Originally: Human Rights Situation Report: January 2003

 Haiti ushered out 2002 with images of the brutal triple murder of three (3) Carrefour brothers etched in the population?s mind. The brutality, violence and blatant disrespect for fundamental human rights that characterized 2002 spilled over into 2003, perhaps setting the tone for a year of increased systematic human rights violations by a government struggling to keep its position of power, and a politicized Haitian National Police deeply entrenched in the web of impunity and corruption.

January 2003 was also marked with a series of general strikes and numerous demonstrations from various sectors of civil society. Following a fuel shortage throughout the country at the end of 2002, prices at gas stations nearly doubled early in the New Year as the government cancelled the fuel-subsidizing program that had been in effect for several years. Also early in the year the Haitian gourde began devaluating at an alarming rate, further exacerbating an already distressing economic crisis and all-consuming political crisis.

Impunity, Corruption and the Haitian National Police (PNH)

The Carrefour Assassinations

Human rights activists began the New Year by continuing their rigorous work on perhaps the most severe case of police brutality exposed in recent history – the triple murder of three (3) young brothers from Carrefour during the early morning hours of December 8, 2002.1 Since December, the family, with the support of human rights organizations and civil society groups, has been demanding justice for the murdered brothers while attempting to make the necessary arrangements to bury the boys.

The case continues to be shrouded in a blanket of impunity as those identified as the murderers continue to move about freely in the area. In late December 2002, the public was made aware of the contents of a confidential internal police report concerning a police investigation conducted into the case. The report is clear in implicating several police officers in the murders. Nevertheless, despite the publication of the information contained in the report, no arrests to date have been made.

A funeral for the boys was delayed for several weeks (more than forty (40) days after their deaths) due to difficulty in obtaining government authorization for autopsies to be performed on the bodies. After much persistence and pressure from the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), autopsies were finally performed mid-January, allowing the family to finalized funeral preparations. The funeral finally took place on January 22, 2003.

Impunity for Police Commissioner?s Wife

The blatant tolerance and impunity for criminal activity and suspicious behavior on the part of the PNH was reinforced again early in 2003 with the senseless killing of 17 year-old John Peter Ancy Oléus on January 7, also in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Carrefour. The incident began with an accusation from Mrs. Cadet ? wife of the Police Commissioner of Jacmel ? that the Oléus family was disposing of garbage in close proximity to her kitchen. Being alone at home, the children asked that Mrs. Cadet wait for their mother to arrive to resolve the conflict. Mrs. Cadet left in her husband?s police vehicle only to return a short while later accompanied by six (6) armed men.

What began as an simple altercation turned deadly when one (1) of the men accompanying Mrs. Cadet shot and killed Peter Oléus as he ran to lock the front door of the house to protect his sisters and himself from an imminent assault. Mrs. Cadet was arrested soon after the crime was committed but released the following day by State Prosecutor Josué Pierre Louis who claimed that he has a “hierarchy to respect” and that he was simply following orders from the Justice Minister. Until this point, no one has been held responsible for the crime.

Oppression, Threats, Acts of Intimidation and Murder

Individuals involved in the University movement that began in August 2002 continue to be the victims of violence and a systematic violation of human rights as well. Twenty-seven (27) year-old medical student, Eric Pierre, was shot to death while leaving the faculty of medicine building on January 7, 2003. To date, no one has been arrested in connection with his murder despite witnesses? testimonies that the attackers left the scene in a vehicle with official license plates and a Teleco (state phone company) vehicle. According to the license plate number provided by witnesses, one of the vehicles belongs to Mr. Rene Civil, influential and outspoken member of OP Lavalas.


The University movement protesting government meddling with the independent UEH began gaining momentum in August with a series of protests and demonstrations. Several students were forced into hiding after death threats and acts of intimidation following a demonstration in November 2002. Things looked to be improving when Marie Carmelle Austin, in her first move after being instated as the new Minister of Education, reintegrated the former Executive Council as the head of the UEH. This murder proves otherwise.

On January 13, students and professors of the University demonstrated for justice in the assassination of Eric Pierre. His funeral was held of January 21.

Haitian State General Hospital in Crisis

The crisis has been simmering since 1999 with a variety of incidents and general strikes on the part of hospital staff. The crisis reached its breaking point on January 10, 2003 when doctors, nurses and even patients became some of the latest victims of OP Lavalas oppression.

A group of demonstrators from the Opposition were met in the street by a group of Lavalas supporters. The situation quickly deteriorated and several demonstrators from both sides were injured in the altercation. Injured Lavalas supporters were taken to the emergency room of the Haitian State General Hospital by fellow OP members who wielded their weapons and demanded immediate medical attention for their compatriots.

