On August 31, 1992, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
received a complaint regarding the death of Mr. Georges Izméry.
The pertinent portions of the complaint are as follows:
On May 26, 1992, Georges Izméry, brother of a known supporter of
President Aristide, was shot in the back before hundreds of witnesses by
a group of soldiers in
civilian clothing, who, after the crime, went into the police station
known as the "Cafeteria" a short distance away from where the
events occurred. When the
police arrived, they did not allow Mr. Georges Izméry's family to
approach or to take him to a hospital to be cared for.
Mr. Georges Izméry was taken by the police to the General
Hospital. The family doctor
was not allowed to enter the morgue, and the body of the victim could
only be recovered three days later, through the efforts of an attorney.
Prior to these events, Mr. Georges Izméry's house had been
raided by police officers without a search warrant.
The domestic servant was beaten and taken to prison.
She was released that same night without being given any reason
for her detention.
Mr. Izméry's funeral was interrupted by a group of heavily armed
men carrying sophisticated communications systems.
The funeral procession was dispersed, and some of the people were
detained and beaten.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE COMMISSION:
The Commission immediately took up the case and asked those who
exercised power in Haiti for pertinent information on the events that
gave rise to the complaint. Subsequently,
on January 10, 1993, the Commission asked the petitioner for additional
information to corroborate the events described in the complaint.
In a note of January 14, 1993, the Commission agreed to receive
Mr. Antoine Izméry, the victim's brother, to hear his allegations and
to receive any documentation that might explain and prove the alleged
human rights violations.
On February 19, 1993, the Commission again requested information
from those who exercised power in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
additionally requested that it be informed, regarding the case in
question, as to whether all remedies under domestic law had been
The hearing mentioned in paragraph 3 was held during the
Commission's 83rd session on February 25, 1993, at its headquarters in
Washington, D.C.. Present
at the hearing were Mr. Antoine Izméry, representing the family of the
deceased, accompanied by his attorney, Mr. Ira J. Kurzban.
Also present was the Representative of the Permanent Mission of
Haiti to the OAS, Ambassador Jean Casimir, who represented the
democratic government of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. They
who exercised power in Haiti were not represented at the hearing.
During the hearing, Mr. Antoine Izméry made a statement
confirming the events described in the initial complaint and giving
further details as follows:
On May 26, 1992, around 6:00 p.m., Mr. Georges Izméry closed the
doors of his business establishment at 322 Jean-Jacques Dessalines
Boulevard in downtown Port-au-Prince and crossed the boulevard to go to
his automobile parked a few steps away.
When he reached the sidewalk on the other side of the street, an
armed civilian approached and shot him with a revolver in the right
shoulder near the neck. Georges
fell face down, and the attacker shot him twice more in the back before
going to the police station known as the "Cafeteria" a short
Having been notified by eyewitnesses of the attack, several
members of Mr. Izméry's family went to the scene about an hour later.
Uniformed police from the "Cafeteria" did not allow
them to approach the body, which was covered with blood. Ignoring the threats of the police there, our older sister
and our cousin approached Georges, and seeing that he was still alive,
tried to speak to him. At
that point, the police ordered them away, threatening them with the same
fate as the victim.
Our family tried in
vain to convince the police of the
urgency of the case. In
their opinion, Georges could still have been saved.
Faced with the intransigence and hostility of the uniformed
police, the family members left to find a doctor.
Having been informed about the situation by radio, I reached the
place where the events took place around 7:30 p.m. and found that
Georges' body had been taken away.
According to several witnesses, a station wagon of the Anti-Gang
took him to the General Hospital morgue.
It should be mentioned that when the crime took place, an
Anti-Gang Service station wagon, from a different unit from that of the
"Cafeteria" was nearby. By
a "strange coincidence," it was that station wagon, instead of
an ambulance, that took Georges away.
So, the soldiers not only killed him, but they made sure the job
had been finished.
The soldiers on duty at the hospital repeatedly refused to allow
my sister and cousin, who were accompanied by a doctor, to enter the
On the same night as the murder, Colonel Henri-Robert Marc
Charles, a member of the High Command of the Haitian Armed Forces (FADH),
offered to use his influence to have Georges' body returned to the
family. Nevertheless, the
body could only be recovered three days later, through the efforts of
our attorneys. The findings
of the autopsy performed on our brother Georges were not given to us
despite our legally interposed requests to obtain them.
