ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Commission, in its press release, announced that it would receive information
from any one in Haiti who wished to present information to it, on Thursday
afternoon, January 22, 1987, from 3 to 6 p.m.
In fact much of the information received on that day and during the
Commission's visit was in the form of complaints, which have been processed
pursuant to the Commission's Regulations.
January 23, 1987, the President of the Commission, Mr. Luis Adolfo Siles
Salinas, and the members of the Commission, held a press conference at the Villa
Créole Hotel. This conference was
attended by many members of the Haitian and the international press, and at that
time, the President made the following statement concerning the preliminary
findings of the commission. This
statement was distributed to the press in English, French and in Creole.
The text is as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press:
As you know, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the
Organization of American States has been in Haiti, in plenary, since Monday,
January 19th. Our visit,
which had been originally planned last year, at the invitation of the Duvalier
government, had to be indefinitely postponed, as a result of the dramatic and,
indeed, revolutionary events which culminated on February 7, 1986.
The present Government, the National Council of Government (CNG), renewed
the invitation to the Commission, resulting in the present intense, four-day
program of activities.
this time we have had the opportunity of meeting with an extremely
representative cross-section of Haitian society, including His Excellency, the
President of the National Council of Government, Lieutenant General Henri Namphy
and Colonel Williams Regala, as well as the Minister of Foreign Relations,
Colonel Herard Abraham and the Minister of Justice, Mr. Jacques St. Fleur.
The Commission also held meetings with the members of the Constituent
Assembly and the Consultative Council.
Commission also met with representatives of those organizations dedicated to the
promotion and protection of human rights, with political leaders, with members
of the press, trade union, and leaders of the private sector, as well as
representatives of religious institutions.
addition to our meetings n the capital, Port-au-Prince, the Commission formed
working groups in order to visit, simultaneously the provincial centers, Cap
Haitien and Gonaïves. Another
group visited the principal detention centers in Port-au-Prince:
Fort Dimanche and the National Penitentiary.
There, after important dialogue with he Government, we were able to meet
with prisoners in total privacy and to inform ourselves as regards the
conditions and circumstances of detention of those prisoners.
us make it plain that after four short days in Haiti, the Commission does not
presume to offer a definitive judgement concerning the situation of the
observance of human rights in this country.
The Commission will meet again in Washington, D.C., during the coming
month of March and at that time will consider the information, documents and
testimony which it has received during its visit in
loco in Haiti, and it hopes to return to Haiti this year to follow up on
we members of the Commission felt it incumbent upon us, as our visit comes to a
close, to state publicly what have been the preliminary impressions derived from
the many and varied representations which have been made to us and from the
observations which we have personally made during the course of this visit.
of all, it is unquestionable that the events of February 7, 1986, represent an
historic moment in the history of Haiti. The
overthrow of the Duvalier dictatorship occurred on that day due to the united
action of the Haitian people. With
exemplary courage, employing peaceful methods and supported by the grassroots
organizations of the country, the people of Haiti were able, on that day, to put
an end to the Duvalier dynasty for-life. The
international community provided support as well.
The Commission is heartened to learn that its 1979 Report on the Human
Rights Situation in Haiti, and its subsequent Annual Reports, which have updated
the human rights situation each year, have helped to raise the consciousness of
the peoples of the Americas as to the human rights situation in Haiti; and at
the same time the Commission is disheartened to learn that persons have suffered
reprisals at the hands of the Duvalier government for their collaboration in the
human rights struggle. He
Commission has requested and received guarantees from the CNG that no reprisals
will be taken against persons collaborating with the Commission and that the
Commission is free to meet with whomever it wishes, wherever, and in private,
without fear of reprisals befalling those persons who testify before the
Commission has observed changes in the situation of human rights in Haiti as
compared with previous analyses of the situation, and these changes must be
attributed to the historic events of February 7.
The most striking development is the improvement in the right to freedom
of expression. Your presence here
today, as well as our presence here today, combined with the open and frank
self-analysis of the Haitian political, economic and social scene which we have
witnessed in all the media since our arrival, represent an outstanding
achievement of the Haitian people. The
process which has begun by the CNG, involving an electoral timetable leading to
the installation of democratic institutions by February 1988, is a process which
offers to the Haitian people, and to the international community in general,
hope for the future. The voiceless
have, at last, found their own voice.
the same time, the Commission has been made aware of a fundamental anxiety on
the part of many sectors of Haitian society as regards the solidity of the
process which is now in train. It
has been represented to us, time and time again, that there exists a real danger
that the process may be derailed due to certain fundamental weaknesses and
contradictions which have their origin in the history of the repression and the
dictatorship so well known to all.
