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Posted November 21, 2002

An Organization of American States press release

www.oas.org (E-228-02) November 20, 2002

HAITI AT CRITICAL JUNCTURE Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi reported to the OAS Permanent Council that the Government of Haiti and the OAS Special Mission had agreed on 15 November, 2002 on formal terms of reference covering technical assistance from the OAS in the areas of elections, elections security, disarmament and the professionalization of the Haitian National Police.

These agreements were cited by five key nongovernmental institutions on 19 November in presenting names to President Aristide for the formation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). The prompt formation of the Council is now critical.

The Assistant Secretary General praised the orderly nature of public demonstrations held with appropriate police protection in various Haitian cities in recent days. At the same time, he noted, with many aspects of resolutions 806 and 822 still incomplete, and in the current state of fragmentation and weakening of Haitian society, opportunities to solve Haiti's problems peacefully and democratically are rapidly waning.

He called for action from all concerned. He appealed to the Haitian community, both within Haiti and in the diaspora, to find space to work with each other despite continuing differences. He called on the international community to work urgently to enable multilateral economic assistance to flow to Haiti.

The Assistant Secretary General stated that "the only way forward is for all sectors to work seriously to ensure that the problems of distrust and lack of resources are overcome in order to create democratic space for all."


Posted November 14, 2002 

Congressman Hastings blasts INS for Haitians treatment

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) sent the letter below to U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Commissioner James Ziglar expressing his outrage over inconsistencies in current INS policy toward Haitian refugees.

Mr. James W. Ziglar
Commissioner U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Chester Arthur Building
425 I Street NW Rm 7100
Washington, D.C. 20536                                                                         November 14, 2002
Dear Commissioner Ziglar:

It would appear that INS congratulations are in order, for INS has finally acknowledged that its treatment of Haitian immigrants has indeed been discriminatory. It is difficult to imagine, however, that anyone is rejoicing over the announcement this weekend of a new INS policy, which is apparently aimed more at muting those of us who have criticized INS than it is at correcting the objectionable policy.

In order to silence the loud and growing calls for same treatment for Haitians as for other immigrants seeking asylum in the US, INS amended its policy to provide that all illegal immigrants who arrive by sea will face expedited deportation and will be detained while their case are pending. This is a flawed policy for three (3) reasons.

First of all, it underscores the distaste of INS policymakers for Haitians. Rather than be nice to Haitians, INS has opted to be mean to everybody. Under this new mean-spirited policy, all immigrants who arrive by boat will receive the same harsh treatment Haitians used to singularly receive: months of detention and/or deportation. The idea of interviewing Haitians and paroling those who have asylum claims into the community with work authorization pending the processing of their claims was so unappealing or appalling to the INS policymakers that they chose to punish all boat immigrants rather than be deprived of the opportunity to continue to be punitive to Haitians. Who is responsible for this policy? I think the public ought to know whom to hold responsible for this policy. The cloak of anonymity should be removed. I, like others, should be able to directly correspond with these individuals. When I take a stand, it is never anonymous.

Secondly, this policy is still discriminatory. Why does it apply only to immigrants who arrive by boat? What is the difference in a claim of asylum by a person who arrives by boat from a person who arrives by airplane? A claim of asylum is a claim of asylum and we in the US should have a uniform way of approaching those claims. The impact on Haitians is still discriminatory since in all likelihood, most Haitian asylum seekers arrive by boat. Or is that the point?? The lesson: intending immigrants should build rickety airplanes, not rickety boats.

Third, this policy will not deter immigrants, Haitian or otherwise, from risking their lives on rickety boats to reach the land of opportunity. US Coast Guard data on the interdiction of Haitians from 1998-2000 reflect that when Haitians have hope in Haiti, Haitians remain in Haiti. For instance, there was a drop in Haitian migration after the Haitian elections in 1990 followed by a dramatic upturn after the 1991 coup. Thus, the best way to keep Haitians in Haiti is to help Haiti help itself. This policy is a nonstarter in that regard.

