Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

(1) The United States and the Dominican Republic have violated the principles of sovereignty in the OAS Charter.

capable of juridically ensuring the free and full enjoyment of human rights.”   Nationwide violence and oppression continue to stifle Petitioners’ human rights.  The IGH has neither taken adequate steps to stop the violence and intimidation nor sought to end the climate of impunity or punish those responsible for the coup.  The state’s failure to act against violations of the Convention is “decisive” for finding liability. C.  The United States and the Dominican Republic have violated the principles of non-intervention and sovereignty embodied in the OAS and Democratic charters. (1) The United States and the Dominican Republic have violated the principles of sovereignty in the OAS Charter.

Petitioners allege that the United States and the Dominican Republic have violated their duties under the OAS Charter to respect Haitian sovereignty.  Specifically, Petitioners allege violations of Articles 2, 3, 19, 20, and 28 of the OAS Charter.
Article 2 of the OAS Charter articulates that one of the eight essential purposes of the OAS is “to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of nonintervention.”  Article 3 of the OAS Charter affirms the principle:
Every State has the right to choose, without external interference, its political, economic, and social system and to organize itself in the way best suited to it, and has the duty to abstain from intervening in the affairs of another State.  Subject to the foregoing, the American States shall cooperate fully among themselves, independently of the nature of their political, economic, and social systems.

Articles 19 and 20 support the principles of non-intervention and sovereignty by categorically prohibiting interference, particularly in the form of coercive measures, by one nation to force the sovereign will of another nation:
Article 19
No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State.  The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.

Article 20
No State may use or encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another State and obtain from it advantages of any kind.

Article 28 provides that acts of aggression against the sovereignty of one American State will be considered an act of aggression against the other American States.
The OAS Charter strongly affirms the fundamental principles of non-intervention and sovereignty, and their importance to the OAS member states.  The United States, a founding party to the OAS Charter, violated these principles by forcibly removing the elected leader of the Haitian people’s democratically elected government.  The Dominican Republic, also a party to the OAS Charter, violated these principles by harboring armed groups that repeatedly attacked Haiti’s democratic government and eventually overthrew the elected government of Haiti.
The United States further violated Article 20 of the OAS Charter by placing a development-assistance embargo against Haiti.  This embargo constituted “coercive measures of an economic . . . character” that undermined the sovereign will of the democratically elected government of Haiti.  Petitioners urge the Commission to recognize these violations.

(2) The United States and the Dominican Republic have violated the principles of sovereignty in the Democratic Charter.

Democracy is at the heart of the inter-American system, and Petitioners have a right to seek redress for violations of their sovereignty.  “The concept of representative democracy and its protection is so important and such an essential part of the hemispheric system . . . [that] an entire mechanism of hemispheric protection has been put in place to address a breakdown of democracy in any of the member states.”
The Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted on September 11, 2001, reaffirms the OAS member states’ obligations to respect and uphold democracy.  Article 1 states: “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”  Article 3 declares that the “essential elements of representative democracy” include “the holding of periodic, free, and fair elections . . . as an expression of the sovereignty of the people.”  The U.S. government has violated Article 1 by forcing the elected President of Haiti and his democratically elected government to depart and facilitating the completion of a coup that replaced that government with an unconstitutional transitional government that represses the fundamental rights and freedoms necessary to democracy.  The Dominican Republic has violated Article 1 by harboring armed groups in its territory as they trained to overthrow the democratically elected Haitian government and repeatedly attacked that government from the territory of the Dominican Republic.
Article 8 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter reaffirms Petitioners’ right to seek redress in the Commission against the United States and the Dominican Republic.  Article 8 reads, in part: “Any person or group of persons who consider that their human rights have been violated may present claims or petitions to the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with its established procedures.”  Petitioners offer this petition, alleging violations of their rights to participate in democratic government, in accordance with all established procedures of the Inter-American Commission.
Moreover, Petitioners draw the Commission’s attention to Articles 17 through 22 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which mandate how the inter-American system must respond when “an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order . . . seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state.”   An unconstitutional interruption of Haiti’s democratic order has taken place, leaving no democratic order in its wake.  Petitioners plead that the Commission recognize that none of the steps mandated by Articles 17 through 22 have taken place in response to the overthrow of Haiti’s democratically elected government.  Petitioners request that the Commission urge the OAS member states to take the appropriate measures to restore democracy in Haiti.

