CHAPTER II: THE COMMISSION'S ACTIVITIES IN HAITI IN 1994
1. IACHR Report to the Permanent Council of the OAS
17. By invitation of the Permanent Council of the OAS, representative of the IACHR Professor Claudio Grossman testified before that political body on May 11, 1994 on the human rights situation in Haiti, pointing out that the Commission was continuing to give priority to observing the human rights situation in that country. He indicated that on the basis of the visits carried out, the Commission noted that the abuses performed by military and paramilitary elements took place with full impunity, that the general situation of human rights in Haiti continued to worsen severely, and that there was no judicial authority that could protect people from these violations.
18. Thus, by virtue of the regime of terror promoted by the Armed Forces and its continued rejection of the political agreements aimed at restoring democracy in Haiti, he announced the Commission's decision to carry out a further on-site visit, starting on May 16, 1994.
2. IACHR's On-site Visit, May 16-20, 1994
19. During its 84th period of sessions that took place in February 1994, the IACHR decided to carry out an on-site visit, in light of the worsening human rights situation in Haiti. The observation visit took place May 16-20, 1994.
20. The Commission's delegation was composed of its members Dr. Patrick Robinson, Ambassador John Donaldson, and Professor Claudio Grossman. It was assisted by Executive Secretary of the IACHR Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, Senior Specialist in charge of Haitian Affairs Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro, IACHR Attorneys Relinda Eddie and Isabel Ricupero, OAS interpreter Serge Bellegarde, and secretary of the delegation Cecilia Adriazola.
21. During its visit, the Commission met with the following eminent persons: Prime Minister Robert Malval, accompanied by Ministers Victor Benoit, Rosemont Pradel, Louis Dejoie II, Berthony Berry; Director of the OAS-UN International Civilian Mission Ambassador Colin Granderson and a member of the Mission, Tiebilé Dromé; Monsignor Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Apostolic Nuncio; President of the Chamber of Deputies, Frantz Robert Mondé, and President of the Senate, Firmin Jean-Louis. The Commission also requested a meeting with Haitian Armed Forces Head General Raoul Cédras and members of the Staff and with the Chief of Police Lieutenant-Colonel Michel François, but received no reply.
22. The Commission also met with the Coordinator of the former Presidential Commission, Father Antoine Adrien, and with representatives of nongovernmental organizations--popular grassroots bodies, human rights groups, and leaders of various political parties--with the aim of collecting information on the human rights situation in Haiti. Similarly, meetings were held with radio and newspaper representatives, who provided testimonies on the situation regarding freedom of expression in Haiti, and with representatives of the industrial sector and of various churches.
23. The lack of authorization prevented the delegation from visiting the National Penitentiary of Port-au-Prince and gaining first-hand information on the legal situation of prisoners and on the general conditions in which the detention center is maintained.
24. During its visit, the Commission collected abundant information and listened to the testimonies of the victims of human rights violations. Thanks to the cooperation of members of the International Civilian Mission and human rights groups helping to coordinate interviews with victims, who did not accept to meet with the Commission at the place where interviews were being conducted for fear of being identified, the IACHR delegation broke up into five groups in an attempt to deal with a large number of complaints at secret locations.
25. A fact that revealed the sound basis for the fear of the Haitian people was that on the date that had been fixed for receiving individual complaints, the Delegation was informed that the hotel was surrounded by armed men. This created a situation of panic among the petitioners, who fled into a room, refusing to come out for several hours. Subsequently, with the help of the Venezuelan Representative Ambassador Elsa Boccheciampe, the IACHR delegation managed to get the Haitians out in various automobiles, and they were taken to a place far from the hotel, from which they could return home without being followed.
26. The delegation was able to verify the serious worsening of the human rights situation in Haiti since its last visit in August 1993, and attributed responsibility for those violations to the de facto Haitian authorities, whose behavior justified accusations against them for the perpetration of international crimes, implicating the responsibility of individuals.
3. Visit of observation on the haitian refugees' situation in The Bahamas
27. Following its visit to Haiti and at the prior invitation of the Government, the Commission traveled to The Bahamas for the purpose of observing the situation of Haitian refugees in that country, where it carried out a visit, May 22-27, 1994. The special IACHR delegation was composed of Professor Michael Reisman, President of the Commission; Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Vice-President; and Ambassador John Donaldson. The Commission was assisted by Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, Executive Secretary of the Commission; Dr. David Padilla, Deputy Executive Secretary; Dr. Relinda Eddie, Human Rights Specialist; and Mrs. Rosario McIntyre, Secretary of the IACHR.
