THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
At the conclusion of a comprehensive review of United States policy toward Haiti, the President announced on May 8 several new steps to bring about the restoration of democracy and return of Haiti's democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide while addressing humanitarian concerns which worsening repression in Haiti has intensified.
The major new steps the President announced were:
The appointment of William Gray, the distinguished President of the United Negro College Fund and former Chairman of the House Budget Committee, as the new Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State on Haiti to focus and invigorate our diplomacy. Changes in our procedures for returning boat migrants to Haiti to ensure that all who claim refugee status are given a hearing while still discouraging massive and dangerous departures by sea. New emphasis on using comprehensive sanctions and improved sanctions enforcement to make Haiti's military leaders relinquish power. The UN Security Council approved May 6 a new resolution intensifying the sanctions.) Augmentation of humanitarian assistance for Haiti's poor and support for the earliest arrival in Haiti of more UN and OAS human rights monitors. Intensified consultations at the United Nations on preparing the UN military and police mission for deployment to Haiti once the military leaders have relinquished power.
Resolving the crisis in Haiti has been a continuing policy priority of the President and this Administration. Our objective has been to restore democracy and to make possible the return to Haiti of President Aristide. The urgency of the situation has grown as the intransigence and depredations of Haiti's military leaders have worsened.
The President is working to advance the several U.S. national interests at stake:
The President and his senior advisers have reviewed our policy toward Haiti during the last six weeks. This review was prompted by the rejection by the Haitian military leadership of every initiative to achieve a political settlement of the crisis and by their visibly worsening human rights abuses. As a result of this review the President has directed important changes in our policy to increase the pressure on Haiti's military leaders while addressing the humanitarian repercussions of their misrule.
VIGOROUS DIPLOMACY: The appointment of William Gray as the President's and Secretary of State's Special Adviser on Haiti will inject new vision and determination into our efforts. The President will rely on Mr. Gray as a central figure in our Haiti policy. As Mr. Gray leads that effort, Ambassador Albright will be working closely with the Secretary General and her colleagues to ensure that the UN brings all its resources to bear. Ambassador Babbitt will do likewise at the OAS, and Ambassador Swing will direct our efforts within Haiti in support of the new policy.
NEW MIGRANT PROCESSING PROCEDURES: In the context of our broader Haitian policy review we also reviewed our migration policy. We currently process Haitians for refugee claims only within Haiti, and we interdict and return all those who seek to migrate by boat without processing. Haitians who are returned by our interdiction effort are permitted to apply for refugee status within Haiti. Those who claim political persecution on questionnaires completed while they are being returned to Portau -Prince are encouraged to apply at our in-country refugee center. Since the inception of in-country refugee processing in 1992 we have accorded refugee status to nearly 3,000 Haitians. We have increased the refugee intake from Haiti through incountry processing ten-fold compared to the last Administration.
The UN/OAS International Civilian Mission has documented a substantial increase in killings and other brutal abuses in recent months. During the month of April alone it noted nearly 50 executions and suspicious deaths, including 11 separate murders during April 23-24 alone. It has reliably reported significant increases in kidnappings and forced disappearances, rapes, attacks on children and other abuses. In Gonaives and other parts of Haiti, military sweeps have led to dozens of deaths. Under these circumstances, the President has concluded that it is inappropriate to return all Haitian boat migrants without first affording them the opportunity to make claims to refugee status and protection. While our in-country processing provides a crucial route to refuge for many Haitians, it may no longer be adequate.
Therefore, the President has modified our procedures for processing Haitian boat migrants. Our Coast Guard will continue to interdict all Haitian migrants at sea but we will no longer return them to Haiti without first interviewing them to determine which are bona fide political refugees. Processing will involve a standard refugee interview similar to that currently performed by our three refugee processing centers in Haiti. It will be carried out either in third countries or aboard appropriate ships. Those who qualify as political refugees will be resettled outside Haiti. Other countries will be approached to join us in accepting Haitian political refugees. Those not qualifying for refugee status will be returned promptly to Haiti.
The new procedures will not come into effect until after our new processing facilities outside Haiti are in place. That will be some weeks from now. Until that time, which will be announced publicly, we will continue to return all interdicted boat migrants to Haiti without processing. We will be unable to process boat migrants for possible refugee status adequately and fairly before then and we must discourage departures in unseaworthy vessels with the attendant risk of death at sea.
INTENSIFIED SANCTIONS: The UN Security Council on May 7 unanimously approved a strong resolution intensifying sanctions. The resolution immediately made effective worldwide the targeted entry ban and asset freeze which we have been enforcing since last year against the military and its allies. It also imposed an immediate ban on non-scheduled flights to and from Haiti. Within the next two weeks the world community will bring into force comprehensive trade sanctions against Haiti, excluding only the most essential humanitarian supplies.
On May 7, the President signed an Executive order and Proclamation implementing the first two of those measures. A second Executive order will bring the comprehensive trade sanctions into effect in the next several days.
FULL ENFORCEMENT OF SANCTIONS: Our naval vessels around Haiti will continue to stop ships entering and leaving Haitian waters and divert those carrying prohibited cargo. The President has been in contact with President Balaguer of the Dominican Republic to express his concern about sanctions leakage on their long border with Haiti and our willingness to assist the Dominicans in meeting their international obligation to enforce the sanctions. We are working with the United Nations to facilitate international cooperation with the Dominican Republic. HUMANITARIAN/HUMAN RIGHTS MEASURES: Comprehensive new sanctions and strengthened enforcement will increase the pressure on the Haitian people. To shield the most vulnerable Haitians from the sanctions' worst impact, we will increase as soon as possible our humanitarian feeding and health care programs to reach 1.2 million beneficiaries. We are working to restore the full complement of 250 UN/OAS civilian human rights observers to Haiti.
RECONFIGURING THE UN MISSION IN HAITI: We will be consulting intensively with our partners in New York to prepare the planned UN military and police Mission for Haiti to be able to function effectively and safely once the military leadership has relinquished power. As those consultations proceed and the possibilities for our own participation in the Mission become clearer we will consult extensively with the Congress.
WILLIAM H. GRAY, III
William Gray has demonstrated a strong and unwavering commitment to public service throughout his career: from his years of service to the 96th-101st Congresses as Representative of the 2nd District of Pennsylvania to his continuing work in the Baptist Church to his current role as President of the United Negro College Fund.
He was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1941. He earned a Bachelors degree from Marshall College, Masters degrees from Drew Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary and has undertaken postgraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and Oxford University. Continuing his interest in education, he worked as an assistant professor at St. Peters College in Jersey City, New Jersey from 1970-74 and has lectured at Jersey City State College, Rutgers University and Montclair State College.
In 1978, he was elected to Congress where he performed with distinction until 1990, serving as House Majority Whip and chairman of the House Budget Committee. He was also a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
An ordained minister in the Baptist Church, Mr. Gray served as assistant minister at the Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where he is currently senior minister, from 1963- 64; and as co-pastor and senior minister of the Union Baptist Church in Montclair, New Jersey, 1966-72.
He and his wife, Andrea Dash, have 3 children: William H. IV, Justin Yates and Andrew Dash.