Haitian Death Squad Leader, Toto Constant, to be brought to justice for his campaign of rape and murder
January 14, 2005
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Defendant Emmanuel "Toto" Constant

Haitian Death Squad Leader,
Toto Constant, to be brought
to justice for his campaign
of rape and murder

Courageous women bring civil suit

New York, NY: Emmanuel "Toto" Constant was served with a lawsuit today that accuses him of responsibility for torture, crimes against humanity and the systematic use of violence against women, including rape, for the purpose of terrorizing the Haitian population during that country's brutal military regime in the early 1990s.

Despite being the outspoken leader of the paramilitary death squad known as FRAPH (Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti), Toto Constant has lived and worked openly in Queens, New York, for the last ten years. The U.S. government tried to deport Constant in 1995, but suspended its efforts and released him from detention after he threatened on the 60 Minutes news program to expose information about the CIA's role in the formation of FRAPH.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York by the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), based in San Francisco, on behalf of several women who survived savage gang rapes and other forms of extreme violence, including attempted murder. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), based in New York, is serving as local counsel.

Following a violent military coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991, the Haitian Armed Forces trained and armed members of FRAPH to maintain control over Haiti's poor masses. After democracy was returned to Haiti in October 1994, the government of President Aristide issued a warrant for Constant's arrest. He fled and came to the United States.

All three plaintiffs in this case are women who were targeted by Constant and FRAPH as part of a systematic campaign of violence against women. Two of the women were gang raped repeatedly by FRAPH members in front of their families. One of the plaintiffs became pregnant and bore a child as a result of the rape she suffered. FRAPH operatives attacked the third plaintiff, leaving her for dead. Due to the fear of reprisals, the plaintiffs in this case have filed their claims anonymously.

The lawsuit is especially timely because Haiti is again suffering from the massive, sytematic human rights violations committed during the 1991-94 military dictatorship. Many of Constant's former subordinates in FRAPH are again wielding considerable power. They have embarked on a campaign of abuses, including widespread rape, since President Aristide was forced from office in February, 2004. Among the leaders of this renewed violence are FRAPH's former second-in-command, Jodel Chamblain, and local chief Jean Pierre (alias Jean Tatoune), both convicted murderers. In addition, three members of the military government's High Command who were deported from the U.S. for their involvement in human rights violations - General Jean-Claude Duperval, Lieutenant Colonel Hébert Valmond, and Colonel Carl Dorelien - were freed from prison and have not been re-arrested. CJA brought a case against Dorelien before he was deported and obtained a court order preventing him from receiving nearly $1 million he won from the Florida State Lottery.

The types of attacks suffered by the plaintiffs in this case - the gang rape of women by paramilitaries as a form of punishment for the women's political beliefs - have been occurring in alarming numbers in recent months. One of the plaintiffs in the suit against Constant, speaking on behalf of all of the plaintiffs, said: "We hope that the suit will deter at least some of the violence, by sending a message that anyone who commits atrocities will no longer be able to visit or live in the U.S. with impunity."

CJA's Executive Director Sandra Coliver stated: "Toto Constant's comfortable lifestyle in Queens has enraged and offended the Haitian community in this country as well as human rights activists around the globe. We are honored to represent these courageous women who are taking great risks by coming forward. They brought this lawsuit in the name of the hundreds of women who cannot speak out because of the violence that reigns today in Haiti."

Commonly referred to as "The Devil," Toto Constant has been the target of several community protests in Queens. In November 2000, he was convicted in absentia in Haiti for his role in the notorious "Raboteau Massacre" of April 1994. Until now, no court in the U.S. or Haiti has forced him to face trial in person for the human rights abuses he committed against the people of Haiti. No one from the ranks of FRAPH or the Haitian Armed Forces has been held accountable for the hundreds of politically motivated rapes that were committed and continue to be committed against the women of Haiti.

CJA, based in San Francisco, has obtained favorable verdicts in similar cases involving human rights abusers from Bosnia, El Salvador and Chile who had come to live in the U.S. The Center for Constitutional Rights has brought human rights cases against individuals and corporations responsible for human rights violations since 1980, when CCR filed the groundbreaking case which allowed those who have suffered human rights abuses to bring their claims in U.S. courts.

Jennie Green, CCR Senior Attorney, commented: "The U.S. government claims to be fighting a war on terrorism, all the while allowing a man who terrorized people in Haiti to prosper in our midst. Documents released by the U.S. government show FRAPH's role in human rights violations. Constant as its leader must be held accountable."

For additional information about the case, please see CJA's website: www.cja.org. For more information on the current human rights situation in Haiti please contact the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti at www.ijdh.org

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