In conclusion, the motive of this repatriation for boat people policy seems devious. It says to asylum seekers that this country is no longer sympathetic to their fears of persecution, and if they were damned in their own country, they are damned in this one too to detention and deportation. Congress has passed no law damning asylum seekers. INS should at least open this subject to pubic opinion before imposing such a hypocritical policy. The originators should identify themselves and debate the merits of the position they advocate. Without good cause, immigrants arriving by boat should not be treated any differently than those arriving by air. INS should give this policy more thought. Furthermore I would like to remind those who have devised this defunct discriminatory policy that except for the Native Americans in this country, the ancestors of those who have help to develop this country all came by boat. I wonder what they would think of your policy? 

Posted November 8, 2002

UN should occupy Haiti                                                                                                                                                                                                 By Harry Caicedo

Re Yves Colon's column Help Haitians fashion a better future for themselves (Nov. 4): The proposition that Haiti is strapped for cash because Washington's punishment is naive.

The Aristide regime has earned its zero credit rating because it is corrupt, brutal and anti-democratic. Any foreign aid sent to Haiti would quickly disappear into a proverbial ``black hole.''

The anarchy reigning in Haiti today is the product of a long history of exploitation, mismanagement and dishonest leadership. There can be no change under existing conditions. Haitians will find a better future only through a benign occupation -- led by the United Nations -- lasting at least 20 years. Outside experts -- both foreign and Haitians now living in exile -- would eradicate corruption, clean up the political process and organize the economy and infrastructure.

A new generation of Haitians could then grow up in a relatively healthy environment where honest leadership can benefit the majority. They could then lead that country into a future of shared progress and real democracy.


Posted November 8, 2002
Press Release
organlogo.gif (7181 bytes)Organization of American States
November 7, 2002
Mr. Chairman,

Resolution CP/RES. 822 (1331/02) calls for a report from the Secretary General on implementation of the resolution during the period September 4 to November 4. The report is currently under preparation; it will be circulated with a number of annexes as soon as it is completed and translated. So I am giving you an oral preview.

Resolution 822 was an instrument through which this Permanent Council sought to give all parties in Haiti, all actors in the Haitian equation, an opportunity to unfreeze the political situation and normalize relations between Haiti and the international financial institutions (IFIs). Unfortunately, it has become clear that, at least until very recently, the usual skepticism, complacency, and hostilities have remained in play both within Haiti and outside of the country. Without greater confidence and direction, and with delays and obfuscation evident on all sides, major targets have not been attained.

The major milestone flowing from resolution 822 was to be the establishment of a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) by November 4. That has not happened.

Under the terms of Part IV of the Draft Interim Accord (DIA), which was incorporated by reference into resolution 822, nine Haitian entities were each to propose one candidate to be named to the Council by the President of the Republic.

We understand that two of these entities?the governing party, Fanmi Lavalas, and the judiciary?have sent the President names, which are uncontested within their ranks.

The major opposition group, Convergence démocratique, contends that the government has not met its other obligations under resolution 822 and, hence, is not presenting a candidate at this time.

The grouping of the other political parties, which are neither Fanmi Lavalas nor Convergence démocratique, but which covers about 60 to 80 political parties, is badly split: one subgroup has sent in a name; another subgroup claims to be the only proper representative but says this is not the time. A third group contests the propriety of the second group, and there may be further divisions.

The other five entities that have generally worked together in recent weeks, coordinated by the Initiative of Civil Society, comprise three religious groupings?Catholic, Episcopal, and Protestant?the grouping of human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) coordinated by Justice et Paix, and the business community coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Haiti (CCIH). They first insisted that the government ask the Organization of American States, through the Special Mission, for technical assistance to provide security for elections and for disarmament. The government did so last week and the Special Mission responded positively in the name of the Organization, but the five are seeking additional information and details from the government prior to providing the names, which they state they have selected already. To this end, on Monday, with the deadline of Monday, 4, 2002 upon them, they proposed an extension of the time period for 15 days.

President Aristide said on Monday that he was prepared to be patient and the press has reported positive comments from the Convergence démocratique provided the President uses the time to act on their concerns. This morning, the Group of Friends of Haiti of the Secretary General met in Port-au-Prince and concluded that they should encourage all parties to act favorably within the 15-day time period.

It should be noted that there are many additional complexities that I have not mentioned: signs of split; uncertainties about whether the formulation or provision that if an entity fails to put forward a name, other entities would choose the replacement. It is not clear whether this process would or how it would be activated.

The long and short of this situation is that key actors have been unwilling to rise above entrenched personal positions to develop cooperation with government authorities to stabilize the political situation on terms allowing for an end to the fragmentation and paralysis that are leading the country as a whole toward disaster.

