LACK OF JUSTICE –
AND A PROPOSED SOLUTION
The situation in Haiti continues to worsen at an alarming rate, with
potentially disastrous consequences for both Haiti and the United States.
Of particular concern is the complete lack of justice in the country.
When I visited there last month, I found that the judicial system had
all but collapsed, and what remains is merely a politicized shell.
I have drafted a letter to Secretary Rice (below) with a proposed solution,
and I hope you will join me in signing it.
The deadline to sign on is COB on Thursday, June 2. To do so, please
contact Cliff Stammerman or Dan Lopez in my office at 5-3111. Thank
William D. Delahunt
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Rice:
We are writing regarding a matter of the greatest urgency – the
lack of justice in Haiti – and to propose a solution.
Madame Secretary, Haiti today is essentially a failed state. Most of
its institutions exist in name only, and the state cannot fulfill even
its most basic functions without international assistance. In fact,
the recent report of the United Nations Security Council mission to
Haiti noted that even the exact number of Haitian National Police officers
“could not be established.” As the UNSC report noted, “In
essence, the mission considered that a modern public administration
did not yet exist in the country.”
Regarding the judicial system, the UNSC report concluded that it “remained
dysfunctional” and “lacked basic infrastructure and had
lost archival documents during periods of unrest.” These problems,
the UNSC mission found, “had compounded the human rights situation…and
negatively affected the reconciliation process.” As Stuart Holliday,
the US Deputy Ambassador to the UN said recently, “the backlog
of cases is such that most of those imprisoned and awaiting trial in
Haiti have already been incarcerated for longer periods of time than
if they had been tried and found guilty.”
Madame Secretary, the UNSC report was too polite. The fact is that the
judicial system in Haiti is a sham. What few trappings of the system
that remain have been completely politicized by the so-called interim
government of Haiti and turned into an instrument of repression.
Although the unelected interim government was supposed to be composed
of non-political technocrats, it has proved itself to be as fiercely
partisan as previous Haitian regimes. The interim Prime Minister, Gerard
Latortue, described the gang members, ex-soldiers, and terrorists who
helped overthrow the democratically-elected government of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide as “freedom fighters.” And the interim
Justice Minister, Bernard Gousse, has focused on cracking down on Aristide’s
followers, not on arresting and prosecuting the participants in the
rebellion – even though they murdered police officers and emptied
the country’s jails in the process.
The most recent example of the justice system’s politicization
was the annulment by the Haitian Supreme Court of the convictions of
several participants in the infamous Raboteau massacre in 1994. These
men – many of them members of the feared paramilitary group known
as FRAPH (the French acronym for the Revolutionary Front for Advancement
and Progress in Haiti) – had been convicted in a trial that the
UN Independent Expert on Haiti, Adama Dieng, described as “a huge
step forward” in the history of Haiti’s judicial system,
because of its thoroughness, transparency, and fairness. But FRAPH’s
notorious second-in-command, Louis-Jodel Chamblain – who was convicted
in absentia for the Raboteau massacre – played a role in last
year’s ousting of Aristide.
So it appears that the recent Supreme Court decision was a reflection
of political bias. This is reinforced by the earlier decision to acquit
Chamblain of the 1993 murder of pro-democracy activist Antoine Izmery
in a one-day retrial that was denounced worldwide as a sham.
Meanwhile, members of Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party have been
arrested and held without seeing a judge on often questionable charges.
The most high-profile case is that of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune,
who has been imprisoned without trial for almost 10 months, and who
reportedly appeared before a judge on May 25, 2005 – even though
the Haitian constitution requires that a suspect see a judge within
48 hours. The interim government had claimed the delay was because Neptune
would not see a judge. This is a strange and dubious argument, given
that the man is a prisoner and could have been forced to appear in court
at any time, or a magistrate could have visited him in a secure environment
to discharge any procedural requirements.
Madame Secretary, it is obvious that there will be no justice in Haiti
under this current government. Dramatic and effective steps are needed
– because without a functioning judicial system, Haiti will remain
unstable. And that instability is a direct threat to the United States.
Since the Haitian government will not address the situation, and because
the UN cannot act in Haiti without US support, it is up to the US to
take the lead.
