University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.77, Doc. 18 rev. 1 (1990).





1. Legal Rules

176. The Right to Personal Liberty is recognized in Article 7 of the American Convention on Human Rights in the following terms:

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 entitled 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 delay on the lawfulness of his arrest or detention and order his release if the arrest or detention is unlawful. In States Parties whose laws provide that anyone who believes himself to be threatened with deprivation of his liberty is entitled to recourse to a competent court in order that it may decide on the lawfulness of such threat, this remedy may not be restricted or abolished. The interested party or another person in his behalf is entitled to seek 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.

177. The Right to Judicial Guarantees is contained in Article 8 of the above-cited Convention, which stipulates the following:

1. Every person has the right to a hearing, with due guarantees and within a reasonable time, by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal, previously established by law, in the substantiation of any accusation of a criminal nature made against him or for the determination of his rights and obligations of a civil, labor, fiscal, or any other nature.

2. Every person accused of a criminal offense has the right to be presumed innocent so long as his guilt has not been proven according to law. During the proceedings, every person is entitled, with full equality, to the following minimum guarantees:

a. the right of the accused to be assisted without charge by a translator or interpreter, if he does not understand or does not speak the language of the tribunal or court;

b. prior notification in detail to the accused of the charges against him;

c. adequate time and means for the preparation of his defense;

d. the right of the accused to defend himself personally or to be assisted by legal counsel of his own choosing, and to communicate freely and privately with his counsel;

e. the inalienable right to be assisted by counsel provided by the state, paid or not as the domestic law provides, if the accused does not defend himself personally or engage his own counsel within the time period established by law;

f. the right of the defense to examine witnesses present in the court and to obtain the appearance, as witnesses, of experts or other persons who may throw light on the facts;

g. the right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself or to plead guilty; and

h. the right to appeal the judgment to a higher court.

3. A confession of guilt by the accused shall be valid only if it is made without coercion of any kind.

4. An accused person acquitted by a nonappealable judgment shall not be subjected to a new trial for the same cause.

5. Criminal proceedings shall be public, except insofar as may be necessary to protect the interests of justice.

The Haitian Constitution of 1987 sets forth in Articles 24, 25, 26, 27 and 27-1, the legal guarantees of the individual in Haiti as regards the right to individual liberty. These articles read as follows:

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 25-1: 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.

179. The legal system of Haiti establishes certain official positions which are intended to serve the State in connection with the prosecution of criminals and the safeguarding of individual rights: the Commissaire du Gouvernement (Public Prosecutor) and the Juge d'Instruction (Examining Judge).

2. Situation during the Avril Government

180. According to information received by the Commission, the right to personal liberty and to judicial guarantees was seriously compromised in Haiti beginning in September, 1989. The early months of the period covered by this report witnessed a steady intensification of "insecurity", as evidenced in arbitrary detentions, many of them effected by "chiefs of section" and their deputies. For its part, the judicial system has demonstrated neither effectiveness nor decisiveness in pursuing investigations of such violations.

181. Beginning in November, arbitrary detentions became more selective, and in most cases targeted popular leaders who demonstrated their opposition to the Government, and thus a systematic campaign of intimidation of the populace was established.

182. Finally, the arbitrary detentions that took place under the Decree of State of Siege declared by General Prosper Avril on January 20, 1990, were frequently followed by expulsion from the country of detainees, although they were charged with no crime and there was no sign that due process had been observed. Authorities sought to justify arbitrary detentions and expulsions as a measure to "neutralize terrorists" who had created a "climate of tension" and "poisoned the atmosphere."

3. Arbitrary detentions

183. Several examples are given below of illegal arbitrary detentions that were carried out without a proper warrant for arrest or search of private homes. These arrests were frequently effected violently, violating the right to physical integrity, and the reader will therefore note that some of the victims have been named in the preceding chapter. In some of these cases, the victims were released a few days later, without being charged, and in other cases it is not known with certainty whether these individuals remain in prison.

184. On September 4, 1989 in Terre-Nette, VI Section Communal de Verrettes, Mr. Jeannot Alexandre was detained by Milord Joseph, Chief of Section, who accused him of being a communist.

