A Decade of Impunity in Haiti
1996 Vol. 8, No. 7 (B)
The one who delivers the blow forgets. The one who bears its mark remembers.
Bay kou bliye. Pote mak sonje.
I. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Haiti's turmoil over the last decade demonstrates the insidious effect
of impunity for violent human rights abuse. Despite repeated official
promises of justice and untold opportunities to fulfill those vows,
prosecutions for human rights crimes have been rare. As each new military
leader took up residence in Port-au-Prince's sparkling Presidential
Palace, the unmistakable lesson of the past was that there would be
no serious price to pay for political violence. Getting away with murder
was the rule.
Haiti's two democratically elected governments have struggled under
the weight of entrenched impunity, making tentative steps toward ending
the legacy of failed justice. Today, conditions are better than ever
for breaking Haiti's pattern of impunity. Unfortunately however, Haiti's
government, by failing to make ending impunity a top priority, is letting
the opportunity to establish accountability slip away. And the U.S.
government, to its great shame, has erected its own roadblocks to truth
and justice in Haiti.
The duty to prosecute and punish human rights violators is solidly grounded
in international law. The Haitian government's obligation also arises
directly from the suffering of tens of thousands who faced death, torture,
rape, or arbitrary detention at the hands of Haitian troops and their
allies. Haitian victims are thirsty for justice and deserve their government's
and the international community's best efforts to provide an accounting
of their ordeal and those responsible for it. Beyond truth-telling,
the Haitian government should also make every effort to prosecute the
perpetrators of human rights violations, to the full extent of the law
and with full due process protections. General amnesties, such as those
encouraged by the U.S. government in Haiti but ultimately rejected by
the Haitian parliament, are anathema to a society that is respectful
of human rights, since they seek to deny individual victims the right
of redress for their suffering. Of even greater danger to Haiti today
is the prospect of a de facto amnesty through multiple failures to embrace
a comprehensive policy against impunity.
Human Rights Watch/Americas recognizes that amnesties and other measures
designed to preclude the transparent establishment of responsibility
for human rights crimes frequently are embraced in the name of avoiding
"insecurity" and "instability." But as Haiti's tumultuous
history amply shows, a government's decision to forsake accountability
for political expediency only encourages further abuse and instability.
Only the establishment of the rule of law offers the prospect of breaking
the cycle of abuse and amnesia that has condemned Haiti to the deadly
pattern detailed in this report.
Under Haiti's military rulers, in the absence of the rule of law and
an official moral order against which to stigmatize abusive officials,
efforts to establish the truth were half-hearted and unsuccessful. The
few show trials did little to illuminate the workings of past repressive
governments and produced few convictions. Investigative commissions
either whitewashed the army's role in abuse or dissolved without a trace.
More commonly, repressive military leaders were simply sent into exile
as a substitute for justice and full exposure of their crimes.
Persistent impunity also contributed to periodic spasms of vigilante
violence and summary revenge. Seeing no prospect of justice in the Haitian
courts, the Haitian people periodically took matters into their own
hands. This vigilante violence reinforced the army's determination not
to relinquish power and undermined the difficult, painstaking work of
building the rule of law.
For most of the past ten years, the U.S. government-by far the dominant
external force in Haiti-pursued a strategy of placating the very forces
that were ruthlessly suppressing the democratic aspirations of the Haitianpeople.
Washington's readiness to overlook official violence stemmed from its
willingness to oversee a superficial "transition to democracy"
on the cheap. Convinced that the right combination of persuasion and
enticement could convince the army and its violent allies to tolerate
civilian rule, Washington resisted pressing to bring the military authors
of past abuses to justice. Illustrative was the U.S. government's hard
push for a broad amnesty for the Haitian military officials who were
responsible for the three-year reign of terror following President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's ouster in September 1991. Washington's reasons ranged from
a misguided belief that the army was the only institution capable of
securing order in Haiti to a realpolitik calculation that the army was
necessary to keep leftist political forces in check. The U.S. also contributed
to the formation of organizations that were later responsible for severe
human rights abuses, including the National Intelligence Service (Service
d'Intelligence Nationale, hereafter SIN) and the paramilitary Front
for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (Front pour l'Avancement et
le Progrès d'Haïti, hereafter FRAPH), and then downplayed
abuses to justify denying terrorized Haitians refugee status.
This year, for the first time, one freely elected Haitian president,
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has handed the reins of power to another freely
elected president, René Préval. The restoration of Aristide
to power on October 15, 1994, and the peaceful transition to Préval,
on February 7, 1996, represents Haiti's best opportunity to take a firm
stand against impunity. As political repression has diminished, civil
society has flourished. More the statesman after three years in exile,
Aristide during most of his sixteen months back in office repeatedly
and insistently preached the need to avoid the popular killings that
had marred his first year in office and that so often stymied past efforts
to establish justice. "No to violence, yes to reconciliation"
became his mantra. But while Aristide and Préval regularly urged
reconciliation and justice, they failed in large part to follow through
on their rhetoric. The government prosecuted a handful of minor actors
in some of the most prominent human rights violations, but for the most
part, impunity remained the rule and human rights victims were left
thirsting for justice.
The Haitian government made other efforts to establish accountability,
but all of these have been half-hearted. For example, President Aristide
backed the formation of a truth and justice commission in 1994. After
stumbling for several months, the commission gathered sufficient funds,
conducted field research, and ultimately prepared a lengthy report on
human rights violations under the military government. While the Préval
government released the commission's recommendations, the remainder
of the commission's 1,200-page report has not been published and remains
shelved in the Justice Ministry. President Aristide also opened complaint
offices (bureaux de doléances) for human rights victims, but
these were mismanaged, underfunded, and then closed, with little effort
to transfer files to local prosecutors. Scores of victims who had come
forward to give their testimony on abuses during the military government
to representatives of the truth commission or complaint bureaus, or
who had reported abuses to human rights observers with the International
Civilian Mission of the Organization of American States and the United
Nations (Mission Civile International en Haïti, OEA/ONU, hereafter
MICIVIH), wrongly presumed that their cases would be investigated further,
that they might receive reparations, and that their abusers would face
criminal penalties. The justice minister declared in June 1996 that
an earlier promise to use a portion of the ministry's budget for reparations
could not be fulfilled because the funds had never been allocated. Scores
of victims who presented criminal complaints in Haitian courts met similar
inaction in most cases.
Nonetheless, the successful prosecution of even a few human rights offenders
demonstrated the possibility that when the government chose to do so,
it could make genuine progress against impunity. While the government's
rhetorical commitment to end impunity was applauded at the outset, its
failure to follow through and provide justice, or even truth, for victims
of the military government called into question its determination to
tackle this fundamental problem.
Haiti's return to democratic government was made possible by a substantial
international presence. However, Washington and the international community
seemed content to settle for the arrival of elected government with
little regard for establishing accountability for past human rights
violations. The multinational forces leading the intervention routinely
detained suspected human rights violators, but released them without
turning them over to the Haitian legal system. Even today, as Haiti's
army has been effectively dismantled and an international militarypresence
has at least temporarily pushed abusive forces aside, Washington's apparent
belief that democratic institutions and the rule of law can be built
without accountability for the atrocities of the recent past continues
to jeopardize Haiti's future. As noted, the U.S. government continued
to support the adoption of a broad amnesty as Aristide returned to Haiti.
More troubling still, the U.S. government directly impeded the prosecution
of human rights crimes in Haiti by refusing to return documents seized
from FRAPH and Haitian military headquarters and by reaching a secret
settlement with FRAPH's leader, Emmanuel Constant, which allowed Constant
to remain in the United States with a work permit while evading deportation
to Haiti and criminal prosecution for human rights abuses there. The
U.S. government's cover-up of the crimes of FRAPH, which was founded
by Constant while he was allegedly on the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) payroll, suggests that the U.S. government is trying to prevent
revelation of its own complicity in violent abuses in Haiti. For example,
U.S. officials who were negotiating with the Haitian government regarding
the return of the FRAPH documents, while conceding that the material
belongs to the Haitian government, have maintained that U.S. citizens'
names must be redacted from the materials before they are returned to
Haiti. Removing names would conceal whether U.S. citizens were themselves
party to human rights crimes in Haiti. By delaying the return of these
materials to Haiti for almost two years, the Clinton administration
has denied the truth commission and Haitian prosecutors an extremely
rich source of information on recent human rights abuses, including
the critical question of chain of command.
Furthermore, while the U.S. government made significant contributions
to institution building in Haiti, Washington apparently did not consider
accountability a top priority. Washington's multimillion dollar aid
package for the new government included only $50,000 for the truth commission,
and this sum was offered only a month before the commission's mandate
expired and for materials previously provided by other donors. The U.S.
funded a five-year $18 million program for the administration of justice
that the U.S. ambassador called Washington's most significant contribution
to ending impunity. However, this program was poorly conceived and poorly
administered in its first year, and did not dedicate resources directly
to the prosecution of past human rights violations. At the end of the
first year, the U.S. government had replaced several staff members.
It is too soon to tell whether this program will make an effective contribution
against impunity in Haiti.
Haiti's democratic governments' failures to hold past human rights violators
accountable for their actions once again has raised the spectre of insecurity
in Haiti. Having never faced prosecution for human rights abuses, demobilized
Haitian soldiers and former paramilitary troops find few impediments
to continuing criminal acts. This impunity has undermined historic steps
taken by Haiti's democratic government. Aristide dismissed virtually
the entire military leadership (every officer above the rank of major),
abolished for a second time the post of section chief and, despite the
Clinton administration's desire to maintain a military counterbalance
to popular rule, effectively dissolved the army. Yet, the lack of prosecutions
and trials of soldiers dismissed from the security forces, and the failure
to disarm them, left an alienated, disgruntled, and dangerous opposition
to civilian rule that has already plagued the fledgling elected government
and may contribute to greater problems once international troops depart.
Haiti's experience illustrates the dangers of ignoring accountability
for past violent abuse in the haste to secure a transition to democracy.
Each time a supposedly reformist regime took power, Haitians were asked
to forget the past, to look forward to a new era. But rather than build
the rule of law, sooner or later this impunity emboldened reactionary
forces to resume political killing. It is time for this official indulgence
of political killers to end.
To the Haitian Government
* As a first step toward establishing accountability, the government
must make known all that can be reliably established about gross abuses
of human rights. For this reason, we urge the prompt public release
of thereport of the Commission for Truth and Justice, Si M Pa Rele ("If
I Don't Cry Out," from a familiar Haitian proverb highlighting
the need to speak out about injustice).
* The president should provide full support for the prompt initiation
of criminal proceedings against alleged perpetrators of serious human
rights abuses named in the truth commission report. Given the number
of cases, the government should establish special criminal court sessions
in all departments or a special tribunal to handle criminal complaints,
as recommended by the truth commission. Those human rights violations
that the commission described as crimes against humanity should be prosecuted
as a matter of utmost urgency.
* The president should persist in seeking the return of documents that
U.S. troops seized from FRAPH and Haitian military headquarters in the
fall of 1994.
* The government should provide a staff, financial backing, office space
and full support to the committee headed by former truth commissioner
and justice minister René Magloire to ensure adoption of the
truth commission recommendations.
* Similarly, the Office of Citizen Protection, under the direction of
Louis Roy, should be given sufficient resources to assist citizens complaining
of human rights abuses.
* The government should act promptly to ratify both the Convention Against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and
* Urgent steps should be taken to establish accountability for sexual
violence committed by the military government and paramilitary agents.
The government's ratification this year of the Inter-American Convention
for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an important step that
should be followed by: the enactment of legislation to redefine rape
as a crime against the person rather than a crime against morals; steps
to improve victims' access to forensic examinations; the devotion of
sufficient resources to train and sensitize judicial and police personnel
on documenting sexual violence; and a campaign to publicize prohibitions
of sexual violence.
* A comprehensive policy against impunity is needed to overcome a weak
judicial system plagued by minimal material resources and a history
of corruption; infrequent criminal court sessions; and poor investigative
capacity. The government should devote sufficient resources to building
the independence of the judiciary; increasing the number and efficiency
of prosecutors; ensuring that legal proceedings are fully understandable
to those who speak only Haitian Creole; mobilizing police to prevent
acts of popular violence; and modernizing Haiti's archaic legal codes
to enshrine full due process protections for all defendants.
* As the government faces the challenge of prosecuting past human rights
abusers and trying to establish the rule of law in Haiti, it should
ensure that full due process protections are available to all defendants.
