HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN HAITI
42. After the coup d'état
in Haiti, the human rights situation continued to deteriorate.
The Commission has learned of the repression exercised by the
military against the Haitian public.
As pointed out in the introduction, many people have been
unlawfully detained, summarily executed, mistreated and tortured by
members of the Armed Forces, the Police and civilian collaborators.
In the majority of the cases, the victims have been followers of
the deposed President Jean Bertrand Aristide; in other cases, the
victims are people who were simply suspected of being Aristide
supporters. Any type of
demonstration or meeting has been violently suppressed and journalists
have not been allowed to learn the facts. Many of these victims are members of grassroots and human
rights organizations, students, journalists, peasants, merchants and
members of the Catholic Church.
43. The illegal searches of
homes and inspections of vehicles that the military conduct at any hour
of the day have created a climate of fear among the people, who feel
defenseless in the face of abuses of every possible type.
One example is the case of Monsignor Romelus, who on several
occasions was stopped so that the vehicle in which he was travelling
could be inspected. He also
received threats at his residence.
44. In rural areas, the
repression and violence have become worse with the reinstatement of the
"section chiefs" who act
with the acquiescence of the military and with complete impunity.
In the capital city and in the provinces, the people are victims
of the corruption of the de facto authorities and of the
extortion practiced by military personnel against civilians, demanding
that they hand over money to avoid being arrested or mistreated, or
simply to improve their living conditions in detention centers and
sometimes even to secure their release.
The corruption in the administration of justice has prevented the
victims of these abuses from being able to exercise their judicial
45. The climate of fear and
insecurity that exists in Haiti have has caused a large percentage of
the population to move, seeking refuge in the country's interior,
thereby being forced to abandon their homes and go into permanent hiding.
In its earlier report, the IACHR noted that some 300,000
individuals had been affected by this massive displacement.
In other cases, many Haitians have been forced to flee the
country aboard unsafe boats, to seek asylum in the United States.
46. The practice of "preventive"
repression used by the Armed Forces against the civilian population and
the deterioration of the political situation have fostered a series of
violations of individual guarantees, among them the right to life, to
humane treatment, to personal liberty, to freedom of thought and of
expression, and the right of assembly and association, all protected
under the American Convention on Human Rights to which the Republic of
Haiti is a State Party. This
section contains a description of some of the cases that the IACHR has
received during the period covered by this report.
47. The right to
life is recognized in Article 4 of the American Convention on Human
Rights as follows:
1. Every person
has the right to have his life respected.
This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the
moment of conception. No
one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
2. In countries
that have not abolished the death penalty, it may be imposed only for
the most serious crimes and pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a
competent court and in accordance with a law establishing such
punishment, enacted prior to the commission of the crime.
The application of such punishment shall not be extended to
crimes to which it does not presently apply.
3. The death
penalty shall not be reestablished in states that have abolished it.
4. In no case
shall capital punishment be inflicted for political offences or related
punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who, at the time the crime
was committed, were under 18 years of age or over 70 years of age; nor
shall it be applied to pregnant women.
6. Every person
condemned to death shall have the right to apply for amnesty, pardon, or
commutation of sentence, which may be granted in all cases.
Capital punishment shall not be imposed while such a petition is
pending decision by competent authority.
In articles 19 and 20, the 1987 Haitian Constitution establishes
the guarantees of the right to life.
They read as follows:
The State has the absolute obligation to guarantee the right to
life,health, and respect of the human person for all citizens without
distinction, in conformity with the Universal Declaration of the Rights
The death penalty is abolished in all cases.
48. As for the
right to life, the Commission has observed that extrajudicial executions
have not stopped. Numerous
sources have reported that it is very difficult say exactly how many
people have died by summary execution.
In some cases the bodies of the victims are immediately taken
away by the military to avoid any possible investigation.
In other cases the executions are not reported, since the media
are being constantly intimidated. However,
some human rights groups that operate in Haiti estimate that between
October 1991 and August 1992, there were 3,000 extrajudicial executions
and that 89% of them were in Port-au-Prince.
