MICIVIH ACTIVITY REPORT
Following is a report on MICIVIH activities in the area of human rights monitoring,
institution-building and human rights promotion during May 1996.
Many seminars, conferences and meetings, organized or facilitated by MICIVIH
throughout the country to promote human rights and strengthen public institutions, were
well attended. Various sectors of the population were targeted by MICIVIH programmes
including mayors, CASECs, officials of the Judiciary, the HNP and the APENA, local
organizations, NGOs, journalists, and students.
Among the main activities carried out by MICIVIH during the reporting period
were a week on the theme "Medicine and Human Rights" May 18-25 which began with a
conference co-sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine of the State University of Haïti; and
a series of two-days seminars on collectivités territoriales, administration of the Justice
and the participation of citizens in a democratic society in the seven towns where MICIVIH
has regional offices.
A 45-page report analysing the Haïtian judicial system and making a series of
recommendations for judicial reform was circulated on 25 May.
May was also marked by an increase in MICIVIH initiatives to improve
collaboration between Haïtian institutions (Police, Prisons, Judiciary).
HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING
Detailed analysis of the human rights situation and cases investigated during the
month of May are contained in MICIVIH weekly situation and activity reports.
MICIVIH investigated a number of incidents involving police agents such as
beatings or ill-treatments by HNP agents during arrests and detention, the killing and
wounding of suspects, the use of unnecessary force, police misconduct during
demonstrations, illegal searchers, as well as lynchings.
Monitoring the judicial system
MICIVIH teams continued to monitor respect for the legal and constitutional
provisions concerning arrest and detention and to report irregularities, in particular cases
of prolonged detention without seeing a judge among them that of Evans François.
MICIVIH monitored Criminal Assizes in Les Cayes and continue to monitor the
prosecution of ex-FADH and FRAPH. The trial of alleged supporters of the de facto
regime accused of human rights abuses during the Coup d'Etat in Fort Liberté revealed
once again that public pressures and fears of violence or intimidation still prevail among
certain judicial personnel and witnesses.
Monitoring the APENA
MICIVIH investigated incidents involving APENA agents, including the killing by
a prison guard of a detainee trying to escape from the National Penitentiary. Allegations
of ill-treatment by APENA guards of minors and other detainees at the National
Penitenciary and at the Fort National in Port-au-Prince were closely looked at by MICIVIH.
The wounding of an APENA guard by shotgun in the area of Fort National in Port-au-Prince was also investigated.
MICIVIH continued to monitor the judicial status of detainees and the conditions
of detention. A number of prisons and temporary holding centers were visited including
four temporary holding centers in the Artibonite, as well as the prisons in Gonaives, in
Grande Rivière du Nord, St Marc, Petit Goave, Hinche, Jérémie and Jacmel. The same
problems were reported everywhere, in particular overcrowding, and in police stations, lack
of food for detainees.
With a view to remedying weaknesses observed in the course of human rights
monitoring activities and in order to help improve the functioning of State institutions,
MICIVIH focused on encouraging collaboration between the Police, the APENA and the
Judiciary, training HNP and Judicial officials, and recommending technical and
administrative remedies to the relevant authorities.
Institution collaboration project
In Jacmel, MICIVIH facilitated the second "institution collaboration project"
meeting on May 17 at the Commissariat with representatives of APENA, HNP, the Parquet
and CIVPOL. The Commissaire du Gouvernement (Public Prosecutor) attended this
meeting after being absent from the first one. MICIVIH observers also travelled to the
communes of Bainet and Cotes de Fer accompanied by judicial, police and APENA
representatives to address specific problems between the HNP, the justice of the peace and
the community, and to deliver food for the detainees in pre-trial detention at the police
Initiated in Jacmel, the institutional collaboration project has gathered momentum during the reporting period. On 24 May, MICIVIH organized an institution collaboration meeting in Hinche with judicial, police and APENA authorities to discuss problems that these authorities have in common and to find solutions. These meetings will be held on a bi-weekly basis.
