Press Release

IACHR refers case on Haiti to the Inter-American Court

May 27, 2020

   Related links

   Contact info

IACHR Press Office

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington, D.C. - On May 19, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) referred the case of Baptiste Willer and family members, regarding Haiti, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The case relates to the international responsibility of the State for the lack of protection of the rights of Mr. Baptiste Willer and his family in the face of the multiple threats and attempted murders to which they were subjected between 2007 and 2009, the lack of due diligence in the investigation, and the impunity surrounding the death of his brother Frédo Guirant (or Guirand), aged 16, as well as the threats and attacks referred to above.

The events in the present case took place in the context of continuous threats and harassment of Baptiste Willer and his family by gang members acting with impunity. On 4 February 2007, Frédo Guirant (or Guirand) was murdered by the same individuals who had attempted to kill his brother Baptiste Willer a few hours earlier. Mr. Willer alerted the authorities that his life and that of his family were in danger and requested judicial assistance by means of a letter addressed to various authorities, providing information on the identity of the suspects and the type of threats and harassment to which he was subjected. He also informed them that, fearing for his and his family's safety, he had been forced to leave his usual residence. After having informed the authorities of what had happened, and without receiving any protection, assistance or response from the State, Baptiste Willer, his wife and minor children continued to be displaced, experiencing a permanent sense of insecurity and being victims of continuous threats by telephone and in person, as well as attacks.

In its Report on the Merits, the Commission concluded that the State failed in its duty to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Baptiste Willer and his family, given that the State did not adopt measures to protect the rights of the victims, despite being aware of the situation of risk and that the facts were particularly serious. The Commission also established that, given that Mr Willer's three children were minors at the time of the events, there was a special duty on the State to safeguard their rights. Furthermore, taking into account that the lack of protective measures on the part of the State produced the forced displacement of the victims, the Commission also concluded that the State violated the right to their free movement and residence. Finally, the Commission found that the State failed to comply with its duty to investigate diligently and within a reasonable time the murder of Frédo Guirant (or Guirand), the attack on Baptiste Willer, and the threats and harassment suffered by Baptiste Willer and his family. In light of the foregoing, the Commission concluded that the State of Haiti violated the rights enshrined in Articles 4(1), 5(1), 8(1), 19, 22(1), and 25(1) of the American Convention on Human Rights, in connection with Article 1(1) thereof.

In its Report on the Merits, the Commission recommended that the State to: (i) make full reparations for the human rights violations declared in the Report on the Merits, both material and nonmaterial, including measures of economic compensation and satisfaction; (ii) provide for the physical and mental health care necessary for the rehabilitation of the victims; (iii) provide for the necessary measures to make an effective diagnosis of the situation of risk of Baptiste Willer and his immediate family and, if necessary, adopt the relevant measures of protection in agreement with them; (iv) provide the necessary security conditions to facilitate, if they so wish, the voluntary, dignified and safe return of Baptiste Willer and his family to their place of habitual residence or their voluntary resettlement in another part of the country; (v) undertake a thorough criminal investigation, in a diligent, effective manner and within a reasonable time, in order to clarify the facts completely, identify all possible responsibilities and impose the appropriate sanctions; (iv) provide for the necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of the human rights violations stated in the report, in particular the adoption of a protection programme for persons at risk from organized crime.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 121/20