Year after year the IACHR has been submitting reports to the OAS General Assembly on the state of human rights in El Salvador and has been closely monitoring the most significant events affecting human rights in that Republic, especially with effect from 1978 when, as a result of an on-site observation that year, it prepared a special report on the Situation on Human Rights in El Salvador.


          During the period covered by this report, the Commission has noted a significant change in the relations of the Government of El Salvador with it. Communications with the IACHR that were virtually suspended by the Salvadoran authorities have been reestablished, and replies have begun to be received to requests for information made by the Executive Secretariat of the Commission concerning reports alleging violations of human rights by the Armed and Security Forces of El Salvador. The Government of El Salvador has also begun to cooperate with the Commission in investigating the cases submitted to it and has even granted its consent for a Special Commission of the IACHR to visit the country in order to investigate on the spot the status of 33 cases in which the requested information had not been supplied; in addition, the Government authorized the Special Commission to investigate on the spot Case 9621 relating to the status of 521 political male and female prisoners who are at present incarcerated in the La Esperanza prison in the Canton of San Luis de Mariona (males) and in the Center for the Rehabilitation of Women in Ilopango, alleged victims of violations to their right to freedom and personal integrity and to the judicial guarantees of due process and prompt administration of justice.


          There is a consensus—and this has been repeatedly stated by the IACHR in its earlier reports—that the principal problem confronting El Salvador is the internal, fratricidal war that has already caused so many deaths, so much destruction, and multiple violations of the human rights of its population, and which has resulted in the prolongation year after year of a state of emergency that entail the suspension of constitutional rights. In this context the Commission deems it advisable to mention first the efforts that have been made and continue to be made to return the country to peace and social harmony through discussions between the forces involved in the conflict. The first round of these conversations took place on October 15, 1984 in the city of La Palma, and the second round of conversations was held on November 30 of the same year in Ayaguayo; the third was in preparation, as on earlier occasions, with the mediation of the Catholic Church through Monsignor Arturo Rivera y Damas, the Archbishop of San Salvador. As on earlier occasions, and in spite of the difficulties which have emerged, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights endorses the hopes expressed by the Salvadoran people who yearn for peace, justice, and the full observance of human rights, and it hopes that the efforts to ensure it will not be discontinued or frustrated.


          Therefore the state of human rights is deeply affected by the state of war in El Salvador. However, the Commission notes that substantial progress has been made in the observation of human rights during the period covered by this report. There has been a considerable reduction in the number of forced disappearances of persons and of the activities of death squads, as well as a decrease in the indiscriminate bombardments of civilian population uninvolved in the conflict, which has brought with it a reduction in the number of deaths among the civilian population. This has made it possible for a large number of displaced persons to return to El Salvador.


          In addition, the Commission has found that San Salvador, the capital city is almost completely peaceful and now appears to be almost free of acts of violence such as the appearance on the streets of mutilated bodies, as noted by the Commission in earlier reports.


          The Commission has also been informed by the Government of the compulsory report the Security Forces must send at the time they arrest a person to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Legal Protection Agency of the Archbishopric, and the Government Commission on Human Rights. This measure parallels the increased supervision the humanitarian and human rights institution can now exercise over the behavior of security agencies and the treatment of prisoners held incommunicado under Decree Law 50, who can now be regularly visited from the eighth day of their detention onwards in order to verify that they are still alive, report to their family members on their arrest, ascertain whether they have been mistreated or tortured and directly report to the authorities on such events.


          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights deems it fitting to acknowledge and highlight the enormous importance of the role in the defense and protection of human rights and the humanization of the conflict and respect for international norms of humanitarian law that has been, and is being played, by the Catholic Church of El Salvador and the International Committee of the Red Cross.