185. On the same day in Montrouis, at 10:00 a.m., the Chief of Section Difficile St. Georges illegally detained Emilia Fleuvant, who had organized a prayer meeting, and he beat those in attendance, claiming that all meetings were prohibited.

186. On September 6, in Pétite Rivière de l'Artibonite, Mr. Bernard Fleuvant was arbitrarily detained and beaten by Dieubon, commanding officer of the military garrison of that city.

187. Daubermane Dorvilus and Souvenir Joseph were detained arbitrarily by Chief of Section Pierre Hyppolite on September 7 in Grand Bois, in Marchard-Dessalines, accused of being agitators.

188. On the same day at approximately 2:00 p.m. Pierre Daniel Edmé was detained in Port-au-Prince without an arrest warrant by two men dressed in olive green uniforms.

189. On September 11, Edouard Joseph was arbitrarily detained and beaten by Chief of Section Gerard Lubin and his deputy in Belle Fontaine, Section Communale de Kenscoff. Mr. Edouard Joseph is being held in the military garrison of that city.

190. Hervé Durand and Charles Romain, members of the Neighborhood Council Federation (FEDKA) were arbitrarily detained by the police of Pétion-Ville in Port-au-Prince on September 16.

191. On the same day, in Delmas 33, at approximately midnight, Lhérisson Dor was detained by military officers and his house was searched. It is believed that Dor was first taken to the National Palace and later to the Anti-Gang Investigations Center, before being transferred to the National Pententiary. However, relatives of Lhérisson visited all of the detention centers without locating the victim. According to information provided by his brother Salomón Justin, Lhérisson was charged with planning the assassination of Sergeant Joseph Heubreux, a trusted ally of General Avril.

192. Also on September 16, in St. Michel de l'Attalave at 4:00 a.m., two deputies of the Section Communale (district division) illegally detained Mr. Val Cesar, and charged him without being out too early. They took him to the military barracks, where a soldier wounded him by gunshot and another cut off his left arm. The victim was hospitalized.

193. On September 20 in Champagne, in the area of Borgne, deputies of the Section Communale, following orders of the Chief of Section, Liverdieu Andrési, illegally detained Noisens Petit Négre for holding a meeting of the town's Popular Assembly (APL). Noisens Petit Nègre was released after paying the equivalent of fifty dollars.

194. Jean Laforêt was illegally detained on September 22 by two military officers for having said that the National Palace was protecting "macoutes". Laforêt was taken to the prison in Port-au-Prince.

195. On September 26 in Petit-Goâve, at approximately 11:45 p.m., Guito Geauvy was detained and wounded by gunshot by soldier Raymond Fénelon. The victim was accused of instigating the general strike called for September 27.

196. Max Bourjolly, a member of the United Party of Haitian Communists (PUCH) and his bodyguard were detained on September 20, accused of illegal possession of weapons. The accusation was apparently based on a decree dated March 23, which had not been published. Mr. Bourjolly was released two days later.

197. On October 18, Arsène Moyse was illegally detained by soldiers of the city's garrison during a public demonstration in Gonaïves. Arsène Moyse is a militant of the group known as Tambour Vérite Jeunes Gonaïves.

198. On the same day in Pétit Goâve, Savary Zanny was arbitrarily detained during a public demonstration, accused of being an agitator.

199. On October 22, Jean "Madichon" was arbitrarily detained by the police in Cayes; the reasons for his detention remain unknown.

200. On October 25, in Savannette, a region on Haiti's western border, a delegation of the League of Former Haitian Prisoners (LAPPH), comprised of Marc-Elie Blanc and Daniel André, attorneys, and Jacquese Juste, their driver, were arbitrarily detained and taken to the military garrison. This delegation had travelled to Savannette to investigate military persecution in that region against certain citizens who had been forced into hiding. The two attorneys and the driver were released the next day, following protests by the National Coalition of Haitian Refugees and America Watch.

201. During the month of November, the Government of President Prosper Avril was noted for its arrests of popular leaders associated with the political opposition, which had for some time refused to participate in the elections organized by the Avril Government.

