Haiti Live: Coalition for a Just U.S. Policy
HAITI HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT
Volume 1 | Edition 2 | May 25, 2004
|Simpson Sainus, 23,
died from bullet wounds allegedly inflicted by police officers during
a peaceful May 18 demonstration.
Police Violence Mars Peaceful May
18 Demonstration in Port-au-Prince
A peaceful demonstration of several thousand protestors on May 18 was
brutally disrupted by police who shot and killed at least one person
present. Simpson Saintus, known as Titus, age 23, died from bullet wounds
allegedly inflicted by police officers from Special Force units (CIMO)
as the demonstrators from the Bel Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince
approached the Champ-de-Mars area where the National Palace is located.
The only item in his possession was a Walkman disk player. News reports
state demonstrators threw no rocks or engaged in any behavior to provoke
The Inspector General of the Haitian National Police, Jean Yonel TrÈcil,
had indicated Monday over the airwaves of several Port-au-Prince radio
stations that the police had not been notified of the demonstration.
Lt. Col. Dave Lapan, spokesperson for the Multinational Interim Force
(MIF), confirmed that "the HNP (Haitian National Police) requested assistance
from the Multinational Interim Force in dispersing the demonstrators."
He said that the director general of the HNP, LÈon Charles, had informed
him that no groups had submitted requests to conduct a demonstration
by the time required (up to 48 hours prior to the time of the demonstration).
Organizers of the march displayed proof of a receipt of a letter sent
on May 12 the director general of the police requesting permission for
a demonstration, which had been publicly announced weeks before it took
place. Per AHP, LÈon Charles admitted on Thursday that the police had
received the letter. Organizers also sent a copy of the letter granting
authorization for the demonstration to several international institutions.
One group reported that a contingent of about 50 U.S. Marines patrolled
every hour at the start of the march in Bel Air in an attempt to intimidate
the population there. An American journalist who was filming the action
reports being threatened by Marines present and later being shot at
when he attempted to take a photograph of those.
There are unconfirmed reports that more protestors were killed and several
others were arrested.
Radio and Tele-Timoun Closed The interim government closed the
offices of Radio and Tele-Timoun on the afternoon of May 18, just after
the demonstrations were stopped. The offices were closed by the Justice
of the Peace of the Peace of Croix-des- Missions, who was allegedly
accompanied by 50 police officers. The seals closing the media outlets
were applied at the verbal order of the Minister of Education of Youth
of Sport of Culture. Radio and Tele- Timoun are owned by the Aristide
Foundation for Democracy, a nonprofit organization (AHP). The de facto
authorities have provided no justification for this action, which appears
to violate the Haitian Constitution'
s protection of the press and free
|Photo of Ti Moto taken in the General Morgue, May 19. His
body was located among many others. Also found was the body
of a man executed with hands tied behind his back. The identity
of this body could not be determined.
Killing in Martissant, May 19
A man with the alias Ti Moto and a man accompanying him were killed
on May 19 at around 8.00 pm at Pont Breard in Martissant 1 by Ti Junior,
an escaped convict and leader of a gang who has allegedly been terrorizing
the zone of Martissant for months now. Ti Moto is a member of Groupe
12, a popular organization based in Martissant and is affiliated with
Fanmi Lavalas. Two other members, Philippe Eliphete and Herold were
killed at the beginning of April by the same Ti Junior. He reportedly
killed another man called Hippie, an alleged criminal, on Easter Sunday.
On that day members of the multinational force and Haitian police came
to collect the body but Ti Junior, who was present at the time, was
not arrested. Following the killing, Ti Junior was allegedly asked by
someone what happened and he declared that he has accomplished a mission
and was seen distributing money to other members of his gang.