          Despite the changes during the period covered by this report, the Commission must also refer to other facts that seriously affect the observation of human rights. They are:


          With respect to the right to life, the figures supplied to the Commission by reliable sources show that, despite what is stated above, the result of violence and of the war in a single period of six months between January and June 1986 were as follows:


          Deaths in the civilian population attributed to the Armed Forces      36

          Deaths in the civilian population during military operations                2

          Deaths in the civilian population caused by bombardments              3

          Deaths in the civilian population caused by mines                         36

          Arrested and subsequently missing                                            52

          Deaths caused by death squads                                               24


          With respect to what are called indiscriminate bombardments of the non-combatant civil population, about 4,000 government troops, supported by the Air Force, launched a special counterinsurgency operation known as “Operation Fénix” in February 1986. It was carried out in the immediate neighborhood of the Guazapo Volcano, about 40 kilometers to the north of San Salvador, in an area that is very sensitive because of its proximity to the capital city and is considered to be a redoubt of the guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí for National Liberation Front (FMLN). Because of it, the Commission received numerous communications denouncing further bombardments and indiscriminate military attacks against the civilian population.


          In this regard, the Catholic Church issued a public statement through Father Jesús Delgado who, speaking on behalf of the Archbishop of San Salvador, Monsignor Arturo Rivera y Damas, stated in his sermon on Sunday February 23, in the Cathedral, that the Church had evidence, in the case of “Operation Fénix”, that the insurgents had endeavored to return the displaced farmers to their farms those who had been forced to emigrate by government forces because they were suspected of cooperating with the guerrillas, despite the announcement that a military operation would be carried out and that their families had informed the priest who visited them that they had received those orders from the FMLN and had been pressured to resist the army offensive. In the same sermon, which was widely commented on in the Salvadoran press, the representative of the Archbishop stated that the Army was complying with the appeals of the Church to respect the civil rights of the displaced families and had permitted officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit and assist them.


          With respect to military operations in combat areas, which entail bombardments by the Armed Forces against the infrastructure of the civilian population living in a disrupted area or controlled by guerrillas whom it supports or aids, the Commission has received contradictory versions; but in the opinion of the Commission, the fact that the civilian population is suffering the effects of the war, and worse still, that it expects to be used or manipulated by either of the contending groups is extremely delicate and to be condemned.


          The Commission cannot fail to refer as well to the serious and painful problem of horrible deaths and amputations caused by the explosion of mines sown both by the Army and by the guerrillas in the fields and on the roads in the areas in dispute, with complete disregard for the lives and personal safety of the civilian population living in those areas. As a result of this extremely irrational strategy, hundreds of Salvadoran citizens have been killed and thousands have been mutilated for life. The victims include soldiers and guerrillas and even innocent children of the rural population of El Salvador. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is of the opinion that the humanization of the conflict in this area would be a major advance.


          With respect to the right to personal freedom, the right to personal integrity and the judicial guarantees of due process and of prompt administration of justice, which were the subject of special consideration during the on-site observation carried out by the Special Commission of the IACHR last August, the Commission cannot at present make any useful judgment on the findings. That will be done when its investigations are concluded. It is only fair to emphasize that they are being carried out with the full cooperation of the political, military, and security authorities of El Salvador.


          Nevertheless, with respect to the way in which Decree Law 50 is affecting some of these rights, which has been dealt with in various studies and analysis of different segments of Salvadoran society, the Commission would like to offer some judgments on that legislative measure which is having a negative impact.


          In the view of the Commission, the period for investigation by public security institutions, which has been increased to 15 days, pursuant to Article 12, paragraph 2, is a harmful abuse of the human rights of the persons held for trial, especially if account is taken of the fact that the provisional detention may be based solely on the evidence presented by the public security bodies and that the judge is not required to check that evidence until 15 days after provisional detention has been ordered.


          Furthermore, pursuant to Article 16 of the above-mentioned Decree Law 50, the accused may appoint a lawyer only when he receives notification of the provisional arrest order which means in practice that he will not have any legal counsel during the period of administrative arrest and of the faster period for investigations set by the military examining magistrate, which periods could be extended up to 90 days. This lack of legal advice during the first part of the trial, in which decisive evidence may be produced against the person accused, could seriously affect the right to defense.


          Accordingly, the Commission deems it advisable for the Government of El Salvador to revise the text of the above-mentioned Decree 50 to make it consistent with the guarantees inherent in due process, which El Salvador is internationally required to respect.


