Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December 2014, 20:05 GMT

Haiti: Human rights abuses directed at CEP members, other electoral workers, and members of the political opposition

Publisher United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
Author Resource Information Center
Publication Date 20 January 2000
Citation / Document Symbol HTI00001.ASM
Cite as United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Haiti: Human rights abuses directed at CEP members, other electoral workers, and members of the political opposition, 20 January 2000, HTI00001.ASM, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a6a5c.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Query: 

What is the CEP?  Are individuals associated with the CEP being targeted?  Are members of the political opposition being targeted?

Response:

According to sources available to the INS Resource Information Center, political unrest in Haiti has been increasing partly due to efforts to organize parliamentary elections.  Over the past year, attacks by unidentified individuals against activists across the political spectrum have occurred; however, in recent months, a number of attacks have been specifically attributed to factions within the ruling political party led by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Lavalas Family (Fanmi Lavalas, FL).  These recent attacks have been directed toward members of the Provisional Election Council (Conseil Electoral Provisoire, CEP), its departmental and communal offices (Bureaux Electoraux Departementaux, BEDs and Bureaux Electoraux Communals, BECs), other electoral workers, and members of the opposition Coalition to Defend Democracy (Espace de Concertation pour la Sauvegarde de la Democratie).  Though current President Rene Préval and FL spokesperson Yvon Neptune have spoken out against some of the attacks, they have been criticized for not taking a stronger stand against them.  There has also been concern that former President Aristide has not taken a public position against the threats, intimidation and violence (BBC, 27 October 1999; Goss, 9 Nov. 1999).

In March 1999, to a mixed response from opposition political entities, as well as some factions within the FL, President Préval created the CEP with the mandate of organizing elections for parliamentary and local offices to be held in late 1999. (Gilman, 9 Nov. 1999; IRI, 8 April 1999)  At the time, political parties who were members of the Coalition to Defend Democracy favored its formation, but the Organization of People in Struggle (Organisation du Peuple en Lutte, OPL), along with a number of other political groupings, as well as representatives from civil society, the private sector, labor unions, and church groups, opposed both the CEP and the peremptory manner in which it was formed (IRI, 8 April 1999; IPS, 24 May 1999).

There was widespread concern that the CEP would function primarily as a pro-FL force. (BBC, 10 August 1999, 20 March 1999)  However, when it annulled the results of elections held in April 1997 -- elections widely considered to have been marred by FL domination, fraud and other irregularities, and lack of voter participation -- the CEP appeared to be acting independently of the ruling party and factions of the FL began to criticize it (EIU, 21 April 1999; BBC, 18 June 1999, 14 August 1999).  Nonetheless, it has been reported that many opposition parties have continued to accuse the CEP of favoring the FL and have criticized the appointment of FL members to Departmental Electoral Offices (Bureaux Electoraux Departementaux, BEDs) (BBC, 10 August 1999).  Thus the CEP has found itself caught between political factions in Haiti and criticism by certain factions has given way to violent attacks against CEP members at the national level, against its departmental (BEDs) and communal (BECs) members and offices, as well as against other electoral workers (Romero, 12 November 1999; Gilman, 12 November 1999; Haiti Online, 28 September 1999; AHP, 28 December 1999).

Members of the Coalition to Defend Democracy have also been attacked.  The Coalition was formed by five parties following President Préval's dissolution of Parliament in January 1999 with the purpose of negotiating a solution to the resulting political crisis.  Following the negotiations, some members of the Coalition were appointed to the CEP.  Consequently the Coalition has strongly supported the CEP and has been more supportive of government actions than other opposition groups, notably the OPL (IRI, 8 April 1999; IPS, 24 May 1999).  The OPL was one of the major parties in the original Lavalas Coalition before it broke away under the leadership of Gerard Pierre-Charles and changed its name.  Formerly OPL was an acronym for Lavalas Political Organization (IPS, 10 Dec. 1997).

Below is a chronology of documented attacks against the CEP, its departmental (BEDs) and communal (BECs) offices, other electoral workers, and against members of various political and non-governmental groupings during 1999.[1]  While the motivation for some of these attacks remains unclear, some appear to have overt political intent. 

