[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]


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


September 10 - 12, 1999

Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Chairman

Rep. Tom Campbell

Rep. Donald Payne 

Rep. Earl Hilliard

Del. Eni Faleomavaega

Del. Donna Christian-Christensen

Page # 

Letters of Transmittal 

Introduction 1 

The Police 

Background 2 

Challenges Facing the Police 2 

Attrition and Recruitment 

Human Rights Abuses 

The Police Role During Elections 


The International Presence 5 

The UN/OAS Mission 

U.S. Troop Withdrawal 

Congressional Issues 6 

Recommendations 6 

The Judicial Branch 

Background 6 

The United States and the Haitian Judiciary 7 

U.S. Administration of Justice Programs 

The U.S. and the Question of Impunity 

The Prison System 8 

Congressional Issues 8 

Recommendations 8 


Background 9 

New Elections 

Election Issues 10 

Voter Registration 

Electoral Observation 

Congressional Issues 11 

Recommendations 12 

Appendix A: Partial list of meetings 13 

Appendix B: CODEL staff 14 


>From September 10th to September 12th, 1999, Congressman John Conyers, 
Jr., the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, led a 
bipartisan congressional delegation (CODEL) to Haiti. The delegation 
focused on upcoming elections and issues relevant to their successful 
undertaking such as international monitoring, the proper role of the 
police and building confidence in the political process. It also looked 
at the status of police training, the U.S. Department of Justice's role 
in the establishment of an independent judiciary, and the efficacy of 
anti-drug operations. 

The members of the CODEL included: 

Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Chairman (D-MI) 

Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA) 

Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) 

Rep. Earl Hilliard (D-AL) 

Del. Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS) 

Del. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI) 

In 1990, Jean Bertrand-Aristide was elected president in Haiti's first 
legitimate, democratic elections. A year later he was overthrown in a 
coup d'etat and a violent military regime took over, ruling by 
repression and fear. In 1994, a United States-led multinational force 
restored democracy to Haiti. Ever since then, Haiti has been grappling 
with complicated economic, political and social questions necessary for 
the consolidation of democracy. This report explores some of those 
challenges and is meant to provide some useful observations. 

In addition to having jurisdiction over operations of the Department of 
Justice generally, the Judiciary Committee has explicit jurisdiction 
over enforcement of federal drug statutes, administration of the federal 
courts, treaties, conventions and other international agreements. It 
also has jurisdiction over immigration and related issues. 

The delegation objectives were: 
?Evaluate progress of investigations into human rights violations and 
the role of US assistance, particularly as it relates to the police. ?
Examine the impact of the withdrawal of the permanent U.S. military 
presence. ?Determine the status of judicial reform and the efficacy of 
US assistance. ?Observe preparations for the elections and make 
judgements regarding the timetable, the technical steps necessary for 
their undertaking, the ability of the police to maintain a secure 
environment, and the role of international observers. ?Make observations 
regarding the public's confidence in the electoral process, the 
competence of electoral institutions, and the likelihood of broad civic 
participation in the process. 

Our findings and recommendations follow. 



After the restoration of democracy to Haiti in 1994, the U.S. Department 
of Justice's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance 
Program (ICITAP) established the Haiti Police Development Program. In 
the first phase of this program, ICITAP trained 5200 members of the 
Haitian National Police (HNP). By next year, ICITAP hopes to have 
established permanent education programs allowing the HNP to become more 
self-sufficient, institutionalized issues of integrity and civic duty, 
and set guidelines for the formation of specialized units such as CIMO, 
the riot control squad, and the BLTS, the counter-narcotics unit. 

The delegation met with representatives of ICITAP, as well as OPDAT (the 
Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance Program), the US 
Department of Justice program responsible for judicial reform 
assistance. Their budget for FY 1999 is $6.1 million.(1) 

A number of things suggest that on the bureaucratic level, the police 
will meet ICITAP's goals. For example, in the past seven months, three 
classes have come through the police academy which were 100% trained by 
Haitians with about 100 cadets in each class. Also, the fact that the 
HNP developed their own annual budget this year for the first time is an 
encouraging sign. 

