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#521: Campaign to return FRAPH documents
September 17, 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.
A lot of us have been busy since the last update. Last week the Haitian
groups working on the Campaign met with a delegation of six members of the
U.S. Congress. Some of the members, especially delegation head Rep. John
Conyers (D-Mich.), have supported the Documents' return for years, others
were new to the issue. The Haitian groups hoped to inspire the old friends
and find new ones by showing how much the Documents and justice for coup
victims mattered to them. They explained how the coup criminals getting away
with human rights violations, and the U.S. getting away with stealing
evidence of the violations, contributes to the insecurity and injustice
plaguing Haiti today.
Good news from Britain: last time we reported that the UK Inter-Agency
Group on Haiti had lobbied the British Foreign Office on the Documents. This
time, the Foreign Office told the Working Group that they had raised the
issue with the State Department in Washington. Although the U.S. response to
the query showed no new interest in complying with its legal obligations to
return the documents, this kind of pressure is exactly what we need.
Back in Port-au-Prince, Jean Dominique, host of Haiti's top radio program
"Face A L'Opinion" interviewed Francoise Boucard, the head of Haiti's Truth
Commission on August 24. Both discussed the importance of the documents to
justice in Haiti.
In the US, Human Rights Watch called for the return of the Documents in a
September 16 news release (let us know if you want a copy). HRW called the
Documents a "potentially rich source of evidence of abuses", and noted that
the failure to return the documents damages U.S. credibility, and "looks like
the administration is trying to conceal wrongdoing in Haiti on the part of
the U.S. government." In Atlanta, Brian Concannon was a panelist at the
American Bar Association's Annual Meeting, and discussed the Documents in
both the presentation and written materials.
Looking forward, we expect that Adama Dieng, the UN Human Rights
Commission's Independent Expert on Haiti, will once again present a
resolution asking for the Documents' return at the UN General Assembly,
probably in October. Mr. Dieng has proposed similar resolutions at past
meetings of the Assembly and of the Human Rights Commission, but each time
the resolution is kept from a vote. This year we plan several initiatives in
support of the resolution: in Haiti, the Campaign will visit foreign
embassies asking for their support. Everywhere else, we will ask all of you
to contact your government, to urge it ensure the resolution gets to a vote,
then to vote for it. Finally, for those of you who can get to New York, we
will have a demonstration at the UN on the day of Mr. Dieng's report. All
this will probably happen sometime in the next month, and we will let you
know details as soon as we have them.
This month's featured group working on the campaign is KNM, Kodinasyon
Nasyonal Mawon (National Coordination for the Internally Displaced). KNM was
founded in December, 1992, to help the estimated 300,000 Haitians who fled
their homes during the coup regime. KNM continues to work with those who can
still not return home (usually because the section chiefs still wield
effective power), and to advocate justice for the coup's victims. KNM has
representatives in all nine departments, and a Port-au-Prince headquarters.
Its activities include providing medical services and training for displaced
persons, preparing cases for filing in court, and participating in
demonstrations, days of reflection, and the Campaign. For more information
on KNM, write to: Romestil Pierre Melisca, Coordonateur General, KNM, Cite
Plus, 4 ruelle #35, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, or send an email with "KNM" in the
title to email@example.com.
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.
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, London, phone/fax: 44-181-201-9878, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org; in Haiti: Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, 168
Avenue John Brown, Port-au-Prince, phone: 509-245-8550, fax 509-245-0371,
email: email@example.com; Everywhere else: Haiti Advocacy: 1309 Independence
Ave. SE, DC 20003, phone 202-544-9084, fax: 202-547-2952, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org. This is update #12.
Kenbe fem, Brian Concannon Jr.