·        March 1:  The assassination of Senator Jean-Yvon Toussaint, a member of the opposition OPL, near his home in a Port-au-Prince suburb intensified hostilities between OPL and FL and had an impact on OPL's participation in multi-partisan (Coalition to Defend Democracy) negotiations with the government to establish the CEP.  Reports differ as to whether the OPL withdrew from negotiations prior to or after the assassination (LAI, 4 March 1999; UN, 10 May 1999).

·        March 8:  Pierre Esperance, Director of the National Coalition for Human Rights (NCHR) Haiti Office, was shot after a flyer containing threats against the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations was found near the Platform's office.  NCHR is a member organization and Mr. Esperance is the Platform's treasurer (NCHR, July 1999).

·        March 15:  Unidentified gunmen fired on the home of OPL Senator Yrvelt Chery (BBC, 16 March 1999).

·        April 24:  Three OPL parliamentarians requested political asylum in Chile.  Two of them were Deputy Raphael Wilner and Deputy Josue Simoly (BBC, 24 April 1999, 27 April 1999).

·        April:  FL activist Michel-Ange Philippe was killed (BBC, 18 June 1999, 27 April 1999).

·        April:  FL members led protests, including tire-burning and rock-throwing, against then Secretary of State for Public Security, Robert Manuel, and Director of the Haitian National Police (HNP), Pierre Denize.  Later, reportedly after being forced to resign, Manuel fled the country for Guatemala (Goss, 12 November 1999).

·        May 28:  FL factions broke up a rally organized by a broad spectrum of civil society groups.  The HNP failed to protect individuals at the gathering (Gilman, 12 November 1999).

·        July:  Arsonists attempted to burn down electoral offices in Gonaïves and, one week later, in Jacmel (Reuters, 27 August 1999).

·        August 20:  CEP member Dr. Ernst Mirville's car was hi-jacked in front of the Rex theater with a police officer and driver inside.  Departmental and communal electoral officials were threatened (Haiti Online, 27 August 1999, 29 November 1999; Bauduy, 27 August 1999).

·        August 24:  Gunmen fired shots outside the home of Electoral Council member Emmanuel Charles as they had several times earlier (Reuters, 27 August 1999).

·        September 6:  Gunmen fired on a car carrying Sauveur Pierre-Etienne, OPL Secretary-General, and his family (Washington Times, 7 September 1999).

·        September 26-27:  In St. Marc, arsonists burned the office of the Departmental Electoral Bureau (BED) (Haiti Online, 29 September 1999).

·        September 27:  In Jérémie, a violent demonstration led by the self-described Aristide-affiliated organization, Coordination Résistance Grande-Anse (COREGA or KOREGA) attempted to shut down the departmental elections office and threatened to kill its CEP-appointed leaders, alleged to have been drawn from opposition parties.  One demonstrator, Dominique Jeudi, was killed and several were injured, including a police inspector. A KOREGA leader threatened "a blood bath" if the electoral office did not close (Haiti Online, 28 September 1999, 29 September 1999, 12 December 1999; AHP, 5 October 1999).

·        September 27:  In Gonaïves, Aristide supporters blockaded the main highway with flaming tires, demanding the replacement of communal electoral officials allegedly affiliated with the opposition Espace de Concertation, and threatened to raise their movement to a "new dimension" if their demands were not met (AHP, 27 September 1999).

·        October 6: Ms. Mose St-Louis Jeune, Vice President of the Grand Anse departmental electoral office (BED) in Jérémie resigned citing threats from an unnamed political sector preventing her from completing her mission (AHP, 7 October 1999).

·        October 8:  Colonel Jean Lamy was assassinated in downtown Port-au-Prince.  President Préval had recently selected Lamy to replace Robert Manual as Secretary of State for Public Security (Gilman/Goss, 12 November 1999).

·        October 14:  An armed attack was carried out against the HNP's Judicial Police, the unit responsible for investigating Colonel Lamy's killing (Gilman, 12 November 1999).

·        October 24:  Aristide supporters violently disrupted the launching of the electoral process at Gymnasium Vincent on Rue Romain, hurling bottles of urine at participants, hitting Provisional Electoral Councilwoman Irma Rateau, threatening opposition leader Evans Paul's life at gunpoint.  Security officers assigned to the Council declined to intervene.  The demonstrators, shouting "Aristide or Death!," expressly denounced separate elections for parliament and president.  MICIVIH denounced the event as intensely partisan, auguring poorly for the future of the electoral process (Reuters, 29 October 1990; AP, 25 October 1999; Haiti Online, 26 October 1999; AHP, 26 October 1999).