Massacre at St-Michel de l'
Attalaye The Haitian Press Agency
reported on April 29 that at least four people were assassinated and
many others wounded by individuals armed with machetes accompanied by
former soldiers in the communal section of St-Michel de l'
About 20 homes were reported to have been burned and many animals killed
by machetes. The attacks followed resistance by residents of the commune
to resist the reinstallation of a chef de section, or a rural police
chief, by former members of the Haitian army (Agence Haitienne de
UN Reports on Deteriorating Security Situation
The United Nations reported on May 4 that violent crime is on the rise
in Haiti. The report noted that despite the presence of 3,700 forces
in the country, the multinational interim force has had a limited effect
on the overall security. The report noted that there still remains a
shortage of police, and some towns in the Northwest still remain with
police protection (UN News Centre, 5/4).
There are reports that on April 28 or 29, 13 young men were kidnapped
from CitÈ Soleil, tied to each other, and executed. One of the young
men was found the next day in the General Hospital morgue by his family.
Witnesses reported that he was kidnapped in the Projet Linto area with
two other men. Searches for the other men by their families have thus
far proved unsuccessful.
Continuing Reports of Executions in Port-au-Prince
Although less frequent than in the weeks immediately following February
29, reports of executions continue to emerge from Port-au-Prince. On
May 2, the employee of an internet cafÈ at Rue Bojoli in Fontamara was
shot and killed by two men. Nothing was stolen from the business. On
the same day, near the fish market at La Rochelle 31, another man was
shot twice. His condition is unknown. On May 4, Maxo Jean was killed
after he was beaten and shot by several men at Route Douillard in CitÈ
Soleil near apump station.
Justice and Peace Commission: More than 300 Bodies in Street
The Justice and Peace National Commission recently reported that it
counted more than 300 bodies in the streets of Port-au-Prince in February
and March. A report issued by the Commission estimated that the final
cadaver count could exceed 500. Most victims included in their count
had died of gunshot wounds. Father Jean Hansens of the Commission speculated
that most of the street murders were of a political nature (AHP,
Reports of Rape and Violations against Women and Girls
Since the beginning of the armed conflict in February, there have been
reports of rape and violence against women and girls. UNICEF found that
child rapes increased significantly in urban areas during the height
of the armed conflict, citing reports from a human rights organization
of nine rapes of girls in a two day period in Cabaret. Oxfam warned
in April that women and girls in Cap-Haï tien were particularly
vulnerable to assaults and rape in the current climate of lawlessness
of impunity. In recent weeks, there have been unconfirmed reports gangs
of former convicted criminals are committing robberies at night in Cité
Soleil and when they are not able to find money, they commit rape against
girls and women, assaults against other persons present and in one case,
have kidnapped two young men from their homes. (UNICEF, http://www.unicef.org,
4/19; Oxfam, April 8 2004,
Prisoners Remain at Large
As rebels led their insurrection against the elected government in February,
they liberated the entire Haitians prison population. Approximately
3,000 prisoners were freed, including many who were serving sentences
or awaiting trial for serious human rights violations. Reuters reported
on May 6 that prisoners were threatening individuals and businesses
and carrying out robberies, shootings, and kidnappings. A delegation
from the National Lawyers Guild found no apparent effort being made
to capture the escapees, among which were persons convicted in the Raboteau
Massacre trial in 2000. The delegation heard one report that 128 of
the 1,028 prisoners who escaped from the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince
had been rearrested. It could not, however, find evidence to corroborate
this claim. and none of these allegedly rearrested prisoners were being
held at the National Penitentiary (Reuters, 5/6, National Lawyers Guild
Delegation, Phase II, 4/12-4/19)
National Campaign of Repression Continues, National Lawyers Guild
Numerous reports from Haiti continue to emerge of a campaign of repression
aimed primarily at supporters of deposed President Aristide and his
political party Lavalas. Jonas Petit, a spokesperson for the Lavalas
party stated: "We won't [participate in the electoral council] until
the government puts an end to the killing, persecutions, illegal arrests,
and destruction of personal property of our members and supporters"
(Reuters). Although many groups have been accused of carrying
out violations since February 29, no other major political group has
claimed to have been subjected to political persecution since that date.