On 15 May, MICIVIH started a series of seminars on human rights at the Law
School in Saint-Marc for 30 students during which topics such as human rights and the
Police, International norms and standards for Human Rights protection and legal guarantees
in penal proceedings are explored. A lecture was given on the same themes at the end of
May at the Faculty in Gonaives for 150 students.
In Saint Marc during the celebration of the patron saint of lawyers, St. Yves,
MICIVIH spoke on human rights and penal procedures to an audience of about 50 persons,
mostly lawyers. The United Nations document on the role of lawyers was also presented
MICIVIH also participated in the training of Justices of the Peace at the Ecole de
la Magistrature, presenting the responsibilities of judges in criminal matters and
commenting on instructions given by Haïtian Law specialists on the status of judges,
human rights principles and responsibilities of judges in criminal matters. At the same
venue, MICIVIH was invited to lecture to Public Prosecutors on international human rights
MICIVIH took part in the training of police commissioners at the Police Academy,
addressing the following subjects: international legal instruments, detention, the Judicial
Police, Human Rights and the Police, Local Government and the Police.
MICIVIH made a presentation on UN standard minimum rules on the treatment of
prisoners for APENA social workers. In Hinche and Saint-Marc, the use of collective
warrants and other documents was explained to APENA personnel.
MICIVIH continued to strengthen NGO capacity in the area of judicial assistance
and trained the legal assistants of Haïti Solidarité Internationale in Port-au-Prince. In
Jacmel, MICIVIH conducted a first joint prison visit with a local NGO to enable it to better
monitor human rights in prisons. Prior to the visit, observers discussed methodology,
international standards relating to the treatment of prisoners and reviewed questions
generally posed by prisoners during the interviews. A debriefing session followed the visit.
Technical assistance activities
MICIVIH held discussions with judicial officials in a number of regions to explore
practical measures to expedite the processing of cases before the courts.
MICIVIH also took part in the discussions of the Working Group on Police Training
and on Police personnel. During the reporting period, MICIVIH prepared an in-house
circular on "Police and Local Goverment" for the use of observers.
In the course of a preliminary study on the illegality of arrest for debts, MICIVIH made contacts with the clerk's office of the Civil Jurisdiction Court in Port-au-Prince and with the Central Bank on the subject of usurious rates of interest.
On 31 May, MICIVIH met with HNP Inspecteur Général to clarify procedures for
victims of police abuses to lodge complaints. The inspector agreed to participate in
MICIVIH reflection on detention in police stations.
On 31 May, MICIVIH met with officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Ecole de la
Magistrature and other international organizations involved in the court records project to
streamline the offices of six Court Clerks to discuss the project and plan the contribution
of the Mission.
Together with the Special Representative of the Secretary General, MICIVIH
Executive Director visited HNP, CIVPOL and MICIVIH offices in Les Cayes and Jérémie.
In Jérémie, the latter discussed MICIVIH work and the Judiciary's dysfunctioning with the
Dean of the Civil Jurisdiction Court in the Grande Anse Département.
HUMAN RIGHTS PROMOTION
In May, the availability of financial resources enabled MICIVIH to increase its
activities to sensitize the population on human rights issues.
On 1 May, MICIVIH participated in Jacmel's Fête Patronale which attracted hundreds of people from the South East Departement and Port-au-Prince. With the consent of the Mayor, MICIVIH set up a human rights promotion booth as part of the exhibition on the town square. Observers distributed MICIVIH posters on democratic participation and legal arrest procedures and other UN human rights materials. They led discussions on the themes covered in each document; and devised games with human rights themes for the many children (at least 100) who visited the booth. They also hosted an hour long motivational session by a well-known Haitian folksinger and animateur who led discussions on democracy. In addition to the children, 300 adults participated in the activities at the booth.
On 18 May, Flag Day, MICIVIH and a committee made up of the mayor of Hinche,
the departemental representative of the Women's Affairs Ministry and other leading
citizens organized an afternoon ceremony marking the close of a province-wide arts
competition on the theme of human rights. More than 40 entries including drawings, songs,
theatre pieces and poems were submitted. Prizes were awarded by MICIVIH (funded by the
observers) to the top three contestants, who will paint human rights-theme murals on three
public walls in Hinche.