49. The summary
executions are clearly politically motivated.
Most of them occurred in the poorer neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince,
particularly those where support for the deposed President Aristide is
strongest. At the present
time, as part of a campaign of "preventive repression" being
waged by the military, the victims have been individuals who are merely
suspected of being his supporters.
50. In February
1992, four young men from the Platoon (Bel-Air) area of Port-au-Prince
were detained by two military men identified as being attached to the
"Fort Dimanche" garrison.
The day following their detention, the parents of one of the
young men, Odner Lamitié, went to the city's various detention centers
in an effort to locate his son. Finally, his body was found at the morgue of the General
Hospital, along with the bodies of his other three companions.
The four bodies had bullet wounds.
51. In May,
extrajudicial executions increased.
Military, accompanied by armed civilians, made late-night
incursions into poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, searching houses
and beating and shooting their inhabitants.
Dozens of bodies were found, particularly in the Carrefour and
Cité Soleil neighborhoods. On
May 19, after an airplane flew over the city of Port-au-Prince showering
pamphlets with a photograph of President Aristide, five people were shot
52. On May 26,
Georges Izméry, brother of a well-known follower of President Aristide,
was shot in the back in front of hundreds of witnesses, by a group of
soldiers in civilian dress. After
the shooting, the men fled into the Police Station known as the
"Cafetería", located a short distance from the scene of the
events. When the police
came, they did not allow the relatives to go near him or take him to a
hospital for treatment. The
police took Mr. Georges Izméry to the General Hospital.
The family doctor was not allowed to enter the morgue, and was
only allowed to reclaim the body three days later, after an attorney
53. Prior to the
events, the home of Mr. Georges Izméry was searched by police who did
not have a legal warrant. A
domestic was beaten and taken to prison for no reason; that night she
was released. Mr. Izméry's
funeral was interrupted by a group of heavily armed men who were
carrying a sophisticated communication system. The people in the funeral cortege were scattered and some
were arrested and beaten.
54. In the last
weeks of May and in the month of June, there were a number of student
demonstrations supporting President Aristide's return.
The police used violence to break up the demonstrations and a
number of students were killed. On
August 19, the bodies of three young men who had been hanging posters of
President Aristide in connection with the forthcoming visit of the OAS
Mission, were found in the Port-au-Prince morgue.
The young men had been arrested the day before by members of the
Armed Forces. One of the
victims, Martine Remilien, was co-founder of the new political party
called "Open the Doors".
55. On August 3,
the IACHR received a petition concerning the death of Mr. Robinson
Joseph, former director of "Radio Lumiére".
He was killed on a busy street in Port-au-Prince when, according
to police, Mr. Joseph tried to evade an automobile check-point and they
fired on him.
56. Another case
was that of Mr. Marcel Fleurzil, an active member of KONAKOM.
On September 3, his bullet-ridden body was found near the
national telephone company. In
the second week of September, the Commission received a report
denouncing the abduction of Marcel Touillot, who was abducted by armed
men and taken away in a military jeep for some unknown destination.
His body was found later in the capital city morgue.
That same month, the body of Marcel Almonacyl, Mayor of Anse
d'Hainault, was found. It
showed visible signs of torture. The
victim's brother was a priest and his death was thought to be linked to
the harassment and threats targeted against members of the Haitian
57. In late
November, the army and paramilitary forces continued the repression.
Petitions were received concerning the abduction and subsequent
murder of Jacques Derenoncourt and Wesner Luc, and the disappearance of
Justin Brésil, all members of the KONAKOM political party.
Another petition concerned an attack on students at the Agronomy
School who were conducting a peaceful demonstration.
Some had bullet wounds and twelve were missing.
In cases like these, it has been very difficult to determine
whether the victims have died or are in hiding out of fear of being
arrested by military authorities.
58. On December
5, Jean-Sony Philogene and six other young men were detained by a group
of armed men. They were
taken away in a jeep to Titaynen, a common grave into which corpses are
where they were shot. Philogene
was the lone survivor of the massacre and managed to get as far as the
national highway, where he was helped by a driver and taken to the St.
