University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/v/II.88, Doc. 10 rev. (1995).




5. In view of the worsening human rights situation in Haiti, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) continued to give priority to its work in this area and has presented a special report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) each year concerning violations of rights in Haiti. These reports describe the political situation prevailing in Haiti, which has generated a considerable increase in violations of people's personal guarantees by way of the repression carried out by the authorities illegally governing the country.

6. Since the overthrow of the constitutional Government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the IACHR has made four on-site visits and noted, on the basis of a continuous review of the Haitian situation, an alarming number of human rights violations. The last Special Report on Haiti described the activities of the Commission between the coup d'état of September 29, 1991 and February 1994.

7. The above-mentioned report describes the steps taken by the OAS and the United Nations Organization (UN) to facilitate political dialogue between the parties concerned, with a view to President Aristide's return and the restoration of democracy in Haiti. These steps occurred in the context of various agreements: first, the Washington Agreements of February 1992, which were ignored by the de facto authorities, and up to the Governors Island Agreement and the subsequent New York Pact, which were both signed in July 1993. These latter agreements facilitated the Haitian National Assembly's confirmation of the candidate proposed by President Aristide for the post of Prime Minister.

8. Almost at the same time as the confirmation of Robert Malval as Prime Minister, the OAS recommended the lifting of the embargo imposed on October 8, 1991 on the de facto Government of Haiti. Also, the UN Security Council proclaimed the immediate suspension of the sanctions imposed on June 16, 1993. The same report contained an analysis of the process related to the creation of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission up to the time it was evacuated from Haiti in October 1993, when the Haitian soldiers ignored the Governors Island Agreement and intensified its repression against the people, particularly against the sectors made up of Aristide's supporters. The prospects of a return of the democratic regime caused fear and opposition in military circles.

9. During its visit, August 23-27, 1993, the Commission found people terrorized by soldiers and the paramilitary groups assisting them, called attachés or zenglendos, who operated with full impunity in view of the inefficiency and subordination of the judicial authorities, who sometimes feared reprisals by representatives of the Armed Forces.

10. During the period covered in that special report, the systematic violation of human rights continued after the Governors Island Agreement was signed. Despite steps taken by the international community with respect to the lifting of the embargo, the situation continued to worsen and became critical as of September 1993. Most of the acts of violence were directed toward preventing the installation and functioning of the new government, and some of the newly appointed civil servants were unable to take control of their offices, while others had to abandon their homes after receiving death threats.

11. The climate in Haiti continued to be characterized by repression and terror. The soldiers acted with greater cynicism, as was clear with the public assassination of President Aristide's prominent supporter Antoine Izméry in September 1993 and, one month later, the assassination of the Minister of Justice Guy Malary, as well as the acts of intimidation perpetrated against members of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission. In rural areas, there was an increase in cases of arbitrary arrest, beatings, illegal raids and confiscation of property, disappearances, and torture, leading more and more persons to go into hiding or to abandon their homes. Throughout the country, violations occurred with the active participation or the acquiescence of the police and the military forces. The violence was directed against the unarmed civilian population, which at no time took recourse to violence against representatives of the state.

12. On September 23, the UN Security Council, by Resolution 867, approved the dispatch of a mission to Haiti (UNMIH), composed of 1,300 persons who would act as supervisors of the police and military instructors and included a construction engineering unit. However, the acts of violence organized by the so-called Front for Advancement and Progress in Haiti (FRAPH) and by other paramilitary groups prevented disembarkation from the "Harlam County" that transported members of the technical assistance mission (UNMIH). The United States Government ordered the withdrawal of the boat, and Canada withdrew a detachment of 50 policemen.

13. Considering that the agreements entered into for the restoration of democracy in Haiti had not been observed, the UN Security Council, by Resolution 873 of October 13, 1993, reinstated the oil and arms embargo against Haiti and froze the Haitian military authorities' financial assets abroad. In the same spirit, the Permanent Council of the OAS issued Resolution 610 of October 18 and instructed the Special Commission responsible for monitoring compliance with the trade embargo in Haiti to resume its activities. This embargo was followed by a naval blocade authorized by the UN Security Council, since the Head of the Haitian Army General Raoul Cédras refused to step down. Following the naval blocade, observers from the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission were evacuated to the Dominican Republic, and the Government of the Dominican Republic placed its entire border with Haiti under surveillance.

14. Given the lack of progress in obtaining President Aristide's return to Haiti and the fact that the political situation remained deadlocked, representatives of four "Friends of Haiti" countries (Canada, the United States, France, and Venezuela) met in Paris on December 13, 1993 and decided to send a high-level military mission to Haiti to speak with the Haitian military leaders, who refused to receive it.

15. As a part of the efforts to find a solution to the Haitian crisis, President Aristide convened a conference in Miami, January 14-16, 1994, which culminated in an appeal by the deposed Constitutional President for unity among the Haitian people and a request for support and prompt observance of the Governors Island Agreement and the New York Pact, also with a recommendation for the start of the process for the appointment of a new Prime Minister and a government of reconciliation.

16. The Special Report on Haiti that the Commission submitted to the 24th OAS General Assembly in Belem do Pará concluded as follows: "During the period in question, the Commission recorded many deaths whose political connections were fully demonstrated by the fact that the military could instigate or stop them. Furthermore, as in the present situation, not only did it provoke and sponsor them, but the soldiers also failed to investigate and punish the perpetrators of these murders, who operated in death-squad like fashion. This prompts the conclusion that they operate because they are granted impunity by the military."


Home || Treaties || Search || Links