doc. 9 rev. 1
September 1988
Original: English









          1.       On June 29, 1988, the OAS Permanent Council met in Washington, D.C., to consider the military takeover and the ensuing events which had occurred in Haiti.  At that meeting a resolution was adopted on "The Situation in Haiti and (the) Validity of the principles of the OAS Charter."  This Resolution, inter alia, called upon the Inter/American Commission on Human Rights to investigate the human rights situation in Haiti and to submit its Report thereon to the OAS General Assembly, scheduled to begin on November 14, 1988 in El Salvador.


          2.       The text of Resolution No. 502 is as follows:






          The events that have transpired in Haiti since June 20, the date on which a government headed by General Henri Namphy forcibly took power, and especially the reports of certain measures taken by that government that would affect the human rights enshrined in instruments of the inter-American system to which Haiti is a party;




          The principles of the Charter of the Organization of American States and the high aims sought through them, in particular those requiring the political organization of the member states on the basis of the exercise of representative democracy and full respect for fundamental human rights; and




Its resolution CP/RES. 441 (644/86) of February 14, 1986, which states that the organization of American States, adhering strictly to the principle of nonintervention, is prepared to cooperate with the Republic of Haiti in any way that will lead to strengthening the essential principles of representative democracy enshrined in the Charter of the organization, as well as its resolution CP/Res. 489 (720/87) OF December 7, 1987, through which it expresses its conviction that it is necessary to resume the democratic process in Haiti and to adopt all necessary measures so that the people of Haiti may express their will through free elections, without pressure or interference of any type.




          1.       To reaffirm the full validity of all the principles of the Charter of the Organization of American States and, in particular, in light of the deplorable events that have transpired in Haiti, those that call for the effective exercise of representative democracy as a requirement for the solidarity of the American states, the high aims sought by the Organization, and full enjoyment of fundamental human rights.


          2.       To reiterate, within the context of the principle of nonintervention, its solidarity with the Haitian people as well as its hope that they will be able to realize their legitimate aspirations to peace, freedom, and democracy by exercising their right to self-determination.


          3.       To request the Inter-American Commission on Human rights to examine the human rights situation in Haiti and to submit a complete report thereon to the General Assembly at its next regular session.


          4.       To await the report that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will submit to the General Assembly and to make such comments to the Assembly as it deems appropriate on the progressive development of human rights in Haiti.


          3.       Pursuant to the terms of this mandate of the OAS Permanent Council, the Commission on June 30, 1988, requested the consent of the military regime of Lt. General Henri Namphy to send a delegation to Haiti to conduct an on-site observation of the human rights situation.  On July 12, 1988 the Commission received a cable from General Abraham, Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs, granting consent for the visit to take place.  Following discussions between representatives of the Haitian military government and the Commission, the dates August 29-September 2, 1988, were agreed upon for the visit of the Commission.


          4.       Ms. Christina M. Cerna, the lawyer on the Commission's Secretariat responsible for Haiti, traveled to Haiti from August 1-6, 1988, in order to make the necessary arrangements for the visit.  During this preparatory visit a press communiqué was released in Haiti announcing the Commission's visit and Ms. Cerna and the representative of the OAS in Haiti, Mr. Ragnar Arnesen, gave interviews to the television press regarding the composition of the delegation and the purpose of the upcoming mission.


a.       Activities of the Commission during its On-site Observation


          5.       During its visit the Commission requested a meeting with the President of the military government, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, to which no response was given.  The Commission was advised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had requested the meeting with the President for the Commission, and until the last day of the Commission's stay no response had been made.  The delegation did meet with the Foreign Minister, Brig. Gen. Hérard Abraham and Brig. Gen. Fritz Antoine, the Minister of Justice, as well as with Maj. Gen. Williams Regala, the Minister of Interior and National Defense and many other government officials.  The President of the military government and the ministers had all held similar positions while constituted as the National Council of government from February 7, 1986 to February 7, 1988.


6.       The Commission met with Mme. Mireille Pluviose, the Commissaire du Gouvernement (Public Prosecutor) for Port-au-Prince, as well as with Col. Joseph D. Baguidy, who is in charge of the police headquarters, Recherches Criminelles.  The Commission also met with Col. Jean-Claude Paul, responsible for the military headquarters Casernes Dessalines in Port-au-Prince, and with Major Isidor Pognon, head of Fort Dimanche and Col. Weber Jodesty, head of the National Penitentiary.  The Commission met with the authorities at these detention centers and then visited the detention areas and interviewed detainees in private.  It requested to see the registry of detainees in each location and to interview some prisoners, by name, and others were selected at random.  The Commission requested to see the registry of detainees at Recherches Criminelles, however Col. Baguidy refused to make the registry available to the Commission, stating that he had received no instructions to do so.  Col. Paul stated that no one was detained at Casernes Dessalines, therefore, there was no registry.  As during its previous visit the Commission inspected the cells and examined the prison conditions and investigated all matters it considered useful as regards the medical care and legal assistance available to the detainees.