          With respect to the situation of human rights institutions during the period covered by this report and even since 1984, the Commission has received information that neither the Legal Aid Office nor the new Office of Legal Protection of the Archbishop of San Salvador—which earlier had been subject to harassment—have been attacked or prosecuted during the period.


          However, the Commission has also been informed that in early June, human rights activists of the El Salvador human rights commission and the Mothers organizations “Marianella García Villas” and “Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero” began to be arrested and were accused of being influenced or manipulated by the Democratic Revolutionary Front (FDR) of issuing misinformation about matters relating to human rights, and of protecting members of the guerrilla forces. During the early weeks of May 1986, the offices of those groups were subject to supervision and attacks. The Armed Forces organized military search operations in the area, when on May 8 María Teresa Tula de Canales, an activist of the “Monsignor Oscar Romero” Mothers Committee, was arrested. It is alleged that when interrogated she had been forced to disclose the names of other members of her group. After two days in captivity she was released in a park in San Salvador. Twelve days later she was again arrested by individuals in civilian clothes and kept incommunicado in the main barracks of the Treasury Police, transferred to the Ilopango prison and again released at the end of September.


          During the second half of May, nine activists, officials and employees of the Human Rights Commission, the Mothers Committee and of another group of family members were arrested. Some are still detained and at the disposal of the military courts and others have been released.


          Two of the persons who were arrested, well-known members of the Human Rights Commission, announced their resignation from this human rights group from the premises of the Treasury Police and publicly accused their colleagues of using their organization as a cover for the insurgent FMLN. Similarly, Janeth Alfaro accused other human rights groups of the Catholic and Protestant Churches. Subsequently, other prisoners stated that they had been forced to back up the statements of Janeth Alfaro and her sister.


          Although the findings of the on-site observation carried out by the Special Commission of the IACHR in El Salvador do not appear in this report, since they are part of the investigation under way on cases that are still being processed. It should be emphasized that that observation was possible because of the positive change of attitude on the part of the Government of El Salvador concerning the Commission, since in the past that Government had failed to cooperate with the Commission and to provide it with information on cases brought to its attention.


          The activities of the Special Commission during its visit to El Salvador are dealt with in the second chapter of this report. In any event, the Commission would like to state that, as a result of the visit, the Government of El Salvador has undertaken to investigate and provide information on all the files awaiting a reply and have given assurances that it will continue to cooperate with the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.


          To sum up, during the period covered by this report, the Commission has found that significant progress has been made in El Salvador in the observance of human rights, although there are undoubtedly important restrictions and limitations on the full exercise of those rights.


          The right to life continues to be that most affected primarily, although not exclusively, because of the armed conflict that has been going on in El Salvador for years.


          In that regard, the Commission must again express its hope that the discussions between the Government and the insurgent groups will lead to a solution that will not involve the use of force. Nevertheless, the Commission notes that the depth of the problems to be solved and the sharp antagonisms that still affect the Salvadoran society will demand long and continuing efforts if peace is to be achieved.




          In the last years, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has given special attention to the situation of human rights in Guatemala given the serious violations which have occurred and the generalized violence in the country. As a result, the Commission has processed hundreds of complaints in which serious violations of human rights have been alleged, particularly in reference to the right to life, and has published three special reports on the situation of human rights in Guatemala: the first one (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.53 doc.21, rev.2), approved on October 13, 1981, refers to the situation of human rights in that country up to that date; the second (OEA/Ser.L/II.61, doc.47), approved on October 5, 1983, is dedicated to the situation of those rights starting on March 23, 1982, date of the “coup d'etat” from which General Efraín Ríos Montt emerged as President, to August 8, 1983, date on which he was overthrown by General Oscar Humberto Mejía Víctores; and the third (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.66 doc.16), approved on April 9, 1986, refers to the period of General Mejía Víctores Government up to January 16, 1986, date on which his administration ended.


          On final approval of the third special report, the Commission reiterated to the new Government of Guatemala the recommendations made in its previous reports on the need to investigate and sanction, with full force of the law, those responsible for illegal executions, forced disappearances of individuals, arbitrary arrests, tortures and other offenses against human rights.