28. During its stay, the IACHR delegation had the cooperation of the Government of The Bahamas, official agencies, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations.
29. The Commission met with the following persons: the Prime Minister, Mr. Orville A. Turnquest; the Minister of Social Development, Mrs. Theresa Moxey Ingraham; Sir Lynden Pindling, Leader of the Opposition; Sir Clement Maynard; Dr. Bernard Nottage and Independent Senator Fred Mitchell; Mark Wilson, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Security and Transportation; and representatives of other ministries; Mrs. Marina Glinton, Director of the Red Cross; Winifred Murray, an official of the Department of Welfare; and Charles Drummond, Director of the Salvation Army. Representatives of various churches also met with the delegation.
30. The Commission's delegation visited Haitian shanty towns in Grand Abaco (Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay), Grand Bahama (Freeport), Eleuthera, and New Providence. It also visited the Carmichael Road detention camp.
31. The Commission was impressed by the fact that The Bahamas provided a whole series of basic social services for Haitians fleeing their country, and Haitian children attend school in the same conditions as Bahamian children. This meant that The Bahamas was absorbing a proportionately larger share of the Haitian diaspora than any other state in the hemisphere, a fact that weighed heavily on its budget and on its infrastructure. The Commission therefore considered that The Bahamas deserved to receive assistance from the international community.
4. Submission of the Report on Haiti to the 24th OAS General Assembly
32. The Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti was submitted to the 24th Ordinary Meeting of the OAS General Assembly, which took place in Belem do Pará, Brazil, June 6-10, 1994. Also during this meeting, President of the IACHR Professor Michael Reisman and IACHR member and Rapporteur for Haiti Dr. Patrick Robinson submitted to the Ad Hoc Meeting of Foreign Ministers and to the OAS General Assembly an additional report on the visit recently made to Haiti, May 16-20, 1994, in accordance with the request contained in Permanent Council Resolution 630. Also present at the General Assembly were Vice-Presidents of the Commission Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza and Ambassador Alvaro Tirado Mejía who were assisted by Executive Secretary Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, Deputy Executive Secretary Dr. David Padilla, and Attorney in charge of Haitian Affairs Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro.
5. Arrangements for a Further On-Site Visit
33. Considering that the expulsion of the International Civilian Mission (July 11, 1994) meant there was no presence of any international agency recording in a coordinated way the systematic violations occurring in Haiti, President of the Commission Prof. Michael Reisman instructed the Secretary to start making relevant arrangements for a further on-site visit. The Commission issued a press release on July 27, 1994, expressing its concern with the International Civilian Mission's departure and indicating its decision to make a visit to Haiti.
34. On August 8, the Secretary requested an interview with the Head of the Armed Forces and the Staff, which was refused at end-August. In view of the soldiers' negative reaction and logistical problems caused by the suspension of all commercial flights and the lack of authorization from the de facto Government for private flights to land, the Commission published a second press release on August 31, denouncing the cold-blooded assassination, committed ten days earlier, of Father Jean-Marie Vincent and announced its intention to devote a part of its next session, in September 1994, to a detailed review of the situation in Haiti and measures that could be taken to contribute to alleviating the continuous pattern of human rights violations in the country.
6. Hearings at the 87th Period of IACHR Sessions, September 19-30, 1994
35. During its 87th period of sessions, the Commission received in audience Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, UN Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Haiti, who took the opportunity to state that the environment in Haiti warranted the development and formalization of plans for closer cooperation with other intergovernmental organizations, which he felt could be achieved with the IACHR, within the framework of the promotion and defense of human rights, by virtue of the jurisdiction enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights.
36. The Commission also received in audience Ambassador Jean Casimir, Representative of the Haitian Permanent Mission to the OAS, who described before the Commission the events that had occurred most recently in Haiti in regard to the political situation and human rights. Ambassador Casimir called upon the Commission to establish a presence in Haiti as soon as possible, even before October 15, 1994, for the purpose of observing the human rights situation and providing assistance for the country's democratization plans.
37. Ambassador Casimir explained that the wish of the democratic Haitian Government was for the Commission, in addition to carrying out an on-site visit, to prepare a program of activities not only based on observations of human rights violations, but also including a program of prevention and promotion of the rights of individuals, to be implemented in the short and medium terms. This program would contain advice on measures for financing such activities. He added that, to the extent possible, such a program could be associated with the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the Inter-American Women's Commission, and any other institution that the IACHR considered it useful to include.
