President Aristide Wants to Bring FRAPH to Justice
REVISED February 17, 2004
Contact: Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison, National Palace, Haiti
President Aristide says Haiti's justice system might use FRAPH documents in pursuit of justice in investigation of FRAPH leader, Louis-Jodel Chamblain
Port-au-Prince - During a press conference held at Haiti's National Palace today regarding the humanitarian crisis caused by recent acts of terrorism, President Aristide revealed that the Government of Haiti may need to unveil the famous FRAPH documents. These documents and photos may be helpful in the pursuit of justice with regard to a criminal investigation underway involving FRAPH commander Louis-Jodel Chamblain, who emerged Friday as one of the terrorists in Gonaives. The terrorists are currently holding the approximately 150,000 residents of Gonaives hostage. Their violence and blocking of roads has cut off food, fuel and medical supplies to the Northern portion of the country.
Today, in discussing the violence in Gonaives and other towns, Aristide said Haiti's justice system may need to refer to the FRAPH documents in the pursuit of justice. He added that the names contained in the FRAPH documents are of persons who were actively involved in FRAPH, as well as those who supported it. President Aristide suggested that more than likely many of those same names engaged in the terrorist activities from that period are also implicated in the recent destablization and violence being waged today.
The criminal investigation the President referred to involves the Cite Soleil fire, an arson committed during the coup d'etat period, in which Chamblain is implicated. After trials were held on two other matters, Chamblain was earlier convicted in the Raboteau Massacre, as well as the assassination of businessman and Aristide supporter, Antoine Izmery. Both of these crimes occurred during the three-year coup period. Chamblain is also named in the Cite Soleil arson.
FRAPH, (Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress), a paramilitary organization formed during the second half of the coup d'etat (1991-1994) has been reported on and denounced by all international human rights groups for their use of torture, assassination and rape against Aristide supporters during that time.
FRAPH was founded by Emmanuel (Toto) Constant, who later revealed during a 60 Minutes interview that he met regularly with the CIA station chief in Haiti at the time, advising him in advance of all upcoming FRAPH activities and also stated that he received regular funds from the station chief.
An article by Blum and Nairn (see below) reveals that Constant stated that after Aristide was ousted from Haiti during the 1991 coup d'etat a US Defense Intelligence Agency officer, who he named, urged him to set up a front as a balance to the Aristide movement. This led to the creation of FRAPH in August 1993. Chamblain was the second in command of FRAPH.
The FRAPH documents contain papers and photos seized by the US military during their intervention in 1994 which led to the restoration of democracy and the return of President Aristide a short time thereafter.
FRAPH maintained offices throughout Haiti and they wallpapered their offices with "trophy photos" of their tortured and maimed victims. Human rights organizations vary in their reporting of the numbers of persons killed during the repression of the coup d'etat with the range being somewhere between 3,000 to 5,000 victims, a large percentage being attributed to the FRAPH paramilitary thugs.
Immediately following the US intervention in Haiti in 1994 the US Embassy spokesperson held a press conference in the central park of Port-au-Prince and attempted to introduce the head of FRAPH, "Toto" Constant, to the press as a legitimate leader of a legitimate opposition group. The staged event was quickly derailed by Haitians who had just been liberated after three years of brutal repression at the hands of Haiti's military and FRAPH. This attempt to portray FRAPH as a legitimate political organization was immediately denounced and rejected by human rights groups around the world, as well as by the press corps who were all too familiar with the mutilated corpses resulting from FRAPH's repressive maneuvers.
A highly publicized victim of FRAPH's handiwork was that of the machete attack against Alerte Belance, who was dragged from her home in the middle of the night because her husband had been an electoral worker in the 1990 elections which brought President Aristide to power on February 7, 1991.
Belance was attacked by men who identified themselves as FRAPH and left for dead on the national highway. After being assisted by a stunned motorist, she underwent surgery to sew her severed face back together, which had been sliced in half, and her arm had to be removed. She miraculously survived and underwent years of physical rehabilitation.
Despite requests by the Government of Haiti that Toto Constant be returned to Haiti to face the justice system, he remains at liberty in Queens, New York and was granted a permit to work. The US government allowed Constant to enter the United States in the mid 90s, although he was a known terrorist. The US ordered his deportation but never moved to deport him and he remains untouched by the Justice Department's human rights violator program, which has been aggressively deporting other such characters.
The Government of Haiti formally requested that the US return the FRAPH documents, arguing that they would be critical to the work of Haiti's Truth Commission at the time and in the investigation of criminal acts committed during the coup period. An international mobilization of individuals, human rights organizations and haiti-interest groups, aggressively campaigned as well for the return of the documents, however the US refused to hand over the documents.
In one of President Clinton's last presidential acts, the FRAPH documents were handed over to the Government of Haiti in early 2000, with the condition that their use be limited to legitimate criminal investigations, as opposed to retribution. They have never been used in the investigation and prosecution of crimes to date.
Please refer to these excellent articles on FRAPH:
David Grann: The Atlantic Monthly - Giving the Devil his Due - June 2001
The Nation "Our Man in FRAPH: Behind Haiti's Paramilitaries", - Oct 24, 1994referring to Emannuel Constant, the head of FRAPH p. 460
Zmagazine An Interview With Allan Nairn June 1995 - Nairn broke the story of the United States government's role in establishing and funding the brutal Haitian paramilitary death squad, FRAPH
FRAPH genesis Nov 8, 2003 - (#17173) As described by investigate journalist Alan Nairn and by William Blum "FRAPH, actually a front for the army,. . .spread ..."
Killing Hope "Who will rid me of this turbulent preist?" Haiti 1986-1984 - excerpts from the book.