ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The Election-Day Aftermath
In reaction to the election day massacre, the U.S. Government, Haiti's
largest aid donor, cancelled approximately 60 million dollars of proposed
economic aid for 1988 as well as a small amount of proposed military aid.
An additional 34 million dollars of economic assistance, which is
distributed by private voluntary organizations and non-governmental
organizations, was not affected since it is not channeled through the Haitian
Following the cancellation of the elections there were reports of
continued violent abductions by death squads in some areas of Port-au-Prince.
A woman from Carrefour Feuilles claimed that 46 prisoners, arrested in a
sweep of her neighborhood, had been executed while in detention. The 46 were suspected of having participated in the
self-defense vigilante groups.
On December 4, 1987 seven of Haiti's nine Catholic bishops condemned as
"atrocities" the violent crimes that led to the cancellation of
Haiti's elections. The Bishops stated that Haiti is "for the first
time" facing a campaign of "cleverly organized terror," and they
accused Namphy's forces of abetting the burning of polling stations and ballots.
They also rejected as "unjust" and "unconstitutional"
the Government's abolition of the Provisional Electoral Council.
The corpse of a Haitian whose skull had been shattered by bullets was
left on a sidewalk behind the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, apparently as a warning
to the Bishops.
Despite evidence that the Haitian army was involved in the violence that
forced the cancellation of the presidential elections, the United States,
Canada, the organization of American States and CARICOM looked to the Haitian
military, the Government in power, to get the elections back on track, and to
take the necessary measures to ensure that the electoral process would have
credibility with the Haitian people.
In an interview given to the French newspaper Libération, Lt.
Gen. Henri Namphy accused the CEP, the Church, and foreign countries for the
troubles Haiti experienced and justified the role of the Army.54
Lt. Gen. Namphy denounced the Catholic Church's monopoly of
education "which has rendered the Haitians "illiterate" and
denounced the Church's interest in politics when they should be spreading the
gospel. "I am Catholic,"
he stated, "but I no longer respect priests".
When asked about the foreign countries, without mentioning names, Lt.
Gen. Namphy stated that "the foreign countries financed the CEP's elections
and that the CEP would fool the Americans by having a Leftist candidate
Regarding the killings at the Argentine School on the ruelle Vaillant
which had been imputed to the neo-Duvalierists, Lt. Gen. Namphy replied that the
CEP, the politicians, the Church and the vigilance brigades all contributed to
putting a part of the country on the shelf, and when these people reacted
everyone acted stunned and blamed the Army.
Echoing Rev. Sylvio Claude, lt. Gen. Namphy asked:
Who profits from the crime? But
replied that the Army did not get involved "because they didn't even know
who was shooting at whom".
Lt. Gen. Namphy placed the blame for the failure of the elections on its civilian
organizers, whom the Army refused to protect from attack, and he has excused the
violence of November 29, 1987, as a justifiable reaction to a Leftist or a
communist threat. No foreign
diplomats, including the Americans, reportedly shared the view that such a
144. Mr. Philippe
Jules, a member of the CEP, has responded to these charges.56
He stated that:
I wish to formally deny the charges of those persons who say that the CEP
refused to collaborate with the authorities.
In a letter dated may 21 addressed to the CNG, the members requested a
meeting in order to discuss "the budget, the manner of collaborating with
the organs of the State and the available electoral material".
This gesture was repeated several times, but it was necessary to await
the appearance of the decree of June 19th and the political crisis
created by it, for the CNG to invite the CEP to sit at a table.
After having obtained the derogation of the decree following three days
of negotiations and at the cost of the loss of many lives (135 wounded, 21 dead)
the CEP retired, pursuant to the Constitution, in order to follow its mission
collegially and independently. The
letters to the Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Finance, National Education,
the Armed forces and the CNG are a manifestation of the CEP's will to
collaborate as regards its constitutional prerogatives.