          7.       The Commission met with representatives of many human rights groups.  The commission received testimony from Mr. Jean-Jacques Honorat, head of the Haitian Center for the Defense of Public Liberties (CHADEL); from Mr. Jean-Claude Bajeux, the head of the Ecumenical Center for Human Rights (CEDH); from Mr. Arnold Antonin, head of the National Network for Human Rights Defense (RENADDWAM); from Mr. Gérard Toussaint, the General Secretary of the League of former Political Prisoners (LAPPH); from Mrs. Raymonde Joseph, widow of Mr. Lafontant Joseph and head of the Women's Committee against Torture; from Mr. Renaud Pierre, head of the League for the Protection of Children and from Messrs. Joseph Maxi, the President  and Jean-Claude Nord, the Secretary General, of the Haitian League for Human Rights.  In light of the recent assassination of Mr. Lafontant Joseph, the former head of the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights, special attention was given to this case and the impact of this killing on the human rights community.


          8.       The Commission interviewed many political leaders in order to receive their views on the situation and the prospects for a return to the democratization process:  Rev. Sylvio Claude, President of the Parti Democrat Chrétien Haitien (PDCH); Mr. Louis Dejoie II, President of the Parti Agricole Industriel National (PAIN); Mr. Gérard Gourgue, candidate for the presidency in the elections of November 1987 of the Front National de Concertation (FNC); Mr. Hubert de Ronceray, President of the Mobilisation pour le Developpement National (MDN) party; Mr. Grégoire Eugène, President of the Parti Social Chretien (PSCH); Mr. Serge Gilles, President of the Parti National Progressiste Revolutionnaire (PANAPRA-Socialist) and spokesman for the Patriotic Unitarian Bloc (BIP) comprised of PANAPRA, the PNPDH of Dr. Turneb Delpé and the Mouvement de 28 November 1980 headed by Mr. Max Paen; and Mr. Victor Benoit, National Secretary of the National Committee of the Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM).  The Commission also had the opportunity, outside of Haiti, to receive the views of the ousted President, Mr. Leslie Manigat.


          9.       The Commission received important testimony from members of the written and oral press.  It met with Mr. Adyjeangardy, the General Secretary of the Press Association, and with Mr. Dumayric Charlier of the newspaper Le Matin.


          10.     The Commission received testimony from Father Hugo Triest, a Belgian priest and director of Radio Soleil; Mr. Richard Widmaier of Radio Metropole and Mr. Jacques Sampeur of Radio Antilles as regards the situation of press freedom in Haiti.  The members of the delegation had frequent contact with members of the press who covered their visit while in Haiti.


          11.     The Commission also sought the views of the business and labor sectors and interviewed Mr. Jean Edouard Baker, the President of the Association of Haitian Industries (ADIH); Mr. Claude Levy, the Director of the Banque Credit Immobilier and, Mr. Antoine Izmery of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce.  The representatives of the business sector presented important information as regards the impact of the military takeover and the military government on the business climate in Haiti.


12.     The Commission received important information on labor issues from representatives of the three labor federations in Haiti:  Messrs. Germaine Jean François and Jean Claude Le Brun of CATH-CLAT; Messrs. Gabriel Miracle and Mr. Jean Auguste Mesyeux of the Autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers (CATH); and, Messrs. Joseph Senat, Pierre Charles Joseph and Benet Joseph of the FOS, the Federation of Unionized Workers.  At these meetings specific cases and problems concerning human rights violations were discussed.


          13.     The Commission also met with Père Aristide, a Salesian priest and an important voice within the Catholic Church theology of liberation; with the sociologist Mr. Gerard Charles and with representatives of the Committee of the Civil Society created to call for respect for the 1987 Constitution.


14.     The members of the delegation traveled to St. Marc, Pont Sondé and Petite Rivière to receive information regarding recent events in the Artibonite, as well as to Thomonde, Papaye and Hinche to receive testimony regarding the events in the Central Plateau region of Haiti and in particular, to investigate allegations regarding the repression of peasant organizations and actions taken against local Catholic priests and nuns.  The Commission received information in the provinces in the form of specific human rights complaints which must remain confidential until these complaints have received due consideration by the full Commission.



b.       Complaints received

          15.     The Commission, in its press release, announced that it would receive any one in Haiti who wished to present information to it, on Wednesday, August 31, 1988, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again in the afternoon from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.  In fact, much of the information received on that day and during the Commission's visit was in the form of complaints which will be processed according to the Commission's Regulations.


c.       Findings


          16.     The Commission's finding as a result of this visit are summarized as follows:


          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, when President Manigat attempted to subordinate the military to civilian control.


