May 1996

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).


Detailed analysis of the human rights situation and cases investigated during the month of May are contained in MICIVIH weekly situation and activity reports.

Police monitoring

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 stations.

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.

Training activities

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 and commented.

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 instruments.

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.


In May, the availability of financial resources enabled MICIVIH to increase its activities to sensitize the population on human rights issues.

Commemorative activities

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 organizations.

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 rights.

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 Rights.

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.