Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 09:37:10 -0800 (PST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Bob Corbett <>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 13:47 2/14/96 1
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Date: Sat, 17 Feb 1996 12:19:37 -0500 (EST)
From: NY Transfer News Collective <>
To: nyt cari <>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 13:47 2/14/96

Commission buries truth in secret report

This Week in Haiti, Haiti Progr├Ęs, Vol.13 no.47, 14–20 February 1996

When Haiti's National Commission for Truth and Justice (CNVJ) was formed under a veil of secrecy in December 1994, this column asked: will this be a ‘Truth Commission’ to unearth the truth, or to bury it? (...) Will the commission investigate the US Central Intelligence Agency and other arms of the US government which played a key role in the Sept. 1991 coup and the reign of terror that followed? Will members of the bourgeoisie and army—who are now being embraced in reconciliation—be exposed and tried? Or will it be a whitewash with a few scapegoats? Examination of the secret 1200-page report handed over to President Aristide on Feb. 5 at a ceremony outside the old Haitian army headquarters reveals that we have a whitewash.

A copy of the secret report has been obtained and made public by Dan Coughlin of the Inter Press Service (IPS). After 10 months of work, employing dozens of high-priced international human rights consultants, with a reported price tag of about $3 million, the CNVJ has delivered a mediocre document filled with platitudes, legal pontificating, abstract considerations, and the rehashing of a score of past human rights reports on the repression under the 3-year coup.

Most scandalous, however, is the principal recommendation in the eighth and final chapter that the UN Security Council convene an international tribunal to identify and judge the criminals of the coup. In other words, the CNVJ wants the very international community which has been protecting the coup criminals to now judge them.

To pad the proposal, the CNVJ proposes 3 alternatives for the pursuit of justice: 1) that the Haitian justice system undertake preliminary investigations... against the presumed authors of the human rights violations as identified by the CNVJ within 30 days of the report's publication; 2) that the Haitian government seriously consider the establishment of a special tribunal with the power to investigate serious human rights violations, to initiate legal action, and to punish the authors; and 3) that the matter be referred to the United Nations Security Council with the aim of establishing an international tribunal on the human rights violations committed in Haiti, including the crimes against humanity.

Immediately after these recommendations, however, the CNVJ makes known its deep misgivings about the present condition of the judicial system in Haiti and therefore asserts: the Commission wants to indicate its preference for the third option [of entrusting justice to the Security Council] in light of its sincere doubts as to the efficacy of any investigative and legal procedures undertaken in the framework of the current system. Furthermore, the Commission is convinced that the setting up such a tribunal with an international dimension would draw the financial and moral support of the 'friend countries' and of the international community, because this would be a magnificent proof of the determination of the government of Haiti to fulfill its international obligations to open inquiries on human rights violations, to pursue and punish the authors, and to render justice to the victims. In other words, let's try to please our masters so that they will give us money and a pat on the head. Never mind that it is they who are subverting justice in Haiti by protecting coup criminals and imposing reconciliation.

Above all, a UN-directed international tribunal would be just another violation of Haiti's national sovereignty and of the UN Charter which forbids the body from meddling in the internal affairs of member states.

In this regard, Haiti offers an interesting juxtaposition to Rwanda. In that African country, the victorious Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) has been resisting UN efforts to establish an international tribunal in favor of their own national tribunal to judge those responsible for the massacre of over 500,000 civilians in 1994. The FPR has insisted that the judgements are an internal matter, not a UN one. Who better to judge the Rwandan criminals than the Rwandan people, and who better to judge the Haitian criminals than the Haitian people?

For years, the US and European powers have sought to establish some kind of international judiciary via the UN which they could use to attack the leadership of defiant countries like Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. Such a body, one can be sure, would be used to cover up the crimes of the CIA-sponsored Haitian Army and FRAPH terror while accusing the Lavalas government of violence. We had a glimpse of this dynamic when the Aristide government invited the FBI to Haiti to investigate the murder of pro-putschist lawyer Mireille Durocher Bertin last March. The FBI began accusing Haitian government officials of being the culprits.

In other areas, the report recommends that a reparations commission be formed to compensate the victims of the Sept. 1991 coup; that changes be made to Haiti's (non-existent) rape laws; and that numerous judicial reforms be undertaken. In a Feb. 6 press release, the Truth Commission said it had counted 19,891 human rights violations, slotted into neat categories like torture, and 8,652 victims, based on the testimony of 5,450 witnesses that the Commission interviewed.

Apart from the staid bureaucratic language in the report, which dutifully offends nobody involved in the bloody coup and its aftermath, the Truth Commission says nothing about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Pentagon, or other US government agencies which employed, armed, and trained virtually the entire military and paramilitary leadership that led the coup and the repression. Likewise, the Haitian bourgeoisie, which actively financed and participated in organizing the coup, escape any mention, even peripheral. And the traditional Haitian political leaders and their parties, who so eagerly welcomed the coup and who joined the various military governments, are totally forgotten. Instead, it's the usual vague and amorphous villains - - the Haitian army, FRAPH, bad judges, and the zenglendos (thieves and mobsters operating under the protection of the Army). Indeed, the Commission, which collected hundreds of names of alleged human rights violators, recommends against publishing the names of the criminals.

Just a cursory glance at the recommendations of the Commission shows the timidity and laziness of the authors. The first recommendation—the creation of a reparations commission—is old. It was floated at the end of 1994 by the international community. The second recommendation is for an overhaul of the rape laws in Haiti. This suggestion is neither new nor bold. Who would disagree? The third recommendation calls for reform of the judicial system, whose blockage has filled Haiti's jails with more than 2,300 prisoners. The Commission recommends a series of reforms and applauds the ongoing work of USAID, as well as Canadian and French development agencies, in their judicial reform efforts.

Although the CNVJ report was eagerly awaited by many of Haiti's human rights groups and some popular organizations, as well as the thousands of people who gave testimony to the Commission, the report has still not been made public. Representatives for former President Aristide and President Preval had no immediate comment on the report and could not confirm they would accept the Commission's recommendations, IPS reported on Feb. 7.

The report was compiled by 3 Haitian and 3 foreign commissioners: Ertha Elysee, Freud Jean, and Francoise Boucard from Haiti; Oliver Jackman of Barbados; Patrick Robinson of Jamaica; and Bacre Waly Ndiaye of Senegal.

Scores of other national and international personnel were drafted to prepare the report, which also included an annex of some 600 pages naming coup victims and details of the violations suffered, IPS reports.

But the report avoids the principal contribution it could have brought: naming the names of those responsible for Haiti's coup so that they could be brought to justice.