          In the present section about Guatemala, the Commission will refer to the democratically elected Government headed since January 14, 1986 by Lic. Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo.


          The immediate precedents set on reestablishing democracy in Guatemala were: the convocation of the electoral process in which the National Constituent Assembly was elected on July 1, and established on August 1, 1984; the approval, by that Assembly, of the new Constitution of Guatemala on May 31, 1985; the approval of the new Electoral Law on June 3 of the same year; the convocation of presidential, legislative and municipal elections on the following day; and the holding of general elections, which first and second rounds are set for November 3 and December 3, 1985; respectively.


          In the final stage of the elections held, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal determined that Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, the candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, was the winner with a total of 1,133,517 votes, equivalent to 68.37 per cent of the participating voters.


          In accordance with the preestablished political chronogram, on January 14 of this year the new President assumed his functions, the National Constituent Assembly ceased to exist, the new Congress was established, the 330 elected Mayors throughout the country took office and the new Constitution came into force.


          On assuming his new functions, President Vinicio Cerezo, whose mandate will last 5 years, from 1986 to 1991, stated that his efforts would be directed towards strengthening peace in Central America, reestablishing respect for human rights and rebuilding the country's ailing economy. He also stated he needed time to make specific decisions about the various problems the national was faced with; that once the democratic process was consolidated he would try to start talks with the Guatemalan guerrillas; that the civil defense force would be converted from a paramilitary organization into a civil force in which participation would be voluntary; that his Government would reduce surveillance in small towns; that those who wished to abandon the “Development Poles” could do so freely; that he expected the voluntary return of those Guatemalans living in Mexico, to whom he offered protection and security; and that he did not foresee massive trials of the military or former officials but that he would not only not oppose the Supreme Court, but support it, should it decide to investigate the participation of military officers in abuses of human rights; that he considered it counterproductive to purge the military of men who had governed Guatemala during the last three decades because all sectors had been involved in the struggle and if a military officer were to be investigated then the military would require that the guerilla also be prosecuted, so it was his Government's opinion that it was better to leave all that behind, without dismissing the possibility of adopting, in the future, severe sanctions against those involved in violent acts.


          On January 13, just a day before the military Government handed over the reins of power to President Cerezo, sixteen decrees were issued. Among them were decrees creating the National Security Council and the Secretariat for National Intelligence and Security and enacting a new amnesty law for all those responsible or accused of having committed political and related crimes between March 23, 1982 and January 14, 1985. These decrees were published in the official gazette precisely on January 14.


          The new amnesty decree, geared to create a climate of social peace and to avoid difficulties to the new administration's actions, according to those who sponsor it, also introduces a new juridical principle which, in the opinion of the Commission, could hinder and render inefficient the actions taken by the judicial entity in charge of investigating and, if such is the case, sanctioning, the authors of subversive and anti-subversive terrorist acts which took place in Guatemala during recent years, and the most serious legacy of which is the large number of persons abducted, illegally detained, tortured, assassinated and disappeared.


          Three weeks after taking office, President Vinicio Cerezo ordered the dissolution of the secret police, called Departamento de Investigaciones Técnicas (DIT), the Department of Technical Investigations comprised of approximately 640 officers. This entity had been originally established during Jorge Ubico's mandate (1931-1944) under the name of Judicial Police. The agents, members of this security force, who belonged to Guatemala's army, were detained in army barracks in order to be investigated and interrogated on charges of having taken part in numerous abductions and assassinations and of having committed other crimes.


          Aside from reorganizing the security forces and suspending the activities of the secret police (DIT), the Congress on February 20 approved a set of modifications presented by the Executive branch, in draft form, to the law regulating the operation of the Inter-institutional Coordinating Offices which have become the “Departmental Councils of Development”. As a result, the military commanding officers no longer control the Interinstitutional Coordinating Offices in the counties of Guatemala. These Councils are now presided over by the county governors, and their membership includes the mayors, the Commander or Chief of the corresponding military zone and three representatives of the private sector. All of them come under the authority of the President who presides over the National Council on Development.