In Georges' case, the autopsy performed served no medical-legal
purpose. It was more like
an additional attack, this time on the body of the victim, designed to
confirm his death and to intimidate the members of his family.
Georges' funeral was held on June 2, 1992 in a climate of terror.
There were more police present than family members and friends
who came to express their support for the family.
On the way to the cemetery, the procession was brutally dispersed
by the police. They made a
number of illegal arrests, particularly of our employees.
Only seven close family members of the deceased were allowed to
proceed to the cemetery.
During the hearing, the Commission members asked Mr. Antoine Izméry
to identify the eyewitnesses of the events reported in the initial
In reply, the complainant stated the following:
There were many witness, mainly passersby and sidewalk vendors
near the business. In
particular, one person close to the family was present at the scene of
the crime when it took place. He
asked that his identity not be revealed for reasons of personal safety.
The vendors who witnessed Georges' murder ran away and did not
return to the scene for fear of reprisals against them.
The police of the "Cafeteria" station and their
of the Anti-Gang Service returned to the scene of the crime to learn the
identity of anyone who was there when the events occurred.
The Commission also asked Mr. Antoine Izméry whether all
remedies under domestic law had been exhausted.
In response, the complainant stated that:
the legal procedures for filing a complaint were totally
inoperative because of the political situation in Haiti after the coup
d'état of September 30, 1991.
Mr. Antoine Izméry told the Commission:
That my brother's murder had been committed under the odious
practice reintroduced into Haiti after the 1991 coup, which consisted of
killing civilians -- at night and during the day -- and disposing of
their bodies to erase all traces of their existence.
I am speaking today on Georges' behalf, but I am also speaking
for all those who have disappeared -- children, students, journalists,
farmers, workers and all of the peaceful citizens who have been victims
of the state of terror prevailing in Haiti.
That many persons were asking, with good reason, whether the
victim had been attacked in error, because they believed that I was the
one the attackers wanted to eliminate at all costs, in view of my
political stands, because I do not support the "putschists" or
the smugglers and because I openly campaign for the return of President
Aristide to the country. As
is well known, I am deeply involved in my country's politics, not as a
politician but as someone working to achieve the necessary changes in
government, against the old imperialist style.
I gave financial support to the winner of the December 16, 1990
elections, not to obtain any personal gain but to try to open a road to
the majority of the people who are in poverty.
Finally, it should also be mentioned that on the day after the
coup d'état, on October 1, 1991, my house was attacked by the armed
forces, who threw a grenade at it.
On October 15 of that same year, I was illegally arrested in the
home of my brother Georges by twenty soldiers, some of them uniformed,
others in civilian clothing, and all heavily armed.
On that same date, around 1:00 a.m., seven of the men who had
taken part in my arrest entered my brother's home and stole jewelry,
money, and electric appliances. To
frighten Georges, they fired guns near his ears.
I was detained for 11 days and was released without being given
any reason for my detention or for the attack on my home.
On April 4, 1992, my brother Georges' home was raided by the
police and soldiers, and his domestic servant was arrested and beaten.
She was released that same night.
At the same time, another group of soldiers entered my home and,
when they didn't find me there, withdrew.
In mid-January 1993, I was arrested again -- this time according
to the police for not having a driver's license.
I was held in jail for three days.
At the end of the hearing, the petitioner submitted his statement
in writing along with photographs of the victim showing the bullet
wounds on his body and the marks from the autopsy that had been
performed. He also attached
photographs from local newspapers showing the participation of police
and auxiliaries when they dispersed the victim's funeral procession, and
letters containing the views of the public on the crime.
(This documentation is on file.)
In notes of June 15 and July 23, 1993, the Commission again
requested information from those exercising power in Haiti and stated
that if it did not receive the information by the set deadline, it would
be compelled to consider the application of article 42 of the IACHR
Regulations, which reads as follows:
The 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 34 paragraph 5, the government has not
provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not
lead to a different conclusion.
