doc. 9 rev. 1
September 1988
Original: English





41.     In fact, as Chapter IV (infra) discusses in greater detail, the Government of President Manigat sought to remove Captain Ernst Ravix from his post as commander of the district of Saint Marc in the Artibonite and after Manigat's ouster, Lt. Gen. Namphy reinstated him.  The same occurred with warrant officer Gabriel Pinasse, who after Manigat's ouster was reinstated as Commander of the sub-district of Thomonde.


          42.     In summary, in the view of the Commission, in order for the Justice Ministry to improve the administration of justice in Haiti, the justice system must be demilitarized.  At present, the Minister of Justice gives speeches regarding his good intentions to clean-up lower level functionaries in the Justice Ministry while the military commanders of these areas, who are considered "tyrants" by the local population, are reinstated and continue to terrorize the people.  Similarly, if these Commissions of Inquiry are to have any meaning, the findings of these Commissions should be communicated to the relevant Ministers for the appropriate action.


          43.     It is difficult to escape the conclusion however, that these "reform" measures are taken to appease international opinion and not from any real interest in improving the situation.



The Killing of Mr. Lafontant Joseph (Case No. 10.209)


          44.     On July 11, 1988 the body of Mr. Lafontant Joseph was found dead behind the steering wheel of his car near the road leading to the international airport.  Mar. Joseph, age 54, was a leading human rights lawyer, who defended opposition political figures jailed during the two-year government of the CNG.  His slaying is the first such apparent political attack since the military coup of June 20, 1988, and the first killing of an individual on a death-squad hit list.


          45.     The alleged death-squad hit list was presented to the Commission during its on-site investigation in August 1988.  It is dated May 25, 1988, and is entitled, in Creole, "OPERASYON BALEWOUZE TOUT KOMINIS ANACHIS MACHAN'N PEYI" (OPERATION MOP-UP OF ALL THE COMMUNISTS AND ANARCHISTS WHO ARE SELLING THE COUNTRY).  There are 164 names included on this list although certain individuals are targeted with their families, such as "XX, his wife and children" (XX, sa femme et enfants)".  In light of the fact that certain Ministers claimed to have no knowledge of this list, it is published to alert the relevant authorities to protect any future potential victims from danger:



          Jean Bertrand Aristide                             Antoine Adrien

          Williams Smarth                                     Jean-Marie Vincent

          Liliane Pierre-Paul                                  Willy Romulus

          Anthony Pascal (Konpè Filo)                    Vénel Rémarais

          Thony Bélizaire                                      Marcus Plaisimont

          James Rosefort                                      Ardy Jean-Gardy

          Jean Max-Blanc                                     Marie Laurence Lassèque

          Ben Dupuis                                           Evans Paul (konpè Plim)