          The so-called Development Poles, which have been the subject of severe criticism by the Commission in its previous reports, have also been placed under civilian administration and are presently under the responsibility of the Minister of Urban and Rural Development.


          It is worth mentioning, among other positive aspects, the decision taken by the new Government to withdraw the reservation made, on ratifying the American Convention, to Article 4,4 which establishes that: “In no case shall capital punishment be inflicted for political offenses or related common crimes.” A previous government, based on the fact that the previous Guatemalan Constitution in Article 54 only excluded capital punishment for political crimes but not for related political crimes, had formulated that reservation to the Convention. Considering that such provision is not included in the text of the new Constitution, in force since January 14 of this year, the Government presided over by Mr. Cerezo proceeded to withdraw the said reservation.


          Also worthy of mention is the creation of the Central Registry for the Control of Detainees, which can be consulted by anybody seeking information about the detention of any individual; the promotion of activities by political, labor union and cooperative organizations; the reorganization of the judiciary in order to restore its independence and autonomy; and the promotion and teaching of human rights throughout the country.


          Furthermore, the Commission wishes to express its deep satisfaction for the fact that, in compliance with the mandate contained in the new Guatemala Constitution the Congress has established the Commission on Human Rights, comprised of one member of each of the political parties represented in it, and that a bill to regulate the operation of that Commission, as well as to set out the functions of an Attorney General for Human Rights, has been prepared. Undoubtedly, the latter constitutes the step prior to the designation of that magistrate.


          Although Cerezo's Administration has been harshly criticized and besieged for not having tried those high military officials to whom violations of human rights were attributed, and for not investigating in-depth each and every one of the cases of disappeared persons, there is no doubt that during the first seven months of its administration a noticeable change has occurred in the human rights situation in Guatemala.


          Aside from the above-mentioned measures initially taken by the Government, when President Cerezo took office the number of political assassinations, abductions, disappeared, raids and searches of private dwellings, population flights, bombings and attacks on Indian and peasant populations dramatically decreased, as well as the activities of the death squads. This is a major change in Guatemala, especially taking into account the violence that has plagued the country for so many years and the natural political limitations inherent in a country where representative democracy has just been established and where the armed forces still have a great degree of actual power.


          As to Guatemala's problem of the disappeared which came about before the present Government assumed power, the Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM – Mutual Assistance Group), one of the most critical of President Cerezo, demanded an investigation as to the fate of the disappeared, asking to be informed about “what happened to our beloved ones” and requesting the establishment of the Investigative Committee which should have started to function before last June 30, according to Governmental promises. President Cerezo, for his part, makes the GAM responsible for having frustrated this plan and for rendering him powerless due to the Group's presentation of 1,267 habeas corpus petitions, both individual and collective, to the Courts on May 30—one month before the previously mentioned date. Thus, President Cerezo argues, the Judiciary is competent to conduct the investigation while the Executive has no jurisdiction to intervene until the Supreme Court completes its investigation.


          As far as the disappeared are concerned, cases which in the past were one of the Commission's main concerns as regards Guatemala, the Commission notes that even though its numbers have been obviously reduced during the months since President Cerezo has been in office, this horrendous practice has not entirely been stopped. Thus, in April of 1986, peasants Bartolo Joaquín Coché, Barnabé Pop Sinaí, Miguel Ulario, Cándido Ulario Morales, Cándido, Macario Coché Díaz, Salvador Coché Petzeya and Pablo Coché Quicarín, according to reports received by the Commission, were abducted in the Rio Bravo municipal area, Suchitepequez Department, by men armed with machine guns who traveled in two pick-ups, one blue and one white. According to the complaint, the peasants were placed on top of the cars and taken to an unknown place while the arms were aimed at them. This took place at the San Basilio farm in Río Bravo. On April 11, 1986, the armed men abducted Joaquñin Coché and on the 12th they abducted the rest. On April 15, Cándido Ulario Martínez, Macario Coché Díaz, Salvador Coché Petzey, Bernabé Sinay and Pablo Coché Quicarín turned up alive. Although the conditions under which they were freed have been impossible to establish, it is known that all five presented evidence of having been beaten and having been deprived of food for three days. It is also known that their feet and hands were tied and that they were gagged. But the whereabouts of Bartolo Joaquín Coché and Miguel Ulario have not been ascertained as yet.


