11.105, 11.107, 11.110, 11.111, 11.112, 11.113,
11.118, 11.120, 11.122, AND 11.102
Between August 1992 and January 1993, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights received petitions denouncing the arbitrary
detention, torture and mistreatment of numerous Haitian nationals by
members of the Haitian Armed Forces.
Judicial investigations were not carried out in any of these
cases. The pertinent parts
of the complaints are described below:
Case No. 11,105
a native of Petit-Goave and father of a member of "Konbit Komilfo,"
was arbitrarily arrested on August 11 and 19, 1992.
On both occasions, the arresting agents were the military forces
based in the area. They
justified their actions by claiming that Pascal had been a signatory of
a protest letter transmitted by the media in Port-au-Prince, protesting
the first arrests made in Petit-Goave.
On both occasions, the arresting soldiers mistreated Hubert
Case No. 11,107
Vonel St. Germain,
age 37, leader of the church choir in the Cayes-Jacmel area and an
active director of youth groups, was arbitrarily arrested while at work
at the Jacmel contributions office on August 12, 1992.
The individuals making the arrest were military troops, some in
uniform, others in civilian dress.
According to the petition, St. Germain was arrested because the
military found photographs of President Aristide in his home.
While in custody, Vonel St. Germain was mistreated.
Case No. 11,110
Yolette Etienne, Inelda Cesar and Kedner Bazelais,
members of the Youth Solidarity (SAJ) group, a lay youth organization
with close ties to President Aristide, were unlawfully detained in
Port-au-Prince on September 1, 1992.
The youth were arrested by 10 armed soldiers after being
interrogated. There was no
judge present during the interrogation, which took place at one of the
youth group's facilities. During
their detention, these young people were mistreated by the soldiers who
later arrested them.
Case No. 11,111
was arbitrarily detained by the Port-a-Piment police on September 5,
1992. Vilsaint, who went
into hiding in Port-au-Prince following the coup d'etat that deposed
President Aristide, was arrested while he was in Port-a-Piment visiting
three of his children, who were sick at the time.
From that moment on, Destinas Vilsaint has been the victim of
torture inflicted by the police. The reports received indicate that he is in very bad health.
Case No. 11,112
a former member of the Departmental Electoral Bureau (BED) in the Saut
d'Eau region, was arbitrarily arrested by local military on September 1,
1992. During his confinement, Régis was harassed and brutally
Case No. 11,114
Carlos Bassette, Mathurin Vincent and Travil Lamour
were arbitrarily detained by soldiers stationed in that area and taken
to the Barraderes subdistrict prison in the Nippes region on September
24, 1992. From the moment
of their arrest, these individuals have been tortured and mistreated.
They are members of grassroots organizations and had been
persecuted in Barraderes prior to their arrest.
Because of that persecution, they remained in hiding for several
months. They were detained
when they returned to the area and have been tortured and mistreated
since. Other members of the
same organizations are currently being sought:
Jean Sylvian Toussaint, Christian Etienne, St-Paul, Jean Robert
Noel and Gaston Joseph.
Case No. 11,113
Eliphete M. Abeltus,
clerk to a justice of the peace, was arbitrarily arrested by military
troops in Port-Margot on October 2, 1992.
The soldiers said that Abeltus was a member of President
Aristide's inner circle and a leader of the Port-Margot resistance
movements. Eliphete M.
Abeltus was severely beaten while in custody.
Case No. 11,118
age 25 and a resident of the Deuxiéme Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince,
was arbitrarily detained at approximately 6:00 p.m. on October 31, 1992,
by two soldiers from Fort-Dimanche. At
the time he was detained, André was with friends, discussing the
political situation in the country.
At one point, he shouted: "Down
with the criminal Cedras! Up
with the people's struggle! Long
live democracy! Hooray for
the return of the elected President."
While under arrest, the victim was severely beaten by the
soldiers and later released. He
is now under intensive medical treatment as a result of the injuries his
body sustained when he was tortured.
Case No. 11,120
age 30, a teacher and a high ranking official in President Aristide's
administration, was unlawfully detained on December 5, 1992, by Cap-Haitien
police. Augustin was Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Information in
the Aristide government and a member of the National Popular Assembly.
Antoine Augustin was mistreated while in custody.
