MICIVIH ACTIVITY REPORT

1 December 1995 - 7 February 1996



Following is a report on MICIVIH's activities for the period 1 December 95-7 February 96, the end of MICIVIH mandate.

December 1995 was marked most notably by the Presidential Election. Most MICIVIH observers were seconded to the OAS Electoral Observation Mission for the vote and vote count period. MICIVIH also monitored the human rights and political climate of the election campaign. With the assistance of UNMIH, a communication centre was installed at MICIVIH headquarters to facilitate the "quick count" process. UNMIH/MICIVIH also provided the OAS Electoral Observation Mission with additional radio communications equipment for its field operations.

Given the expiration of the mandate on 7 February 1996, MICIVIH planned two alternatives courses of action during this reporting period - liquidation and prolongation. With regard to the first eventuality, MICIVIH participated in the CAO's Liquidation Task Force meetings and drew up a withdrawal plan, should the Mission's presence not be extended.

Starting in late January, MICIVIH coordinated with UNMIH support services to close five of its regional offices (Mirebalais, Fort-Liberté, Port de Paix, Petit Goave and St-Marc) and relocate others in the eventuality of an extension of the mandate. MICIVIH cooperated with a team from the OAS Department of Material Resources to recover equipment the OAS provided for MICIVIH use. Given the financial constraints, MICIVIH reduced its personnel from 156 to 64 (32 OAS, 28 UN, 4 UNVs); MICIVIH streamlined and carried out the "check out" procedure for departing 92 staff members in late January/early February.

During the reporting period, MICIVIH also carried out records retention activities in view of the possible liquidation of the Mission. Each Headquarters unit and each regional office organized its archives which were processed and compiled at MICIVIH Headquarters. MICIVIH Truth Commission Unit carried out the classification of all the archives of MICIVIH I, II and III concerning human rights violation cases.

The report of the Secretary General to the General Assembly on the Situation of Democracy and Human Rights in Haïti was drafted. It included a programme of activities for MICIVIH in case of extension of the mandate. On February 9, a written request for the extension of MICIVIH's mandate after February came from the Haïtian President leading MICIVIH to suspend the liquidation process. In preparation for the new mandate MICIVIH held discussions on possible terms of reference with the Ministry of Justice.



OBSERVATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION

The preparation of final reports and the process of closing offices and redeploying observers have meant that human rights observation activities have been reduced since mid-January. Observation activities undertaken included further investigating the assassination of deputy Feuillé, following up the case of the arrest of Colonel Dardompré, investigating recent incidents of popular justice which involved 42 victims and resulted in 20 deaths, and the execution-style killings of four women and three men at St. Christophe, near Titanyen. MICIVIH also looked into incidents involving HNP officers in St Marc and Gonaïves and IPSF officers in Port-au-Prince. Cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment were investigated in Jeremie, Hinche and Thomassique. MICIVIH also monitored the arrest of eleven former FRAPH members in Jacmel.

MICIVIH continued to analyse information concerning incidents involving the HPN and APENA and drew up tables showing -inter alia- the number of incidents, distribution throughout the country and also the state of official investigations into the most serious cases. MICIVIH also compiled a statistical table on the number of incidents of popular justice for December and January. Detailed analysis of the human rights situation and cases investigated during the period are contained in the report on human rights violations.



STRENGTHENING THE JUDICIAL AND PENAL SYSTEM

a. The penal system

On December 1, a meeting of all observers responsible for medical follow-up of human rights victims took place in MICIVIH headquarters, to discuss the monitoring of sanitary conditions in prisons, medical assistance to victims of human rights violations and to prisoners and the rehabilitation of victims of human rights violations. The prison unit was invited to participate in a seminar organized by the MICIVIH Medical Unit to clarify the unit's program regarding the prison work throughout the country. At the seminar, Dr. Figaro, the National Penitentiary's head doctor, explained the current organic structure of the sanitary service at the center and also presented a copy of a medical reporting format which should be filed for each sick inmate.

During the reporting period, MICIVIH participated in the compilation of data regarding minor prisoners' status at the Fort National Prison. MICIVIH generated two complete lists of minors with an unclear legal status being held at the above center. The lists were formally addressed to the Haitian Minister of Justice with the purpose of requesting proper actions to clarify the minors' situation. One list reflected all the prisoners held without a proper arrest warrant but with some legal papers inside their files, and the second list the prisoners that had empty files with no legal documents of any kind to justify their incarceration. On December 23rd, 52 minors and 8 women were transferred to the Centre de Reinsertion at Bicentenaire.

