Little progress was made in bringing to justice those responsible for human rights violations committed under previous administrations, although investigations continued into several cases. There were increased reports of torture and ill-treatment by police, in some cases resulting in death, and of shootings by police, in some cases fatal, in circumstances suggesting excessive use of force or extrajudicial execution. There were allegations that two government opponents may have been extrajudicially executed. In February, René Préval, a candidate for the Lavalas political movement, took over the presidency from Jean-Bertrand Aristide who had been constitutionally barred from serving a second term. The UN Mission in Haiti, renamed UN Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH) in July, had its mandate extended for what was intended to be the last time by the UN Security Council until 31 May 1997, with the possibility of a further final two-month extension. The joint Organization of American States/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) was mandated by the UN General Assembly to remain in the country until 31 July 1997 with the possibility of a further extension to the end of the year. In what was considered by the authorities to be a deliberate destabilization campaign, acts of violence including armed robberies, kidnappings and the murder of at least eight off-duty police officers escalated in the second half of the year. Former soldiers were alleged to be responsible for the violence. On 16 July, Claude Raymond, a general and cabinet minister under former President François Duvalier, was arrested for "terrorist and subversive activities". Four days later André Armand, a former army sergeant and leader of a retired soldiers' pressure group, was killed by unknown assailants after publicly alleging that former army members were plotting to assassinate President Préval and former President Aristide. In mid-August, police arrested 19 people, including former soldiers, suspected of attempting to destabilize the country, 17 of them at the offices of the Mobilisation pour le développement national (MDN), Mobilization for National Development, a political party. They were detained at the police headquarters in Port-au-Prince, the capital. On 19 August, some 30 men armed with grenades and automatic weapons attacked the police headquarters where the 19 were held, killing one bystander and wounding one policeman. Despite the arrival of the police and UN personnel, those who carried out the attack escaped. The following day, Antoine Leroy and Jacques Florival, both leading members of the MDN, were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the capital. There were allegations, so far unsubstantiated, that the US-trained presidential security unit was linked to their killings. The US Government dispatched diplomatic security personnel to be based at the National Palace and UNSMIH also increased its presence there. President Préval announced the reorganization of the presidential security unit and two of its senior members were suspended. An investigation into the killings of the two MDN leaders was opened by police (see below). In September, further arrests took place in connection with the alleged plots against the government. Arrest warrants were also issued against MDN leader Hubert de Ronceray, who shortly afterwards was reported to be in the USA, and Prosper Avril, a former army general who ruled Haiti between 1988 and 1990. In September, police reportedly found an arms cache and evidence of plans to assassinate government officials at the home of Emmanuel Constant, former leader of the paramilitary organization Front pourl'avancement et le progrès d'Haïti (FRAPH), Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, who had fled to the USA in December 1994. Two men were arrested at the scene, including a former army sergeant. By December, some 34 people reportedly remained in detention on suspicion of plotting against the authorities and engaging in other related activities, but had not been brought to trial. In February, the Commission nationale de vérité et de justice, National Commission of Truth and Justice, set up in March 1995 to report on the most serious human rights violations committed between 29 September 1991 and 15 October 1994 under the de facto military government of General Raoul Cédras, submitted its report to then President Aristide. The report, which was published in September, documented abuses allegedly perpetrated by military and paramilitary personnel against 8,650 people, including 333 cases of "disappearance", 576 cases of extrajudicial execution, 439 cases of attempted extrajudicial execution and 83 cases of rape. The names of those responsible, where known, were included in an unpublished appendix which the National Commission recommended should be handed over to the relevant judicial authorities so that, where possible, those concerned could be brought to justice. The report contained a series of recommendations on judicial reform and compensation for victims, as well as recommendations concerning cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women. The UN Commission on Human Rights urged the Haitian Government to implement the report's recommendations. However, by the end of the year no specific steps had been taken to implement them. A MICIVIH report, dated May 1996, analysed the continuing weaknesses of the justice system and put forward recommendations on reforms needed to strengthen it. Lack of resources and trained personnel, as well as fear of reprisal and lack of coordination between the different authorities involved, were among the problems highlighted. In August, the Minister of Justice presented a judicial reform bill to the National Assembly addressing some of the recommendations made in the MICIVIH report. The bill was still under consideration at the end of the year. Little progress was made in bringing those responsible for past human rights abuses to justice. Several of those suspected of having ordered or participated in human rights violations under previous governments remained abroad. In April, the authorities in the Dominican Republic arrested Michel François, former police chief and member of the de facto military government who was convicted in absentia in 1995 for his involvement in the extrajudicial execution of Antoine Izméry in 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1996), and Frank Romain, a former mayor of Port-au-Prince, whose extradition