MICIVIH ACTIVITY REPORT



8 February - 31 March 1996



On 9 February 1996, President Préval made a formal request for the continuation of the Mission.

On 21 February, MICIVIH headquarters in Port-au-Prince were moved from Montagne Noire to Delmas 31 as part of the downsizing and restructuring of the Mission.

Towards the end of February, when it became clear that enabling resolutions would not be rapidly adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations and the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, a decision was taken to resume activities.

On 11-12 March, a meeting of all the regional offices'coordinators took place in MICIVIH headquarters to discuss the future strategies, policies and programme of activities of the Mission.

Following is a report on MICIVIH activities during the period 8 February - 31 Mars 1996, the three main activities of the Mission being human rights verification, human rights promotion and institution-building.

HUMAN RIGHTS VERIFICATION

MICIVIH continued to monitor human rights violations. Verification was used increasingly to identify structural weaknesses, shortcomings and general patterns and to recommend to the authorities technical or administrative remedies. MICIVIH then followed-up whether action has been taken or not to help prevent the recurrence of any malpractices, abuses or human rights violations.



Police monitoring

MICIVIH investigated a number of police-related incidents including police misconduct during demonstrations, cases of alleged shootings by HNP and other State agents, a case of bribery, allegations of human rights abuses by communal agents and CASEC members, and allegations of abuse in police custody.

MICIVIH also investigated official action in the wake of human rights abuses and misconduct by police brought to the attention of authorities and monitored the authorities'commitment to addressing human rights problems via the courts.

In what has been the most serious incident of HNP misconduct to date, MICIVIH investigated the violent clashes between security forces and armed individuals in Cité Soleil on 6 March, which resulted in at least 8 deaths. In a 8 March press release as well as in a 13 March letter to the Minister of Justice, MICIVIH urged the government to conduct an inquiry into these events. Upon his request, MICIVIH provided Mr. Eusher, re-appointed Inspecteur Général of the HNP with information about the 6 March violence in Cité Soleil to help him to conduct investigations of complaint of police abuses. MICIVIH was particularly concerned to monitor police and judicial investigations of the incidents, in particular the autopsies of the bodies. MICIVIH observers visited the national Penitentiary on 25 March and interviewed four of six people arrested and detained on 6 March in Cité-Soleil.

MICIVIH observers were present in the office of the Commissaire du Gouvernement when ten Service d'Intelligence Nationale (SIN) members attempted to arrest the former mayor of Gressier at the Parquet in Port-au-Prince on 14 March. On 22 March MICIVIH expressed its concern on the incident in a letter to the Secretary of State for Public Security.

MICIVIH collected information about other incidents involving HNP such as the murder of a female HNP who was found dead on 19 March in a ravine in Delmas 105, Port-au-Prince or the wounding by gunshots of several HNP in various circumstances; and investigated an incident where two off-duty HNP agents were shot and injured by police in Carrefour on 18 march.



Monitoring the judicial system

MICIVIH regional team reports reflected the persistence of problems related to the judicial system. Several cases of irregular arrest and arbitrary detention were detected

MICIVIH investigated what might be a politically-motivated arrest (15 persons including A. Azard, a PANPRAH supporter) as the grounds for the arrest seemed insufficient. It met once again with judicial officials to request information on the judicial status of Carl Denis, leader of the Organisation pour la Démocratie en Haïti, who has been in detention since 18 August 1995. It also monitored the instability and lack of institutional continuity jeopardizing the functioning of the judicial system (a number of judicial officials were dismissed and other installed by the Minister of Justice) as well as related popular protest and violence. MICIVIH also collected evidence of the lack of independence of certain judicial authorities and reported isolated cases of corruption.





MICIVIH monitored the prosecution of former members of the armed forces suspected of human rights violations in Gonaives, Jeremie, Hinche, and Cerca Carjaval. Some of them were released from detention, either because judges ruled there was insufficient evidence, or on technical grounds (warrants not issued in Creole).

MICIVIH also investigated the possible targeted killing of a lawyer who was working on a land dispute in Port-au-Prince as well as the killing in Cité Soleil on 23 February of a former FRAPH coordinator. Finally MICIVIH gathered information about three cases of popular justice resulting in 5 deaths.

Prisons monitoring

MICIVIH visited prisons throughout the country to monitor conditions of detention and collect information about the judicial status of prisoners.