Challenges Facing the Police 

The Haitian National Police, however, continue to face serious 
challenges including (1) continued problems with excessive use of force, 
human right abuses and mistreatment of prisoners; (2) drug trafficking 
within the force; and (3) keeping the police politically neutral and 
effectively engaged in providing security. Looming large in the 
foreground of these questions is what the impact of the U.S. troop 
withdrawal will be, the probable elimination of the police mentoring 
mission (CIVPOL), and the scaling down of the UN/OAS civilian mission's 
(MICIVIH) human rights monitoring work. 

Attrition and Recruitment 

In response to concerns raised earlier this year by the House 
Appropriations Committee, the HNP in cooperation with ICITAP, conducted 
a study on attrition which concluded that attrition was not as bad as it 
seemed on the surface. According to this study, 1056 police left the 
force voluntarily or involuntarily between 1995 and April 1999. The 
overwhelming number of separations were dismissals: 602 police agents 
and 230 civilian employees fired. The justifications for dismissal 
ranged from corruption and alleged murder to poor punctuality. There is 
also a serious attrition problem of another kind: 115 officers have been 
killed since 1995.(2) As a consequence of the study, the HNP now 
systematically utilizes exit interviews. 

The CODEL was alarmed to hear drastically varying estimates of the 
actual number of police active in the force. While the official figure 
is 6500, several sources in Washington and Haiti assert that the actual 
number is probably more in the range of 3500-4000. This is alarming for 
a number of reasons: First of all, the need for police will be great in 
the months leading up to elections. Second, a reduction in the actual 
number of police could result in an over-reliance on elite forces, and 
third, it places tremendous strain on the active duty officers who are 
already expected to work unreasonably long weeks. 

Human Rights Abuses 

The human rights situation is a marked improvement from the years of the 
de facto regime and abuses do not appear to have any kind of pattern. 
The CODEL does however have serious concerns about the general conduct 
of the police and certain incidents in particular. 

A top priority of the delegation was investigating the involvement of 
the HNP in the execution of eleven people on May 28, 1999 in the 
neighborhood of Carrefour-Feuilles. Protests in the days following were 
so violent that the Justice Minister and the Prime Minister had to flee 
the funeral services for the victims. The Minister of Justice has 
appointed a three judge panel to investigate the incident and six 
members of the HNP are currently in jail. 

The National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) has complained that the 
Minister should not have appointed the panel without the Inspector 
General's report and is very concerned that the case will be mishandled. 
MICIVIH has criticized handling of Carrefour-Feuilles, arguing that some 
suspects are being held in isolement, an extra-constitutional and 
arbitrarily-created form of detention where the suspects have not been 
charged. It is also generally worried that the investigation is 
proceeding very slowly. Robert Manuel, the Secretary of State for Public 
Safety, personally promised Rep. Conyers progress on this investigation 
and an update in the near future to be announced publicly. 

Earlier in the day of May 28, riots erupted in Port-au-Prince when a 
demonstration organized by a group of businesses and civil society 
organizations speaking out for peaceful elections faced 
counter-demonstrators throwing rocks. The demonstration's organizers 
have charged that the behavior of the police exhibited a bias in favor 
of the counter-demonstrators, while the counter-demonstrators dismiss 
the allegations. The role of CIMO, the riot control unit formed in 1997 
to handle such incidents, is at the center of some of the charges of 
police misconduct. For example, last year CIMO was dispatched to the 
town of Mirebalais and along with UDMO (the departmental crowd control 
unit) and GIPNH (a SWAT team), shares responsibility for severe abuses 
of a number of political activists. CIMO's accountability and public 
perception could be improved vastly by changing its uniforms, which lack 
badges. This measure, suggested by the U.S. Department of Justice last 
year, has not been implemented. 

