had the opportunity, outside of Haiti, to receive the views of the ousted President, Mr. Leslie Manigat.
9. The Commission received important testimony from members of the written and oral press. It met with Mr. Adyjeangardy, the General Secretary of the Press Association, and with Mr. Dumayric Charlier of the newspaper Le Matin.
10. The Commission received testimony from Father Hugo Triest, a Belgian priest and director of Radio Soleil; Mr. Richard Widmaier of Radio Metropole and Mr. Jacques Sampeur of Radio Antilles as regards the situation of press freedom in Haiti. The members of the delegation had frequent contact with members of the press who covered their visit while in Haiti.
11. The Commission also sought the views of the business and labor sectors and interviewed Mr. Jean Edouard Baker, the President of the Association of Haitian Industries (ADIH); Mr. Claude Levy, the Director of the Banque Credit Immobilier and, Mr. Antoine Izmery of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce. The representatives of the business sector presented important information as regards the impact of the military takeover and the military government on the business climate in Haiti.
12. The Commission received important information on labor issues from representatives of the three labor federations in Haiti: Messrs. Germaine Jean François and Jean Claude Le Brun of CATH-CLAT; Messrs. Gabriel Miracle and Mr. Jean Auguste Mesyeux of the Autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers (CATH); and, Messrs. Joseph Senat, Pierre Charles Joseph and Benet Joseph of the FOS, the Federation of Unionized Workers. At these meetings specific cases and problems concerning human rights violations were discussed.
13. The Commission also met with Père Aristide, a Salesian priest and an important voice within the Catholic Church theology of liberation; with the sociologist Mr. Gerard Charles and with representatives of the Committee of the Civil Society created to call for respect for the 1987 Constitution.
14. The members of the delegation traveled to St. Marc, Pont Sondé and Petite Rivière to receive information regarding recent events in the Artibonite, as well as to Thomonde, Papaye and Hinche to receive testimony regarding the events in the Central Plateau region of Haiti and in particular, to investigate allegations regarding the repression of peasant organizations and actions taken against local Catholic priests and nuns. The Commission received information in the provinces in the form of specific human rights complaints which must remain confidential until these complaints have received due consideration by the full Commission.
b. Complaints received
15. The Commission, in its press release, announced that it would receive any one in Haiti who wished to present information to it, on Wednesday, August 31, 1988, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again in the afternoon from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. In fact, much of the information received on that day and during the Commission's visit was in the form of complaints which will be processed according to the Commission's Regulations.
16. The Commission's finding as a result of this visit are summarized as follows:
1. The Commission has come to the conclusion that the current military government in Haiti has perpetuated itself in power as a result of violence instigated by elements of the Haitian Armed Forces resulting in the massacre of Haitian voters on November 29, 1987, the manipulation of the elections held on January 17, 1988, and the ouster of President Leslie Manigat on June 20, 1988, when President Manigat attempted to subordinate the military to civilian control.
2. Whether the military "seized" power on February 7, 1986, as it claimed or was placed in power, the National Governing Council (CNG) during its period in power demonstrated no vocation for democracy.
3. The result of the almost three-year old democratization process led by the military in Haiti has been the entrenchment of the military in power.
4. The discussions with the Ministers during the Commission's August 1988 on-site visit revealed absolutely no intention or disposition on the part of the military to put Haiti on the road to democracy. On the contrary, the military appeared to conceptualize that there is nothing necessarily inconsistent between a military regime and democracy, ignoring the fact that their seizure of power is inherently undemocratic, particularly so in light of Article 3(d) of the OAS Charter and Article 23 of the American Convention.
5. Numerous arbitrary killings have occurred during the period under consideration. The politically-motivated nature of the violence is evidenced by the fact that it can be turned on and off by the military authorities. The failure of the military to investigate and punish anyone responsible for these death squad type killings has been a matter of continuing concern to the Commission and leads it to conclude that these death squads function because of the impunity granted to them by the military.
6. The military regime, by means of the coup d'etat, attempted to nullify the 1987 Constitution, which was massively approved by popular referendum on March 29, 1987. The use of force by the military to thwart the will of the people is condemned by democratic nations and the respective instruments of international law.
7. All fundamental human rights in Haiti are under serious strain, limited by the Army's monopoly over the use of force. The Army, functioning as a police force, does not serve to protect Haiti from external threats to its security, it functions to repress those persons and groups who attempt to change the deplorable conditions under which the majority of Haitians live.
d. Observations of the Haitian Government on the Human Rights Situation in Haiti
17. In order to incorporate the views of the military government in its Report, the Commission requested on June 30, 1988, that the Government provide the Commission with whatever information it considered appropriate for inclusion in its Report by September 6, 1988, the date of the Commission's 74th regular session, and the date on which a draft Report would be submitted by the Secretariat to the Commission for its consideration. He Commission reiterated this request, by telex on August 3, 1988, a copy of which was presented personally to Brig. Gen. Hérard Abraham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, by Ms. Cerna of the Commission's Secretariat. The Minister stated to Ms. Cerna that the Government's "report" would be presented to the Commission during its on-site observation. During the Commission's visit, Mr. David J. Padilla, the Assistant Executive Secretary, reiterated this request for information. The military government submitted a report to the Commission on September 8, 1988.