François de Salles Hospital. The
hospital refused to admit him. Thanks
to a doctor, however, Philogene was immediately taken to the Canapé
Vert Hospital. The next day,
after undergoing surgery, a number of military men in uniform appeared
at the hospital asking for him. Later, his grandmother was present in his hospital room when
a group of five armed men entered and riddled him with bullets.
Commission has forwarded these cases but in not one of them have the de
facto authorities replied.
60. The right to
personal liberty is recognized in Article 7 of the American Convention
on Human Rights, as follows:
person has the right to personal liberty and security.
2. No one
shall be deprived of his physical liberty except for the reason and
under the conditions established beforehand by the constitution of the
State Party concerned or by a law established pursuant thereto.
3. No one
shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment.
who is detained shall be informed of the reasons for his detention and
shall be promptly notified of the charge or charges against him.
person detained shall be brought promptly before a judge or other
officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be
entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to be released without
prejudice to the continuation of the proceedings.
His release may be subject to guarantees to assure his appearance
who is deprived of his liberty shall be entitled to recourse to a
competent court, in order that the court may decide without delay on the
lawfulness of his arrest or detention and order his release if the
arrest or detention is unlawful. In States Parties whose laws provide that anyone who believes
himself to be threatened with deprivation of his liberty is entitled to
recourse to a competent court in order that it may decide on the
lawfulness of such threat, this remedy may not be restricted or
abolished. The interested
party or another person in his behalf is entitled to seek these
7. No one
shall be detained for debt. This
principle shall not limit the orders of a competent judicial authority
issued for nonfulfillment of duties of support.
The right to humane treatment is upheld in Article 5 of that
Convention, which provides the following:
person has the right to have his physical, mental and moral integrity
2. No one
shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading
punishment or treatment. All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with
respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
shall not extended to any person other than the criminal.
persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from
convicted persons, and shall be subject to separate treatment
appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons.
while subject to criminal proceedings shall be separated from adults and
brought before specialized tribunals, as speedily as possible, so that
they may be treated in accordance with their status as minors.
consisting of deprivation of liberty shall have as an essential aim the
reform and social readaptation of the prisoners.
Articles 24, 25, 26
and 27 of the 1987 Haitian Constitution contain the individual's legal
guarantees in respect of personal liberty and humane treatment.
They read as follows:
Individual liberty is guaranteed and protected by the State.
No one may be prosecuted, arrested or detained except in the
cases determined by law and in the manner it prescribes.
Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no
one may be arrested or detained other than by written order of a legally
For such an order to be carried out, the following requirements
must be met:
must formally state the reason in Creole and in French for the arrest or
detention and the provision of the law that provides for punishment of
the act charged;
notice must be given and a copy of the order must be left with the
accused at the time of its execution;
accused must be notified of his right to be assisted by counsel at all
phases of the investigation of the case up to the final judgment;
where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no arrest by
warrant and no search may take place between six (6) p.m. and six (6)
for an offense is personal, and no one may be arrested in the place of
Any unnecessary force or restraint in the apprehension of a
person or in keeping him under arrest, or any psychological pressure or
physical brutality, especially during interrogation, is forbidden.
No one may be interrogated without his attorney or a witness of
his choice being present.
No one may be kept under arrest more than forty-eight (48) hours
unless he has appeared before a judge asked to rule on the legality of
the arrest and the judge has confirmed the arrest by a well-founded
In the case of a petty violation, the accused shall be referred
to a justice of the peace, who shall then hand down a final decision;
In the case of more serious offenses or crimes, an appeal may be
filed, without prior permission, simply by addressing a petition to the
presiding judge of the competent civil court, who, on the basis of the
oral statement of the prosecutor, shall rule on the legality of the
arrest and detention, in a special session of the court, without
postponement or rotation of judges, all other cases being suspended.