In May and June, MICIVIH learned of 16 cases of people being killed by a 
vigilante group. On May 13, an investigation team sent to Titanyen 
discovered the bodies of two people who had been taken away from Bois 
Neuf that morning by a group of people, two of them in police uniform. 
Since then, a total of 14 bodies have been discovered in graves in the 
area. Progress in this investigation has reportedly been extremely slow 
as well and the delegation would like to get a status report soon. 

In 1998, MICIVIH recorded 423 incidents of police brutality. Law 
enforcement misconduct has inspired a popular campaign against the HNP 
leadership. Local organizations, many of which appear to be aligned with 
Fanmi Lavalas, have been demanding the resignation of the police 
director, Pierre Denize and Bob Manuel, the Secretary of State for 

There is an active collective of indigenous organizations that carry out 
human rights activities, many of which the CODEL met with, but it is 
clear that they operate at great personal risk. For example, on March 8, 
Pierre Esperance, Director of the Haiti office of NCHR, was shot and 
injured shortly after a threatening flyer was found near his office. 
Some of these organizations, such as those encountered by delegation 
staff in Gonaive, are awaiting certification as official NGO's from the 
Haitian Ministry of Social Affairs. It is critical that such 
bureaucratic obligations are undertaken so that these organizations are 
able to fill any void left by a downgraded or nonexistent MICIVIH, which 
has been pivotal in training these indigenous groups. 

Police Role During the Elections 

The police have thus far managed to keep their distance from politics, a 
major step forward for a country with a deep history of the 
politicization of law enforcement. This is a tremendous break from the 
past, when law enforcement served as the long arm of executive power. 
However, the elections will present other challenges as well, such as 
the potential for violence against candidates. For example: 
?On September 5, a gunman fired on Sauveur Pierre Etienne, secretary of 
the OPL, an opposition party. ?In March, Sen. Jean Yvon-Toussaint was 
killed in front of his home; ?On August 24, gunmen shot at the home of 
Emmanuel Charles, one of the nine members of the Provisional Electoral 
Council (CEP); ?On August 21, another CEP official experienced a 
carjacking; ?In July, election offices in Gonaives and Jacmel were set 

The State Department plans on augmenting CIMO for the elections and is 
working on approving contracts for new riot control equipment. It has 
also suggested a "non-violence pact," to be signed by all participating 


According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), approximately 
2720 kilograms of cocaine were seized coming from Haiti between May 1998 
and June 1999. Most drugs are smuggled into Haiti via ships, although 
airdrops and cargo shipments are also used. Most of the drug smuggling 
is done by Colombians who either live in Haiti or routinely travel 

Although Haiti still has not signed a formal ship-rider agreement, the 
U.S. Coast Guard claims that it has "carte blanche" to conduct 
overflights or board any vessel at any time as long as the Haitian 
authorities are informed in real time. If this is indeed the case, and 
drug shipments from Haiti are on the rise, then the most logical 
improvement would be to dramatically increase the U.S. law enforcement 
presence, particularly the Coast Guard. 

Haiti does not have asset seizure laws, therefore law enforcement agents 
cannot confiscate large sums of money. Neither does it have domestic 
laws relating to money laundering and it will not have any until the new 
parliament is in place next year. In the meantime, President Preval has 
sought the voluntary cooperation of private banks by requesting them to 
ask pertinent questions of clients who make large deposits and to help 
provide such information to the government for tax collection purposes. 
When the delegation inquired about this arrangement with business 
representatives, they stated that the assets of the banking sector are 
actually very small. Nevertheless, the delegation hopes such cooperation 
with Preval's proposal is forthcoming. 

The International Presence 

The UN/OAS Civilian Mission 

MICIVIH is being phased out due to the withdrawal of U.S. assistance. 
The mission plans on going to the UN General Assembly for a new mandate, 
replacing the current one authorized by the UN Security Council under 
the MIPONUH (United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti) banner. 
This means the UN share of funding would come from the General Assembly, 
while the OAS will continue to contribute their share. The new mission 
will have some police monitoring component and probably will combine the 
MIPONUH and MICIVIH functions. Plans on how to facilitate this 
transition are still up in the air but a temporary extension of the 
current mandate is a possibility. In the opinion of the delegation, a 
premature withdrawal of MICIVIH would leave a substantial gap in the 
human rights monitoring capabilities in Haiti simply because local 
organizations lack experience. Any phase out over the next year should 
attempt to minimize this impact. 