D.  The United States and the Dominican Republic have deprived Petitioners of their rights to participate in government, to vote, and to have access to public services in violation of Article XX of the American Declaration.

Article XX of the American Declaration guarantees Petitioners’ rights to vote and to participate in government.  The Article states:
Every person having legal capacity is entitled to participate in the government of his country, directly or through his representatives, and to take part in popular elections, which shall be by secret ballot, and shall be honest, periodic and free.

The U.S. government has violated Petitioners’ rights under Article XX by supporting the ouster of the democratically elected Haitian government.  The U.S. government’s actions have rendered meaningless Petitioners’ rights to vote and to participate in government, thereby destroying Article XX’s protections for Petitioners.  The Dominican Republic has violated Petitioners’ rights under Article XX by allowing those responsible for the Haitian coup to train in and launch attacks from its territory, thereby undermining the guarantees of Article XX .
In a case that involved a less blatant denial of Article XX rights, the Commission has ruled against the United States.  In Statehood Solidarity Committee v. United States, the Commission held that denying District of Columbia residents an effective opportunity to participate in the federal legislature violates Article XX.  To interpret Article XX, the Commission relied on Article 23 of the American Convention.   The Commission then tested “whether the restrictions imposed by the State may be considered to curtail the very essence and effectiveness of the Petitioners’ right to participate in their government and whether the State has offered a reasonable, objective and proportionate justification for the restrictions.”   The Commission declared that the “provisions of the [inter-American] system’s human rights instruments that guarantee political rights, including Article XX of the American Declaration, must be interpreted and applied so as to give meaningful effect to exercise of representative democracy in this Hemisphere.” It cautioned that the “Commission should only interfere in cases where the State has curtailed the very essence and effectiveness of an individual’s right to participate in his or her government.”   The Commission proceeded to find the U.S. government in violation of Article XX.
The U.S. government’s Article XX violations in Statehood Solidarity Committee pale in comparison to the violations of Article XX in Haiti by the governments of the United States and the Dominican Republic.  In the present case, Petitioners had democratically elected their own Haitian government.  The U.S. government forcibly removed the elected president of this government and facilitated a violent coup, which the Dominican Republic training ground made possible.  The United States and the Dominican Republic curtailed “the very essence and effectiveness of the Petitioners’ right to participate in their government.”   The United States and the Dominican Republic have taken steps that directly resulted in the climate of violence, oppression, and impunity that dominates Haiti today.  Petitioners urge the Commission to acknowledge the deprivations that they suffer as a result of actions by the U.S. government and the Dominican Republic.

V.  Petition

Haiti ratified the American Convention on Human Rights on September 14, 1977.  The Commission has jurisdiction over the United States and the Dominican Republic based on Article 23 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, the American Declaration, the OAS Charter, Article 20 of the Commission’s Statute, and Article 49 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure.  The IGH, the U.S. government, and the Dominican Republic are obligated to respect and ensure the human rights of Petitioners.
Considering the seriousness of the alleged facts, Petitioners and their representatives respectfully request that the Commission:

  1. Conduct hearings in this case;
  2. Order such remedies or actions as it finds just and proper;
  3. Process this case in accordance with Articles 48 to 51 of the Convention and Articles 29 to 43 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure, and, consequently, transmit the petition to the States in question in accordance with Article 48 of the Convention, while providing aliases for Petitioners; and
  4. Pursuant to Article 29 of the Commission’s Regulations, investigate the involvement of the IGH, the United States, and the Dominican Republic in the overthrow of the democratically elected Haitian government.  Petitioners invoke Article 29 based on the “irreparable damage” that is occurring to the Haitian people under the transitional government and hope that the Commission will take precautionary measures.