          Jean Dominique                                     Jean-Robert Aupont

          Dominique Levanti                                  Konpè Moloskòt

          Hailé                                                   Alix Damour

          Suzy Castor                                          Claudette Wourley

          Joseph Senat                                        Georges Honorat

          Odette Fonbrum                                    Gladys Lauture et son mari

          Mme. Lina MacNally et son Mari                Yves Déjean-Los

          Michel Soucar                                       Rénald Trouillot

          Jean Claude Pierre-Louis                         Cajuste Lexius

          Joubert François                                    Carl Henri Guito

          Lafontan Joseph                                    Joseph Manicy Pierre

          Jean-Jacques Honorat                            Daniel Narcisse

          Eddy Volel                                            Rose-Marie Biamby-Volel

          Michel Hector                                        Guy Pierre

          Max Chancy                                          Gérard Jean-Juste

          Manno Charlemagne                               Didier Dominique et Rachelle

          Alain Rocourt                                        Emmanuel Ambroise

          Jean Robert Sabala                                Michel Roy

          Louis Roy                                             André Arcelin

          Chavannes Jean-Baptiste                        Jean-Paul Duperval

          Elie Cantave                                         Paul Latortue

          Edzer Dorsainvil                                     Konpè Zòbey

          Patrix Dacius                                         Suzette Fan'm Vanyan

          Mme. Cathérine Roley                             Joseph Maxi

          Paola Tet Ansan'm Jean Rabael                 Augustin Feneh

          Marcel Mondesir                                    Sylvain Jolibois

          Abner François                                      Cliford Larose

          Mésidor Gérard                                      Jean-Marie Salvant

          Jean-Laurent Nelson                               Mirabeau Louis

          Ogesse St. Jean                                    Sylvio C. Claude

          Louis Déjoie II                                       Gerard Gourgue

          Marc L. Bazin                                        Hubert de Ronceray et femme

          Luc B. Innocent                                     Paul Arcelin

          Benard Sançariq, femme et enfants           René Théodore

          Max Bourjolly                                        Alexandre Azard

          Pasteur Desarmes                                  Joachin Pierre

          Jean Marie Benoit                                  Serge Gilles

          Victor Benoit                                         Jean Claude Bajeux

          Félix Paul                                             Arnold Antonin

          Turneb Delpé                                        Gilles Hendrick

          François Pierre-Louis                              Frantz L. Jean

          Jean Robert Lalane                                 Paul Déjean

          Robert Duval                                         Yves Antoine Richard

          Gerard Pierre Charles                              Gerard Toussaint

          Claude René                                         Yves Champagne

          Auguste Mesyeux                                  Marie-Paul Jeune

          Mme. Lafontant Joseph                           Rockfeller Guerre

          Idly Cameau                                         Blain Kennedy

          Jean-Baptiste Hilaire                               Gabriel Miracle

          Eddy Jeune                                           Jonas Pierre-Louis

          Yves Sanon                                          Lesley Ambroise

          Michelle Montas                                     Raymond Joseph

          Frantz Jean-Marie                                  Jude L. Jean-Jacques

          Jacques Pascal-Zel                                Ronald St. Jean

          Roselaine Gilbert                                    Rénald Clérismé

          Frantz Grandois                                     Ernst Verdiu

          Roméo - Radio Lumière                            Monique Jean Baptiste

          Maria Terentia Dehoux                            Karline Champagne

          Joel Lorquet                                          Harry Louis

          René Exumé                                          Absalon-Radio Centre Ville

          Robert Angalde                                      Clitandre Pierre

          Cajuste Linhardt                                    Roger Gaillard

          Nègre Lakay                                         Duly Brutus

          Sincius Deli (Milo)                                  Dutel Lamour

          Carlo Désinor                                        Alex Etienne

          Eilson Désir                                           Mécène Richemond

          Guy Gilbert                                           Marc Garcia

          Nicole Magloire                                      Kyle Richemond

          Jacquelin (Prensa Latina)                        Point du jour yves (kamokin

                                                                   nan péyi blanc)

          Pasteur Porris Jean-Baptiste                    Gérard Dormévil (Gonaives)

          Serge Jovein                                         Moises Senatus

          Franck Tomas                                       Larneck Hurbon



          46.     From information presented to the Commission during its on-site investigation, the IACHR learned that Mr. Joseph received numerous death threats, by telephone, saying that he would be killed on July 11, 1988.  Mr. Lafontant had two sons, Lafontant Joseph, aged 14, and Hérold Joseph, aged 6.  The younger son received a menacing phone call informing him that his father would be killed.


          47.     On Sunday, July 10, 1988 Mr. Lafontant Joseph returned home at approximately 6:30 p.m. and then went out again to see some neighbors.  At 8 p.m. he left and no one knows where he went.  The owners of the Restaurant Market One Stop, at Delmas 29 Street, said that they saw him at approximately 11:45 p.m.  That night he was killed, apparently some 4 meters from his car where a large pool of blood was found at the scene.  Witnesses who heard his screams said that it took about 35 minutes to kill him.  He had been dragged in the mud from the scene of the crime and then dumped over the steering wheel of his car.  He had multiple knife wounds all over his body, his left arm and teeth had been broken, part of his left ear was cut off, and he had gash marks across his chest.  His tongue and his heart reportedly had also been cut out.  There were no bullet holes in the body.