U.S. Troops 

On June 9, the House voted 227-198 for an amendment to the Defense 
Authorization bill offered by Reps. Ben Gilman (R-NY) and Porter Goss 
(R-FL) to withdraw U.S. troops from Haiti. Every member of the CODEL 
opposed this amendment. The amendment, if it becomes law, would end the 
U.S. Support Group in Haiti, an outgrowth of Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY 
in 1994. The Clinton Administration strongly opposed the amendment, 
pointing out that the Support Group has built roads and provided health 
care to thousands of Haitians, and arguing that a premature withdrawal 
would be disruptive to the pre-election security climate. The delegation 
is particularly concerned about the withdrawal in light of the phasing 
out of MICIVIH. These two events combined will leave vacuum that Haiti 
can ill afford. The administration has pledged to maintain a U.S. 
presence by rotating troops in for specific humanitarian missions. 

Congressional Issues 

The House International Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee have frozen the U.S. contribution to MICIVIH, which 
gets about 60% of its funding from the UN and 40% from the OAS. 
Previously, the US paid roughly $3.2 million of the $5 million OAS share 
per year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has a hold on a 
$425,000 arrears payment. The delegation believes this Congressional 
hold is counterproductive to the establishment of democratic 
institutions in Haiti and undercuts the role of a key international 

Recommendations relating to law enforcement: 
?When the new parliament takes office in 2000, the passage of forfeiture 
laws and legislation to combat money laundering should be a top 
priority. Until then, the private sector should recognize their 
responsibility to voluntarily provide such information. ?The U.S. 
Congress needs to at least ensure that any MICIVIH phase-out minimizes 
any human rights observation void. Releasing the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee's hold on $425,000 in arrears would facilitate a 
smooth transfer of responsibility to local organizations. ?The 
delegation urged Manuel and Denize to make public announcements when 
they launch an investigation into serious police misconduct. This will 
increase confidence in criminal investigations. ?Increase the U.S. Coast 
Guard presence in Haiti. ?A non-violence pact prior to the elections is 
a good idea, but it should originate from within the Haitian system, for 
example from the CEP. ?The Haitian Ministry of Social Affairs should do 
everything it can to expedite requests from NGO's requesting formal 
certification. ?If CIMO should continue to receive equipment and 
additional training from the US, the HNP should take steps to improve 
its accountability and public image. ?The political section of the U.S. 
Embassy and USAID should continue to reach out to local human rights 
organizations, who have explicitly expressed a desire to increase 



The Haitian judicial system is corrupt and extremely slow. Many of the 
judges are holdovers from the years of the Duvalier dictatorship. An 
increasing problem is the vulnerability of judges to corruption from 
drug trafficking networks; this is partially linked to the fact that 
judges still receive very low pay. 

The delegation was impressed with the new Minister of Justice, Camille 
LeBlanc. He described his priorities as hiring a new generation of 
qualified professionals, modernizing outdated laws, and increasing the 
resources available, in particular for justices of the peace and those 
involved in judicial processes at the local level. He plans to provide 
justices of the peace with transportation, enabling them to be the first 
line of investigation against voter fraud during the elections, and he 
intends to permit the commissaires at the regional level to investigate 
allegations made by one candidate against another. Both seem like 
sensible ideas if implemented properly, in which case could make 
important contributions to a climate of confidence during the election 

The United States and the Haitian Judiciary 

U.S. Administration of Justice Programs 

The U.S. has been helping Haiti reform its judicial system through its 
Administration of Justice (AOJ) program. The project began with an 
agreement signed between the US and the legitimate government of Haiti 
in 1993. Over the last five years, the Agency for International 
Development has spent $20 million out of $27 million committed. 

