Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (extract)

By the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Extract

a. Arbitrary and Other Unlawful Deprivation of Life

Arbitrary and other unlawful deprivation of life perpetrated by state agents and others continued throughout the year. Members of the HNP continued to commit arbitrary and unlawful killings. In addition, members of illegal armed groups arbitrarily killed citizens.

On March 20, five HNP officers arrested five youths from the pro-Aristide neighborhood of La Saline in Port-au-Prince. The families of the five youths, Jean Wesly Etienne, 17, Emmanuel Deronville, 20, Monel Pierre, 23, Pierre Dorceant, and Abel Cherenfant 24, claimed that they were leaders of popular civic organizations that supported Aristide. Human rights organizations claimed they were members of « chimere » groups (thugs) who had participated in crimes together with the police ; and that the police were seeking to silence them. On March 21, their bodies, bearing signs of torture, were found near the airport. The five policemen were arrested and remained in jail awaiting trial at year’s end.

On the evening of September 28, unknown assailants shot and killed two HNP officers in a pro-Lavalas area of downtown Port-au-Prince. By year’s end, no one had been arrested for the killing.

There were deaths in prison during the year (see Section 1.c.).

During the year, deaths occurred during civil unrest (see Section 1.g.).

In November, AI called upon the Government to establish an independent commission of inquiry into summary executions attributed to members of the HNP (see Section 1.g.).

There were no developments in 2003 cases, including the January killings of Eric Pierre and 17-year-old John Peter Ancy Oleus in Carrefour, and the February killing of student Ronuald Cadet.

There were no developments, and none were expected, in several 2002 killings, including those of three youths from Cite Soleil, a farmer in the town of Hinche, three brothers from Carrefour, and four persons during an attack on the Las Cahobas jail.

The IGOH’s investigations into the high-profile killings of journalists Jean Dominique in 2000 and Brignol Lindor in 2001 continued at year’s end.

Herbert Valmond and Carl Dorelien, former FAd’H colonels convicted in absentia in 2000 for premeditated homicide in connection with the 1994 Raboteau massacre, escaped from the national penitentiary in the post-February 29 power vacuum. Their whereabouts were unknown and no progress was made in these cases at year’s end.

From January through April, a security vacuum in the Northeast Artibonite seat of St. Michel de L’Attalaye resulted in violence between local government authorities, local townspeople, and members of the Resistance Front, a heavily armed anti-Aristide group not sanctioned by the Government. By April 25, three persons were dead and 163 houses burned or destroyed.

b. Disappearance

There were credible reports of politically motivated disappearances during the year.

On February 28, Wisly Francique, a student from Carrefour who supported the Lavalas regime, disappeared and remained missing at year’s end.

On March 1, Jasmy Emmanuel disappeared after participating in a demonstration in front of the National Palace against the departure of President Aristide.

There were reports of disappearances stemming from the internal conflict (see Section 1.g.)

There were widespread kidnappings by armed criminal elements of wealthy persons throughout the year. All were resolved through the payment of ransom.

There were no developments in the disappearance cases reported in 2003, including Junior Jean, Mankes Analus, Pierre Franklin Julien, and Ordonel Paul.

c. Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits such actions ; however, members of the security forces continued to violate these provisions, particularly prior to the resignation of President Aristide. Police officers used excessive and sometimes deadly force in making arrests or controlling demonstrations and rarely were punished for such acts. In January and February, pro-President Aristide gang members routinely attacked members of the opposition and university students to prevent them from peacefully exercising their constitutional rights. Members of the HNP also used excessive force, such as shooting and using teargas, to suppress demonstrations (see section 2.b.).

Judie C. Roy, who repeatedly was tortured in various prisons during 2003 and ultimately incarcerated at the Petionville police station for « plotting against the security of the State, » escaped from prison following President Aristide’s departure and was not rearrested. There were no efforts made to rearrest Roy during the year.

There were no developments in the 2003 torture investigations of Joseline Desroses or Jonathan Louime.

Prison conditions worsened during the year. During the upheaval around February 29, many police stations and prisons around the country were damaged or destroyed, and most prisons were emptied of prisoners. By year’s end, 14 of 21 prisons around the country were rehabilitated and rendered functional. An already burdened prison system was stressed further with fewer facilities to hold prisoners. Conditions in those facilities worsened and, due to lack of available space, minors and adults often were held in the same cell.

Prisoners and detainees continued to suffer from a lack of basic hygiene, malnutrition, poor quality health care, and, in some facilities, 24-hour confinement. Most prisons periodically suffered from lack of water, especially in the provinces. The incidence of preventable diseases such as beriberi, AIDS, and tuberculosis increased. The prison population numbered 1,941 at year’s end. Approximately 95 percent of prisoners still were awaiting a judicial determination on their cases. That number did not reflect the large number of persons who were held in police stations around the country in prolonged preventive detention (garde a vue) for longer than the constitutionally mandated 48-hour time period.

In the initial days following President Aristide’s departure, there were many reports of former military performing « police » functions by executing arrest warrants in provincial towns.

The Government’s Office of Citizen Protection monitored prison conditions and offered training to prison administrators on criminal procedures, particularly the constitutional requirement limiting preventive detention to 48 hours. The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) continued technical assistance to the Department of Prison Administration (DAP), focusing on midlevel warden training and management information. The National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), a local human rights organization, actively monitored prison conditions in cooperation with the DAP, which offered a prisoners’ rights awareness campaign. Both NCHR’s and DAP’s programs continued during the year. DAP’s assistance increased after the situation stabilized in the spring.

