The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is gravely concerned at the deterioration of the human rights situation in Haiti. Paramilitary groups known as "attachés" have killed dozens of persons in the Canape Vert, Delmas, Musseau, and Carrefour districts, where many supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide live.
Added to such alarming acts as the recent assassination of Mr. Antoine Izméry are the present violence and terrorism of those armed paramilitary groups, acting with complete impunity under armed forces protection. The latest tragic victim of this terrorism has been Minister of Justice Guy Malary, who was assassinated along with two of his bodyguards yesterday.
Since September, after Prime Minister Robert Malval was confirmed and after the embargo imposed by the United Nations and the Organization of American States was lifted, acts of violence have increased presumably aiming at preventing the new government from being installed and going into operation and blocking implementation of the agreements. A number of ministers of the new government have had to abandon their homes after receiving death threats. Some newly appointed officials are in hiding and have been unable to take charge of their offices.
Recently, groups of armed forces civilian auxiliaries took over the mass media, broadcasting threats against the United Nations Mission to Haiti (MINUHA) and demanding expulsion of Special Envoy Dante Caputo and resignation of Prime Minister Malval.
The Commission has been informed of the violent demonstrations organized by the Haitian Front for Advancement and Progress (the FRAPH) and other paramilitary groups, designed to prevent the landing of the technical assistance mission for training the armed forces and the police, and to block access to the Port-au-Prince docks by OAS-UN observers and U.S. Embassy staff. During these demonstrations, acts of violence have been committed against journalists and diplomatic vehicles, and demonstrators have fired weapons into the air to frighten the people. These demonstrations have been protected and aided by the police, which even redirected traffic flows with the obvious intent of facilitating the demonstrators' passage.
The Commission strongly condemns the situation of violence prevailing in Haiti, which it perceives as provocation designed to prevent compliance with the Governors Island agreements concluded in July 1993 and the New York Accord that lifted the international embargo on August 27, 1993. The Haitian armed forces' failure to comply with those agreements has led the United Nations Security Council to reimpose the embargo.
The Commission considers that, although implementation of these agreements is being threatened by the violence and repression of the armed forces, it affirms that the agreements continue to be in effect for the international community, which can take whatever measures may be needed against the groups that are hampering full reestablishment of democracy and the individual guarantees protected by the American Convention on Human Rights.
Washington, D.C., October 15, 1993
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights resolutely condemns he acts of violence committed nu irregular armed groups operating with impunity in Haiti. These groups are selectively assassinating people who support the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristde and are using vandalism in an attempt to prevent Prime Minister Robert Malval's cabinet from taking office and operting.
The Commission deplores the repression carried out by agents of the Armed Forces in Haiti, known as "attachés", which has resurged since early September, and condemns the recent assassination of citizens of Haiti. According to information obtained by the IACHR, 12 people were killed in Canape Vert, Dalmás, Musseau, Carrefour and Carrefour Feuille, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
In addition, the Committee was informed of the assassination of Mr. Antoine Izmery, a personal friend of President Aristide and founder of KOMEVEB, or Comité Manos Juntas para el Estallido de la Verdad (the Communal Committee for Revelation of the Truth), which supports a return to democracy. The assassination of Mr. Izmery was perpetrated on September 11, 1993 by armed civilians who forced him to leave the Sacred Heart Church in Turgeau, where a mass was being said to commemorate the victims of the massacre in the church of San Juan Bosco on September 11, 1988.
The Commission expresses its concern at the threats made against Mr. Dante0. Caputo, the special envoy of the OAS/UN and interprets them as yet another attempt to destabilize the process of political negociations in Haiti.
During its on site visit to Haiti, from August 23 to August 27, 1993, the Delegation of the IACHR was told by General Raoul Cédras, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, that he would guarantee a climate of peace for the return of President Aristide. However, the resurgence of human rights violations in Haiti, and the passive role adopted by the Army and the Police in response to them, constitute a clear violation of the agreements reached in July,1993, on Governors Island and in the New York Pact.
