THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN HAITI


         1.    Background


         5.    The military coup that overthrew President Aristide on September 29, 1991, was immediately condemned by the Organization of American States.  The Permanent Council held an urgent meeting on September 30, and voiced its most energetic condemnation of the events and demanded that the democratically elected President be restored to power.[1]


         6.    In a press release issued on October 1, 1991, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights added its voice to others, expressing grave concern over the events in Haiti, which had caused so many deaths.  It pointed out that the coup in Haiti was a clear violation of the political rights and other fundamental rights and freedoms recognized in the American Convention on Human Rights.


         7.    Because of the seriousness of the events in Haiti, the Secretary General, in exercise of the authority given to him through the "Santiago Commitment", convened an Ad Hoc Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held in Washington on October 2, 1991.  It approved the resolution "Support to the Democratic Government of Haiti" (MRE/RES. 1/91), wherein it resolved the following:  "To urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in response to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's request, to take immediately all measures within its competence to protect and defend human rights in Haiti and to report thereon to the Permanent Council of the Organization."  Six days later, the Ad hoc Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs urged the member states of the OAS to freeze the assets of the Haitian State and to level a trade embargo against Haiti.  It created a Civilian Mission (OEA/DEMOC) to reestablish and strengthen constitutional democracy in Haiti (MRE/RES.2/91).  On December 10, 1991, the Permanent Council of the OAS issued a resolution titled "Program to support the promotion of democracy."[2]


         8.    Taking into consideration resolution MRE/RES.1/91 and the many complaints of human rights violations, the Inter-American Commission conducted an exploratory visit to Haiti on December 5 and 7, 1991.  The Chairman of the IACHR, Dr. Patrick Robinson, and its Vice Chairman, Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, presented their findings to the Permanent Council of the OAS on January 9, 1992,[3] pointing out that the human rights situation in Haiti was highly volatile and extremely dangerous for a number of reasons:  a very grave institutional crisis had been created; the vast majority of the Haitian people lived in desperately poor living conditions; the public was politically polarized; violence was routinely used to settle social differences, and there was no tradition of democratic custom and practice.  They also said that such serious problems could only be resolved by the Haitian citizens themselves, with the cooperation of the international community.


         9.    During the second week of December 1991, the OAS Civilian Mission, headed by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Mr. Augusto Ramírez Ocampo, visited Haiti again, to resume the negotiations that had been suspended since the Cartagena meeting.  On that occasion, three names were mentioned as possible candidates for Prime Minister:  Mr. Victor Benoit, Secretary General of the National Committee of the Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM) who had the support of President Aristide; Mr. Marc Bazin, a former presidential candidate and leader of the Movement to Establish Haitian Democracy (MIDH), and Mr. René Théodore, Secretary General of the Haitian Communist Party (PUCH), now called the National Reconstruction Movement (MRN).  Near the end of December, Mr. Théodore agreed to be a consensus candidate and by mid-February the House of Deputies of Haiti publicly announced its support for Mr. Théodore's appointment as Prime Minister.


         2.    The Washington Accords


         10.   Because the climate was right to undertake negotiations, the Organization of American States sponsored a meeting in Washington for the second week of January 1992, a meeting that was not held because the negotiating parties could not come to an agreement.  Later, the OAS sponsored a meeting on February 23 and 25, 1992, to work out a compromise so that a political solution could be found to the Haitian situation.  Participating in that meeting were the deposed President Aristide, who was accompanied by Mr. Evans Paul, former mayor of Port-au-Prince, Mr. René Théodore and a parliamentary delegation headed by the presidents of the two houses of Parliament, Senator Déjean Bélizaire and Deputy Alexandre Médard.


         11. At the close of that meeting, the negotiating parties signed the Protocol of Agreement of Washington whereby they undertook to guarantee the civil freedoms and to enable political parties and civilian organizations to function freely in Haiti, in a context of respect for the Haitian Constitution.


         12. The Protocol acknowledged the need to ensure the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and to restore him to his functions in government; to prepare and enact laws that would put into practice the institutions provided for under the Constitution, such as the law on territorial communities, the law on the separation of the police from the armed forces, and the law governing the Citizens' Protection Bureau.  It was further agreed to foster, through laws and regulations, enforcement of a policy of social peace and economic recovery.