The allegations regarding the invitation to foreign intervention in the
affairs of the country are without basis, given that the assistance of friendly
governments to the electoral process was channeled through the Haitian
Government, be it assistance from the OAS, Canada, the US, China, Venezuela or
France. As regards the journalists
and observers invited to cover the elections, these invitations were in
conformity with the international norms and conventions subscribed to by the
The dissolution of the CEP is only a new violation of our fundamental
charter. But the Haitian people
must once again bend beneath the yoke of force, of institutionalized terrorism
and arbitrariness. Can free, fair
and democratic elections take place without the disarming of the duvalierists,
the macoutes, certain high ranking retired officials who form the death squads
and sow terror and desolation under the cover of the olive green uniform or
disguised as cagoulards?"57
The Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on December 7, 1987
The Organization of American States tentatively scheduled an emergency
meeting of its Permanent Council for Friday, December 4, 1987, to consider the
recent events in Haiti but postponed this meeting, after the Haitian Government
offered to send Col. Herard Abraham, the Haitian Foreign Minister, to Washington
on Monday, December 7, 1987.
The Permanent Council met on December 7, 1987.
Col. Herard Abraham's speech before the Permanent Council placed the
responsibility for the election day tragedy on the CEP, and his speech set forth
the following criticism of the CEP:
that the CEP had "systematically and arbitrarily" excluded
certain candidates from the elections, thereby having committed serious
violations of the Constitution and the electoral law which the CEP itself had
the CEP had failed in the technical and material organization of the
elections - many polling stations had not received their ballots or other
required electoral material;
the decision of the CEP to declare partial elections was a fragrant
violation of the electoral law, furthermore massive fraud was denounced in some
the CEP placed in peril the unity and sovereignty of the nation by its
involvement with foreigners.
During the 1987 OAS General Assembly in Washington, D.C., Mr. Reynold
Leroy, the Chargé d'Affairs of the Haitian Government before the OAS, invited
the OAS to send observers to the November 29 elections.
Two Colombian nationals were appointed by the OAS, Dr. Jaime Castro, a
former Minister of the Interior and Justice and Dr. José Antonio Gómez, a
parliamentarian. On the Thursday
prior to the Sunday elections the Haitian Government cancelled the arrangements
stating that it was up to the CEP to cover the expenses of their transportation,
hotel and security. The OAS, of
course, has no relations with the CEP and the travel arrangements had to be
At the Permanent Council meeting on December 7th, Col. Abraham
announced that an independent Commission of Inquiry would be established to
investigate the acts of violence that had occurred on November 29, 1987.
The Permanent Council approved a resolution which reaffirmed the OAS'
longstanding principle of non-intervention and, notwithstanding the Army's
complicity in the Election day violence, it called upon the CNG to organize a
new round of elections. Resolution
No. 489 "Solidarity with the People of Haiti" states in its operative
To deplore the acts of violence and disorder, and especially the loss of
life that has taken place in Haiti.
To express its conviction that it is necessary to resume the democratic
process, and to urge the National Council of Government of Haiti to adopt all
necessary measurements so that the people of Haiti may express their will
through free elections, without pressure or interference of any type.
To express its solidarity with the people of Haiti and to reiterate its
confidence that they will realize their legitimate aspirations for peace,
freedom, and democracy.
To reaffirm that states have the fundamental duty to abstain from
intervening, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or
external affairs of any other state, in accordance with Article 18 of the
To authorize the Secretary General, in accordance with the terms of
Resolution CP/RES. 441 (644/86), to provide to the Haitian people the fullest
possible assistance of a humanitarian nature.
The military Government of Haiti, it should be noted, was in accord with
The CNG's New Electoral Calendar
Following the December 7, 1987 OAS called on the Haitian military to
organize new elections, a nationwide 8-hour general strike was called to protest
the C.N.G's takeover of the electoral process and to demand that the military
government return control of the electoral process to the constitutional CEP.
In response, it was reported that truckloads of Army troops patrolled the
streets with automatic rifles during the strike. Journalists noted that the high-profile military presence
contrasted sharply with the Election-day weekend when anti-election gunmen were
permitted to cruise through the streets shooting voters and journalists with the
few troops in sight ignoring or aiding the assaults.