had been sought in 1989 in connection with the 1988 massacre at St Jean Bosco Church in La Saline (see Amnesty International Report 1989). They were deported to Honduras where they were granted political asylum. Former FRAPH leader Emmanuel Constant, who had been in detention in the USA pending deportation to Haiti since 1995 following a request from the Haitian Government for his extradition (see Amnesty International Report 1996), was released in June and remained in the USA. He had publicly admitted while in detention that he had been in the pay of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at the time of the military government and was reportedly released as a result of a secret deal with the US authorities in which he agreed to drop a civil suit he had been intending to bring against them for "wrongful incarceration". The US Government transferred the 160,000 documents seized from Haitian army headquarters and the FRAPH offices in October 1994 to its embassy in Port-au-Prince, reportedly after having removed the names of US nationals from them. The documents were widely believed to contain crucial information relating to human rights violations committed by both the military and FRAPH under the military government, including the possible collusion of the US Government in such activities. The US authorities agreed to hand the documents over to the Haitian Government on condition that the safety of any Haitian nationals mentioned in the documents was ensured. However, the Haitian Government refused to accept the documents unless they were returned in their original form. In May, two former soldiers were sentenced to seven years' hard labour after a trial in Mirebalais for the torture of Faniel Glosy in 1993. In July, a jury acquitted two men of involvement in the 1993 extrajudicial execution of former Justice Minister Guy Malary (see Amnesty International Reports 1994 and 1996). Only two of a reportedly large number of eye-witnesses to the assassination were prepared to testify in court. According to reports, some jury members showed open support for the defendants while one claimed he had been offered a bribe to acquit them. An appeal by the prosecution against the acquittal was rejected by the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it was not lodged within three days as required under Haitian law. However, the two defendants remained in detention under investigation on other charges. Others suspected of involvement in the same case, including the former attaché (civilian auxiliary working with the army) unexpectedly released from detention in 1995 (see Amnesty International Report 1996), remained at liberty. In October, the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights made public an internal CIA memorandum, which it had obtained under subpoena in the course of a lawsuit brought against FRAPH by Haitian citizen Alerte Belance (see Amnesty International Report 1996), indicating the possible involvement of members of FRAPH, including Emmanuel Constant, and military leaders in the extrajudicial execution of Guy Malary. The trial of several people accused of involvement in the massacre of some 50 people in Raboteau, Gonaïves, in 1994 (see Amnesty International Reports 1995 and 1996), which had been scheduled to take place in September, was postponed. There was an increase in reports of torture and ill-treatment by police, in some cases resulting in death. A MICIVIH report on the police noted that 86 cases of torture and ill-treatment were reported in the first five months of the year. It found that most of the victims were suspected of armed robbery, belonging to armed criminal gangs, or having killed police agents. Some reportedly alleged that they had been subjected to electric shocks in a police station. Others were reportedly beaten with fists, pistol butts, batons and other blunt instruments, sometimes while blindfolded. The MICIVIH report found that 20 people had died and 30 others were injured between January and May as a result of shootings by members of the newly-established Police nationale d'Haïti (PNH), Haitian National Police, and that in several cases the circumstances suggested "excessive use of force or summary execution". At least eight people died in Cité Soleil on 6 March. The PNH alleged that the deaths occurred in the course of an exchange of gunfire between police and armed civilians. However, eye-witnesses alleged that some of the victims were shot inside their homes and MICIVIH observers found that six of them had been shot in the head, probably at point-blank range. A police investigation into the incident had produced no results by the end of the year. Four men held in police custody at the Croix des Bouquets police station, after allegedly attacking the home of a PNH agent, died between 20 and 24 June. One had been shot and one bore signs of torture. One policeman was charged with murder and 17 others were disciplined in connection with the case. In the second half of the year, several dozen police were suspended or dismissed from the force and about nine were charged with criminal offences believed to relate to human rights violations. Several people, including known government opponents, were killed in disputed circumstances, but only in the cases of Antoine Leroy and Jacques Florival (see above) were there any specific allegations, albeit not publicly substantiated, of official involvement. A police investigation into the killing of Jacques Florival and Antoine Leroy was reported to be under way at the end of the year. There was no progress in investigations into disputed killings that had occurred during 1995, including that of lawyer Mireille Durocher Bertin (see Amnesty International Report 1996). In January, Amnesty International published a report, Haiti: A question of justice. While welcoming the reforms so far implemented by the government to strengthen respect for, and protection of, human rights, the organization expressed concern at the slowness of the justice system in bringing to justice those responsible for human rights violations committed both before and after October 1994. Amnesty International urged the government to take immediate measures to speed up judicial reform and called on the international community to continue supporting the government's efforts to build institutions that would guarantee respect for human rights, and to assist efforts to bring to justice those responsible for past human rights violations.
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