Case No. 11,122
KONAKOM coordinator in the Bainet region, was arbitrarily detained by
local soldiers on December 8, 1992.
The detention took place right in the street, as Damucy was on
his way to tell other KONAKOM members of a wave of repression unleashed
against members of his party. Maurice Damucy was brutally beaten by the soldiers who
detained him and is presently in the Bainet prison.
Case No. 11,102
Jean Emile Estimable,
a journalist with Radio Cacique, was arbitrarily detained by the
Marchand Dessalines police on January 22, 1993.
According to reports received, police planted pro-Aristide
pamphlets in Estimable's pockets as a pretext to arrest him.
Jean Emile Estimable was in a state of precarious health because
of the blows inflicted by police, when he was taken to the St. Marc
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION:
The Commission began processing these petitions by forwarding to
those who exercise power in Haiti, the pertinent parts of the petitions
in question. It asked those
authorities to provide additional information within 90 days, to enable
the Commission to corroborate the facts denounced.
Subsequently, by notes dated January 29, May 7, and July 22,
1993, the Commission again asked those who exercise power in Haiti for
information on the facts denounced and indicated that if that
information was not received by the established deadlines, Article 42 of
its Regulations would be applied, which provides:
The facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parts have
been transmitted to the government of the State in reference shall be
presumed to be true if, during the maximum period set by the Commission
under the provisions of Article 34 paragraph 5, the government has not
provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not
lead to a different conclusion.
Despite the Commission's repeated attempts to obtain information
on the human rights violations alleged in the petitions and despite the
seriousness of the charges, those who exercise power in Haiti failed to
provide any information thereon.
The Commission adopted Resolution 33/93 in the course of its 84th
Session, held 5th - 15th October 1993 and submitted the same to the
Government of Haiti for its pertinent observations and response.
The report also indicated that if the situation was not resolved
by the Government within three months of the date of submission, the
Commission would decide whether to publish the report.
That the Commission has the authority to hear the instant cases
as they concern violations of human rights protected by the American
Convention: Article 5 on
the right to humane treatment; Article 7 on the right to personal
liberty; and Article 25 on the right to judicial protection, by virtue
of Article 44 of the Convention.
That the filed petitions satisfy the formal requirements for
admissibility set forth in Article 46 of the American Convention on
Human Rights and Article 32 of the Commission's Regulations.
That the petitions are not pending settlement in any other
international forum and are not repetitions of earlier petitions
examined by the Commission.
That the petitioners have been unable to secure effective
protection from the Haitian authorities having jurisdiction, as no
investigation was conducted into the serious facts reported in the
That in its 1992 Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights
in Haiti, the Commission stated the following:
The institutionalized violence and corruption practiced with
impunity by members of the army and police whose function is to protect
the citizenry, has caused a series of abuses against the Haitian people
. . . At the same time, the judicial authorities have been neither
efficient nor decisive in prosecuting investigations into these
That the facts described above constitute "the existence of
a practice or policy ordered or tolerated by the government, the effect
of which is to impede [certain people from] ... invoking internal
remedies ... ."
As the Inter-American Court of Human Rights established in the
Velásquez Rodríguez case, "[i]n such cases, resort to those
remedies becomes a senseless formality.
The exceptions of Article 46(2) [concerning exhaustion of the
remedies under domestic law] would be fully applicable in those
situations and would discharge the obligation to exhaust internal
remedies as they cannot fulfill their objective in that case."
That under such circumstances, the requirement that domestic
remedies be exhausted as stipulated in Article 46 of the American
Convention on Human Rights does not apply to the cases in question.
That Haiti is a State Party to the American Convention on Human
Rights and as such is obligated to respect the principles guaranteed
under Article 1 thereof, which provides the following:
The States Parties to the Convention undertake to respect the
rights and freedoms recognized herein and to ensure to all persons
subject to their jurisdiction the free and full exercise of those rights
and freedoms, without any discrimination for reasons of race, color,
sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social
origin, economic status, birth, or any other social condition.
