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#3107: Justice For Haiti (fwd)
April 3, 2000
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.
We have some sad and troubling news. This morning, unidentified gunmen
assassinated Jean Dominique of Radio Haiti-Inter inside the radio station.
Mr. Dominique was a tireless and courageous supporter of democracy for Haiti.
He was particularly forceful in calling for justice for human rights
victims, including the return of the Documents. In praise of Jean
Dominique's commitment, and in hope for Haiti, we quote from the stone
marking Fr. Jean-Marie Vincent's killing: "Li tonbe pou nou kapab leve" ("he
fell so that we may rise").
It has been a while since our last update, so there's much to report. In
November, Adama Dieng, the UN Human Rights Commission's Special Expert for
Haiti urged the UN General Assembly to call for the return of the Documents.
Although the General Assembly was not permitted to vote on the Expert's
proposed resolution, the Documents got a lot of attention. Two hundred
people demonstrated in favor of the Documents' return in front of the UN in
New York. The demonstration was organized by the Center for Constitutional
Rights, and widely supported by the Haitian community in New York, including
Konbit Vijilans, newspapers Haiti Progres, and Haiti en Marche, and radio
stations Radio Eclair, Horizon 2000 Plus, Radio Soleil, Radio Sanba and
Several prominent NGO's urged their governments to support the resolution
in public letters, notably the CELS (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales)
from Argentina, and Haiti Support Group, ActionAid, International
Co-operation for Development, War on Want, and World Association for
Christian Communication from the United Kingdom. Christian Aid wrote letters
to the U.N. delegations of the five "Friends of Haiti." Human Rights Watch
and Amnesty International supported Mr. Dieng's call in press releases. The
mobilization was covered by AP and Reuters wire services, and in articles in
the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and San Francisco Examiner.
More recently, several groups in the campaign met with U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Harold Koh during
his February visit to Haiti. The groups underlined the importance of the
Documents to human rights in Haiti, and noted the inconsistency between Mr.
Koh's calls for Haitians to respect the rule of law and the U.S.' failure to
respect its legal obligation to return the Documents. Once again, we
generated a lot of media attention, but Mr. Koh disappointed the Haitian
groups by invoking the Privacy Act, which every expert not in the employ of
the U.S. executive branch has rejected (a bipartisan U.S. Congressional
delegation called the claim "simply without merit" last September, Adama
Dieng added that it "does not resist analysis").
Minister of Justice Camille Leblanc also called for the Documents'
return, in his meeting with Mr. Koh and in subsequent public statements.
Haiti Solidarity Week in the U.S., organized by the Quixote Center, was
March 5-12 this year. Once again, the Campaign was featured in the week's
materials and suggested activities.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of
American States, in its 1998 report on human rights in Haiti, cited the
non-return of the Documents as an obstacle to ending impunity in Haiti. The
IACHR echoed the calls of Human Rights Watch and MICIVIH for the Documents'
II. FUTURE ACTIVITIES
The UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Geneva will discuss Haiti on
April 19. We expect the Commission's Independent Expert on Haiti, Adama
Dieng to once again propose a resolution calling for the Documents' return.
We also expect, once again, for the U.S. to use procedural manoeuvres and
pressure to block a vote on the resolution. The groups in Haiti are
preparing a letter to the CHR supporting the resolution and we are working on
a plan for lobbying in Geneva.
We would appreciate it if organizations and individuals, especially in
the U.S., France, Venezuela, Argentina and Canada, would ask their
governments to support the resolution. We would also appreciate help from
any NGOs who will be attending the CHR sessions. When we receive Mr. Dieng's
proposed text, we will send that out along with a suggested letter. In the
meantime, if you have any questions, contact Mike Levy at
Many delegations to last year's CHR, especially those who had been
lobbied at home, told us they were sympathetic to Mr. Dieng's resolution.
Most offered some support, and in fact the proposed resolution was not
dropped until the last round of drafting, a record. We expect that our past
support will continue, and that additional help will come from two sources:
a) delegations upset at last year's procedural manipulations; and b) those
concerned that the CHR's credibility will be damaged by its failure to act in
face of near unanimous international support for the Documents' return.
III. OTHER NEWS
MAP VIV, one of the founding members of the Campaign, got some
well-deserved recognition, winning the 1999 Human Rights Prize of the
Republic of France. MAP VIV was cited by Laurent Fabius, President of the
National Assembly, for its "courageous, necessary and concrete" actions in
favor of Haiti's human rights victims.
The 1994 Raboteau Massacre case has been moving forward. In September,
1999, the Juge d'Instruction ("investigating magistrate") for the case (a
military/paramilitary attack on unarmed pro-democracy activists and their
neighbors) issued his final "ordonnance". The "ordonnance" formally charges
fifty-six defendants for the massacre. Twenty-two of these have been
arrested, while thirty-four are at large. Those not yet arrested include
former army chief Raoul Cedras, former head of the high command, Philippe
Biamby (both in Panama) former police chief Michel Francois (Honduras), the
rest of the military high command (most reported to be in Florida) and
paramilitary chief Emmanuel Constant (in New York, despite a 1995 deportation
Some defendants appealed the charges, and in February the appeals court
issued its decision, upholding the ordonnance in its entirety. In March,
seven defendants appealed this decision to the Cour de Cassation (supreme
court). Once the Cour de Cassation issues its decision, a trial date will be
If you would like the French version of this letter, let us know (same 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, 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 #14.
Brian Concannon Jr.