18. The Commission considered the report of the Government of Haiti which was received during its 74th period of sessions held during the period September 6-16, 1988. During that period of sessions the present report was approved. On September 17, 1988 a group of non-commissioned officers ousted Lt. Gen. Namphy and replaced him with Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril and a new government was formed. In light of the fact that these events have just occurred an analysis thereof is premature at this time.
B. CONTENT, METHODOLOGY AND SOURCES EMPLOYED IN THE PRESENT REPORT
19. This report on the situation of human rights in Haiti covers the period from February 7, 1986, with the departure of President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier, and the installation of the National Council of Government (CNG), headed by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy to the government which assumed power, by force, on June 20, 1988, and was also headed by Lt. Gen. Namphy. In the opinion of the Commission an analysis of this period enables it to evaluate the conduct of the Government that has assumed power on June 20, 1988, and the situation which Resolution 502 of the OAS Permanent Council has specifically mandated the Commission to examine, since this Government was headed by the same military officer and his cabinet included many of the same officers of that earlier regime. As stated in the preceding paragraph this Report notes the change in government which occurred on September 17, 1988 but does not analyze it.
20. The Commission makes frequent reference in this Report to events during the 29-year dictatorship of François (1957-1971) and Jean-Claude (1971-1986) Duvalier. In the opinion of the Commission it is only by understanding what Haitian reality was like during the Duvalier period that the present can be understood. The conflict between the pro-Duvalierist and anti-Duvalierist forces and the role of the Army in this conflict defines the present Haitian political context. The entire catalog of human rights - the right to life, liberty and the security of the person, the right to residence and movement, the right to nationality, the right to a fair trial and due process of law, the right to freedom of expression, the right to assembly and the right to exercise one's political rights - all these individual rights are at risk in this conflict of forces seeking to maintain the Duvalierist structure and those which seek to bring about change based on a repudiation of the Duvalier period.
21. The Commission has embarked on this analysis by means of an examination in which the manner successive regimes in Haiti have observed the rights r4ecognized in the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Haiti is a State party. Since the departure of President-for-Life, Jean-Claude Duvalier, created expectations for a transition to democracy, the chapter on political rights is the central chapter of this report. The announcement by Lt. Gen. Namphy that the Constitution undermines the rule of law, fragile as it was, not to mention the entire structure of the state.
22. The Commission has used various sources in preparing this Report. The most important has been the first-hand information obtained during the Commission's two on-site investigations: in January 1987 and August 1988. The Commission is grateful to the military government of Haiti for having permitted it to carry-out these investigative missions.
23. Haitian and foreign press sources have been used by the Commission as sources of information for the events described in this report. In those cases in which the Government of Haiti has provided observations on cases or situations mentioned in this report, this information has been given special consideration.
24. The Commission devotes a separate chapter to the legal framework of the Haitian state as set forth in the 1987 Constitution, which by its widespread acceptance during a national referendum in March 1987 provided a reference point in the understanding of the aspirations of the Haitian people. The Commission is particularly concerned about the unilateral abrogation of this Constitution b the military government as a result of the June 20, 1988 coup d'etat.
25. The Commission has also received important information from the local human rights organizations working in Haiti. In addition, the Commission is alarmed by the recent mutilation and murder of the human rights activist and lawyer, Mr. Lafontant Joseph.
C. BACKGROUND INFORMATION SINCE THE FALL OF DUVALIER
a. Collapse of the Duvalier Regime
26. On February 7, 1986 the Government of president-for Life Jean-Claude Duvalier collapsed as he and his closest supporters fled into exile, and a civilian-military junta which called itself the National Council of Government (CNG), headed by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, the former Chief of Staff of the Army under Jean-Claude Duvalier, assumed power. The six members of the CNG were Namphy, Cols. Williams Regala, Prosper Avril, Max Valles, and Messrs. Alix Cineas and Gérard Gourgue. The junta effectively became a military junta in March 1986 as Mr. Gerard Gourgue resigned (March 20) and Messrs. Avril, Valles and Cineas were removed (March 21) following protest demonstrations against them.
b. Invitation of the CNG to the Commission
27. By note dated July 29, 1986 to the OAS Secretary General, Mr. Joao Clemente Baena Soares, the CNG invited the Commission to conduct a human rights mission in Haiti. During the Commission's 68th Session in September 1986, the Commission considered the invitation of the Haitian Government and decided that given the importance of this mission that all the members should participate to give special emphasis to the Commission's support for the democratization process in train. Following the 68th Session, the Haitian Government and the Commission set the dates January 20-23, 1987, for the Commission's visit to Haiti. Ms. Cerna traveled to Haiti from January 7-9, 1987 to make the necessary preparations for the Commission's visit.