Evans Paul, Jean Auguste Mesyeux and Etienne Marineau

(the Detainees of La Toussaint)

202. On November 14, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a denunciation regarding the detention of Messrs Jean Auguste Mesyeux, member of the Autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers (CATH), Evans Paul, member of the Committee for Unity and Democracy (KID), and Etienne Marineau, deputy leader of the People's Organization of September 17, a radical group of the former Presidential Guard.

203. According to information received, the Ministry of Information published a communique on November 2, reporting on the arrest of these three individuals, accused of conspiring to assassinate President Prosper Avril and the Military High Command. They were detained in a private home by members of the Presidential Guard on November 1, 1989. The communique from the Ministry of Information is transcribed below:

The Office of the Director of Information of the Ministry of Information and Coordination, following the communique received from the headquarters of the Police of Port-au-Prince, is able to report on the events of Wednesday, November 1, l989, at 5:45 p.m., in Oleon Street, in connection with the arrest of Evans Paul, Etienne Marineau, Jean Auguste Mesyeux. Found in their possession were three M-14 rifles, three Uzi machine guns, a disassembled Galil rifle, a package of 9 mm. cartridges, and dynamite.

The purposes of the group were to initiate terrorist activities in an attempt on the life of the President of the Military Government, to physically eliminate all officers of the Armed Forces of Haiti, to physically eliminate certain civilian figures, and to impose a people's militia.

Patrick Beauchard, Germain Sonthonax, Saintil Villex, Joseph Klébert, Philémon René, Oupette Casner, Altidor Jean Allipson, Getry Figaro and Thimotee Jean Franck, who are likewise implicated in this affair, are being actively sought by the police.

204. On the day before the arrest of Evans, Mesyeux and Marineau, the Rassemblement Nationale, a confederation of political and trade union organizations, had announced its plans to hold a month of peaceful protests in opposition to the Avril regime, culminating with a mass demonstration on November 29, anniversary of the failed elections of 1987.

205. On November 2, the arrested leaders were shown on State Television, bearing obvious signs of torture. In addition, the authorities showed weapons, ammunition and dynamite, allegedly found in their automobile. According to Commander Léopold Clerjeune, head of the Anti-Gang Brigade, Etienne Marineau and Patrick Beauchard had offered a guard $7,000.00 to place dynamite in the Palace of Government. The detainees were held incommunicado for eight days, despite the fact that the Constitution of 1987 provides that individuals arrested be brought before a magistrate within 48 hours. The Government refused for two weeks to allow independent doctors to examine the detainees and on November 13 the three prisoners began a hunger strike in protest.

206. The Commission requested that the Government of Haiti take the necessary measures to transfer Messrs. Mesyeux, Paul and Marineau to a hospital for humanitarian reasons, given their precarious health condition.

207. The Government of Haiti responded to the Commission's request for information on November 17, stating the following:

Doctors of the Haitian Red Cross visited the three defendants on Friday, November 10, and recommended that they be given proper beds and wool blankets. Unfortunately, the defendants chose not to use the beds placed at their disposal, and instead spread the blankets on the ground.

Moreover, they received tetanus shots and had access to X-ray examinations. The three defendants are regularly visited by the doctor of the National Penitentiary Center.

In the specific case of Marino Etinne,[1] he was today taken to the Military Hospital today, where he refused the proffered treatment. He requested the presence of his private physician, but the latter could not be located. The Government intends to request the Haitian Medical Association to undertake to provide the services of one of its members to Marino Etienne, should he accept this offer.

Although only Marino Etienne appears to require hospitalization, the Government of Haiti, in response to the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has decided to allow the hospitalization of the three detainees, until a government physician, in agreement with the private physician of each detainee, finds that his hospitalization is no longer necessary.

208. The prisoners requested attention by their private physicians and after two doctors assigned by the Haitian Medical Association visited the prisoners on November 19 and 23, the Armed Foreces of Haiti published a press communique accusing them of attempting to assassinate Etienne by administering improper medication. Finally, on December 1, authorities transferred the three defendants to the National Penitentiary Center. The three detainees suspended their hunger strike on December 11.

209. The Haitian League of Human Rights pointed to the irregularities that took place in connection with the detention of Mesyeux, Paul and Marineau, and in the judicial proceedings. The arrest was carried out in a private home, after 6:00 p.m., without a court order and without information regarding the in flagrante delicto detention. The defendants were subjected to severe torture and were not immediately allowed the care of their private physicians. The right to defense was not duly exercised, as they were not allowed to communicate freely with their attorneys, who were formally prohibited from visiting their clients later in the military hospital.

