Raoul Cédras was born on 9 July 1949 in Jérémie, Haiti. As Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of Haiti (Forces Armées d’Haiti: FADH) during 1991-1994, he ruled Haiti through his unconstitutional and brutal military regime. Repeated unsuccessful attempts were made by various international bodies, notably the Organisation of American States, to negotiate with the Cédras junta, while applying diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions.
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. The three-year military dictatorship was characterised by widespread state-sponsored human rights violations committed by the Haitian Armed Forces and the paramilitary organization FRAPH (Front Révolutionnaire Armé pour le Progrès d’Haiti), in Haiti. 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.
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 utilized in Haiti as a technique to terrorise the civilian population after the coup d’état in 1991.
In July of 1993, Commander-in-Chief Raoul Cedras, signed an agreement allowing Aristide to return to office by October of that year. Cedras and his military leaders however, defaulted on their agreement.
Raoul Cédras was accused of having been an intellectual author and principal of 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”).
In September of 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, including, notably, Raoul Cédras, fled Haiti, escaping to nearby countries. Raoul Cédras since then lives in Panama, where he now runs a computer graphics shop in downtown Panama City.