If the arrest is judged to be illegal, the judge shall order the
immediate release of the arrested person and that order shall be
enforceable immediately, regardless of any appeal to a higher court or
the Supreme Court for an order forbidding enforcement of the judgment.
Any violation of the provisions on individual liberty are
arbitrary acts. Injured
parties may, without prior authorization, appeal to the competent courts,
to bring suit against the authors and perpetrators of these arbitrary
acts, regardless of their rank or the body to which they belong.
61. The legal
system of Haiti provides for officials whose functions are to serve the
State by prosecuting criminals and safeguarding the rights of
individuals: the district
court prosecutor (commissaire du gouvernement) and examining
62. As for
violations of the rights to personal liberty and humane treatment, the
Commission continues to receive numerous petitions involving individuals
who have been arbitrarily arrested by members of the security forces.
The majority of these arrests are carried out without a court
order and after the hours stipulated by law.
The detainees remain in prison for days and even months, without
being brought before a judge. This
is a violation of the Constitution, which stipulates that all persons
who are detained are to be brought before a judge within 48 hours.
In some cases the victims are released without ever being charged.
63. The many
pieces of testimony provided by the victims indicate that the arrests
are always accompanied by mistreatment and even torture.
At present, the practice of extorting money from detainees is
widespread. Money is demanded of them to avoid being taken to prison or
arbitrary arrests are particularly common among people suspected of
being supporters of President Aristide and of participating in
opposition activities. The
mere fact of possessing a photograph of Aristide is grounds for arrest.
In the capital and in the countryside, leaders of grassroots
organizations, of human rights groups, priests, nuns and journalists
have been unlawfully arrested. Many
of them have been forced to abandon their work.
65. Human rights
groups operating in Haiti have recorded 5,096 cases of unlawful arrests
between October 1991 and November 1992.
Thirty-four percent of these cases occurred in Port-au-Prince,
16.30% in the Department of Artibonite, 13.35% in the Northern
Department, 12.79% in the Central Plateau region and 9.02% in the
Southern Department; the other cases were divided among the country's
66. On March 21,
1992, Dully Oxéva and Dérose Eranor, peasants from the Thomonde region
(Central Department), were arrested by members of the security forces in
Mirebalais, where they lived until soldiers burned down their home and
silo. Oxéva and Eranor,
members of the "Mouvement Paysan de Papaye" (MPP), were
severely beaten and held in custody at the Mirebalais garrison.
According to witnesses, soldiers asked their relatives for $31.00
in exchange for their release. The two men were released on April 23 and immediately
Nicolas, an active member of various grassroots organizations, was
arrested on March 29, 1992, in Cap-Haïtien.
A justice of the peace and four soldiers appeared at his home and
proceeded to inspect it, apparently without having a proper court order.
Even though there was nothing there to compromise Mr. Nicolas,
they took him to the Cap-Haïtien prison.
One month later he was released, without ever having been charged.
68. Again in
March, Elvéus Elissaint and Dorzius Bennissé, two catechists, and
Piersaint Piersius, prominent in the Protestant Church, were arrested
without a warrant for having attended two meetings with Father Gilles
Danroc, the Verrette priest. The
three people were beaten and the section chief who had arrested them
broke the barrel of his rifle on Elvéus Elissaint's back.
69. On April 27,
Sister Clemencia Ascanio, a Venezuelan religious, was detained along
with two Dominican women when the military discovered that the bus in
which they were travelling was carrying boxes containing calendars with
President Aristide's photograph. The
arrest was made at Mallepasse, near the Dominican border, from whence
the three women were travelling. The
passengers on the bus were taken to Croix-des-Bouquets Garrison; most
were released when they said that the nun was the one carrying the
calendars. Two days later,
the three women were brought before the Public Prosecutor's Office in
Port-au-Prince and released on May 2.
70. That same
month, Moléon Lebrun, a leader of the Bois de Lance Young Farmers'
Association, was detained by police without a warrant and beaten after
he participated in a demonstration in Bois de Lance (Northern Department).