The Commission calls upon the Armed Forces of Haiti to disarm and dimantle the armed civilian groups whose actions tend to frustrate the full restoration of democracy and of individual guarantees enshrined in the American Convention of Human Rights.
During its next session (October 5-15-1993), the Commission will once again review the human rights situation in Haiti, and the possibility of sending a Delegation before the end of October.
September 24, 1993
Today a delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States concludes its visit to Haiti. The purpose of the visit was to continue observing the human rights situation in this country and to evaluate the fulfillment of those rights contained in the American Convention on Human Rights and to make recommendations the Commission considers necessary.
The IACHR delegation's visit was from 23rd to the 27th of August. The Delegation was composed of the following persons: Professor Michael Reisman, Vice-President of the Commission and head of the delegation, Ambassador Oliver Jackman, Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Dr. Patrick Robinson, members of the Commission, Dr. David Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Dr. Bertha Santoscoy Noro, principal human rights specialist, Dr. Relinda Eddie, and Dr. Meredith Caplan, human rights specialists and Mrs. Maria Julia Meyer, administrative officer, Mr. Serge Bellegarde of the OAS language services, and Mrs. Oliviere Bellande, both of whom served as French and Creole translators and interpreters.
The Commission is the principal organ of the OAS charged with reporting on compliance with human rights standards in the hemisphere. The seven members of the Commission, each serving a four year term, are elected by the General Assembly of the OAS in their individual capacity and not as representatives of governments. The authority of the Commission derives primarily from the American Convention on Human Rights to which Haiti has been a party since 1977. The Commission's jurisdiction extends to two categories of human rights problems. Petitions may be brought by or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals whose rights are alleged to have been violated. But when large numbers of grave violations are occurring in a country, single petitions are unlikely to help. For such situations, the Commission may undertake on its own initiative, a country-study of human rights violations.
For both forms of jurisdiction, the Commission concludes by issuing a report to the General Assembly of the OAS and to the international community.
The Commission has a disturbingly large number of individual petitions from Haiti currently before it. Because of the general gravity of the human rights situation in Haiti, precipitated and in part aggravated by the military coup of 1991, the Commission issued a special report in 1992 and again in 1993. During this time, the Commission was repeatedly asked by the Permanent Council and the Extraordinary Meeting of Consultation of Foreign Ministers of the OAS to conduct an on-site visit in Haiti. On other occasions, the Commission has been asked by President Aristide, who has testified before it, to conduct an on-site visit. Unfortunately, each initiative by the Commission to arrange a visit to Haiti was either rebuffed or ignored by those exercising authority. Most recently, by letter of July 6, 1993, President Aristide requested the Commission to conduct an on-site investigation. By letter of July 19, 1993, Mr. Francois Benoit,who had been appointed Foreign Minister by those exercising authority, indicated their willingness to allow the Commission to conduct an on-site visit. The Commission promptly organized the current on-site investigation.
The authorities, on accepting the visit by the Commission, gave assurances that the Commission could interview freely and in private persons, groups, and organizations which the IACHR deemed pertinent, and that no reprisals would be taken against them.
During its stay, the IACHR delegation benefitted from the cooperation of representatives of organizations from various sectors of Haitian society in its efforts to gain a better understanding of the human rights situation in this country. The Commission met with the appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Francois Benoit, Prime Minister Robert Malval, members of Parliament, Mr. Fermin Jean-Louis, President of the Senate, Mr. Turneb Delpé, Mr. Rony Modestin, and Mr. Ebrane Cadet, with the head of the Armed Forces, General Raoul Cedras, and his high command.