          48.     The Criminal Investigations Department of the Police, headed by Lt. Col. Joseph Baguidy is in charge of the criminal investigation.  The Commission was informed that no one has yet been arrested.  The Minister of Justice informed the commission that the Examining Judge (Juge d'Instruction) had opened an "Information against X" in the Lafontant Joseph case.  The Public Prosecutor (Commissaire du Gouvernement) stated that the family was not cooperating with the Investigation, but during the investigative phase of the case the individuals could be arrested if they do not want to talk.  No attempts have been made to trace the menacing phone calls.  Radio Soleil informed that Mr. Joseph had come to the newsroom on June 6, 1988 at 6:15 p.m. to say that "people were calling him non-stop on the phone to tell him that they were going to kill him that very night, June 6, 1988.  They said, furthermore, that nothing, nor anyone, could prevent them from assassinating him".21   This was reported that same day on Radio Soleil on the 8:30 p.m. newscast.


          49.     Mr. Joseph was a co-founder of the Haitian League for Human Rights, of which he was also, for a time, the Secretary General.  At the time of his death he was the Executive Director of the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights, an independent non-governmental human rights organization in Haiti, as well as Director of the Elliot Pierre school.  In the November 29, 1987 elections he had been a candidate for the Senate.  On June 29, 1988, Mr. Lafontant, as Executive Secretary of the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights, co-signed, with five other human rights organizations, a communiqué published in the press, attacking the coup as a violation of the 1987 Constitution, and calling for a return to "institutional norms" and respect for the "provisions of the Constitution".22


                50.     On July 16, 1988, Mr. Lafontant Joseph was buried in the Port-au-Prince cemetery in the presence of a certain number of friends and relatives.  There was no religious service because five minutes before the funeral was scheduled to begin the priest of the Sacre Coeur Church received a threatening phone call warning him that if a religious funeral were to be carried out the Church would be blown up with everyone inside and the presbytery would be set on fire.


          51.     Despite the secret burial, on Tuesday, July 19, 1988 a religious ceremony was held at Saint Jean Bosco Church in Port-au-Prince, to pay final tribute to Mr. Lafontant Joseph.  Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide said mass to the approximately 1,000 persons present and highlighted the role Mr. Joseph had played in the struggle for liberation being waged in Haiti.


          52.     During the Commission's August 1988 on-site investigation in Haiti the fear was expressed that a similar fate could at any time befall any one who was in active opposition to the government.  The Justice Ministry, in a press release, condemned the murder of Mr. Lafontant Joseph which stated that "the perpetrators of the crime were being sought and would be prosecuted in conformity with the law".23           The Commission met with Col. Joseph D. Baguidy, who is responsible for Recherches Criminelles, the police investigations unit.  In Haiti the Armed Forces carry out police functions and Col. Baguidy is in charge of the investigation of serious crimes.  The delegation of the Commission asked Col. Baguidy about the investigation he was carrying out on the Lafontant Joseph killing.  He stated that the investigation began immediately and that the police had contacted his family but that the family would not cooperate.  In the view of Col. Baguidy, Mr. Joseph had "a woman on every street" and a pair of woman's sandals were found in the car.  The sister of Mr. Lafontant Joseph "knows the name of the woman" who allegedly was with him and the woman was not killed, but the sister will not talk.  Col. Baguidy attributed the crime to "a jealous husband".  The delegation of the Commission inquired as to whether the Colonel was of the opinion that jealous husbands had drawn up the death-squad list.  Col. Baguidy denied knowing of the existence of the list or of the numerous threats made against Mr. Lafontant Joseph's life.


          53.     On July 14, 1988 a decapitated body was found in Port-au-Prince.  The judicial authorities could not identify the male cadaver, but that it involved a man of approximately 35 years of age.  The morticians at the hospital admitted that this was the first time that they had received a body without a head.24   Also, two other unidentified bodies were found in different parts of the city.  One was burned beyond recognition and the other had been shot several times.  