38. Among representatives of nongovernmental organizations received at hearings was Mr. William O'Neill of the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, who requested the Commission to carry out an emergency visit to Haiti, so that its presence might have a dissuasive effect on human rights violations and to let the Haitian people know that they had not been abandoned by the international agencies responsible for promoting the defense of personal guarantees. Mr. O'Neill stressed the importance of the presence of human rights observers in Haiti to inform the international community on complaints of violations, especially at a time when the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission was not in the country.
39. Lastly, the Commission received the following representatives of nongovernmental organizations at hearings: Prof. Rhonda Copelan (International Women's Human Rights Clinic, Cuny Law School), Dr. Deborah Anker and Nancy Kelly (Women's Refugee Project), Jennifer Green (Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School), Dr. Wallie Mason and Anna Marie Gallagher (Center for Human Rights Legal Action), Beth Stephens (Center for Constitutional Rights); Sabine Millien (Haitian Women's Advocacy Network), Portia R. Moore and Joyce Jones (Morrison and Foerster), and Jacqueline A. McNeal, who wrote a report on the grave human rights situation prevailing in Haiti stressing in particular the women's situation. At the same time, the Commission was handed over various documents on alleged human rights violations.
40. Also presented to the Commission was one of the victims of human rights violations, who testified regarding the atrocities personally borne at the hands of soldiers in Haiti.
41. The International Women's Human Rights Clinic expressly requested of the Commission: (a) that the IACHR recognize rape as a form of torture in the Convention and cover such violations in its special reports; (b) that it send an emergency mission to Haiti for the purpose of compiling new information; (c) that it adopt a very special leadership role to achieve the disarmament of the army and the police; (d) that an international criminal tribunal be established to deal with violations committed in Haiti; and (e) that proposals be drawn up for a methodology of investigating human rights violations against women in Haiti.
7. IACHR On-Site Visit, October 24-27, 1994
42. Following its 87th period of sessions, September 19-30, 1994, the Commission accepted the invitation of the Constitutional Government of Haiti to carry out an on-site visit to observe the human rights situation in the country. This visit took place October 24-27, 1994.
43. The Delegation was composed of IACHR President Prof. Michael Reisman, Commission members Mr. Patrick Robinson and Prof. Claudio Grossman, Senior Human Rights Specialist in charge of Haitian Affairs Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro, Attorneys of the Commission Dr. Relinda Eddie, Dr. Meredith Caplan, and Dr. Isabel Ricupero, OAS interpreter Mr. Serge Bellegarde, and IACHR secretaries Mrs. Cecilia Adriazola and Mrs. Gloria Hansen.
44. During its visit, the IACHR Delegation met with the President of the Republic Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to whom it expressed its deep satisfaction at the restoration of the democratic regime in Haiti. The Delegation reiterated its interest in maintaining cooperation on the study of all matters relating to its terms of reference.
45. The Delegation held interviews with the then Chief of the Armed Forces, General Jean-Claude Duperval, to obtain information on the changes that would be made within the army and the police, in accordance with the decisions that had been taken at the international and national levels.
46. The IACHR Delegation also held discussions with Director of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission Ambassador Colin Granderson, and Head of the Human Rights Directorate Mr. Tiébilé Dromé. It also met with the diplomatic representatives of the five "Friends of Haiti" countries, namely, Argentina, the United States, Canada, France, and Venezuela; with members of Parliament, with Coordinator of the former Presidential Commission Father Antoine Adrien, and with Mayor of Port-au-Prince Mr. Evans Paul.
47. Similarly, the Delegation met with representatives of human rights organizations, with grassroots groups, with leaders of political parties, and with representatives of radio stations, the International Red Cross Committee, unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the industrial sector, and various religious denominations.
48. The Delegation visited the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince and traveled to the towns of Saint-Marc and Gonaïves, where meetings were held with victims of human rights violations committed during the period of military dictatorship. The Delegation visited the penitentiaries in the above-mentioned towns to collect information directly on the legal situation, the hygienic conditions, and the food of prisoners, as well as general conditions in the prisons.
49. During its stay, the Commission received substantial information on the general situation in Haiti and numerous complaints from victims of human rights violations committed by the dictatorial regime. That information will be analyzed in Chapter IV of this report.