·        November 6:  Aristide supporters disrupted an election rally of thousands in Petit-Goave where opposition candidates were to be introduced, punching Parliamentary candidate Jean Limongy  (AP, 8 November 1999; Goss, 12 November 1999).

·        November 29:  Aristide supporters violently disrupted a pro-election, anti-violence rally by the opposition Espace de Concertation in central Port-au-Prince (on the anniversary of the Duvalierist disruption of 1987 elections in which 34 people were killed)  (Reuters, 30 November 1999).

·        December 10:  Following threats by Aristide supporters to disrupt elections, arsonists burned down the home of the president of the departmental electoral office, Ernso St-Clair, those of two parliamentary candidates from the opposition Espace de Concertation and some 12 others, injuring 10 and leaving some 50 homeless.  Earlier in the day the town's reservoir was sabotaged cutting off the water supply.  The attack followed another attempted arson at the electoral office in nearby Bonbon and the theft of electoral materials in neighboring Corail (Reuters, 13 December 1999; Haiti Online, 12 December 1999).

·        December 22:  The BEC in l'Anse d'Hainault (a commune in the Grand Anse Department) was attacked by several hundred demonstrators protesting CEP's appointment of Abel Pierre as technical adviser to the Grand Anse BED. During the attack, several persons were shot and wounded, an automobile utilized by the U.S.-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) was burned, and several homes were damaged. A local political grouping, the ESCANP, accused Mr. Pierre of removing its candidate for mayor, Georges Simon, from the electoral slate. Another political organization referred to earlier, KOREGA, has been criticized for acts of sabotage against the BED and in turn has charged that the BED was contravening electoral law when it disqualified Mr. Simon (AHP, 5 January 2000, 28 December 1999).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

Members of the CEP are listed below:

Provisional Election Council (Conseil Electoral Provisoire, CEP) - national level

Léon Manus, President

Joseph Debussy Damier, Vice President

Marie Irma Rateau, General Secretary

Micheline Figaro, Treasurer

Emmanuel Charles

Carlo Dupiton

Macajoux Medard

Ernst Mirville

Yva Youance

Departmental Election Bureau (Bureau Electoral Departemental, BED) - departmental level.  There are eleven departmental election bureaus, each with three members.

Communal Election Bureau (Bureau Electoral Communal, BEC) - communal level.  There are 133 communes, each comprising a number of communal sections.

Political Parties and Coalitions are listed below (This is not a comprehensive listing):

·        Alliance for the Liberation and the Advancement of Haiti (also translated as the Alliance for the Liberation and Progress of Haiti) led by Reynold Georges

·        Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (Rassemblement des Democrates Nationaux Progressistes, RDNP) led by former President Leslie Manigat.

·        Coalition to Defend Democracy (Espace de Concertation pour la Sauvegarde de la Democratie; also translated as Democratic Consultation Group) led by Evans Paul - founded in January 1999 by KONAKOM, PANPRA, KID, Haiti Can, and Generation 2004

·        Democratic Unity Confederation (also translated as Convention for Democratic Unity, KID) led by Evans Paul

·        Family Lavalas (Fanmi Lavalas, FL) led by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

·        Generation 2004

·        Haiti Can (Ayiti Kapab)

·        Haitian Christian Democratic Party led by Joachim Pierre

·        Mobilization for National Development (MDN) led by Hubert de Ronceray

·        Movement for the Establishment of Democracy in Haiti (MIDH) led by Marc Bazin

·        National Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM) led by Victor Benoit

·        National Progressive Revolutionary Party (PANPRA) led by Serge Gilles

·        National Renovation Movement (MRN) led by Rene Theodore.

·        Organization of People in Struggle (Organisation du Peuple en Lutte, OPL) led by Gerard Pierre-Charles - formerly part of the Lavalas Coalition

·        Patriotic Movement for National Salvation (also translated as National Patriotic Movement to Rescue the Nation, Patriotic Movement to Save the Nation, and Patriotic Movement for National Rescue, MPSN) - a coalition of seven right-of-center parties led by Hubert De Ronceray.

References

Agence Haïtienne de Presse. "Des Membres de BECs de l'Artibonite Contestés par des Organisations Populaires proches de Fanmi Lavalas" (27 September 1999).

