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#15: Shameful U.S. policy protects Haitian`thug'
Published Friday, June 25, 1999, in the Miami Herald
Shameful U.S. policy protects Haitian`thug'
As Yves Colon reported on June 8 (Requirements for Haitian amnesty
unreasonable, advocates say), thousands who fled their homeland to
escape the 1991 military junta may be denied U.S. green cards due to the
irrational proposed regulations of the Haitian Refugee Immigration
Fairness Act.Compounding Washington's indefensible policy: The United
States still harbors the ringmaster of terror who forced most Haitians
to flee. Emmanuel Constant has been granted de facto amnesty in New York
while, under the relief law's requirements, most Haitian refugees likely
face deportation.As the head of FRAPH, the notorious paramilitaries of
the junta that overthrew constitutionally elected Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, Constant led operations to crush democratic opposition.
Although FRAPH was known to commit thousands of human-rights abuses --
including rape, murder and torture -- its leader remained
on the payroll of the CIA. After the 1994 U.S.-led intervention against
the junta,and after President Clinton called him ``a thug,'' Constant
fled Haiti with the help of U.S. embassy officials and was issued a
six-month U.S. tourist visa.Though the Immigration and Naturalization
Service jailed Constant after his visa expired, it released him after 11
months. Then in 1996, the INS ruled that he wouldn't be repatriated
because Haiti's judicial process wouldn't guarantee him a
fair trial (though the United States had trained new Haitian judges).
The shameful handling of the Constant case suggests that the White House
is more concerned with covering up CIA links to Haiti's former military
regime than with serving justice or strengthening Haiti's democratic
institutions. Unfortunately,the voiceless refugees, those harmed most by
that military regime, suffer the outrage of Constant's seeming impunity
from the justice that President Clinton demands for Kosovo.
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs