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).




1. Introduction

50. The purpose of this chapter is to provide information on how the political process is being pursued in Haiti and on the negotiations and steps taken by the OAS and the UN with the aim of finding a solution to the Haitian crisis. The Commission does not claim that the information it provides is exhaustive. It merely gives an account of the most significant decisions taken by the international community since January 1994, the political reactions in Haiti, and their impact in regard to human rights.

2. Return of the OAS/UN Mission

51. Given the stalemate in the Haitian political situation and the worsening of the human rights situation, in early January 1994 OAS/UN Special Envoy Mr. Dante Caputo recommended the return to Haiti of the International Civilian Mission. On January 26, the first group of 22 observers arrived there, to be joined later by the rest of the team, which was in Santo Domingo. Upon its arrival, the International Civilian Mission concentrated on Port-au-Prince and observed a resurgence of violence in both the capital and its environs. The number of murders was still alarming, especially extrajudicial executions. In certain cases, the International Civilian Mission obtained information that allowed it to conclude that members of the Armed Forces, their auxiliaries, and FRAPH members were responsible. In other cases, testimony received by the Mission pointed to armed civilians as the aggressors, but it was not possible in such circumstances to establish whether these were attachés or armed bands acting with the complicity of the Armed Forces.

52. Within two months of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission's arrival, it published 11 press releases pointing out the worsening of the human rights situation, the wave of repression in rural areas, disappearances, and the existence of clandestine detention centers. Notwithstanding the presence and the efforts deployed by the International Civilian Mission, the situation continued to worsen and became critical toward the end of April, when a number of FRAPH militants and soldiers massacred more than 20 persons in Raboteau, which is an area of Gonaïves.

3. New Efforts to Pursue the Negotiation Process

53. With February 1994 came the so-called Parliamentarians' Plan, which proposed the appointment of a new Prime Minister, the withdrawal of General Cédras, the passing of the amnesty law, and the approval, once the new Government had been installed, of the law creating a police force. Finally, it provided for the return of President Aristide, but fixed no date for this. The plan failed because of a lack of support from any of the "Friends of Haiti" countries. Neither was it accepted by President Aristide, because this plan represented a departure from the Governors Island Agreement.

54. Also in February, the Senate became divided when five senators of the Alliance for Parliamentary Unity and eight senators elected in the controverted elections of September 18, 1993 violently expelled President of the Haitian Senate Firmin Jean-Louis together with twelve democratic elected senators and appointed Bernard Sansaricq. Despite the fact that this implied a parallel representation of the Senate, the faction led by Bernard Sansaricq never was recognized by the international community.

55. On March 23, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 903 whereby the term of office of the UN Mission (UNMIH), which had in fact not yet been deployed in Haiti, was extended to June 30, 1994 and requested the Secretary-General to inform it when the necessary conditions existed for the dispatch of that Mission. Also in March, the OAS and the UN launched an appeal in favor of a so-called Humanitarian Action Plan aimed at meeting the most urgent needs of the Haitian people. The proposal to implement the plan of assistance was evaluated at $62.7 million, which would be distributed in various areas, namely, health, nutrition, agriculture, and education. As contributions did not prove sufficient, the two organizations had to make an appeal to obtain funds available within the context of their national programs in order to carry out the activities.

56. In his April report, the UN Secretary-General indicated that the negotiations conducted to that date had not led to concrete progress, and it was therefore necessary to recommend that a more precisely Haitian solution be found. He therefore stated that it would be desirable for those involved, with the support of the international community, to resume a real role in this process. He added that the international community, particularly the most concerned countries, should seek unity in its approach at this stage, taking into account the recent stalemate in the negotiations.

4. Widening of Sanctions under the Embargo and its Political Impact

57. On the one hand, the two-week hunger strike by well-known human rights defender and director of the TransAfrica group Randall Robinson, the arrest of six members of Congress who were demonstrating in front of the White House, and the sharp criticism by President Aristide of the Clinton Government's policy. On the other hand, the criticism by nongovernmental human rights groups on the lack of political will to take firm decisions to reinstate Aristide in power and to change the policy of summarily repatriating Haitian refugees and the worsening human rights situation in Haiti led to a revision of the United States Government's policy. There was also talk of requesting the UN Security Council to apply a total embargo against the de facto regime in Haiti.

58. Following the change in policy announced by the United States Government, Adviser on Haiti at the State Department Lawrence Pezzullo resigned on April 27 and was replaced as Special Adviser by William Gray, a Democrat and former member of Congress.

59. Among efforts made to resolve the crisis in Haiti by peaceful means, the UN Security Council on May 6 approved Resolution 917 broadening the sanctions under the embargo imposed on Haiti in October 1993, which had not had the desired effect, mainly along the lengthy border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

60. The sanctions covered in Resolution 917 would enter into force within 15 days, and as of that date every state would: 1) deny permission to any aircraft to take off, land, or fly over its territory if the aircraft's destination or place of departure was Haitian territory, except where such flights had been approved for humanitarian reasons; 2) ban the entry on its territory of any military officials from Haiti, including members of the police and their immediate family members and the main participants in the 1991 coup d'état and their family members; 3) prohibit the import into its territory of any goods and products originating in Haiti and exported from that country, except those sent for humanitarian reasons; and 4) be urged to impose an immediate freeze on the funds and financial resources of the above-mentioned persons.

61. In its Resolution 917, the Council warned in five points that the sanctions would not be fully removed until:

a) the withdrawal of the Commander-in-Chief of the Haitian Armed Forces and the resignation or departure from Haiti of the Chief of Police of Port-au-Prince and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces;

b) a total change, through resignation or departure from Haiti, in the top staff of the police and the high military commands, as provided for in the Governors Island Agreement;

c) the adoption of the legislative measures provided for in the Governors Island Agreement, as well as the creation of adequate conditions for the organization of free and fair legislative elections within the framework of a full restoration of democracy in Haiti;

d) the establishment by the authorities of adequate conditions for the deployment of the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH); and

e) the return, as soon as possible, of the democratically elected President and the maintenance of constitutional order, these conditions being necessary for full observance of the Governors Island Agreement.

62. In view of the deterioration in the human rights situation in Haiti, the Permanent Council of the OAS, by Resolution 630 of May 9, strongly condemned the massive violations committed under Haiti's military regime and mentioned, in that connection, the recent reports of massacres and arson that occurred in Cité Soleil, Borgne, and Raboteau, which represented a serious obstacle to full pursuit of the proposals whose implementation was sought by the Ad Hoc Meeting of Foreign Ministers and an attempt to nullify any proposal for a total exercise of the Haitian nation's political sovereignty.

63. In the same resolution, the Permanent Council requested the IACHR to give priority to investigating cases of massive executions, sexual abuses, and kidnapping of minors, especially when these were used as methods of political terror, and to inform the General Assembly at its 24th ordinary period of sessions of the results of the next observation visit in Haiti.

64. Prior to the date when Resolution 917 adopted by the UN Security Council was to come into force and in open defiance of the international community, Emile Jonassaint, a magistrate of the Supreme Court, was designated Provisional President of Haiti, with the backing of five senators led by Sansaricq and supported by the military establishment, in the presence of Head of the Armed Forces Raoul Cédras.

65. The appointment of Jonassaint was immediately rejected by the UN and the OAS. The latter's Permanent Council unanimously declared that the Haitian crisis would be solved only with the return of Aristide and that any action taken by the illegitimate government, including any call for elections, would be considered worthless. Subsequently, because of the lack of legitimacy in the appointment of Jonassaint, politicians who supported him were isolated, and the Chamber of Deputies indicated that it would not recognize that government or any decisions it adopted.

66. The IACHR, which was present in Haiti at that time (from May 16 to 20), indicated that the fact of installing a "government" without a popular vote and of contravening the Haitian Constitution represented flagrant violation of the political rights of the Haitian people and of the rights to political participation enshrined in Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

67. The IACHR carried out a visit to observe the situation of human rights in Haiti. During this visit, in spite of having been prevented by the military authorities from carrying out a part of its work agenda and the fear expressed by many persons of being interviewed in public places, the Commission met at clandestine locations and obtained abundant information.

68. At the end of its visit, the Commission provided the information, at a press conference, that because of the numerous testimonies of victims of violations, it was able to report on the serious deterioration in the situation of human rights in Haiti since its last visit in August 1993. The documentation received by the Commission indicated, among other violations, 133 cases of extrajudicial executions that had occurred between February and May 1994. Also, the Commission received information on the existence of severely mutilated corpses in the streets of Port-au-Prince and directly verified one such case. The Commission pointed out that the purpose of these acts was to terrorize the people.

69. Given the military establishment's refusal to come to a solution of the political crisis, the sanctions imposed in UN Resolution 917 entered into force on May 21, 1994.

5. Resolution 6/94, "Call for a Return to Democracy in Haiti," by the Ad Hoc Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the OAS

70. During the 24th ordinary meeting of the OAS General Assembly, which took place in Belem do Pará, Brazil, June 6-10, 1994, the Ad Hoc Meeting of Foreign Ministers, taking account of the reports submitted by the IACHR and by the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission, issued Resolution No. 6/94, "Call for a Return to Democracy in Haiti," in which it condemned the continuation of delaying and intimidating tactics by the de facto military authorities and the repression exercised by the latter against supporters of democracy.

71. In this resolution, a request was also made: 1) for support to strengthen the International Civilian Mission so that it could increase its staff; and 2) for the IACHR to continue drawing attention to violations against the Haitian people's human rights, to pursue its investigations on the conduct of the de facto authorities so as to help identify those responsible for the violations committed, to cooperate with the Government of Haiti in the preparation and implementation of programs to reform the country's judicial institutions, and to continue cooperating with the International Civilian Mission.

72. Finally, Resolution 6/94 urged all member states to support the UN's measures to strengthen its mission in Haiti (UNMIH), so that it can assist in restoring democracy by making the Armed Forces a professional body and training the new police force, helping to maintain public order, and protecting the staff of international organizations and other organizations participating in humanitarian and human rights efforts in Haiti. The Resolution also contained an appeal to the international community to cooperate in dealing with the problem of persons fleeing Haiti and to help in attending to their requests for asylum in their capacity as refugees, offering them protection when they meet the relevant conditions.

6. Measures to Force the Haitian Military Authorities to Leave

73. On June 10, the United States Government announced its determination to seek the economic, financial, and air isolation of Haiti, in a further attempt to force the soldiers to leave power. Consequently, President Clinton ordered the suspension of United States commercial flights to Haiti as of June 25, thus giving time for United States citizens residing in that country and wishing to leave it, to do so. Canada and Panama adopted similar measures. As of that date, the only air communications from Haiti would be assured by the Dutch company ALM and by Air France, which later also suspended their flights.

74. On June 30, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 933/94, in which it requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Council, by July 15, 1994 at the latest, a report containing concrete recommendations on the staffing, composition, cost, and duration of UNMIH, with a view to increasing and deploying that mission that would provide assistance, when the time came, to the democratic Government of Haiti to guarantee the security of the international presence, senior officials of the Government of Haiti, and essential installations and to provide assistance for the maintenance of public order and the holding of legislative elections, which would have to be convened by the legitimate constitutional authorities. It also decided to extend the mandate of UNMIH to July 31, 1994.

7. Expulsion of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission

75. Without warning, the Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Workship sent a note to the International Civilian Mission on July 5, informing it that its term of office had expired, that it was continuing to function in "undefined, irregular" circumstances, and that he was therefore indicating that it should suspend its activities. Then on July 11, the de facto authorities handed Ambassador Colin Granderson, Director of the International Civilian Mission, a decree issued by the President who had not been recognized by the international community, Emile Jonassaint, in which he declared the members of the Mission "undesirable" and gave them 48 hours to leave Haiti. The Secretaries of the OAS and the UN immediately issued a joint statement, in which they condemned the deplorable act and ordered the evacuation of the Mission.

76. On the one hand, the expulsion of the International Civilian Mission was yet further proof of the clear contempt in which the de facto authorities held the international community. On the other hand, the Haitian people experienced a feeling of despair and abandonment in view of the human rights violations, which were becoming increasingly evident, against persons maintaining a direct rapport with the democratic regime.

77. By a press release of July 27, the IACHR expressed its concern about the expulsion of the International Civilian Mission, pointing out that this was depriving the Haitian people of a witness of the violations and robbing human rights institutions of a source of information that was essential for their work. As a result of these events, the Commission considered it suitable to carry out an immediate visit to Haiti, for the purpose of observing the human rights situation in accordance with the American Convention on Human Rights, to explore methods of ending those violations, and to develop alternative information media.

78. On July 27, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission submitted a report entitled "Situation of Democracy and Human Rights in Haiti," covering the period January 31-June 30, 1994, in which it draws attention to the political repression carried out by soldiers and the numerous human rights violations resulting from them. The report also refers to incidents of harassment and intimidation to which members of the International Civilian Mission were subjected at the hands of the de facto authorities for the purpose of opposing their activities.

8. Resolution 940 of the UN Security Council

79. Given the recent events and the resurgence of violence in Haiti, President Aristide requested the international community, by letter of July 29 addressed to the UN Secretary-General, to take speedy and decisive action under the authority of the UN, so as to facilitate total application.

80. On July 31, 1994, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution No. 940/94, in which it:

"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, authorizes Member States to form a multinational force under unified command and control and, in this framework, to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure from Haiti of the military leadership, consistent with the Governors Island Agreement, the prompt return of the legitimately elected President and the restoration of the legitimate authorities of the Government of Haiti, and to establish and maintain a secure and stable environment that will permit implementation of the Governors Island Agreement..."

81. Following this resolution, the de facto authorities of Haiti immediately decreed a state of siege, and the idea of a United States intervention led the Haitian military to recruit many people by force and train them to defend the country.

82. The situation in Haiti became extremely tense in August, and some embassies withdrew their diplomatic staff. Telephone lines were often cut, leaving the country incommunicado. Attacks on the press became constant, and it was often prohibited, by decree of the de facto authorities, to distribute information from embassies (especially the United States embassy). Journalists who tried to enter the country via the Dominican Republic were not allowed to do so unless they paid $500, and this gave them access only to certain events and locations.

83. The human rights situation in Haiti continued to worsen even further. The cold-blooded murder on August 28 of Father Jean-Marie Vincent, a close friend and supporter of Aristide, was one more act in the series of violations committed with impunity. His death was a harsh blow against the sector that supported the return of the democratic regime and Christian resources in grassroots communities. The Haitian Armed Forces continued to defy the international community, committing all types of violent act to pursue the repression against the unfortunate people, who were also carrying the burden of the sanctions applied under the embargo. An economy on the brink of collapse, with a terrible scarcity of goods and more than 80 percent unemployed, and obstacles created by the de facto authorities that tended to prevent the distribution of humanitarian assistance for nearly one month.

84. In mid-August 1994, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Ghali, had announced the dispatch of a UN mission to hold discussions with the Haitian military authorities. His emissary Mr. Rolf Knutsson traveled beforehand to the Dominican Republic and from there, he was to make the necessary arrangements for them to receive the mission, which would deal with the peaceful departure of the military authorities. However, the latter let it be known that they would have to speak with the President of the Chambers of Deputy and Bernard Sansaricq who was acting as President of the Senate to discuss a national reconciliation plan, rather than the implementation of Resolution 940.

85. On August 30, Boutros Ghali announced the failure of the initiative in question, at the same pointing out that the situation in Haiti was intolerable for the Haitian people, given the repression and human rights violations, and indicated that countries that had received a mandate to intervene in Haiti should take their own decisions.

86. During the August 30 meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), attended by United States Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott and Undersecretary of Defense John Deutch, a number of points of Resolution 940 that referred to the multinational force were discussed. This resolution provided for an operation in two phases: the first, a multinational force that would invade Haiti and take control, and then a UN-UNMIH mission composed of 6,000 persons would maintain peace and control the Haitian security forces. For a start, four countries (Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago) stated they would contribute with a CARICOM peace force of 266 members to maintain order in Haiti following the overthrow of the military authorities. The United Kingdom stated it would participate in the multinational force. It was hoped that other countries would contribute during the second phase of the operation.

87. On the other hand, 88 UN observers, the Multinational Observer Group (MOG), were assigned at the end of August to the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti to prevent contraband fuel and other goods entering Haitian territory, in accordance with the embargo decreed by the UN. Canada, Argentina, Jamaica, Barbados, and Antigua participated in this group. The Army of the Dominican Republic also dispatched 15,000 soldiers to the border region. However, according to certain information, contraband fuel continued to pass between the two countries.


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