We urge the Justice Ministry to take steps to prevent the issuance of
arrest warrants with insufficient justification, as has occurred in
several cases. The Justice Ministry also should make special efforts
to ensure the security of victims, witnesses, and judicial authorities.
* More frequent criminal court sessions are desperately needed, since
the enormous delays between sessions now contribute to lengthy pre-trial
detentions and long delays in concluding criminal cases.
* Abusive members of the Haitian National Police rarely have been brought
to trial. We recommend that the Justice Ministry adopt a vigorous and
public posture against ongoing police abuse and prosecute each caseto
the full extent of the law. It is also important to commence criminal
prosecutions in all cases of vigilante violence.
* We urge the government to issue arrest warrants and invoke extradition
agreements to secure custody of indicted defendants. The government
should request the extradition of Col. Michel François (the former
Port-au-Prince police chief) and Franck Romain (the former mayor of
Port-au-Prince who was implicated in a 1988 massacre) from Honduras
and should submit a revised extradition request for FRAPH leader Emmanuel
Constant to the United States government.
To the United States
* We urge the U.S. government immediately to return to the Haitian government
all materials that were seized from FRAPH and Haitian military offices
in the fall of 1994, without any redaction of information or U.S. citizens'
names. The return of these materials would assist the Haitian government
in prosecuting abusive former Haitian soldiers and members of FRAPH.
* We urge the U.S. government promptly to deport FRAPH leader Emmanuel
Constant to Haiti, where he is wanted for human rights abuses, including
torture and extrajudicial execution. The U.S. government should offer
full collaboration to the Haitian government to ensure Constant's safety
and right to a fair trial. Meanwhile, the details of any settlement
or agreement between Constant and the U.S. government should be made
public, particularly any details regarding Constant's relationship with
* The U.S. government must examine its own involvement in human rights
abuses in Haiti. The Clinton administration should launch a thorough
and impartial investigation into allegations that agents or units funded
by the CIA, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) were involved in serious human rights violations.
The findings of such an investigation should be made public and disciplinary
or criminal action taken where appropriate. U.S. government documents
regarding human rights violations committed by the SIN (the National
Intelligence Service) and FRAPH should be declassified to allow informed
public debate about U.S. policy towards Haiti.
* The U.S. government should, at a minimum, demonstrate support for
the truth commission by offering the Haitian government sufficient funding
for the publication and distribution of the text and annexes of the
To the European Union, Canada and other countries
* International funding is urgently needed to support the Haitian judicial
system. A primary focus of this assistance should be the establishment
of regular criminal court sessions throughout Haiti (the last one in
Gonaïves was held in 1991), as well as special criminal court sessions
or the creation of a special tribunal for the purpose of prosecuting
human rights abuses.
* Known perpetrators of serious human rights violations, such as Col.
Michel François and Franck Romain have fled criminal prosecutions
in Haiti. François and Romain first sought refuge in the Dominican
Republic and then were granted political asylum in Honduras. Like FRAPH
leader Emmanuel Constant, who remains in comfortable exile in the United
States, these notorious human rights violators should be returned to
Haiti to stand trial.
II. IMPUNITY SINCE THE FALL OF THE DUVALIER FAMILY DICTATORSHIP
The Twenty-Nine Year Duvalier Dictatorship Ends with Jean-Claude Duvalier's
Flight, February 7, 1986
Haiti's modern pattern of impunity began with the failure to prosecute
those responsible for severe human rights abuses committed during the
ruthless twenty-nine-year Duvalier dynasty.1 "President-for-Life"
François (Papa Doc) Duvalier, who assumed power in 1957, and
his son, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, who took office at the age
of nineteen upon his father's death in 1971 and remained in power until
February 7, 1986, are estimated to have ordered the deaths of between
twenty and thirty thousand Haitian civilians. The brutality of their
government created the modern Haitian diaspora, driving hundreds of
thousands of Haitians into exile in Canada, France, the United States,
the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. Official torture and murder were
commonplace. The Duvaliers stunted civil society with harsh repression
of any signs of independence among political parties, trade unions,
and the press.
The Duvaliers created multiple military and paramilitary institutions
to impose their will on the civilian population and to avoid creating
a single center of power outside the presidency. These included several
units of the army: the Presidential Guard, the Casernes Dessalines,
the "Léopards," and the police (which was part of the
military). As a counterweight to the army, Duvalier pére created
the paramilitary Volunteers for National Security, the so-called Tontons
Macoutes, whose membership and power ultimately dwarfed that of the
army. At the local level, section chiefs (chefs de sections, rural sheriffs)
exercised control and presided in often corrupt and violent fashion
over each of Haiti's 565 rural sections.
The Duvaliers' firm control of governmental institutions extended to
the prisons and the judicial system, both of which took an active role
in state repression. Rather than serve a public desperate for justice,
the courts and prison authorities collaborated in a system of corruption,
extortion, torture, and death. Their actions, and those of their military
and paramilitary counterparts, enjoyed absolute impunity.
Despite the transparent brutality of the Duvalier dictatorship, the
Reagan administration regularly certified that the human rights practices
of the Duvalier government were improving sufficiently to warrant the
granting of economic assistance. U.S. aid to Haiti was conditioned by
law on a presidential determination that the Haitian government was
"making progress toward improving the human rights situation in
Haiti."2 But the Reaganadministration's overriding concern with
staving off a possible leftist government in Haiti and the flow of Haitian
"boat people" to the United States left the truth, not to
mention any quest for justice, an early casualty of the certification
Visible discontent with the Duvalier dynasty began to grow in the 1980s.
The spark that ignited Haiti's nascent opposition movement was the army's
killing of four high-school students while suppressing a demonstration
in the central Haitian city of Gonaïves in November 1985.
When in late January 1986 the Reagan administration finally decided
not to certify the Duvalier government's compliance with U.S. human
rights conditions, the dictator's fate was sealed. Jean-Claude Duvalier
and his family fled Haiti on February 7, 1986, boarding a U.S. military
plane on the first leg of their trip to comfortable exile in France.
He faced no criminal actions for the atrocities he directed and successfully
evaded civil suits brought by human rights victims and subsequent Haitian
Frustrated by the overriding absence of justice following twenty-nine
years of repression, Haitians engaged in spasms of vigilante violence-a
pattern that was to prove recurrent. From the day of Duvalier's departure,
many Haitians embraced the concept of dechoukage, "the uprooting
of the old order." Beyond advocating political changes, some Haitians
periodically attacked suspected "Macoutes" and, in some cases,
hacked their presumed former persecutors to death. Needless to say,
this did nothing to establish the rule of law.
The National Governing Council, under Gen. Henri Namphy, Assumes Control,
With the active involvement of the Reagan administration, a National
Governing Council (CNG) was formed shortly after Jean-Claude Duvalier's
flight from Haiti. The CNG was headed by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, an uninspiring
figure from the Duvalier army; the new minister of defense and the interior
was Col. Williams Régala, who boasted a long history of abuse
with Duvalier's secret police. Although the CNG vowed to make a "clean
break with the Duvalierist past," its failure to end impunity for
past wrongs and continued human rights abuses overshadowed positive
steps, such as the adoption of a new Constitution. The CNG reacted violently
to the Haitian public's fervor to acknowledge past human rights abuses.
On April 26, 1986, the army fired on a crowd of several thousand who
had gathered in Port-au-Prince for a memorial to the victims of the
Duvalier dictatorship, killing eight.4
Little effort was made to punish those who had presided over the violent
crimes of the Duvalier era. There was no truth commission, no investigation
or exposure of past atrocities, and no systematic quest for justice.
The CNG allowed Duvalier's secret police chief, Col. Albert Pierre,
and the head of the Tontons Macoutes, Rosalie Adolphe, to leave the
country. The Macoutes, while officially disbanded, were not disarmed,
let alone prosecuted.
The sole exceptions to this pattern of impunity were trials of two former
Duvalier officials: Luc Désyr, Duvalier's notorious former secret
police chief, and Col. Samuel Jérémie, who was believed
to have ordered the killing in Léogane of over one hundred civilians
for prematurely celebrating the downfall of the Duvalier dictatorship
in late January 1986. The CNG had not originally planned to arrest Désyr
but was compelled to do so "for his own safety" after some
ten thousand Haitians stormed the Port-au-Prince airport to prevent
his flight. His trial was a twenty-four-hour marathon, with little regard
for due process or the presentation of competent evidence. The charges
for a double murder committed over two decades earlier seemed designed
to quench the popular thirst for vengeance while avoiding exposure of
the involvement of senior military officials in the atrocities of the
Duvalier era. Désyr was found guilty and sentenced to death,
even though the death penalty had been formally abolished in Haiti.
His execution was never carried out. He remained in prison until he
was released by the sympathetic military government in December 1991.
The three-day trial of Jérémie, while somewhat more dignified,
also focused on an isolated actof torture and murder, without formally
addressing his then-recent involvement in the massacre at Léogane.
He was handed a fifteen-year prison term that ended prematurely with
his release by the military in 1991.5
The CNG also responded violently to the emerging Haitian civil society's
exercise of modest political freedoms. The army shot at peaceful demonstrators
and church facilities, leaving several hundred dead during the first
twenty-one months of military rule. Instead of expressing regret, the
CNG blamed "agitators and provocateurs" and defended its actions.
Haitians soon spoke of "Duvalierism without Duvalier." Yet,
the Reagan administration continued to certify that Haiti's human rights
record was improving -and, for the first time in years, convinced Congress
to provide military assistance.
The CNG permitted the drafting of a new Constitution, which was approved
overwhelmingly in a March 1987 referendum. The Constitution included
provisions prohibiting arbitrary detention and beatings, and precluding
arrests between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The Constitution
also provided for the creation of an Office of Citizen Protection, an
ombudsman for civilian complaints about government abuses, but that
office was not actually created until 1996 and remains unfunded. The
new Constitution also contained a provision designed to establish a
modicum of accountability for past abuses by barring human rights violators
from running for elected office, but the CNG actively opposed the exercise
of this provision. The constitutionally created Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP) was charged with disqualifying any candidate who had been
an "architect" of the Duvalierist dictatorship or had been
involved in the torture or murder of political prisoners. In June 1987,
fearing the independent exercise of this power, the CNG attempted by
decree to usurp the CEP's control of the electoral process.
It relented only after three weeks of public protest in which troops
killed some thirty-five Haitians.
In early November, the CEP disqualified twelve of the thirty-five presidential
candidates from the election scheduled for later that month. The night
of the ruling, men armed with submachine guns torched the CEP's headquarters
as well as the personal business of a CEP member. Raids were also launched
against impoverished neighborhoods where opposition to military rule
was most intense. The Reagan administration remained notably mute about
the violence and numerous deaths and continued to deliver military aid.
As one senior State Department official explained, "The army is
necessary to hold the country together enough to hold elections."
Having failed to take serious action against human rights abusers within
its ranks and bolstered by the Reagan administration's willingness to
shield it from criticism of obvious repression, the CNG showed little
restraint when faced with an election that might challenge its authority.
On election day, November 29, 1987, thirty-four voters and election
workers were murdered by armed thugs operating in apparent alliance
with the army, including fourteen victims at a single Port-au-Prince
polling place. To avoid further bloodshed, the CEP canceled the elections
after three hours of voting. Only then did the Reagan administration
cut off government-to-government aid.
The CNG remained in power under General Namphy's control for nearly
another year. An army-sponsored substitute election on January 17, 1988,
was widely boycotted by voters and the leading candidates. Leslie Manigat,
a professor and former Duvalier exile, was named the victor. But in
June 1988, when he attempted to exercise authority by reshuffling the
army's senior command and firing Namphy, Manigat was unceremoniously
ousted. General Namphy formally assumed the reins of power himself,
dissolved the parliament, and voided entire sections of the popularly
Gen. Henri Namphy's Assumes Full Control, June 19, 1988
As he had done while directing the CNG, Namphy responded to periodic
high-profile atrocities merely by announcing the launching of an investigation.
This had occurred in response to the massacre of hundreds of peasants
in Jean Rabel in July 1987, the murder of presidential candidates Louis
Eugène Athis and Yves Volel in August andOctober 1987, the election
day killings of November 1987, the murder of human rights lawyer Lafontant
Joseph in July 1988, and the killing of four members of a youth organization
in Labadie in August 1988. Invariably, no one was ever arrested or prosecuted.
Namphy's failure to take criminal action against his military and paramilitary
colleagues was coupled with continued severe human rights abuses to
quell popular opposition to the government. In September 1988, a band
of armed thugs operating with the open support of the government attacked
the Church of St. Jean Bosco in Port-au-Prince, where Father Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, already an outspoken critic of military rule, was conducting
mass. At least a dozen parishioners were killed, some seventy were wounded,
and the church was burned to the ground. Father Aristide barely escaped
with his life.
