REPORT ON THE SITUATION
OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI
89. On September 15, 1994, given the refusal of the military authorities to leave power, President Clinton announced the invasion of Haiti. The following day, he let it be known that as a last effort to avoid the armed intervention, a mission would be sent, composed of former President James Carter, General Colin Powell, and Senator Sam Nunn, to discuss terms for the departure of the military leaders from the country. On September 18, the United States Government issued information on the agreement obtained with General Cédras to leave power peacefully with a time limit until October 15, and during that period, the Haitian Parliament would work on the amnesty law. A part of the agreement stipulated that the Haitian police and military forces would work in close cooperation with the United States military mission. This agreement was received in various quarters with many questions.
90. The Multinational Force headed by the United States arrived on September 19 in Port-au-Prince and would remain in the country until the arrival of UNMIH. On that same day, the OAS/UN Special Representative for Haiti Mr. Dante Caputo offered his resignation, indicating in his letter the total absence of consultation between the United States and the UN and the decision taken unilaterally in the Haitian process. Four days later, the UN Secretary-General appointed the former Foreign Minister of Algeria Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi as his Special Representative for Haitian Affairs.
91. In view of the pending disembarkation of United States marines, a large sector of Haitians had gathered in Port-au-Prince to observe their arrival and demonstrate their joy at what, for them, meant protection of their personal guarantees, when haitian policemen dispersed people, severely beating demonstrators in the presence of members of the United States force, who did not intervene. These acts of violence left a toll of two dead and several wounded. Days later, at Cap Haïtien, there was an armed clash between a patrol of the Multinational Force and Haitian military operatives, in which ten of the latter died.
92. The acts of violence were denounced by the Permanent Council of the OAS in its Statement CP/DEC. 21 (1006/94) of September 22, 1994, in which it requested the return of the International Civilian Mission to Haiti and urged the IACHR, in accordance with President Aristide's request for a visit to be carried out, to help defend and promote human rights in Haiti. In the same statement, the Council, like the UN, expressed its satisfaction with the progress that had been achieved in the quest for a peaceful solution to the Haitian crisis.
93. On September 29, 1994, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 944 asking the Secretary General to take the necessary steps for immediate deployment of observers and other members of the advanced group of the United Nations Mission in Haiti.
94. On October 5, 1994, the Haitian Parliament initiated the draft amnesty law for members of the military who took part in the coup that overthrew constitutionally elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The new bill contains an amendment to article 3 of the old 1860 amnesty law, which stipulates that, under the Constitution, only the head of state may grant amnesty, and only in political cases, that is, cases of crimes or offenses against the public interest (res publica), or against the country's interior and exterior security for crimes against public order, plus crimes and accessory offenses defined as such by the Penal Code. The law was passed on October 6, 1994.
95. Since the Governors Island Accord in July 1993, Haitian military leaders have demanded that they be given amnesty in exchange for the return of President Aristide. They have insisted on a broad law covering all violations resulting from the coup d'état of September 30, 1991.
96. On October 3, 1993, President Aristide had issued an amnesty decree covering the political violations committed from September 29, 1991 to July 3, 1993. This amnesty did not cover common crimes, nor would it protect against civil suits against those responsible for human rights violations committed in Haiti after that date. The decree was rejected by the military leaders, who demanded a law covering the entire period of the de facto regime.
97. On October 10, one day before his term was to expire, General Cédras announced he would leave the country and transferred command of the armed forces to Major General Jean-Claude Duperval, who had been officially appointed to that post by President Aristide in December 1993. Under the asylum granted by the Government of Panama, Generals Raoul Cédras and Philippe Biamby and 14 members of their families left the country on October 12. A week earlier, Lieutenant Joseph Michel François, the Haitian Chief of Police, had entered the Dominican Republic under a tourist visa issued by the Dominican Government authorizing him to stay there temporarily while he was arranging for permanent residence in some other country. Later, most of the officers of the same rank as Cédras left Haiti to take military attaché posts in various countries.
98. In a note of October 11, the OAS Secretary General announced the end of OAS sanctions against Haiti, after consulting with the ministers of foreign affairs of OAS member countries, and at the request of President Aristide. The suspension of commercial flights and international financial transactions with Haiti were lifted, while the other sanctions remained in force until President Aristide returned to office.
99. This chapter deals with the situation of human rights in Haiti from January to August 1994. The analysis of the situation is based mainly on the information obtained during on-site visits carried out in Haiti in May and October 1994, through direct testimonies and documentation received from nongovernmental groups and individual complaints, and documentation received at the Commission's headquarters and in the information provided by the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission.
100. This chapter offers a general overview of the situation of human rights in Haiti during the period of January-August and presents examples of cases that illustrate the types of violation that the Commission observed most often. And new represive methods are mentioned as used by the military or para military groups: the massacres against the rural population; the appearance, in Port-au-Prince's streets of mutilated and disfigured corpses; violence perpetrated against women and rape, are also covered and violations against children's rights. Most of the violations denounced to the Commission and described in this chapter refer to acts committed during the dictatorial regime.
101. Most of the violations recorded by the Commission refer to acts committed between January and September 1994 by representatives of the Armed Forces, paramilitary groups, and members of Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and progress of Haiti (FRAPH), whose operations were coordinated with the army and the police. Despite the condemnation by the international community, the harsh information on Haiti presented by OAS and UN agencies permanently responsible for monitoring human rights and by the International Civilian Mission, as well as the widening of sanctions imposed under the embargo, the military authorities did not meet human rights commitments. On the contrary, whenever there was an attempt at political expression, the soldiers intensified the repression against the Haitian people.
102. Since the coup d'état of September 29, 1991, an estimated 3,000 persons were murdered. In 1993, following the signing of the Governors Island Agreement, the repression escalated to alarming levels when the people, encouraged by this agreement, publicly expressed their support for President Aristide. Cases of arbitrary arrest, beating, illegal search, confiscation of goods and arson, abduction, and torture increased, and this forced victims and their family members to abandon their homes and live underground. President Aristide stated, mid-1994, that the number of deaths had risen to 5,000.
103. The repression that was systematically carried out by the soldiers was aimed at destroying any type of organization, right of expression, or activity in support of the democratic regime. As of January 1994, the de facto regime applied new methods that were particularly effective for spreading terror among the people, including practices such as raping the wives or family members of militants in favor of Aristide's return. When the soldiers, attachés, or FRAPH members did not find such militants, they abused the women and children who were present. Sexual abuse was thus used as an instrument of repression and political persecution. During the IACHR's visit to Haiti in May 1994, in spite of victims' reluctance to denounce such crimes, the Commission received 21 reports of rape and sexual abuse and directly interviewed the victims of this horrible practice. On that occasion, the Commission pointed out that the international community had repeatedly recognized the universal nature of the rights of women, as well as the fact that these violations constituted one of the worst crimes against them.
104. Another method of terrorizing the people consisted of leaving in the streets of Port-au-Prince the severely mutilated corpses of victims, which were partly eaten by animals in view of the fact that the authorities in power took no action. These reprehensible acts had the dual purpose of preventing victims' identification by family members, thus preventing the latter from seeking legal recourse, and creating an atmosphere of repression to prevent any type of popular demonstration.
105. In the interior of the country also, the number and the brutality of human rights violations increased. The Commission obtained testimonies that irrefutably established the army's responsibility in the massacre of defenseless people in Raboteau, Gonaïves, Département of Artibonite, on March 22, 1994. There, 15-20 persons were executed with no justification whatsoever. Also, the army attacked people in the Départements of the Center (Saut d'Eau) and the North (Borgne). The Commission received information on the campaign of repression that was carried out in Borgne, where arson was used as a strategy of terror.
106. These attacks all showed similar characteristics: veritable military campaigns in which army units, assisted by FRAPH and other paramilitary groups, surrounded and erupted in localities under the pretext of combating subversive groups and locating illegal arms, indiscriminately beating up people and committing acts of arson, destruction of their crops and robberies, followed by arbitrary arrest. During such raids, farmers were forced to pay "ransom" so as not to become the victims of these abuses.
107. During the Commission's visit in May 1994, it also observed that most violations of which it was informed followed a systematic pattern of repression, revealing a political plan of intimidation and terror against the Haitian people, especially in sectors that supported President Aristide or that had demonstrated in favor of democracy in Haiti. Thus, in the marginal slums of Port-au-Prince, such as Cité Soleil, Sarthe, Carrefour, and Fonds Tamara, armed paramilitary groups carried out raids late at night, murdering and robbing people living there. At other times, according to information received, victims were abducted; they were forced to get into vehicles and were led blindfolded to clandestine detention centers, where they were interrogated and tortured. Some of the victims were freed after several days, while others succumbed to the severe blows inflicted on them. During its stay in Haiti, the Commission received information on 133 cases of extrajudicial executions perpetrated between February and May 1994.
108. The Commission noted that the exercise of the right of assembly did not exist for those who supported the return of democracy. When groups of individuals tried to exercise it, they were arrested and brutally beaten by soldiers and policemen, who accused them of being terrorists. One example of these acts was the arrest of a group of 20 persons in Hinche, in the Central Département, on April 29, 1994.
109. The same situation occurred with respect to the right of expression. Information received by the Commission made it possible to confirm the constraints suffered by representatives of the Haitian press and radio who were subjected to acts of intimidation and repression, and this led to the self-censorship by the information media. Most radio stations concentrated on providing musical programs, for fear they would be destroyed, and news on the political situation in the country was spread by foreign journalists, who did so under many constraints and at their own risk.
110. Acts of repression and intimidation also affected members of the International Civilian Mission, who were harassed by the Haitian authorities on various occasions. On March 23, 1994, members of the Mission in the region of Hinche (Plateau Central) were assaulted by numerous demonstrators led by members of FRAPH, with local military authorities making no move to stop their acts and thus clearly showing their complicity with members of the attacking group.
111. At the end of its visit in Haiti on May 1994, the Commission concluded that the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in keeping with a plan of intimidation and terror against defenseless people. It held the authorities holding de facto power in Haiti accountable for these violations, since they engaged in conduct that justified accusations of international crimes that generate individual responsibilities.
A. The "marronage" phenomenon
112. Since the coup d'état in 1991, the climate of terror and lack of security that prevailed in Haiti led a large portion of the people to move to the interior of the country or from rural areas to the capital, in search of refuge. They were thus forced to abandon their homes and go into continuous hiding. In its report on Haiti of 1991, the Commission indicated that approximately 300,000 persons had been affected by this massive displacement. During its on-site visit in May 1994, the Commission stated its concern with the number of displaced Haitians who were obliged to choose to live like fugitives in their own country. This continued to increase in alarming proportions.
113. The phenomenon of massive displacement as a result of the repression is known in Haiti as marronage (marronage) and has become a strategy used by the soldiers to eliminate all types of opposition to the de facto regime. The constant flight of a large portion of the population has damaged its ability to become organized, thus suffocating the political, social, and economic structures that might have represented a threat to the illegal regime installed by the military authorities.
114. Marronage has affected persons and organizations of different levels, including politicians, journalists, priests, members of human rights groups, grassroots groups, unions, and a large number of inhabitants of the highly populated slums. A high percentage of the cases of marronage involved persons who openly supported the democratic regime. For the most part, they were men, but there were also numerous cases of women or entire families who took refuge underground. Numerous civil servants of the legitimate Government were forced to go into hiding; this included the case of Mayor of Port-au-Prince Evans Paul, whose reinstatement under Prime Minister Malval was violently interrupted by armed men. Many grassroots organizations, such as rural cooperatives and development, educational, and civic associations also went into hiding, attempting to maintain contact and mutual help among their members, while others simply disbanded in the process of flight.
115. The common element in the marronage phenomenon was the fear experienced by these persons, which forces them to sleep away from their homes, moving every night to different locations so as not to be found, or moving to another location so as to flee repression. Unfortunately, displaced persons did not always find places where they can remain continuously, and this obligated some to leave their family life. For many of them it was impossible to get back with their families. In this way, there emerged a virtual disintegration of the family unit, and there were very frequent cases of displaced persons not managing to obtain news of their wives or children. As a result of the constant flight, jobs were abandoned, and political and social activities became restricted or disappeared.
116. The de facto regime's ability to make displace persons within the country itself was a result of the absolute impunity enjoyed by those carrying out the repression. For example, in some cases, local authorities ordered prisoners to leave the region once they had been freed or were arrested again. Some who tried to return were arrested and in some cases, murdered.
117. As stated above, the phenomenon of marronage began with the coup d'état of 1991, but this reached alarming proportions following the signing of the Governors Island Agreement, as a result of the resurgence of the repression by soldiers. As of 1993, with the emergence of FRAPH acting in complicity or with the help of the soldiers, veritable systematic attacks were launched against the people. One of these attacks was the burning down of a section of Cité Soleil, which left tens of dead persons, hundreds of homes destroyed, and thousands of persons displaced. Further examples of the collective displacement as a result of these attacks were the Raboteau massacres and the fires at Borgne.
118. Another consequence generated by marronage is the economic problem, since when a person who represents the economic support of a family is forced to flee, the family's means of subsistence are cut off abruptly. In rural areas, displacement has meant that the fields remain deserted and crops are lost. In some cases, section chiefs have seized the lands and property of fleeing families.
119. As mentioned above, since the coup d'état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the illegal de facto regime has committed a multitude of human rights abuses against the civilian population, particularly since mid-1993 after the failure of the Governors Island Agreement. The destruction of democratic movements in Haiti has created a climate of terror, and women have been used as victims. The primary instruments of the repression inflicted on women and children in Haiti have been rapes and other types of violence and abuse committed by members of the army and police forces, their armed civilian auxiliaries, the attachés, paramilitary groups, and members of FRAPH, acting with complete impunity.
120. Women of varying ages and circumstances, from pregnant women to five year-old girls, are among the victims of rape. Women who played an important role in the formation of democratic institutions in Haiti were identified because of their political activities. Many Haitian women's organizations were attacked; others were destroyed. Other women were identified because of their personal links and family relationships, and reprisals were taken against them for the political ideas and activities of a spouse, son, father, nephew, or other male family member. Some women were identified because of their own status and role in helping the civil society. The fact of belonging to a popular organization or being involved in an activity whose purpose was to improve the local community was considered as the expression of a political opinion in favor of President Aristide. Numerous women were abused merely because they lived in a slum that supports President Aristide (Cité Soleil). Remaining alone to care for their children because their husbands had to flee or were murdered, many of them were easy, defenseless prey.
121. The OAS/UN Mission affirmed, in this respect: "It always happens in the same way: armed men, frequently soldiers or FRAPH members, violently enter the house of a political militant to arrest him. When he is not there and the family cannot say where he is, the intruders turn against his wife, sister, daughter, or cousin."
122. Sexual abuse against Haitian women was carried out in various ways, but with a single aim: to create a climate of terror among people supporting Aristide. Women were generally raped by several men on the same occasion. Pregnant women and those who had just given birth were not safe from these crimes. Often, a violation occurred in the home of the victim, in front of the children and other family members, and thus not only the woman, but the entire family was terrorized. In many cases, the woman was forced to witness the rape or murder of her daughter or other family member before being herself raped. In one case of which the IACHR was informed, a 15 year-old was forced to rape his own mother.
123. Other forms of sexual torture included blows to the breasts and stomach, often inflicted on pregnant women with the intention of causing them to abort or damage their ability to have children. Many women were brutally murdered by soldiers or attachés, who shot them or pushed sharp objects in their vagina. In addition to the sexual abuse, women were illegally detained and subjected to other forms of torture that resulted in mutilation.
124. Haitian women have rarely presented complaints about violations to the police, partly because of fear of reprisals, since in many cases the perpetrators were soldiers who were part of the police. Historically in Haiti, the police force has been a part of the army, and it is essentially soldiers who carried out policing functions. In the few cases where women attempted to report violations committed by soldiers and their auxiliaries, the authorities threatened them with reprisals, or simply did not investigate their complaints. On the other hand, there was the corruption and inefficiency in the judicial system and, in practical terms, in contradiction with the 1987 Constitution (Articles 42 and 43), the army, rather than the civilian authorities, investigated such cases. On the other hand, neither does the shame imposed by society on a woman who has been raped encouraged her to make a report on the attack. This underlines the importance of clearly recognizing sexual violence as a serious human rights violation.
125. The wounds inflicted on women who were abused sexually are both physical and psychological. Many of them feel shame and, what is more, cannot return to their hometowns for fear of rejection. In numerous cases, their private lives and family relationships have deteriorated. In other cases, the results of medical tests carried out on some women showed them to be HIV positive, while other women died because of sexual abuse.
126. During its visit to Haiti in May 1994, the IACHR received news of 21 cases of rape. Victims who gave their testimonies before the IACHR Delegation refused to give their names for fear of reprisals. The Commission presents a summary report of two cases which have the same elements and characteristics as contained in the 21 cases of rape.
127. This campaign of violations increased in intensity in early 1994. The OAS/UN International Civilian Mission pointed out that between February and July 1994, 77 cases of sexual violation were reported, including 55 against women who were militant or had close relations with male militants. Some human rights groups working specifically on the issue of women indicate that they have counted up to 18 violations in a single day, many of which were clearly reprisals for political activities. This use of sexual violence was documented in reports made by the IACHR, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission, nongovernmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees, and a number of Haitian women who fled Haiti and obtained refuge in the United States.
128. The exhaustive and detailed information presented to the IACHR by representatives of nongovernmental organizations, such as Haitian Women's Advocacy Network, International Women's Human Rights of CUNY Law School, Human Rights Program, Immigration and Refugee Program of Harvard Law School, Women Refugees Project, Center for Human Rights Legal Action, Center for Constitutional Rights, MADRE, and the Law Office of Morrison and Foerster, clearly shows sexual violations and other types of violence against Haitian women as a form of reprisal, intimidation, terror, and degradation of women.
129. In the great majority of cases, it was demonstrated that the acts of sexual abuse were committed by representatives of the army and the police and their armed civilian auxiliaries, with the authorization or tolerance of the illegal regime. This therefore constitutes a violation of Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which deals with the right to humane treatment, and Article 11 concerning the protection of honor and dignity.
130. These abuses against Haitian women also constitute violations of other provisions of the Convention and of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, as well as of other international treaties that Haiti has ratified and is obliged to respect: the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The relevance is also noteworthy of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women, recently approved at the meeting of the OAS General Assembly in June 1994 in Belem do Pará, Brazil.
131. In the past, the Commission considered a number of cases of sexual and other abuses against women, as a result condemning violations of the rights contained in the Convention and the American Declaration.
132. In the case of Haiti, sexual violations were the result of a repression for political purposes. The intention of those in power has been to destroy any democratic movement whatever, through the terror created by this series of sexual crimes.
133. The Commission considers that rape represents not only inhumane treatment that infringes upon physical and moral integrity under Article 5 of the Convention, but also a form of torture in the sense of Article 5(2) of that instrument.
134. Consistent with the definitions elaborated in the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Torture, which Haiti has signed, and the United Nations's Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Commission considers that the rape and other sexual abuse of Haitian women inflicted physical and mental pain and suffering in order to punish women for their militancy and/or their association with militant family members and to intimidate or destroy their capacity to resist the regime and sustain the civil society particularly in the poor communities. Rape and the threat of rape against women also qualifies as torture in that it represents a brutal expression of discrimination against them as women. From the testimonies and expert opinions provided in the documentation to the Commission, it is clear that in the experience of torture victims, rape and sexual abuse are forms of torture which produce some of the most severe and long-lasting traumatic effects.
135. The facts submitted to the Commission reflect that rape was neither random nor occasional but widespread, open and routine. Whether this occurred by direction of or with the encouragement or acquiescence of the illegal regime, the Commission considers that such use of rape as a weapon of terror also constitutes a crime against humanity under customary international law.
136. The Commission notes recognition in recent years of the gravity of rape in international human rights law, including the emphasis by World Conference on Human Rights on the gravity of violence against women in general and in particular, of "systematic rape..." brought to the fore by the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia, the approval by the General Assembly of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and most specifically, the reports of the Special Rapporteur on Torture to the Human Rights Commission who described rape in detention as a form of torture. We also note that in the international humanitarian law, torture has been treated as a "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions by the UN Human Rights Commission and by the International Committee for the Red Cross. The Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia incorporates rape as a "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions (article 2) and a violation of the laws and customs of war (article 3), and, explicitly names rape as a crime against humanity (article 5(g)).
137. Children have also suffered violations of their human rights for the purposes of the repression carried out by soldiers. They have been victims of summary executions, attacks on their physical integrity, and other inhumane and degrading treatment. As a result of the wave of repression against the Haitian population, families and children have been affected. For example, the phenomenon of marronage mentioned above has led children to flee with their families and suffer the same dangers to which the adults have been exposed, putting a sudden stop to their childhood and their school routine. In some cases, minors have been left completely on their own, since their parents were murdered.
138. In its report of July 1994, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission noted that it had received news of 51 cases of human rights violations against children between February 1 and May 31. The ages of the victims varied between five months and 17 years. One half of the cases occurred in the Port-au-Prince slum, Cité Soleil. In spite of the fact that the authors of the violations wore civilian clothing, on some occasions they were identified by the local people as members of the Armed Forces or FRAPH. Similarly, the Mission indicated it had received news of 23 cases of extrajudicial executions, deaths in suspicious circumstances, and deaths as a result of torture or cruel treatment against children.
139. The Permanent Council of the OAS, by its Resolution 630, had expressed its concern with this type of violation and requested the IACHR to give priority to the investigation of child abductions. During its visit in May 1994, the IACHR received the testimony of members of the family of a four year-old boy who had been kidnapped in March 1994. According to the statement, three armed men arrived, saying they were looking for the child's father who was a member of a political organization of young people in Cité Soleil. When they did not find the man, they raped his wife and took away the child. The child was found unharmed four days later at a radio station.
140. Also during this visit, the Commission received information that mothers were raped in the presence of their children. In some cases, sexual violations were committed against girls aged 10 and 12 years. In the cases of arbitrary arrest, parents were detained along with their children.
141. As a result of the visits in Haiti carried out in May and October 1994, the IACHR observed an unprecedented increase in the number of extrajudicial executions. The Commission was able, thanks to information provided by local agencies for the defense of human rights and testimonies presented by family members of victims, to establish a large number of violations of the right to life, which is enshrined in Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
142. From January 31 to May 31, 1994, 210 cases of extrajudicial executions were recorded, according to data collected by the IACHR on the occasion of its on-site visit carried out in May. However, the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission has established 340 cases reported between February and June 1994.
143. The causes of these executions stemmed from the political situation in Haiti; the paralysis of the judicial system and the complicity of the police and the legal establishment blocked all attempts at investigation and official identification of victims; the police took no action to identify and arrest the perpetrators of these violations. The official records at the morgue were not properly maintained; families of victims generally did not take any action before the law or the police, through fear of reprisals, and were not informed, in most cases, when the body of their family member has been identified. In addition, the impossibility of identifying corpses, which often appeared severely mutilated or partly eaten by animals, made it more difficult to go to court.
144. The information gathered by the IACHR shows, however, that these executions were carried out systematically and were mainly directed at civilian groups joining together because of shared political convictions, or at those who merely were members of sectors of society considered hostile to the de facto government: clergymen, peasants, students, and the urban poor. Although such executions have normally been attributed to armed civilians, the information received demonstrates the link that exists between the latter and members of the Armed Forces, and this makes it possible to conclude that these are paramilitary groups acting in the manner of death squads. In other cases, the direct participation of members of the Haitian Armed Forces and members or sympathizers of Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH) was proved by testimonies submitted.
145. Hereunder are some of the complaints received by the Commission during the on-site visits it carried out in 1994:
146. An active member of the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP), Elie was knifed to death on January 18, 1994. He was executed at his home by a group of 15-18 masked men, in the presence of his 12 children who had first been handcuffed by the assassins.
147. He was murdered on January 26, 1994. His body was found in a Port-au-Prince street two days after he was abducted, with a cord around his neck, his hands tied, his eyes crushed, his right ear missing, his tongue cut, and traces of bullet wounds and machete chops on his body.
Oman Desanges was 27 years old. He was the president of the Youth for Progress Association, which was founded in 1990. Since September 1991, he had been forced to live underground to escape the soldiers who were looking for him. In February 1992, he tried to obtain political asylum in the United States, but his request was refused. On trying to return to his house in December 1993, he was jailed for five days, during which time he was savagely beaten. His mother then succeeded in obtaining his freedom by paying 300 gourdes ($25).
Mitchel and Bernard Casimir and Louis Jeanty
148. During the night of April 26-27, 1994, a commando of heavily armed civilians wreaked terror for several hours in the area of Papo, Croix-des-Missions (north of Port-au-Prince), killing three persons, raping a young woman, and roughing up inhabitants, including an eight year-old boy.
Apparently, the attackers entered houses in small groups. In one house, the armed men killed the brothers, Mitchel (27 years old) and Bernard Casimir (20 years old) in their rooms. First, the attackers had tied up the victims' father and beaten him with the butts of their weapons, accusing the family of being responsible for the embargo.
In another house, the assaulters shot Louis Jeanty, who was trying to escape when they arrived. Jeanty was hit by a shot and fell to the ground, before he was riddled with bullets.
Throughout this operation, which lasted several hours, people remained totally without protection, since at no time did the police intervene.
Emmanuel Joseph, Merci Dieu Bontemps, St. Louis, and Serge Joseph
149. On May 23, 1994, the bodies of these four political militants were found in the Cité Soleil slum. All had been murdered by gunshots.
Emmanuel Joseph, 38 years old and a member of the "Tèt Ansam Cité Soleil" Association, was gunned down by two armed individuals who entered his house, had forced him to lie on the floor, and killed him with a burst of automatic gunfire.
Mr. Merci Dieu Bontemps, 43 years old, and Mr. St. Louis, 26 years old, both members of the Young Persons Association of Cité Soleil, were each executed with a bullet in the temple.
The body of Serge Joseph, a 19 year-old member of the Alliance of Revolutionary Patriotic Democrats, was found the same day. He had been murdered in the same manner, with gunshot wounds.
Given the information received locally, it can be concluded that the same group of individuals is responsible for the four murders. They are heavily armed civilians whose exact number could not be determined.
Marie Auxiliatrice Decossa
150. On June 15, 1994, in Port-au-Prince, three attachés and two soldiers in uniform entered the house of Marie Auxiliatrice Decossa, a militant in the "Sendika Nasyonal ti Machann-yo" organization. After reproaching her for her activities within this workers' union, they beat her up in the presence of her three children and took her outside. As she attempted to push away one of the soldiers, he became furious and shot her in the stomach. As a result of the wounds she received, Mrs. Decossa died the following day.
Jean Marie Vincent
151. During the night of August 28, 1994, Father Jean Marie Vincent was murdered by a group of heavily armed men who were waiting for him at the entrance to the residence of the Monfortain Priests in Port-au-Prince. Father Vincent had escaped two attacks in August 1986 and in August 1987. On the latter occasion, he was severely wounded, when a group of priests intervened to save his life during an attack on Aristide in the Fraiscineau area following a mass in memory of the peasants murdered during the Jean Rabel massacre.
Jean Marie Vincent had dedicated his life to the promotion of human rights and basic freedoms in Haiti. Founder of the peasant "Tet Ansam" movement of Jean Rabel, he was also a member of the "Caritas" and "Fonades" foundations for the economic development of Haiti.
152. During the IACHR's on-site visit in May 1994, it received much information on cases of forced disappearance and abduction. Testimonies presented to the Commission show that the procedure most used in kidnappings was as follows:
153. Victims were abducted from their homes or in the street by armed civilians operating from vehicles. It was sometimes established that the abductors wore army or police uniforms. In most cases, they beat victims when they were abducting them, handcuffed them, blindfolded them, and took them to clandestine detention locations. In those places, detainees were interrogated regarding their political or union activities. Interrogations were accompanied by beating, mistreatment and torture, failure to provide water or food.
154. In some cases, bodies of kidnapped persons were found showing signs of severe torture. This situation became more worrisome in April and May 1994, when numerous unidentified and severly mutilated corpses were regularly found in the streets of Port-au-Prince.
155. Several localities in the Northern Département were victims of systematic military repression following the coup d'état of 1991. The well-known support of the Département for President Aristide and the recognized presence of militants among the people exacerbated the soldiers' hate, and they carried out raids and acts of violence throughout this period. To sum up those acts, there were cases of murder, arbitrary arrest, torture, fire that destroyed hundreds of homes, and destruction of crops and livestock.
156. Raboteau is a poor seaside slum to the north-west of the coastal town of Gonaïves. The repression against its inhabitants, who are Aristide supporters for the most part, was systematic. Political militants and members of organizations based in this slum took the habit of sleeping next to their boats to escape frequent raids by the army and FRAPH.
157. On April 18, 1994, two soldiers, accompanied by a local FRAPH leader, went to Raboteau in search of Amio Metayer, nicknamed "Cubain," whom the army suspected of being the leader of an armed group calling for the return of Aristide. The search ended with the sacking of various houses, blows and beatings inflicted on inhabitants who tried to flee, and numerous arrests.
158. Four days later, a larger number of soldiers, accompanied by FRAPH members, took control of Raboteau from early in the morning. They attacked and looted about a dozen houses and beat the inhabitants before summarily executing, on the coast or in boats, many persons who were trying to flee by sea.
159. International observers who went to the site on April 27-28, 1994 could not establish with certainty the number of victims, since many of them had been buried hurriedly the day after the massacre by prisoners under army orders.
160. The OAS/UN International Civilian Mission indicated that at least 12 persons had been murdered by shots fired by soldiers wearing tactical squad uniforms. Other reliable sources indicated that at least 28 persons had been murdered.
161. Numerous testimonies indicated that those responsible for this massacre were soldiers from the Toussaint Louverture barracks, acting under the orders of Roland Depton, Delegate of the Artibonite Département, and Jean Tatoune, a former political militant and a collaborator with the soldiers.
162. During 1994, the government's efforts to silence all opponents resulted in a large number of extra-judicial executions. Although the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in cooperation with the international observer missions and the human rights agencies on-site in Haiti, has compiled some figures, the exact number of these extrajudicial executions is impossible to determine.
163. The Commission is submitting a partial list of the extrajudicial executions that took place from January to June 1994. The names on the list were compiled by human rights groups working in Haiti. The list is not exhaustive, since it contains only the names of persons whose bodies could be identified and about which the human rights groups were informed.
January and February
In Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince
- January 15, a woman named Jeanne, 35 years old
- January 28, 1994, journalist Michelet Dominique, 30 years old
A man called Tizo, about 30 years old
- February 2, 1994, Chevalier Pascal, 38 years old, an immigration employee
- February 3, 1994, Charles Alexandre, 24 years old, a student
A young man named Miguel, 25 years old
- February 10, 1994, Thermidor Josué, 28 years old
Ernst Théodore, 26 years old
- February 12, 1994, Ti-Blanc, 34 years old
- February 20, 1994, Césavoire Jean Vernet
In the interior of the country
- January 10, 1994, Téya Thérèse, a member of MOJEP
- January 10, 1994, Elukner Elie, a leader of the Papaye Peasant Movement
- January 11, 1994, Rozius François
- January 22, 1994, Robert Jean
- January 31, 1994, Delance Augustin, an engineer
In Morne Cabrit
- February 22, 1994, Beauvais Léonard Félix
March and April
In Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince
- March 6, 1994, Valmel Cassamajor
- March 10, 1994, a young man, 26 years old, named Lambert
- March 11, 1994, M. Pierre
- March 17, 1994, Dietner Auguste, 34 years old
- March 25, 1994, a man called Joreks, 27 years old
- April 4, 1994, Kesner Bruno, 19 years old
- April 7, 1994, Mrs. Pétion, 46 years old
- April 14, 1994, Marie Louis
- April 16, 1994, M. Avril
- March 5, 1994, Massadieu Massillia, a primary school student
- March 15, 1994, Lukner Auguste, 40 years old
- March 20, 1994, Lamante Paul, 28 years old
- March 21, 1994, Dargil Théodore
- April 9, 1994, Fils Aimé Jasmin, 32 years old
- April 19, 1994, Lafond Harold
In St. Michel de l'Attalaye
- April 10, 1994, Myrlande Francius, 18 years old
- April 23, 1994, Pierre Philippe
May and June 1994
- June 23, 1994, Florestal Sheila and Florius
- July 1, 1994, Paul Pierre, 40 years old
- June 9, 1994, Fridner Jean
- July 31, 1994, a man named Alfred, 35 years old
164. During the period between January and september 1994, the Haitian people continued to give testimony of numerous human rights violations, particularly with reference to personal liberty and humane treatment as respectively reflected in articles 7 and 5 of the American Convention. As outlined in the previous special report on the situation of human rights in Haiti, following the overthrow of the democratic government of President Aristide, cases of arbitrary arrest, disappearance, mistreatment, and torture became a part of daily life.
165. The violations of these rights were closely linked to the systematic oppression carried out by the armed forces, since in all cases of detention, the victims were beaten and subjected to other physical abuses. Many of the detentions took place outside the hour stipulated by the Haitian Constitution for making arrests. Such detentions were carried out without any court authorization whatever, and in no case could persons detained appear before a judge.
166. Soldiers systematically applied themselves to the task of repressing any support that the democratic government may had, by persecuting its supporters and destroying any attempt at popular organization, regardless of whether such organization had political objectives. The loss of liberty was generally accompanied by beating, torture, death threat, and other inhumane and degrading treatment.
167. On other occasions, victims had not been deprived of their liberty, but as part of the policy maintained by the regime to terrorize people, they were sought out in their own homes, or sometimes intercepted in the street, and savagely beaten.