          The Commission is also concerned about the constant attacks to which this fragile new democracy is subject. Recently, the Chief of National Police was compelled to resign under criticism, made public by the Army's Commander in Chief to the Minister of the Interior, for the way in which he managed the civil security forces. He accused him of failing to control and reduce the wave of common crimes being committed in Guatemala and denounced the ineffectiveness of the Government, which since it dissolved the secret police and created the Unidad de Investigaciones Criminales (Criminal Investigation Unit) has not been able to stop the wave of assaults, thefts and assassinations which, according to data presented to the Commission, has resulted in 700 deaths since President Cerezo took office, although only 40 of them might be attributed to political causes.


          President Cerezo's Government has been faced with a series of labor complaints, including a hospital strike which has completely prevented 1,300 physicians from working, and public unrest in Indian towns and even in Guatemala refugee camps on the border with Mexico, all of which negatively affects the normalization of the country.


          The Commission notes that despite the progress made by President Cerezo's Administration there are still problems which affect the full observance of human rights, mainly caused by widespread violence, which the President has not been able to control.


          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommends that efforts to consolidate and strengthen democratic and representative institutions be continued, as well as those designed to promote respect and protection of the essential rights of the human being.


          The Commission also supports and endorses the important work being done at present by the Courts in order to investigate, through the Investigating Judge especially appointed by the Supreme Court, the cases of disappeared persons presented by GAM. This task should have the most complete and firm cooperation of both public and private institutions, a concept that is consistent with the Commission's recommendation at a past regular meeting (OEA/Ser.L/II.67) held on April 9, 1986, which is included in the present Annual Report.




          In its Annual Report for 1984-1985, the Commission stated that it had accepted the Haitian Government's invitation to conduct an on-site observation of the human rights situation in that country. The Commission sent a member of its Secretariat to Haiti from December 3-15, 1985 to prepare the visit of the Commission, which had been scheduled to take place during the week January 27-31, 1986.


          In light of the growing unrest in Haiti, the Government indefinitely postponed the Commission's visit on January 14, 1986. On February 7, 1986 the Duvalier regime collapsed as Duvalier and his family fled the country.


          As affirmed in the 1984-1985 Annual Report, Jean Claude Duvalier did not give the Haitian people hope for the democratization of his regime.


          On November 28, 1985, the fifth anniversary of the expulsion of a number of prominent and popular critics of the President-for-life, political demonstrations against the Duvalier regime erupted in Gonaives. These demonstrations were swiftly and harshly repressed resulting in the death of four youths.


          The Haitian people, shocked at the killings of these youths, took to the streets and called for a change of government. On January 31, 1986 Larry Speakes, the White House spokesman, en route to Texas, mistakenly announced that Duvalier had fled the country and the Haitian government had fallen. President-for-life Duvalier denied the announcement of his departure and imposed a thirty-day state of siege, which permitted the police to arrest protesting youths and hold them without charges. The protests continued in spite of the state of siege and the popular determination was manifest that they would continue until Duvalier left.


          At that time reports to the Commission indicated that the Volunteers for National Security, known as the “Tontons Macoutes” had been given license do detain, and in many cases kill, and that hundreds of persons had been arrested throughout the country. The Commission received further reports on a mass grave outside of Port-au-Prince containing piles of charred human remains.


          On February 7, 1986 Duvalier fled Haiti leaving behind a catastrophic economic situation, in part reportedly due to his having amassed a personal fortune estimate at US$400-900 million. A six-man National Governing Council (CNG) assumed power on February 10, 1986, and publicly committed itself to the restoration of human rights and public liberties. The Council was comprised of four military men and two civilians, and except for one civilian, Gerardo Gourgue, persons connected with the former regime predominated on the Council. How this Council was constituted is a matter of controversy and has not been satisfactorily explained to the Haitian people.