Commission is concerned, specifically, with the extent to which fundamental
human rights, violated systematically in the past, are under attack in the
present and have not been redressed as regards the past.
We refer to the right of every one to be free from the danger of
arbitrary arrest and disappearance, the right to due process of law, the right
to a fair trial and the right to liberty and to be free from mistreatment while
in detention. Essential, as well,
for the spirit of justice is the "deduvalierization" of the new order.
From the information which has been supplied to us, the Commission has
learned that fundamental human rights continue to be violated, especially the
minimum rights granted to persons in detention. The mistreatment of prisoners
and of detainees, who cannot be termed "prisoners" because deprived of
the guarantees of a fair trial, is an abominable practice which must be quickly
and definitively eliminated.
compliance with its mandate, the Commission will continue to closely monitor the
human rights situation in Haiti, and hopes to count on the continued cooperation
of the Haitian Government and all sectors of the population in the realization
of this work.
Commission wishes to emphasize that it has received the complete collaboration
of both the Government and the people of Haiti in carrying out its important
task, and it wishes to thank both the Government and the Haitian people, as well
as the organs of the press, for their invaluable cooperation during this visit.
the 69th Session of the commission, the issue of Haiti was included
again on its agenda. The members of
the Commission were in agreement that the purpose of the January 1987 mission to
Haiti had been the human rights situation in Haiti and, thereby, to contribute
to the process of democratization. It
was decided to postpone the preparation of a special report until after the
November 1987 elections in light of the fact that the CNG appeared to be
facilitating the transition to democracy. The
Commission would, however, include a chapter on Haiti in its Annual Report.
members of the Commission urged that a note be sent to the Government of Haiti
indicating its concerns regarding the human rights situation in that country,
which it had observed during its on-site visit.
As a consequence, the following note was sent by the new President of the
Commission, Prof. Gilda M.C.M. Russomano, to the Haitian Foreign Minister:
March 27, 1987
In the name of the Inter/American Commission on Human Rights I wish to
thank your Excellency's Government for providing all the necessary facilities
and cooperation to the Commission during its recent mission to Haiti which took
place from January 20 to January 23, 1987.
In light of the fact that the Commission is presently in Washington,
conducting its 69th regular session, we wish to communicate the
following concerns at this time.
The Commission is in the process of evaluating the testimony and
documentation presented to it during its visit in light of the provisions of the
American Convention on Human Rights, to which Haiti is a State party.
In this context, the Commission wishes to express its concerns in two
areas: the situation of human
rights, especially as regards detainees, and reflections concerning the
As regards the situation of human rights, the Commission wishes to recall
to the attention of your Excellency's Government the obligations assumed as
regards fundamental rights, in particular as regards the right to life (Article
4), the right to personal integrity (Article 5), the right to personal liberty
(Article 7), the right to judicial guarantees (Art. 8), the right to honor and
dignity (Article 11) and the right to judicial protection (Article 25).
The Commission is concerned, specifically, with the extent to which
fundamental human rights, violated systematically in the past, are under attack
in the present and have not been redressed as regards the past.
We refer to the right of every one to be free from the danger of
arbitrary arrest and disappearance, the right to due process of law, the right
to a fair trial and the right to liberty and freedom from mistreatment while in
detention. The complaints received
by the commission as regards the "disappearances" of Charlot Jacquelin
and Vladimir David have regrettably been dismissed by the governmental
authorities who have failed to initiate serious inquiries as regards the fate of
these two individuals. The
Commission recommends that the Government of Haiti instruct the responsible
authorities to undertake a credible investigation in each of these two cases.
The Commission considers essential for the establishment of a climate of
justice the separation of powers of the military and police forces.
The Commission considers favorable the provisions of the new Constitution
in this regard. The complaints
received by the Commission concerning members of the armed forces in relation to
the population, in general, involve manifestations of a lack of respect for the
people, arrogance towards them, and abuse of authority which, in some cases, has
led to spontaneous acts of violence, especially during otherwise peaceful
political or human rights demonstrations.
From the information presented to the Commission we have learned that
fundamental human rights continue to be violated, especially the minimum rights
granted to persons in detention. The
mistreatment of prisoners and detainees is an abominable practice which must be
quickly and definitely eliminated. The
testimony received from detainees in Fort Dimanche and the National Penitentiary
confirms that detention commences with a beating, sometimes to the point of
requiring medical attention, that detainees do not receive such medical
attention, that, in general, they receive food once a day or not at all, most
detainees suffer severe weight loss, they receive no visits, have no access to
counsel, are not brought before a judge, and except on very rare occasions, they
do not leave their cells. The case
of Jean Gibson Narcisse, whom the commission interviewed in fort Dimanche, is of
particular concern to the Commission and we wish to receive a full report as to
the medical and legal attention he has received.
The Commission recommends further that the Government maintain a central
registry of the names of detainees and the places where they are detained.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is especially concerned
about the case of Mr. Nicolas Estiverne who was expelled from Haiti on January
13, 1987. The Commission has
requested the Haitian Government to provide it with the reasons for which Mr.
Estiverne is not permitted to return to Haiti.
As regards the process of democratization currently in process in Haiti,
the Commission derives its responsibility in this area from the guarantee of
political rights in the American Convention (Article 23)
The Commission wishes to note its satisfaction as regards the process of
transition to a democratic government which is the mandate of the national
Council of Government since its assumption of power on February 7, 1986.
The Commission wishes to congratulate the Haitian people and, in
particular, the constituent Assembly for having fulfilled its mandate in
approving a draft Constitution. The
Commission trusts that the referendum scheduled for March 29, 1987 will give the
Haitian people an opportunity to express its political will as regards this
The Commission will continue to closely monitor the democratization
process in Haiti and seeks the consent of your Excellency's government in order
to send Ms. Christina Cerna, a member of the Commission's Secretariat to Haiti
in May in order to update the Commission at its next meeting, scheduled to be
held in Washington, D.C., in June.
The Commission wishes to note that it looks forward to continued
cooperation from the Government of Haiti as regards the promotion and protection
of human rights and has confidence that a transition to democratic rule will be
achieved by means of free elections this November.
Please, accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest
(s) Gilda Russomano
of Foreign Affairs
taken a decision at the 69th Session not to prepare a Special Report
on the human rights situation in Haiti in light of the progress being made
towards democratization, the Commission, nonetheless, intended to continue to
monitor developments closely. Mr.
Siles in his January 23, 1987 press conference in Haiti, and Ms. Russomano in
her march 27th letter to the Foreign Minister, both indicated that
the Commission would send a member of its Secretariat to Haiti in order to
update the Commission on the ensuing developments.
Cerna visited Haiti for this purpose during June 1-3, 1987.
The two major events which had occurred in Haiti since the commission's
visit were the referendum on the new Haitian Constitution of March 29, 1987, and
the provision in the Constitution for the creation of a Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP). Pursuant to the new
Constitution, the Provisional Electoral Council, and not the CNG, would have the
responsibility for organizing the upcoming elections.
its 70th Session (June 22-July 1, 1987) the Commission reviewed the
events of the preceding months and the deteriorating situation of human rights.
The CNG and the CEP were locked in a constitutional conflict regarding
control of the upcoming elections and, in June, the CATH labor federation called
for a general strike demanding the ouster of the CNG.
The Commission decided once again to express its concern regarding these
developments to the Government of Haiti. By
means of a cable dated July 1, 1987 to the Haitian Foreign Minister, Prof. Gilda
Russomano, the President of the Commission, expressed the following:
IN THE NAME OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS I HAVE THE
HONOR TO ADDRESS YOUR EXCELLENCY IN REFERENCE TO A NUMBER OF SERIOUS CONCERNS
REGARDING THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION AND THE PROCESS OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN HAITI
SINCE THE COMMISSION'S ON-SITE VISIT DURING JANUARY 1987.
IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT HAS ASSUMED CERTAIN
INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS IN THE AREA OF HUMAN RIGHTS BY RATIFYING THE AMERICAN
CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, THE COMMISSION CONTINUES TO BE PARTICULARLY
CONCERNED ABOUT THE RESPECT, IN HAITI, OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES OF THE AMERICAN
CONVENTION: RIGHT TO THE INTEGRITY
OF THE PERSON (ARTICLE 5), RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY (ARTICLE 7), JUDICIAL
GUARANTEES (ARTICLE 8), PROTECTION OF PERSONAL HONOR AND DIGNITY (ARTICLE 11),
RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE (ARTICLE 15), FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION (ARTICLE 16) AND
POLITICAL RIGHTS (ARTICLE 23).
