NCHR-Haiti: A Prime Source of Canadian-funded Lies
By Richard Sanders, editor, Press for Conversion! and coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.
Before, during and after Haiti's 2004 coup period, several prominent CIDA-funded agencies in Canada repeatedly cited and praised one of Haiti's most notorious anti-Aristide groups, the so-called National Coalition for Haitian Rights-Haiti (NCHR).
By early 2005, NCHR-Haiti's propaganda had become so blatantly partisan that it was forced to change its name and become the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH).1 They did this after their U.S.-based, parent organization became so embarrassed that it issued a media release to disassociate itself from NCHR-Haiti.2
Numerous independent human rights organizations also criticised NCHR-Haiti for being patently biased, untrustworthy and extremely partisan.3
NCHR-Haiti had not only helped destabilize Aristide’s legitimately elected government by exaggerating and fabricating stories about supposed human rights abuses, it continued its anti-Aristide efforts throughout the illegal two-year rule of the coup-empowered regime.
Early on during the coup regime, authorities came to an arrangement with NCHR-Haiti to illegally arrest pro-Aristide/pro-Lavalas Party activists based solely on accusations levelled by this supposed human rights organization. The imprisonment of Aristide’s Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and Lavalas Party activist "Sò Anne" Auguste are cases in point. (See "Prime Minister Yvon Neptune: CIDA’s Top Political Prisoner" and "Why was Sò Anne Imprisoned for 27 Months?")
In an April-2004 media release, NCHR-Haiti described a "courtesy visit" they received from the new coup regime’s "prosecutor," Daniel Audain. In describing this cordial meeting, NCHR-Haiti said they were "extremely encouraged" by his "determination... to restore strength in the law." Most tellingly, they noted his commitment to:
"Taking public action against all those denounced by human rights organizations for their implication in acts of human rights violations."4
Haiti’s CIDA-funded "Ministry of Justice," during the vicious coup regime, relied exclusively on NCHR-Haiti to monitor and evaluate "human rights" conditions. NCHR-Haiti commanded this important position because its anti-Aristide credentials exactly matched the illegally-empowered government’s requirements. CIDA employee Philippe Vixamar, who the Canadian government literally installed and bankrolled as Haiti’s Deputy Minister of Justice, worked very closely with NCHR-Haiti. For instance, he admitted to using this small, thoroughly discredited "human rights" group to screen hundreds of former military troops for "human rights" abuses before recruiting them into the top ranks of the coup-regime’s police force throughout Haiti.5
The Canadian government’s generous funding of NCHR-Haiti6 and the group’s very cozy relationship with the unconstitutional regime that replaced Haiti’s democratic government, created an obvious conflict of interest that should have disqualified it as a reliable, unbiased source. However, the organization is, even today, still widely regarded—especially in government-funded circles—as Haiti’s most authoritative source on human rights.
NCHR-Haiti’s executive director, Pierre Espérance, said he was
"a primary source of information for international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights."
He also bragged of being "invited to address the U.S. State Department."7
As Canadian author and activist Anthony Fenton has said:
"Sadly, though not surprisingly, the NCHR is treated as though it is a legitimate human rights organization by the occupying forces, Human Rights Watch, the OAS [Organization of American States], CARICOM [the Caribbean Community], and Reporters without Borders, among others. In reality, Espérance should be behind bars."8
CIDA-funded Cheerleaders for NCHR-Haiti
Several CIDA-funded agencies in Canada have uncritically cited NCHR-Haiti/RNDDH as if it were a reliable source of information on human rights in Haiti. These include:
Development and Peace (D&P)
Entraide Missionaire (EMI)
Mennonite Central Cttee. (MCC)
Rights and Democracy (R&D)
Two of the above organizations, namely D&P and EMI, are members of Concertation pour Haiti (CPH)—Canada’s most vociferous anti-Aristide coalition.9 (And, CPH has issued joint media releases with R&D, a government-created and -funded agency that still counts RNDDH among its partners.10 On at least seventeen separate web pages within its website, R&D makes uncritical references to NCHR-Haiti/RNDDH and uses its disinformation.)
Although it is not known whether CPH has received CIDA funds, most of its 15 members have certainly been on the Canadian government’s payroll. And, CPH media releases have made use of bogus NCHR reports.11
The quasi-governmental Canadian agencies listed above have often quoted from NCHR’s biased publications, published whole NCHR articles and reports online, linked to its documents and website, and generally helped to promote the notion that NCHR-Haiti/RNDDH is a reputable source of information.