The Killings at the St. jean Bosco Church


          54.     The St. Jean Bosco Church, site of the final tribute paid to Mr. Lafontant Joseph on July 19, 1988, became the target of a death-squad attack on Sunday, September 11, 1988 reminiscent of the methods employed on November 29, 1987.  The assailants, wearing red armbands, were armed with guns and machetes and threw rocks at he church creating panic among the parishioners.  The attackers assaulted the nearly 1,000 parishioners and according to press reports shouted "Communists" as they started shooting and stabbing men, women and children.  They reportedly stabbed a woman who was pregnant and another man who ran outside and died.  Soldiers across the street, according to eyewitnesses watched the attack but did not intervene.  Some witnesses stated that the bodies could not be removed before the attackers set the Church on fire and torched nearby parked cars.


          55.     The target of the attack was Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, an outspoken opponent of the military government who escaped unharmed.  Also targeted were people dressed in white clothing.  The Committee for the Constitution urged Haitians to dress in white Sunday to protest Namphy's voiding of the 1987 Constitution.  Following the attack on the church, Radio Soleil and Radio Cacique were also attacked.  Unidentified men injured three employees of Radio Cacique and made off with the broadcasting equipment.  The police did not respond to a telephone call for help from Radio Cacique.  The headquarters of the politicians Louis Dejoie II, and Rev. Sylvio Claude were also attacked.


          56.     The Commission met with Father Aristide during its August 1988 visit and the priest stated that he had been the target of three attempts on his life and that he frequently received death threats.  Father Aristide also figures as the first name on the death-squad hit list (supra para. 45).  The designated mayor of Pot-au-Prince and former Army Colonel, Mr. Franck Romain, former chief of police under Duvalier, stated on the Radio that he believed Father Aristide had been "justly punished".  "Father Aristide has always preached violence… he who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind" he stated.  City hall employees were identified as the perpetrators of the violence, to which the mayor simply replied "If (City Hall) employees are involved ... I don't see how I am concerned".


          57.     The official death toll from the attack on the St. Jean Bosco Church is 13 dead and 77 injured.  On Tuesday the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in Cite Soleil, was also set on fire.  Six people had claimed responsibility for the attack on St. Jean Bosco on the government controlled television station without apparent fear of arrest.  They also spoke on the radio.  They claimed the violence at St. Jean Bosco was related to an internal conflict within the church and threatened "a heap of corpses" at any mass celebrated by Aristide.


          58.     The modus operandi of these attacks on the parishioners in the St. Jean Bosco Church is a repetition of the modus operandi employed in the death squad attacks perpetrated against the voters on November 29, 1987.  These individuals function openly, without disguise, are recognized and identified by the victims and function with complete impunity.  The fact that six of the perpetrators of these attacks appeared on television and acknowledged their responsibility in these actions and were not arrested leads the Commission to the inescapable conclusion that the death squads function with the acquiescence, if not at the instigation of the armed forces.  As a consequence of the coup within the coup on September 17, 1988 three of these death-squad figures were captured and burned alive.


          59.     In spite of the number of election observers and journalists who traveled to Haiti for the November 29 elections, in recent years Haiti has not been the focus of many in-depth human rights investigations and the organizations which have investigated the human rights situation in general, have not been granted access to detention centers.  In addition, human rights defenders in Haiti have only been allowed to function with some measure of freedom since the fall of Duvalier and they have not been able to compile complete lists of names of persons currently in detention.


          60.     The International Committee of the Red Cross, while providing some relief assistance, has not been permitted to visit detainees in Haiti since March 1985.


          61.     Consequently, the situation of detainees in Haiti has not been examined on-the-spot except for isolated ad hoc visits to one or two detention centers.  The information used in this chapter is obtained primarily from the Commission's August 1988 visit to Fort Dimanche, the National Penitentiary, Recherches Criminelles and Casernes Dessalines, testimony from human rights organizations, former prisoners, or their legal representatives, regarding persons who were in detention primarily in 1987; and information received by the Commission during its on-site visit in January 1987.