          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.


          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.       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 by the military to thwart the will of the people is condemned by democratic nations and the respective instruments of international law.


          7.       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.



d.       Observations of the Haitian Government on the Human Rights Situation in Haiti


          17.     In order to incorporate the views of the military government in its Report, the Commission requested on June 30, 1988, that the Government provide the Commission with whatever information it considered appropriate for inclusion in its Report by September 6, 1988, the date of the Commission's 74th regular session, and the date on which a draft Report would be submitted by the Secretariat to the Commission for its consideration.  He Commission reiterated this request, by telex on August 3, 1988, a copy of which was presented personally to Brig. Gen. Hérard Abraham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, by Ms. Cerna of the Commission's Secretariat.  The Minister stated to Ms. Cerna that the Government's "report" would be presented to the Commission during its on-site observation.  During the Commission's visit, Mr. David J. Padilla, the Assistant Executive Secretary, reiterated this request for information.  The military government submitted a report to the Commission on September 8, 1988.


          18.     The Commission considered the report of the Government of Haiti which was received during its 74th period of sessions held during the period September 6-16, 1988.  During that period of sessions the present report was approved.  On September 17, 1988 a group of non-commissioned officers ousted Lt. Gen. Namphy and replaced him with Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril and a new government was formed.  In light of the fact that these events have just occurred an analysis thereof is premature at this time.





19.     This report on the situation of human rights in Haiti covers the period from February 7, 1986, with the departure of President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier, and the installation of the National Council of Government (CNG), headed by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy to the government which assumed power, by force, on June 20, 1988, and was also headed by Lt. Gen. Namphy.  In the opinion of the Commission an analysis of this period enables it to evaluate the conduct of the Government that has assumed power on June 20, 1988, and the situation which Resolution 502 of the OAS Permanent Council has specifically mandated the Commission to examine, since this Government was headed by the same military officer and his cabinet included many of the same officers of that earlier regime.  As stated in the preceding paragraph this Report notes the change in government which occurred on September 17, 1988 but does not analyze it.


20.     The Commission makes frequent reference in this Report to events during the 29-year dictatorship of François (1957-1971) and Jean-Claude (1971-1986) Duvalier.  In the opinion of the Commission it is only by understanding what Haitian reality was like during the Duvalier period that the present can be understood.  The conflict between the pro-Duvalierist and anti-Duvalierist forces and the role of the Army in this conflict defines the present Haitian political context.  The entire catalog of human rights - the right to life, liberty and the security of the person, the right to residence and movement, the right to nationality, the right to a fair trial and due process of law, the right to freedom of expression, the right to assembly and the right to exercise one's political rights - all these individual rights are at risk in this conflict of forces seeking to maintain the Duvalierist structure and those which seek to bring about change based on a repudiation of the Duvalier period.


21.     The Commission has embarked on this analysis by means of an examination in which the manner successive regimes in Haiti have observed the rights r4ecognized in the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Haiti is a State party.  Since the departure of President-for-Life, Jean-Claude Duvalier, created expectations for a transition to democracy, the chapter on political rights is the central chapter of this report.  The announcement by Lt. Gen. Namphy that the Constitution undermines the rule of law, fragile as it was, not to mention the entire structure of the state.


22.     The Commission has used various sources in preparing this Report.  The most important has been the first-hand information obtained during the Commission's two on-site investigations:  in January 1987 and August 1988.  The Commission is grateful to the military government of Haiti for having permitted it to carry-out these investigative missions.


23.     Haitian and foreign press sources have been used by the Commission as sources of information for the events described in this report.  In those cases in which the Government of Haiti has provided observations on cases or situations mentioned in this report, this information has been given special consideration.


24.     The Commission devotes a separate chapter to the legal framework of the Haitian state as set forth in the 1987 Constitution, which by its widespread acceptance during a national referendum in March 1987 provided a reference point in the understanding of the aspirations of the Haitian people.  The Commission is particularly concerned about the unilateral abrogation of this Constitution b the military government as a result of the June 20, 1988 coup d'etat.