That despite the elapsed time since the events prompting the
reported acts took place and despite the Commission's repeated requests
for information from those who exercise power in Haiti, no response on
the cases in question has been provided.
by not responding, those who exercise power in
Haiti have failed to comply with Haiti's international obligation
to provide information within a reasonable period of time, as provided
in Article 48 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and that
irrespective of the political situation in the country, the Convention
continues to be binding. Consequently, those exercising power, albeit illegal power,
have an obligation not only to respect the rights upheld in that
international agreement but also to guarantee their free and full
That Article 42 of the Commission's Regulations provides that the
facts denounced shall be presumed to be true if, during the period set
by the Commission, the government has not provided the pertinent
information. The preceding
paragraphs have established that those who exercise power in Haiti did
not provide that information. The
final clause of Article 42 contains a proviso to the effect that the
facts shall be presumed to be true provided other evidence does not lead
to a different conclusion. In
the instant case, no other conclusion can be drawn because, as said
before by the Commission, information received from a variety of sources
has corroborated the fact that most of the human rights violations that
occurred during 1992 took place in a political context created by those
who exercise power in Haiti in their effort to consolidate their hold on
the facts that prompted these petitions to the Commission constitute a
selective and systematic practice of violating the human rights of those
persons who have some link with the constitutional Government of deposed
President Aristide or are merely suspected of supporting the restoration
of democracy in the country.
in most of the petitions, the victims were arrested because they had
photographs of President Aristide and/or voiced their sympathy for the
deposed President publicly. In some cases, military or police personnel even planted
pamphlets supporting Aristide's return in the victims' pockets as a
pretext to arrest them.
in these petitions, arbitrary detention was routinely coupled with
severe beatings and mistreatment. In
some cases, the mistreatment continued while the victim was in custody,
in the form of torture sessions and other types of harassment.
Some petitions report that the torture and mistreatment inflicted
upon some victims did permanent damage to their health.
in the judgment in the Velásquez Rodríguez case, the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights stated that:
The State is obligated to investigate every situation involving a
violation of the rights protected by the Convention.
If the State apparatus acts in such a way that the violation goes
unpunished and the victim's full enjoyment of such rights is not
restored as soon as possible, the State has failed to comply with its
duty to ensure the free and full exercise of those rights to the persons
within its jurisdiction.
who exercise power in Haiti have failed to comply with the duty to
conduct an effective investigation within their jurisdiction to identify
those responsible for the facts denounced and to subject them to the
penalties established in Haiti's laws.
because of the refusal of those who exercise power in Haiti to furnish
information concerning the facts denounced, it is extremely difficult
for the Commission to determine whether some of the victims in these
cases have been released or are still being held, while being denied
recourse to the remedies under domestic law.
because the facts in these cases are not such that they can be resolved
through recourse to the friendly settlement procedure provided for in
Article 48(1)(f) of the Convention and Article 45 of the Commission's
Regulations and because of the refusal of those who exercise power in
Haiti to provide information, the Commission must comply with the
provisions of Article 50(1) of the Convention and issue its opinion and
conclusions on the matters put to it for consideration.
19. That because the
Government of Haiti has not presented its observations as requested nor
adopted the measures recommended by the Commission in Resolution 33/93
within the time frame of 90 days allotted by the Commission;
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
1. To presume to be
true the facts as stated in the petitions concerning the arbitrary
arrest, torture and mistreatment of Hubert Pascal, Vonel St. Germain,
Yolette Etienne, Inelda Cesar, Kedner Baselais, Destinas Vilsaint, Frénel
Régis, Carlos Bassette, Mathurin Vincent, Travil Lamour, Eliphete
Abeltus, Thomas André, Antoine Augustin, Maurice Damucy and Jean Emile
To declare that these facts imply violations of the rights
recognized in the American Convention on Human Rights, chiefly the right
to humane treatment recognized in Article 5, the right to personal
liberty contained in Article 7, and the right to judicial protection
recognized in Article 25.
To declare that they who exercise power in Haiti have failed to
comply with Haiti's obligation under Article 1 of the American
Convention on Human Rights, to guarantee the free and full exercise of
the human rights and fundamental guarantees recognized therein.
To take note of the fact that the Government of Haiti, because it
was illegally overthrown, has been unable to investigate the actions
denounced or punish those responsible.
5. To publish this report pursuant to Article 48 of the Commission's Regulations and Article 53.1 of the Convention, because the Government of Haiti did not adopt measures to correct the situation denounced within the time period.