210. The arrest and presentation on television of the detainees, bloodied as a result of torture, was criticized by public opinion and interpreted by the opposition and by human rights groups as an attempt to intimidate the populace.

211. The CATH and the Rassemblement National called a strike for November 7 and 8 which paralyzed Port-au-Prince and nearly all the provinces, in order to demand an immediate release of the three detainees. Subsequently, CATH, together with the OP-17 and the KID issued an order for a 24-hour general strike for November 22, calling again for the release of the detainees. Also, Reverend Max Dominique, Louis Roy, Antoine Izmery, Sabine de Manigat, Guy Beauduy, René Theodore, Gabriel Miracle, Arthemise Paul, Irene Paul and their two children aged 11 and 13 began a hunger strike, in solidarity with the general protests, to obtain the release of the detainees.

212. The leader of the Group of September 17, former Sergeant Patrick Beauchard, who had been arrested before in October of 1988 and subsequently released, escaped capture on November 7 together with Paul, Mesyeux and Etienne, because he arrived late to the meeting at which the others had been arrested. On seeing soldiers surrounding the house, Beauchard escaped, hiding with 8 other persons also accused of conspiring to assassinate President Avril.

213. Two days later, on November 9 at 2:00 a.m., three jeeps arrived at Hinche, carrying 25 military officials, who identified themselves as members of the Presidential Guard of Port-au-Prince. Led by Captain Placide Jolicocur, Commander of the military district of that locality, they invaded the home of Bonny Beauchard under the pretext of seeking her cousin, former Sergeant Patrick Beauchard, who was accused of conspiring against the Government of Avril. When the military personnel did not find Patrick Beauchard, they detained and beat Bonny and Charles Beauchard. The Commission was later informed that Bonny and Charles Beauchard were released a few days later.

214. The Commission was informed that Patrick Beauchard had been arrested on December 13 at 4:00 a.m., and beaten by soldiers of the Presidential Guard, near Petit Gôave, and taken to the garrison for questioning. Hebert Beauchard, Patrick's brother, Sosthene St. Jean, the local Section Chief, and his deputy Valles Plaisival and his wife, were also detained, accused of harboring Beauchard.

215. On November 18, Gaston Jean-Baptiste, Archange Mardi and Germaine Louis Mai, members of the Haitian League of former Political Prisoners (LAPPH) were detained without a court order by the Armed Forces in Tiotte (in the southeast of Haiti) and taken to the local military barracks.

216. On November 22, 12 more people were detained by members of the same Tiotte garrison, in Anse à Pitres, among them two young boys and the well known political figure, Guy Baudy. They were accused of meeting illegally to incite the local population to a hunger strike to demand the release of the three detainees in Port-au-Prince. Gastón Jean-Baptiste and Guy Baudy were beaten while held in custody. On November 27 they were all released without being formally charged.

217. On November 19, Mario Scott, regional delegate of the RDNP, and his assistant Roland St. Louis, were detained arbitrarily in Hinche (in the central region of the country), by military officials, and released a few days later.

218. On November 25, Frantz L. Jean, member of the National People's Assembly (APN), Aloute Jean-Louis, and Ilio Alexis, members of the Peasant Association of Melonière (APM), were detained by Brigadier Vilson Ledon, as they attended a meeting to discuss problems relating to the Melonière community. The three were accused of meeting without the presence of local officials. They were taken to a nearby prison in the city of Chantal, and released 2 days later.

219. On December 4, in Pétite Riviere de la Artibonite, Pierre Berthélus was detained and beaten by a policeman known as "Stavien". Berthélus remained in prison until January.

220. On December 14, in Pétite Rivière de la Artibonite, three officers of the garrison, armed with clubs, illegally detained Joachim Charles, for unknown reasons.

221. On December 15, in Grande Plaine, Sectión Communale de la Gonâve, the Chief of Section, Carobert Dévonville, aribitrarily detained Lemoine Auguste, beat him brutally, and accused him of criticizing the military government.