Gen. Prosper Avril Assumes Power, October 1988
The shocking brutality of this attack on unarmed churchgoers sparked
a group of junior military officers to lead a coup that toppled Namphy
on September 17, 1988. Believing there was little prospect of formal
justice, Haitians launched another round of mob violence against suspected
human rights violators, in this case targeting those suspected of complicity
in the Namphy government's repression.
In October 1988, the officers behind the coup selected Gen. Prosper
Avril, a senior military figure, as their leader. General Avril, portrayed
as an enlightened statesman in contrast to the boorish Namphy, enjoyed
an initial honeymoon in his relations with Washington, but demonstrated
little genuine commitment to human rights.
Avril took some promising steps in his first year, including ratifying
several human rights treaties, reinstating most of the portions of the
Constitution that had been voided by Namphy, and initiating legal and
administrative proceedings against forty-four soldiers for common crimes,
although only one soldier was known to have been convicted and sentenced.6
However, the Avril government made no effort to check the army's persistent
resort to political violence, let alone to hold it accountable for its
unlawful actions under Namphy's command. Quite the contrary, gross abuses
continued on a large scale, while Namphy and his chief aides were permitted
to flee into exile to the neighboring Dominican Republic. An investigation
into the St. Jean Bosco massacre was announced, but the results were
never revealed. A few close associates of Namphy were dismissed from
the army, but none was prosecuted, nor were their crimes exposed.
Two investigations that did yield public reports were whitewashes. In
November 1988, the Avril government issued a report on the August 1987
murder of presidential candidate Louis Eugène Athis and two of
his aides by thugs linked to rural section chiefs. The report concluded
that the victims should have known better than to campaign in the area.
The man who was widely believed to have been the mastermind of the killings,
Section Chief David Philogène, was released from protective custody
and allowed to flee to the Dominican Republic.
A second report on the November 1987 election day massacre, released
simultaneously, failed to identify a single participant in the slaughter.
Two people with knowledge of the army's role in the election day killings
were murdered in November 1988, shortly before the issuance of the investigative
report.7 Drafted by a CNG-appointed commission, the report summarily
rejected charges that the army had launched the killing in concert with
Instead, it blamed the army's critics for the army's failure to halt
the violence. Popular outrage at the report led Avril to propose a new
investigative commission, but his insistence that the commission complete
its work within one month led Haitian human rights groups to reject
the proposal. No further action was taken.
Emboldened by the unbroken precedent of impunity, the army used arrests,
beatings, torture, and murder to suppress labor unions, peasant associations,
church groups, independent journalists, literacy programs and democratic
activists. As the repression worsened, popular pressure built for Avril,
too, to step down. Avril did not fulfill his vow to hold elections.
In November 1989, the Avril government responded to mounting discontent
by arresting and brutally beating three popular leaders. Later investigations
revealed that the military officers who had ordered the leaders' torture
were receiving CIA payments at the time.8 International pressure led
quickly to the lifting of the state of siege and the release of the
imprisoned activists, but Avril's credibility as the guardian of a transition
to democracy had been definitively tainted.
While the U.S. government had said nothing about mounting abuse during
Avril's first year in power, it broke its silence with the November
1989 arrests and beatings. The shift coincided with the arrival in Port-au-Prince
of a new U.S. ambassador, Alvin Adams, who initially showed himself
to be a strong human rights advocate.9
Instead of facing prosecution, on March 10, 1990, Avril, like his predecessors,
fled into exile, this time taking up residence outside Miami. The only
trial he was to face was a civil suit brought by American lawyers in
U.S. court on behalf of some of his victims. In 1994 the court entered
a default judgement against Avril for $41 million but Avril did not
proffer any funds. Nor were any of his subordinates held accountable.
The precedent of impunity remained unbroken.10
President Ertha Pascal Trouillot Takes Office, March 13, 1990
This time, the presidential torch passed to a civilian, Ertha Pascal
Trouillot, a member of the Haitian Supreme Court with no prior political
experience, who took office on March 13, 1990, in a power-sharing arrangement
with a Council of State. The Trouillot government made minimal progress
in establishing the rule of law. Even when military personnel were occasionally
arrested-as were Marc-Antoine Lacroix, a police attaché who was
arrested for killing seven people, and Elysée Jean-François,
who was accused of taking part in the St. Jean Bosco massacre-their
trials were not scheduled.11 Those in Trouillot's government who wished
to bring human rights offenders to justice were also stymied by the
president's failure to implement the constitutional provision establishing
civilian control over the police.
In March 1990, the Trouillot government dismissed six officers from
the army. Some of the men had been publicly accused of mistreating prisoners,
but the lack of official explanation or formal charges made these accusations
impossible to verify. The senior officer among them was Maj. Isidore
Pongnon, who had been commander of Fort Dimanche from 1986 to 1988,
a time of regular reports of torture from that infamous Port-au-Prince
military detention facility.
The greatest challenge to the rule of law came with the July 7, 1990
return to Haiti of Roger Lafontant, the ruthless former head of the
Tontons Macoutes and a former Duvalier minister of defense and the interior.
Lafontanthad left Haiti in October 1985 in the midst of a Duvalier purge.
The army refused to heed Interior Minister Joseph Maxi's efforts to
arrest Lafontant at the airport. For the next six months, Lafontant
held a series of public rallies for right-wing forces while the army
pretended that he was nowhere to be found. In October, he filed a bid
for the presidency, which was reviewed and rejected by the new electoral
council. In total, the council rejected fifteen of twenty-six presidential
candidates, all on technical grounds, and thereby avoided invoking the
controversial constitutional provision against Duvalier collaborators.12
Elections were scheduled for December 16, 1990. Early in the campaign,
the U.S.-supported candidate, Marc Bazin, led, but the presidential
contest was transformed by the late entry of Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
the charismatic priest who had been targeted in the St. Jean Bosco massacre.
On election day, Aristide secured two-thirds of the vote in a heavy
But the failure to assert the rule of law before the balloting led directly
to violence in the election's aftermath. On January 6, 1991, before
Aristide's February 7 inauguration, Lafontant, still at large, launched
a coup attempt. The Haitian public flooded into the streets demanding
an end to the pre-emptive coup and respect for the results of the December
election. Facing tens of thousands of demonstrators, the army put down
the coup attempt and arrested Lafontant.
Meanwhile, the Trouillot government's earlier failures to satisfy the
popular desire for justice led to a troubling wave of incidents in which
the Haitian people took matters into their own hands. From Trouillot's
inauguration through the December 1990 presidential election, some twenty-five
Haitians, mostly presumed common criminals, were lynched. The failed
coup unleashed another torrent of popular anger. Mobs killed some thirty
suspected supporters of the coup.13
Jean-Bertrand Aristide Assumes Office as Haiti's First Democratically
Elected President, February 7, 1991
President Aristide took office on February 7, 1991, and began a serious
effort at institutional reform, focusing mainly on the army, the rural
section chiefs and the prison administration. In his most dramatic move,
he announced during his inauguration speech his "love" for
Gen. Hérard Abraham, the army commander-in-chief, before asking
Abraham to retire six of the seven ranking members of the armed forces.
In April 1991, pending the enactment of a law separating the police
from the army, Aristide began dismantling the system of rural section
chiefs. These efforts paid off in a significant reduction in violent
abuse and a virtual cessation of Haitian refugee flight.14
The Aristide government also made several symbolic efforts to address
the atrocities of Haiti's past. It closed Fort Dimanche, the notorious
detention center on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince where Duvalier prisoners
were routinely tortured, executed, or left to die under horrendous conditions.
Three Aristide government ministers also traveled to Jean-Rabel in Haiti's
remote northwest on the anniversary of a July 1987 massacre there in
which hundreds had been slaughtered. A funeral mass was held and the
exhumation of a number of mass graves was begun.15
However, Aristide's efforts to investigate past crimes were less successful.
In February 1991, he announced the formation of a commission to address
major human rights abuses of the past. But because those named to the
commission were all government ministers with other pressing duties,
it never got off the ground. A second commission, announced in August
1991, was composed of five prominent independent figures, but made no
progress before another military coup intervened.
In a few human rights cases, criminal investigations were commenced.
Arrest warrants were issued for Franck Romain, the former mayor of Port-au-Prince
who was widely believed to have masterminded the 1988 St. Jean Bosco
massacre, and Gen. Williams Régala, the defense minister under
the CNG and Namphy governments. Both fled the country before they could
be arrested. A summons was issued for Col. Joseph Baguidy, the former
commander of the police's Criminal Research Bureau (Recherches Criminelles),
who was a prime suspect in the 1987 murder of presidential candidate
Yves Volel, but he refused to return to Haiti from a diplomatic post
in the Dominican Republic
With courtroom justice in short supply, the issue of "popular justice"
remained a potent one during Aristide's tenure. From his inauguration
on February 7 to his ouster by a military coup on September 30, some
twenty-five people were lynched at the hands of Haitian mobs, although
at least eighteen of them were common criminal suspects. None of these
lynchings was ordered by Aristide, and at times members of Aristide's
government would speak out against them. But the president never threw
his considerable moral authority behind the condemnation. Indeed, at
times, Aristide seemed to endorse the threat of vigilante violence as
a legitimate political tool.16 Aristide claimed that threats of popular
violence were needed to counter behind-the-scenes pressure allegedly
exerted on the judiciary by repressive forces, but in one highly visible
case-the July 1991 trial of Roger Lafontant for his January 1991 coup
attempt-Aristide's endorsement of the threats of vigilante violence
against the judiciary further undermined its independence.17 Aristide
also counter-aimed popular violence against the freely-elected parliament
at a time when it was considering impeaching his prime minister, René
Gen. Raul Cédras, Lt. Col. Michel François, and Gen. Phillippe
Biamby Lead a Coup d'Etat Forcing President Aristide into Exile, Sept.
Once the coup was launched, the army's atrocities quickly dwarfed Aristide's
worst failings. An estimated one thousand were slaughtered in the month
following the coup, and an estimated two to three thousand more lost
their lives to political violence over the next three years.
Thousands more suffered "disappearance," torture, beatings,
rape, threats, arbitrary detention, and extortion. In large part to
escape this repression, some 100,000 would flee the country by land
or sea, and another 300,000 would be forced to hide in internal exile,
a phenomenon referred to by Haitians as marronage. The principal target
of the repression was the vigorous civil society that had taken root
in Haiti and formed the core of Aristide's support. The army banned
virtually all forms of independent assembly and association. Peasant
associations, church groups, trade unions, student organizations, and
the independent press were terrorized and shut down.18 Poor neighborhoods
assumed to be loyal to Aristide were ruthlessly attacked.
The army's goal was to return Haitian society to the atomized state
of the Duvalier era in order to neutralize the popular unrest that had
brought down previous dictatorships. Regular army troops were assisted
in their repression by newly reinstated section chiefs, attachés
(civilians used by the military to intimidate and extort) and, beginning
in September 1993, an allied paramilitary organization known as FRAPH,
an acronym that played on the French verb frapper, to hit. The U.S.
reportedly kept FRAPH founder Emmanuel Constant on the C.I.A. payroll
and favored FRAPH's formation as a counterbalance to Aristide's alleged
extremism. The paramilitary group was used to provide a facade of deniability
for army repression.
Needless to say, the limits of past efforts to establish accountability
were apparent as those who had been swept from power but not tried or
imprisoned retook their posts and resumed their violent ways. Among
those attacked were lawyers representing victims of military violence,
so that few were willing to take on new clients who had been beaten,
detained or disappeared. Similarly, physicians refused to conduct medical
examinations needed to establish the severity of injuries. Members of
the judiciary who were not already complicit with the military were
intimidated into acquiescence. Victims, in turn, rather than coming
forward to file formal complaints, were driven into hiding.
Meanwhile, the army dismantled the minimal gains of the Aristide government.
The military declared a 1991 Christmas Eve amnesty for all prisoners
convicted of "political" offenses. Among those freed were
Luc Désyr, the former Duvalier secret police chief who had been
convicted in 1986; Col. Samuel Jérémie, also convicted
in 1986; over half of the twenty-one men found guilty with Roger Lafontant
of participating in the attempted coup of January 1991; and Isidore
Pongnon, the former commander of Fort Dimanche whom the Aristide government
had arrested. Lafontant was murdered in his cell at the National Penitentiary
as the coup unfolded.19
Washington initially expressed its determination to reestablish elected
government in Haiti but this concern was soon superseded by its preoccupation
with stemming the vast flow of would-be refugees fleeing the country.