SPECIFICALLY, THE COMMISSION IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE ARREST AND BRUTAL
MISTREATMENT OF THE TWO MEMBERS OF THE COMITE OUVRIER HAITIEN AND THE SIX
MEMBERS OF THE CENTRALE AUTONOME DES TRAVAILLEURS HAITIENS (CATH) AND THE
DISSOLUTION OF THESE LABOR ORGANIZATIONS.
THE COMMISSION WAS PLEASED TO OBSERVE DURING ITS JANUARY VISIT THAT LABOR
ORGANIZATIONS, WHICH HAD NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO FUNCTION DURING THE PREVIOUS
REGIME, WERE PERMITTED TO ORGANIZE AND OPERATE.
IT IS EXTREMELY CONCERNED ABOUT THE RECENT REPORTS THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF
HAITI HAS DISSOLVED THESE TWO LABOR ORGANIZATIONS, ARRESTED AND BRUTALLY
MISTREATED MEMBERS OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS AND NOT ALLOWED THEM ACCESS TO A
LAWYER BEFORE THEY WERE BROUGHT BEFORE A JUDGE, WHICH DID NOT OCCUR UNTIL THE
EIGHT DAY AFTER THEIR ARREST.
AS REGARDS THE PROCESS OF DEMOCRATIZATION, THE PROGRESS OF WHICH THIS
SAME COMMISSION APPLAUDED IN ITS LETTER TO YOUR EXCELLENCY DATED MARCH 27, 1987,
THE COMMISSION WISHES TO REMIND THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT OF ITS OBLIGATION
PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 23 OF THE AMERICAN CONVENTION.
THE RECENT INITIATIVE OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNING COUNCIL TO PUBLISH AN
ELECTORAL LAW ON JUNE 22, 1987 WHICH IS NOT THE ELECTORAL LAW PREPARED BY THE
PROVISIONAL ELECTORAL COUNCIL HAS ONCE AGAIN THREATENED TO DERAIL THE PROCESS OF
DEMOCRATIZATION LEADING TO A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT FEBRUARY 7, 1988.
TO PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY OF THE DEMOCRATIZATION PROCESS, THE COMMISSION
CALLS UPON THE GOVERNMENT OF HAITI TO RECOGNIZE THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE
ELECTORAL COUNCIL, SPECIFICALLY "CHARGED WITH THE DRAFTING AND
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ELECTORAL LAW". BY THE HAITIAN CONSTITUTION.
FAILURE TO DO SO CAN ONLY JEOPARDIZE THIS PROCESS.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES THIS OCCASION TO
RENEW ITS HOPE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF HAITI AS REGARDS ITS CONTINUED COOPERATION
IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND IS CONFIDENT THAT THE
EVOLUTION OF THE COUNTRY TOWARDS A DEMOCRATIC FORM OF GOVERNMENT WILL BE
ACCOMPLISHED BY MEANS OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS NEXT NOVEMBER.
I TAKE THIS OCCASION TO RENEW, EXCELLENCY, THE EXPRESSION OF MY HIGHEST
GILDA M.C.M. DE RUSSOMANO
the Commission's 71st Session (14 September - 24 September 1987) the
Commission decided to express its satisfaction to the Government of Haiti
regarding the resolution of the constitutional crisis, yet indicated its concern
about the continuing human rights violations. In
a letter dated September 24, 1987, to the Haitian Foreign Minister, the
Commission stated the following:
September 24, 1987
In the name of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and on the
occasion of the Commission's 71st period of sessions, I have the
honor to address Your Excellency in order to communicate the concerns of the
Commission as regards recent events in Haiti as they affect the human rights
situation and the process of democratization.
As in my communication of July 1, 1987 to Your Excellency following the
Commission's 70th period of sessions, the Commission wishes to recall
to the Government of Haiti the obligations assumed as a State party to the
American Convention on Human Rights, particularly as concerns the right to life
(Article 4), the right to the integrity of the person (Article 5), the right to
personal liberty (Article 7), the right to due process (Article 8), the right to
associate freely (Article 16) and the right to participate in government
The Commission is particularly concerned about recent attacks against the
Catholic Church, in particular the assault on August 23 by a group of 40 to 50
unidentified men, armed with automatic weapons, handguns, machetes and stones
against the Revs. Antoine Adrien, William Smarth, Jean-Marie Vincent,
Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Rev. Joseph Berg.
