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The Role of the International Community

By 2000, the three-year political impasse in Haiti had led to the suspension of some U.S. $500 million in multilateral assistance, with donor countries pressing the government of René Préval to restore a working parliament ahead of presidential elections scheduled for the end of 2000. But the initially positive reaction to the May 21 elections began to shift with news of the arrests of opposition candidates and supporters, and turned into a tide of criticism when Haitian officials refused to acknowledge that the Senate calculation method was incorrect. Focusing on the calculation issue, the United States, Canada, France, and the U.N. Security Council called on the Haitian government to revise the election results. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sent a high-level mediator to Haiti in early July, but to no effect.

With the fraudulent election results firmly entrenched, Haiti's main bilateral donors began to signal aid cutbacks. France, in its role as president of the European Union, initiated a review of provisions of the Lomé Convention, to which Haiti is a party, which could lead to the suspension of a nearly $200 million aid package. Canada also announced a reevaluation of its aid programs.

Relations between Haiti and the international community were further strained in July and August by several grenade or Molotov cocktail attacks on foreign missions and foreigners in Port-au-Prince, which, however, did not result in injuries.

United Nations

The six-year-old human rights monitoring mission, MICIVIH, and the U.N. peacekeeping mission departed Haiti in early 2000 and were replaced by the smaller United Nations International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (Mission internationale civile d'appui en Haïti, MICAH).

In January, U.N. Special Rapporteur for Violence against Women Radhika Coomaraswamy released a report based on her June 1999 visit to Haiti. Among the problems she noted were the country's "dysfunctional judiciary" and the fact that most women prisoners share living quarters with male prisoners, exposing them to violence and sexual abuse. At its April session, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution on Haiti expressing its concern over delays in the electoral process and calling upon Haiti to hold "free, fair and prompt elections." It also extended the mandate of its independent expert on Haiti another year.

Organization of American States

The OAS-EOM, staffed by twenty-two international observers and assisted by about eighty delegates provided by national governments, arrived in Haiti in late February to monitor the elections and provide technical assistance to Haitian election officials. When Haiti went ahead with the second-round elections on July 9, the OAS-EOM declined to monitor the balloting, withdrawing its observers from the country.

The OAS held a special session on Haiti on July 13, followed by a mission to Haiti headed by Secretary General Cesar Gaviria on August 17-19. Reporting on the mission, Gaviria voiced the international community's "skepticism and worries" about democracy in Haiti. At this writing, mediation efforts continued. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visited Haiti in August 2000, identifying as the most worrisome aspect a "deterioration of the political climate to the point where there seems to be no political consensus on how to consolidate the country's nascent democracy."

United States

In September, the U.S. announced it would provide no aid to the Haitian government and no support for the presidential elections. "We will pursue policies that distinguish between helping the people of Haiti and assisting the government of Haiti," said the U.S. ambassador to the OAS. Earlier, the United States had shut down its five-year-old program of support for Haitian police training.

The Clinton Administration continued to block efforts toward truth and justice in Haiti by retaining some 160,000 pages of documents seized from the Haitian military and FRAPH in September 1994. U.S. officials stated they would only hand the materials over to the Haitian government after excising the names of U.S. citizens, a condition the Préval government continued to reject. FRAPH leader Constant, previously an informer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), remained in Queens, New York, having been extended protection from deportation. Fifteen high-ranking Haitian officers, including most of the coup-era high command, were also resident in the United States, having emigrated from Haiti after Aristide's return.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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