Under a 1981 agreement between the Reagan administration and the Duvalier
government, Washington traditionally dealt with Haitian "boat people"
by interdicting them on the high seas and, after cursory screening aboard
U.S. Coast Guard cutters, returning the vast majority to Port-au-Prince.20
The refugee problem led both the Bush and Clinton administrations to
downplay the severity of human rights abuses in Haiti and, accordingly,
the importance of bringing military officials to justice for their crimes.
Washington thus sought to portray the violence as the uncoordinated
acts of low-level soldiers rather than the systematic attack on Haiti's
civil society that it was. For example, a State Department asylum opinion
issued in December 1991 preposterously claimed that "we have no
reason to believe that mere identification of an individual as an Aristide
supporter puts that individual at particular risk of mistreatment or
In part because of this whitewash and in part because of the need to
ensure the army's continued willingness to accept the return of would-be
refugees, both the Bush and Clinton administrations pressed President
Aristide to share power with Haiti's murderous military leaders and
to abandon his insistence on the right to bring them to justice. Part
of this effort seemed to be repeated efforts to challenge President
Aristide's sanity. Finally, however, CIA agent Brian Latell, the chief
proponent of the theory that Aristide was mentally ill and had been
institutionalized in Canada, admitted that he had lied to Congress and
relied on information gathered by sources sympathetic to the military
The United Nations also was prepared to sacrifice any hope for accountability
in the name of an elusive agreement by the army to leave power. The
principal negotiator for the U.N. and the OAS, former Argentine Foreign
Minister Dante Caputo, even went so far as to present the army with
model amnesty laws drawn from other countries.22 Indeed, by suggesting
that an amnesty would cover even contemporary human rights crimes, the
international community seemed to be facilitating the abuses that a
U.N.-OAS human rights observer mission in Haiti was in the process of
documenting and trying to stop. Instead of urging accountability for
human rights abuse, Washington and its international partners spoke
of the need to "professionalize" the army-a goal that left
vague whether dismissal and prosecution of abusive officers, rather
than mere training, would be required.
Despite his spotty record in the Presidential Palace, Aristide in exile
never relinquished his quest for justice. His firm refusal to endorse
a broad amnesty became the principal sticking point during lengthy negotiations
with the army leading up to the Governor's Island Accord of July 1993.
Aristide insisted that no general amnesty was permissible, despite substantial
pressure from the Clinton administration for a blanket amnesty. In a
compromise, the accord called for an amnesty to be granted in accordance
with the Haitian constitution, Article 147 of which allows the president
to amnesty political offenses but not common crimes. On October 3, 1993,
Aristide decreed an amnesty for political offenses committed between
the date of the coup and the signing of the Governors Island Accord,
which would apply to acts of rebellion or treason, but he maintained
that common crimes, such as murder, torture, and rape, even if politically
motivated, could be the subject of prosecution.23
Aristide's position could be justified by the distinction between crimes
against the state, which the state is entitled to pardon, and crimes
against individuals, which the state should have no right to forgive.
Although Haiti at the time lacked the judicial resources to ensure fair
prosecution of any more than a handful of cases, the principle that
the state should be able if possible to prosecute cases of political
murder was an important one to preserve.
The signing of the Governors Island Accord began a period of repression
which intensified with the approach of October 30, 1993, the date envisioned
under the accord for the army to relinquish power. Because of the presence
of international observers, much of the repression was carried out by
attachés and paramilitary groups acting in concert with the army,
rather than by uniformed soldiers, to enable the army, while broadening
its repressive reach, to deny responsibility. Among the more brazen
murders: in September, three people were murdered as Port-au-Prince
mayor Evans Paul attempted to regain his office, and a prominent businessman
and Aristide supporter,Antoine Izméry, was assassinated by men
in plainclothes operating with military assistance; and in October,
the Aristide-selected justice minister, Guy Malary, was gunned down.
MICIVIH reported that in a small number of cases the army had informed
it of the arrest of soldiers allegedly responsible for abuse, but in
no case were these soldiers known to have been brought before a court.24
Aristide's last point of principle, his insistence that the mass murderers
of the Haitian army would not be amnestied, was an obvious target for
Clinton's compromisers. The vehicle was former President Jimmy Carter.
Accompanied by Senator Sam Nunn and retired Gen. Colin Powell, Carter
traveled to Haiti on the eve of a planned U.S. military invasion to
topple the coup regime for a last-ditch effort to convince the military
leadership to step down voluntarily. On September 18, 1994, he succeeded.
But the price, agreed to by the Clinton administration, was the promise
of a general amnesty-not only for crimes against the state but also
for the crimes of murdering, disappearing, torturing and raping individuals.
Aristide was not even consulted as the principle he had upheld during
three years of exile was abandoned over a single weekend.
Fortunately, the Clinton administration lacked the power to implement
this retreat from accountability. Since under the Haitian constitution
the legislature must enact a general amnesty, Haitian parliamentarians
were handed this presumably perfunctory step. They refused. Instead,
in October 1994, they passed an amnesty largely along the lines on which
Aristide had long insisted, covering unconditionally only crimes against
the state, not human rights abuses against individuals. On September
19, the senior officials of the military junta-Gen. Cédras, Gen.
Philippe Biamby, and Port-au-Prince police chief Col. Michel François-had
little choice but to hand over power. However, because the U.S. government
was committed to granting them amnesty, U.S. troops did not stand in
the way of their flight into exile. Once more, the architects of repression
had escaped justice.
III. IMPUNITY FOLLOWING PRESIDENT JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE'S RETURN ON
OCTOBER 15, 1994, AND PRESIDENT RENÉ PRÉVAL'S INAUGURATION
ON FEBRUARY 7, 1996
The restoration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power on October
15, 1994, and the peaceful transition to Haiti's second democratically
elected president, René Préval, on February 7, 1996, presented
Haiti with a significant opportunity to take a firm stand against impunity.
Once more, civil society flourished as political repression waned. But
while the government successfully prosecuted a handful of prominent
human rights violations, persistent impunity left human rights victims
thirsting for justice.
The government-supported truth commission barely got off the ground.
When it did marshal sufficient resources to take complaints and prepare
a detailed report of human rights violations under the military government,
the 1,200-page report remained filed away from public scrutiny in the
Justice Ministry. Scores of victims who had come forward to give their
testimony about abuses to representatives of the truth commission or
complaint bureaus, or who had reported abuses to MICIVIH during the
military government, wrongly presumed that their cases would be investigated
further, that they might receive reparations, and that the perpetrators
of violence would face criminal penalties. Victims who presented criminal
complaints in Haitian courts met inaction in all but a handful of cases.
While the governments' initiatives against impunity were applauded at
the outset, its failure to follow through and provide justice, or even
truth, for victims of the military government called into question its
will to tackle this fundamental problem.
Searching to explain this abdication of responsibility by Haiti's democratic
governments, many fingers pointed toward the United States. Even as
Aristide returned to Haiti, the U.S. government continued to support
theadoption of a broad amnesty. More troubling still, the U.S. government
directly impeded the prosecution of human rights crimes in Haiti by
refusing to return documents seized from FRAPH and Haitian military
headquarters and by reaching a secret settlement with FRAPH's leader,
Emmanuel Constant, which allowed Constant to remain in the United States
with a work permit while evading deportation to Haiti and criminal prosecution
for human rights abuses there.25 The U.S. government's actions with
regard to FRAPH, which was founded by Constant while he reportedly was
on the CIA payroll, suggest the U.S. government is engaged in a cover-up
of its own illegal actions in Haiti.
In 1996, impunity for human rights violators has again raised the specter
of insecurity. Having never faced prosecution for human rights abuses,
demobilized Haitian soldiers and former paramilitaries have been implicated
in continuing criminal acts, including some directly threatening the
security of the state.26 The lack of prosecutions of soldiers dismissed
from the security forces, and the failure to disarm them, left an alienated,
disgruntled, and dangerous opposition to civilian rule that has already
plagued the fledgling elected government and may contribute to greater
problems once international troops depart. In September 1996, attacks
in Port-au-Prince on government offices and on political leaders from
an opposition party created a strong feeling of insecurity once again.
A new civilian police force, the Haitian National Police, was created
to replace the army and gradually reached a full strength of over 5,000
officers. During the year that the police force was formed, law enforcement
was delegated to an Interim Public Security Force of former soldiers.
Only perfunctory efforts were made to screen out soldiers who had been
involved in violent abuse or to train those selected.27 Predictably,
given the lack of vigorous screening, the interim police force was responsible
for the occasional use of excessive force. While these incidents usually
led to disciplinary action and dismissal from the force, prosecutions
were not forthcoming.28 As the new force reached its full complement
of officers in the summer of 1996, it already was implicated in serious,
although not systematic, abuses of the civilian population. At the same
time, the police were targeted by unknown assailants, and eight officers
were killed between March and August. While the investigative and disciplinary
actions of an internal inspector general's office were encouraging,
the judicial system once again lagged behind and made little progress
on criminal prosecutions of abusive police officers.29
The Haitian public's frustration with the judiciary's historic corruption
and complicity with the military, which ensured impunity for human rights
abuses and common crimes, has contributed to recurring incidents of
vigilante violence. Yet, rather than return to the overtly political
dechoukage of the post-Duvalier years, the most frequent scenario today
involves public accusations of thievery after which mobs descend on
and beat the accused to death. A disturbing number of these incidents
occurred in the spring of 1995, peaking with forty-five killings inMarch.30
One significant outburst of violence against those linked to the former
military regime occurred in November 1995. Following the November 7
murder of parliamentarian Jean Hubert Feuillé, a close ally of
President Aristide, the president broke with his careful discouragement
of popular retaliation. During a November 11 eulogy, Aristide recklessly
urged his followers to assist the police with disarmament. Roadblocks
were promptly set up, houses were burned, and eight people were murdered,
including six victims who were believed to have collaborated with the
deposed military government.31 Following these incidents, vigilante
killings continued but did not return to the high levels of earlier
in the year.
Nevertheless, the death of three prisoners in June 1996, who were dragged
from a prison cell in the southern town of Roseaux prior to trial and
hacked to death, highlighted the public's continued reliance on popular
"justice" and deep distrust of the judicial system.
Disappointingly, the impunity that gave rise to these killings also
has been extended to those responsible for vigilante violence.
The Haitian Commission for Truth and Justice Report Held Hostage
In December 1994, the Aristide government announced the formation of
a National Commission for Truth and Justice (Commission Nationale de
Verité et de Justice), under the direction of Haitian sociologist
Françoise Boucard. In March 1995, three Haitian and three foreign
commissioners were named to serve with Boucard. The commission was supposed
to document the most serious human rights violations committed during
the three years of military rule (though not under the Aristide or earlier
governments) and to prepare a public report of its findings together
with recommendations about reparations, the rehabilitation of victims,
and legal and administrative measures to prevent the recurrence of gross
abuses. In September 1995, Boucard announced that the commission's report
would identify perpetrators by name when the evidence permitted, although
the commission lacked the power to initiate prosecutions. The commission
was plagued by inadequate resources, including delayed international
financial support, poor management and shortage of time, materials,
and staff, and was under considerable pressure to deliver its report
before the end of Aristide's presidential term in February 1996. The
commission completed its 1,200-page report Si M Pa Rele ("If I
Don't Cry Out...") shortly before Aristide stepped down and the
report was passed on to the Préval government.32
The commission's mandate prohibited it from initiating prosecutions
of any of the 8,652 human rights cases it documented, but expectations
were high that its report would at least provide a public accounting
of gross human rights violations under the military government. However,
over seven months after the report's completion it has yet to be published
and has had no visible impact. Only the recommendations were released,
which one human rights advocate likened to a doctor providing a prescription
without a diagnosis. The recommendations standing alone did little to
address the root causes of human rights abuse in Haiti, nor did they
provide an opportunity for victims' stories to be told in an official
forum. Meanwhile, human rights victims and the courts have no access
to potentially useful documentation of human rights crimes.
President Préval's justice minister, Pierre Max Antoine, attributed
the failure to publish the report to the excessive cost of photocopying
such a hefty tome and offered to provide computer copies of the document
to anyone who would provide the ministry with diskettes.