Members of the NLG delegation found extensive evidence supporting the
claims made by Lavalas leaders of continued repression, violence and
human rights violations towards supporters of the elected government.
Thousands of individuals still remain in hiding and many families have
been disrupted for more than two months. All persons in hiding interviewed
by the delegation, including local and national government officials,
the director of a community radio station, community and neighborhood
leaders, teachers, and students, identified themselves as supporters
of Aristide or the deposed government. Members of the delegation found
that across Haiti, security for government supporters and members of
popular organizations working for peasants' rights, democracy, and/or
Aristide was severely lacking and that these persons continued to be
in grave danger" (NLG II).
Significant Internal Displacement, Human Rights Lawyer Reports
Numerous residents from the country side, in particular from the neighborhoods
of Petit Goave, Gonaives, Saint Marc, Cap Haitien, Jeremie, LimbÈ, Mirebalais,
and Maissade have been forced to flee to Port-au-Prince as a result
of acts of intimidation and/or death threats. Several have been threatened
with death upon their return to the area. Many who have tried to go
back have been forced to return because of the continued presence of
those who initially persecuted them. Similarly, those from Port-au-Prince
who are being persecuted claim they cannot go to the country side because
of the presence of former militaries and rebels in certain areas, and
the lack of regular police forces.
Reports from the North: Climate of Lawlessness Prevails
During its week-long visit to Haiti (April 12-19), a delegation from
the National Lawyer' s Guild (NLG) spent several days visiting the North
of Haiti and conducted interviews with many different individuals and
groups in Cap-Haï tien, Gonaï ves, and Milot. The NLG Delegation
found the situation in the North of Haiti to be characterized by a lack
of functioning local government structures. Police buildings were burned
and abandoned from Gonaï ves north to Cap-Haï tien. Although
the NLG Delegation found evidence that the level of violence had declined
since the weeks immediately preceding and following February 29, the
delegation heard "persistent credible reports ongoing kidnappings for
payment of ransom, threats, intimidation, and some targeted killings."
Consistent with the findings of earlier delegations from Human Rights
Watch and Amnesty International, the NLG delegation found extensive
evidence of human rights violations in Cap-Haïtien, Gonaïves,
and Port-au-Prince, and connections between these violations and the
armed groups. (For a full copy of the NLG report, go to www.nlg.org).
The NLG reports that the presence of elected officials at the national
and local level and the National Police have been supplanted by rebel
forces comprised of convicted human rights violators, released prisoners,
gang members, and other groups with a weak human rights record. The
delegation observed that armed gangs continue to operate openly in Cap-Haïtien
and Gonaïves without any intervention from the MIF. Others convicted
in major human rights cases, including Jean "Tatoune" Pierre remain
at large, and "Tatoune" remains a major power broker in Gonaïves.
They also noted that the gangs play a more powerful role than police
and even international troops in some areas.
The NLG delegation found no indications that the Haitian National Police,
or the multi-national forces claiming to support the police, were seeking
to arrest anybody for the killings of police, the burning of homes and
police stations, or the killing, kidnappings, and threats being made
against the civilian population. When interviewed, the press officer
for the French forces in Cap-Haitïen, J.L. Duros, stated the role
of the multi-national force was to provide assistance to the Haitian
National Police as the police lack legitimacy because of their involvement
in the former government and "need to regain the trust of people." He
also indicated that the French troops were not involved in disarming
people but would assist the police in arresting people who unlawfully
possessed weapons. He stated the French troops did not have any direct
contact with armed groups. The failure of the multi-national forces
to disarm the rebel forces, the lack of a police presence, and the de
facto security role of armed rebel groups was also noted by Human Rights
Watch in its March assessment mission to the north of Haiti (Amnesty
International, Haiti: Perpetrators of past abuses threaten human rights
and the reestablishment of the rule of law, 3/3).
|Photo from the home of So Anne,
where extensive damage was done in an arrest by U.S. Marines
Legal Concerns about Arrests
The Case of "
At 12:30 on May 10, 2004, the U.S. military, acting as the Multinational
Interim Force (MIF), forcibly entered the home of Annette Auguste, or
"So Anne," a Haitian activist. No Haitian police were reported to have
been present at the time of the entry, arrest, or interrogation. The
U.S. soldiers are said to have blown up the gate where So Anne was living
with a grenade and shot the dogs on the property with automatic weapons.
