[Ppnews] Haitian death squad leader to pay $19 million to victims.

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 26 08:45:33 EDT 2006

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2006


Center for Justice & Accountability:
Pamela Merchant, Executive Director, (415) 
544-0444 x 307, <mailto:pmerchant at cja.org>pmerchant at cja.org

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP:
Ivor Samson, Partner, (415) 882-2491, 
<mailto:isamson at sonnenschein.com>isamson at sonnenschein.com
Jeff Mutterperl, Media Relations, (212) 398 8470, 
<mailto:jmutterperl at sonnenschein.com>jmutterperl at sonnenschein.com



(NEW YORK, October 25, 2006). Emmanuel “Toto” 
Constant, the former leader of Haiti’s notorious 
death squad known as FRAPH, has been ordered to 
pay $15 million in punitive and $4 million in 
compensatory damages to three women who survived 
torture and rape committed by paramilitary forces 
under his command. U.S. District Court Judge 
Sidney H. Stein, of the Southern District of New 
York, awarded the survivors a total of $19 
million in damages after hearing testimony from 
the women and expert witnesses. The damages award was entered late yesterday.

The Court previously found Constant liable for 
torture, including rape, attempted extrajudicial 
killing, and crimes against humanity carried out 
as part of FRAPH’s reign of terror during the 
period of military rule in Haiti from 1991 to 
1994. The judgment, entered August 16, 2006, 
marks the first time that anyone has been held 
accountable for the state-sponsored campaign of 
rape in Haiti. In yesterday’s order Judge Stein 
stated, “Though no price tag can be placed on the 
atrocities visited upon these plaintiffs and 
other innocent civilians by FRAPH, plaintiffs are 
indeed entitled to monetary compensation and the 
Court will therefore grant it. . . .”

Constant fled to the United States in December 
1994. Despite the outcry from the Haitian 
community and human rights organizations, he 
lived and worked freely in New York until he was 
arrested in July 2006 in connection with a 
mortgage fraud scheme in Suffolk County, NY. He 
remains in jail awaiting a criminal trial on 
charges of grand larceny, forgery and falsifying business records.

The U.S. government moved to deport Constant in 
1995. However, after he disclosed on 60 Minutes 
that he had been on the CIA payroll during the 
period when FRAPH was formed, he was released 
from detention and has been allowed to remain in the U.S.

The lawsuit was filed in December 2004 by the 
Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA) and the 
Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the 
three women, all survivors of torture at the 
hands of FRAPH. Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP 
acted as pro bono co-counsel in this matter. Due 
to an on-going fear of reprisals, the plaintiffs 
had to submit their testimony anonymously. Two of 
the women testified in open court behind a screen.

During the hearing, Trinity University professor 
Robert McGuire testified that FRAPH worked 
closely with the Haitian Armed Forces and did the 
military’s “dirty work” in committing widespread 
human rights abuses and that FRAPH was “the 
muscle.” Ivor Samson of Sonnenschein Nath & 
Rosenthal LLP argued in his closing that in 
addition to compensatory damages, the court 
should also award punitive damages to punish 
Constant for his wanton, oppressive and malicious 
actions. A punitive damages award would send a 
message from the international community that 
Constant’s conduct will not be tolerated, and 
that U.S. courts, through laws such as the Alien 
Tort Statue and the Torture Victims Protection 
Act, can play an important role in discouraging and deterring future abuses.

Judge Stein agreed, finding that “Constant’s 
conduct was clearly malicious. As commander of 
FRAPH, Constant founded and oversaw an 
organization that was dedicated principally 
towards terrorizing and torturing political 
opponents of the military regime. His direction – 
or at a minimum, approval – of FRAPH’s 
state-backed campaign of violence constitutes an 
inexcusable violation of international law and merits a stiff punishment.”

Upon hearing the ruling, one of the plaintiffs 
stated, “Although this case is about justice, not 
money, I am very pleased that the court has held 
Toto Constant responsible for what happened to 
us. This is a victory for all the Haitian people.”

CJA’s lead attorney on the case, Moira Feeney, 
commented, “Today’s ruling is a momentous step 
for accountability in Haiti. I hope that this 
case against Toto Constant will lead to other 
prosecutions and will assist the Haitian 
government in bringing other human rights abusers to justice.”

The Center for Justice and Accountability is a 
San Francisco based human rights organization 
dedicated to ending torture and other severe 
human rights abuses through litigation, education and outreach.

For additional information about the case, please 
see CJA’s website: <http://www.cja.org>www.cja.org.

The Freedom Archives
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