Human Rights Watch/Americas delivered diskettes to the ministry in June
and, despite repeated follow-up visits and calls, had not received a
copy of the document as this report went to press. Asked whether the
U.S. Embassy would consider financing such an endeavor, given its earlier
failure tosupport the truth commission, Amb. William Lacy Swing told
Human Rights Watch/Americas that the U.S. government had more urgent
Human Rights Cases in the Haitian Courts
Haitian courts have made limited progress in pursuing scores of criminal
complaints presented by human rights victims since President Aristide's
return. These complaints represent only a fraction of the human rights
violations inflicted by the military government, including between 3,000
and 4,000 extrajudicial executions, and thousands of beatings, torture,
rape and arbitrary detentions. Undoubtedly, many more cases would have
been filed had there been less confusion about the role of the truth
commission, the complaint bureaus that were briefly opened under Aristide,
and MICIVIH. Victims, who in many cases were reluctant to come forward
due to fear of retaliation from former soldiers or paramilitary members,
expressed frustration at the lack of results. Witnesses, judges and
other judicial staff also expressed nervousness about possible repercussions
if they were to take part in human rights cases.
Many of those who had presented their cases to the truth commission,
the complaint bureaus, and MICIVIH, did not realize that they also needed
to file separate criminal complaints, or they simply were disheartened
at the prospect of presenting another complaint with limited hope of
results.33 By late 1996, prosecutors attained criminal convictions in
approximately thirty cases nationwide of abuses committed by soldiers,
attachés, section chiefs, and FRAPH members, who in most cases
received short-term prison sentences relative to the severity of the
crime. The Haitian government also had limited success in prosecuting
a handful of prominent cases, detailed below. The vast majority of criminal
complaints, however, did not lead to further investigation, arrest warrants,
detentions, or criminal trials.
Under significant international pressure to hold elections and enact
economic reforms, the Aristide and Préval governments' unwillingness
to make the prosecution of these cases a top priority impeded significant
progress. A comprehensive policy against impunity is needed to overcome
a weak judicial system plagued by minimal material resources and a history
of corruption; infrequent criminal court sessions; poor investigative
capacity; the absence of potentially crucial evidence seized from FRAPH
and military headquarters by U.S. troops in October 1994 and not yet
returned to Haiti; and, the U.S. government's refusal to deport or extradite
FRAPH leader Emmanuel Constant to face criminal charges in Haiti. Nonetheless,
the successful prosecution of even a few human rights cases demonstrated
the possibility that, when it chose to do so, the Haitian government
could make genuine progress against impunity.
While Haiti's judicial system suffered from continued material and human
resource deficits, domestic and international efforts contributed to
some improvement in its functioning. The Justice Ministry distributed
basic legal codes and office supplies to courthouses and provided salary
increases for a judiciary that was historically susceptible to corruption
and political influence. Aristide's government replaced many judges
named by the military, although many others perceived as sympathetic
to the military and "Macoutes" remain -- a significant deterrent
to the bringing of criminal complaints by human rights victims. Meanwhile,
inadequate police training in investigative techniques and police frustration
with the inefficiencies and corruption of the courts contributed to
failures to observe proper arrest procedures and an emerging practice
of police beatings during interrogation.
International support allowed for improvements in the functioning of
the Haitian courts and the prison system. The Canadian government offered
assistance to rehabilitate all fourteen provincial civil court tribunals.
A five-year $18 million U.S. "Administration of Justice" program
that began in September 1995 promised equipment, training, administrative
reforms, and mentoring for some judges and prosecutors. The U.S. program
got off to a slow start, stunted by minimal prior consultation with
Haitian governmental representatives, staff who were insufficientlyfamiliar
with the Haitian legal system, and breakdowns of communication with
the Haitian Justice Ministry and other international actors. At the
end of the first year of the program, the U.S. Agency for International
Development (US-AID) contractor, the Checchi company, had little to
show beyond two small scale initiatives to provide legal assistance
to prisoners. In light of persistent criticisms of the program, in mid-1996
US-AID insisted on personnel changes, including replacing the program
director. In a separate initiative, the U.S. Department of Justice collaborated
in a program for training judges that was well-received.
France provided month-long training sessions at its prestigious National
Judges' Academy (Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature).
Aristide's creation of a National Penitentiary Administration (Administration
Penitentiaire Nationale, APENA) marked an encouraging departure from
horrendous prison conditions and practices in Haiti's past. The staff
of the new prison authority received training from French experts and
undertook important reforms, including the creation of regularized prison
registries. The International Committee of the Red Cross, working with
the Haitian Public Works Ministry, undertook physical rehabilitation
of several prisons. While overcrowding and substandard conditions persist
in some prisons, the prison system overall has improved a great deal,
there are fewer escapes, and the APENA prison guards have not been implicated
in systematic human rights abuses like those committed by their military
In spite of these and other barriers, a fervent desire for justice inspired
scores of Haiti's many thousands of human rights victims to present
criminal complaints directly to the courts, either on their own or with
the assistance of nongovernmental organizations, after the return of
democratic government.34 However, victims of political rape were extremely
reluctant to seek prosecution of their attackers, and few have done
so. Women who had been raped were dissuaded from making criminal complaints
due to the severe trauma induced by the attack, the shame still linked
to sexual crimes, the difficulty of identifying attackers, and the challenge
of providing forensic evidence of rape (particularly when, at the time
of the crime, few victims had access to medical treatment or were willing
to risk reprisals to obtain it). Victims of human rights abuses, especially
those who had become physically impaired as a result of torture or who
had lost family members, also were interested in receiving compensation
for the damages inflicted upon them.
While these complaints occasionally resulted in arrest warrants or summonses
being issued, most did not ultimately lead to criminal trials. The Justice
and Peace Commission assisted over fifty human rights victims file criminal
complaints, beginning as early as November 1994, but as of June 1996
these complaints had not led to a single criminal conviction or successful
provision of reparations. Nonetheless, while figures were difficult
to verify, courts reportedly convicted former soldiers, attachés,
FRAPH members, or other military allies in approximately thirty cases
of abuses committed under the military government. However, these cases
reportedly were marked by procedural irregularities and light sentences
relative to the gravity of the offenses.35 In a number of cases where
alleged human rights violators fled the Haitian justice system, the
government resorted to prosecution of absent defendants (in absentia,
such as Col. Michel François). While this provided an important
opportunity to bring absent defendants into court, the government should
make every effort to bring suspected criminals into court for trial
before turning to in absentia trials as a secondary option.36 In many
court cases, the judiciary faced pressures both from victims and from
supporters of the military government.
The most recent trial leading to conviction for a human rights abuse
committed by the military government occurred in July 1996 in the Central
Plateau town of Hinche. The case illustrates some of the problems facing
the few human rights victims who have seen their cases go to trial.
Four men linked to the military government were indicted for the January
18, 1994 murder of Eluckner Elie, a leader of the Peasant Movement of
Papaye (Mouvman Peyizan Papay, MPP).37 At trial, the judge reportedly
limited the opportunities for witness testimony making it more difficult
for prosecutors to build their case. Garnier Hillaire, a former soldier,
and Bethany Pierre, a former assistant to a section chief, were convicted
of the murder while the two other suspects were acquitted. The trial
judge, who was perceived as sympathetic to the former military, then
imposed a sentence of only three years for the crime for which the prescribed
sentence is forced labor for life.38 The demand for $250,000 Haitian
dollars in damages remains unresolved.39
The government's first prosecutorial initiative upon President Aristide's
return was the creation of complaint offices (bureaux de doléances).
These offices were to provide legal assistance to help victims of the
military regime initiate prosecutions. The offices met with mixed success.
They were plagued by insufficient funding, poor public awareness of
their existence and function, an unclear mandate and relationship to
local courts, and later, an abrupt demise, with little attention paid
to the status and security of the recorded complaints. The offices did
assist with filing some 200 cases while Aristide was in office, resulting
in the detention of several dozen lower-level military and paramilitary
operatives. Further success was stymied by a lack of resources, difficulty
in locating defendants, and a failure of judicial will to follow through
with criminal prosecutions.
Aristide also convened a special team of foreign lawyers to prepare
a small number of cases of the most notorious political murders under
the Cédras government: those of Justice Minister Guy Malary in
October 1993, Aristide financial supporter and political advisor Antoine
Izméry in September 1993, long-time Aristide ally Father Jean-Marie
Vincent in August 1994, and teacher and activist Jean-Claude "Claudy"
Museau in January 1992. With time, the international lawyers have taken
on responsibility for additional prominent cases, including the 1994
massacre in Raboteau and the FRAPH arson in Cité Soleil in December
1993 (which killed approximately fifty residents and destroyed hundreds
of homes), and began assisting the Special Investigation Unit (SIU,
discussed below) as consultants to the Ministry of Justice. As detailed
below, this legal team has been the driving force behind the Haitian
government's convictions in the Museau and Izméry cases.
The government's success in these cases was dimmed, however, by the
fact that all but one of the convictions were of defendants tried in
absentia. Also, the legal team suffered a resounding defeat with the
acquittal of two suspected participants in the assassination of Justice
Minister Guy Malary. Nor has the team made notable progress on the case
of Father Jean-Marie Vincent, who was killed on August 28, 1994, as
he attempted to enter his residence in Port-au-Prince. Vincent had faced
death threats for years arising out of his work with peasant organizations
in Jean-Rabel, the site of a brutal 1987 massacre, and his friendship
with President Aristide. Although President Clinton highlighted his
death as one of the justifications for the American intervention in
Haiti, and his case was included in Aristide's list of priority investigations,
the Haitian government has not arrested or brought to trial any suspect
in his killing. The lawyers' efforts to move forward on a number of
these cases reportedly have been stymied by a lack of sufficient resources
and staff, and intermittent support from the Justice Ministry.
President Aristide created a Special Investigation Unit in late 1995
to investigate politically motivated crimes committed before, during,
and after the period of military rule.40 The SIU has worked collaboratively
with the international lawyers team. The unit operates with international
support, including two U.S. government staff, and is assisted by approximately
thirty-five policemen (known as the criminal brigade, brigade criminelle).41
In November 1995 the justice minister delivered a list of seventy-seven
human rights crimes to be investigated by the brigade. The list included
a series of massacres as well as murders of prominent individuals, including
several assassinations committed since Aristide's return.42 In the short
period before Aristide stepped down, the unit was responsible for the
arrest of two suspects and conducted investigations resulting in the
issuance of four other arrest warrants in connection with the murder
of legislator Jean Hubert Feuillé. The SIU received FBI assistance
for an investigation of the March 1995 killing of a prominent pro-military
attorney, Mireille Durocher Bertin, and her client, a pilot with possible
links to drug-traffickers, Eugène Baillergeau. Initial allegations
that President Aristide's interior minister, Mondésir Beaubrun,
may have had some role in the killing were never confirmed, and the
case remains open. The FBI team completed its investigation and provided
an oral briefing of its findings, but no material evidence, to Haitian
investigators in December 1995.43
Activist Claudy Museau
The first prominent trial for human rights abuses committed under the
military government occurred on June 29, 1995, in Les Cayes. Lieutenant
Jean-Emery Pyram was sentenced in absentia to sixty years at hard labor
for the murder of the teacher and activist Jean-Claude "Claudy"
Museau, who died in January 1992 after being severely tortured. President
Aristide had selected Museau's case as one of the government's high
priority cases in January 1995. Although others allegedly participated
in Museau's torture, no one else has been tried in this case.
Aristide Supporter Antoine Izméry
Antoine Izméry, a prominent supporter of President Aristide,
was dragged from a memorial church service honoring victims of a 1988
massacre, forced to kneel in the street, and shot point blank in the
head on September 11, 1993. The assassins acted in a highly organized
fashion, blocking access to the area, sending armed men onto the church
grounds, and disregarding the presence of domestic and international
human rights observers and the press. Police vehicles escorted the assassination
team to and from the site. A MICIVIH investigation concluded that "the
elaborate plan to assassinate Antoine Izméry could not have been
carried out without the complicity, if not the participation, of highly
placed members of the Haitian armed forces."44
On August 25, 1995, one of over fifteen implicated by MICIVIH in carrying
out the killing, attaché Gérard "Zimbabwe" Gustave,
was convicted of Izméry's assassination and sentenced to life
imprisonment. The next month, seven others were convicted and sentenced
to life imprisonment in absentia for the Izméry murder, including
former Port-au-Prince police chief Col. Michel François, the
former commander of the police's Anti-Gang Service, Capt.Joanis Jackson,
and the second-ranking leader of FRAPH, Louis Jodel Chamblain.45 In
April 1996, François fled the Dominican Republic for exile in
Honduras, where, despite his notorious human rights record, the Honduran
government granted him political asylum. Franck Romain, another high-profile
Haitian human rights abuser, also fled the Dominican Republic for political
asylum in Honduras. Haitian and U.S. government sources concurred in
stating that, while François and Romain escaped the Haitian justice
system, the Haitian government favored the move to distance itself from
an imposing threat to stability. However, Haiti's long-term stability
would be better served by the prosecution and punishment of François,
Romain, and other notorious human rights violators who have sought exile
in other countries.