MICIVIH observed that lack of infrastructure, equipment and food continues to disrupt the functioning of certains prisons and raised the point with local authorities when appropriate. APENA officials in Saint-Marc were refusing to accept new detainees because of security concerns and pending the completion of repairs at the prison. MICIVIH informed the Commissaire du gouvernement that a prisoner with tuberculosis in Grande Rivière du Nord continued to sleep with other detainees. The nurse of the prison was concerned that other detainees might have contracted the disease.

The quality of record-keeping varied considerably from prison to prison. In most of the prisons (Hinche, Gonaives, Jeremie, Cap Haitian), only a minority of detainees had been sentenced (for instance18 in 137 detainees had been convicted in Gonaives as of 13 March). MICIVIH visited the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince to investigate reports of a large number of detainees being released between January and March 1996. MICIVIH had previously provided the Ministry of Justice with a list of 83 detainees held in detention without trial for more than 6 months. Only 3 of them were released. The monitoring of releases from the National Penitentiary revealed inconsistencies in the number of releases registered by the prison and those registered at the Courts.

MICIVIH fostered initiatives in a number of towns to improve cooperation between police, prison and judicial officials and to reduce delays in proceedings in order to ease the issue of overcrowding in prisons. The circular prepared by the previous governement with the assistance of MICIVIH and other international agencies to ease overcrowding in prisons, is now being reviewed by the new Government. In Jeremie, MICIVIH agreed to supply the deputy Commissaire du Gouvernment with a list of prisoners to help expedite the sentencing of detainees held without trial.

Reported cases of beatings by prison guards (in Jacmel on 26 February) were also investigated.

HUMAN RIGHTS PROMOTION

Human rights promotion activities, including civic education and public information projects, were carried out throughout the country. In Port-au-Prince MICIVIH sponsored three performances at high schools of A quoi sert la liberté?, a dance production addressing human rights issues.

Conflict resolution activities

MICIVIH initiated contacts with national and international NGOs to discuss future activities in the field of conflict resolution and mediation techniques. In Gonaives MICIVIH observers attended a meeting of the Land Conflict Working Group in Pont Sondé to provide assistance to a forum of peasant leaders involved in the mediation of land conflict. MICIVIH was asked to run a workshop on conflict resolution techniques during a training session for human rights monitors from the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, scheduled for April. During a meeting with the director of the Institut National de la Réforme Agraire (INARA), the subject of judicial reform as a necessary component of agrarian reform and mediation programs was addressed.

Women's Day activities

In Cap Haitian MICIVIH participated in a day of reflection for International Women's day on 8 March organized by the Ministry of Women's affairs. Observers in Jérémie met with the mayor to plan a mural project to commemorate the day. In Port-au-Prince a camera crew filmed International Women's Day events, including a meeting of women who had been victims of repression during the de facto years. Some of the footage will be included in future MICIVIH news and educational videos. Also on 8 March, MICIVIH's director for Human Rights Promotion participated in a rally attended by several hundred women from a peasant organization in petite Rivière de l'Artibonite.

Seminars

MICIVIH observers in the regions conducted or attended human rights seminars for members of popular and community-based organizations and, in some areas, for police and judicial personnel.

In Hinche MICIVIH participated in a civic education seminar organized by the residents of Marécage and conducted a seminar in Papaye. MICIVIH has undertaken to advise lawyers for the Mouvement Paysan Papaye (MPP) in the organization of dossiers, to streamline informations relating to human rights violations cases. In Jérémie, MICIVIH continued to conduct seminars for CASEC members. HNP members and the juge de paix suppléant participated for the first time in a MICIVIH seminar. Similar programs were planned for the other communes in the Grand'Anse. A pilot project for introducing human rights programs in schools in the region was slated to begin on 15 April. In Gonaives, MICIVIH attended a seminar for juges de paix organized by the deputy Commissaire du Gouvernement. The seminar addressed various subjects including: the issuing of warrants, information required for detainees'dossiers, the need for jury lists to be prepared for the criminal assises, and methods to reduce the number of detainees. In Jacmel, MICIVIH responded positively to a request by three people for assistance in organizing human rights training seminars for CASECs and for a fledgling human rights organization. The three had previously participated in a MICIVIH human rights training seminar.

MICIVIH also participated in a training seminar for human rights monitors organized by the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, on international human rights instruments and principles of human rights monitoring and investigation. A draft plan for strengthening human rights NGOs in Haiti emerged from the meeting.