These Catholic priests have been among Haiti's most visible and
articulate human rights defenders, and the Commission calls upon the Haitian
Government to protect these priests and the human rights bodies in Haiti from
intimidation and attacks which impede their functioning freely.
As concerns the democratization process, the Commission notes that the
Haitian Government has now recognized the constitutionally established
independence and authority of the Provisional Electoral Council as regards the
organization and carrying out of the upcoming elections.
This is a very positive sign and it is the first step to guaranteeing
that the elections take place.
Given the generalized climate of violence in Haiti at the present, it
will not be easy for the Haitian people to participate in free and fair
elections. Consequently, the
Commission calls upon the National Governing Council to restrain its security
forces and to provide a climate of order for the elections to take place with
the full participation of the Haitian people in this historic process.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights takes this occasion to
renew to the Government of Haiti its hopes for continued cooperation in the
promotion and protection of human rights in this hemisphere.
The Commission trusts that the Haitian people will celebrate free and
fair elections in November which will result in a democratic government assuming
power on February 7, 1988.
Please, accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest
David J. Padilla
Assistant Executive Secretary
The Commission reiterated its concern regarding the possibility of
elections taking place in light of the generalized climate of violence in its
1986-1987 Annual Report. In
relevant part, this Report to the OAS General Assembly stated:
The concern expressed by the President of the Commission during the
Commission's on site visit regarding the democratization process has been
subsequently confirmed by recent events. At
that time, the President stated that he feared that the democratization process
might be derailed due to fundamental weaknesses and contradictions which had
their origin in the history of the repression and the dictatorship.
The task which is before the Haitian people and the Provisional Electoral
Council is how to bring the electoral process back on track.
Given the generalized climate of violence in Haiti since August 1987, it
will not be easy to re-establish a climate of normality which will permit the
holding of elections. For that
reason, and recognizing that power is in the hands of the National Council of
Government, the Commission calls on the C.N.G. to take all the necessary
measures in order to facilitate the Provisional Electoral Council's task of
organizing and carrying out the elections so that the Haitian people can elect a
democratic government which will be ready to assume power on February 7, 1988.
of the Democratization Process
November 29, 1987, the massacre of voters on election-day and the CNG's decision
to disband the Provisional Electoral Council put an end to the democratization
process which, ostensibly, had begun on February 7, 1986, with the departure of
Jean-Claude Duvalier from power and from Haiti.
50. The OAS
Permanent Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday, December 4, 1987,
to consider the recent events in Haiti. The
meeting was postponed until Monday, December 7, 1987, in light of the Haitian
Government's offer to send Col. Herard Abraham, the Haitian Foreign Minister, to
attend the Washington meeting.
the few days prior to the December 7, 1987 Permanent Council meeting, the OAS
and the Commission received hundreds of telegrams calling upon the
inter-American system "to rescue the Haitian people" and to intervene
in order to facilitate the holding of new elections in Haiti under OAS auspices.
52. The OAS
Permanent Council met on December 7, 1987.
Col. Abraham's speech to the assembled OAS Ambassadors placed the
responsibility for the failure of the elections on the CEP.
The Permanent Council approved a resolution which emphasized the
Charter-based principle of non-intervention and called upon the CNG to adopt all
the necessary measures to assure that free elections be held.
recovered control of the electoral process as a consequence of the dissolution
of the CEP, the military Government of Haiti designated the new members of the
Electoral Council and issued its own electoral law, the provisions of which did
not protect the secrecy of the ballot and facilitated governmental monitoring of
each elector's vote.
The elections of January 17, 1988
January 17, 1988 new elections were held in Haiti, under the control of the CNG,
and in contravention of various provisions of the Haitian Constitution.
Mr. Leslie Manigat was proclaimed by the CNG to have "won"
these elections, in spite of what was estimated to be a 90% abstention on the
part of the Haitian electorate.
the Commission's 72nd Session it considered the recent events in
Haiti and took the decision to prepare a report on the human rights situation in
that country. In its press release,
dated March 25, 1988, the Commission stated that:
The Commission has decided to prepare a report on the human rights
situation in Haiti, and it trusts that the Government will invite it to carry
out an on-site observation of the current status of human rights in Haiti.
of the Government of Leslie Manigat to the Commission
56. By note
dated April 26, 1988, Mr. Gerard Latortue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
International Cooperation and Worship of the Haitian Government invited the
Commission to visit Haiti at a mutually convenient date to be set during the
month of July 1988.
