In June 1995, a year after Belance v. FRAPH was filed, CCR attorneys located Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, the main leader of FRAPH. and deposed him as part of Belance v. FRAPH. Constant, a reported paid CIA informer, had fled Haiti to the U.S., in December 1994 after Haitian officials issued an arrest warrant fro him on 30 counts of murder, rape and torture.
Although a Haitian newspaper in Brooklyn reported Constant’s there in January, U.S. officials did not revoke his visitor’s visa until February, and didn’t arrest him until May 1995. Attorneys attempted to depose him again in August, but he was completely uncooperative. Several days later, Constant claimed at a deportation hearing on August 25, 1995 that U.S. authorities should not deport him because he was a supposedly legitimate presidential candidate in Haiti and that his being deported would damage “my political image” and “be confirmation of all those allegations of human rights violations.”
Despite his claim, the lower immigration court did order Constant deported. But pending his appeal, federal authorities refused to extradite Constant to Haiti pursuant to a request made by Haiti and, much to the dismay of the International human rights community, released him in the spring of 1996. on the pretext that he had already spend six months in jail, the maximum time permitted while waiting deportations.
At this writing, Constant is believed to be living somewhere in New York City.
The Washington Office on Haiti protested this action to President Clinton on July 2, 1996, in a letter signed by 58 groups, both domestic and international, including CCR. The letter said, “His release…strengthens wildly-held beliefs that the U.S. government is covering up ties with forces of terror in Haiti.” Renewed efforts are now being made to reinstate extradition hearings.
Jennifer M. Green, Beth Stephens and Michael Ratner