222. On December 25 in Roche-Plate, Baptiste, in the area of Mirebalais, at approximately 2:00 a.m., eight military officials and several deputies of the Sectión commanded by Sergeant Idéric Calixte arbitrarily detained Brénévil Cameau, Sadrack Cameau, Elie Cameau, Raoul Cameau, and Excene Louis, all members of the Rassemblement des Paysans de Baptiste, accused of being communists. The victims were beaten at the time of their detention and later taken to the nearby prison in Belladère. According to the testimony of a member of the organization, the detention took place with the complicity of former Tonton-Macoute, Jean Ernst Charles. The victims were freed on January 9, although they were unable to return to their homes in light of the overt hostility of local authorities to members of their organization.

223. On January 8, 1990, in Touche Moulin, IV Section Communale de Petite Rivière de la Artibonite, Police Officer Lereste Floréstal arbitrarily detained Wilfrid Souvenance, accusing him of being a member of the Youth Movement of Labadie (MJL).

224. On January 10, in Petit Grove, the police detained Yvon Pascal for having participated in a demonstration.

225. On January 12, in Carrefour at approximately 2:00 a.m., Naly Beauhanais, Secretary General of the Haitian Transportation Workers Union (CSTH) was detained by a group of military officials and armed civilians. Beauhanais was accused of being an agitator and was brutally beaten by soldiers commanded by Captain Serge Dopoux before being sent to the Camp d'application (training base) of Lamentin. Beauhanais was held for 19 days in the National Penitentiary without being brought before an Examining Judge. On January 31, he was released and two days later several soldiers appeared to search his house, in order to intimidate him not to take any action against them.

226. On January 13, in Point-Benoit, Pétite Rivière de la Artibonite, Wildor Jn. Baptiste and Miguel Exilhomme were detained illegally and accused of subversion by Chief of Section Seland Georges.

227. On January 15, in Cap-Haitien, at 1:00 a.m., Stanley Jean Marie was arbitrarily detained by policeman Robert Lecorps, who accused him of going to Port-au-Prince to participate in the assassination of President Avril upon his return from Taiwan. Jean Marie was taken to the police station and freed six hours later.

228. On Janaury 19, Marie-Denise Douyon and Dr. Gerard Laforêt were detained as they were going to the beach at Aquin by several soldiers who searched their automobile, and upon finding a hunting rifle, proceeded to beat them. Douyon and Laforêt were taken to the Anti-Gang prison. Three days later the soldiers took them to the home of Douyon's mother to search the house and later took them to the prison where they were again tortured, and left in very serious condition. Marie-Denise was transferred to a women's prison in Port-au-Prince and Laforêt was taken to an infirmary, given his serious health condition.

229. On January 19, in Grande Anse de Tiburon, Sergeant Jean Michel detained Pierre St. Germain, accusing him of organizing meetings prohibited by the Government.

230. With the municipal elections only three months away in Haiti, General Prosper Avril proclaimed a state of siege on January 20, 1990. This measure was taken after the assassination of André Neptune, Colonel of the Presidential Guard, on January 19, to protect the country from "terrorism" and "civil war". The arrest of various political leaders is described below.

231. Dr. Louis Roy, head of the Organization for the Defense of the Constitution and member of a civic society was accused of treason by General Prosper Avril on January 15, for having sent a telegram to the Government of Taiwan where Avril was travelling on an official visit, in which he announced that the people of Haiti would not recognize any aggreements between the two governments. Roy was beaten during his detention, on January 20, and expelled from the country the following day.

232. Hubert De Ronceray, leader of the centrist Mobilization for National Development (MDN) was detained on January 20 by a large number of soldiers in civilian dress, who beat him and put out a cigarrette on his eyelid. During Avril's trip to Taiwan, Dr. Ronceray had requested the Chief of Staff of the Army (Herard Abrahams) to remove General Avril from office, accusing him of seeking "to rig the upcoming elections to remain in power." Dr. Ronceray was expelled from the country on January 21.

233. Serge Gilles, leader of the Nationalist Revolutionary Progressive Party (PANPRA) was detained on January 20 at his home and beaten in front of his family and again later in the National Palace. Gilles was released after authorities declared that his arrest had been a mistake.