         13. It was also agreed that President Aristide was to pledge to respect the instruments presented or ratified by the Haitian Parliament and, in the event of a disagreement between the Executive Power and the Legislative Power, either could turn to the Conciliation Commission, pursuant to article 111-5 of the Constitution.  It was also agreed that in President Aristide's absence, the Prime Minister would direct the affairs of State, in accordance with Article 148 of the Constitution.


         14. The parties acknowledged the need to declare a general amnesty, save for common criminals and to request the OAS and the international community to provide urgent and substantial assistance to the national consensus government to enable it to reactivate the Haitian economy, promote social welfare, transform the Armed Forces and the Police into professional institutions and strengthen democratic institutions.


         15. At that meeting, a Protocol of Agreement was also signed between President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Prime Minister designate, René Théodore, who pledged to create the conditions necessary for President Aristide's return.


         16. Though the international community reacted very favorably to the Protocols of Washington, the parties did not demonstrate a willingness to comply with them.  In a television interview some days later, President Aristide reiterated that he was opposed to the amnesty for the military involved in the coup d'état and that the accords did not specify an exact date for his return.


         17. Moreover, while the Protocols represented an enormous effort to find a political solution to the Haitian situation, it was very difficult to translate those agreements into practice.  First, the fact that the military and the de facto government were not parties to those agreements suggested from the outset that they would not be accepted and that the Army would be opposed to any type of investigation into the human rights violations that had occurred during and after the coup d'état.  Moreover, Parliament was unable to ratify the agreements because the quorum necessary in the two houses was lacking.  Later, the de facto Government submitted the Washington Accords to the Court of Cassation for an opinion on their legality.  The Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional and with no legal validity; it also ruled that the principle of the separation of powers, stipulated in the Haitian Constitution, was violated when the parliamentarians signed the document and that, under Article 98, paragraphs 2 and 3, these agreements could not be submitted to the National Assembly for ratification.

         3.   The Villa d'Accueil Accord  


         18. The de facto government did not recognize the Washington Accords and decided instead to create a Tripartite Commission: the de facto government was represented in the person of the de facto prime minister, Mr. Jean-Jacques Honorat; the Legislature was represented by Mr. Déjean Bélizaire, president of the Senate, and by Mr. Alexandre Médard, president of the House of Deputies; and for the first time the Armed Forces were represented, in the person of Raoul Cédras, their Commander-in-Chief.  This time, President Aristide and his supporters were excluded.


         19. The negotiations culminated on May 8, 1992, with the so-called Tripartite Agreement of Villa d'Accueil which, as one might expect, did not recognize Aristide as the Constitutional President.  Under the Agreement, a decision was made to create a consensus government for the purpose of negotiating the lifting of the embargo and resuming negotiations with the Organization of American States.  Later, Mr. Nérette, president of the de facto government, resigned his post.  Mr. Marc Bazin was designated Prime Minister, with the approval of the military and a questionable Senate majority.

It must be emphasized that these negotiations and the Prime Minister's designation were in direct contravention of the resolutions of the Ad-hoc Meeting of Foreign Affairs (MRE/RES 2/91 and MRE/RES 3/92).


         4.   The Florida Declaration


         20. When the Washington Accords were abandoned and changes occurred on the political scene in Haiti, President Aristide launched a new negotiating process and convoked a meeting, held in Miami, June 26 through 29, 1992.  Present were a number of political leaders who supported the restoration of democracy in Haiti.  At the end of the meeting, a document entitled "For National Accord" was adopted.  Also known as the "Florida Declaration," it reasserted the need to find a negotiated political solution and, to that end, the assistance of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States and the Secretary-General of the United Nations were requested.  In that declaration, the OAS was also asked to send a Civilian Mission to resume the political dialogue in Haiti.


         5.   Parliamentary elections


         21. On December 28, 1992, Haiti's Electoral Council announced that the date for elections of new members of Parliament had been set for January 18, 1993 (One-third of the Senate.  This date would also be used to fill some non-elected vacant positions in the Chamber of deputies).  The Permanent Council of the OAS described the announcement as an unlawful act designed to patently obstruct the most recent efforts that the Organization of American States and the United Nations are making to restore democratic institutions in Haiti. (CP/DEC.8 (927/93).


         22. At the time of the elections, the Senate was divided into two groups:  a group called the Constitutionalist Bloc and another called the Alliance for Parliamentary Cohesion, who were seeking the removal of the de facto prime minister Marc Bazin.