Justice Minister Guy Malary
The Aristide government's justice minister, Guy Malary, was assassinated
on October 14, 1993. His driver and a bodyguard were also killed. The
police blocked international human rights observers from the scene for
over an hour. When finally granted access, MICIVIH observers saw the
commander of the Investigation and Anti-gang Service of the police (Service
d'investigation et de recherches Anti-gang) ordering the round-up of
frightened witnesses. Since the restoration of democratic government
to Haiti, government attorneys have accused three individuals of participation
in the assassination: Marcel Morissaint, Robert Lecorps, and Jean-Ronique
Antoine. Morissaint was released from custody in questionable circumstances
in October 1995, and Lecorps and Antoine were acquitted of participation
in the killing on July 23, 1996.
In September 1995, shortly before government attorneys hoped to interview
Morissaint about his alleged participation in Malary's killing, the
Port-au-Prince prosecutor, Jean-Auguste Brutus, authorized his release
from prison, where he was being held on other charges. The Nation magazine
reported that U.S. officials in Haiti confirmed that Marcel Morissaint,
an attaché and the alleged gunman in Malary's assassination,
was an informant paid by the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Agency from 1991 to 1995. The Nation quoted then-Justice
Minister Jean-Joseph Exumé alleging that Morissaint had been
"under U.S. protection" and was removed from custody with
U.S. assistance.46 National Security Advisor Anthony Lake responded
publicly that Morissaint had no association whatsoever with the U.S.
at the time of the assassination of Guy Malary.47 On a visit to Haiti,
Lake also stated, "...it is absolutely untrue that the United States
in any way helped that person [Morissaint] to leave the justice system
here."48 Morissaint remains at large and is presumed to have left
On July 23, 1996, Robert Lecorps and Jean-Ronique Antoine were tried
and acquitted of participation in the assassination. The trial reportedly
was poorly prepared by the international lawyers team and marred by
prosecutor Brutus's lack of familiarity with the case. He reportedly
was unable to recognize the prosecution witnesses (who he had not interviewed
previously) and failed to object to the seating of a jury that openly
sided with the defendants and badgered and intimidated the witnesses.
The timeliness of the prosecution's proceeding to trial was called into
question since the case relied solely on eyewitness testimony and did
not provide any material evidence. The international lawyers' bureau
preparing the case reportedly received minimal cooperation from the
Haitian policecharged with carrying out arrest warrants.49 Brutus appealed
the case based on alleged jury-tampering. The appellate court had not
yet reached a decision as of this writing. Meanwhile, Lecorps and Antoine
remain in prison on other charges. The Haitian government has not brought
charges against those who masterminded the killing. Government representatives
have argued that the U.S. failure to return materials seized from FRAPH
and Haitian military headquarters has impeded their ability to document
the intellectual authorship of this and other prominent assassinations.
April 1994 Massacre in Raboteau, Gonaïves
On April 22, 1994, Haitian soldiers and FRAPH members descended on the
coastal community of Raboteau and opened fire on residents, killing
between twenty-five and thirty.
On May 26, 1995, the Haitian government arrested Capt. Castera Cenafils
for his alleged participation in the massacre. Since that time he has
remained in pre-trial detention in Gonaïves along with two attachés
also suspected of participating: Jean Tatoune and Ludovic Adolphe. Three
other suspects in the case reportedly are being held in Port-au-Prince.
However, the case has progressed slowly due to personnel changes, including
the dismissal of the original judge. Furthermore, Gonaïves has
not held a criminal court session since 1991, and the judicial authorities
there still have not set a firm date for the Raboteau massacre to go
to trial. A trial date is not expected before early 1997. The truth
commission conducted an extensive investigation in this case, including
forensic analysis of the site with assistance from international specialists,
and the publication of their findings would undoubtedly contribute to
the prosecution effort. Victims of the attack continue to press for
the trial to go forward.
United States Government Impedes Accountability in Haiti
As with its earlier support for a broad amnesty, the Clinton administration's
policy toward Haiti has neither embraced the principles of accountability
nor supported concrete Haitian government efforts to establish responsibility
for past human rights violations. Washington's refusal to return the
FRAPH and Haitian military documents and to surrender one of Haiti's
most notorious human rights violators, Emmanuel Constant, continues
to obstruct justice and to impede accountability.
FRAPH and Haitian Military Documents Remain in U.S. Possession
U.S. soldiers seized approximately 160,000 pages of documents and other
materials from FRAPH and Haitian military headquarters in the fall of
1994, including videotapes, photographs of "trophy" torture
victims, membership applications for FRAPH, passports, identification
cards, and business records. This concrete evidence of military-endorsed
brutality has obvious evidentiary value for the prosecution of gross,
systematic human rights violations. The failure to return these materials
obstructs the Haitian government's efforts to establish accountability.
Although the U.S. government conceded that these materials are Haitian
property, Washington insists that the Haitian government accept certain
conditions for their return. In early 1996, Human Rights Watch/Americas
obtained a draft "Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Return
of Haitian Documents and other Materials" (MOU) prepared for the
signature of U.S. Amb. William Swing and then-Haitian Justice Minister
René Magloire. In the MOU, the U.S. sought two conditions on
the return of the documents. One limited access to the documents to
certain Haitian governmental agencies -- investigative and prosecutorial
authorities and the Haitian Truth and Justice Commission (which had
already completed its work) -- with the apparent aim of avoiding summary
popular retaliation against those named in the documents. In a February
27, 1996, letter to Secretary of State Christopher we urged that the
legitimate goal of protecting individuals from vigilante violence be
pursued in a manner that maximizes the opportunity for the substance
of the documents to be revealed to the Haitian people, even if safeguards
are taken regarding the names of unindicted suspects.
Public access to this information through a commission ofinquiry or
some similar body would contribute to truth-telling, a vital step in
the process of reconciliation and justice. Furthermore, once a defendant
is publicly identified for prosecution, there would be no further need
to hide from the public the fact that his or her name might also appear
in military documents.
The MOU's second set of conditions, which require the presumptive excising
of the names and identifying information of all U.S. citizens, is far
more objectionable, yet it is the condition on which the U.S. government
has been most insistent. U.S. Ambassador William Swing and Assistant
Secretary of State John Shattuck argued that this measure was necessary
to protect U.S. citizens' privacy rights.50 However, privacy concerns
pale in the face of potential criminal conduct by U.S. citizens or the
U.S. government. Ostensibly Washington also sought these conditions
to protect U.S. citizens from summary retaliation. But in light of the
protection inherent in the restrictions on the public revelation of
any names listed in the documents, these additional restrictions apparently
serve the separate and illegitimate purpose of covering up possible
U.S. complicity in political murder and other abuses, particularly the
apparent involvement of U.S. intelligence agents with the military regime
and FRAPH. If U.S. government agents or associates participated in criminal
actions during the period of military rule in Haiti, their illegal activities
should be exposed and vigorously prosecuted under applicable Haitian
and U.S. law. Once more, a U.S. administration is allowing political
considerations to take precedence over building the rule of law.
The U.S. seizure of and subsequent failure to return tens of thousands
of Haitian documents and other materials from FRAPH and Haitian military
headquarters has directly impeded Haitian government efforts to investigate
and prosecute human rights violators. Already, the Haitian Commission
for Truth and Justice was denied an opportunity to review these materials
and include them in its final report. In addition, criminal prosecutions
of major human rights cases, including the assassinations of Antoine
Izméry and Justice Minister Guy Malary, most probably could have
been strengthened, and higher level defendants identified, with information
contained in these documents.
FRAPH Leader Emmanuel Constant's Release and Non-deportation
Emmanuel Constant, the founder and leader of FRAPH (the Front for the
Advancement and Progress of Haiti), has stated repeatedly that he received
payments from the CIA from 1992 until 1994 (of U.S.$500/month) and that
he collaborated with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) during that
time. Constant identified DIA attaché Col. Patrick Collins as
Constant now has a warrant pending for his arrest in Port-au-Prince
on charges of murder and torture based on November 1994 complaints by
an organization known as Anti-FRAPH. FRAPH's brutal activities under
the military government included political rapes and other torture,
executions, and mutilations, and the notorious arsonattack on Cité
Soleil that killed at least fifty residents.52 As FRAPH's founder and
president, Constant could face numerous additional criminal charges
for his direct or command role in such abuses. The Haitian government
formally requested Constant's extradition from the United States late
in 1995.53 Disturbingly, however, Washington repeatedly has extended
its protection to Constant.
Shortly after the US. intervention in Haiti, the U.S. Embassy sponsored
a press conference where Constant took center stage with a message that
FRAPH was simply a political party. Constant entered the United States
in December 1994, reportedly due to a "mistake" by immigration
authorities. On March 29, 1995, Secretary of State Christopher wrote
to Attorney General Janet Reno recommending Constant's prompt return
to Haiti. In the letter, Secretary Christopher acknowledged that FRAPH
was an "illegitimate paramilitary organization whose members were
responsible for numerous human rights violations in Haiti in 1993 and
1994." He argued that: "To permit Mr. Constant to remain at
large in the United States in these circumstances will appear as an
affront to the Haitian government, and will cast doubt upon the seriousness
of our resolve to combat human rights violations...."54
Yet, several months after Constant was detained and found deportable
by the U.S. immigration authorities, the Clinton administration decided
to release him into the United States on June 14, 1996, rather than
return him to Haiti. The decision to release Constant arose from the
settlement of a civil suit for his "wrongful incarceration"
that he had brought against Secretary Christopher and Attorney General
Reno. At the time Constant brought the suit, in December 1995, he also
volunteered to return to Haiti.55 Despite the pending Haitian government
extradition request and Constant's offer to return to Haiti, he remained
in a U.S. detention center until June. In a secret agreement, the U.S.
government released Constant to his mother's custody in Brooklyn, provided
him with a work permit, and required only that he check in weekly with
immigration authorities and abide by a gag order. Constant also retains
the option to choose deportation to a country other than Haiti or the
Dominican Republic, subject to U.S. approval.56 These extraordinary
developments, representing a marked departure from Secretary Christopher's
March letter and from the U.S. government's obligations under the Convention
against Torture, cast a pall on Washington's human rights policy in
Haiti.57 After a decade of Washington's forcibly returning desperate
refugees to Haiti, the Haitian public regarded the U.S. decision not
to send back a notorious human rights violator with cynicism and disdain.
To justify its action, the U.S. government expressed concern that Constant's
presence in Haiti would contribute to "instability" and "insecurity."
In refusing to turn Constant over to the Haitian justice system in theprocess,
Washington abandoned a committment to international human rights principles
and the rule of law that must form the basis of any lasting stability.
The U.S. government also argued that Haiti's judicial and penal system
were unable to handle Constant's case. Yet, despite weaknesses in those
systems, the government has demonstrated a capacity to carry out prosecutions
of human rights crimes. In conversations with Human Rights Watch/Americas,
both President Préval and Justice Minister Antoine expressed
their willingness to devote sufficient resources to provide Constant
a fair trial and ensure his security in Haiti.58 Amb. Swing was unable
to specify when he thought conditions in Haiti would be appropriate
for returning Constant to face trial.59
Other Actions on Impunity
Beyond litigating cases in Haitian courts, Haitian and international
human rights advocates creatively have pursued a number of strategies
to advance the cause of truth and justice. In Haiti, victims of human
rights crimes have formed organizations, including one composed of over
one hundred survivors of political rape. Another organization, MAP VIV
(the Movement for Support to Victims of Organized Violence, "I
will live"), is addressing the need for survivors of political
violence to receive medical, psychological and legal assistance. The
Jean-Marie Vincent Foundation supports groups with which Fr. Vincent
worked, including those dedicated to justice, popular education, and
land reform. Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) has opened
an office in Port-au-Prince and is providing direct services to victims
of the coup d'etat. The Guy Malary Project for the Rule of Law in Haiti,
sponsored by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, recently
opened a legal library in Haiti and plans to conduct human rights training
for Haitian lawyers.
There are approximately fifty Haitian human rights cases pending before
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of
American States. FRAPH now faces a civil suit in the United States for
having directed the brutal beating of a Haitian woman, Alerte Bélance,
in 1993.60 In Canada, the International Centre for Human Rights and
Democratic Development sponsored a day-long mock trial of Haitian human
rights violators, where victims of the terror in Haiti from 1991 to
1994 were able to present testimony of their experiences.
