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#260: The FRAPH/FADH documents
July 30, 1999
First of all, welcome to everyone new to the Campaign for the Return of
the FRAPH/FADH Documents. The Campaign, launched by Haitian grassroots
organizations, with supporters in over 30 countries, demands the return of
approximately 160,000 pages of documents (including "trophy photos" of human
rights victims with their torturers, as well as video and audiocassettes)
removed from Haitian military and paramilitary offices by U.S. troops in
1994. These documents are the legal property of Haiti under national and
international law. They are important for Haitians to establish the truth
about the 1991-94 military dictatorship, and to prepare cases against those
responsible for the regime's human rights violations.
The Campaign mobilized this month for the visit to Haiti of Boutros
Boutros-Ghali, former U.N. Secretary General and current Secretary General of
the Organisation International pour la Francophonie, on June 27-29. We are
particularly interested in Mr. Boutros-Ghali's support because the Documents
were taken by troops under the auspices of his U.N. The Campaign wrote an
open letter to the Secretary General (French original and English translation
on the website), which was widely distributed to the press in Haiti, and
placed a banner across the road near the airport. Mr. Boutros-Ghali did not
endorse the Campaign (we are still working on that), but the letter and
mobilization received a lot of radio airtime, and journalists raised the
issue at the visit's press conference. The current UN Secretary General,
Kofi Anan, in his May 10 report on Haiti, cited Nobel Peace Winner Adolfo
Perez Esquivel's call for the return of the Documents.
The biggest human rights prosecution in Haiti is for the Raboteau
massacre, a military/paramilitary attack on unarmed civilians in April 1994.
The pretrial "instruction" phase is just about finished, without the benefit
of the information contained in the Documents. The trial is expected
sometime in the next few months. Although this information is not absolutely
necessary for the cases against the 31 accused already in custody, it could
be helpful. It is not fair to the victims, who resisted the dictatorship for
three years, then fought the justice system for the next five, to deprive
them of any potential evidence at their trial. Furthermore, the Documents
are much more important for the cases and extradition requests against those
who are not in custody, the dictatorship's leaders.
The success of a related Campaign shows that pressure can persuade the
U.S. to release documents in human rights cases. In late June, the
government released more than 20,000 pages of U.S. documents relating to the
repression in Chile. Human Rights Watch says that the release "was prompted
by international pressure, requests from Congress, and calls by [victims'
families]." In theory, our campaign should be easier than the Chile
campaign, as the FRAPH/FADH documents were generated by Haitians and belong
to the Haitian government, while the Chilean documents were legitimate U.S.
government property (see www.seas.gwu.edu/nsarchive for more information).
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine and Jocie Philistin of Fondasyon 30 Septanm
travelled to Montreal for the Canadian Human Rights Foundation human rights
conference in June and July. They made a presentation on the Documents, and
circulated the Petition among human rights workers from around the world.
In England, Charles Arthur of the Haiti Support Group and Fiona Hale of
Action Aid, on behalf of a group of six British NGO's working on Haiti,
raised the Documents issue in a meeting with the British Foreign Office.
Haiti Support Group members also circulated the Petition at London's Carnival
Against Capitalism in June, and a Socialist Workers' Party Conference in
July, collecting over 300 signatures.
The U.S. Agency for International Development's recent Request for
Proposals for its justice program in Haiti listed its three goals as having
1) legal professionals better equipped to apply the law; 2) cases move
through the justice system more efficiently; and 3) more actions taken to
protect human rights. We consider this an endorsement: as long as the U.S.
ignores its legal obligation to return the Documents, the idea of Haitian
legal professionals applying the law equally to all will be a tough sell for
USAID. Returning the evidence of the coup's human rights violations will
certainly allow more actions to protect human rights, and will also make them
move more efficiently.
This month's featured group working on the campaign is MAP VIV (Movement
of Support for Victims of Violence, literally "I Live"), founded in 1995 to
promote reflection and action in support of the victims of violence. MAP
VIV's activities include medical and psychological support, legal assistance,
and education for victims of the coup regime. One of MAP VIV's principal
activities is organizing a network of groups working for the rehabilitation
of victims, through meetings and conferences. On July 23, MAP VIV issued its
first book, "Jalons pour une Politique de Reparation" ("Landmarks for a
Policy of Reparations"). For more information about M AP VIV, email
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 509-245-0300.
Please continue to circulate the Petition demanding the Documents'
return. Copies in Creole, French, English, Spanish and Dutch, are available,
from either the website, or at the addresses below.
Note that Haiti Advocacy has moved: the new address is 1309 Independence
Ave. SE, Washington, DC, 20003-2302, telephone: 202-544-9084, fax
202-547-2952. This is also a good time to thank Merrill Smith of Haiti
Advocacy for all his work disseminating and collecting petitions, and running
If you would like the French version of this letter, let us know (ditto
if you would like your name off the list). For more information on the
Campaign, contact the website, http://members.bellatlantic.net/~advocacy or:
in Europe: Haiti Support Group, Trinity Church, Hodford Rd., London NW
118NG, phone/fax: 44-181-201-9878, email: email@example.com; in Haiti:
Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, 168 Avenue John Brown, Port-au-Prince,
phone: 509-245-8550, fax 509-245-0371, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Everywhere
else: Haiti Advocacy: (address above), email: email@example.com.
This is update #11.
Kenbe fem, Brian Concannon Jr.