Petitioners and their representatives respectfully request that the Commission take the following steps concerning the IGH:

  1. Declare that the IGH is illegal and in violation of the American Convention;
  2. Declare that the human rights of Haitian civilian victims have been violated under Articles 1, 23, and 24 of the American Convention;
  3. Conduct a full and independent investigation into the IGH to determine the complete damage, injuries, and losses to the Haitian people;
  4. Report to the OAS all violations of international law and human rights by the IGH and seek to have the OAS take appropriate action to secure the integrity, sovereignty, and self-determination of the Haitian people; and
  5. Demand that the IGH adhere to all the principles of international law, including the OAS Charter, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and all other international laws, treaties, and norms as the Inter-American Commission deems appropriate.

Petitioners and their representatives respectfully request that the Commission take the following steps concerning the U.S. government:

  1. Declare that the U.S. government’s forcible removal of Haiti’s democratically elected  President was illegal and violated principles of non-intervention, according to its obligations under the OAS and Democratic Charters;
  2. Declare that the U.S. government violated Haitian citizens’ human rights under Article XX of the American Declaration;
  3. Conduct a full and independent investigation into the U.S. intervention in Haiti to determine the complete damage, injuries, and losses to the Haitian people;
  4. Report to the OAS all violations of international law and human rights by the U.S. government and seek to have the OAS take appropriate action to secure the integrity, sovereignty, and self-determination of the Haitian people; and
  5. Demand that the U.S. government adhere to all the principles of international law, with respect to its relations with Haiti, including the OAS Charter, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and all other international laws, treaties and norms as the Inter-American Commission deems appropriate.

Petitioners and their representatives respectfully request that the Commission take the following steps concerning the Dominican Republic:

  1. Declare that the Dominican Republic’s harboring of demobilized soldiers and paramilitaries as they trained to overthrow the elected government of Haiti and launched repeated attacks against it was illegal and violated principles of non-intervention, according to its obligations under the OAS and Democratic Charters;
  2. Declare that the Dominican Republic violated Haitian citizens’ human rights under Article XX of the American Declaration;
  3. Conduct a full and independent investigation into the Dominican Republic’s  intervention in Haiti to determine the complete damage, injuries, and losses to the Haitian people;
  4. Report to the OAS all violations of international law and human rights by the Dominican Republic and seek to have the OAS take appropriate action to secure the integrity, sovereignty, and self-determination of the Haitian people; and
  5. Demand that the Dominican Republic adhere to all the principles of international law with respect to its relations with Haiti, including the OAS Charter, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and all other international laws, treaties and norms as the Inter-American Commission deems appropriate.

Petitioners and their representatives respectfully request that the Commission take the following steps concerning OAS member states:

  1. Urge the OAS member states to recognize the violations in Haiti; and
  2. Encourage the OAS member states to take the appropriate measures in accordance with Articles 17 through 22 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

We take this opportunity to express our highest esteem for the Commission as it undertakes consideration of the present petition.  Petitioners respectfully request that all future communications be sent to the following address: Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, P.O. Box 745, Joseph, OR 97846, and/or to Brian@IJDH.ORG.

Respectfully,
Bureau des Avocats Internationaux,                              Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti,

By: _____________________________                    By:  _______________________________
Mario Joseph, Av. Managing Attorney              Brian Concannon Jr., Esq, Director

 

Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School,

By:  _______________________________               By:  ______________________________
Rahul Rajkumar, Law Student Member             James Silk, Esq., Associate Clinical
Professor of Law, Director

 

TransAfrica Forum

By:  ______________________________
Nicole Lee, Director of Operations

Inter-Am. Ct. H.R., Velásquez Rodríguez Case, ¶166.

Id.¶176.

Inter-Am. C.H.R., Azócar Case, ¶45; see also General Assembly of the OAS Res. 1080 (XXI-0/91), adopted in Santiago, Chile, available at www.oas.org/Assembly2001/assembly/GAAssembly2000/resolucion1080.htm; Protocol of Amendments to the Charter of the Organization of American States “Protocol of Washington,” available at www.oas.org/juridico/english/Treaties/a-56.htm.

American Convention, art. 19.

Inter-Am. C.H.R., Statehood Solidarity Comm. v. United States

Id.¶ 87.

Id.¶ 99.

Id.¶87.

Id.¶101.

Inter-Am. C.H.R., Statehood Solidarity Committee, ¶99 (articulating the standard for determining an Article XX violation).

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