          62.     The Haitian Constitution of 1987 sets forth in Articles 24 to 27-1 the legal guarantees of the individual in Haiti as regards the right to individual liberty.  These articles stipulate the following:



Article 24:                         Individual liberty is guaranteed and protected by

                                      the State.


Article 24-1:                      No one may be prosecuted, arrested or detained except in the cases determined by law and in the manner it prescribes.


Article 24-2:                      Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no one may be arrested or detained other than by written order of a legally competent official.


Article 24-3:                      For such an order to be carried out, the following requirements must be met:        


a.       It must formally state the reason in Creole and in French for the arrest or detention and the provision of the law that provides for punishment of the act charged.


b.       Legal notice must be given and a copy of the order must be left with the accused at the time of its execution;


c.       The accused must be notified of his right to be assisted by counsel at all phases of the investigation of the case up to the final judgment;


d.       Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no arrest by warrant and no search may take place between six (6) p.m. and six (6) a.m.


e.       Responsibility for an offense is personal, and no one may be arrested in the place of another.


Article 25                        Any unnecessary force or restraint in the apprehension of a person or in keeping him under arrest, or any psychological pressure or physical brutality, especially during interrogation, is forbidden.


Article 25-1:                      No one may be interrogated without his attorney or a witness of his choice being present.

Article 26:                         No one may be kept under arrest more than forty-eight (48) hours unless he has appeared before a judge asked to rule on the legality of the arrest and the judge has confirmed the arrest by a well-founded decision.

Article 26-1:                      In the case of a petty violation, the accused shall be referred to a justice of the peace, who shall then hand down a final decision.


                                      In the case of more serious offenses or crimes, an appeal may be filed, without prior permission, simply by addressing a petition to the presiding judge of the competent civil court, who, on the basis of the oral statement of the prosecutor, shall rule on the legality of the arrest and detention, in a special session of the court, without postponement or rotation of judges, all other cases being suspended.


Article 26-2:                      If the arrest is judged to be illegal, the judge shall order the immediate release of the arrested person and that order shall be enforceable immediately, regardless of any appeal to a higher court or the Supreme Court for an order forbidding enforcement of the judgment

Article 27:                         Any violation of the provisions on individual liberty are arbitrary acts.  Injured parties may, without prior authorization, appeal to the competent courts, to bring suit against the authors and perpetrators of these arbitrary acts, regardless of their rank or the body to which they belong.


Article 27-1:                      Government officials and employees are directly liable under civil and administrative criminal law for acts carried out in violation of rights.  In such cases, civil liability extends to the State as well.


63.     The Haitian legal system provides for two public officials whose functions are to serve the State as regards the prosecution of offenders but also to safeguard the rights of the individual.  These two officials are the Commissaire du Gouvernement (a prosecutor for a specific court district) and the Juge d'Instruction (the Examining Judge).



a.       The Commissaire du Gouvernement


          64.     Pursuant to Article 13 of the Haitian Code of Criminal Procedure the Commissaire du Gouvernement is charged with the investigation and prosecution of all offenses over which the civilian courts have jurisdiction.


          65.     During the Commission's August 1988 visit to Haiti it met with Mme. Mireille Z. Pluviose, the Commissaire du Gouvernement for Port-au-Prince.  She explained her functions as investigative, the Commissaire's job is to apprehend perpetrators of offenses, to refer them to the courts and to follow their trials to the end.  There are 15 civil jurisdictions in Haiti, and consequently there are 15 commissaires.  Mme. Pluviose is chief of the Parquet in Port-au-Prince but she has 6 "substitutes" who also have the title of "Commissaire" and who assist her in her duties.  They are assisted by the police since their investigative functions involve police work.