Five other people were arrested with him, Marc Magloire, Jean
Magloire, Appolis Lebrun, Yves Lebrun and Jean Luma, but later released,
once each had paid $600.00. Moléon
Lebrun remained in prison when he was unable to pay the sum of $800.00
for his release. He was later transferred to the Cap-Haïtien prison, in a
very bad state of health because of the beatings and mistreatment he
endured on the day of the arrest.
Morisseau, a teacher and member of the "Komité Jen Kafou Peyan"
Youth Association of Carrefour Péan and follower of Lavalas, was
arrested by police near Delmas, in Port-au-Prince, on May 25.
Morisseau was beaten at the time of his arrest and transferred to
the Anti-gang Investigation Service, where he remained until he was
released on June 10. Claire Edouard, mother of Patrick Morisseau, was murdered in
her home the night after her son's arrest.
Several neighbors said that she was killed by members of the
security forces; the neighbors had been forced out of their homes and
made to witness the execution.
72. Also during
the month of May, Rémy Amazon, director of the Frantz Guillit school
and former assistant to the Mayor of Cayes (under the Aristide
Government), was arrested along with a number of other people in Cayes.
The arrests were in retaliation for an armed attack on a military
facility in Camp Perrin, by unidentified men carrying banners bearing
the inscription "Democracy or Death".
Some of those arrested, Amazan among them, were taken to
detention facilities in Port-au-Prince and then released.
73. In Cayes,
priests were a particular target of arbitrary arrests, and had sometimes
been mistreated, threatened, had their homes searched and their files
destroyed. In June, Father
Denis Verdier, director of Caritas, Father Gilles Danroc, coordinator of
the National Commission for Justice and Peace, Father Sony Décoste,
Father Marcel Bussels and Brother Jean-Baptiste Casséus were arrested
by security forces and released two days later.
Mr. Milo Batista and Carl Henri Richardson were arrested under
Starting in August 1992, arbitrary arrests by police and section
chiefs and their adjutants increased.
The Commission received numerous petitions, all of them involving
individuals who supported President Aristide's return or who were found
to have photos of Aristide in their homes.
In most such cases, the arrests were accompanied by mistreatment
and torture. The victims
are the following:
Place of arrest
Saut d'Eau Plateau Central
75. In mid
January 1993, the Commission was informed of the arrest of Mr. Antoine
Izméry. According to the
police, he was arrested because he was driving without a license.
He was held in prison for three days.
Normally this type of traffic violation means a fine, and not
imprisonment. According to reports received, the arrest was made after Mr.
Izméry helped with Rev. Jesse Jackson's visit to Haiti.
in January, Mr. Jean Emile Estimable, a reporter for Radio Cacique, was
arrested by the Marchand Dessalines Police and taken to the Saint Marc
he was in custody, Mr. Estimable was mistreated and his health
was described as disturbing.
arbitrary arrests have continued in the provinces as well.
Since January 1993, the IACHR has received reports concerning the
arrest of Vans Neudet Chéry (Gonaïves), Jean Claude Marsan (Cayes),
Dieulan Borgeta (Jean Rabel), Gisele St. Fermin (Cayes) and Father
Joseph Simoli (Hinche).
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights acted swiftly to begin
processing those cases. Later, Haitian human rights groups informed the Commission
that only some of the individuals in question had been released.
It is very difficult to confirm that information and to establish
the precise number of individuals who are still in prison, given the de
facto government's refusal to provide any information in that regard.
79. Before this
report was closed, the Commission was informed of the unlawful arrests
and abuse inflicted upon those who participated in the mass celebrated
on February 25, in memory of the victims lost with the sinking of the
ferry Neptune. According
to reports, as he walking out of the cathedral Monsignor Willy Romélus,
Bishop of Jeremie, was beaten and his surplice torn by armed men.
Among those arrested were Edride Jean and Julienne Charles,
members of the grassroots ecclesiastical communities (TKL), and Pharnes
Jan, who was beaten and then taken away to the National Penitentiary.
According to the information it has received, Mr. Pharnes had
been so severely beaten that he was in urgent need of medical attention.