Civic and human rights education activities
In May, MICIVIH carried out a first series of two-days seminars on collectivités
territoriales, administration of the Justice and the participation of citizen in a democratic
society for members of CASECs, local government elected officials, HNP and judicial
officials, and leaders of popular organizations, human rights groups, journalists and local
authorities in the seven towns where MICIVIH has a regional office. The first one was held
in Jacmel on 7 and 8 May and was attended by 35 persons from five communes in the
Département du Sud Est. The participants were selected from local authorities directly
involved with the new legislation and facilitators who will replicate the seminar in their
communities. In Port-au-Prince, the seminar was attended by 33 members of popular
organizations. 30 persons attended in Les Cayes, 47 in Gonaives, 62 in Jérémie and a wide
cross-section of state officials in Hinche and Cap Haïtian. A press release was issued in
Jérémie to mark the Grande Anse seminar. MICIVIH provided documentation regarding
the law on collectivités territoriales and human rights.
In addition to the above seminars, as part of its continuing initiative to educate
CASECs about their role and that of the major state institutions in a democratic society,
MICIVIH conducted seminars in several communes of the Département de la Grande Anse
(in Bonbon, Les Abricots, Roseau and Corail) and in the Département du Nord (Choiseuil).
Participants included judicial and municipal authorities and representatives of popular
MICIVIH facilitated two Human Rights Promotion and Protection community
seminars in the Département de la Grande Anse (Chambellan and Pestel). In Pestel, an
APENA supervisor explained the functioning of the prison administration to CASEC
members and local authorities. The mayor, CASECs and HNP also made presentations.
During the reporting period, observers from MICIVIH office in Hinche
(Département du Centre) conducted or helped organize civic education seminars in
Boucantis, Papaye, Cerca Carvajal, Colladère, Mirebalais and Hinche. On 6 May, civic
education trainers in Jeremie held a weekly meeting with observers to report on civic
education activities which they are organizing for the rural section of Paroti. On 8 May,
MICIVIH met with women community leaders to review civic education training
techniques and schedule future seminars. Representatives from at least six leading women's
organizations in the Artibonite participated in the first seminar.
MICIVIH along with HNP community relations units in Fort-Liberté and Cap-Haïtian participated in seminars organized by local associations to discuss the role of police
and the relations between the police and local communities.
In the domain of conflict resolution, MICIVIH facilitated a meeting on 23 May
between the judge of the Peace, CASEC members, HNP agents and the parties involved in
a long-standing land conflict in Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite.
MICIVIH conducted seminars on human rights and human rights investigation
techniques for journalists in Les Cayes on 25 May and in Port-au-Prince on 28 May.
MICIVIH made a presentation on human rights principles for journalists during the seminar
organized by the Ministry of Justice on 28 May for the media.
In May, MICIVIH commenced the distribution around the country of a new civic education poster featuring a woman police officer and advising the public to file complaints with the police if they are victims of police misconduct and to report crimes they may have witnessed.
Week of Medicine and Human Rights
A consultant, Dr. Federico Allodi of Toronto Hospital contracted by MICIVIH,
participated in the week of activities on the theme "Medicine and Human Rights" on May
18-25 which began with a conference co-sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine of the State
University of Haïti. On 17 May, a press conference at MICIVIH headquarters to inform of
the seminar led to extensive media coverage of the week's events, including rebroadcasts
of presentations and radio talk shows on aspects of the debate.