          On February 13-14, 1986 the OAS Permanent Council considered the events that had been occurring in Haiti and passed a Resolution stating that the OAS “is prepared to cooperate” in any way that will lead “to strengthening the essential principles of representative democracy” and “to authorize the Secretary General to provide to the Haitian people the fullest possible assistance of a humanitarian nature.”


          The National Governing Council is the only governmental body in Haiti today. The Haitian Parliament, which had emerged from the February 1984 legislative elections, branded as fraudulent, was disbanded on February 9, 1984.


          On March 20, 1986, Gérard Gourgue, the only member of the Council who had actively opposed Duvalier, resigned protesting the Council's failure to satisfy the popular demands of the Haitian people for change, and because the Council had allowed Col. Albert Pierre, the head of Duvalier's secret police, and other infamous torturers and persons responsible for human rights violations to escape into exile. Consequently, Lt. Gen. Namphy also dismissed those persons most closely identified with Duvalier. The new Council consists of three persons: Lt. Gen. Namply, Col. William Regala and Jacques François.


          In June the protests against the Council continued, growing in intensity and violence as the people called for the dissolution of the junta and a purge of all the duvalierists in the Government. The duvalierists elements were blamed for the failure of the Government to halt human rights abuses by the security forces, and for failing to bring to trial corrupt officials and military officers responsible for past abuses. Lt. Gen. Namphy on June 5, 1986 urged the population to restore calm stating that the riots had pushed Haiti to the brink of civil war. Namphy blamed unidentified politicians with “negative ideologies” for the unrest. The opposition demonstrations continued throughout Haiti despite Namphy's call for calm, and more than 25 persons were wounded by bullets and a 16 year old girl was killed.


          As the crisis threatened the survival of the CNG, on June 7, Lt. Gen. Namphy announced that on February 7, 1988—2 years to the date following Duvalier's flight—the Council would turn over power to a government to be “freely elected” in 1987.


          The long awaited political and electoral timetable provides for a political parties law (July 1986) which in fact was issued on July 30, 1986, the election of a Constituent Assembly (October 1986), referendum on the Constitution (February 1987), electoral law (March 1987), local and municipal elections (July 1987), presidential and legislative elections (November 1987), establishment of the legislative bodies (January 1988) and searing-in of the new President (February 7, 1988).


          A matter of special importance during the period covered by this report is that relating to the situation of the former members of the Volunteers for National Security “Tontons Macoutes.”


          On January 31, 1986, Jean Claude Duvalier declared a 30-day state of siege in a desperate final attempt to maintain himself in power. The CNG kept Duvalier's state of siege in force, as well as a 2 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.


          In spite of the curfew, following Duvalier's flight, people took to the streets in celebration, which turned into a rampage of violence, and explosions as the people sought revenge on the hated “Tonton Macoutes”, the personal militia of the Duvalier dictatorship. The Commission received information that an angry mob cornered one Macoute and stoned him to death, others were reportedly hacked with machetes and beheaded, or burned on the street.


          An issue of continuing concern to the Commission is the ONG's inability to disarm the militia. On February 9, 1986, Lt. Gen. Namphy disbanded the “Volunteers for National Security” (“Tonton Macoutes”) as an institution, and ordered them to surrender their arms to government officials. Some 5,000 weapons were confiscated and there are reportedly still 10,000 unaccounted for. The Commission has received reports that some Macoutes took refuge along the Dominican border and are waiting for the right moment to return.


          The Commission has received reports from a Haitian human rights organization on the unwillingness of the new authorities to take action against continuing abuses by former Macoutes.


          Also, the Commission has been informed that peaceful demonstrators have been short, killed or wounded by security forces during recent protests and these human rights violations have gone uninvestigated despite widespread calls for such investigations.


          Another issue which the Commission has followed closely is that of the trials of former duvalierist officials.


