NEW YORK - February 18 - With the reappearance of Jodel Chamblain in Haiti and the continued U.S. refusal to detain Emmanuel Constant, two of the bloodiest leaders of the 1991 Duvalierist coup are poised to return to power. Chamblain and Constant are founders of FRAPH, the paramilitary Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress responsible for more than 5,000 murders and untold dismemberment, torture and violence in the early 1990s.
Nearly a decade ago, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) sued FRAPH on behalf of a Haitian woman who had been pulled from her home, tortured, and had her arm cut off by members of the organization. CCR also launched an initiative to extradite Constant to Haiti to be tried for his crimes against humanity. The U.S. has continued to allow Constant to walk the streets of Queens, never held accountable for his role in the human rights atrocities he orchestrated. By his own admission, Constant was still coordinating activities in Haiti as recently as a few years ago, and there is no reason to think the situation has changed.
In a 1993 CIA report released to CCR in the lawsuit against FRAPH, Chamblain and Constant are said to have been in on the planning of the 1993 assassination of Haitian Justice Minister Guy Malary. The document states, "FRAPH members Jodel Chamblain, Emmanuel Constant, and Gabriel Douzable met with an unidentified military officer on the morning of 14 October to discuss plans to kill Malary." Constant at the time was a paid CIA informant, earning $500 a month.
Ron Daniels, CCR's executive director, says, "The U.S. government must leave no doubt that we support a democratically elected government in Haiti and will not permit FRAPH to return to power. They must detain Constant immediately. This man committed crimes against humanity in Haiti, yet he is free to walk the streets in Queens."
Michael Ratner, president of CCR's board, adds, "It has to be stopped. The same criminals, gangs and thugs who tried to abort democracy in the bloody 1991 coup are taking over in Haiti today. If they are allowed to continue, thousands more will die. Did the world not learn a lesson from Rwanda?"
Chamblain has resurfaced in Haiti and is leading the violent and destabilizing riots currently threatening to topple not just President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but Haiti's hard-won democracy itself. The U.S. government's failure to disarm FRAPH at the time and to extradite Constant to Haiti implicates our government in the current hostilities. We have a responsibility to see that democracy is not overthrown once more by brutal death squad leaders:
The U.S. must support the CARICOM proposal, which Aristide has agreed to, and work with CARICOM and the OAS to ensure peace;
Constant must be detained immediately and ultimately brought to trial; and
Chamblain must also be jailed immediately to prevent an escalation of violence in the region.