The DAP conducted objective testing of prison physicians and nurses to exclude those who were inadequately trained. Doctors were available in the capital but were less frequently available to those incarcerated in the provinces. Nurses did not conduct daily checkups on the physical condition of inmates. Dispensary supplies were limited, and family members often had to purchase needed medication.

On December 1, an attempted prison escape by some detainees at the National Penitentiary resulted in a riot. Prison guards and special units of the HNP’s CIMO and SWAT responded with excessive force ; killing 7, shooting and injuring 17, and brutally beating and mistreating 29 detainees. Prisoners injured six HNP officers and burned eight prison cells.

Space permitting, male and female prisoners were held separately. Juvenile detainees were not held separately from adults.

Overcrowding prevented the separation of violent from nonviolent prisoners or convicts from those in pretrial detention. Many were incarcerated in temporary holding cells, particularly in the provinces.

The authorities freely permitted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Haitian Red Cross, and other human rights groups to enter prisons and police stations, monitor conditions, and assist prisoners and detainees with medical care, food, and legal aid. The Director General of the HNP and the DAP cooperated with the ICRC and the UNDP.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention ; however, security forces continued to employ both practices. The Constitution stipulates that a person may be arrested only if apprehended during the commission of a crime, or on the basis of a written order by a legally competent official, such as a justice of the peace or magistrate. The authorities can only execute these orders between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and must bring the detainee before a judge within 48 hours of arrest. In practice, officials frequently ignored these provisions. There were also instances of arrests by security forces and local officials lacking proper authority. Ex-FAd’H members and former chefs de section sometimes executed arrest warrants in under-policed rural areas, particularly in the North.

The HNP is officially an autonomous civilian institution. However, despite a cadre of competent and committed officers trained by foreign authorities, HNP officials at all levels were implicated in corruption and narcotics trafficking under the Aristide Government. The Aristide Government filled many key HNP positions with allies and corrupt or political elements lacking experience, training, and credibility. The politicization of the HNP facilitated both political violence and drug trafficking. During the year, under the IGOH, the HNP inducted one class of new recruits, all of whom were vetted by the human rights community.

The U.N. established the civilian police (CIVPOL) element of MINUSTAH to supplement the police. Once CIVPOL deployed with the HNP to conduct operations, the HNP’s capacity to maintain order improved.

Certain police jurisdictions routinely disregarded the 48-hour requirement to present detainees before a judge, and some detainees were held for extended periods in pretrial detention. Police often apprehended persons without warrants, or on warrants not issued by a duly authorized official. According to AI, in some provincial towns where there was no governmental presence after February 29, the ex-FAd’H occupied police stations and detained persons, with or without warrants. The authorities frequently detained individuals on unspecified charges or pending investigation. Under President Aristide, the Government often resorted to arrest and detention on false charges or on the charge of « plotting against the security of the State, » particularly in political or personal vendettas (see section 4). The situation improved under the IGOH, but several former members and supporters of the Lavalas regime who were suspected of human rights abuses, fomenting violence, or other crimes were arrested without proper warrants due to high levels of corruption in the judiciary. Detainees generally were allowed access to family members and a lawyer of their own choosing. Many detainees could not afford the services of an attorney, and the Government did not provide free counsel. Bail was available at the discretion of the investigative judge. Bail hearings are not automatic, and judges usually granted bail only for minor cases and based on compelling humanitarian grounds such as a need for medical attention.

In early May, police arrested Annette Auguste « So Anne », a self-proclaimed pro-Lavalas community organizer, in downtown Port-au-Prince and charged her with acting as the architect of the December 2003 attack on state university students in Port-au-Prince. She remained in prison at year’s end.

Also in early May, HNP officers arrested without warrant Jean Maxon Guerrier, former Lavalas Mayor of the district of Delmas. The authorities failed to charge him with any crime and released him 1 week after his arrest.

On October 2, the HNP arrested without a warrant three former Lavalas parliamentarians : Former Senate President Yvon Feuille, Senator Gerard Gilles, and former Chamber of Deputies member Roudy Heriveaux. The police claimed that they caught the three openly supporting and organizing a campaign of violence by pro-President Aristide supporters in Port-au-Prince that began on September 30. The police released Gilles a few days after his arrest ; however, they later charged Feuille and Heriveaux with acting as the intellectual authors of the October campaign of violence in Port-au-Prince. On December 24, a judge granted them a provisional release pending the completion of the investigation of the charges against them.

On October 13, police went to the residence of Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a well-known Catholic priest and pro-Aristide activist, in an effort to question him on possible involvement in a campaign of violence. Father Jean-Juste was uncooperative, and the police arrested him without warrant. The police held him for 1 week, without a judicial determination, on suspicion of « posing a threat to public order. » On October 20, the State Prosecutor formally charged Father Jean-Juste with « plotting against the security of the State. » He was transferred to the National Penitentiary on October 21 and was subsequently granted a provisional release on November 29, pending completion of the investigation of the charges against him.

Prosper Avril, former general and head of the military government from 1988 to 1990, escaped from the National Penitentiary on February 29 and had not been rearrested at year’s end.

There were no developments in the pending trials of former Army officers Ibert Blanc, Rosalvo Bastia, and Pastor Ceriphin Franck, who were arrested without charges in February 2003 and later accused of conspiring against the security of the State.

Prolonged pretrial detention remained a serious problem ; however, discrepancies in HNP documentation made it impossible to determine what percentage of prisoners were in pretrial detention.

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