Another compelling reason to act is the effect this situation is having
on our own reputation as a leader for democracy and human rights. The
fact is that the Haitian interim government is widely perceived as a
US puppet regime. So its failings are seen as our failings. Given the
already negative US image in Latin America, where a Zogby poll found
that 87 percent of the region’s elite have a negative opinion
of President Bush, we must act immediately to prevent our credibility
from being diminished further.
First, it is obvious that interim Justice Minister Gousse must be removed
immediately. He has clearly demonstrated that he is unwilling to conduct
his duties in an objective and responsible manner. His continued presence
in the government eliminates any chance that elections planned for later
this year will be free and fair. Put simply, both his attitude and his
actions have actually increased Haiti’s instability and have guaranteed
that Haiti will remain volatile even after the elections. This is a
direct challenge to US interests.
Second, it is clear that the Haitian judicial system does not exist
beyond a politicized shell. Therefore, the international community –
either through the UN, the Organization of American States, or the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM) – must assume the administration of justice
in Haiti until a real judicial system can be established. This initiative
must be accompanied by a deep and sustained commitment by the international
community to rebuilding and reforming the Haitian judicial system. We
ask that you consider making this request to an emergency session of
the UN Security Council or some other relevant multilateral organization.
If these steps are not taken, Haitians will continue to suffer from
a lack of justice. Haiti will continue to be a failed state. And US
Marines will eventually have to return to Haiti. We urge you to take
these steps, and look forward to your prompt written response.
Posted on Sat, Jun. 11, 2005
Action called for on Haiti
Ten Democratic lawmakers urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to
Take immediate action on Haiti.
BY JOE MOZINGO
Ten members of Congress signed a letter calling Haiti ''a failed state''
and the U.S.-backed interim government ''an instrument of repression,''
while urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to take quick measures
to prevent further chaos.
In the letter sent to Rice on Friday, the Democratic lawmakers, led
By William Delahunt of Massachusetts, said the judicial system has become
so politicized against supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide that it's ``a sham.''
''Although the unelected interim government was supposed to be composed
of nonpolitical technocrats, it has proven itself to be as fiercely
partisan as previous Haitian regimes,'' they wrote.
The group urged Rice to push for the immediate removal of Haitian Minister
of Justice Bernard Gousse, who has refused to free Aristide's former
Prime minister despite requests to do so from the U.N. Mission in Haiti
-- And even the U.S. Embassy.
Former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune has been in prison for 11 months
on charges that he orchestrated a massacre of Aristide opponents, but
Gousse is yet to publicly present any evidence.
''Put simply, his attitude and his actions have actually increased Haiti's
instability and have guaranteed that Haiti will remain volatile even
after elections,'' the lawmakers wrote. Gousse declined to comment about
The lawmakers noted that Haitian judges have exonerated dozens of military
and paramilitary officers accused of killing his supporters during the
1991 military coup.
''The fact is that the Haitian interim government is widely perceived
as a U.S. puppet regime. So its failings are our failings,'' the group
Signing the letter were Reps. Alcee L . Hastings of Miramar,
Sherrod Brown and Dennis J. Kucinich from Ohio, Major J. Owens from
New York, Neil Abercrombie from Hawaii, Michael E. Capuano from Massachusetts,
Zoe Lofgren from California, Julia Carson from Indiana and Danny K.
Davis from Illinois.
They concluded that if the international community does not take over
the administration of justice, ``Haiti will continue to be a failed
state. And U.S. Marines will eventually have to return to Haiti.'' A
spokesman for the State Department could not be reached Friday evening.
Herald Staff Writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.
© 2005 Herald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
"Transformation is only valid if it is carried
out with the people, not for them. Liberation is like a childbirth,
and a painful one. The person who emerges is a new person: no longer
either oppressor or oppressed, but a person in the process of achieving
freedom. It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free
Pressed not to engage with Death regime
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May 19, 2005
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least 9 demonstrators killed during huge march on Haiti's Flag
May 19, 2004
|Ezili Danto Witness
form Haiti - Jean's Report on the May 18, 2005 Demonstration
18, 2005 Pro-democracy anti-occupation demonstrations flare across
Haiti Progrè, This Week In Haiti
May 25 - 31, 2005
Vol. 23, No. 11
group solid with Haiti
May 19th 2005
Occupation and Solidarity
by Jean St.Vil
May 16, 2005
Tiger, Rising Dragon
China's Deployment in Haiti Treads in Familiar Footsteps
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