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#242: From CIP: Press Release of the UN/OAS Intl. Civilian Mission in Haiti (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>

International Civilian Mission in Haiti, OAS/UN (unofficial translation)

Port-au-Prince July 21, 1999

Press Release 

In its capacity as a human rights observation mission, the International 
Civilian Mission in Haiti, OAS/UN (MICIVIH), receives complaints, in 
particular from victims of human rights violations or their close 
relatives, as well as general information from other sources. Having 
received such information and seen the results of investigations 
conducted by the observers, the Civilian Mission is concerned about 
certain recent events, which it has already brought to the attention of 
the competent authorities. 

In May and June, the Mission was informed of at least 16 cases of people 
being shot dead or declared missing, attributed to a group of armed men 
variously described and acting as a "vigilante brigade." Operating in 
the zone of Projet Drouillard and Bois Neuf, they assaulted individuals 
thought to be criminals. Even more troubling are allegations from 
several sources implicating certain people from the Haitian National 
Police (PNH) in the activities of these groups. On May 13, 1999, after 
receiving reports, a team from the Civilian Mission went to Titanyen and 
discovered the bodies of two people who had apparently been abducted in 
Bois Neuf at dawn by a group of armed men, two of them in police 
uniforms. The MICIVIH conveyed its concerns to the head of the PNH and 
underscored the need to conduct an in-depth investigation of these cases 
and to take measures to prevent the actions of such groups. The incident 
on July 19 in Port-au-Prince in which a hotel was burned by the members 
of a "vigilante brigade," an act which the Mission condemns, merely 
reinforces these concerns. 

Moreover, on the basis of publicly available information on human 
remains discovered in Titanyen, the Civilian Mission would like to make 
the following points. After hearing allegations whereby a group of 
individuals living in the metropolitan area were abducted from their 
home at night, the Mission began an investigation. During the process, 
certain information about this case became more precise and coherent. 

The Civilian Mission thus learned that, according to the reports of 
neighbors, six young women and two young men were apparently detained by 
the police in a house in Croix des Missions during the night of April 16 
to 17, 1999. Despite search efforts by their close relatives in police 
stations, prisons, and the morgue of the Port-au-Prince general 
hospital, these individuals were not found. It would seem that the house 
was lived in by close relatives of an individual called "Chuck Norris," 
who also spent time there. According to reports at that time, "Chuck 
Norris" was killed in a gunfight with police on April 19. 

In early June 1999, according to information provided to the MICIVIH, 
the bodies of 14 people, apparently shot to death in two different 
incidents, which were spread out over different areas of the site, had 
been discovered a few weeks earlier in the zone of Titanyen. A first 
on-site visit by a Mission team confirmed the existence of human remains 
although an exact count of the victims was not possible. The Mission 
then notified the authorities of this discovery and, in turn, a team of 
special investigators from the Office of the Scientific and Technical 
Police and from the Office of Legal Research of the PNH went to the site 
in June to establish the facts, on the basis of the information provided 
by the MICIVIH observers, and to seize instruments under legal process.

The early results of the on-site investigation by the investigators 
established that: 

- The human remains examined on-site and seized apparently belong to 
people of both genders; 

- The condition of the remains was such that it was not possible at this 
time to pinpoint the exact number of victims; 

- Certain bones and articles of clothing found on the remains had bullet 
marks on them; 

- The majority of bones examined seemed to be from the skeletons of 
young people.

In addition, certain pieces of clothing seized from the human remains 
were subsequently either recognized or described by the close relatives 
or neighbors of the eight youths reported missing as having 
characteristics similar to certain articles of clothing worn by three of 
these youths. The coincidences previously detected are such that they 
provide clues to the investigation, which has already been opened by the 
competent authorities--clues that the police are in the process of 

To clear up this type of case, the courts and jurisdiction as well as 
the competent services of the PNH would have to be strengthened, in 
particular the judicial and the scientific and technical police, which 
have just gained significant experience in the aforementioned 
preliminary investigation. This can be done on the basis of the law on 
judicial reform, which provides for the establishment of a commission 
made up, in particular, of judges to investigate very serious cases. 
Along these lines, the minister of justice has just announced the 
establishment of a commission of examining magistrates to prepare, 
within the deadlines established by law, the preliminary investigation 
of the Carrefour Feuilles case./ The MICIVIH welcomes this initiative, 
which is a step in the right direction and is in line with the 
recommendations it made on several occasions to carry out investigations 
in complex cases. The Mission considers that if the work of this 
commission were successful, this pilot experiment would constitute a 
useful precedent for shedding light on similar cases.