None of these Canadian government-funded agencies sent delegations to Haiti during the coup period to prepare reports on the grave human rights violations there. Instead, they simply relied on their CIDA-funded colleagues in that country, such as NCHR-Haiti.
Besides helping to spread NCHR-Haiti’s rabidly anti-Aristide propaganda, three of these Canadian organizations have also been linked as official "partners" to NCHR-Haiti, namely D&P,12 MCC13 and R&D.14 (And, MCC is not only "partnered with NCHR-Haiti," it has had "a member ‘seconded’ to it since June 1998."15 )
Independent NGOs vs. Government Agents
In contrast, several independent U.S. human rights organizations sent delegations to Haiti during the 2004-2006 coup-regime period. Upon their return, they each issued comprehensive reports detailing the systematic repression of Aristide supporters and Lavalas Party leaders and activists. These non-government funded agencies include:
Center for the Study of Human Rights, Univ. of Miami, Law School
Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean
Haiti Accompaniment Project
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
National Lawyers Guild
Significantly, each of these organizations unequivocally denounced NCHR-Haiti for its role in spreading propaganda as well as for aiding and abetting the coup regime’s persecution of prodemocracy advocates.16
Although CIDA-funded groups in Canada made numerous references to the extremely biased articles and reports issued by NCHR-Haiti, none of their websites contain a single reference to the work of the above listed U.S. organizations in Haiti, let alone to their comprehensively documented reports on flagrant human rights abuses during the Canadian-backed coup regime.
Increasingly, as CIDA and other government departments and agencies use their financial clout to contract "NGOs" in progressive movements at home and abroad, Canadians will have to learn to expect the kind of extremely prejudiced research, reporting and activism that occurred in support of Haiti’s 2004 coup d’état.
1. NCHR-Haiti newsrelease, "Name Change: NCHR-Haiti becomes RNDDH," May 9, 2005.
2. NCHR newsrelease, "NCHR-Haiti Does Not Speak for the NCHR," March 11, 2005.
3. Richard Sanders, "How CIDA’s NCHR-Haiti Cleverly Promoted and then Covered up Atrocities," Press for Conversion! September 2007. pp.3-19.
4. NCHR-Haiti newsrelease, "Courtesy visit of the new State Prosecutor of Port -au-Prince to NCHR," April 13, 2004.
5. Richard Sanders, "CIDA Bankrolled coup’s Deputy Minister of ‘Justice’: Shills and Scam Artists in the Deadly Con Game of Haiti’s 2004 Coup," Press for Conversion!, Sept. 2007, pp.29-31.
7. Cited by Joe Emersberger in "Amnesty International’s Track Record in Haiti since 2004," World Upside Down, February 6, 2007.
8. Anthony Fenton, "Human Rights Horrors in Haiti," July 27, 2004.
9. Kevin Skerrett, "A ‘Fiercely Partisan’ Network," Press for Conversion! May 2008. p.48.
10. An open letter concerning the climate of insecurity in Haiti and the mandate of MINUSTAH, January 27, 2006.
11. (a) "Pourquoi Aristide Doit-il Partir? Recommendations de la CPH au gouvernement canadien," February 16, 2004.
(b) "Haiti: Des ONGs canadiens craignent ‘le pire,’" June 28, 2005.
12. Background Paper on Haiti Addressing the Issue of the Departure of Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, March 2006.
13. Edwin Dening, "Haiti and MCC: A Brief History," Peace Office Newsletter, January-March 2005, pp.1-3.
14. Our Partners
www.dd-rd.ca/site/what_we_do/index. php?id=1887&subsection=where_we_work &subsubsection=country_documents
15. Dening, "Haiti and MCC: A Brief History," Op. cit., pp.1-3.
16. Sanders, "How CIDA’s NCHR-Haiti..." Op. cit.
The above article is from Press for Conversion! magazine, Issue
#63 (November 2008)
Previous issues of this
Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade publication include:
#62 "Putting the Aid in Aiding and Abetting:
CIDA's Agents of Regime Change in Haiti's 2004 Coup"
#61 "CIDA's Key Role in Haiti's 2004 Coup d’état:
Funding Regime Change, Dictatorship and Human Rights Atrocities, one Haitian 'NGO' at a Time"
#60 "A Very Canadian Coup d’état in Haiti:
The Top 10 Ways that Canada’s Government helped the 2004 Coup and its Reign of Terror"
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