The delegation also met with members of the Presidential Commission, Father Antoine Adrien, and Mr. Chavannes Jean Baptiste. The delegation had talks with the Director of the OAS - UN Civil Mission, Ambassador Collin Granderson, who was accompanied by Mr. Ian Martin, the Director for Human Rights, Mr. William O'Neill, Deputy Director for Human Rights, Mr. Tiebile Dromé, Director of the Human Rights Investigation Section, and Ms. Maria Clara Martin, human rights investigator for the Mission.
The delegation also met with a number of human rights organizations and various representatives of political parties. It likewise met with journalists from the different media to learn about issues related to the freedom of expression. The delegation conducted interviews with union leaders, industrialists, members of the religious community, as well as other sectors of national life. The delegation also received individual complaints, information, and communications regarding human rights from persons from all social classes.
The delegation visited three prisons where it met with the respective penal authorities. These establishments were; the National Penitentiary, the Prison of St. Marc, and the Prison of Hinche.
The delegation obtained a great deal of information regarding arbitrary detentions, over-crowded prison conditions, mistreatment, and torture of prisoners at the time of arrest as well as unreasonable delays in bringing accused persons to court.
The delegation travelled to the interior of the country visiting the cities of St. Marc, Gonaives, and Hinche, where it received a great deal of information regarding abuses committed by agents of the army, by section chiefs and their henchmen. The delegation was informed that "militias" are creating a climate of fear among the rural inhabitants. According to those sources, paramilitary forces assault, rape women, and destroy homes with complete impunity.
The Commission received considerable information and assistance from the Civil Mission. Though it has a different mandate from that of the Inter-American Commission which operates under the American Convention, the Civil Mission's reports on human rights violations have been an extremely important source of information for the Commission. Moreover, reports from persons interviewed make clear, as indicated below, that the presence of the personnel of the Civil Mission in situations and places of high tension has on numerous occasions had a deterrent effect.
During its on-site visit, the Chamber of Deputies approved the President's nomination of M. Robert Malval as Prime Minister. The Commission views this as an important step in the reconstruction of a contitutional and popularly elected government. Nevertheless the overall picture of the human rights situation that emerged from testimony was discouraging. The Commission received information of manifold violations of human rights in Haiti. Much of it confirmed findings published by the Civil Commission and non-governmental organizations.
The Commission received numerous complaints which have the following common characteristics: First, the delegation heard repeated testimony that the rights of life, personal liberty, physical integrity and freedoms of expression, and assembly are being constantly violated. Second, the climate of fear and insecurity in the country, that has resulted, has prompted large scale internal movements of persons from the provinces to the Capital and vice versa, seeking to flee repression by the military. Many of these persons have abandoned their homes and families and frequently change living quarters at night to protect themselves.
In its visit to the countryside, witnesses were so fearful of reprisals by military and paramilitary forces that many insisted that their meetings with the Commission be held clandestinely. The pattern which emerged from testimony there was of intense physical abuse, sometimes of entire families suspected of being supporters of President Aristide. Many of these attacks led to severe injuries.
It was also pointed out that this phenomenon of violence was occurring in the cities carried out by large bands of armed men called "Zenglendos" who operate in a systematic manner committing crimes at night particularly in poor neighborhoods of the Capital, with the apparent acquiescence of the armed forces.
The situation of insecurity which is pervasive in the country has generated an additional human rights problem, namely, internal displacement. Citizens who have suffered physical abuse at the hands of the police or paramilitary forces fear to return to their homes. "Mawons" (in Creole, those in hiding), are said to number as many as 300,000 people.
Another grave problem which antedates the current crisis is the inordinate delay in processing people who have been arrested and detained within the criminal justice system. It is apparently not unusual for individuals to be kept in jail for as long as two years before they are even charged. This problem, which was brought to the attention of the Commission by many witnesses requires urgent attention, for long delays in the provision of due process violate the American Convention.