Shots fired in the air and a hovering helicopter above the hospital buildings created a situation of panic throughout the hospital. According to the press, four (4) patients receiving care in the hospital died from heart attacks as a result of the incident. Medical staff responded to the crisis by calling a strike, demanding that the government take measures to ensure a secure working environment for hospital staff in order to enable the provision of medical care of hospital patients, and to hold accountable those responsible for the incident of January 10.

The hospital has yet to return to its normal mode of functioning as the government has failed to officially respond to the crisis. Nevertheless an apparent calm has descended on the hospital as several doctors and nurses began resuming their responsibilities.

It became apparent that the crisis is far from over when on January 21, 2003, Doctor Joachim Jérémy was reported missing. To date, his whereabouts are still unknown. Parties involved contend that the doctor?s disappearance is connected to the recent problems at the hospital.

Renewed threats related to the Jean Dominique case

Christmas Day turned out to be a nightmare rather than a celebration for Michele Montas, journalist and widow of Jean L. Dominique ?former director of Radio Haiti Inter who was assassinated on April 3, 2000. In an apparent attempt on her life, an armed group of men tried to force its way into Montas? residence soon after she arrived on December 25, 2002. One security guard was killed while holding off the assailants.

Trouble for the Haitian Judiciary

The struggle to create an independent and objective judicial system in Haiti continues, as several judicial cases remain blocked and tainted by political influences. Additionally, the last several months have seen an increase in the violent attacks against members of the judiciary. In January 2003 alone, three (3) judicial authorities from three (3) different cities were the objects of physical attacks; fortunately each escaped major injury although in one incident a bodyguard was seriously wounded.

Additionally, an incident involving the Investigating Judge from GonaVves, Mr. Marcel Jean, provides evidence that, rather than choosing to enforce justice in the Amiot Metayer case by arresting and placing the fugitive behind bars, the Lavalas government prefers to pressure the Investigating Judge to legalize the forced liberation of Metayer.

Judge Jean was on his way to the United States on Wednesday January 22 when he discovered that his name was on a list of Haitians hit with a travel ban ordered by the Minister of Interior, Jocelerme Privert. Judge Jean?s passport was also confiscated. The Judge?s name was added to the list on the day that Metayer escaped from prison, at which point he also began to receive threats to his life.

Privert justified his actions by saying that “all civil servants are obliged to inform their hierarchical supervisor each time they will leave the country.” Jean?s lawyer, Mr. Samuel Madistin, countered the Minister?s statement claiming that an Investigating Magistrate has no such supervisor and that this law applies only to Ministers and other members of the executive and does not apply to authorities within the judicial system, which is independent from the executive power. As for the travel ban, this measure is generally taken against someone who has broken the law and is being actively pursued by law enforcement.


Freedom of Expression and the Right to Associate in Jeopardy

Citizens? fundamental rights to demonstrate, protest and express their opinions continue to be oppressed by pressure from the PNH and Haitian authorities. January 2003 was marked with a series of general strikes and numerous demonstrations, promoting a variety of causes often ending in confrontation. Transportation Unions and the Opposition called for numerous strikes and demonstrations throughout the month of January to protest the price increase for fuel and continue to urge President Aristide to resign.


An anti-governmental demonstrator was shot and killed on January 8 in GonaVves. Locals say that the victim was killed as the police were breaking up the demonstration but the PNH spokesman, Jean-Dady Simeon, claims that the man was already dead when the police intervened. Violence and political unrest have been a common occurrence in the politically charged city of independence since the August 2, 2002 prison break of one hundred and fifty-nine (159) criminals following an attack led by the Cannibal Army.

Justice Minister Calixte Delatour admitted that Metayer has not yet been arrested so as to avoid a blood bath in the region of GonaVves. He claims that the government is looking into new strategies to once again place him behind bars.

Opposition Leader Targeted

Former Military Colonel Himmler Rébu, one of the Opposition leaders to attend the previously mentioned demonstration on January 10, discovered that an arrest warrant had been issued against him shortly after the altercation between the Opposition and Lavalas supporters that took place during the said demonstration. The warrant was issued by the Port-au-Prince prosecutor?s office following a report by a Justice of the Peace and a complaint filed by ten (10) Lavalas supporters accusing Rébu of inflicting “voluntary grievous bodily harm” in a confrontation during the demonstration.

Given the context and situation, legal action against Rébu has the appearance of being politically motivated. Rébu?s lawyer, Mr. Osner Févry, says that the warrant is illegal, as the documents provided do not suffice to issue an arrest warrant against his client. Rébu declares that the scenario is completely false and believes that it was all invented in order to neutralize him as an opposing force to the current government. He adds that police officers accompanied him throughout the whole demonstration and behaved in a completely professional manner.

Further confirmation that the allegation against Rébu had been designed to “neutralize” him as an opposition leader came following an investigation at the State Hospital concerning one of the alleged victims. It was discovered that Célange Antoine, who claimed that Rébu shot him in the foot, had not actually been shot at all but had merely received treatment in the hospital well before the demonstration on January 10.