Activities of the Commission during its On-Site Observation
28. During its visit the commission met with the President of the National Council of Government, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, and with Col. Williams Regala, the Minister of Interior and National Defense and member of the CNG. The Commission also met with the Foreign Minister, Col. Herard Abraham; the Minister of Justice, Mr. François St. Fleur; the Vice Minister of Justice, Col. Fritz Antoine; and many other government officials. Due to cabinet changes in four ministries on January 5, 1987, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Justice had been barely two weeks in their new positions.
29. The Commission met with Mr. Dupleix Jean-Baptiste, the President, and other representatives of the Consultative Council and with Mr. Emile Jonassaint, President of the Constituent Assembly and other representatives of the Constituent Assembly. The mandate of the Constituent Assembly was to approve the text of a Constitution which would be submitted for approval to a popular referendum.
30. The Commission met with the prison authorities at Fort Dimanche and the National Penitentiary and in those institutions it interviewed prisoners in private. It requested to see some prisoners, by name, and others were selected at random.
31. The Commission met with representatives of many human rights groups. It received testimony from Messrs. Jean-Jacques Honorat, Robert Duval, Jean-Claude Bajeux, Victor Benoit, Arnold Antonin, and Ms. Simone Castera. All of these human rights organizations have been functioning in Haiti only since the departure of the Duvalier regime.
32. The Commission interviewed many political leaders in order to receive their views on the democratization process: Rev. Sylvio Claude, Messrs. Louis Dejoie II, Thomas Désulmé, Grégoire Eugene, Serge Gilles, Leslie F. Manigat, Hubert de Ronceray and, Mr. Rene Theodore.
33. The Commission received testimony from members of the written and oral press. It met with Mr. Willem Romelus, editor of the newspaper Haiti Libérée, with Mr. Franck Magloire, editor of the Newspaper Le Matin and with Mr. Lucien Montas, editor of the newspaper, Le Nouvelliste.
34. It also received testimony from Mr. Jean Dominique, head of Radio Haiti-Inter, the first Haitian radio station to broadcast programs in the Creole language as well as in French. The Commission also met with Father Hugo Triest, director of Radio Soleil, as well as with the members of the staff of the radio station of the catholic church.
35. The Commission sought the views of the business and labor sectors and interviewed Mr. Georges Sicard, President of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Jean Edouard Baker, President of the Association of Industries and, Mr. Andre Apaid, the Founder of the Association of Industries.
36. The Commission received information on labor issues from the leaders of two labor federations in Haiti, from Mr. Yves Antoine Richard, the Secretary-General of the autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers (CATH), and from Mr. Georges Fortuné, the President of CATH-CLAT and a co-founder of the political party of Mr. Leslie Manigat.
37. The Commission met with Father Grandoit, head of operations of MISYON ALFA, the literacy program which is organized and financed by the Catholic Church. It also met with Mr. Evans Paul, head of the Committee for Unity and Democracy (KID) which is a federation of neighborhood committees and with Mr. Jean Paul Duperval and Mr. Jose Sinai, members of KID.
38. Members of the Commission traveled to Gonaïves, the Commission met with Monsignor Emmanuel Constant, the Bishop of Gonaïves, and Mr. Paul Latortue, an economist who works with the rice farmers in the Artibonite region. The Commission also met with Mr. Hilton Benoit, the Commissaire du Gouvernement and with other individuals regarding the human rights situation in Gonaïves, and, in particular, as regards the so-called "rice war" and the problems affecting the youth of the town Anse-Rouge.
39. In Cap Haitien, the Commission met with Father Yvon Joseph, the Chairman of the MISYON ALFA Board of Directors and head of the Haitian Conference of the Religious. It also met with other persons whose names, as well as those of others in Haiti, must remain confidential because their testimony was presented in the form of information regarding specific human rights complaints.
40. The Commission, in its press release, announced that it would receive information from any one in Haiti who wished to present information to it, on Thursday afternoon, January 22, 1987, from 3 to 6 p.m. In fact much of the information received on that day and during the Commission's visit was in the form of complaints, which have been processed pursuant to the Commission's Regulations.
41. On January 23, 1987, the President of the Commission, Mr. Luis Adolfo Siles Salinas, and the members of the Commission, held a press conference at the Villa Créole Hotel. This conference was attended by many members of the Haitian and the international press, and at that time, the President made the following statement concerning the preliminary findings of the commission. This statement was distributed to the press in English, French and in Creole. The text is as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press:
As you know, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States has been in Haiti, in plenary, since Monday, January 19th. Our visit, which had been originally planned last year, at the invitation of the Duvalier government, had to be indefinitely postponed, as a result of the dramatic and, indeed, revolutionary events which culminated on February 7, 1986. The present Government, the National Council of Government (CNG), renewed the invitation to the Commission, resulting in the present intense, four-day program of activities.