Agence Haïtienne de Presse. "Comparution des Responsables du COREGA devant le Tribunal Civil de Jérémie" 5 October 1999).

Agence Haïtienne de Presse. "Démission de la Vice-Présidente du BED de la Grande-Anse" (7 October 1999).

Agence Haïtienne de Presse. "La MICIVIH Condamne la Perturbation du Lancement de la Campagne d'Education Civique" (26 October 1999).

Agence Haïtienne de Presse. "Haiti/Elections: Formation d'une Commission Chargée d'Enqûeter sur les Incidents de l'Anse d'Hainault" (28 December 1999).

Agence Haïtienne de Presse. Le Premier Ministre Appelle le CEP a Adopter des Mesures Adéquates pour l'Avancement du Processus Electoral dans la Grande-Anse" (5 January 2000).

Associated Press. Norton, Michael. "Aristide Partisans Break Up Ceremony," (25 October 1999)

British Broadcasting Corporation. Haiti: "Armed Bandits" Fire Shots at OPL Senator's Home (16 March 1999).

British Broadcasting Corporation. Parliamentarians Seek Political Asylum in Chile (24 April 1999).

British Broadcasting Corporation. Haiti: Radio Highlights (Galaxie) (27 April 1999).

British Broadcasting Corporation. Haiti: Radio Highlights (Galaxie) (18 June 1999).

British Broadcasting Corporation. Haiti: Radio Highlights (Galaxie) (10 August 1999).

British Broadcasting Corporation. Haiti: Programme Summary of Signal FM Radio (14 August 1999).

British Broadcasting Corporation. Haiti: Radio Highlights (Galaxie) (27 October 1999).

Economist Intelligence Unit. Haiti Politics: New Elections by End-99. (EIU Views Wire, 21 April 1999).

Gilman, Benjamin A. "Testimony…US Policy Toward Haiti" (Washington, DC: Federal Document Clearing House, 12 November 1999).

Goss, Porter J. "Testimony…US Policy Toward Haiti" (Washington, DC: Federal Document Clearing House, 12 November 1999).

Haiti Online. "Insolence de l'Insécurité dans la Capitale Haïtienne," (27 August 1999).

Haiti Online. "Joachim Samedi Réclame une Enquête sur les Violents Incidents de Jérémie et le Renvoi des Membres du BED de la Grande Anse" (28 September 1999).

Haiti Online. "Elections: La Credibilité du CEP a Rude Eppreuve," (Service d'Information du Centre de Recherches et d'Action pour le Développement, 29 September 1999)

Haiti Online. "Elections: Mauvais Signe pour le Processus Electoral," (26 October 1999).

Haiti Online. "29 Novembre 1999: Haiti au Temps et à l'Heure des Chimères" (29 November 1999).

Haiti Online."Un Incendie Ravage le Bord de Mer à Jérémie" (12 December 1999).

Inter Press Service. Chanel, Ives Marie. "Haiti-Politics: Gridlock over New Elections," (10 December 1997).

International Republican Institute. Haiti: Political Situation Update (Washington, DC: IRI, 8 April 1999), 4 p.

Latin American Institute. "Haiti: Assassination of Senator Stalls Talks on Ending 20-Month Political Crisis," Noticen (4 March 1999).

National Coalition for Haitian Rights. Political Insecurity and Violence Threaten Haiti Elections (New York: NCHR, July 1999), 5 p.

Reuters. "Fights Disrupt Haiti Election Rally," (30 November 1999).

Reuters. Bauduy, Jennifer. "Haitian Election Officials Fear Increased Violence," (27 August 1999).

Reuters. Bauduy, Jennifer. "Fire in Haitian Town was Political" (13 December 1999).

Reuters. Chapman, Chris. "Disrupted Meeting Stirs Political Debate in Haiti," (29 October 1999).

Romero, Peter F. "Testimony…US Policy Toward Haiti" (Washington, DC: Federal Document Clearing House, 12 November 1999).

UN General Assembly. The Situation of Democracy and Human Rights in Haiti: Report of the Secretary-General (New York: UN , A/53/950, 10 May 1999).

Washington Times. "Opposition Leader in Haiti Attacked" (Washington, DC: 7 September 1999).



[1] Haiti Advocacy, a Washington, DC-based non-governmental organization, provided the RIC with a number of the documented incidents listed in the chronology.

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