The week's events, which drew some 700 participants, included conferences at the
Scool of Nursing, the Faculty of Ethnology in Port-au-Prince, and the Lycée Français in
Cap Haitian, several screenings followed by discussions of Roman Polanski's "Death and
the Maiden", and open house at Médecins du Monde. Leading Haitian doctors, nurses,
psychologists and social workers joined Dr. Federico Allodi and MICIVIH's observers to
discuss assistance to victims of human rights violations. The goal was to raise
consciousness among medical professionals in particular and the wider society about the
rehabilitation needs of victims of repression, as well as about medical ethics and human
MICIVIH helped to organize a related event on 23 May, a Day of Reflection on
"Vérité, Justice et Pardon"(Truth, Justice and forgiveness) under the auspices of MAPVIV,
the Mouvement d'Appui aux Victimes de la Violence (association which supports victims
of political violence). A group of 60 persons including health professionals, victims of
human rights violations, community activists and human rights activists participated in the
day-long activity at the Hotel Christopher. The Director of MICIVIH's legal Department
made a presentation on the subject.
In Trou du Nord and Fort Liberté on 10 and 11May, MICIVIH Information Unit
started filming scenes for a programme on human rights, medicine and the treatment of
victims. This programme will be offered to the local media, screened at MICIVIH human
rights promotional activities and made available to the UN and OAS for distribution.
Collaboration with other agencies and institutions
MICIVIH's Director for Human Rights Promotion and the Civic Education
coordinator met with the Director General of the Ministry for Women's Affairs and
Women's Rights to discuss areas of possible cooperation. Together with the Victims'
assistance coordinator, she also met with officials of the World Health
Organisation/Panamerican Health Organisation (WHO/PAHO) to inform them of
MICIVIH's week of Medicine and Human Rights and MICIVIH work with regard to the
health and welfare of victims of past human rights violations.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General, accompanied by MICIVIH's
Executive Director, met representatives of leading Haitian human rights organizations on
20 May for an exchange of views on the human rights and security situation as well as on
the activities of both missions.
MICIVIH made a presentation at UNMIH Headquarters on its activities, mandate
and history to 32 members of a Peacekeeping Management, Command and Staff Course
organized by the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (Canada). The participants, mostly military
officials coming from many different countries, were visiting Haïti to observe both the
operations and the partners of Peacekeeping Mission.
Public information activities
On 30 May, MICIVIH issued a press release to accompany its 45 page report which
analyses the Haïtian judicial system and offers recommendations for judicial reform. The
report was presented to the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister on 25 May at a meeting
at the Prime Minister's office which was attended by the Special Representative of the
Secretary General, MICIVIH directors and representatives of the Friends of the Secretary
General in Haïti. Three other press releases were issued on the following subjects: the
killing of three members of the HNP in six days; the 20 May meeting between MICIVIH
and Haïtian human rights organisations; and on the MICIVIH seminar on citizen
participation in local government in Jérémie.
MICIVIH Executive Director gave interviews to Radio Tropicale d'Haïti, Télémax,
Vision 2000, to the Latin America correspondent for the Guardian and the Observer and
the Miami Herald. A news conference and several interviews were organized in relation
with the week of conferences and other activities on Medicine and Human Rights. The
news conference was covered by Télémax, Télé Haïti, Télévision Nationale d'Haïti (TNH),
and by eight radio stations. MICIVIH regional offices'coordinators also gave interviews
to local radios on MICIVIH's work and mandate in Gonaïves, on the seminar on citizen
participation in local government in Jérémie and on the seminar for journalists in Les
Cayes. MICIVIH Victims assistance specialist gave interviews to Signal FM and Radio
Haïti Inter and Radio Nationale d'Haïti in the course of the week on Médicine and Human
MICIVIH audio and video spots on Prisons and Libel were broadcast by contracted
radio and TV stations in Port-au-Prince. Some provincial radio and TV stations began
broadcasting MICIVIH spots at no charge. TNH was given a copy of the video recording
of MICIVIH's Journée de réflexion sur la presse et la réforme judiciaire on 30 April 1996.
Both TNH and Télé Haïti carried reports of this seminar.
A package of information about the week of activities on "Médicine and Human Rights" was distributed to the Haïtian media and partly reproduced in Le Nouvelliste. Parts of the four-hour conference at the Faculty of Medicine was filmed by MICIVIH which supplied audio-cassettes of the conference to several radio stations.