OF ASSEMBLY AND RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man
Every person has the right to assemble peacefully with others in
a formal public meeting or an informal gathering, in connection with
matters of common interest of any nature.
Every person has the right to associate with others to promote,
exercise and protect his legitimate interests of a political, economic,
religious, social, cultural, professional, labor union or other nature.1
Articles 31 and 32 of the Constitution of Haiti guarantee the
rights of assembly and association. These articles read as follows:
Haitians may assemble peaceably and without arms, even for the
purpose of discussing political affairs, without prior authorization, in
conformity with the laws governing the exercise of this right. This
provision shall not apply to public gatherings which shall be entirely
subject to police regulations (Article 31).
Haitians shall have the right of association, of forming
political parties, labor unions and cooperatives (Article 32).
The right of assembly guaranteed by the Constitution has been
seriously restricted in practice, mainly for political reasons, by the
measures taken by the government to prevent the organization and
development of political parties in the country.
Moreover, Article 31 on the right of assembly is one of those
articles that the Legislature has often suspended, as it has done at the
present time (Decree of September 19, 1978).
While the right of association was not one of the rights
suspended by the Legislature, it was severely limited by Article
236(bis) of the 1948 Penal Code, which requires government authorization
to form a group of more than 20 persons desiring to meet regularly for
religious, literary, political or other purposes. The text of this
regulation is as follows: “No association of more than 20 persons
whose purpose is to meet daily or on certain regular days, to discuss
religious, literary, political or other matters may be formed except
with the consent of the government, and under such conditions as the
authorities may wish to set. The total number of persons indicated in
this article shall not include those persons living in the house where
the association is meeting.”
This article may also serve to prevent any political group or
association, no matter what its nature, from acting freely.
One of the matters that was of particular interest to the Special
Commission was trade union freedom. This is what prompted members of the
Commission to visit a number of factories to interview workers. It is
evident that, far from being promoted, unionization is discouraged by
intimidation. The workers consulted said that they wanted to form trade
unions, but were afraid of losing their jobs if they were active in this
area. At the Ciment d’Haiti, the Special Commission met with union
groups, one of which had been elected by middle management and the other
by the blue-collar workers. It was alleged that the firm tolerated the
relatively moderate demands of these groups so that it could show that
trade union freedom did indeed exist. The Special Commission also notes
the fact that there are no labor federations or confederations operating
Article 15. Right of Assembly
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 freedom of others.
Article 16. Freedom of Association
Everyone has the right to associate freely for ideological,
religious, political, economic, labor, social, cultural, sports, or
The exercise of this right shall be subject only to such
restrictions established by law as may be 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
and freedoms of others.
The provisions of this article do not bar the imposition of
legal restrictions, including even deprivation of the exercise of
the right of association, on members of the armed forces and the