The Commission is convinced that the key and indispensable prerequisite - indeed, a conditio sine qua non- to repair the grave human rights situation in Haiti is the early reestablishment of the constitutional democratic government that was elected by the people of Haiti in the internationally supervised and certified elections of 1990, but which was ousted by the military coup of September 29, 1991. The coup d'etat was in itself a violation of the Convention. The proper remedy for such a violation is that its results be reversed. It is clear that, until legitimate, constitutional government is restored, fundamental change in Haiti cannot take place. Such change would necessarily involve:
a) a substantial improvement of the judicial system;
b) the separation of the military and the police, as envisaged in the national Constitution; and,
c) the professionalisation of the police force.
This would lay the groundwork for the reconstruction of the national economy and for the reentry of Haiti into the international economy, indispensable steps in the process whereby the citizens of the country may attain a life style consonant with the economic and social standards prescribed in the American Convention and the Covenants of the United Nations.
The implementation of Articles 2 and 3 of the Governors Island Agreement of July 3, 1993 is a welcome step. The suspension of the embargo, in accord with Article 4 of the same, will bring many economic benefits to Haiti. But "Governors Island" requires much more to be done. Moreover, it must be read in conjunction with the New York Agreement of July 16, 1993, which the Secretary General of the United Nations described as complementary to it. In the New York Agreement, the political parties and political forces in Haiti call for an end to arbitrary practices, illegal detentions, physical torture, disappearances, political assassinations, acts of personal vengeance, and the immediate release of all persons detained because of their political opinions. The Commission calls for the fullfillment of all of these commitments at the earliest time.
The New York Agreement calls, in section 4(i), for the enactment of a law for the establishment, organization and operation of a police force. The Commission is convinced that this is an important and urgent measure for the installation of an acceptable human rights regime. In order to facilitate it, the Commission would urge President Aristide and Prime Minister Malval to create immediately a Ministry responsible for the police headed by a civilian minister. The Ministry can begin to oversee the operations of the police, as currently structured, and can serve as a liaison with the United Nations technical training force called for in the Governors Island Agreement. It can also initiate the preparation of the primary and secondary legislation necessary to establish a separate police force. Early enactment and implementation of such legislation is required for the functioning of a police force which meets international standards.
Numerous complaints under the Convention about the system of maintenance of public order in the rural areas have been received by the Commission on this visit as well as in the past. So many complaints have been received that it is plain that over and above the need for individual remedies, this is a structural problem. Whatever the historic justifications for the system of chefs de section, it is apparent that a new system of public order in the countryside is urgently required.
The establishment of a separate, professional police force along with the restructuring of the public order system in the countryside must be accompanied by the disarming and demobilization of the various irregular groups that have formed. The Commission has received reports of the recrudescence of activities of various irregular armed groups in the tradition of the Ton Ton Macoute. Many of the reported violations are associated with these formations. Many witnesses insisted, and some submitted eye witness testimony, that the military was behind and responsible for these irregular forces. In any event, it is clear that the armed forces are obliged to stop the unauthorized use of violence in the state.
The Governors Island Agreement contemplates considerable international assistance for Haiti. The Commission believes such assistance is urgently required. In particular, the Commission believes that the life of the Civil Mission should be extended because it can supply much needed basic data on the political and human rights situation in Haiti, and by its mere presence, it can act as a retardant on unauthorized violence.
Similarly, the Commission feels that the introduction of internationally authorized police trainers and a military training program should be accomplished at the earliest possible moment.
The Commission listened with satisfaction to the assurances given by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces concerning his commitment to creating a peaceful climate throughout the country to allow for the return of Father Aristide.
The Commission is grateful for the cooperation it has received from the authorities and different sectors of the Haitian population which contributed to the success of the mission. The Commission intends to continue monitoring the human rights situation in Haiti.
Port-au-Prince August 27, 1993
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States decided at its 83rd period of sessions to continue to give priority to the human rights situation in Haiti. With the consent of the Government of Haiti, and pursuant to the Agreement reached on Governors Island on July 3rd, 1993, the Commission will make a visit to Haiti to observe and assess the human rights situation.