         23. The reaction from political quarters was also immediate.  Six political parties  -the National Agricultural and Industrial Party (PAIN), the Democratic Movement for Haitian Liberation and the Haitian Democrat Revolutionary Party (MODELH-PRDH), the National Development Mobilization Party (MDN), the National Reconstruction Movement (MRN), the Haitian Party of God (PARADIS) and the Movement to Organize the Country (MOP)- published the "Declaration of a Common Policy" wherein they demanded the ending of the Ville d'Accueil Tripartite Agreement and nullification of the process to set up the Special Electoral Council.  The Progressive National Democrats (RDNP) later added their support to that declaration.  The Haitian National Revolutionary Progressive Party (PANPRA) declared that it first wanted assurances of the trustworthiness of the Senate election before making any commitment.  The Patriotic Nationalist Movement of November 28 (MNP-28) launched its election campaign on January 3.  Mr. Grégoire Eugene, Chairman of the Haitian Social Christian Party (PSCH), withdrew from the election campaign alleging numerous irregularities in the election process.


         24. The 64 candidates up for election were for the most part from parties that supported the de facto government and included the Movement for the Establishment of Democracy in Haiti (MIDH), the Haitian Christian Democratic Party (PDCH), the Patriotic Nationalist Movement (MNP-28), the Haitian Revolutionary Progressive National Party (PANPRA) and a number of independent candidates.  About 15 political parties decided not to put up candidates for those elections.  The opposition, whose numbers included President Aristide's followers as well as rivals, called for a boycott and a "closed-door" session on the grounds that the elections were "rigged in advance".


         25. Days before the elections, the Haitian Electoral Council reported a number of terrorist attacks on Registration and Voting Offices (BIV) in the Southern Department, which left several people wounded.  On the day set for the parliamentary elections, businesses and schools closed, fearing that acts of violence would break out as they had on previous occasions.  In recent months, a number of bombs had exploded in the capital city, leaving two of the bombers dead.  The police said that the bombings were the work of sympathizers of the deposed President Aristide, though no one ever claimed responsibility for them.


         26, Voter turnout for the parliamentary elections was very low.  According to official tallies, 561,124 voters exercised their vote.  On election-day night, citing a number of irregularities, the Electoral Council nullified the voting in the Western Department where the capital city is located.


         27. Following the elections on January 18, 1993, listed below are the names of the new senators and deputies of the Parliament:


Gabriel Ancion (independent), Southeast Department

Rommel Manigat (MIDH), Northern Department

Amos André (outgoing Senator of PANPRA), Northeast Department

Margaret Martin (MIDH), Southeast Department

Dejean Belizaire (outgoing Senator of the MNP-28)

Serge Gilles (outgoing Senator of PANPRA), Central Department

Yves Rousseau (independent), Southern Department

Luis Ney Gilles (MIDH), Grand'Anse Department

Osni Eugene (MIDH), Northwestern Department

Guillaume Saint Jean (MIDH), Northern Department

Diomede Théodore (MIDH), Northern Department

Arincks Jean Pierre (MIDH), Northeastern Department

Brignole Mondésir (PANPRA), Grand'Anse Department


         28. In a press release, the Haitian Electoral Council announced that given the final results of the first round of legislative elections, held on January 18, 1993, the second round of voting, scheduled for January 25, would not have to be held.


         6.        OAS resolutions and overtures to facilitate the political dialogue


         29. On the occasion of the OAS General Assembly, held in Nassau, The Bahamas, May 18 through 22, 1992, the Ad Hoc Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs passed a resolution on "Restoration of Democracy in Haiti" (MRE/RES.3/92), wherein it reiterated the previous resolutions and urged the member states to adopt additional measures to extend and step up the trade embargo against Haiti and increase the humanitarian assistance targeted at the most impoverished sectors of the Haitian public.  The member states were also urged either not to grant or to revoke, as the case may be, entry visas extended to the authors of the coup d'état and their sympathizers and to freeze their assets.  The Ministers of Foreign Affairs again asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue to monitor closely the situation in Haiti and to keep the Ad Hoc Meeting informed by way of the Permanent Council.


         30. In an effort to find new opportunities and to establish new terms to resume political negotiations, the Organization of American States sent a mission to Haiti August 18 through 21, 1992, headed by Secretary General Ambassador João Clemente Baena Soares and consisting of several ambassadors, the Chairman of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, and representatives of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the United Nations (UN) and the European Economic Community (EEC).