          66.     Mme. Pluviose described her position to the Commission as that of being "the eyes of the Executive within the Judiciary", whereas the Juge d'Instruction is independent and does not receive instructions from the Executive.  The Commissaire is charged with overseeing the conditions in the detention centers ' their location, their cleanliness, the hygiene of prisoners, and the like.25   This provision of the Code is designed to prevent the establishment of irregular or clandestine detention centers.


          67.     Haitian law also provides that the Commissaire du Gouvernement visit "at least once a month" all the detention centers in which the accused, or the persons who have been sentenced, are held within the Court's jurisdiction.26   Consequently, it is to be expected that the Commissaire would have information regarding the number and the whereabouts of all persons currently in detention in Haiti.  The Commission asked Mme. Pluviose which detention centers she regularly visited and she replied that she only visited the National Penitentiary, since any other center in Port-au-Prince is illegal.  She stated that prisoners are no longer detained in Fort Dimanche.  As regards Recherches Criminelles, after 30 years of bad habits things are beginning to change, "bad habits are like weeds", she added, but she and her staff are "pushing people" to transfer detainees to the National Penitentiary within 48 hours of their arrest.  Mme. Pluviose gave the Commission's delegation a copy of a "Circular to the Justice of the Peace in the Jurisdiction of Port-au-Prince" dated July 21, 1988 which calls upon them to assure that detainees are brought before the Parquet within 48 hours of arrest to avoid their remaining in places such as Fort Dimanche and Recherches Criminelles.  


b.       The Juge d'Instruction

          68.     It is the role of the Juge d'Instruction to decide whether or not to bring charges.  If the Juge decides that there is no reason to prosecute, and if the suspect has been arrested, the suspect will be placed at liberty.27


          69.     Article 119 of the Code provides that if the Juge d'Instruction considers that there do exist grounds for prosecution, the suspect (l'inculpé) will be brought before the criminal court and the dossier transmitted to the Commissaire du Gouvernement, who will then proceed to issue the indictment (l'accusation).


          70.     Procedurally, the Juge d'Instruction issues either an "ordonnance de non lieu" in the case of the detainee who is to be placed at liberty, or an "ordonnance de renvoi" also called "ordonnance de prise de corps" in which case the suspect is returned to prison.28


                71.     The Code of Criminal procedure provides that persons who have been sentenced are to be detained in places which are distinct from those where persons who have only been arrested or charged are to be held.29   In addition, Article 443 of the code requires that both the detention centers and the prisons maintain a registry of names of the detainees and those serving sentence.  This registry is to be signed, on each page, by the Juge d'Instruction for the detention centers, and by the Commissaire du Gouvernement for the prisons.


          72.     In the case of an illegal detention, the person who carries out the illegal arrest is subject to one to five years in prison, if the arrest is carried out without an order of the competent authorities.30    Anyone who cooperates in the illegal arrest by furnishing a place for the detention or kidnapping will be subject to the same penalty.31   In practice, however, as the case of Mr. Laurentis Robuste (infra) illustrates, it is virtually impossible to bring suit for false imprisonment because of the difficulty for the victim to prove that the illegal detention took place.



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          19.     Id. at p. 25.

          20.     Id.

          21.     "Station Comments", FBIS July 12, 1988.

22.     See, Le Nouvelliste 1-3 July 1988.

          23.     "Justice Ministry", FBIS July 14, 1988.

          24.     Le Nouvelliste 15-17 July 1988.

          25.     Code d'Instruction Criminelle, avec les dernières modifications, annoté par A. Rigal.  Article 442.

          26.     Id., Article 447.

          27.     Id., Article 115.

          28.     Two notorious officials during the Duvalier era benefited from an ordonnance de non lieu in a military court:  Col. Franck Romain (until September 17, 1988 the Mayor of Port-au-Prince) and Col. Jean Valmé.  Col. Valmé was for more than 10 years Chief of Duvalier's political police (the "Service detectif") in Casernes Dessalines and responsible for Fort Dimanche.

          29.     Code d'Instruction Criminelle, Article 442.

          30.     Code Penal (1961), Article 289.