Americas Watch Haiti
Continue Oppression and Killings in Haiti+Video!
October 19, 2005
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Important Video about the July 6, 2005
U.N. Killings in Haiti
Americas Watch's Haiti Updates
The First Session of the
International Tribunal on Haiti: Report
By: Joe DeRaymond
September 23, 2005
On Friday, September 23, 2005, the Director General of the Haiti National
Police Leon Charles, UN Force Commander Lieutanant General Augusto Heleno
Ribiero Pereira of Brazil, and the Special Representative of the United
Nations Juan Valdes of Chile were convicted of violations of Haitian law and
international law including crimes against humanity. This verdict was
delivered by the jury of the First Session of the International Tribunal on
Haiti. The Tribunal was held in Washington, DC at George Washington University
at the Elliott School of International Affairs.
The International Tribunal on Haiti has been organized by a coalition of
Haiti solidarity groups, including the Haiti Support Network, and supported by
the Latin America Solidarity Coalition (LASC –
lasolidarity.org), which sponsored and funded the Tribunal. The Tribunal
will continue for several sessions over the next seven months, to investigate
reports of human rights violations and seek accountability for crimes against
humanity. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is the lead member of the
Commission of Inquiry that will investigate charges generated by the Tribunal.
The Commission will conduct fact-finding inquiries in Haiti, the United States
and other countries. The verdicts of the Tribunal will be used to generate a
case that will be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Haiti screams for your attention. It is a killing field in its structural
poverty, and in the constant violence visited upon the impoverished population
by rogue police forces aided, horribly, by United Nations "peace-keeping"
troops. The Tribunal brought together a distinguished group of experts and
eyewitnesses to expose the crimes being committed against the people of Haiti.
The Tribunal is structured in a fashion similar to United Nations
Tribunals, a procedural conflation of European and Anglo legal traditions. The
presiding Judges are former Haitian Ambassador Ben Dupuy, Attorney Brian
Concannon, and Attorney Lucie Tondreau. The Investigating Judge is Attorney
Tom Griffin, assisted by Attorney Lionel Jean-Baptiste. The Chief Prosecutor
is Attorney Desiree Wayne, assisted by Attorneys Kim Ives and Ray LaForest.
The Jury is an international panel of citizens chosen for their interest,
knowledge and ability to assess the testimony.
The indictment charges 21 individuals with violations of Haitian and
international law. It delineates the justification for assigning criminal
responsibility to those individuals, specifically, "No distinction has been
made based on official capacity. Official capacity…shall not exempt a person
from criminal responsibility." This is a crucial point to be made in this era
of State repression, a point made at Nuremberg, and a necessary recognition
that a person cannot commit atrocities in the name of a State or institution
and then use the uniform or position as a justification for the crime.
The defendants are UN personnel, US military personnel, Canadian military
personnel, French personnel, members and former members of the Police
Nationale d’Haiti (PNH), and members and former members of the former "rebel"
force that assaulted Haitian society in 2004.
The initial charges list 15 counts of attacks, executions and massacres
that occurred between March of 2004 and August of 2005. Each count includes
the killing of civilians and each describes an act of terror against the civil
population. These violent crimes occur within a social and political context
that has been stripped of democracy by the governing powers, namely, the
United States, Canada and France. The Prosecution began with an exposition of
the history of Haiti, and the events that led up to the coup of February,
2004, which removed the elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide
and ushered in the wave of violence addressed in the Indictment.
The first witness was Jeb Sprague, an expert on the destabilization of
Haitian society prior to the coup, representing the Latin America Solidarity
Coalition. He charted the web of organizations funded by the National
Endowment for Democracy, the United States Agency for International
Development, the National Democracy Institute, and the Chamber of Commerce
that created an "unnatural" opposition to Aristide. The programs of such
groups as the International Republican Institute, funded by the NED, were
called "democratic enhancement", but were really a means to create discord in
a nation weakened by harsh economic sanctions imposed by the United States.
Canadian journalist Ives Engler then presented his testimony on the roles
of Canada, the United States and France in the destabilization of Haiti. He
spoke of "The Ottawa Initiative on Haiti", held in Ottawa on January 31 –
February 1, 2003, at which Otto Reich, OAS representatives, and Canadian
officials decided the fate of Haiti, with no Haitians present. His findings
were submitted to the Tribunal. (See "Canada in Haiti, Waging War on the Poor
Majority", 2005, by Ives Engler and Anthony Fenton, Red Publishing, Fernwood
The next witness, Attorney Ira Kurzban, represented the government of Haiti
during the government of Aristide in its attempts to collect monies stolen by
the Duvalier family, and to recover reparations from France. He noted the 13
years of opposition that Aristide faced upon his initial electoral victory in
1991, which included the advice of Jimmy Carter, that he not take the office
that he had won so convincingly. Mr. Kurzban testified to the kidnapping of
Aristide by US Special Forces, and to the corrupt nature of the US-installed
government after the Feb. 29, 2004 coup.