During this time we have had the opportunity of meeting with an extremely representative cross-section of Haitian society, including His Excellency, the President of the National Council of Government, Lieutenant General Henri Namphy and Colonel Williams Regala, as well as the Minister of Foreign Relations, Colonel Herard Abraham and the Minister of Justice, Mr. Jacques St. Fleur. The Commission also held meetings with the members of the Constituent Assembly and the Consultative Council.
The Commission also met with representatives of those organizations dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights, with political leaders, with members of the press, trade union, and leaders of the private sector, as well as representatives of religious institutions.
In addition to our meetings n the capital, Port-au-Prince, the Commission formed working groups in order to visit, simultaneously the provincial centers, Cap Haitien and Gonaïves. Another group visited the principal detention centers in Port-au-Prince: Fort Dimanche and the National Penitentiary. There, after important dialogue with he Government, we were able to meet with prisoners in total privacy and to inform ourselves as regards the conditions and circumstances of detention of those prisoners.
Let us make it plain that after four short days in Haiti, the Commission does not presume to offer a definitive judgement concerning the situation of the observance of human rights in this country. The Commission will meet again in Washington, D.C., during the coming month of March and at that time will consider the information, documents and testimony which it has received during its visit in loco in Haiti, and it hopes to return to Haiti this year to follow up on this process.
Nevertheless, we members of the Commission felt it incumbent upon us, as our visit comes to a close, to state publicly what have been the preliminary impressions derived from the many and varied representations which have been made to us and from the observations which we have personally made during the course of this visit.
First of all, it is unquestionable that the events of February 7, 1986, represent an historic moment in the history of Haiti. The overthrow of the Duvalier dictatorship occurred on that day due to the united action of the Haitian people. With exemplary courage, employing peaceful methods and supported by the grassroots organizations of the country, the people of Haiti were able, on that day, to put an end to the Duvalier dynasty for-life. The international community provided support as well. The Commission is heartened to learn that its 1979 Report on the Human Rights Situation in Haiti, and its subsequent Annual Reports, which have updated the human rights situation each year, have helped to raise the consciousness of the peoples of the Americas as to the human rights situation in Haiti; and at the same time the Commission is disheartened to learn that persons have suffered reprisals at the hands of the Duvalier government for their collaboration in the human rights struggle. He Commission has requested and received guarantees from the CNG that no reprisals will be taken against persons collaborating with the Commission and that the Commission is free to meet with whomever it wishes, wherever, and in private, without fear of reprisals befalling those persons who testify before the Commission.
The Commission has observed changes in the situation of human rights in Haiti as compared with previous analyses of the situation, and these changes must be attributed to the historic events of February 7. The most striking development is the improvement in the right to freedom of expression. Your presence here today, as well as our presence here today, combined with the open and frank self-analysis of the Haitian political, economic and social scene which we have witnessed in all the media since our arrival, represent an outstanding achievement of the Haitian people. The process which has begun by the CNG, involving an electoral timetable leading to the installation of democratic institutions by February 1988, is a process which offers to the Haitian people, and to the international community in general, hope for the future. The voiceless have, at last, found their own voice.
At the same time, the Commission has been made aware of a fundamental anxiety on the part of many sectors of Haitian society as regards the solidity of the process which is now in train. It has been represented to us, time and time again, that there exists a real danger that the process may be derailed due to certain fundamental weaknesses and contradictions which have their origin in the history of the repression and the dictatorship so well known to all.
The Commission is concerned, specifically, with the extent to which fundamental human rights, violated systematically in the past, are under attack in the present and have not been redressed as regards the past. We refer to the right of every one to be free from the danger of arbitrary arrest and disappearance, the right to due process of law, the right to a fair trial and the right to liberty and to be free from mistreatment while in detention. Essential, as well, for the spirit of justice is the "deduvalierization" of the new order. From the information which has been supplied to us, the Commission has learned that fundamental human rights continue to be violated, especially the minimum rights granted to persons in detention. The mistreatment of prisoners and of detainees, who cannot be termed "prisoners" because deprived of the guarantees of a fair trial, is an abominable practice which must be quickly and definitively eliminated.
In compliance with its mandate, the Commission will continue to closely monitor the human rights situation in Haiti, and hopes to count on the continued cooperation of the Haitian Government and all sectors of the population in the realization of this work.
The Commission wishes to emphasize that it has received the complete collaboration of both the Government and the people of Haiti in carrying out its important task, and it wishes to thank both the Government and the Haitian people, as well as the organs of the press, for their invaluable cooperation during this visit.