25.     The Commission has also received important information from the local human rights organizations working in Haiti.  In addition, the Commission is alarmed by the recent mutilation and murder of the human rights activist and lawyer, Mr. Lafontant Joseph.






a.       Collapse of the Duvalier Regime

          26.     On February 7, 1986 the Government of president-for Life Jean-Claude Duvalier collapsed as he and his closest supporters fled into exile, and a civilian-military junta which called itself the National Council of Government (CNG), headed by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, the former Chief of Staff of the Army under Jean-Claude Duvalier, assumed power.  The six members of the CNG were Namphy, Cols. Williams Regala, Prosper Avril, Max Valles, and Messrs. Alix Cineas and Gérard Gourgue.  The junta effectively became a military junta in March 1986 as Mr. Gerard Gourgue resigned (March 20) and Messrs. Avril, Valles and Cineas were removed (March 21) following protest demonstrations against them.


b.       Invitation of the CNG to the Commission


          27.     By note dated July 29, 1986 to the OAS Secretary General, Mr. Joao Clemente Baena Soares, the CNG invited the Commission to conduct a human rights mission in Haiti.  During the Commission's 68th Session in September 1986, the Commission considered the invitation of the Haitian Government and decided that given the importance of this mission that all the members should participate to give special emphasis to the Commission's support for the democratization process in train.  Following the 68th Session, the Haitian Government and the Commission set the dates January 20-23, 1987, for the Commission's visit to Haiti.  Ms. Cerna traveled to Haiti from January 7-9, 1987 to make the necessary preparations for the Commission's visit.



   Activities of the Commission during its On-Site Observation


          28.     During its visit the commission met with the President of the National Council of Government, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, and with Col. Williams Regala, the Minister of Interior and National Defense and member of the CNG.  The Commission also met with the Foreign Minister, Col. Herard Abraham; the Minister of Justice, Mr. François St. Fleur; the Vice Minister of Justice, Col. Fritz Antoine; and many other government officials.  Due to cabinet changes in four ministries on January 5, 1987, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Justice had been barely two weeks in their new positions.


          29.     The Commission met with Mr. Dupleix Jean-Baptiste, the President, and other representatives of the Consultative Council and with Mr. Emile Jonassaint, President of the Constituent Assembly and other representatives of the Constituent Assembly.  The mandate of the Constituent Assembly was to approve the text of a Constitution which would be submitted for approval to a popular referendum.


          30.     The Commission met with the prison authorities at Fort Dimanche and the National Penitentiary and in those institutions it interviewed prisoners in private.  It requested to see some prisoners, by name, and others were selected at random.


          31.     The Commission met with representatives of many human rights groups.  It received testimony from Messrs. Jean-Jacques Honorat, Robert Duval, Jean-Claude Bajeux, Victor Benoit, Arnold Antonin, and Ms. Simone Castera.  All of these human rights organizations have been functioning in Haiti only since the departure of the Duvalier regime.


          32.     The Commission interviewed many political leaders in order to receive their views on the democratization process:  Rev. Sylvio Claude, Messrs. Louis Dejoie II, Thomas Désulmé, Grégoire Eugene, Serge Gilles, Leslie F. Manigat, Hubert de Ronceray and, Mr. Rene Theodore.


          33.     The Commission received testimony from members of the written and oral press.  It met with Mr. Willem Romelus, editor of the newspaper Haiti Libérée, with Mr. Franck Magloire, editor of the Newspaper Le Matin and with Mr. Lucien Montas, editor of the newspaper, Le Nouvelliste.


          34.     It also received testimony from Mr. Jean Dominique, head of Radio Haiti-Inter, the first Haitian radio station to broadcast programs in the Creole language as well as in French.  The Commission also met with Father Hugo Triest, director of Radio Soleil, as well as with the members of the staff of the radio station of the catholic church.


          35.     The Commission sought the views of the business and labor sectors and interviewed Mr. Georges Sicard, President of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce; Mr.  Jean Edouard Baker, President of the Association of Industries and, Mr. Andre Apaid, the Founder of the Association of Industries.


36.     The Commission received information on labor issues from the leaders of two labor federations in Haiti, from Mr. Yves Antoine Richard, the Secretary-General of the autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers (CATH), and from Mr. Georges Fortuné, the President of CATH-CLAT and a co-founder of the political party of Mr. Leslie Manigat.


          37.     The Commission met with Father Grandoit, head of operations of MISYON ALFA, the literacy program which is organized and financed by the Catholic Church.  It also met with Mr. Evans Paul, head of the Committee for Unity and Democracy (KID) which is a federation of neighborhood committees and with Mr. Jean Paul Duperval and Mr. Jose Sinai, members of KID.


          38.     Members of the Commission traveled to Gonaïves, the Commission met with Monsignor Emmanuel Constant, the Bishop of Gonaïves, and Mr. Paul Latortue, an economist who works with the rice farmers in the Artibonite region.  The Commission also met with Mr. Hilton Benoit, the Commissaire du Gouvernement and with other individuals regarding the human rights situation in Gonaïves, and, in particular, as regards the so-called "rice war" and the problems affecting the youth of the town Anse-Rouge.


          39.     In Cap Haitien, the Commission met with Father Yvon Joseph, the Chairman of the MISYON ALFA Board of Directors and head of the Haitian Conference of the Religious.  It also met with other persons whose names, as well as those of others in Haiti, must remain confidential because their testimony was presented in the form of information regarding specific human rights





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