Emmanuel “Toto” Constant was born on December 27, 1956. Constant was Secretary General of the paramilitary organization FRAPH, “Front Révolutionnaire Armé pour le Progrès d’Haiti” (Armed Revolutionary Front for the Progress of Haiti) at the time the unconstitutional and brutal military regime led by Raoul Cédras (see “related cases”) governed Haiti from October 1991 to October 1994.
The three-year military dictatorship was characterised by widespread state-sponsored human rights violations committed by the Haitian Armed Forces and FRAPH. The practices of the military and FRAPH included extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, and rape and other torture and violence against women. Several thousand people were killed during the period of military rule. These abuses also caused thousands of Haitians to flee the country, often in crowded, unseaworthy boats.
From the beginning of the military dictatorship, the Haitian Armed Forces used civilian attachés or paramilitaries to support their campaign of intimidation and repression against the people of Haiti. In 1993, Constant and others provided the name “Front Révolutionnaire Armé pour le Progrès d’Haiti” (Armed Revolutionary Front for the Progress of Haiti) to the principal paramilitary organization active in Haiti. The other name more commonly used by the organization was “Front Révolutionnaire pour l’Avancement et le Progrès d’Haiti” (Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti). Under either title, the group was known as FRAPH, a pun for the French and Creole word “frapper,” meaning “to hit” or “to beat”.
Constant, whose father was an army commander under the former Haitian Dictator François Duvalier, used Duvalier’s notorious “Tonton Macoutes” paramilitary units as a model for the formation of FRAPH. Under Duvalier, the Tonton Macoutes were officially labelled the “Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale” (National Security Volunteers or “VSN”). The VSN operated parallel to and in conjunction with the army while reporting directly to Duvalier.
Constant recruited many former VSN members into the ranks of FRAPH. In 1993 and 1994, FRAPH worked in concert with the Haitian Armed Forces in their campaign of terror and repression against the civilian population of Haiti. FRAPH members received arms and training from the Haitian Armed Forces who were running the government, and FRAPH was used by the military to maintain control over the population.
With the financial and logistical support of the Haitian Armed Forces and certain Haitian civilians, FRAPH killed, arbitrarily detained, raped and otherwise tortured or mistreated civilians in the poorest neighbourhoods and regions of Haiti. They also looted and burned or destroyed homes in an effort to break the resistance of the population to military rule. Rape of women was utilised in Haiti as a technique to terrorise the civilian population after the coup d’état in 1991. FRAPH committed rapes across the country during this period. FRAPH used rape and sexual assault to punish and intimidate women for their actual or imputed political beliefs, or those of their husbands, or to terrorise them during violent sweeps of pro-Aristide neighbourhoods.
Constant was accused of having been involved in the Raboteau massacre. This atrocious event, which took place April 18 to 22, 1994, in Raboteau, Haiti, consisted of an attack by military and paramilitary units on pro-democracy activists under Haiti’s 1991-1994 dictatorship (see “spotlight” for more information about the Raboteau Massacre trial). As Secretary General of the paramilitary organization FRAPH, Constant was considered to have been one of the persons in charge of the Raboteau massacre.
In September 1994, the United States military arrived in Haiti to secure the return of the democratically-elected government headed by President Aristide. The high command of the military regime fled Haiti, escaping to nearby countries. In December 1994, the Haitian government issued a warrant for Constant’s arrest. Constant fled Haiti to the Dominican Republic. He then travelled to the United States, entering on 24 December 1994. After a public outcry, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service initiated deportation proceedings. A judge ordered Constant deported to Haiti in September, 1995. That order has never been executed. More recently, President Aristide requested the U.S. to execute the deportation order in a public speech in September 2003.