The object of the visit is to continue to observe human rights in Haiti, and to evaluate the exercise of these rights in accordance with the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Haiti is a party, and to make recommendations that the Commission considers to be necessary. This visit is also made pursuant to the prior resolutions issued by the ad-hoc Meeting of the Ministers of External Affairs, and the recent resolutions adopted by the Organization of American States at its 23rd General Assembly, held in Managua, in June of this year.
The Commission will be in Haiti from August 23rd to the August 27th, 1993, to assess the human rights situation in that country. The composition of the Commission's delegation follows: Professor Michael Reisman, Vice-President of the Commission, Ambassador Oliver Jackman, Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, Dr. Leo Valladares Lanza, Dr. Patrick Robinson, Secretariat staff - Executive Secretary Dr. Edith Márquez Rodríguez, human rights specialists - Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro, Dr. Relinda Eddie, Dr. Meredith Caplan, Maria Julia Meyer, administrative secretary, and M. Serge Bellegarde, interpreter of french and creole.
The acceptance of the Commission's visit by the Government of Haiti, guarantees that the Commission will be able to interview
people, groups, entities or institutions that it considers appropriate, and that no reprisals will be taken against persons who communicates with the Commission.
During the course of this mission, the Commission anticipates to interview and obtain information from officials, groups, and in particular representatives of the different sectors of the haitian society.
The Commission will follow the aforementioned structured calendar of activities. Throughout the visit, the Commission is counting on the cooperation of the representatives of the various entities who comprise the haitian society for a better understanding, of the reality of haitians in the domain of the rights of man.
The Commission's delegation will be staying at the Creole Villa Hotel, and the Commission's representatives will be at the disposal of all those persons who want to provide their information and individual complaints to them on Wednesday, August 25th, 1993, between the hours of 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Potr-au-Prince August 16th, 1993
The President of the Republic of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Haiti, Lieutenant-General Raoul Cédras, have agreed that the following arrangements should be made in order to resolve the Haitian crisis. Each of them has agreed to take, within the scope of his powers, all the necessary measures for the implementation of these arrangements. Furthermore, they both, in any case, express their support for the implementation of these arrangements and pledge to cooperate in implementing them.
1. Organization, under the auspices of the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), of a political dialogue between representatives of the political parties represented in the Parliament, with the participation of representatives of the Presidential Commission, in order to:
a) agree to a political truce and promote a social pact to create the conditions necessary to ensure a peaceful transition;
b) reach an agreement on the procedure for enabling the Haitian Parliament to resume its normal functioning;
c) reach an agreement enabling the Parliament to confirm the Prime Minister as speedily as possible; and
d) reach an agreement permitting the adoption of the laws necessary for ensuring the transition.
2. Nomination of a Prime Minister by the President of the Republic.
3. Confirmation of the Prime Minister by the legally reconstituted Parliament and his assumption of office in Haiti.
4. Suspension, on the initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, of the sanctions adopted under Security Council resolution 841 (1993) and suspension, on the initiative of the Secretary-General of OAS, of the other measures adopted at the OAS Ad Hoc Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, immediately after the Prime Minister is confirmed and assumes office in Haiti.
5. Implementation, following the agreements with the constitutional Government, of international cooperation:
a) technical and financial assistance for development;
b) assistance for the administrative and judicial reform;
c) assistance for modernizing the Armed Forces of Haiti and establishing a new Police Force with the presence of United Nations personnel in these fields.
6. An amnesty granted by the President of the Republic within the framework of article 147 of the National Constitution and implementation of the other instruments which may be adopted by the Parliament on this question.
7. Adoption of a law establishing the new Police Force.
Appointment, within this framework, of the Commander-in-Chief of the Police Force by the President of the Republic.
8. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Haiti has decided to avail himself of his right to early retirement and the President of the Republic shall appoint a new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Haiti, who shall appoint the members of the General Staff, in accordance with the Constitution.