234. Gerard-Emile (Abi) Brun, member of the National Committee of the Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM), was detained together with 25 others members of KONAKOM on January 20 as they met at the headquarters of the Ecumenical Center of Human Rights. The headquarters was searched and Brun and others were beaten. Gerard-Emile Brun was expelled from the country the next day.

235. Dr. Sylvan Jolibois, member of the Nationalist Jean-Jacques Dessalines Sector was detained on January 20 at the clinic where he was working. Dr. Jolíbois was beaten in front of patients and taken to the National Penitentiary where he was again mistreated and where he was not allowed to receive medical attention or to see his family.

236. Max Carré, member of the MDN, Gesner Prudent and Philippe Stevenson, members of the Movement for the Implementation of Democracy (MIDH) and Georges Werliegh, member of PANPRA, were detained on January 20 and released a few days later.

237. Max Bourjolly, Secretary General of the Communist Party (PUCH), and Michel Legros, member of the League for Democracy, were detained on January 21 and expelled from the country the next day.

238. Frank Sénat, leader of the Democratic Bloc and President of the Federated of Workers Union was detained on January 21 by a group of soldiers belonging to the Anti-Gang Service. The soldiers broke a window of Sénat's home to gain entry and gave no reason for the arrest.

239. Max Monteuil, leader of the Neighborhood Committee of Cap-Haitien was detained on January 21 and expelled from the country the next day.

240. Antoine Izmery, a prominent businessman, was detained on January 23 and expelled from the country the next day.

241. Franck Rene, member of the Haitian Liberation Party was detained in Marchand Dessalines on the night of January 27 and taken to the National Penitentiary.

242. Illegal detentions also took place in the provinces. Joseph Frenel Manigat, member of the National Alliance of People's Organizations (ANOP), was removed by force from Radio Citadel, where he had gone to read a communique from his organization against Avril. Manigat was detained by armed civilians and taken to the Cap-Haitien prison on January 23, where he was severely beaten. Manigat was released on February 1.

243. During the night of January 25 and January 27, in Dalon and Terre Rouge (Grand Boulay), 13 peasants, members of the Christian Democratic Party (PDCH) were detained and beaten by soldiers commanded by Kesner Pongnon, the Prefect and Commander of the military district of Thomazeau. Some of the homes of the peasants were ransacked by the soldiers, who inquired about the whereabouts of Rev. Silvio Claude and the weapons he allegedly gave to the peasants. The peasants were taken to the Thomazeau jail and only a few were released on January 31.

244. As part of an effort to justify the repressive measures carried out in recent months, the Government of President Prosper Avril published a press release on February 7, 1990, announcing an amnesty for 19 political detainees in the following terms:

The Director of Public Information of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Coordination announces to the public that by administrative order dated February 6, 1990, a complete amnesty has been granted to the following persons:

Sylvan Jolibois

Erbe Morovia

Frank Sénat

Fernand Gérard Laforêt

Marie Denise Douyon

Evans Paul

Marino Etienne

Jean Auguste Mesyeux

Wilner Metellus

Charlot Reynold

Jean Thomas

César Henri

Louis Jean Duval

Delinois Jamson

Gelsey Joseph Fils

Amazone Jean Franckel

Dimanche Jean Renel

Frank René

Franz Patrick Beauchard

This Office, on February 7, 1990, mindful of the decision of the people of Haiti to build a future of freedom, fraternity and human solidarity, wishes to emphasize that this amnesty reflects the unanimous desire of the Government of the Republic to work untiringly to build a FUTURE DEMOCRACY unhindered by extremism or any form of violence, at a time when our society aspires to harmonize its development, since September 17, 1988, with the great currents of change that today dominate current events.


February 7, 1990

Director of Public Information

245. Despite the fact that the Government pardoned several political detainees, authorities in the provinces continued the practice of arbitrary arrests. On February 15, the Commission was informed by the Haitian Association of Journalists of the detention of Herto Zamor, journalist and correspondent of Radio Metropole in Grand-Anse. At the time of his detention, Zamor was mistreated and forced to lie in excrement.