In Jacmel MICIVIH hosted a seminar for journalists on 23-24 March to discuss the the rights and responsibilities of a free press and methods of investigative journalism in human rights cases. Another session, attended by HNP, and Un civilian police, tackled the question of relations between the police and the press, and the need for public information about police activities. Thirty four journalists and others attended. MICIVIH responded positively to requests from journalists in Les Cayes to conduct a similar seminar in the near future.

Meetings with ONGs and other UN agencies

MICIVIH met with MAP VIV, a rehabilitation project for human rights victims, about their project for assisting women victims in their professional lives. Discussions with MAP VIV were also held on the development of a psychotherapy program for child victims of human rights abuse.

MICIVIH met with the Director of the Medical School in Port-au-Prince to discuss organizing a medicine and human rights day. Contact was made with the School of Nursing to discuss a similar initiative. Discussions were also held with representatives from several Port-au-Prince based organizations, about ways of further developing medical assistance to victims of human rights violations.

A meeting between MICIVIH and the UN Development Program (UNDP) was scheduled for 21 March to explore possibilities for regular information exchanges and the possible incorporation of some MICIVIH projects into UNDP proposals for 1997. MICIVIH representatives met the Secretary general of the Commission Nationale Justice et Paix to discuss the relationship between the Haitian government and non-governmental organizations and the future work of human rights organizations. In Cap haïtian MICIVIH met representatives from Médecins sans Frontières and Enfants du Monde to discuss possible joint projects, including production of a series of radio programs on childrens'rights.

A meeting was held between MICIVIH and the Resident Representative of UNESCO in Haïti to discuss technical assistance for the development of peace promotion activities. MICIVIH also met with representatives from the Plate-forme des Organisations haïtiennes des droits de l'homme to discuss the establishment of a national advisory board for human rights.

Public Information activities

MICIVIH issued two press releases. The first, on 8 March, urged the government to conduct an inquiry into violence and shootings in Cité Soleil on 6 march. The second, on 13 March, provided an overview of MICIVIH's activities since its return to Haïti in October 1994 and summarized planned future programs.

MICIVIH observers and representatives from local, judicial and government authorities in Hinche engaged in a discussion of the Haitian Constitution which was broadcast over local radio.



INSTITUTION-BUILDING

MICIVIH's main concern is to help establish mechanisms and processes that improve the functioning of institutions, prevent the recurrence of human rights violations and preclude impunity.

The training of judges at the Ecole de la Magistrature continued during the reporting period under a different formula. On 25 and 27 March, MICIVIH attended classes for justices of the peace (juges de paix). Instead of making presentations, the Mission commented on the instruction given by Haitians specialists on the status of judges, human rights law principles and the criminal law work of the justices of the peace.

The further training of police commissioners was elaborated by CIVPOL during March. A collection of basic documents relevant to the police was compiled, printed and distributed by MICIVIH to CIVPOL/UNMIH. The translation into Creole of regulations of police conduct were revised with the assistance of the Faculty of Applied Linguistics of the State University, the foremost authority on written Creole in Haiti.

Numerous meetings were conducted in connection with the training of judges and on other subjects related to judicial reform with representatives of donor countries, within the ministerial working group on justice, police and prisons, and with the new Minister of Justice, Mr. Pierre Max Antoine. The issue of implementing the three proposed Ministerial Circulars on searches and prison overcrowding was discussed, and means are being sought to expedite the process.

MICIVIH participated in the working groups to strengthen the police.

Other discussions took place with CECCHI, the organization funded by USAID to implement the judicial reform project, as well as with a number of organizations providing legal assistance, and with the lawyers working for the President of Haiti on preparing cases against former violators of human rights. The discussions with the latter focused on the transmission of information and the assistance MICIVIH could provide. Discussions were also held with representatives of the Brigade d'Enquête Criminelle and other officials of the HNP on their progress in investigations of past human rights cases and current incidents of apparent abuse of force. Information was transferred by MICIVIH in some of those instances.

Discussions with APENA, in conjunction with UNDP, on their organization, training and disciplinary systems continued, reinforced by a prison visit to troubled Petit Goâve on 15 March.

MICIVIH elaborated a draft Ministerial Circular on police detention and prepared a first draft of a full analysis and evaluation report of the problems of the Haitian judicial system based on the experience gathered by MICIVIH in the nine départements during 1995.



CONCLUSION



During the reporting period, MICIVIH had to adjust to its decreased size and the reconfiguration of its teams. The meeting of coordinators in early March underlined the need to better adjust projected programme activities to the reduced capacity of the Mission.