On December 6, MICIVIH also participated in a meeting with APENA's new Director, Mr. Karl Henry François, and APENA's Deputy Director, Mr. Raoul Elysée. At the meeting, MICIVIH requested information regarding the beatings of prisoners by APENA guards at the Fort National Prison on November 28. However, Mr. François refused to discuss the matter and was reluctant to exchange information with MICIVIH as he had to report to the Justice Minister the following morning. On January 12, MICIVIH participated in the steering committee meeting. The meeting embraced the problem of recent mistreatment in Cap Haïtian and in different prisons throughout the country. The meeting revealed that MICIVIH's concerns were not shared by the APENA's Director General, Mr. Francois and again, our inquiries regarding the November 28 incidents at Fort National were not answered.

Once again, MICIVIH expressed its concern regarding the current investigation conducted by APENA, having been informed that APENA investigators were interviewing only the prison guards involved. Mr. Elysée responded that the investigators had a full mandate and that the investigation should contain information collected from all the parties implicated.

In December, MICIVIH monitored a conflict opposing prisons guards and APENA Deputy Director (A.D.D.), Mr. Raoul Elysée. On December 15, prison guards in all Port-au-Prince facilities started a general strike demanding principally the destitution of the A.D.D. who was critizised for not supporting their work and for minimizing their authority in front of the prisoners. According to the agents, Mr. Elysée gave more credibility to the prisoner's statements during the investigation of recent cases of ill treatment by agents inside the prisons. The agents claimed that due to this kind of intervention from the A.D.D., their work and lives had been jeopardized. During the strike, the agents did not update records, nor allow visitors into the center and refused to transport prisoners to the courts.

Despite the agents' strike, MICIVIH was allowed to communicate with the National Penitentiary and obtain urgent information regarding prisoners' status. In a telephone conversation a strike leader requested MICIVIH to act as a moderator. MICIVIH did not consider this type of intervention appropriate and declined the request.

On December 18, Mr. Elysée was forced to resign. On Dec 19, the strike was interrupted and a negotiating team was formed to look into all of the demands expressed by the agents, including incorporation of APENA agents into the National Police, satisfaction of all their rights and privileges, and authorization to wear arms outside service hours.

On December 28, MICIVIH visited the "Centre d'encadrement et d'éveil", to examine this facility's new function in the reception of juvenile offenders, sixty of whom were recently transferred from the detention facility at Fort National. The centre funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs, was set up in July 1995.

On January 31, MICIVIH met with the APENA's new Deputy Director, Mr. Larose, to update him on MICIVIH's activities and to offer technical assistance and support for the training of the APENA's agents. MICIVIH also participated in an informal meeting with the new director of the Fort National Prison, Mme. Michaelle Sylvain and explained to her MICIVIH's work and commitment to the penal reform project.

MICIVIH provided information on Haïtian prisons to several organisations. On February 1, upon their request, MICIVIH briefed FONHDED (Fondation Haïtienne pour le Développement et la Démocratie) on the conditions of the minors in the Haitian prisons. FONDEM indicated that they have a project to establish a "centre d'accueil" for offenders under 15 years. On February 12, MICIVIH met with the vice chairperson of International Penal Reform, Ms. Wendy Singh, to share information on the current situation of prison's in the country. Ms. Singh indicated that her organisation is looking into alternatives for imprisonment of minor crimes offenders. On February 2, MICIVIH informed a delegation of "Caribbean Rights" about the improvements and problems inside Haitian prisons.

Together with UNDP, MICIVIH visited the prisons of the North part of the country during the week of January 21-26 to evaluate the work of APENA's agents and collect prison's data from Port de Paix, Fort Liberte, Ouaniminthe, Grand Riviere du Nord, Cap Haitian and Gonaives.

b. Haïtian National Police

Training sessions provided by MICIVIH to the HNP continued with sessions for the final graduating class at the police academy (class 9), as well as for the newly set-up riot control unit (Compagnie d'intervention). Discussions with ICITAP and other relevant bodies continued on the future training to be provided to police units.

Following the signature of a memorandum of understanding between CIVPOL and MICIVIH an important meeting on December 6, 1995 was attended by MICIVIH, newly recruited inspectors for the new criminal investigation brigade of the Haïtian National Police, members of CIVPOL in charge of this unit, the Commissaire du Gouvernement, a representative of the Ministry of Justice, the Juge d'Instruction specially appointed to the Brigade, and two international experts working with the Ministry of Justice. The purpose of this meeting was to establish priorities and a general framework of cooperation between these entities about criminal investigations. A system was agreed upon for a method of transmission of information contained in MICIVIH's files to Civpol for use by the Haïtian prosecution authorities in the course of their investigations of particular cases. Details of a first set of cases were transfered by MICIVIH to the participants. Another working meeting took place between MICIVIH, the recruits of the criminal investigation brigade, and CIVPOL to discuss additional cases transferred and methodological aspects.

