RESOLUTION Nº 15/83
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received a communication on
August 11, 1978 charging as follows:
April 24, 1970, Mr. Octave Cayard, who was at that time a Colonel in the
Haitian Armed Forces and a Commander in the Haitian Coast Guard,
attempted an unsuccessful up rising against the Haitian Government.
the rebellion failed, Colonel Cayard, his family and 118 other military
men who had taken part in the uprising were forced to leave the country.
Government of Haiti seized the property owned in Haiti by Colonel
Cayard, his wife, his daughter and some of the 118 other soldiers. On
April 24, 1970, according to the complaint, the Tontons macoutes,
the State Political Police, ransacked Mr. Cayard's home and a printing
works belonging to a commercial company, the "Imprimerie Serge
Bissainthe", in which Mr. Cayard was a share-holder. All the
equipment, which was estimated to be worth about US$150,000, was taken
away and the machines transferred to the State Printers.
complaint emphasizes that even if the Government of Haiti had wished to
institute proceedings against Colonel Cayard by seizing his property, it
nonetheless had no reason and no legal grounds for confiscating the
property of his wife and his daughter, or of the printing works with
which he alone was associated. His property also included a farm,
located at Hatte-Lathan, and other real estate that is not described in
the complaint but which had been acquired, according to the complaint,
by purchase contracts or by gifts made by close relatives.
complaint asks the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to use its
good offices with the Haitian Government to restore the confiscated
property in question to its owners.
2. The Commission
transmitted the pertinent parts of the complaint to the Government of
Haiti in correspondence dated October 2, 1978 and asked it to provide
the relevant information. On October 19 of the same year, the Commission
received the Haitian Government's reply which stated that those persons
who had participated in the rebellion were still in possession of their
property, and that they could freely dispose of it, since they retained
their right of ownership, except where the property was mortgaged or had
been the subject of other financial transactions whose terms had not
far as Madame Cayard's property was concerned, the Government considered
that it was a strictly private matter and declared that Madame Cayard
could recover her property by making arrangements with her many
the same note, the Government of Haiti added that Mr. Cayard had
received a favor from the Government of Haiti. Mr. Cayard and his
companions had preferred to flee to Puerto Rico and then to the United
States rather than suffer the full effects of the law and make
reparations for the damage caused by their irresponsibility when they
Government's reply was transmitted to the claimant on January 3, 1979,
and he returned his observations in a letter dated January 18, 1979. The
claimant stated that his own property, and the property of his spouse,
of his daughter and of some of the 118 other soldiers who had taken part
in the rebellion had been seized by members of the Government or by
their friends. By way of example, he mentioned that Ambassador Pierre
Caudenet had built a "mansion" on his property situated in
"Debussy"; Captain Fritz Tippenhauer had sold some of
the property belonging to Mr. Cayard that was located at Haut de
Turgeau. The Haitian Army was currently occupying 6 hectares of land
that he owns at Hatte-Lathan; none of these lands had ever been subject
to a lien.
claimant added that on his departure from Haiti in April 1970, he owed
only a little more than US$1,000 to the Bank of the Department of
Agriculture and US$600 to the Agricultural and Industrial Development
Institute. Two-thirds of a country property--in three parcels--served as
collateral for these debts, while the other third, and all his other
property, was free of any lien. The claimant concluded by accepting the
government's position that the participants in the rebellion of April
24, 1970 could retain their ownership rights over their property, but he
asked the government to issue the necessary instructions so that the
property occupied by third parties could be restored to its owners. The
claimant further agreed that once the situation of property encumbered
by mortgages or by other liens had been arranged, the property should be
returned to its owners. The claimant also insisted that the property of
the printing works also be returned to the company that owned it.
4. Mr. Cayard
recently informed the Commission that he has attempted to settle the
situation of some of his property through the Haitian Consul in New
York, but that the Consul had told him that he had instructions from the
government not to deal with any matter that concerned Colonel Cayard.
5. The Government
of Haiti received Colonel Cayard's observations on October 4, 1979, and
on March 24, 1980, the Commission received another communication from
the government rejecting the terms of the first letter and declaring
that, no matter what their origin, the terms of that letter would
contradict Articles 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Decree of April 27, 1970 which
had ordered confiscation of the property of Colonel Cayard and the other
soldiers. The Decree also stripped these citizens of their Haitian
nationality. The government forwarded a photocopy of that Decree.
give below the pertinent passages of that communication, which were
transmitted to Colonel Cayard:
have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter in reference to
Case 2976 concerning the property of ex-Colonel Cayard in which note is
taken of a clause according to which "the rebels retained ownership
of their property in Haiti, with the exception of property that was
mortgaged or that had been the subject of other financial transactions
whose terms had not been honored.
Foreign Ministry has no knowledge of that clause which, no matter what
its origin, would be in contradiction with Articles 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the
Decree of April 27, 1970 regulating the property in question. According
to that Decree:
property, both movable and immovable of whatever type, of those former
Haitian citizens is confiscated for the benefit of the State.
agreements concerning that property that had not been entered into on a
date certain prior to the twelve months preceding the date of the
present Decree are null and void as of course.