This said, contacts among the players on the ground do continue actively, and it is certainly to be hoped that, as the Friends indicated this morning, they will permit the formation of a credible CEP in the next 15 days.

Now, the Secretary General?s report will cover in detail quite a number of additional points. Let me summarize a few of them right now. I should note that on November 4, Monday, the Government of Haiti provided the Special Mission a document with a large number of annexes, which updates its actions across this entire range of obligations. We have not been able to assimilate fully the content of that document yet. It will be appended to the Secretary General?s report, and my comments now on specific issues do not fully take into account what the government has provided us, some of which comes from judiciary sources, to which we did not have prior access.

On reparations, the government has expended substantial effort since the adoption of resolution 822, and noteworthy progress has been made. The government reports that checks to the amount of some 34 million gourds have been written to Haitian victims and that US$150,000 is available for the French Institute of Haiti. Disappointingly, however, the matter is not wholly resolved even for the major political groupings, some of which appear to have been less than fully cooperative. There appear to be a good number of other individuals, whose cases have not received much attention, including many outside Port-au-Prince.

The preliminary report issued in September by the then Minister of Justice on actions taken with regard to persons involved in violations of the rights of citizens on December 17, 2001 was uninformative and inadequate. Some further steps have been taken since then, but mainly in Port-au-Prince. Overall, action on this front has been hesitant and slow, and no cases have been concluded. The Brignol Lindor case, for example, has moved ahead but is not resolved. The Jean Dominique case stagnates unresolved two and a half years after the journalist was murdered. Similar cases in this category, such as those provided to the government last spring, have not moved at all over the period since adoption of resolution CP/RES. 806 (1301/02).

As concerns the security climate, there have been a significant number of serious incidents over the recent months in Port-au-Prince and its suburbs, and in other cities and towns. Tire burnings, local clashes, including deaths and other disruptions, occur often enough to cause understandable concern to ordinary citizens. Major confrontations have occurred in Gonaïves, Cité Soleil, and Martissant. Individuals have disappeared or been threatened. The police have not re-arrested Amiot Métayer or most of the others who escaped jail with him on August 2.

Widespread illegal possessions and use of firearms continues. The government has taken a number of steps to recuperate illegal arms through seizures. Relatively few arms, however, have been so far obtained. The OAS Special Mission, as a first step in its proffered assistance, held a Seminar on Disarmament October 28 and 29 in order to make available international experience and to share views on the Haiti situation in order to advance development of a national disarmament program, as called for in resolution 822.

With regard to human rights, OAS, UN, and private Haitian groups have issued a number of strong reports over the last several months deploring human rights abuses, including ones committed by the police. There have been threats to the press and the freedom of expression. The rule of law is generally perceived as not being respected, particularly for example in the case of former General Prosper Avril.

Now, resolution 806 provides for technical assistance through the Special Mission on security, justice, human rights and governance. And, in fact, the mission has succeeded, in cooperation with the Government of Haiti, to establish mechanisms for each. So far, these mechanisms have not become fully operational.

On October 29, the Prime Minister wrote the Special Mission stating that the government wished for technical assistance from the OAS in all the mandated areas of work of the Special Mission, including disarmament and security for the elections. The Mission, as I noted earlier, responded positively. If followed through over coming weeks, this request, which will include the creation of joint committees to pursue particular aspects in each area, should open the way to faster progress and help provide greater public reassurance in the lead-up to elections.

I should say that the Council and all of us should be proud of the work of Special Mission Head, David Lee, and his deputy, Denneth Modeste. Neither I nor the Secretary General have had to travel to Haiti since September 4; the Mission has prepared the submission on plans and resources, which I will discuss in a moment; and it held the successful Disarmament Seminar I mentioned a minute ago.

Pursuant to paragraph 11 of resolution 822, discussions have taken place between Haiti and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in particular, which sent a mission to Haiti, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank. Informal consultations among donors have been scheduled by the World Bank for early December.

The Government of Haiti has been critical of the international community for, in its view, not responding more actively or quickly enough to Haiti?s needs. My own view is that serious absorptive capacity problems and donor concerns about the use and application of resources exist and should be met. At the same time, I note that resolution 822 urged all concerned to resolve these problems, and I believe the IFIs must work harder with the Government of Haiti to find creative ways to overcome technical obstacles and enable multilateral flows to resume.