During the on-site visit by the IACHR Delegation to Haiti on
August 23-27, 1993, the delegation received testimony from one person who was present at the
place where the events of May 26, 1992 occurred.
He confirmed the statements in the complaint and said he was at
the side of Mr. Georges Izméry when he was shot and had seen two men
running to the "Cafeteria" police station, one of them with a
pistol in his hand. Testimony
was also received from Mrs. Jeannette Izméry and Mirna Hasboun Handal,
members of Mr. Georges Izméry's family, who confirmed the events that
gave rise to the complaint and said they had approached and touched Mr.
Georges Izméry while he was still alive.
They also said that they had wanted to take Mr. Izméry away and
had urged the soldiers to save him, but at that moment four policemen
approached pointing machine guns at them, and prevented them from
removing Mr. Izméry and from remaining there.
One of the policemen threatened them, saying they would suffer
the same fate as Mr. Georges Izméry if they did not leave ("Je
vous ferai devenir un passoir comme l'individu etalé.")
The written statements, duly signed, are on file with the
As stated in the previous paragraphs, the Commission asked those
exercising power in Haiti several times to send information on the
alleged human rights violations; but despite the seriousness of the
allegations, it received no reply.
That during the 84th period of sessions
held 5th - 15th October 1993, the Commission adopted Resolution
35/93 in which the Government of Haiti was requested to submit their
response to the instant case within three months of the date of the
submission, and further to otherwise exercise its option
pursuant to Article 62(2) of the Convention, to recognize the
jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Justice, in the present
case, failing which, the Commission would decide whether to publish this
That the Commission is competent to hear the instant case because
it involves violations of the following rights protected in the American
Convention on Human Rights to which Haiti is a party --
Right to Life (article 4), Right to Judicial Protection (article
25) -- and according to the provisions of article 44 of the Convention.
That the submitted petition meets the formal admissibility
requirements established in article 46 of the American Convention on
Human Rights and in article 32 of the Commission's Regulations.
That the petition is not pending in any other international
settlement procedure and is not a resubmittal of a previous petition
already reviewed by the Commission.
That the petitioner has not been able to obtain effective
protection from the organs having jurisdiction in his country, and as
was previously noted by the representative of the victim's family:
"[t]he legal procedures for filing a complaint were totally
inoperative because of the political situation in Haiti after the coup
d'état of September 30, 1991."
That the Commission, aware of the serious problem affecting the
judicial system in Haiti, has addressed that issue on several occasions,
noting that the justice administration's inability to combat the
atmosphere of insecurity which has prevailed in the country has been
recognized by the government's officials themselves, who have told the
Commission that "the forces of law and order are not
psychologically or physically prepared to deal with the lack of security
in the country."
In addition, the Commission has stated that "the absence of
judicial action against persons suspected responsible for grave human
rights violations constitutes an omission that must be promptly
That the Commission recently stated the following in its 1992
Report on the Human Rights Situation in Haiti:
The institutionalized violence and corruption practiced with
impunity by members of the army and police whose function is to protect
the citizenry has caused a series of abuses against the Haitian people .
. . At the same time, the
judicial authorities have been neither efficient nor decisive in
prosecuting investigations into these violations.
That for the above reasons, the requirements on exhausting all
remedies under domestic law, as established in article 46 of the
American Convention on Human Rights, are not applicable.
That although over a year has elapsed since the events described
in the complaint occurred and although the Commission has repeatedly
requested information from those who exercise power in Haiti, they have
not provided any reply in the instant case.
That because it has not replied, the Haiti has not fulfilled its
international obligation to supply information within a reasonable time,
as established by article 48 of the American Convention on Human Rights,
and that regardless of the political situation prevailing in the
country, the Convention is still in force.
Accordingly, those who exercise power, even if its use is
illegal, have the obligation not only to respect the rights set forth in
that international agreement, but also to guarantee the full and free
exercise of those rights.
That article 42 of the Commission's Regulations provides that
complaints shall be presumed to be true if during the period set by the
Commission, the Government has not provided the pertinent information.
Such refusal has been shown in the above paragraphs of this
report. Article 42, in
fine, subjects the presumption that the alleged facts are true to
the proviso that no other evidence leads to a different conclusion.