42. During the 69th Session of the commission, the issue of Haiti was included again on its agenda. The members of the Commission were in agreement that the purpose of the January 1987 mission to Haiti had been the human rights situation in Haiti and, thereby, to contribute to the process of democratization. It was decided to postpone the preparation of a special report until after the November 1987 elections in light of the fact that the CNG appeared to be facilitating the transition to democracy. The Commission would, however, include a chapter on Haiti in its Annual Report.
43. Several members of the Commission urged that a note be sent to the Government of Haiti indicating its concerns regarding the human rights situation in that country, which it had observed during its on-site visit. As a consequence, the following note was sent by the new President of the Commission, Prof. Gilda M.C.M. Russomano, to the Haitian Foreign Minister:
March 27, 1987
In the name of the Inter/American Commission on Human Rights I wish to thank your Excellency's Government for providing all the necessary facilities and cooperation to the Commission during its recent mission to Haiti which took place from January 20 to January 23, 1987. In light of the fact that the Commission is presently in Washington, conducting its 69th regular session, we wish to communicate the following concerns at this time.
The Commission is in the process of evaluating the testimony and documentation presented to it during its visit in light of the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Haiti is a State party. In this context, the Commission wishes to express its concerns in two areas: the situation of human rights, especially as regards detainees, and reflections concerning the democratization process.
As regards the situation of human rights, the Commission wishes to recall to the attention of your Excellency's Government the obligations assumed as regards fundamental rights, in particular as regards the right to life (Article 4), the right to personal integrity (Article 5), the right to personal liberty (Article 7), the right to judicial guarantees (Art. 8), the right to honor and dignity (Article 11) and the right to judicial protection (Article 25).
The Commission is concerned, specifically, with the extent to which fundamental human rights, violated systematically in the past, are under attack in the present and have not been redressed as regards the past. We refer to the right of every one to be free from the danger of arbitrary arrest and disappearance, the right to due process of law, the right to a fair trial and the right to liberty and freedom from mistreatment while in detention. The complaints received by the commission as regards the "disappearances" of Charlot Jacquelin and Vladimir David have regrettably been dismissed by the governmental authorities who have failed to initiate serious inquiries as regards the fate of these two individuals. The Commission recommends that the Government of Haiti instruct the responsible authorities to undertake a credible investigation in each of these two cases.
The Commission considers essential for the establishment of a climate of justice the separation of powers of the military and police forces. The Commission considers favorable the provisions of the new Constitution in this regard. The complaints received by the Commission concerning members of the armed forces in relation to the population, in general, involve manifestations of a lack of respect for the people, arrogance towards them, and abuse of authority which, in some cases, has led to spontaneous acts of violence, especially during otherwise peaceful political or human rights demonstrations.
From the information presented to the Commission we have learned that fundamental human rights continue to be violated, especially the minimum rights granted to persons in detention. The mistreatment of prisoners and detainees is an abominable practice which must be quickly and definitely eliminated. The testimony received from detainees in Fort Dimanche and the National Penitentiary confirms that detention commences with a beating, sometimes to the point of requiring medical attention, that detainees do not receive such medical attention, that, in general, they receive food once a day or not at all, most detainees suffer severe weight loss, they receive no visits, have no access to counsel, are not brought before a judge, and except on very rare occasions, they do not leave their cells. The case of Jean Gibson Narcisse, whom the commission interviewed in fort Dimanche, is of particular concern to the Commission and we wish to receive a full report as to the medical and legal attention he has received. The Commission recommends further that the Government maintain a central registry of the names of detainees and the places where they are detained.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is especially concerned about the case of Mr. Nicolas Estiverne who was expelled from Haiti on January 13, 1987. The Commission has requested the Haitian Government to provide it with the reasons for which Mr. Estiverne is not permitted to return to Haiti.
As regards the process of democratization currently in process in Haiti, the Commission derives its responsibility in this area from the guarantee of political rights in the American Convention (Article 23)
The Commission wishes to note its satisfaction as regards the process of transition to a democratic government which is the mandate of the national Council of Government since its assumption of power on February 7, 1986.
The Commission wishes to congratulate the Haitian people and, in particular, the constituent Assembly for having fulfilled its mandate in approving a draft Constitution. The Commission trusts that the referendum scheduled for March 29, 1987 will give the Haitian people an opportunity to express its political will as regards this important document.
The Commission will continue to closely monitor the democratization process in Haiti and seeks the consent of your Excellency's government in order to send Ms. Christina Cerna, a member of the Commission's Secretariat to Haiti in May in order to update the Commission at its next meeting, scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., in June.
The Commission wishes to note that it looks forward to continued cooperation from the Government of Haiti as regards the promotion and protection of human rights and has confidence that a transition to democratic rule will be achieved by means of free elections this November.
Please, accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
(s) Gilda Russomano
Col. Herard Abraham
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Emerging Crisis
44. Having taken a decision at the 69th Session not to prepare a Special Report on the human rights situation in Haiti in light of the progress being made towards democratization, the Commission, nonetheless, intended to continue to monitor developments closely. Mr. Siles in his January 23, 1987 press conference in Haiti, and Ms. Russomano in her march 27th letter to the Foreign Minister, both indicated that the Commission would send a member of its Secretariat to Haiti in order to update the Commission on the ensuing developments.