Let me now turn quickly to the OAS Special Mission work program and resource requirements. It is quite clear that what the Mission will actually be able to accomplish will depend on the evolution of the situation in Haiti, and particularly on the creation and effective functioning of the Electoral Council, but that that in turn will require significant contributions and support from this organization and its member states. The United States is the only member or observer state that has come forward to provide fresh contributions to the Special Mission since resolution 822 was adopted. The United States made a contribution of US$1 million focused primarily on security matters. The Secretary General expects to be writing to you very shortly to seek support for a consolidated work program, which will be set forth in detail in his letter, and to indicate the resources that we expect will be required.

Let me now focus very briefly on one item, security, which I believe is rightly regarded as the key to progress and, in particular, as a sine qua non for the holding of credible elections next year. International assistance to the Haiti National Police (HNP) has virtually dried up in recent years. Considerable work and time will be required to strengthen the HNP and assist it to become a professional and impartial pillar of support for the rule of law and the democratic institutions of Haiti. The Mission would propose to place international police at key points in the structure of the HNP headquarters and in the Police Academy, as well as at departmental headquarters in the field and has been holding discussions with the Government of Haiti to this end.

The task of the Mission is also, as I mentioned, to assist the Government of Haiti in devising and implementing a national program of disarmament. The initial steps in this area will be to work with the Haitian authorities and other international actors, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the preparation of Haiti?s national plan, to assist a possible National Disarmament Committee, and possibly to develop a pilot project in a particular quartier still to be selected. Detailed costing for a national disarmament program can only really be done as part of its preparation; this could prove really quite expensive.

With regard to elections security, that is also an area where the precise costs will depend on a number of decisions. Notably, the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council will have to play a key role in managing all aspects of elections. Resolution 822 envisages additional responsibilities for the CEP in monitoring the HNP.

Various proposals have been offered as to the level of involvement of the international community in accompanying this process. Two scenarios are set forth in the document that the Secretary General will circulate. I will only mention that the cheapest one runs approximately US$1.3 million. A more effective one, which is still more limited that some of the requests made in Haiti, would run to easily US$3 and possibly US$5 million.

In addition, there is work to be done in the fields of justice, human rights, governance, elections and support for the Electoral Council, facilitation of the political process, technical assistance, and electoral observation. None of this work can be done in Haiti without an effective information program and, in fact, the Mission is already establishing a website. But clearly a major undertaking like this will require greater support here in the headquarters as well, since our staff in the Secretariat is currently performing ad hoc functions here at the cost of their regular duties and responsibilities.

Let me note that I think it would be a mistake to focus exclusively on Haiti. I think it is important to think?and the report will present a couple of ideas?in terms of regional efforts as well. I personally believe that cooperation with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is an essential part of this process, enabling CARICOM to have a stronger presence in its technical office in Port-au-Prince and, perhaps, to take advantage of the CARICOM Task Force on Crime and Security, which was established by the CARICOM Heads of Government a little over a year ago, and to perhaps help with the development of a disarmament program and aspects of regional trafficking in firearms and drugs.

Finally, I also think that it would be important to consider ways in which it would be possible to support and encourage the development of closer cooperative ties between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

To be very realistic, let me close by saying that the mission has US$620,000 in the bank committed from funds already received, including funds from quite a large number of the member states. In addition, it has pledges of about US$1.8 million, of which about US$1.3 are regarded as firm. The set of programs, which we will be submitting to the member states and which will cover a year of operation until about two months after the anticipated elections, comes to about US$14 million, leaving a shortfall there of close to US$12 million.

Clearly, decisions are not called for immediately from this Council in this rather fluid situation. I think that the sense that has emerged as a result of various meetings of Friends is that it is important to encourage all parties to act calmly and rationally toward forming a credible electoral council in the next several days. Clearly, without an electoral council, very little of what I have been discussing will be possible.

I will simply conclude by saying that I remain convinced that the best thing Haiti could do over the coming months is to fully implement resolution 822 and, through fair and honest elections next year, put the country on track for renewed development, democracy, and a successful celebration of its 200th anniversary of independence. That, in turn, will be possible only with leadership from Haiti and determined support from the international community.

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