Belance v. FRAPH – International Human Rights and Solidarity – CCR Docket Fall 1998

In October 1993, Alerte Balance, a 32-year-old mother of three in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was hacked nearly to pieces by members of the Front for the Advancement and Progress in Haiti (FRAPH), the right-wing Haitian terrorist group.  four armed FRAPH members entered Belance’s home after her husband, a supporter of president Aristide, had fled. They hacked off her right arm with a machete, slashed her face, neck and mouth, almost decapitated her,  and left her for dead in a near by “killing field.”

In June 1994, CCR filed a civil damage suit against FRAPH on behalf of Belance, using Filártiga as a precedent. Now deaf in one ear and wearing a prosthetic arm, Belance stated that she was seeking justice through her lawsuit.

In January 1996, after nearly 18 months during which there was no response form FRAPH, CCR filed a motion for default judgment–a ruling from the court that in the absence of meaningful response, it would consider the charges made against the organization to be true.

In September 1995, meanwhile, the Department of justice had revealed to CCR that had in its possession 60,000 pages of documents seized from FRAPH headquarters. Press reports indicated that U.S. troops had seized a total of more than 150,000 pages of documents from the headquarters of the Haitian Armed Forces and FRAPH, but was refusing to give them to the Haitian government. CCR attorneys received unconfirmed reports that Belance’s photo was among the captured documents.

The Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, and Department of State have not fully complied with CCR requests for documents, but information already received provides dramatic proof of FRAPH’s bloody history. In 1996, CIA reports obtained in response to a CCR subpoena revealed that Emmanuel “Toto”Constant, a CIA “asset” who was also the leader of FRAPH, was involved in the murder of Justice Minister Guy Malary in 1993, Malary was local counsel in a successful VVR suit, Paul v. Avril and was gunned down in broad daylight in Port-au-Prince.

Due to the delay in the production of the balance of the documents, in mid-1996 the motion for default judgment was withdrawn without prejudice pending receipt of government documents. A new default judgment motion was submitted in December 1997, and is still pending.

Beth Stephens, Michael Ratner, Jennifer M. Green, Mary Boresz Pike, Mahlon Perkins, Matthew Chachere, Harold Hongju Koh, & Ronald. C. Slye of the Yale Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic, Ira Kurzban and Paul Hoffman