Most of the AOJ programs concluded this summer, including programs to 
improve the competency of judicial personnel by mentoring judges, 
distributing legal materials, and working with bar associations. The 
projects providing legal assistance, advocacy training, and conducting 
public education on human rights and women's rights wound down as well. 

Since the AOJ program began, over 50,000 individuals have received legal 
assistance and information from Non-Governmental Organizations fulegal 
assistance and information from Non-Governmental Organizations funded 
through USAID and its subcontractor, Checci. The Department of Justice's 
Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training Assistance Program 
(OPDAT) has trained over fifty magistrates and parquets (model 
prosecutors) in jurisdictions throughout the country. In the new five 
year plan, USAID and the Ministry of Justice expect to revive this 
program substantially as well as establish new training efforts related 
to commercial arbi

The U.S. Government and the Question of Impunity 

During the restoration of democracy, the U.S. Army seized documents, 
photographs and other materials from the headquarters of the FAd'H (the 
Haitian army) and FRAPH (the Front for the Advancement and Progress of 
Haiti), a paramilitary organization with links to the Central 
Intelligence Agency. The delegation firmly believes that all of these 
materials should be returned immediately.(3) 

While the FRAPH documents will not solve all of Haiti's problems with 
the justice system, a long and productive meeting with local human 
rights organizations in Port-au-Prince convinced the delegation that 
they are extremely important to many Haitians. Their return would in a 
concrete way assist lawyers investigating the thousands of murders that 
occurred during the period of de facto rule and in a broader sense 
contribute to a much needed sense of reconciliation. 

A study by the American Law Division of the Congressional Research 
Service concluded that the documents are the property of the Haitian 
Government, and it is clear the seizure violated the spirit, if not the 
letter, of the Multinational Force's mandate. Claims by the Department 
of Defense and other branches of the U.S. government that the documents 
needed to be redacted to comply with the Privacy Act are simply without 
merit. The documents should be returned in their original form. 

Supposedly the U.S. Government has re-opened talks on the issue with the 
new Minister of Justice, Camille LeBlanc. The CODEL hopes that an 
inter-governmental committee can begin talks soon. 

The Prison System 

Overcrowding in the prisons remains a serious problem. The population in 
detention has doubled in the last 2-3 years to over 3000 people, about 
80% of whom are in pre-trial detention. For the last several years, a 
$1.2 million prison reform project has been funded by USAID and carried 
out by the UN Development Program. Much progress has been made, but a 
registry at the national penitentiary is still incomplete. 

While the staff delegation did not tour the prison in Gonaive, it has 
been recently refurbished -- partly in the expectation that there will 
be convictions in the Raboteau Massacre case. We were also encouraged to 
hear reports that even though prison officials sometimes have shortages 
of food, the conditions are generally decent compared to the rest of the 
country. This is clearly a testament to the excellent work of the 
MICIVIH field office and the local NGO's they have been training. 
Unfortunately, the NGO's did note that the police, ie, those outside of 
the prisons, continue to be abusive. Significant work remains to be done 
before organizations such as these are capable of filling a void left by 
the departure MICIVIH. 

Congressional Issues 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations has a hold 
of $2.5 million due to concerns that the judicial project redesign was 
prepared without the involvement of the Justice Minister. As LeBlanc 
moves forward with judicial reform, more resources will become 

The delegation would like to convey to Congress that the Government of 
Haiti has assumed more of the costs of the Ecole de la Magistrature, 
which is a positive sign toward meeting Congressional conditionalities. 

Recommendations related to the Judiciary: 
?The Minister of Justice needs to set a numerical goal for reduction of 
the prison population. ?An inter-governmental committee including the 
Haitian Minister of Justice should be formed immediately to begin the 
return of the FRAPH documents to the Government of Haiti in their 
original form. ?The Government of Haiti should demonstrate its 
commitment to judicial reform by approving the program agreed to at the 
donors meeting on July 6, 1998, appointing new staff, and passing 
legislation relating to the magistrates school and other matters 
relevant to the establishment of an independent judiciary. 