          The first serious crisis for the CNG resulted when the new Government sought to ignore these demands and granted official permission to Col. Albert Pierre to travel to political exile in Brazil. Col. Pierre, who had a reputation for exceptional brutality as head of Duvalier's political police, was allowed to depart for Brazil on February 23, 1986 provoking a wave of violence in the capital during 48 hours. On March 25, following Gourgue's bitter resignation and the continuing protest demonstrations, the CNG requested the extradition of Col. Albert Pierre from the Brazilian authorities. This request is being studied by the Brazilian Supreme Court.


The Commission notes that the CNG, having begun to detain persons accused of notorious human rights violations during the previous regime, confronted the difficult problem of bringing these persons to trial affording them all the guarantees of due process. Without a reform of the judiciary, and in light of the popular demands that these trials be public, the Commission recognizes that disturbances and irregularities were inevitable in the conduct of these trials.


          On Monday, May 5, 1986, the trial of Lt. Col. Samuel Jeremie opened, the first criminal trial against a high-ranking official of the Duvalier regime, and the first public criminal trial in three decades. Lt. Col. Jeremie, aged 52, was accused of murder, breach of army discipline and “cruelty” stemming from two incidents in which at least four Haitians were killed and five wounded. He pleaded not guilty. On May 31, Lt. Col. Jeremie was found guilty of torture and assassination and sentenced to 15 years in prison.


          Luc Desir, former head of the political police was tried next and found guilty of illegal arrests, kidnappings, torture and the killing of two persons in 1965. His trial lasted one and a half days, ending at 4:20 a.m. with the imposition of the death penalty.


          The third trial, of Eduard Paul lasted only 24 hours (but without stop). Paul was charged with complicity in murder, and was given a sentence of 9 years (which was reduced to 3 years given the mitigating factor of the defendant's advanced age).


          The Commission notes with concern that persons have not been brought to trial for killings which have occurred since February 7, 1986. On March 19, 1986 it was reported to the Commission that five civilians were shot dead by the Army's elite shock troops, the Leopards, and two days later two more shooting deaths occurred during peaceful demonstrations. On Saturday, April 26, six more civilians were killed and 48 wounded, many seriously, by the security forces at a commemoration ceremony of political opponents to the Duvalier regime who had been imprisoned at Fort Dimanche. The Commission finds no evidence that these acts imputed to the security forces have been investigated.


          As regards the right to personal freedom, the Commission has been informed that only persons accused of human rights abuses during the Duvalier regime are currently in detention.


          On February 7, 1986, 26 political prisoners were released only hours after Duvalier's flight. On March 5, 1986 the Minister of Justice, Gérard Gourgue declared a general amnesty at the National Penitentiary to apply to 237 common prisoners, due to the deplorable conditions in which these prisoners had been held and the fact that 158 (of the 237) had never been tried.


          On May 10, 1986 the new Minister of Justice, François Latortue declared that all political prisoners had been freed and that persons still missing should be considered dead.


          As regards religious freedom under the new Government, the Commission notes that attacks on Voodoo adherents are related to the fact that many Voodoo priests were “Tonton Macoutes”. The Commission has received information that nearly 100 priests and priestesses of Haitian Voodoo have been hacked, burned or otherwise put to death by mobs since February. Again, the Commission finds no evidence that these killings have been investigated by the new authorities.


          The Commission concludes that the National Governing Council, at least for the moment, has managed to quell the on-going protest demonstrations that have plagued this Government since it assumed power having now announced the long-awaited timetable for transition to a democratically elected government. Underlying problems remain, however, in that the Council's acts have no juridical basis. The Council proposes to function as a government for a two-year period without the creation of the other branches of government. It proposes to pass laws without the benefit of a legislature and to try persons accused of crimes under the Duvalier regime without an independent judiciary. Unless the transition process is democratized and allows greater participation of the general populace, it is foreseeable that such protests will resume.


          Lastly, the Commission wishes to acknowledge the fact that on July 29, 1986, the National Governing Council invited the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to visit Haiti in order to evaluate the human rights situation. The Commission has accepted the invitation and will arrange a mutually convenient date with the Government for the visit. As a result of this visit and its continuing to monitor the unfolding events, the Commission expects to be in a better position to inform the seventeenth regular session of the General Assembly about the human rights situation in Haiti.


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