There were no weapons found on the premises. Photos taken at the scene
show extensive damage to the property (photographs posted at www.haitiaction.net).
MIF spokesperson Colonel David Lapan stated that So Anne had been arrested
for making negative comments against the foreign soldiers and Haitian
Police and said that the Marines used substantial force during their
operation in order to demonstrate that the Marines were capable of defending
themselves. The arrest of So Anne and her family members occurred in
clear violation of the Haitian Constitution: she was taken into custody
of the Marines without an arrest warrant, in violation of Constitution
Article 24.4. The arrest was made in the middle of the night, despite
a constitutional ban on arrests between 6 pm and 6 am (Art. 24.3(4);
3). Eleven family members were arrested with her, including her five-year
old grandson, in violation of Art. 24.3, which prohibits arrests of
people for other' s alleged crimes. The use of explosives and automatic
weapons constituted excessive force. So Anne and her family members
are reported to have been interrogated by the Marines, without legal
counsel present, in violation of Art. 25.1 of the Constitution. It is
reported So Anne is being held by U.S. Marines, not Haitian police,
and international press have been denied access to see her at the time
of writing. Constitutional Questions Surround Arrests
The NLG delegation found evidence that So Anne'
s case is not isolated
and that extra-constitutional arrests are common. According to their
report, some of these arrests are being carried out either by or with
the assistance of the U.S. Marines. The delegation interviewed prisoners
who were being held in a Port-au-Prince jail. The prisoners indicated
that they had been picked up by U.S. Marines who accused them of planning
to shoot American soldiers and then took them for detention to the jail.
The Haitian Constitution (Art. 24.3, Art 26) requires that enforcement
officials demonstrate a legally cognizable basis for arrests and detentions.
The prison official questioned by the NLG delegation did not know or
question the legal context of the prisoners'
detention. There was no
record of an arrest warrant and the Marines were expected to return
to interrogate the men, who claimed they were merely out drinking. When
interviewed by the NLG Delegation, a police official claimed that "
charges are brought because no charges need be brought against detainees."
The official told the delegation that the five detainees in question
would see a judge on the following Monday. They had been arrested on
Wednesday. The Haitian Constitution requires that detainees be granted
a court hearing within 48 hours of arrest. The police commissioner interviewed
stated that he would make arrests on one of two following two bases:
if he personally witnessed someone committing a crime or if a witness
claimed to have seen a crime. In the latter case, the witness would
be required to obtain an arrest warrant, and the police would then arrest
the suspect. Marines Control National Penitentiary
During a trip to the National Penitentiary, the NLG delegation found
Marines present and in control of at least a portion of the facility.
After initially receiving permission to tour the prison, the Inspector
had a conversation with the Marine present, Corporal Pierre. The group
was informed that one-half of the prison was under the exclusive security
control of the U.S. military and it could not enter that portion of
the prison. Corporal Pierre told the delegation that the U.S. forces
did not arrest persons and bring them directly to the prison. He did
not disclose whether prisoners were being held in that section of the
prison; however another Marine later confirmed that the Marines were
in fact holding prisoners when confronted by the family member of a
person alleged to have been arrested by the U.S. Marines the previous
The Haiti Human Rights Report is a publication of the Let
Haiti Live Coalition. The purpose of the report is to disseminate information
on the human rights situation in Haiti. It is not meant as an exhaustive
catalog of all human rights violations occurring in Haiti. Submissions,
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about the Let Haiti Live Coalition, visit www.haitireborn.org
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