         31. That mission's efforts led to a new round of talks at the OAS on September 1, between Father Antoine Adrién, President Aristide's envoy, and Foreign Minister François Benoit, the envoy for de facto prime minister Marc Bazin.  There, it was decided that an 18-man mission would be sent to help reduce the violence in general and encourage respect for human rights, cooperate in distributing the humanitarian assistance and assess the progress made toward a political solution to the Haitian crisis.  The Civilian Mission, in which the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Michael Manley participated, began its work in mid-September 1992.


         32. Even though the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the de facto government, Mr. François Benoit, had authorized the arrival of the 18 OAS observers, who were to spread out through the geographic departments, three months later officials in Port-au-Prince told the civilian delegation that their presence "had no legal basis" and that "there was no way their safety and their freedom of movement in the country's interior could be guaranteed".


         33. Through a resolution passed on November 10, 1992 (CP/RES. 594 (923/92), the Permanent Council of the OAS decided to urge the member states of the United Nations to renew their support by adopting measures that were consistent with the previous resolutions approved by the OAS.  It also urged the member states of the OAS and the United Nations to increase their humanitarian assistance to the Haitian people and asked the United Nations to participate in the OAS Civilian Mission to bring about a peaceful solution to the crisis.


         34. As serious human rights violations in Haiti persisted and worsened, and with the repercussions of the increased number of Haitians seeking refuge in neighboring member countries, the Ad Hoc Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs decided, through a resolution of December 13 (MRE/RES.4/92), to reaffirm its earlier resolutions and to instruct the President of the Ad Hoc Meeting and the Secretary General of the OAS to make an additional effort with all Haitian sectors as a matter of urgency and in close cooperation with the United Nations Secretary-General, to facilitate political dialogue among them to restore democratic institutions in Haiti; this effort should initially be designed to bring about, as soon as possible, a substantial increase in the OAS civil presence.  The OAS Secretary General was given a mandate so that, in conjunction with the UN Secretary-General, he might examine the possibility and advisability of bringing the Haitian situation to the attention of the United Nations Security Council as a means to bring about global application of the trade embargo recommended by the OAS.  In that resolution, the President of the Ad Hoc Meeting and the Secretary General of the OAS were also instructed to "cooperate in the efforts of the Chairman of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in light of the serious and continuing human rights violations in Haiti and the refusal of the current de facto authorities to allow the Commission to conduct an on-site visit as soon as possible."


         35. A few days after the Ad Hoc Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Mr. Dante Caputo, as his personal representative.  The latter immediately made an exploratory visit in Haiti, seeking a solution to the crisis in that country.  The OAS Secretary General met with Mr. Caputo, after which he announced to the Permanent Council, on January 13, 1993, that Mr. Caputo had been appointed his personal representative.


         36. In late January, the efforts of the UN-OAS representative to reach an agreement on a Civilian Mission (400 observers) were complicated when the de facto prime minister, Marc Bazin, rejected the format and methods of the mission, stating that his government, the Army and the Parliament had agreed to have the mission sent and help find a negotiated solution to the Haitian crisis, but that in his opinion the solution risked becoming  "a kind of international caretaker arrangement".


         37. In the face of these new events, Mr. Caputo traveled to Port-au-Prince to meet with the de facto authorities.  Upon his arrival, hundreds of persons gathered to protest the plan to send an international civil mission.


         38. As this report was nearing completion, an agreement was reached between the de facto authorities and the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the OAS, which would allow deployment of the OAS-UN Civilian Mission in Haiti.  Its priority mandate would be to help guarantee respect for human rights, thus creating the climate needed  to reach a political solution to restore constitutional democracy in Haiti.  Depending upon events, the Civilian Mission might also help strengthen and modernize democratic institutions, particularly with efforts to reform the judiciary, raise the professional calibre of the Armed Forces, create a specialized police force and get international technical cooperation flowing again, in accordance with the terms of the resolutions adopted by the Ad hoc Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.


         39. During its 83rd session (March 1 through 12, 1993), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was accompanied by Mr. René Préval, Mrs. Anne Edeline François and Mrs. Mildred Trouillot.  President Aristide spoke of the human rights situation in Haiti, emphasizing that the military were violating those rights with impunity.  He said that the IACHR's presence in Haiti was essential and asked that the appropriate overtures be made to secure the member states' support, with a view to compelling the military regime to agree to the Commission's presence in Haiti.