Haiti's turmoil over the last decade demonstrates the insidious effect
of impunity for violent human rights abuse. Despite repeated official
promises of justice and untold opportunities to fulfill those vows,
prosecutions for human rights crimes have been rare. As each new military
leader took power, the unmistakable lesson of the past was that there
would be no serious price to pay for government atrocities. Getting
away with murder was the rule.
Haiti's two democratically elected governments have struggled under
the weight of entrenched impunity, making tentative steps toward ending
the legacy of failed justice.
Today, conditions are better than ever for breaking Haiti's pattern
of impunity. Unfortunately however, Haiti's government, by failing to
make ending impunity a priority, is letting the opportunity to establish
accountability slip away. And the U.S. government, to its great shame,
has erected its own roadblocks to truth and justice in Haiti.
Haiti's experience illustrates the dangers of ignoring accountability
for past violent abuse in the haste to secure a "transition to
democracy." Each time a supposedly reformist regime took power,
Haitians were asked toforget the past, to look forward to a new era.
But rather than build the rule of law, sooner or later this impunity
emboldened reactionary forces to resume political killing. It is time
for this official indulgence of political killers to end.
Sarah A. DeCosse, research associate with Human Rights Watch/Americas,
and Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote
this report. Anne Manuel, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch/Americas,
edited the report. The report draws on the collaborative efforts of
Human Rights Watch/Americas (formerly Americas Watch) and the National
Coalition for Haitian Rights (formerly the National Coalition for Haitian
Refugees, NCHR) from 1986 to 1995. DeCosse conducted additional research.
Steven Hernández, associate with Human Rights Watch/Americas,
provided production assistance and Kathleen Schorsch provided research
assistance. William G. O'Neill, consultant to the NCHR, reviewed an
earlier version of this report.
The generous contributions of the J.M. Kaplan Foundation support the
translation of this report into Haitian Creole.
The Special Investigation Unit is charged with investigating the following
seventy-seven cases (eighteen priority cases are marked with an asterix):
Antoine Izméry* (Sept. 11, 1993); Guy Malary* (October 14, 1993);
Jacques Derenoncourt (December 3, 1992); Sony Philogène (December
5, 1992); Felix Lamy; Georges Izméry* (September 26, 1992); Laraque
Exantus and his brother* (February 1994); Charles Jean Baptiste (September
6, 1994); Jean-Marie Vincent* (August 28, 1994); Alerte Bélance
(October 16, 1993); Raboteau massacre* (April 23, 1994); Cité
Soleil massacre and arson* (December 27, 1993); murder of twelve youths*
(February 2, 1994); Dady Pierre (March 16, 1994); murder of four members
of O.P.S. in Cité Soleil* (May 23, 1994); Gervais massacre; Jean
Rabel massacre* (August 28, 1989); St. Jean Bosco church massacre* (September
11, 1988); Gilbert Mesneo (July 29, 1995); Etienne Colas (July 27, 1995);
Hans Plaisimond (July 25, 1995); Théagène Saint-Fleur
(July 21, 1995); Désir Fosdius (July 21, 1995); Betty Maurice*
(July 6, 1995); Yves Marie and Mario Beaubrun (July 4, 1995); Romulus
Dumarsais* (June 27, 1995); Milo Gousse and Claudy Boucard (June 19,
1995); Wilfred Figareau (June 9, 1995); Leslie Grimar (June 9, 1995);
Jacques Bastien (June 7, 1995); Ex-Lt. Col. Michel Hermann* (May 24,
1995); Michel Gonzalez* (May 22, 1995); Clerveaux Bonaparte (May 5,
1995); Vinel (aka Fresnel, Ti Lama) Lamarre (May 2, 1995); Philogène
Lamour (April 29, 1995); Oscar Tiblanc (April 21, 1995); Mireille Durocher
Bertin and Eugène Baillergeau* (March 28, 1995); Marc Claude
(March 22, 1995); Erick Lamothe; Richard Andre Emmanuel (February 13,
1991); Bastien and Steven Desrosiers (July 26, 1991); Jacques Nelio
and Pierre Shiler; Louis Walky (July 26, 1991); Sylvio Claude (September
29, 1991); Roger Lafontant (September 29, 1991); Sony Lefort (September
11, 1988); Ass. Dev. La Saline; Gilles Charles (October 10, 1991); Madame
Pierre Racine Salam (November 7, 1995); Eddy "Ti Paul" Jerome
(December 11, 1991); Domont Séraphin (July 24, 1993); Jean Robert
Noel (October 4, 1991); Tissaint Eralier (February 10, 1992); St. Jean
Denis (September 11, 1988); Joseph Israel Louis (October 24, 1991);
Delima Macedoine (October 12, 1991); Céjuste Altero (April 5,
1995); Exavier Altero (November 20, 1994); Bonière Louis; Armand
Verne (1988); Wescarline Delva (September 18, 1988); Célestin
André (September 11, 1988); Jean Bossière (September 30,
1991); Jésula Jouissance; Yves Joseph (July 19, 1994); Pierre-Jacques
Michel (October 5, 1991); Edly Jean François (September 5, 1993);
Marie Thérèse Dumeus (October 2, 1991); Jacqueline Jacquet
(September 30, 1991); Jean-Rony Blaise (November 12, 1992); Alexis Lamirodieu
(September 30, 1991); Eluxius Pierre; Max Mayard* (October 10, 1995);
and, Jean Hubert Feuillé* (November 7, 1995).
VII. WHAT YOU CAN DO
A Haitian proverb states "The one who delivers the blow forgets,
the one who bears its mark remembers." In the past decade,
Haitians who suffered under brutal governments have been asked over
and over again to forget the past and look forward to a new era. But
still they remember and they are thirsting for justice. Haiti's
experience illustrates the dangers of ignoring accountability for past
violent abuse in the haste to secure a transition to democracy. Rather
than build the rule of law, sooner or later impunity emboldened reactionary
forces to resume political killing. Haiti's government is letting the
opportunity to establish accountability slip away. And the U.S. government,
to its great shame, has erected its own roadblocks to truth and justice
in Haiti. It is time for this official indulgence of political killers
Appeals to the U.S. Government
The U.S. government directly has impeded the prosecution of human rights
crimes in Haiti by refusing to return documents seized from the paramilitary
organization FRAPH and Haitian military headquarters and by reaching
a secret settlement with FRAPH's leader, Emmanuel Constant, which allowed
Constant to remain in the United States with a work permit while evading
deportation to Haiti and criminal prosecution for human rights abuses
there. The U.S. government's cover-up of the crimes of FRAPH, which
was founded by Constant while he was allegedly on the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) payroll, suggests that the U.S. government is trying to
prevent revelation of its own complicity in violent abuses in Haiti.
To protest these U.S. policies in Haiti, please direct politely worded
letters, telephone calls, faxes, or emails to President Bill Clinton,
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Wash., D.C. 20506 (Tel:
202-456-1414, Fax: 202-456-2641, Email: President@whitehouse.gov), with
copies to: Secretary of State Warren Christopher, U.S. Department of
State, Wash., D.C., 20520 (Tel: 202-647-5291, Fax: 202-647-1533); Attorney
General Janet Reno, Justice Department, Tenth St.& Constitution
Ave. NW, Wash., D.C. 20530 (Tel: 202-514-2001, Fax: 202-514-4371), and
Secretary of Defense William Perry, The Pentagon, Wash., D.C 20301 (Tel:
703-695-5261, Fax: 703-695-1219).
You can recommend the following actions
* Return to the Haitian government all materials that were seized from
FRAPH and Haitian military offices in the fall of 1994, without any
redaction of information or U.S. citizens' names.
* Deport FRAPH leader Emmanuel Constant to Haiti, where he is wanted
for human rights abuses, including torture and execution. The details
of any settlement or agreement between Constant and the U.S. government
should be made public, particularly any details regarding Constant's
relationship with the CIA.
* Examine U.S. government involvement in human rights abuses in Haiti.
The Clinton administration should launch a thorough and impartial investigation
into allegations that individuals or units funded by the CIA, the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Defense Intelligence Agency
(DIA) were involved in serious human rights violations. The findings
of such an investigation should be made public and disciplinary or criminal
action taken where appropriate. U.S. government documents regarding
human rights violations committed by the SIN (the National Intelligence
Service) and FRAPH should be declassified to allow informed public debate
about U.S. policy towards Haiti.
* You can also contact your congressional representatives and raise
the issues described above at: Members of Congress (name of Member of
Congress), U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., 20515, or
name of Senator, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C., 20510, general congressional
information number: 202-224-3121.
Appeals to the Haitian Government
Please send politely worded appeals to the Haitian authorities: Ambassador
Jean Casimir, Embassy of Haiti, 2311 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington,
D.C., 20036 (Tel: 202-332-4090, Fax: 202-745-7215), requesting the following:
to publish the report of the National Commission for Truth and Justice,
Si M Pa Rele ("If I Don't Cry Out") and, to prosecute the
alleged perpetrators of serious human rights abuses named in the Truth
Commission report. Those human rights violations that the commission
described as crimes against humanity should be prosecuted as a matter
of utmost urgency.
For more information, contact Sarah DeCosse at (202) 371-6592, x111.
Human Rights Watch/Americas
Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization established in
1978 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized
human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and among
the signatories of the Helsinki accords. It is supported by contributions
from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government
funds, directly or indirectly. The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive
director; Michele Alexander, development director; Cynthia Brown, program
director; Holly J. Burkhalter, advocacy director; Barbara Guglielmo,
finance and administration director; Robert Kimzey, publications director;
Jeri Laber, special advisor; Lotte Leicht, Brussels office director;
Susan Osnos, communications director; Dinah PoKempner, acting general
counsel; Jemera Rone, counsel; and Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative.
Robert L. Bernstein is the chair of the board and Adrian W. DeWind is
vice chair. Its Americas division was established in 1981 to monitor
human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. José Miguel
Vivanco is executive director; Anne Manuel is deputy director; James
Cavallaro is the Brazil director; Joel Solomon is the research director;
Jennifer Bailey, Sebastian Brett, Sarah DeCosse, and Robin Kirk are
research associates; Steve Hernández and Paul Paz y Miño
are associates. Stephen L. Kass is the chair of the advisory committee;
Marina Pinto Kaufman and David E. Nachman are vice chairs.
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1 This report draws extensively on a series of reports published by
Human Rights Watch, through its regional division, Human Rights Watch/Americas
(formerly Americas Watch), together with the National Coalition for
Haitian Rights (formerly the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees).
Reports relied upon include: Human Rights Watch/Americas and National
Coalition for Haitian Rights, "Haiti: Human Rights After President
Aristide's Return" (October 1995); Human Rights Watch/Americas
and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, "Haiti: Security Compromised:
Recycled Haitian Soldiers on the Police Front Line" (March 1995);
Human Rights Watch/Americas and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees,
"Rape in Haiti: A Weapon of Terror" (July 1994); Human Rights
Watch/Americas and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, "Terror
Prevails in Haiti: Human Rights Violations and Failed Diplomacy"
(April 1994); Americas Watch and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees,
Silencing a People: The Destruction of Civil Society in Haiti (February
1993); Americas Watch, National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, and
Physicians for Human Rights, Return to the Darkest Days: Human Rights
in Haiti Since the Coup (December 1991); Americas Watch, National Coalition
for Haitian Refugees, and Caribbean Rights, "Haiti: The Aristide
Government's Human Rights Record" (November 1991); Americas Watch
and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, "In the Army's Hands:
Human Rights in Haiti on the Eve of the Elections" (December 1990);
Americas Watch, National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, Caribbean Rights,
and the International Commission of Jurists, "Reverting to Despotism:
Human Rights in Haiti" (March 1990); Americas Watch, National Coalition
for Haitian Refugees, and Caribbean Rights, The More Things Change...Human
Rights in Haiti (February 1989); Americas Watch and National Coalition
for Haitian Refugees, "Haiti: Terror and the 1987 Elections"
(November 1987); Americas Watch and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees,
Haiti: Duvalierism Since Duvalier (October 1986).
2 Section 540 of the Foreign Assistance Act.
3 Americas Watch and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, Duvalierism
Since Duvalier, pp. 67-68.
4 "8 Reported Dead as Haitian Protesters Clash with Soldiers,"
Chicago Tribune, April 27, 1986.
5 Americas Watch and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, Duvalierism
Since Duvalier, pp. 33-42.
