doc. 9 rev. 1
September 1988
Original: English






          The Organization of American States Permanent Council Resolution 502 has requested that the Inter-American commission on Human Rights examine the human rights situation in Haiti and present a complete report thereon to the 1988OAS General Assembly.  Pursuant to that mandate the commission submits this Report and the following findings to the General Assembly.  On September 17, 1988 non-commissioned officers forcibly ousted Lt. Gen. Namphy from power and installed Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril as the new President.  The Findings and Recommendations which follow were prepared prior to this change of government.





          1.       The Commission has come to the conclusion that the current military government in Haiti has perpetuated itself in power as a result of violence instigated by elements of the Haitian Armed forces resulting in the massacre of Haitian voters on November 29, 1987, the manipulation of the elections held on January 17, 1988, and the ouster of President Leslie Manigat on June 20, 1988.


          2.       Whether the military "seized" power on February 7, 1986, as it claimed or was placed in power, the National governing Council (CNG) during its period in power demonstrated no vocation for democracy.


          3.       The result of the almost three-year old democratization process led by the military in Haiti has been the entrenchment of the military in power.  Lt. Gen. Namphy, who proclaimed himself Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in 1987, in open defiance of the dictates of the 1987 Constitution, and in prejudice to the choice of the yet-to-be-elected president, proclaimed himself President sine die, expelled the civilian President, suppressed the Legislature, abrogated the 1987 Constitution, and, in effect, established a dictatorship.


          4.       The discussions with the Ministers during the Commission's August 1988 on-site visit revealed absolutely no intention or disposition on the part of the military to put Haiti on the road to democracy.  On the contrary, the military appeared to conceptualize that there is nothing necessarily inconsistent between a military regime and democracy, ignoring the fact that their seizure of power is inherently undemocratic, particularly so in light of Article 3(d) of the OAS Charter and Article 23 of the American convention.


          5.       Numerous arbitrary killings have occurred during the period under consideration.  The politically-motivated nature of the violence is evidenced by the fact that it can be turned on and off by the military authorities.  The failure of the military to investigate and punish anyone responsible for these death squad type killings has been a matter of continuing concern to the Commission and leads it to conclude that these death squads function because of the impunity granted to them by the military.


          6.       On the basis of its observations during its visit and, in particular, in view of the total ignorance displayed by the Minister of Justice of the contents of the report by a government-appointed Commission of Inquiry on the killings of November 29, 1987, the Commission has concluded that such commissions of inquiry provide merely window-dressing for international public opinion and have no relevance or impact on the internal Haitian legal system.


          7.       Crimes, such as the assassination of Messrs. Louis Eugène Athis, Yves Volel, Charlot Jacquelin and Lafontant Joseph, have never been credibly investigated.  The massacre of peasants in the region of Jean Rabel and the death squad killings connected with the elections of November 29, 1987 have led to no arrests or prosecutions.  The Commission concludes that the Namphy dictatorship effectively decriminalized any acts committed by the Armed Forces, the Police or the Macoute forces.  The criminal laws and procedures were effectively rendered inapplicable, as was, the 1987 Constitution.


          8.       The military regime, by means of the coup d'etat, attempted to nullify the 1987 Constitution, which was massively approved by popular referendum on March 29, 1987.  The use of force y the military to thwart the will of the people is condemned y democratic nations and the respective instruments of international law.  The 1987 Constitution, the only expression of the sovereign will of the Haitian people during the period under consideration, is the standard by which the legitimacy of any Haitian Government must be measured, unless that Constitution has been amended or superseded by a new Constitution duly ratified by the Haitian people.


          9.       Discussions between the Commission and representatives of various human rights organizations revealed among the people a sense of hopelessness and despair in the face of the dictatorship's readiness to use violence and armed force in the suppression of peaceful acts aimed at changing the status quo.  Opponents to the regime are routinely threatened, harassed, detained, savagely beaten and in some cases killed, as the cases cited above illustrate, pursuant to the same terror methods and tactics employed during the Duvalier era and in flagrant violation of Haiti's internal and international obligations in human rights.


          10.     All fundamental human rights in Haiti are under serious strain, limited by the Army's monopoly over the use of force.  The Army, functioning as a police force, does not serve to protect Haiti from external threats to its security, it functions to repress those persons and groups who attempt to change the deplorable conditions under which the majority of Haitians live.  Those persons and groups which have attempted to extend the permissible frontiers of the exercise of freedom of speech and the freedom to organize, have seen their space severely limited by the coup d'etat as the military began to exert its control over all aspects of the national life.




          To this end the information set forth in this Report, which was mandated by Resolution 502 of the OAS Permanent Council, leads the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to call upon the OAS General Assembly to condemn the forcible taking of power by the Haitian Armed Forces and the interruption of the democratization process.  In light of the events analyzed in the present report, the commission considers it necessary to make the following specific recommendations to the OAS General Assembly as regards the improvement of the current human rights situation in Haiti:



1.       That it is indispensable that an electoral timetable be established, as soon as possible, in order that free and fair elections be held and that a democratically elected civilian government be installed by the time of the convocation of the 1989 OAS General Assembly.


2.       That the electoral process be made subject to international supervision, in light of the traumatic experience of the November 29, 1987 elections, and the resultant fear and distrust of the population to enter into another electoral process controlled by the military.


3.       That in order for the transition process to be credible the Government of Haiti adopt the necessary measures to reestablish the Constitution which derived from the popular will made manifest in the referendum of March 29, 1987, and that the necessary modifications to be text of this Constitution be introduced by means of a process which grants direct participation to the people, both in the formulation of the amendments and in the approval and entry-into-force of the same.


4.       That the necessary measures be taken to guarantee the effective exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association, in order that the legitimate aspirations of the people may be freely expressed and introduced into the political process.


5.       That as a supplement to the measures referred to in the preceding paragraph, that the Government of Haiti guarantee the effective exercise of the rights to life, integrity and personal security, urgently undertaking the necessary measures to effectively control the violence which today is carried out by irregular forces, in particular in the rural areas where these rights are seriously under attack.


6.       That the military Government of Haiti guarantee the human rights groups and the institutions which carry out humanitarian work the indispensable conditions which will allow them to continue to carry out their essential mandates.


7.       That the Inter-American Commission report again to the 1989 General Assembly on the evolution of the human rights situation in Haiti and of the steps taken to implement the General Assembly recommendations.


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