Commission held an extraordinary meeting, its 73rd Session, in
Washington, D.C., beginning May 9, 1988. At
that time the members of the Subcommission who were to travel to Haiti - Ms.
Elsa D. Kelly, Mr. Oliver H. Jackman and Mr. Patrick L. Robinson - agreed on the
dates July 4-6, 1988 as the dates for the mission.
These dates were suggested to the Haitian Government in a note signed by
Mr. Marco Tulio Bruni Celli, the President of the Commission, dated May 10,
58. On June
7, 1988, Mr. Gerard Latortue, at the OAS Permanent Council confirmed the dates
for the Commission's visit with the Commission's Executive Secretary, Mr.
Edmundo Vargas Carreño. In
addition, he conveyed the Government's enthusiasm for the Commission's visit and
emphasized the open-door policy of the Manigat Government.
The Coup d'Etat of June 20, 1988
Cerna was to travel on June 20, 1988 to Haiti to make the necessary arrangements
for the Commission's visit. During
the night of June 19-20 the Haitian military seized power and ousted President
Manigat. In light of the fact that
the Government, which had invited the Commission to carry out its on-site, was
no longer in power, the Commission cancelled its visit.
The Permanent Council met on June 29, 1988 to consider the recent events
which had occurred in Haiti (supra).
The Attack on the St. Jean Bosco Church
September 11, 1988 gunmen burst into St. Jean Bosco Church and attacked the
parishioners. Thirteen people were
killed and approximately eighty were injured.
The Commission was meeting in Washington, D.C., at the time and issued
the following press communiqué:
During the recent on-site visit to Haiti of the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights the Commission requested of the military government and received
assurances that the pertinent guarantees be granted, and no reprisals be taken,
against those persons or groups who provide the Commission with information,
pursuant to Article 59(a) of the Commission's Regulations.
The Commission is horrified to learn of the attack on September 11, 1988
by men armed with guns and machetes against the parishioners in the Church of
St. Jean Bosco where Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was giving Sunday morning mass.
Father Aristide, an outspoken opponent of the military regime, informed
the Commission during its visit, that he had been the subject of three previous
attempts on his life and was constantly receiving death threats.
The information presented to the Commission indicates that the police
stood by as the attacks resulted in the killing of five parishioners, the injury
of 70 others, and the complete destruction by fire of St. Jean Bosco Church.
In light of the fact that there is a military compound very near to the
Church the Commission can only conclude that this attack was carried out with,
at a minimum, the acquiescence of the government, and in flagrant violation of
Haiti's international obligations in human rights and the most elemental norms
Washington, D.C., September 12, 1988
September 16, 1988 the military government protested the Commission's communiqué,
in particular, "the terms in the Communiqué in which the Commission
appears to want to place the responsibility for these incidents on the Haitian
The Ouster of Lt. Gen. Namphy
September 17, 1988 a coup led by non-commissioned officers ousted Lt. Gen.
Namphy and replaced him with Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril.
The lower ranking officers were reportedly outraged at the attack on the
parishioners in St. Jean Bosco Church. On
September 22, 1988 the Commission received the following note from the
Government of Haiti:
The Permanent Mission of the Government of Haiti to the Organization of
American States presents its compliments to the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights and has the honor to bring to its attention that:
In light of the massacre recently perpetrated against the St. Jean Bosco
Church, the destruction by fire of churches, the attacks on human rights and
fundamental freedoms, in particular on freedom of religion, freedom of
expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association;
Determined to save the nation from the anarchy and chaos which endanger
the unity of the Haitian family;
The Armed Forces of Haiti have promoted Lt. Gen. PROSPER AVRIL to the
Highest Office of the State.
In his message to the Nation, the Chief of State gave assurances that his
Government will respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Haitian
people at all times and without exception.
Aware of the political crisis which is affecting the country, he commits himself to continuing the democratization process, without which the quest for peace, justice and progress would be doomed to fail.
Washington, D.C., September 22, 1988
63. The Commission trusts that this commitment will be realized in the interest of the Haitian people who have for so long looked to the Army to help them in vindicating and safeguarding their rights and who, until now, have been, many times, betrayed in that confidence.