Mrs. Arlette Josué, a journalist from Signal FM and the
Voice of America, was also detained, along with a seminarian, as she was
leaving the cathedral. She
was mistreated during her interrogation at the Anti-Gang Investigation
Commission also learned of the repression by the military in Jeremie in
early March 1993. According
to reliable sources, a number of young people were arrested and beaten
by the military; only a handful were released.
Mr. Patrick Bourdeau was so badly beaten while in custody that he
was unable to walk. The
detainees are still in prison, in violation of the 48-hour limit that
the Haitian Constitution stipulates in cases of preventive detention.
13 of the American Convention on Human Rights stipulates the following:
has the right to freedom of thought and expression.
This right includes freedom to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either
orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other
medium of one's choice.
exercise of the right provided for in the foregoing paragraph shall not
be subject to prior censorship but shall be subject to subsequent
imposition of liability, which shall be expressly established by law to
the extent necessary to ensure:
for the rights or reputations of others; or
protection of national security, public order, or public health or
right of expression may not be restricted by indirect methods or means,
such as the abuse of government or private controls over newsprint,
radio broadcasting frequencies, or equipment used in the dissemination
of information, or by any other means tending to impede the
communication and circulation of ideas and opinions.
the provisions of paragraph 2 above, public entertainments may be
subject by law to prior censorship for the sole purpose or regulating
access to them for the moral protection of childhood and adolescence.
propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial, or religious
hatred that constitute incitements to lawless violence or to any other
similar actions against any person or group or persons on any grounds
including those of race, color, religion, language, or national origin
shall be considered as offenses punishable by law.
Article 28 of the 1987 Haitian Constitution provides for freedom
of expression as follows:
Every Haitian has the right to express his opinions freely on any
matter by any means he chooses.
Journalist shall freely exercise their profession within the
framework of the law. Such
exercise may not be subject to any authorization or censorship, except
in the case of war.
Journalists may not be compelled to reveal their sources.
However, it is their duty to verify the authenticity and accuracy
of information. It is also
their obligation to respect the ethics of their profession.
82. As for
freedom of expression, the Commission continues to receive complaints
about the methods used to restrict this right and the repression of
journalists and owners of radio stations, many of which have stopped
broadcasting. Some radio
stations have been closed by the military, others have opted instead to
suspend any further broadcasts out of fear for the safety of their
staff. In rural areas,
section chiefs have arbitrarily arrested anyone who attempts to
circulate news about the repression in Haiti.
Those who continue to work do so clandestinely and at risk of
Guy Delva of the Voice of America in Port-au-Prince, received a death
threat by phone and was told that he would be killed if he did not stop
his broadcasts. According
to Delva, the threats were because of his news reports abroad about
human rights violations, especially the lack of freedom of the press in
Haiti. In late February
1992, a group of armed men appeared in Delmas, the area where Delva
lives, and were asking for him. Like
many other people who have been threatened, Delva moved.
In May 1992, Guy Delva was beaten by the Port-au-Prince police as
he was covering a student demonstration.
84. On May
7, journalist Merle India Augustine and a United States colleague went
to the Public Prosecutor's Office to find out about the case of Sister
Clemencia (mentioned earlier). During
the interview, the agent with the Public Prosecutor's Office had a
violent reaction against Augustine, who was interpreting.
He threatened to send her to prison.
When Augustine replied that he could put her in prison only if
she committed a crime, the agent ordered his soldiers to arrest her.
Agustine was held in custody for several hours and was eventually
released when a number of friends intervened.
April 12, Sony Estéus, a journalist with Radio Tropic FM, was arrested
by police and severely beaten. Both
his arms and several ribs were broken.
Police accused Estéus of distributing anti-government propaganda
and beat him until he was forced to confess to the charges.
Six hours later he was released and had to be hospitalized.
The violence used against Estéus is part of an intimidation
campaign against Radio Tropic. After
being threatened several times, Radio Tropic suspended his local news
a student demonstration in Port-au-Prince, in support of ratification of
the Washington Accords, police arrested a number of students and
photographer Thony Belizaire and confiscated his camera equipment.