         40. President Aristide also said that were the IACHR to remain in Haiti for some time, strategies could be devised for projects and programs to protect human rights and, in the process, to professionalize the army and police and strengthen the courts.  Paralleling this, he said, could be a civic education campaign for the entire Haitian population.


         41. Before concluding the meeting, the Commission received a communication from Haiti's Permanent Mission to the OAS, by means of which it formally presented the points expressed by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on the problems of human rights.  Because of its importance the Commission decided to include this communication in extenso:









         The Permanent Mission of Haiti to the Organization of American States presents its compliments to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has the honor to submit in support of the speech of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide the points of the Government of the Republic on the prob­lem of human rights in Haiti and on its prevention.


         The Mission wishes first of all to recall the first resolution on the role of the Commission in the present crisis in Haiti.  In paragraph 4 of its first reso­lu­­tion (MRE/RES.1/91) the ad hoc Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OAS renews the request of the President of the Republic on the presence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Haiti.


         The International Civilian Mission was requested by the second resolu­tion (MRE/RES.2/91), yet it is already deploying in Haiti, whereas the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has not yet been able to gain admittance there.  The Civilian Mission is in Haiti only because of the expression of the political will of the member States.  And only this political will can enable the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to secure respect for its mandates by the military dictatorship in Haiti.


         In view of the importance of participation by the Inter-American Com­mission on Human Rights in the resolution of the political crisis in our country and in setting up a stable democratic system, the Government rei­ter­ates its request for a presence of the Commission in Haiti and avails itself of the opportunity to specify the components of its request.


         a)   The Government of the Republic requests the Commission to take all political steps needed to enlist the support of the member States in compelling the military regime to accept the presence of the Commission in Haiti.


         b)   The Government requests the Commission to install a permanent presence in Haiti for three months with the task of preparing a package of projects and programs for securing respect for human rights in Haiti.


         c)   The Government requests the Commission to establish terms for close collaboration with the International Civilian Mission, and most particularly with the members of the Mission that belong to the Organization of American States.


         The Government recalls paragraph 6 of resolution MRE/RES.3/92, in which the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization request the Com­mission to fulfill its mandates in regard to Haiti.


         The Government requests the Commission to take account of all viola­tions as reported by the different international and national organiza­tions.


         The Government draws the attention of the Commission to the holding of elections by the military regime in violation of the articles of the Haitian Constitution on the establishment of territorial assemblies, the es­tablishment and composition of the Electoral Council, and measures gua­ranteeing the exercise of civil and political rights.


         The Government requests the Commission not only to proceed with its cur­rent work, but to emphasize evaluation of the conditions of imprison­ment, of investigations and other judicial procedures, the conduct of trials, and the independence of the judicial branch.


         The Government requests the Commission to give special attention to violations of the rights of women and children.


         The Government asks the Commission to consider ways to end the tradi­tional impunity that surrounds the crimes committed by the Armed Forces of Haiti.  It would like to insist on the rights of the victims and of their assigns to reparations, damages and interest.


         The Commission must also focus on the protection of human rights and the prevention of violations and abuses.  The Government of the Republic wishes to thank the Commission and its Executive Secretariat for their parti­cipation in the workshop organized by ourselves under its sponsor­ship and that of the United Nations in New York from 18 to 20 November 1992.


         The Government wishes the Commission to set up, and to find the fund­ing needed to launch in conjunction with the national nongovern­mental or­gan­izations, a broad adult education program targeted at speci­fic groups: the economic and political elites, public officialdom, the military and the police, teachers and students.  This program must make use of all available audiovisual aids, and eventually develop its own.


         The Government of the Republic requests the Commission to evaluate the irregularities engendered in the administration of justice by the country's particular sociolinguistic structure and to frame a set of pro­posals for achieving increasing transparency in the management of social disputes by the judicial branch.


         The Permanent Mission of Haiti to the Organization of American States thanks the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for its attention to the above and avails itself of the occasion to proffer renewed assurances of its very high consideration.




                                                                                 Washington, D.C., March 10, 1993



Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

1889 F Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C.

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2        See resolutions CP/RES. 567 (870/92), AG/RES. 1080 (XXI-0/91).


3        Res. OEA/Ser.G, CP/RES. 572 (882/91).


4        See Annual  Report of the IACHR for 1991,  OEA/Ser.L.V.II.81,  doc. 6, rev. 1,  February 14, 1992,  pp. 225-247.