45. Ms. Cerna visited Haiti for this purpose during June 1-3, 1987. The two major events which had occurred in Haiti since the commission's visit were the referendum on the new Haitian Constitution of March 29, 1987, and the provision in the Constitution for the creation of a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Pursuant to the new Constitution, the Provisional Electoral Council, and not the CNG, would have the responsibility for organizing the upcoming elections.
46. During its 70th Session (June 22-July 1, 1987) the Commission reviewed the events of the preceding months and the deteriorating situation of human rights. The CNG and the CEP were locked in a constitutional conflict regarding control of the upcoming elections and, in June, the CATH labor federation called for a general strike demanding the ouster of the CNG. The Commission decided once again to express its concern regarding these developments to the Government of Haiti. By means of a cable dated July 1, 1987 to the Haitian Foreign Minister, Prof. Gilda Russomano, the President of the Commission, expressed the following:
IN THE NAME OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS I HAVE THE HONOR TO ADDRESS YOUR EXCELLENCY IN REFERENCE TO A NUMBER OF SERIOUS CONCERNS REGARDING THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION AND THE PROCESS OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN HAITI SINCE THE COMMISSION'S ON-SITE VISIT DURING JANUARY 1987.
IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT HAS ASSUMED CERTAIN INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS IN THE AREA OF HUMAN RIGHTS BY RATIFYING THE AMERICAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, THE COMMISSION CONTINUES TO BE PARTICULARLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE RESPECT, IN HAITI, OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES OF THE AMERICAN CONVENTION: RIGHT TO THE INTEGRITY OF THE PERSON (ARTICLE 5), RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY (ARTICLE 7), JUDICIAL GUARANTEES (ARTICLE 8), PROTECTION OF PERSONAL HONOR AND DIGNITY (ARTICLE 11), RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE (ARTICLE 15), FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION (ARTICLE 16) AND POLITICAL RIGHTS (ARTICLE 23).
SPECIFICALLY, THE COMMISSION IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE ARREST AND BRUTAL MISTREATMENT OF THE TWO MEMBERS OF THE COMITE OUVRIER HAITIEN AND THE SIX MEMBERS OF THE CENTRALE AUTONOME DES TRAVAILLEURS HAITIENS (CATH) AND THE DISSOLUTION OF THESE LABOR ORGANIZATIONS.
THE COMMISSION WAS PLEASED TO OBSERVE DURING ITS JANUARY VISIT THAT LABOR ORGANIZATIONS, WHICH HAD NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO FUNCTION DURING THE PREVIOUS REGIME, WERE PERMITTED TO ORGANIZE AND OPERATE. IT IS EXTREMELY CONCERNED ABOUT THE RECENT REPORTS THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF HAITI HAS DISSOLVED THESE TWO LABOR ORGANIZATIONS, ARRESTED AND BRUTALLY MISTREATED MEMBERS OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS AND NOT ALLOWED THEM ACCESS TO A LAWYER BEFORE THEY WERE BROUGHT BEFORE A JUDGE, WHICH DID NOT OCCUR UNTIL THE EIGHT DAY AFTER THEIR ARREST.
AS REGARDS THE PROCESS OF DEMOCRATIZATION, THE PROGRESS OF WHICH THIS SAME COMMISSION APPLAUDED IN ITS LETTER TO YOUR EXCELLENCY DATED MARCH 27, 1987, THE COMMISSION WISHES TO REMIND THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT OF ITS OBLIGATION PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 23 OF THE AMERICAN CONVENTION.
THE RECENT INITIATIVE OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNING COUNCIL TO PUBLISH AN ELECTORAL LAW ON JUNE 22, 1987 WHICH IS NOT THE ELECTORAL LAW PREPARED BY THE PROVISIONAL ELECTORAL COUNCIL HAS ONCE AGAIN THREATENED TO DERAIL THE PROCESS OF DEMOCRATIZATION LEADING TO A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT FEBRUARY 7, 1988. TO PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY OF THE DEMOCRATIZATION PROCESS, THE COMMISSION CALLS UPON THE GOVERNMENT OF HAITI TO RECOGNIZE THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE ELECTORAL COUNCIL, SPECIFICALLY "CHARGED WITH THE DRAFTING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ELECTORAL LAW". BY THE HAITIAN CONSTITUTION. FAILURE TO DO SO CAN ONLY JEOPARDIZE THIS PROCESS.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES THIS OCCASION TO RENEW ITS HOPE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF HAITI AS REGARDS ITS CONTINUED COOPERATION IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND IS CONFIDENT THAT THE EVOLUTION OF THE COUNTRY TOWARDS A DEMOCRATIC FORM OF GOVERNMENT WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED BY MEANS OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS NEXT NOVEMBER.