In the present case, there is no different conclusion, as the
Commission has pointed out that the information received from various
sources has corroborated that most of the human rights violations in
1992 occurred in a political context fostered by those who exercise
power in their desire to consolidate power.
That the absence of a reply gives rise to the presumption
contemplated in article 42, and that article 42 alone would be enough to
presume that the charges against the those who exercise power in Haiti
are true, but in this case, the presumption is reinforced by the
testimony of persons who witnessed the events.
That the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of Haiti establishes
in article 19 guarantees regarding the right to life.
The text of that article is as follows:
The State has the absolute obligation to guarantee the right to
life, health and respect of the human person for all citizens without
distinction, in conformity with the Universal Declaration of the Rights
That the Inter-American Court of Human Rights states in its
judgment on the Velásquez Rodríguez case that:
The State is obligated to investigate every situation involving a
violation of the rights protected by the Convention.
If the State apparatus acts in such a way that the violation goes
unpunished . . . , the State has failed to comply with its duty to
ensure the free and full exercise of those rights to the persons within
its jurisdiction. The same
is true when the government allows private persons or groups to act
freely and with impunity to the detriment of the
rights recognized in the Convention.
That in this case, those who exercise power in Haiti acted not
only to hide the identity of the person who perpetrated the crime, as
that person went to the "Cafeteria" police station seeking
refuge as shown in testimony the Commission has in its possession, but
also showed a complete unwillingness to conduct a de officio
investigation of a crime of which they had full knowledge -- given that
the place where the events took place was close to the police station
and that it was agents of the Anti-Gang Service who took the victim to
That in addition, the police agents demonstrated great contempt
for the life of Mr. Georges Izméry in not allowing a doctor to attend
to him when his life might have been saved, as the soldiers refused to
allow family members and the family doctor to approach the victim.
That such an attitude by those exercising power in Haiti fully
demonstrates violations of the human rights protected by the Convention,
both by their actions in hiding the offender in their facilities and by
their failure to act when they did not carry out their duty to conduct
an effective investigation within their jurisdiction to identify those
responsible and to impose on them the penalties established in Haiti's
penal laws, thus ensuring proper reparation for the victim's family.
That in this respect, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights
has stated: "[w]here the acts of private parties that violate the
Convention are not seriously investigated, those parties are aided in a
sense by the government. thereby making the State responsible on the
That based on the legal principle of ultra petita, the
Commission is not issuing a definitive judgment regarding the attacks
perpetrated (prior to May 26, 1992) on the persons of Georges and
Antoine Izméry by members of the police and army, as reported at the
hearing granted to the complainant, because those attacks were not part
of the elements contained in the initial complaint.
However, the information received does permit the Commission to
establish a frame of reference and to determine within what context the
death of Mr. Georges Izméry occurred, in view of the repressive and
intimidating acts by the soldiers against the Izméry family.
That because the procedure for a friendly settlement established
in article 48(1)(f) of the Convention and in article 45 of the IACHR
Regulations is not applicable, and because of the nature of the case and
the refusal of those exercising power in Haiti to provide information,
the Commission must comply with article 50, subparagraph 1 of the
Convention by giving its opinion and conclusions on the issue submitted
to it for consideration.
because the Government of Haiti has not presented its observations as
requested, and nor has it
conformed to the recommendations indicated in Resolution Nş 35/93
within the requisite time period of 90 days;
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
To declare that they who exercise power in Haiti have violated
the Right to Life provided for in article 4 of the American Convention
on Human Rights and the Right to Judicial Protection recognized in
article 25 of that Convention through the actions of its agents which
led to the death of Mr Georges Izméry, which occurred in
Port-au-Prince, on May 26, 1992.
To declare that Haiti has not complied with the obligation to
ensure the free and full exercise of fundamental human rights and
guarantees to all persons subject to its jurisdiction, as imposed by
article 1 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
To take note of the fact that the Government of Haiti, because it
was illegally overthrown, has been unable to investigate the actions
denounced or punish those responsible.
To publish this report pursuant to Article 48 of the Commission's
Regulations and Article 53.1 of the Convention, because the Government
of Haiti did not adopt measures to correct the situation denounced
within the time period.