After being questioned at the Investigations and Anti-gang
Service, Belizaire was released.
August, the repression of the news and communications media increased.
One of the victims of these attacks was Mr. Clifford Larose, a
journalist with the magazine Balance and director of the regional office
of the Ministry of Information (under the Aristide government), who was
shot and seriously wounded by a group of armed men in Port-au-Prince.
That same month, Radio Lumiere stopped broadcasting when its
former director, Robinson Joseph, was murdered in a police station.
January 22, 1993, Jean Emile Estimable, a reporter for Radio Cacique,
was arrested by the rural police in Marchand Dessalines.
According to the information received, Section Chief Geles
allegedly placed in the journalist's pocket flyers in favor of the
deposed President Aristide in order to have an excuse to arrest him.
Mr. Estimable was mistreated and taken to the Saint Marc's
headquarters, in a condition that sources described as "alarming".
January 27, Mr. Elder Alméus, director of a private radio station in
Jeremie called Radio Visión, was arrested by local authorities on
charges of having "incited the public to rebellion".
Some days before, Mr. Alméus had aired a broadcast called
"La verité", which was an analysis of Haiti's political
considered that broadcast to be subversive.
After one night in custody, Mr. Alméus was released.
February 2, the disappearance of Colson Dormé was reported.
Dormé is a Haitian journalist with Radio Tropic.
One day earlier he had covered a demonstration at the Port-au-Prince
airport on the occasion of the visit by the UN-OAS Representative, Mr.
Dante Caputo. He was never
seen again, either at his place of work or at his home.
His disappearance has been linked to the repression by military
against the news media. During
that demonstration, journalists Clarens Renois of Radio Metropole, Hans
Bazar of Le Rouleau Weekly, and correspondents in Port-au-Prince with
the Associated Press and France Press were attacked and insulted.
were on hand at the demonstrations that occurred in early February to
protest, in the name of "national sovereignty", the sending of
an OAS-UN Civil Mission to Haiti, but did nothing to disrupt the
demonstrations, even when a number of demonstrators attacked the
vehicles, which had diplomatic or OAS plates.
They let the air out of the tires on some of the cars and a
number of the diplomats were verbally harassed.
15 of the American Convention on Human Rights reads as follows:
The right of peaceful assembly, without arms, is recognized.
No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other
than those imposed in conformity with the law and necessary in a
democratic society in the interest of national security, public safety
or public order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights or
freedoms of others.
Article 31 of the 1987 Haitian Constitution recognizes the right
of assembly and association as follows:
Freedom of unarmed assembly and association for political,
economic, social, cultural or any other peaceful purposes is guaranteed.
Political parties and groups shall compete with each other in the
exercise of suffrage. They
may be established and may carry out their activities freely.
They must respect the principles of national and democratic
sovereignty. The law
determines the conditions for their recognition and operation, and the
advantages and privileges reserved to them.
The police authorities must be notified in advance of assemblies
outdoors in public places.
No one may be compelled to join any association of any kind.
military have banned meetings in urban and rural areas.
Peaceful meetings by grassroots organizations, students, peasants
and clergy have been violently disrupted and their participants arrested
and beaten. The offices of the organizations have been burned and their
property looted. Numerous
members of these organizations have fled to other cities in the country
and some have left Haiti altogether.
of farmers in the northeast sector of the country have stopped meeting.
The military have said that "the peasants have no place in
politics, so that they don't need to meet."
Late in 1991, military authorities told the residents of the
communities that if they wanted to hold a meeting, they had to give the
nearest garrison three days' advance notice; furthermore, a soldier had
to be present during the meetings.
In keeping with that policy, on April 28 and 29, 1992, the
soldiers from the town of Desarmes in the Artibonite held many of its
residents under a kind of "house arrest", because the local
commandant had not been given prior notice of the meeting.
In another town, the army killed three members of a peasant farm
cooperative and destroyed the meeting place.