During the month of December and January, information relating to a total of ten cases of serious violations of human rights were transferred to CIVPOL at the request of the Minister of Justice, and as dictated by the memorandum of understanding established between MICIVIH and CIVPOL.





c. The judicial system

MICIVIH's legal department continued its training sessions at the Ecole de la Magistrature for examining magistrates (juges d'instruction) during the first week of December with lectures on the topics of individual liberty and legal guarantees, and methods of investigation into serious human rights violations. A group of 25 to 30 justice of the peace from all over the country also received a seminar on independence of the judiciary at the Ecole de la Magistrature.

Lectures and presentations on human rights law related to criminal justice were also given at local public and private organizations in Grand Goâve, St. Marc and Port de Paix, as well as for students at the law school of Cap Haïtien, where international protection of human rights and international humanitarian law were discussed.

On December 8, MICIVIH organized a special training and information day for Haïtian journalists on the subject of the role of journalism in protecting and promoting human rights. A lecture was presented on how journalists could support the process of investigating violations of human rights.

At the request of the Minister of Justice, MICIVIH's legal director participated in a number of meetings at the Ministry of Justice in the context of a working group on the subject of provisional liberty for detainees awaiting trial. The group is working on a Ministerial Circular to be addressed to prosecutors. It is hoped that this will help alleviate the strains on the prison system,caused by an increase in arrests and delays in processing the prosecution of offenders. At the request of the Ministry of Justice, staff from MICIVIH's legal department began an inventory of detainees at Fort National and the National Penitentiary who have been in pre-trial detention for unduly long periods of time, without seeing a judge or having a hearing. On 12 January 1996, MICIVIH transmitted a report to the Minister concerning the legal situation of 83 such detainees.

MICIVIH has continued to support the Ministry in its efforts to lawfully regulate disarmament through discussions both with the Minister and within UNMIH.

The legal department assisted in the drafting of forms for the gathering of reliable, independent statistical information on the functioning of the Haïtian judicial system throughout the country, as well as on the prosecution of perpetrators of gross violations of human rights.

On 10 January 1996, the Minister was provided with a list of those international human rights instruments not yet ratified by Haïti, as well as with copies of these documents. Furthermore, the Minister was informed of certain declarations which Haïti has not made recognizing the competence of international human rights supervision bodies to be able to examine the human rights compliance of Haïti's legal and other institutions.

In the context of MICIVIH's support for the translation of international human rights instruments into Creole, discussions were held in early February with the Dean of the law faculty of Quisqueya University in Port-au-Prince on the quality of the draft translations of documents relating to police conduct.



ASSISTANCE TO THE NATIONAL COMMISSION OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE

In December and January, MICIVIH transferred several additional files to the National Commission on Truth and Justice of cases of serious human rights violations, as requested by the Commission. MICIVIH also transmitted general information on the tragic arsons that occurred in the area of Borgne in 1993 and 1994.

In addition, MICIVIH provided the NCTJ with two sets of photos of the September 1995 exhumations carried out in Gonaïves by the forensic anthropology team, with the participation of MICIVIH. MICIVIH's expert in forensic anthropology finalised a report on the several exhumations which he carried out for the Commission during the month of October. The scientific study of the human remains gathered continued throughout the months of November and December and a final report was sent to the Commission.

Through its medical unit, MICIVIH provided important data on its own experiences in the treatment of victims of human right violations, and information on institutional needs with respect to medical care for the follow up treatment of those victims. Recommendations were also made to the NCTJ on the medical institutional follow up of victims of violations of human rights drawing on the experience of the Mission in this field.

MICIVIH held a meeting with the commissioners to discuss the recommendations of the Commission. MICIVIH provided several elements and useful information on experiences in other countries to be considered in this context. MICIVIH also contributed to the commissioners'discussions on the question of the applicability of the notion of crimes against humanity in the Haïtian case by providing a study on the question.

The NTJC Commissioners held two sessions during January 1996 to finalize the draft of the final report. The report was officially given to the President of the Republic Jean Bertrand Aristide on 5 February 1996, at the occasion of a ceremony at the site of a new memorial for victims of the coup inaugurated the same day. There was widespread media coverage of the event, but indeed very little information about the content of the report was made available to the public. Despite requests, MICIVIH has not yet received a full copy of the report, or of any of its most important chapters.



HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATIONAL AND PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITIES

On December 10, together with local organizations, local authorities, artists and school children, MICIVIH organized a number of activities around the country to celebrate Human Rights Day. Activities included a parade in Port de Paix, murals illustrating human rights-related issues in Gonaïves and Cap Haïtian, various seminars on women's rights, a workshop in Port-au-Prince on "journalists and human rights", and a commemorative festival of the 47th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights in Port-au-Prince. MICIVIH also assisted Code Enfant Haïtien (CODEHA), in the organization of activities to celebrate children's rights: drawings were exhibited, children discussed their rights, a poetry and theater show was mounted.

