Following its on-site observation in Haiti, and in consideration
of the other evidence listed in the present report, the Commission has
reached the following conclusions:
Two stages in the observance of human rights can be distinguished
in Haiti: a. the first is characterized by the nonobservance of human
rights, the right to life, personal security or personal freedom, or the
right to due process. B. the second stage, which began in 1971. During
the visit, there were certain indications that the current government
wishes to improve the situation with regard to respect for an observance
of human rights. The President of the Republic expressed his intention
personally to the Special Commission. Nevertheless, the Commission has
information of events that have happened and on legal acts passed after
the visit of the Special Commission, which leads it to believe that this
intention has not been carried out.
During the latter period, the right to life was violated
particularly in 1975 and 1976; it has in fact been proven that numerous
people died in summary executions or during their stay in prison, or
because of lack of medical care. It should nonetheless be observed that
there has been a notable improvement as regards this right.
There are reliable indicators that many individuals were victims
of torture inflicted in certain cases by the neighborhood chiefs, both
during interrogations after arrests and during imprisonment.
It has been proven that numerous persons are detained without
having benefited from any form of legal procedure, and without having
access to an attorney. There is no clear-cut separation of powers in
Haiti. Legal guarantees are seriously restricted by virtue of the
“state of siege” that are in effect on an almost permanent basis,
and by virtue of the Security Court instituted by the law of August 25,
1977, establishing procedures with limited guarantees as to the right of
a legal defense. The Judiciary does not appear to have the independence
necessary to exercise its functions.
It may be said that freedom of inquiry, opinion, speech and
dissemination of thought does not exist. There are taboo questions which
cannot be discussed, such as all matters concerning the President’s
family, the dictatorship, the extra-budgetary revenues of the Régie du
Tabac, etc. There is recourse to procedures such as warnings and
admonitions of increasing severity to journalists, issued by the
Ministry of the Interior; there is also prior censorship, closing of
newspapers, threats, assaults and incarcerations.
Freedom of religion and freedom of worship are fully guaranteed.
Freedom of association is extremely restricted. Article 236(bis)
of the 1948 Penal Code, which requires government authorization to form
a group of more than twenty people, prevents the creation of any
literary, political or other type of association. Trade union freedom
does not exist as such. There are neither federations nor confederations
or trade unions; the right to strike is limited. The government has made
it difficult to form political parties and associations in general.
There have been violations of the right to residence, movement
and nationality. In fact, numerous people have been exiled and, despite
the amnesty, certain of them have not been able to return to the
country. Likewise, numerous persons have been deprived of their
nationality for their political ideas.
While it is true that there have been legislative elections, the
law of September 19, 1978, gives the President of the Republic full
powers, and suspends numerous civil and political rights and certain
prerogatives of the Judiciary. Moreover, there are no political parties
and the people do not effectively participate in government affairs.
With regard to the effectiveness of the right to education,
health, welfare, and the right to work and to a fair wage, it may be
said that it is almost nonexistent, particularly because of the extreme
poverty, illiteracy, poor hygiene, high birth rate and high infant
mortality rate, high rate of unemployment, the lack of medical
materials, the low per capita income, etc., which prevent the citizens
from enjoying the economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the
OAS Charter and in numerous international instruments.