The last witness in this phase of the inquiry was Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine,
the Minister of Migration in the Aristide government, who testified to his
kidnapping and expulsion from Haiti under threat of death during the coup.
At this point, the Tribunal had been presented with the background to the
period of crisis faced by Haiti at the time of the coup of February 2004. A
government of rebel thugs armed and trained by the United States was in
control of the streets of Haiti. It should be noted that this initial
exposition of the context of Haiti today was presented in thumbnail fashion,
and was treated with some skepticism by the Judges, for good reason, as it did
not address directly crimes against humanity. The Prosecution argued that the
testimony was important to understand the intentional subversion of civil
society and Haitian democracy in Haiti by the United States, Canada and
France. Therefore, there exists today an inability for existing institutions
in Haiti to deal with the crimes in the Indictment. The Judges allowed the
testimony after argument, with the admonition to the jury that they had
discretion as to the weight granted the evidence.
The testimony of any one of the witnesses at this session could have
consumed the night’s work. Each had extensive oral, video or written evidence
to present to the Tribunal, and much of it had to be submitted rather than
presented in full. The appearance in one place of so many powerful testimonies
to crimes in Haiti was very effective to prove the case for the Prosecution.
The necessarily truncated presentations were also a reminder that a Tribunal
or court scenario is not always the best venue for creating drama. There is
ground to be covered, much to be done in a limited time.
The next witness was Kevin Pina, a US journalist freshly released from a
Haitian jail. He testified about his arrest on September 10, when he uncovered
a marauding group of Haitian National Police in the house of the imprisoned
priest Jean Juste. He then provided personal and video testimony of the events
he has witnessed during his years in Haiti. The video clip he showed of the
massacres in Cite Soleil on July 6, 2005 was a powerful exposition of the
poverty and terror that are daily life for Haiti. He testified to the
participation of the UN occupation forces in the indiscriminate slaughter in
poor neighborhoods. He has recently completed a video documentary, "Haiti: the
Pina was followed by Tom Griffin, who gave a capsulized version of his
Human Rights Investigation of November, 2004. This report is available from
EPICA, www.epica.org. It is an indispensable resource to understand Haiti
2005. It covers all aspects of the current situation, with photos and
interviews of the key players in the struggle, not least the people of the
barrios. It documents the incompetent, criminal occupation of the UN, as well
as the sinister actions of the HNP and irregular Haitian forces.
Seth Donnelly was the final witness. He had been a participant in a human
rights delegation in July of this year, sponsored by the San Francisco Labor
Council. He was a witness to events in Cite Soleil surrounding the July 6
massacre. He had interviewed UN officials, and had produced a video of the
events he witnessed. His video and testimony corroborated the statements of
The Prosecution chose to ask the jury for a verdict on the guilt or
innocence of three of the defendants; Leon Charles, the former Director
General of the Haiti National Police, Lieutanant General Augusto Heleno
Ribiero Pereira of Brazil, UN Force Commander, and Juan Valdes of Chile, the
Special Representative of the United Nations. Eleven of the jury of 12 voted
guilty, one abstained. Thus, the Tribunal started with a judgment against the
managers of the massacres, the architects of the policy of terror. The
verdicts and the cases of all defendants were referred to the Commission of
Inquiry for further investigation.
Ramsey Clark addressed the group at the close of the session. He sketched
the history of Haiti, the perfidy of George W. Bush’s attitude toward an
elected government: "’Aristide must go’, Bush said". He noted the value of the
recent Tribunal on the War in Iraq, and the need for such mechanisms by which
people could hold governments accountable. Clark will lead a Commission of
Inquiry to Haiti in October to gather further evidence and eyewitness
testimony. The coming sessions of the International Tribunal on Haiti will
further expose the reality of Haiti to the world, and will solidify a case to
present to the International Criminal Court at The Hague for criminal
Past News from Haiti Crisis
Feb 23, 2004
March 2, 2004
March 11, 2004
Useful Haiti Links
History of US Military, CIA Involvement in Haiti
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