I TAKE THIS OCCASION TO RENEW, EXCELLENCY, THE EXPRESSION OF MY HIGHEST ESTEEM.
GILDA M.C.M. DE RUSSOMANO
47. During the Commission's 71st Session (14 September - 24 September 1987) the Commission decided to express its satisfaction to the Government of Haiti regarding the resolution of the constitutional crisis, yet indicated its concern about the continuing human rights violations. In a letter dated September 24, 1987, to the Haitian Foreign Minister, the Commission stated the following:
September 24, 1987
In the name of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and on the occasion of the Commission's 71st period of sessions, I have the honor to address Your Excellency in order to communicate the concerns of the Commission as regards recent events in Haiti as they affect the human rights situation and the process of democratization.
As in my communication of July 1, 1987 to Your Excellency following the Commission's 70th period of sessions, the Commission wishes to recall to the Government of Haiti the obligations assumed as a State party to the American Convention on Human Rights, particularly as concerns the right to life (Article 4), the right to the integrity of the person (Article 5), the right to personal liberty (Article 7), the right to due process (Article 8), the right to associate freely (Article 16) and the right to participate in government (Article 23).
The Commission is particularly concerned about recent attacks against the Catholic Church, in particular the assault on August 23 by a group of 40 to 50 unidentified men, armed with automatic weapons, handguns, machetes and stones against the Revs. Antoine Adrien, William Smarth, Jean-Marie Vincent, Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Rev. Joseph Berg.
These Catholic priests have been among Haiti's most visible and articulate human rights defenders, and the Commission calls upon the Haitian Government to protect these priests and the human rights bodies in Haiti from intimidation and attacks which impede their functioning freely.
As concerns the democratization process, the Commission notes that the Haitian Government has now recognized the constitutionally established independence and authority of the Provisional Electoral Council as regards the organization and carrying out of the upcoming elections. This is a very positive sign and it is the first step to guaranteeing that the elections take place.
Given the generalized climate of violence in Haiti at the present, it will not be easy for the Haitian people to participate in free and fair elections. Consequently, the Commission calls upon the National Governing Council to restrain its security forces and to provide a climate of order for the elections to take place with the full participation of the Haitian people in this historic process.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights takes this occasion to renew to the Government of Haiti its hopes for continued cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights in this hemisphere. The Commission trusts that the Haitian people will celebrate free and fair elections in November which will result in a democratic government assuming power on February 7, 1988.
Please, accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
David J. Padilla
Assistant Executive Secretary
48. The Commission reiterated its concern regarding the possibility of elections taking place in light of the generalized climate of violence in its 1986-1987 Annual Report. In relevant part, this Report to the OAS General Assembly stated:
The concern expressed by the President of the Commission during the Commission's on site visit regarding the democratization process has been subsequently confirmed by recent events. At that time, the President stated that he feared that the democratization process might be derailed due to fundamental weaknesses and contradictions which had their origin in the history of the repression and the dictatorship. The task which is before the Haitian people and the Provisional Electoral Council is how to bring the electoral process back on track. Given the generalized climate of violence in Haiti since August 1987, it will not be easy to re-establish a climate of normality which will permit the holding of elections. For that reason, and recognizing that power is in the hands of the National Council of Government, the Commission calls on the C.N.G. to take all the necessary measures in order to facilitate the Provisional Electoral Council's task of organizing and carrying out the elections so that the Haitian people can elect a democratic government which will be ready to assume power on February 7, 1988.
Derailment of the Democratization Process
49. On November 29, 1987, the massacre of voters on election-day and the CNG's decision to disband the Provisional Electoral Council put an end to the democratization process which, ostensibly, had begun on February 7, 1986, with the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier from power and from Haiti.
50. The OAS Permanent Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday, December 4, 1987, to consider the recent events in Haiti. The meeting was postponed until Monday, December 7, 1987, in light of the Haitian Government's offer to send Col. Herard Abraham, the Haitian Foreign Minister, to attend the Washington meeting.
51. During the few days prior to the December 7, 1987 Permanent Council meeting, the OAS and the Commission received hundreds of telegrams calling upon the inter-American system "to rescue the Haitian people" and to intervene in order to facilitate the holding of new elections in Haiti under OAS auspices.
52. The OAS Permanent Council met on December 7, 1987. Col. Abraham's speech to the assembled OAS Ambassadors placed the responsibility for the failure of the elections on the CEP. The Permanent Council approved a resolution which emphasized the Charter-based principle of non-intervention and called upon the CNG to adopt all the necessary measures to assure that free elections be held.
