RESOLUTION N║ 41/83
September 26, 1983
1. On August 20,
1978, the Commission received the following complaint:
Thebaud was arrested in Port-au-Prince, at his residence located at
Avenue Pouplard N║ 91, on May 4, 1976, at 3:30 p.m. He had arranged to
leave Haiti on May 6, for which purpose he had obtained his passport, an
exit visa, a United States visa, and a Spanish visa, in order to go to
Spain for an operation on his eyes, for which he had an appointment at
the Clinica Baraquer, which he had visited in March 1975. Approximately
30 minutes later, his residence was ransacked, his library looted, and
the records of his clients destroyed by the police, who carried off his
typewriter and many other objects, all in front of his family, who
watched in fright. His wife lost consciousness.
was taken to Dessalines Barracks, where all his personal effects
(eyeglasses, watch, etc.) were taken away from him and he was pushed to
the floor in a cell. On May 5, the police appeared at his law office at
N║ 134 Center Street and, in violation of the law, took the records
from his files and his collection of the official gazette, Le Moniteur.
After those illegal seizures and the theft of the related objects and
documents, he appeared assisted by two civilians, before Colonels Albert
Pierre, Jean Valme, and Angel Orce to be interrogated. He was savagely
beaten for the purpose of obtaining confessions and accusations, and
nothing having been obtained, he was led to a solitary cell. On May 6,
he was brought again before the same persons to force him to invent
confessions. He was again savagely beaten; marks of those tortures can
be seen on his body.
June 16, 1976, he was transferred to Fort Dimanche and thrown into cell
N║ 9, which measures 2 by 4 meters, in which there were 27 persons
lacking everything, including toilet paper.
Thebaud always insisted that he be given medicines for his eyes, to
which they answered that those who are destined to die had no reason to
be concerned about their sight. His suffering increased and around the
middle of July he lost his sight.
February 17, 1977, at 10 p.m., along with other prisoners, he was
transferred to the National Penitentiary, where he took his first bath
in 10 months and received medicines for his eyes, unfortunately too
late. On February 21, 1977, after the visit by Ambassador Young, he was
set free. Blind.
Thebaud left in Haiti two sons and his mother-in-law, aged 88, and he
did not wish that they might be the object of vengeance by the Duvalier
his professional records stolen and Mr. Thebaud ruined, blind, without
funds, in a foreign land, it is demanded that the authors of the crimes
against his person, his family, and his property be tried and punished
and ordered to make fair reparation.
2. By a note dated
February 9, 1979, the Commission sent the pertinent parts of the
complaint to the Government of Haiti, requesting the corresponding
3. Not having
received any reply from the Government, the Committee, through a note
dated September 24, 1981, repeated its request for information, pointing
out the possible application of Article 39 of the Regulations of the
IACHR, in the event that it did not receive a reply to the request made.
4. By a note dated
November 10, 1981, the Government of Haiti replied to the Commission in
the following terms:
have the pleasure to acknowledge receipt of the communication referring
to Case 3405, dated September 24, 1981, regarding the request for
protection of two sons and the mother-in-law of Mr. Leon ThÝbaud, who
was arrested on May 4, 1976, and freed on September 21, 1977.
Foreign Ministry has the pleasure to inform you that this letter was
transmitted to the corresponding office for the corresponding
5. In view of the
fact that the reply from the Government limited itself to confirming
that Mr. Thebaud had been arrested on May 4, 1976, and set free on
September 21, 1977, without making any reference to the reasons for his
arrest, his physical mistreatment, or the damage suffered by his house
and his law office, the Commission decided to address the Government of
Haiti again, once more requesting that it provide information with
respect to the acts reported, which was done on February 20, 1982.
6. The Government
of Haiti has to this date not replied to the request for information
repeatedly made to it.
1. That the
Government of Haiti, in its note dated November 10, 1981, limited itself
to confirming that Mr. Leon Thebaud had in fact been arrested on May 4,
1976, and set free on September 21, 1977, without referring specifically
to the acts reported;
2. That the
periods stipulated in Article 31 of the Regulations of the Commission
having passed, without the Government of Haiti, to this date, having
replied to the repeated requests for information made by the IACHR,
which allows it to presume that there are no remedies under domestic law
to be exhausted (Article 46 of the American Convention on Human Rights).
3. That Article 39
of the Regulations of the Commission reads as follows:
facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parts have been
transmitted to the government of the state in reference shall be
presumed to be true if, during the maximum period set by the Commission
under the provisions of Article 31, paragraph 5, the government has not
provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not
lead to a different conclusion.
4. That, Article 1
paragraph 1 of the American Convention on Human Rights reads as follows:
1. Obligation to Respect Rights
The States Parties to this Convention undertake to respect the
rights and freedoms recognized herein and to ensure to all persons
subject to their jurisdiction free and full exercise of those rights and
freedoms, without any discrimination for reasons of race, color, sex,
language, religion, political or other opinion national or social
origin, economic status, birth, or any other social condition.
5. That the
Republic of Haiti is a State Party to the American Convention on Human
therefore, in view of the background information and the considerations
stated, and the fact that the Commission has no other evidence that
would lead it to a different conclusion, on the basis of Article 39 of
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, RESOLVES:
1. To presume the
fact reported in the communication dated August 20, 1978, regarding the
arbitrary arrest, torture, and lack of due process in the case of Mr.
Leon Thebaud, as well as the ransacking and pillage of his law office
and his house of residence, to be true.
2. To declare that
those facts constitute a serious violation of the right to humane
treatment, the right to personal liberty, the right to a fair trial, and
the right to property, Article 5, 7, 8, and 21, respectively, of the
American Convention on Human Rights.
3. To recommend to
the Government of Haiti: (a) that it order a complete and impartial
investigation to determine the persons responsible for the acts
reported; (b) that in accordance with Haitian law it punish the persons
responsible for the acts reported; (c) that it inform the Commission
within 90 days about the measures taken to put the preceding
recommendations into effect.
4. To transmit
this resolution to the Government of Haiti and to the complainant.
5. To include this
resolution in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States, in accordance with Article 59 (g) of
the Regulations of the Commission, if the Government of Haiti does not
carry out the recommendations made or make observations on this
resolution within the period indicated above.