Director General of Taxation shall take possession, on behalf of the
State, of all the real property and movable goods and chattels that
belonged to those former Haitian citizens. The movable goods shall be
sold for the benefit of the State, and the real property shall pass into
the private domain of the State.
thirty days after publication of the present Decree, all banking
institutions, notaries, commercial establishments, all private parties
holding sums of money or other movable goods on behalf, of or owing
monies or goods to these former Haitian citizens must make a full
declaration there of to the Tax Administration, and make over to the
State, represented by the Director General of Taxation, the agreements
they have with said individuals.
receipts of payment or notes of hand not bearing a date certain prior to
the twelfth month period preceding the date of the present Decree are
null and void as of course.
violations of the present provisions shall be punished by a fine
representing 50 percent of the undeclared monies or other movable
property and by a sentence of three to twelve months imprisonment to be
handed down by the Court of Corrections at the request of the Public
6. The Commission
again wrote to the Government of Haiti, calling its attention to the
contradiction between the letter of October 19, 1978 and the latest
communication of March 24, 1980. The Commission also asked for the
Government's official position with regard to Mr. Cayard's property.
7. Mr. Cayard
wrote a further communication to the Commission, under cover of a letter
dated October 5, 1981 and received on October 8 of the same year. The
claimant emphasized the unconstitutional nature of the Decree of April
27, 1970, and stated that even though, in a country with a government
such as Haiti's, recourse to legal means in an effort to solve this kind
of problem is worse than useless, his legal counsel had attempted to do
so at the risk of their lives, but without success. The only course left
to the claimant, therefore, was to put himself in the hands of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by lodging his complaint and
his reservations about the unlawful measure taken against him.
Cayard also noted that the property confiscated included the property of
his wife, Madame Marie-Carmen Cayard, and the property of his daughter
Marie-Thérèse Cayard, and the machines and supplies from the printing
works that had been mentioned earlier. He stressed that neither his wife
nor his daughter was cited as a perpetrator or accomplice of the acts
that the government used as grounds for issuing the Decree of April 27,
and that as a result, their property ought to be restored to them.
Cayard then described the confiscated property and stated that,
according to community property law, the Haitian Government must restore
to Madame Cayard half of the property acquired during the marriage. The
description of the real property confiscated is given below:
i. Property of
Marie-Carmen Cayard née Clermont, purchased with her own money and
therefore belonging to her in her own right according to the law.
a. 55 carreaux of
land in the village of "Hatte-Lathan", les Varreux, in the
commune of Croix-des-Bouquets, bounded on the North by La Hasco, on the
South by André Théard and La Hasco, on the West by La Hasco and on the
East by the main Port-au-Prince to St. Marc road.
b. One carreau of
land located at Delmas, in the "Prédailler" section of
Saint-Martin, bounded on the North by the State, on the South by the
remaining property of Mentor Jacques, on the East by the heirs of
Placide Jean-Charles and Octave Cayard and on the West by the State and
Property of Marie-Thérèse Cayard, a minor, aged 11 years at the
time of the confiscation Decree, who inherited from her grandfather
gifts that now belong to her in her own right.
a. A property in
Port-au-Prince, in the "Drice" section of Turgueu, in the
place commonly known as "Debussy" measuring 23 meters 80 and
fronting on a 15-foot road to the North leading to the main
"Debussy" road; 24 meters 78 in a broken line of 2 angled
sections measuring 7 meters 95 and 16 meters 93 on the opposite side, to
the South; 23 meters 74 in depth and 21 meters 56 on the opposite side
to the East, for a total area of 534.5 square meters. The property is
bounded on the North by a 15-foot road leading into the
"Debussy" road after some 30 meters; on the South by Octave
Cayard and Léonce, on the East by number 1 or Madame Roger Fortuné née
Lina David, and on the West by Madame Béranger, according to the plan
and survey report drawn up by the surveyor Jean Ramile Dorilas on
February 22, 1965, which have been duly registered and transcribed.
b. 2 and 33/100
carreaux of land in the "Prédailler" section of les Varreaux
in the region known as "Mais Gaté", bounded on the Borth by
Eric Laroche, on the South by Edmond Polynice Jr., on the East by
Jacques Craan and on the West by the heirs of Stéphen St-Phard.
1. In the present
case, the Government of Haiti has confiscated the property of Mr. Octave
Cayard without having followed the pertinent legal procedure, in
violation of Article XVIII of the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man.
2. Even though the
confiscation was carried out under the terms of the Decree of April 27,
1970 published by virtue of the state of siege in effect in Haiti, no
procedure was followed in taking that measure, Mr. Cayard did not have
the opportunity to defend himself, and no financial indemnity was paid
3. The Government
of Haiti seized the property of Madame Marie-Carmen Cayard and of
Marie-Thérèse Cayard, and the property owned by the company
"Imprimerie Serge Bissainthe", without any judicial decisions
having been taken and even though Madame and Mademoiselle Cayard were
not cited in the Decree ordering confiscation to which the present
resolution refers as perpetrators, accomplices or conspirators in the
military movement led by ex-Colonel Octave Cayard.
4. Despite the
length of time that has passed since April 27, 1970, the Government of
Haiti has not restored the confiscated property to Colonel Cayard,
Madame Marie-Carmen Cayard, Madamoiselle Marie-Thérèse Cayard or to
the Serge Bissainthe Company, despite numerous procedures instituted by
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, RESOLVES:
1. To declare that
in the present case, the Government of Haiti has violated Article XVIII
(right to a fair trial) and Article XXIII (right to property) of the
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
2. To recommend to
the Government of Haiti: a) that it restore to its owners the property
confiscated on the basis of the Decree of April 27, 1970; b) that it
restore the property seized from Madame Marie-Carmen Cayard,
Mademoiselle Marie-Thérèse Cayard and the Company "Imprimerie
Serge Bissainthe" to its owners; and c) that it inform the
Commission within sixty days of the measures it has taken to ensure that
the recommendations made here are implemented.
3. To convey the
present resolution to the Government of Haiti and to the claimants.
4. To include the
present resolution in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States.