On April 6, 1997, Haiti held elections for nine Senate seats, two vacant 
seats in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower chamber of parliament) and 
local government positions.(4) The turnout of these elections was only 
about 5% by most estimates and there were charges of serious fraud. 
Other problems included a decision by the CEP to not count blank 
ballots, official publication of the election results without the 
approval of the prime minister, and voter confusion due to inadequate 
civic education. The only positive aspect in the eyes of many observers 
was that reports of election violence were minimal. The controversy 
surrounding the elections culminated in the resignation of Prime 
Minister Rosny Smarth on June 9, 1997, who sought to distance himself 
from tainted elections. 

When elections scheduled for the fall of 1998 did not take place, the 
parliament voted to extend its term. A constitutional crisis erupted in 
January 1999 when President Preval refused to recognize the vote and 
announced he would rule by electoral decree. The parliament responded by 
charging Preval with trying to rule as a dictator.(5) Eventually, the 
dispute was resolved after negotiations between an informal group of 
political parties called the Espace de Concertation and the executive 
branch were able to choose a CEP. 

New Elections 

The upcoming elections will run seats for the Chamber of Deputies, most 
of the Senate seats, as well as the Communal Administration Councils 
(CASECs), the Communal Assemblies (ASECs) and City Delegates. They were 
originally set to take place on November 28. A few days prior to the 
delegation's arrival, the CEP declared that the elections would take 
place on December 19. After our return, President Preval announced the 
formation of a committee to look at election schedules. 

Much of the political wrangling this summer among the CEP, the 
president, the Prime Minister and the major political parties center
president, the Prime Minister and the major political parties centered 
on whether 17 or 19 Senate seats would be run, since the latter number 
would indicate rerunning the two contested Senate seats that went to 
Lavalas candidates in the 1997 elections. On June 11, the CEP announced 
that it was effectively annulling the results of those elections. 
Subsequent statements describing what it means by "running all vacant 
seats" have clarified that elections will be held for all 19 Senate 

Election Issues 

Voter Registration 

A key goal of the CODEL was to determine whether preparations for these 
elections are proceeding on schedule. The information collected varied 
greatly: The National Coalition for Haitian Rights believes that the 
timetable for the elections is too short and that more time is needed to 
organize voter registration, hire staff for the CEP, and restore 
confidence in the HNP.(6) The National Democratic Institute (NDI) 
believes the technical preparations are unnecessarily elaborate and will 
result in delayed elections. Similarly, the International Republican 
Institute (IRI) believes that while the cards are a useful long term 
goal, they are probably infeasible by December. The International 
Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), which is handling much of the 
technical preparations, believes the preparations are necessary and 

A postponement of the elections until next year would probably be 
contentious. Critics of a delay, such as the U.S. embassy and most of 
the political opposition parties, argue that it would allow political 
candidates to run on the coattails of Aristide, who will be running for 
president. Second, they note that since the constitution stipulates that 
the parliament must be in place by the second week of January, any 
extension of the parliament's term would probably violate that 
provision. Finally, they suggest that a delay would undermine 
confidence; a potential hazard could be a boycott of the elections by 
some opposition parties. The delegation urges those parties to not 
withdraw from the political process by doing so. 

The issuance of voter identification cards for the election is a 
controversial issue because many Haitians believe it is simply 
infeasible for 4.5 million voters to get an ID card in time for the 
elections and an unsuccessful attempt to do so would result in an urban 
bias in the electoral results. Moreover, Prime Minister Alexis expressed 
outrage that the funding for the contract, which went to Code Canada, 
circumvented the Haitian Ministry of Finance and the CEP. Former 
president Aristide and many other NGOs suggested that implementation of 
the voter ID plan begin in both the urban and rural areas with equal 
vigor, an idea that seems eminently reasonable to the CODEL. 

The delegation believes that a postponement of the elections is all but 
certain. Regardless of when they take place, the massive undertaking of 
voter ID cards should begin as soon as equipment is in place and staff