246. During the visit in loco from April 17 to 20, the Delegation from the IACHR received word from human rights groups of the release of the following persons:

Jeannot Alexandre

Emilia Fleuvant

Bernard Fleuvant

Edouard Joseph

Herve Durand y Charles Romain

Val Cesar

Jean Laforêt

Guito Geauvye

Arsene Moyse

Savary Zanny

Jean "Madichon"

Hebert Beauchard

Sosthene St. Jean

Valles Plaisival

Lemoine Auguste

Wilfrid Souvenance

Herto Zamor

4. Situation since the beginning of President Ertha Pascal

Trouillot's Provisional Government

247. The situation on the day following the installation of the civil government headed by Ertha Pascal Trouillot was particularly critical. On one hand, the presence of the "Macoutes" generated an atmosphere of insecurity in the population, and on the other hand, the Army showed itself to be more repressive toward the movements of popular organizations.

248. On March 17th, in Baptiste, a community located 19 kilometers from Belladère, the section chief "macoute de Mon Leon", Level Latis, accompanied by Sergeant Idérick Joseph, detained three militant members of popular organizations: Baldomere and Romenet Cameau, members of the Rassemblement des Paysans de Baptiste and Antelet Cameau, member of the Comité de Jeunes Paysans Haïtians. The victims were beaten at the time of their detention and were accused of being subversives.

249. On March 19th, en Borgne, an area in northern Haiti, the Borgne Peasant's Movement (BPM), which unifies several popular assemblies, held a meeting in the Grand Plaza of Borgne. Around 20,000 peasants from all hearby communities met to protest against the presence of the "macoutes" in the inner circle of public administration, in order to demand the expulsion of the section chiefs who terrorize the people. The Military shot at the demonstrators, leaving more than 150 wounded, and detained more than 300 people. Among the victims detained were Ruben Lamour, member of the BPM, Désir Pierre, seriously injured in the leg, and Nicodème St. Cyr.

250. On April 2, en Valliere Elie Garsonville, mayor of the city, was detained and beaten by members of the military for having ordered an investigation of violence committed by the military. Garsonville is still being held in the Valliere jail.

251. During the on-site visit, the Special Commission went to Piatre, where it was informed of the following occurences: In February 1986, after Jean-Claude Duvalier left Haiti, the peasants of Piatre decided to initiate legal action to recover territory form which they had been expelled by landowner Olivier Nadal, beginning the appropriate judicial process with the presentation of their titles to the land. According to information released to the Commission, the lands occupied by Nadal are worked by peasants from the community of Delugé, generating conflicts between them and the peasants from Piatre.

252. As was demonstrated to the Special Commission during its visit to Piatre, the lack of efficiency within the judicial system to resolve these problems lies at the base of the grave problems that have arisen in the area. It was also mentioned to the Commission that this judicial inefficiency is present in the entire Artibonita region and is manifested in difference forms through serious conflict. In Sondé the Commission delegation heard similar claims of how the peasants lack effective judicial remedies to defend their territorial rights, which constitutes a violation of their human rights, and specifically, of article 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Haiti is a party. It should be noted that these conflicts have provoked bumerous deaths and the arrest of Jean Milius Jean Baptiste, who after nine months remains in the Saint Marc prison without trial or process of any kind.

253. The inefficiency of the judicial system was explained to the Commission to be the result of the great influence over the judiciary excersise by the landowners, who have been evicting peasants from their lands. To accomplish the action described, the landowners resort to the military and the section chiefs to repress any form of resistance. The Commission was able to observe how the peasants in Piatre have been forced to move to the high area of the mountains, where the means of subsistence are extremely scarce.

5. Harassment of human rights groups

254. During the period covered by this report, persons directly involved in human rights advocacy have been subject to arbitrary arrest on orders from President Avril's Government. Despite the legal restrictions, the Armed Forces have continued to search the headquarters of human rights groups without a warrant.

255. One of the people who suffered such harassment from the authorities is Joseph Maxi, Attorney-at-Law and President of the Haitian Human Rights League. On November 3, 1989, on the air, Mr. Maxi offered legal assistance to Evans Paul, Etienne Marineau, and Jean Auguste Mesyeux who had been arrested and tortured. Immediately following this announcement, his home was searched by the National Police Guard, and was under military surveillance, thereby preventing him from returning to his family.