168. A frequent practice was to abduct a close family member of the person they were looking for, when the latter was not found at home. In many cases reported to the Commission, it was hard to obtain news of abducted family members and they were considered missing.
169. Also, arbitrary arrests were often an additional source of enrichment for soldiers or policemen, who created a sort of bargaining process in which family members of victims were obliged to pay large amounts of money to secure the freeing of detainees or at least to put an end to mistreatment.
170. During the two visits carried out by the Commission in 1994, it received a large number of complaints against violations of the right to humane treatment and personal liberty. Below, a few cases are presented by way of illustration:
Gala Jean Rhoud
171. On June 20, 1993, in Léogane, Jean Rhoud Gala was arrested by the area's police chief and detained for two days. He was tortured by the police chief and his aides during the interrogation they carried out. Gala Jean Rhoud was freed after his family paid his captors 3,000 gourdes.
172. He was illegally arrested by soldiers on September 14, 1993, spent seven days in prison, and had to pay a sum of 700 gourdes to be freed on September 21, 1993. Two days later, as word reached him that he would again be arrested, he was forced to flee into clandestinity with his wife and children in Borgne. On October 28 of the same year, the section chief in Au Borgne, accompanied by soldiers, had 300 houses burnt down. Numerous people were beaten up and many animals were massacred.
173. A person close to President Aristide, he was arrested on September 30, 1993 and taken to Fort Dimanche where he remained for 15 days, during which he was severely beaten. They placed a plastic bag on his head trying to suffocate him.
On April 28, 1994, he was again detained on the Bon Repos road (Cul-de-sac, Port-au-Prince) by soldiers from the area and taken to the military post. The next day, he was transferred to the post at Croix-des-Bouquets. Sony Lefort had marks on his body that proved he had been severely beaten, and this was confirmed by other sources. His wife Bertha Romélus, accompanied by other persons, went to the Croix-des-Bouquets post to take him food and clothing. They found the detainee sitting in the guard room with his face inflamed. When he was asked what had happened, he replied that Captain Mondésir had given the order to arrest him, but he still did not know for what reason. The victim's wife then went to one of the soldiers in the guard room to ask him if she could give food and clothes to the detainee. Following a lengthy discussion with the captain, he finally agreed that the detainee could be given food and clothes, but he said the detainee had to remain in detention, since he had not finished with him. Since then, the family has not been allowed to communicate with Sony Lefort.
174. An Aristide supporter along with her husband, she was abducted from her home on October 16, 1993 by armed civilian members of FRAPH when the latter did not find here husband there, as he had managed to escape through a window. Mrs. Bélance was taken to Titanyen, a place known as a common grave for those executed extrajudicially, where she was brutally tortured, mutilated, and left for dead from machete chops to the face, neck, and extremities. In spite of the serious wounds received, Mrs. Bélance managed to drag herself to the street, ask for help, and save her life, thanks to the medical treatment she received.
175. At the beginning of May 1994, toward 10:00 p.m., the house of this committee member in the Grand-Goave shanty town was stoned for a half-hour. On May 4, three men--a soldier in olive green uniform and two men in civilian dress--came to his house to arrest him. Saurel was taken to the Grand-Goave barracks where, without being questioned, he received about 100 blows with a baton on the buttocks. They then applied the "kalot marasa," which is a method whereby they apply blows to both sides of the victim's head, often causing serious lesions on the ears, including perforation of the eardrum, infections, and loss of hearing. After being accused of setting fire to the Grand-Goave barracks on September 30, 1991, he was taken to prison.
The following day, a sergeant named Daniel went to fetch him in the cell and took him to the guard room, where he gave him more than 300 blows with a baton. The sergeant showed him a piece of paper on which were written the names of all the people's organizations in Grand-Goave and ordered him to tell him the addresses of the members of those organizations, following which he was taken back to prison. During the night of May 5-6, toward 3:00 a.m., the commander of the barracks decided to free him, warning him that he should leave town, since if he did not, he would not hesitate to kill him at the next opportunity.
Jean Kroutchev Célestin
176. A member of the Coordination of Shanty Town Committees (COCOQ), he was abducted on May 14, 1994 toward 8:00 p.m. by four armed civilians in a Rocky jeep, after they had sprayed paralyzing gas in his eyes. Once he was in the jeep, the men interrogated him regarding the names of members of the Platform of Carrefour Feuilles, to which Mr. Célestin replied that he knew nothing. On arriving at their destination, they blindfolded him and tied him up in the "djak" position with a cord to lower him into an underground cell. The following day, after the cord and the blindfold were removed, he was taken to a room where he was interrogated regarding the activities of his organization and on the financing of "Lavalas" organizations. In the process, Mr. Célestin was savagely beaten in the head and back.
Mr. Célestin spent seven days at that place and was beaten daily during interrogations. They subsequently offered him to join their group. When he refused, he was again tied up and locked in the vehicle. Mr. Célestin managed to jump out of the automobile and escape from the shots fired by his tormentors.