9. Return to Haiti of the President of the Republic, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, on 30 October 1993.
10. Verification by the United Nations and the Organization of the American States of fulfilment of all the foregoing commitments.
The President of the Republic and the Commander-in-Chief agree that these arrangements constitute a satisfactory solution to the
Haitian crisis and the beginning of a process of national reconciliation. They pledge to cooperate fully in the peaceful transition to a stable and lasting democratic society in which all Haitians will be able to live in a climate of freedom, justice, security and respect for human rights.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide Lieutenant-General Raoul Cédras
President of the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Haiti Armed Forces of Haiti
Governors Island, July 3, 1993
1. In the spirit of the Governors Island Agreement of 3 July 1993, the political forces and parliamentary blocs signatories to the present Agreement undertake to observe a political truce to guarantee a smooth and peaceful transition. The duration of this truce shall be six months, beginning upon signature of the present document. The objective of the truce is to create throughout the country a climate of pacification to facilitate the work of the Government of national concord. The signatories therefore appeal to all social sectors to put an end to all forms of violence.
2. The political forces and parliamentary blocs:
(a) Undertake to refrain during this period from tabling any motion of no-confidence against the new Government of national concord, in so far as the Executive scrupulously respects the Constitution and the laws of the Republic; and undertake to guarantee that there is a quorum as a result of their presence and not to obstruct the work of Parliament;
(b) Call upon the Haitian Armed Forces to respect the Agreement signed on 3 July at Governors Island;
(c) Call for an end to arbitrary practices from whatever quarter, particularly unlawful arrests, physical torture, disappearances, political assassinations and personal revenge;
(d) Undertake to secure the immediate release of all persons detained for offenses relating to the views they hold and to have the status of prisoners throughout the territory of Haiti reviewed, on the basis of an accelerated procedure;
(e) Undertake to take all the necessary steps to promote and guarantee full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
(f) Undertake, pending the establishment of the Citizens' Protection Bureau, to promote the establishment of a Compensation Commission for the victims of the coup d'état,
(g) Undertake to refrain from any kind of action that could lead to violence or disrupt the transition to democracy;
(h) Undertake to promote the immediate reform of the judicial system.
3. The political forces and parliamentary blocs, with a view to ensuring the prompt restoration of constitutional order:
(a) Invite the President of the Republic to nominate as soon as possible the new Prime Minister of national concord, in accordance with the Constitution;
(b) Undertake to ensure the confirmation of the new Prime Minister selected, in accordance with the Constitution, without delay.
4. The political forces and parliamentary blocs undertake to ensure that the following laws are passed, on the basis of an emergency procedure:
5. The Executive, within the framework of its powers, may begin the procedure of reviewing the various decrees and decisions adopted in the period from 30 September 1991 to 3 July 1993 that are not in accordance with the current Constitution, first and foremost Order Nº 101, of 7 December 1992, setting up the Permanent Emergency Electoral Council.
6. The solution of the political crisis and the social pacification of the country call for a solution to the problem of the presence in Parliament of citizens elected as a result of the contested elections of 18 January 1993. To that end, it has been agreed that the members of Parliament elected as a result of those elections shall undertake not to obstruct the operation of the parliamentary institution and that they shall voluntarily refrain from occupying their parliamentary seats until such time as the constitutional institution empowered to consider this dispute has rendered its verdict.
In view of the fact that, under paragraph 4 of this Agreement, the Act establishing the Conciliation Commission is to be adopted as soon as possible after the installation of the Government of national concord, it has been agreed that once that Commission has been set up the matter in dispute shall be referred to the Commission.
The United Nations and OAS undertake, by making two experts available, to make a technical and juridical contribution to the preparation of the Act establishing the Conciliation Commission and to its implementation.
It has also been agreed that the Conciliation Commission shall be the only body in the country called upon to pronounce definitively on this issue.
DONE at United Nations Headquarters, New York,
on 16 July 1993