The Papay Peasant Farm Movement has been one of the groups
subjected to the most harassment since the coup d'état of September
1991 and has not been allowed to meet. Most of its members have sought refuge in other communities.
April 29, 1992, students from the Port-au-Prince Advanced Normal School
held a meeting to discuss the country's political crisis.
Just as the meeting got under way, five uniformed policemen
appeared and arrested student Cantave Gerson.
After a day in custody at the Anti-gang Service, Gerson was
released without being told the reason for the arrest.
Some students who visited him reported that he had been severely
beaten by the soldiers and that he needed immediate medical attention.
early March, Gonaïves high-school students assembled to begin a
demonstration at the entrance to the city.
Moments before the march began, a group of soldiers dispersed the
crowd, beating a number of the students present and arresting forty of
97. On May
13, 1992, a group of soldiers and armed men in civilian dress burst into
the School of Sciences of the University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince and
beat the students who were holding a meeting at the time.
On June 19, dozens of soldiers surrounded the Advanced Normal
School, where approximately 250 students had assembled to protest the
appointment of Marc Bazin as de facto prime minister.
The soldiers threatened the students and confiscated the keys to
the school, leaving them locked inside; hours later, the soldiers began
to throw stones, breaking the windows on the building.
In fear of being attacked, the students and four professors
refused to leave. It was
not until the next night that the students were able to leave with the
help of a priest, who acted as an intermediary to ensure that they would
not be attacked.
July 15, sixty policemen used force to break up a meeting of students
from the Medical School in Port-au-Prince.
The meeting followed a peaceful march to the capital.
Some people who witnessed the events said that the police beat up
a number of students, among them Roosevelt Millard, Ronald Léon, Claude
Lucien, Désir Rosette, Canez Prévault and Esner Blaise.
They fired their weapons, but were unable to determine whether
anyone had been wounded. Journalists
who later went to the scene of the events, however, saw bloodstains on
Approximately 20 students were arrested and taken to the Anti-gang
Service where they were held for several days, without ever being
members of the Church have been a particular target of the crackdown in
Haiti. Permission was
sometimes given to hold meetings to prepare for religious ceremonies the
following day. On June 6,
Father Gilles Danroc and others were detained, as he was giving his
catechism class in the town of La Chapelle, even though one day earlier,
he had informed the local authorities of where and when his class would
be given. As the class was
beginning, two soldiers appeared and told them that the meeting was
unlawful and that he and 14 students, one of whom was pregnant, were
under arrest. Even though
no arrest warrant was shown, Father Danroc and the students were taken
to the La Chapelle garrison and later to the Verrettes garrison where
they were questioned for several hours.
The next day, the detainees were transferred to the Saint Marc
prison, where soldiers continued the questioning and labeled them
communists and followers of the Lavalas movement.
Seven of the students, including the young pregnant woman, were
beaten. Father Danroc and
seven students were released on June 7, and the other students some days
thereafter. They were never
brought before a judge and no charges were ever filed against them.
On June 9, Father Danroc left the country.
100. Other cases
are that of Elvéus Elissaint, Dorzius Bennissé and Piersant Piersius,
who were arrested and subjected to mistreatment for having participated
in two meetings with the Verettes priest.
Also, Mrs. Liliane Pierre-Paul, a long-time correspondent with
Radio Haití Inter, was arrested and accused of being a terrorist for
attending a meeting of the Latin American Association of Journalists in
101. On January
6, 1993, as mass was being celebrated, a group of military men and armed
civilians burst into the church of La Nativité in l'Acul-du-Nord,
destroying doors and religious objects.
The military men stopped the mass, hurled insults at the
parishioners and accused Father Renaud François of having criticized
the government of Marc Bazin. Two
days later, the military stopped a procession in Jeremie.
Monsignor Willy Romelus and 25 other priests had just conducted
an ordination ceremony in Jeremie's cathedral, and the procession
followed the ordination. The
military used nightsticks to break up the participants, some of whom
were so badly beaten that they had to be taken to hospital.