256. On November 18, Gaston Jean-Baptiste, Archange Mardi, and Germaine Louis Mai, members of the League of ex-Political Prisoners of Haiti (LAPH), a human rights group headquartered in Port-au-Prince, were arrested by the Armed Forces in Tiotte (to the Southeast of Haiti), without warrant, and taken to the barracks there. The military accused them of meeting illegally to encourage the local population to go on a hunger strike as a means of seeking the release of Mesyeux, Paul, and Marineau. Gaston Jean-Baptiste was beaten while in custody. On November 27, they were released with the formal charge being made.

257. On January 20, 1990, at around 3:00 p.m., a group of armed men, accompanied by police soldiers, burst into the premises of the Ecumenical Human Rights Center in Port-au-Prince. They shot the front door open, removed the filing cabinets and book shelves, and ripped out the telephone wires. At the time, there were approximately 30 delegates of KONAKOM holding their weekly meeting and they were abused by the assailants who identified themselves as members of the Presidential Guard. One of the members of the National Secretariat of KONAKOM, Gerald-Emile Brun, an architect, was beaten and taken to the Presidential Palace along with the other delegates. Most of the prisoners were released on the same day, but Brun remained in military custody until the night of January 21, when he was expelled from the country. On arrival in Miami, Brun had to spend a few days in the hospital because of the blows sustained.

258. On January 21, at around 10:00 p.m., a group or armed men (two in uniform) appeared at the home of Robert Duval, President of the League of ex-Political Prisoners of Haiti, and finding no family member there, beat the servant taken care of the house. Robert Duval and his family did not return home for fear of being arrested.

6. Conclusions

259. Examination of the practices of the Government and of the denunciations made before this Commission shows a series of violations originating in the Government of General Prosper Avril which led to a state of irregularity and complete lack of protection for the population with respect to measures adopted against them by agents of the State.

260. The practice of the Government of Haiti under Avril's regime consisted of detaining political opposition without meeting the minimum requirements of the law. Most of the detentions took place during hours proscribed by the Constitution, private homes were searched without a court order and methods were used that violated the physical integrity of the victims.

261. The incapacity of the judicial system to combat the atmosphere of insecurity that has prevailed in both the capital and rural areas was recognized by the Government itself. The Minister of the Interior and Armed Forces, Acédius Saint Louis, in an interview given on September 7, 1989, said: "The forces of law and order are neither psychologically nor materially prepared to deal with the lack of security in the country".

262. There is a consensus among important sectors of haitian society that the persons accused of having committed human rights violations in incidents like the massacres of November 29, 1987 and at the San Juan Bosco Church on September 11, 1988[2] should be brough to justice. However, President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot's provisional government has mentioned that the lack of complaints prevents justice from being carried out; for example, in January 1988 and investigative committee was formed to look into the November 29 massacre and it received no complaints on the subject. As for the San Juan Bosco massacre, Justice Minister Pierre Labissière informed the IACHR Delegation that based on a complaint Elise Francois had been arrested in connection with the occurences at the church, and that procedures established by law would be followed.

263. The majority of the arbitrary detentions have been carried out by the "section chiefs" and the "assistants" who are designated by and form part of the Armed Forces. The activities of these individuals have far exceeded their function as rural police officers, leading to an atmosphere of insecurity among the population. According to information received by the Commission, the judicial authorities have shown neither efficiency nor decisiveness in resolving the investigations of these violations.

264. As can be seen from the denunciations received, in certain cases detentions have been extended for long periods, and in other cases the victims have been released after a few days, but in all cases they have been kept incommunicado, no charges have been brought against them, and they have not been afforded the guarantees of due process. In this respect, the violation of the right to personal liberty allows the emergence of an atmosphere that is propitious to the violation of other human rights, such as the right to judicial guarantees and personal safety.

265. The description given in this chapter points to the conclusion that the rights to personal liberty and to judicial guarantees have been gravely compromised during the period covered by General Avril's regime. Since the inception of President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot's provisional government, the Commission has been able to observe a considerable decline in human rights violations.




[1] The correct name is Etienne Marineau.

[2] The massacres of November 29, 1987 and the one of the San Juan Bosco Church of September 11, 1988, are mentioned in the Report on the Human Rights Situation in Haiti, 1988 page 81 and 103.


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