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Date: Thu, 26 Oct 1995 17:22:49 GMT
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From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@nyxfer.blythe.org>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 13:31 10/25/95
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Pantagon protects FRAPH and obstructs justice in Haiti

Haiti Progress, This Week in Haiti,
Vol. 13, no 31, 25-31 October 1995

In early October last year, US military forces staged a bit of theatre - what they call psychological operations - in which they dramatically seized the headquarters and handcuffed the members of the Haitian death squad FRAPH (Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti). The aim of the raid was to gain the trust of the Haitian people and make them think that US forces were not allies of the CIA-created terrorist group. But another purpose of the raid has now come to light.

US forces, according to a US official, snatched 60,000 pages of documents from FRAPH offices and squirreled them away somewhere in the United States. As if stealing the documents was not enough, the US government now refuses to hand them over to human rights lawyers seeking to prosecute FRAPH killers. If anybody needs those documents for cleaning up Haiti it's the Haitian government, not the US government, attorney Michael Ratner told Inter Press Service (IPS). FRAPH was pretty meticulous about keeping records and those documents will probably give a full catalogue of the membership and actions of FRAPH.

Ira Kurzban, another US-based lawyer advising President Aristide, told Reuters that the US government is holding the documents to avoid embarrassment. There are certain elements within the intelligence community in the US that were supportive of FRAPH, he said. I imagine that these documents would potentially reveal those links.

The revelation stems from a lawsuit filed against FRAPH last year by Alerte Belance, a young women who was severely mutilated and left for dead by the terror group. Michael Ratner and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the lawsuit and then subpoenaed several US government agencies and offices for any documents they had concerning FRAPH. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), both implicated in the formation of FRAPH, were subpoenaed. Incredibly, the CIA said that they could only find one internally generated documented related to FRAPH and that was privileged.

But the US Justice Department official handling the subpoena conceded last month that the Department of Defense (DOD) has plenty. With respect to documents seized from FRAPH, DOD has indicated that they have located these documents, of which there are approximately 60,000 pages, said Assistant US Attorney Mark Nebeker, in a letter to the CCR. They are all currently classified and they are in French. [The Department of Defense] is in the process of reviewing the classification status of the documents, Nebeker said in the letter dated Sept. 18.

The issue has now created a furor in Haiti. Some members of Haiti's new parliamentarians are beginning a campaign to retrieve the 60,000 pages. [The documents are] extremely precious and important so that the Haitian justice system can pursue a series of people who are responsible for acts of banditry, Senator Paul Denis told Reuters.

Human rights groups have also joined the fray. In addition to constituting a grave and flagrant blow to the sovereignty of the country, the decision by the US authorities will considerably hinder the demands for justice by the victims of the coup d'etat, said the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations, a coalition of nine local groups. The Platform added that the US quarantine of the documents contributes to the profound disquiet in different sectors of civil society over the real objectives of the US presence in Haiti. They called on the Haitian government to demand the return of the documents.