MICIVIH also organised a dance show titled "What is the Use of Freedom?" in collaboration with two Haïtian dancers and a French choreographer. The event took place at the Church in Croix des Bouquets, near Port-au-Prince.

In its efforts to help reinforce Haïtian human rights NGOs, MICIVIH held discussions with the "Platform of Haïtian Human Rights NGOs" and gave seminars at the regional office in Port-au-Prince on various subjects including forensic anthropology, institutional reform and investigation of human rights violations. Contacts between MICIVIH and the "National Coalition for Haïtian Refugees" were strengthened.

In January, MICIVIH held two meetings with the director of the Centre Oecuménique des Droits Humains to inform him about MICIVIH's activities regarding the penal reform in the country, as well as to invite him to monitor the situation of the Human Rights inside the prisons. MICIVIH also assisted the Centre Oecuménique des Droits Humains in conceptualizing its prison program.

During the reporting period, MICIVIH continued to implement its training programme for the personnel of Haïtian NGOs with an interest in human rights, holding seminars in Gonaïves, Hinche and in the West departement, with a focus on animation methods. In early February, MICIVIH organized a two day civic education "training of trainers" seminar for 22 human rights organizations in Port au Prince.

MICIVIH supervised the production of materials such as leaflets, posters and audio-video spots to promote human rights education among NGOs and distributed materials including the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, civic education trainers'guide, and legal information.

FACILITATING COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

During the reporting period, MICIVIH finalized the Liste des Bailleurs de Fonds (information on donors) improving its usefulness for those interested in developing small projects.

On January 29, MICIVIH organised a three hour seminar for 18 representatives of 10 human rights organizations on how to access funds from donors. Videos, lists of donors, and additional material were distributed.



PRESS AND INFORMATION ACTIVITIES/PUBLIC RELATIONS

During the reporting period, MICIVIH issued five press releases: one on the current situation in Haiti's prisons and detention centers, one on the electoral campaign and the election process, one on International Human Rights Day, one issued locally in Port-de-Paix and Cap Haïtien (also on International Human Rights Day) and a final one condemning the threats received by Kerold Delacruz, deputy of Hinche and the assault of Arry Marsan, deputy of Port à Piment. A press conference was held on 10 December at the end of the training seminar for journalists on human rights and journalism.

MICIVIH prepared a fourth newsletter in both French and English. It focused on institution-building and MICIVIH's role in this process.

MICIVIH's press and information unit produced three news feeds: two on elections to the UN radio unit in New York and one to the OAS radio in Washington. The UN and OAS in turn distributed them worldwide directly or through news agencies such as the Caribbean News Agency in Barbados. Copies of the seminar on justice held in Petit Goave were distributed to50 NGOs. A local radio program in Creole on the police was distributed to local radio stations and the regional offices and broadcast on several stations including Signal FM.

A 10-minute TV program in Creole on the use of legal procedures in disarmament was completed and distributed to five local TV stations in Port-au-Prince (including one that broadcasts in Miami), to the regional bases and to local TV stations. A TV compilation of footage on prisons was sent to UN TV in New York where it was used for the production of a short program broadcast on CNN world report on 20-21 January and distributed worldwide in five different languages. A compilation of footage on the electoral process was sent to the OAS Information Department in Washington, which used it in the production of a 13-minute TV program broadcast in the Western Hemisphere. A 13-minute video program in Creole on the Electoral Observation Mission's quick count was distributed to TNH, Telemax and Miami's Haïtian Television Network, to all the local stations and to the regional bases.

A copy of the seminar in Cap Haïtien was given to the Law School for their archives and for use in their classes. Copies of three programs produced earlier on justice and prisons were distributed to 70 human rights NGOs. A training video on forensic anthropology was completed for training of NGOs and institutions. A training video on Human Rights and Journalism was sent to all regional offices, where it was shown to local journalists. Civic education activities such as murals and the stage play were filmed for the production of a later program as well as for archives.

MICIVIH's Executive Director gave interviews to ABC, the Miami Herald, the Time Magazine, the German News Service PRILA, Vision 2000, Radio Tropicale, Radio Metropole and Signal FM. Together with Javier Zúñiga and Rodolfo Mattarollo, he gave a press conference to 16 journalists on the institution-building aspect of MICIVIH work. The Director of the Legal Department gave interviews to Vision 2000, Signal FM and Télé Haïti. MICIVIH directors attended the ceremony held at the National Palace on 5 February 96 for the handing over of the report prepared by the National Commission on Truth and Justice to President Aristide.