6 Americas Watch, National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, Caribbean
Rights, and International Commission of Jurists, Reverting to Despotism,
7 Col. Jean-Claude Paul, the feared commander of the Casernes Dessalines,
was fatally poisoned in unclear circumstances. Roland Joseph, a former
soldier and reputed hired assassin, was shot at his home by a military
8 Tim Weiner, "CIA Formed Haitian Unit Later Tied to Narcotics
Trade," The New York Times, November 14, 1993.
9 His predecessor, Brunson McKinley, distinguished himself by his faith
in the Haitian military and his barely disguised view that Haitians
were "not ready" for democracy. Americas Watch, National Coalition
for Haitian Refugees, and Caribbean Rights, The More Things Change,
10 Avril later returned to Haiti under the 1991-94 military regime.
He took refuge in the Colombian ambassador's residence after an arrest
warrant was issued for him for alleged acts against the security of
the state following the resumption of civilian rule.
11 Americas Watch and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, "In
the Army's Hands," pp. 56-
57. The two were ultimately sentenced to life in prison after trials
under the Aristide government. Americas Watch, National Coalition for
Haitian Refugees, and Caribbean Rights, "The Aristide Government's
Human Rights Record," p. 31.
12 Memories of the violence that had met the electoral disqualifications
in November 1987 undoubtedly added to the electoral council's unwillingness
to disqualify on human rights grounds.
13 An additional twenty were lynched following false rumors on January
27 of another coup attempt.
14 Americas Watch, National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, and Caribbean
Rights, "The Aristide Government's Human Rights Record," p.
15 Niko Poitevien, a major landowner implicated in the Jean-Rabel massacre,
was arrested in March 1991. He had not yet gone to trial when the Aristide
government was overthrown in September 1991. The restored Aristide government
recommended investigation of the Jean-Rabel killings.
16 Two such speeches stand out. The first was in July 1990 when Aristide
endorsed a crowd's threatening conduct outside Roger Lafontant's trial
(which contributed to the judge imposing sentence beyond that allowed
by law) and the second was on September 27, 1991, just after Aristide's
return from a triumphal appearance before the U.N. General Assembly,
while rumors spread of an impending coup. Referring to "a beautiful
instrument" which "smells good"-an apparent allusion
to necklacing with a burning tire-he repeatedly called on his followers,
"Don't neglect to give him [a false supporter] what he deserves."
17 Anne-Christine d'Adesky, "Haiti: Titid! President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide," Interview, October 1991.
18 For a chronicle of the popular organizations attacked, see Americas
Watch and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, Silencing a People.
19 The prison's warden, an army officer, admitted ordering the murder
but claimed that Aristide telephoned him and ordered him to do so under
threat of death. The warden's story was unlikely, given that at the
time Aristide, his own life in jeopardy, was either in military custody
or surrounded by army troops. Moreover, the army had a clear motive
to rid itself of Lafontant, a potentially powerful rival.
20 According to State Department figures, only twenty-eight of the 22,716
Haitians interdicted between 1981 and the September 1991 coup were allowed
to enter the United States to pursue asylum claims. AW, National Coalition
for Haitian Refugees, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, "No Port in a
Storm: The Misguided Use of In-Country Refugee Processing in Haiti"
21 An April 12, 1994 cable from the U.S. Embassy to Secretary of State
Christopher acknowledged increasing human rights violations but expressed
skepticism about victims' reports of abuse: "The Haitian left manipulates
and fabricates human rights abuses as a propaganda too..." Regarding
political rapes, the cable stated: "We are, frankly, suspicious
of the sudden, high number of reported rapes, particularly in this culture,
occurring at the same time that Aristide activists seek to draw a comparison
between Haiti and Bosnia." The cable was written by U.S. human
rights officer Ellen Cosgrove, approved by Amb. Swing, reviewed by in-country
processing Refugee Coordinator Luis Moreno, and leaked to the press
in May 1995.
22 Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Haiti: Learning the Hard Way:
The OAS/U.N. Mission in Haiti, (January 1995), p. 142.
23 Human Rights Watch/Americas and National Coalition for Haitian Refugees,
"Terror Prevails in Haiti," pp. 35-36; Lawyers Committee for
Human Rights, Learning the Hard Way, pp. 105-10, 144. The Governors
Island Accord also required "implementation of the other instruments
which may be adopted by the parliament on this question" -- a loophole
that might have led to a blanket amnesty. Washington and its international
partners pressed the Haitian parliament to adopt a broad amnesty that
would have included murder, disappearance, torture and rape.
Learning the Hard Way, pp. 144-45. But the legislature, despite military
intimidation, never adopted an amnesty law until after the U.S.-led
military intervention and then it tracked the constitutional distinction
between political and common crimes. William G. O'Neill, "Human
Rights Monitoring vs. Political Expediency," 8 Harvard Human Rights
Journal (Spring 1995), pp. 122-23.
24 U.N. Secretary-General, The Situation of Democracy in Haiti, A/48/1993
(New York: UNIPUB, Oct. 25, 1993); O'Neill, "Human Rights Monitoring
vs. Political Expediency," pp. 111-12.
25 Marcia Myers, "Haitian's Deal with U.S. could let him avoid
trial in atrocities," The Baltimore Sun, July 27, 1996, and Farhan
Haq, "Une entente secrète pour libérer le chef du
FRAPH selon les critiques," Le Nouvelliste, June 26, 1996.
26 For example, on the night of August 18-19, 1996, approximately twenty
men wearing khaki uniforms, reportedly former soldiers, attacked the
central Port-au-Prince police station, killing a boy who was sleeping
nearby, and fired shots at the National Palace.
27 The U.S. Justice Department's International Criminal Investigations
and Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) conducted a limited review
of the human rights record of applicants to the force, but the screening
was generally confined to a two-week period with little input from independent
28 Americas Watch, National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, and Caribbean
Rights, "Human Rights After President Aristide's Return,"
29 For a detailed discussion of human rights abuses committed by the
Haitian National Police force, see the forthcoming report on police
abuses by Human Rights Watch/Americas, National Coalition for Haitian
Rights, and Washington Office on Latin America (publication expected
in October 1996).
30 Americas Watch, National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, and Caribbean
Rights, "Human Rights After President Aristide's Return,"
pp. 12, 21; Human Rights Watch/Americas and National Coalition for Haitian
Refugees, "Security Compromised," pp. 16-17, 20-21.
31 "Aristide Critics See Intimidation As Pre-Election Violence
Flares," The New York Times, November 16, 1995.
32 The report title refers to a Haitian Creole saying: Si m pa rele,
m'ap toufe. Highlighting the need to speak out against injustice, the
saying is translated as, "If I don't cry out, I will suffocate."
33 MICIVIH has offered restricted access to its files of human rights
complaints to the truth commission, the Justice Minister and judges
(with specific requests), the Special Investigative Unit, and victims
of human rights abuses. MICIVIH only releases the names of witnesses
with their express permission to do so.
34 The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (Commission Justice et
Paix) and the Peasant Movement of Papaye (Mouvman Peyizan Papay) have
undertaken the most extensive efforts to assist human rights victims
wishing to file criminal complaints.
35 In some cases, judges sympathetic to the military dismissed cases
by invoking a military-endorsed provision creating a three-year statute
of limitations that is no longer valid.
Telephone interview with Denis Racicot, Ombudsman for Truth Commission
Follow-Up, MICIVIH, September 10, 1996.
36 Haitian criminal law permits defendants convicted in absentia to
seek a new trial within five years of their conviction.
37 Elie, a trainer and organizer with MPP, had emerged from hiding in
Port-au-Prince to visit his family in Bassin Zin, near Hinche, when
he was killed. MPP representatives reportedly were instrumental in moving
this case forward.
38 Title II, Chapter I of the Haitian Penal Code (Code Pénal)
details crimes against the person. Section 1 (1) defines murder and
the penalty for it.
39 Telephone interview with Denis Racicot, September 10, 1996.
40 The SIU priority cases are listed at section VI of this report.
41 The U.S. supported two staff at the SIU who worked on cases arising
in the period following President Aristide's return from exile, particularly
the Durocher Bertin killing.
42 The Dole Amendment to the Fiscal Year 1996 Foreign Operations Appropriations
Act required the suspension of U.S. foreign assistance to Haiti unless
the Haitian government investigated a number of cases of reportedly
politically motivated killings, most of which occurred following President
Aristide's return. The most prominent of these cases was the March 1995
murder of Mireille Durocher Bertin and Eugène Baillergeau.
43 Interview with U.S. Ambassador William Lacy Swing, June 24, 1996.
44 OAS/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti, Report on the Assassination
of Antoine Izméry, November 1993. Antoine Izméry's brother
Georges, who resembled him, was assassinated on September 26, 1992.
45 Fresnel Lamarre, aka Ti Lama, a suspect in the Izméry killing
identified in the MICIVIH report, was shot to death on the night of
May 2, 1995. He reportedly was killed by gunmen traveling in a Toyota
pick-up but further details about his death and the killers' motives
were unclear. His case is under investigation by the Special Investigation
46 Allan Nairn, "Our Payroll, Haitian Hit," The Nation, October
9, 1995, p.1, and James Ridgeway and Jean Jean-Pierre, "Federal
Bureau of Obfuscation: Aristide Investigates Crimes the U.S. Would Prefer
Left Unsolved," The Village Voice, October 10, 1995. While imprisoned,
Morissaint was charged with raping a fourteen-old-girl.
47 "Article says Suspect in Haiti Assassination Freed," Reuters
News Service, September 22, 1995.
49 The police assigned to the Special Investigative Unit, apparently
following orders of the U.N. Civilian Police, reportedly initially refused
to arrest any suspect in the case unless they could be assured that
the suspect would be convicted at trial.
50 Interview with Amb. Swing, Port-au-Prince, June 24, 1994, and briefing
with Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,
and Labor, Washington, July 11, 1996.
51 The CIA previously was linked to another Haitian organization responsible
for serious human rights abuses. The New York Times reported on November
14, 1993, that in the 1980s the CIA had created a special unit within
the Haitian military known as the National Intelligence Service or SIN.
While the service was intended to stem the flow of drug money through
Haiti, it in fact became, in the words of the Times, "an instrument
of political terror." Among the abuses committed by the SIN was
the brutal interrogation and torture of Evans Paul, the mayor of Port-au-Prince.
In May 1996, the director general of the Haitian National Police ordered
the disbanding of the SIN, a unit of approximately eighty-five official
members. Police director Denizé and others had criticized the
unit's possible involvement in violent incidents and lack of discipline
(including issuing false identity cards to non-members). (Interview
with Pierre Denizé, Haitian National Police Director General,
Port-au-Prince, June 20, 1996). However, when Haiti's security situation
grew worse in August 1996, Prime Minister Rosny Smarth announced that
the SIN would be reestablished to respond to the security crisis. ("Destabilization
and Terrorism," Haiti Info, September 7, 1996.) As this report
went to press, it was not clear if the unit was functioning again.
52 Witnesses reportedly placed Constant at the scene of the December
1993 arson attack, which also destroyed hundreds of homes .
53 The U.S. government notified the Haitian government that it considered
that the request was insufficiently detailed. As of this writing, the
Haitian government still had not submitted additional documentation.
Nonetheless, Constant clearly remains deportable under U.S. law.
54 Letter from Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Attorney General
Janet Reno, March 29, 1995.
55 William Branigan, "Foe of Aristide Plans Lawsuit, Return to
Haiti," The Washington Post, December 12, 1995. Constant sued the
U.S. government for $50 million and concurrently withdrew his objections
to the deportation order against him, volunteering to return to Haiti.
56 Myers, "Haitian's Deal with U.S. could let him avoid trial in
atrocities," Haq, "Une entente secrète pour libérer
le chef du FRAPH selon les critiques," and Nicholas Burns, U.S.
Department of State Briefing, July 26, 1996.
57 The Convention against Torture requires the U.S. either to extradite
or to prosecute alleged torturers. These obligations are detailed in
Articles 5, 6, and 7 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Article 9 details a state
party's obligation cooperatively to provide countries trying to prosecute
human rights violations with all evidence available for the prosecution.
The U.S. is a party to this international treaty. We recommend that
Haiti also ratify the Convention against Torture.
58 Interview with President René Préval, Port-au-Prince,
June 20, 1996 and interview with Justice Minister Max Antoine, June
59 Interview with Amb. Swing, Port-au-Prince, June 24, 1996.
60 This case was brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which
previously won the successful judgement against Gen. Prosper Avril.
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