On December 10, 1987, the CNG published the new political calendar:
December 11, 1987 - new members of the CEP to be appointed;
December 12, 1987 - new CEP to be sworn in;
December 18, 1987 - new electoral decree to be published;
December 23, 1987 - decree calling the citizenry to elections;
January 17, 1988 -
municipal, legislative and presidential elections
to be held;
February 1, 1988 -
the members of the legislature are to take
February 7, 1988 -
the president-elect will take his oath of office
On December 11, 1987 the CNG announced the names of nine, largely
unknown, new members of the CEP in spite of the fact that seven of the nine
organizations, set forth in the Constitution, refused to designate new members,
thereby affirming and supporting the composition of the existing CEP.
The CNG, in open defiance of the Constitution, named its own puppet
The four leading presidential candidates, Marc Bazin, Gérard Gourgue,
Louis Dejoie II, and Sylvio Claude in a joint communiqué announced that they
would not participate in a new election conducted under the auspices of the
military government. The communiqué
criticized the continued unconstitutional actions of the military government in
publishing an electoral calendar even before the formation of a Provisional
Electoral Council. The four
political parties called upon the CNG to resign immediately and announced that
they had began talks to come up with an alternative government.
On December 12, 1987, the nine members of the new CEP were sworn in.
The original CEP members stated that they were being made scapegoats for
the failure of the elections and that their names had been put on a death list.
They were still in hiding or had fled the country.
Mr. Louis Dejoie II stated that there existed a death list circulating in
Haiti with 152 names on it, including his own.58
On December 17, 1987, the CNG promulgated the new Electoral Law of the
new CEP. The law bars independent observers from the polling stations
but not soldiers and permits the authorities to monitor every voter's ballot.
The Electoral law provides for penalties of up to two years in prison and
$200 in fines for anyone who urges people to abstain "mistakenly" from
voting. This measure clearly targeted the opposition which was
calling for a massive boycott of the January 17, 1988 elections.
The law also provides for fines of up to $200 and 25-day prison sentences
for "unjustified" challenges to a candidate's qualifications.
This measure appears designed to prevent challenges against Duvalierist
candidates. The new law also takes
away the "independence" of the CEP by making its decisions subject to
judicial review by the military government's hand-picked Supreme Court.
The Electoral Law requires further that candidates print and distribute
their own ballots, and on election day the voters present the ballots to the
president of the precinct house. He
inspects the ballots to ensure that only one slip for each office is presented,
thereby allowing election and government officials to monitor each voter's
choice before the voter is allowed to go into the polling booth to fold the
By mid-December the Armed Forces had arrested more than 50 Haitians
suspected of participating in vigilance brigades that arose to protect the
elections against anti-election violence. No
arrests had been reported in connection with the massacres on Election day or
the other acts of violence which had been occurring during this period.
The CNG's Investigative Committee had not yet issued its report on the
events of November 29, 1987.
The Boycott of the United Opposition Parties
On December 17, 1987, the four leading presidential candidates, who had
united to form a Committee of Democratic Agreement (Comité d'Entente
Democratique, "CED") to boycott the CNG's January 17, 1988 elections,
issued a joint statement declaring that the CNG no longer had the moral or
political authority to organize free elections.
It termed the November 29th decree dismissing the nine members
of the CEP, an attempt at a coup d'etat against the people's sovereignty.
It charged that the CNG's electoral calendar, which gives the date on
which the Electoral Law is to be published, constitutes an unconstitutional
interference with the CEP's autonomy.
The political parties charged that all the acts which took place during
November, including the massacre of voters at the polls, were carried out by
macoute assassins supported by a macoute sector of the Army.
The CNG has made no attempt to arrest the persons responsible for the
crimes despite the fact that their identity is known.
The political parties also charged that the CNG's guarantees of November
25th and 27th regarding security for the elections falsely
led the people to believe that the Army would protect them.
