ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The Organization of American States Permanent Council Resolution 502 has
requested that the Inter-American commission on Human Rights examine the human
rights situation in Haiti and present a complete report thereon to the 1988OAS
General Assembly. Pursuant to that
mandate the commission submits this Report and the following findings to the
General Assembly. On September 17,
1988 non-commissioned officers forcibly ousted Lt. Gen. Namphy from power and
installed Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril as the new President.
The Findings and Recommendations which follow were prepared prior to this
change of government.
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.
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.
result of the almost three-year old democratization process led by the military
in Haiti has been the entrenchment of the military in power.
Lt. Gen. Namphy, who proclaimed himself Commander-in-Chief of the Armed
Forces in 1987, in open defiance of the dictates of the 1987 Constitution, and
in prejudice to the choice of the yet-to-be-elected president, proclaimed
himself President sine die, expelled the civilian President,
suppressed the Legislature, abrogated the 1987 Constitution, and, in effect,
established a dictatorship.
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
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.
the basis of its observations during its visit and, in particular, in view of
the total ignorance displayed by the Minister of Justice of the contents of the
report by a government-appointed Commission of Inquiry on the killings of
November 29, 1987, the Commission has concluded that such commissions of inquiry
provide merely window-dressing for international public opinion and have no
relevance or impact on the internal Haitian legal system.
such as the assassination of Messrs. Louis Eugène Athis, Yves Volel, Charlot
Jacquelin and Lafontant Joseph, have never been credibly investigated.
The massacre of peasants in the region of Jean Rabel and the death squad
killings connected with the elections of November 29, 1987 have led to no
arrests or prosecutions. The
Commission concludes that the Namphy dictatorship effectively decriminalized any
acts committed by the Armed Forces, the Police or the Macoute forces.
The criminal laws and procedures were effectively rendered inapplicable,
as was, the 1987 Constitution.
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 y the military to thwart the will of the
people is condemned y democratic nations and the respective instruments of
international law. The 1987
Constitution, the only expression of the sovereign will of the Haitian people
during the period under consideration, is the standard by which the legitimacy
of any Haitian Government must be measured, unless that Constitution has been
amended or superseded by a new Constitution duly ratified by the Haitian people.
between the Commission and representatives of various human rights organizations
revealed among the people a sense of hopelessness and despair in the face of the
dictatorship's readiness to use violence and armed force in the suppression of
peaceful acts aimed at changing the status quo.
Opponents to the regime are routinely threatened, harassed, detained,
savagely beaten and in some cases killed, as the cases cited above illustrate,
pursuant to the same terror methods and tactics employed during the Duvalier era
and in flagrant violation of Haiti's internal and international obligations in
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. Those persons and
groups which have attempted to extend the permissible frontiers of the exercise
of freedom of speech and the freedom to organize, have seen their space severely
limited by the coup d'etat as the military began to exert its control
over all aspects of the national life.
To this end the information set forth in this Report, which was mandated
by Resolution 502 of the OAS Permanent Council, leads the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights to call upon the OAS General Assembly to condemn the
forcible taking of power by the Haitian Armed Forces and the interruption of the
democratization process. In light
of the events analyzed in the present report, the commission considers it
necessary to make the following specific recommendations to the OAS General
Assembly as regards the improvement of the current human rights situation in
That it is indispensable that an electoral timetable be established, as
soon as possible, in order that free and fair elections be held and that a
democratically elected civilian government be installed by the time of the
convocation of the 1989 OAS General Assembly.
That the electoral process be made subject to international supervision,
in light of the traumatic experience of the November 29, 1987 elections, and the
resultant fear and distrust of the population to enter into another electoral
process controlled by the military.
That in order for the transition process to be credible the Government of
Haiti adopt the necessary measures to reestablish the Constitution which derived
from the popular will made manifest in the referendum of March 29, 1987, and
that the necessary modifications to be text of this Constitution be introduced
by means of a process which grants direct participation to the people, both in
the formulation of the amendments and in the approval and entry-into-force of
That the necessary measures be taken to guarantee the effective exercise
of the rights to freedom of expression and association, in order that the
legitimate aspirations of the people may be freely expressed and introduced into
the political process.
That as a supplement to the measures referred to in the preceding
paragraph, that the Government of Haiti guarantee the effective exercise of the
rights to life, integrity and personal security, urgently undertaking the
necessary measures to effectively control the violence which today is carried
out by irregular forces, in particular in the rural areas where these rights are
seriously under attack.
That the military Government of Haiti guarantee the human rights groups
and the institutions which carry out humanitarian work the indispensable
conditions which will allow them to continue to carry out their essential
That the Inter-American Commission report again to the 1989 General
Assembly on the evolution of the human rights situation in Haiti and of the
steps taken to implement the General Assembly recommendations.