Bachelet: Haiti ‘Death Squad’ Leader Must Be Served Justice

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle
Bachelet said today that former Haitian paramilitary leader
Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, who was deported from the United
States last month, must be held accountable for the
horrendous human rights violations committed during
1990s.

In a landmark judgment for justice in Haiti,
Constant was convicted in absentia on 16 November 2000 and
sentenced to life imprisonment over his involvement in the
1994 Raboteau massacre when military and paramilitary forces
attacked the neighbourhood of Raboteau in Gonaïves. The
victims were between 10 and 80 years old. The total number
of victims remains unknown as bodies were thrown into open
sewers.

Constant, who fled to the United States in
1994 after President Aristide’s return to power, was
deported from the United States on 23 June 2020 and arrested
upon his arrival in Port-au-Prince.

On 10 July, the
judiciary announced they could not locate the judicial file
related to his detention. The absence of the judicial file
raises concerns as to the legal basis for his detention,
raising the prospect of his release and signalling he may
effectively escape justice.

Constant’s Front pour
l’Avancement et le Progrès Haitien
(FRAPH) worked as a
death squad targeting the population in their campaign to
help the Haitian Armed Forces keep their grip on power. They
carried out extrajudicial executions, enforced
disappearances, arbitrary detentions and rape as well as
countless other acts of torture and violence. Soldiers and
paramilitaries reportedly often raped women in front of
family members, and survivors reported that sons were
sometimes forced to rape their own mothers.

“The
perpetrators of such egregious acts must not be allowed to
escape justice,” said Bachelet.

“Impunity destroys
the social fabric of societies and perpetuates mistrust
among communities or towards the State. Accountability helps
prevent feelings of frustration, bitterness and the possible
desire for revenge which could lead to further violence and
atrocities.

“It is essential for victims to obtain
justice, truth and reparations, and for their dignity to be
restored,” the High Commissioner
said.

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