In fact, the politicians claimed, the recruiting of former macoutes into
key units of the Armed Forces is a flagrant betrayal of the promises made by the
CNG and is of such a nature as to destroy the honor of the Haitian military, and
that the events of November 29 consequently gave the impression that the
population had been subjected to a veritable ambush.
In light of the political parties lack of trust in the CNG, they called
upon the CNG to resign and proposed a formula for the formation of a new
civilian-military government. This
proposed government would be a five-member CNG "composed of prominent
figures struggling for democracy who are known for their spirit of independence,
professional competence and experience".
The five members would include three civilians and two military men who
would have the confidence of the population to form a government of national
unity. This CNG would have a dual
task. First, to form a CEP charged
with resuming the electoral proceedings in line with the democratic aspirations
expressed by the Haitian people, and second, to ensure the dispatch of the
State's current business until a freely-elected president is sworn in.
On December 21, 1987, a public memorial mass organized primarily by the
Haitian Christian Democratic Party was held for the victims of the Election Day
violence. The 90-minute mass was attended by some 800 people.
Reportedly, about 25 mourners marched from the Cathedral, after the mass,
carrying three cardboard coffins draped in black flags when they were attacked
by gunmen in police and army uniforms who started firing at the mourners.
One person was killed and four were wounded.
The Episcopal Conference issued a declaration on December 24, 1987 which
called for a dialogue to resolve the current crisis.
The Committee for Democratic Agreement (CED)
called on the people to stay at home from 6 p.m. Christmas Eve until 6
a.m. Christmas Day and asked them to engage in noisemaking at midnight for 15
minutes. In Cap-Haitian no midnight
masses were held anywhere. In
Jacmel no midnight mass was held but the church youth, priests and others,
reportedly prayed for Haiti from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
At 11:30 p.m. all the doors of the church were closed in order to avoid
clashes with troops who reportedly patrolled throughout Jacmel.
December 15, 1987 reprinted in Le Nouvelliste, December 18, 1987.
55. See, Lindsey
Gruson: "New Council for Haiti
vote Sworn In" in The New York Times, December 13, 1987 regarding Namphy's
statement that "The voting had to be stopped to prevent the victory of
left-of-center candidates and a Communist takeover of this impoverished nation
of 6 million people." Also,
see: Joseph Treaster:
"Haiti's Leader Puts his Faith in the Army" The New York Times,
December 5, 1987. Also see,:
Lindsey Gruson" "Haitian
General has Backing in Hometown", New York Times, December 5, 1987 who
Lt. General Namphy, according to close associates, feels organizers
mismanaged the election and tried to rig it.
The General, friends said, argues that the country would have been in
danger of falling under communist control if the voting had been allowed to
proceed. That view is sharply
disputed by foreign diplomats and independent observers who monitored
preparations for the elections. They
say that there is no convincing evidence of a communist threat and that the
General is either paranoid or trying to create a scapegoat.
see: Joseph Treaster:
"Haitians, Benumbed by Strife, Fear Rise of New dictatorship",
New York Times, December 14, 1987, who states that:
Perhaps the most staggering blow for many Haitians was the discovery on
election day that the thugs in civilian clothes and the soldiers were working
together. Previously, many Haitians
had preferred to believe that the thugs in civilian clothes were somehow beyond
the control of the army. They held
out the hope that at least in the worst of times the soldiers would do their
duty and shield them. But too many
people saw the soldiers shooing at polling places.
Some Haitians say they suspect that, judging from the weapons they
carried and some of their mannerisms, some of the gunmen in civilian clothes may
actually have been soldiers.
"Pour l'histoire, Philippe Jules Précise," Port-au-Prince,
November 30, 1987. Unpublished. In
the files of the IACHR.
Cagoulards were forerunners of the Tonton Macoutes, they derive their
name from the French word "cagoule" or hood which they wore over their
Treaster: "Haitians, Benumbed" supra, see, footnote
35. The Commission has received
copies of a purported death list, most recently dated May 25, 1988.