53. Having recovered control of the electoral process as a consequence of the dissolution of the CEP, the military Government of Haiti designated the new members of the Electoral Council and issued its own electoral law, the provisions of which did not protect the secrecy of the ballot and facilitated governmental monitoring of each elector's vote.
c. The elections of January 17, 1988
54. On January 17, 1988 new elections were held in Haiti, under the control of the CNG, and in contravention of various provisions of the Haitian Constitution. Mr. Leslie Manigat was proclaimed by the CNG to have "won" these elections, in spite of what was estimated to be a 90% abstention on the part of the Haitian electorate.
55. During the Commission's 72nd Session it considered the recent events in Haiti and took the decision to prepare a report on the human rights situation in that country. In its press release, dated March 25, 1988, the Commission stated that:
The Commission has decided to prepare a report on the human rights situation in Haiti, and it trusts that the Government will invite it to carry out an on-site observation of the current status of human rights in Haiti.
Invitation of the Government of Leslie Manigat to the Commission
56. By note dated April 26, 1988, Mr. Gerard Latortue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Worship of the Haitian Government invited the Commission to visit Haiti at a mutually convenient date to be set during the month of July 1988.
57. The Commission held an extraordinary meeting, its 73rd Session, in Washington, D.C., beginning May 9, 1988. At that time the members of the Subcommission who were to travel to Haiti - Ms. Elsa D. Kelly, Mr. Oliver H. Jackman and Mr. Patrick L. Robinson - agreed on the dates July 4-6, 1988 as the dates for the mission. These dates were suggested to the Haitian Government in a note signed by Mr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, the President of the Commission, dated May 10, 1988.
58. On June 7, 1988, Mr. Gerard Latortue, at the OAS Permanent Council confirmed the dates for the Commission's visit with the Commission's Executive Secretary, Mr. Edmundo Vargas Carreño. In addition, he conveyed the Government's enthusiasm for the Commission's visit and emphasized the open-door policy of the Manigat Government.
d. The Coup d'Etat of June 20, 1988
59. Ms. Cerna was to travel on June 20, 1988 to Haiti to make the necessary arrangements for the Commission's visit. During the night of June 19-20 the Haitian military seized power and ousted President Manigat. In light of the fact that the Government, which had invited the Commission to carry out its on-site, was no longer in power, the Commission cancelled its visit. The Permanent Council met on June 29, 1988 to consider the recent events which had occurred in Haiti (supra).
e. The Attack on the St. Jean Bosco Church
60. On September 11, 1988 gunmen burst into St. Jean Bosco Church and attacked the parishioners. Thirteen people were killed and approximately eighty were injured. The Commission was meeting in Washington, D.C., at the time and issued the following press communiqué:
During the recent on-site visit to Haiti of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights the Commission requested of the military government and received assurances that the pertinent guarantees be granted, and no reprisals be taken, against those persons or groups who provide the Commission with information, pursuant to Article 59(a) of the Commission's Regulations.
The Commission is horrified to learn of the attack on September 11, 1988 by men armed with guns and machetes against the parishioners in the Church of St. Jean Bosco where Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was giving Sunday morning mass. Father Aristide, an outspoken opponent of the military regime, informed the Commission during its visit, that he had been the subject of three previous attempts on his life and was constantly receiving death threats. The information presented to the Commission indicates that the police stood by as the attacks resulted in the killing of five parishioners, the injury of 70 others, and the complete destruction by fire of St. Jean Bosco Church.
In light of the fact that there is a military compound very near to the Church the Commission can only conclude that this attack was carried out with, at a minimum, the acquiescence of the government, and in flagrant violation of Haiti's international obligations in human rights and the most elemental norms of decency.
Washington, D.C., September 12, 1988
61. On September 16, 1988 the military government protested the Commission's communiqué, in particular, "the terms in the Communiqué in which the Commission appears to want to place the responsibility for these incidents on the Haitian authorities".
f. The Ouster of Lt. Gen. Namphy
62. On September 17, 1988 a coup led by non-commissioned officers ousted Lt. Gen. Namphy and replaced him with Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril. The lower ranking officers were reportedly outraged at the attack on the parishioners in St. Jean Bosco Church. On September 22, 1988 the Commission received the following note from the Government of Haiti:
The Permanent Mission of the Government of Haiti to the Organization of American States presents its compliments to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has the honor to bring to its attention that:
In light of the massacre recently perpetrated against the St. Jean Bosco Church, the destruction by fire of churches, the attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular on freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association;
Determined to save the nation from the anarchy and chaos which endanger the unity of the Haitian family;
The Armed Forces of Haiti have promoted Lt. Gen. PROSPER AVRIL to the Highest Office of the State.
In his message to the Nation, the Chief of State gave assurances that his Government will respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Haitian people at all times and without exception.
Aware of the political crisis which is affecting the country, he commits himself to continuing the democratization process, without which the quest for peace, justice and progress would be doomed to fail.
Washington, D.C., September 22, 1988
63. The Commission trusts that this commitment will be realized in the interest of the Haitian people who have for so long looked to the Army to help them in vindicating and safeguarding their rights and who, until now, have been, many times, betrayed in that confidence.