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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 44 min 38 sec ago
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) seeks a Resident Director with strong elections, women and youth political participation and political party strengthening experience, as well as excellent program and staff management skills to oversee the implementation of NDI’s programs in Haiti. Experience working in Haiti and/or post conflict environments strongly preferred. The Resident Director will oversee NDI’s programs on the ground. This position will also be responsible for overall office management, including financial and human resources issues.
Click HERE for more information.
Though Haiti recently made it to the UN General Assembly’s agenda, the UN still isn’t taking responsibility for the cholera epidemic and not enough has been done to provide justice to the victims. At an anti-cholera protest in front of UN headquarters September 26th, IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom explained how the UN is violating its treaties by not providing a remedy for cholera victims. Meanwhile, the Haitian government is also facing criticism for not doing enough to demand justice for cholera victims.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Reveals UN Defying Its Own Treaties
Makini Brice, The Canal
September 29, 2014
Haiti may be on the UN General Assembly’s agenda again, but the real confrontation with the Caribbean nation is set to take place in a nearby New York courthouse. Several groups have hit the United Nations with class-action lawsuits over a four-year cholera epidemic that many studies have traced to Nepalese peacekeepers at a UN camp.
Demonstrators march in Boston against UN officials unwilling to face up to negligence in Haiti. (IJDH)
In 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake that hit the country’s capital, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving an additional 2 million homeless. Shortly afterwards, a cholera epidemic swept the country, sickening about 700,000 people and killing around 8,500, according to the UN mission in Haiti.
Multiple studies, including one from Yale University, affirm that the epidemic spread from peacekeepers in a UN camp about 35 miles from Port-au-Prince. UN officials, however, have refused to accept responsibility.
In 2011, the Office of International Lawyers (BAI) and the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) began filing claims for compensation on behalf of Haitian and Haitian-American victims and their families — but to no avail. In 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote to members of the US Congress: “After careful deliberation, claimants were informed that the claim is not receivable.”
So last year, the two public-interest law firms and a private law firm (KKWT) sued the United Nations, seeking compensation for “personal injury, wrongful death, emotional distress, loss of use of property and natural resources, and breach of contract.” Two other groups have subsequently filed separate lawsuits against the United Nations for the cholera epidemic.
Beatrice Lindstrom, an IJDH staff attorney, says treaties give the United Nations legal immunity when the organization sends peacekeepers. Instead, it is supposed to organize a Standing Claims Commission to determine whether the United Nations can be held liable for damages against a person and, if so, for how much.
But Lindstrom says that UN officials didn’t organize a Standing Claims Commission in Haiti, nor have they done so in any of the countries in which they’ve launched peacekeeping missions in the past 66 years. In other words, if the United Nations does something wrong in a country where the organization has peacekeepers, there is simply nowhere for victims to turn.
Beatrice Lindstom (left) at the cholera demonstration outside the UN General Assembly in New York. (@BeaLindstrom)
The victims’ lawyers assert that the United Nations has breached the terms of its agreement, so the institution shouldn’t be able to claim immunity. “This question [of UN responsibility] has never really been asked before,” Lindstrom explains.
When I interviewed Lindstrom earlier this month, the two sides had sent written arguments to the federal court in the Southern District of New York. UN officials have asked the US Justice Department to argue their side, and in July, the United States asserted that the United Nations does have legal immunity. IJDH, BAI, and KKWT have in turn asked the court to grant oral arguments, but Lindstrom could not say when the request might be granted.
Click HERE for the full text.
This article discusses the two coups against President Aristide, in 1991 and in 2004. It ties them to international interference in Haiti and the current Haitian government’s ties with former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. While Duvalier, whose regime was responsible for thousands of deaths and disappearances, lives freely in Haiti, Aristide faces an arrest warrant and revival of charges against him, for which there is no evidence.
Part of the article is below. Click here for the full text.A Revolution Interrupted, Haiti 23 Years after the 1991 Coup
September 29, 2014
Who orchestrated the military coup d’état in 1991,
Plus the presidential coup d’état kidnapping in 2004,
In order to bury the neo-liberal death plan deeper
In the entrails of Haiti? The new colonists.
-Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haiti-Haitii? Philosophical Reflections for Mental Decolonization, 2011
Twenty-three years ago on September 29, 1991, the Haitian people suffered the nation’s 32nd coup d’état eight months after the election of the country’s first democratically elected president, Father Jean Bertrand Aristide. The consequences of the 1991 coup reverberate today in Haitian society. Military intervention, economic exploitation of Haitian people and their natural resources, as well as the return of the Duvalier dictatorship manifested in Michel Martelly’s puppet government prove that Haitians are still struggling with the dilemmas left behind after the 1991 coup.
It is impossible to speak of the 1991 coup without mentioning the second coup against Aristide in 2004. On both occasions, France, United States and Canada worked closely with the Haitian elite class to dismantle the achievements of the Haitian people.
However, Haitians then and now continue to organize despite incredible obstacles. The people and its popular movement, Lavalas, meaning the great flood, are at the height of a contemporary struggle for self-determination and sovereignty in the region. Haiti stands in the eye of the storm as international powers attempt to destabilize the nation utilizing Martelly’s administration.
The Resurrection of the Duvalier Dictatorship in the 21st Century
The Haitian people remember the Duvalier era (1957-1986) as a time of incredible repression, as father and son duo Francois Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier carried out a reign of terror in the Caribbean nation. The Duvalier dictatorship built stronger ties with the U.S. government following the military occupation of 1915-1930, opened up the nation to sweatshop labor and persecuted political organizers under an anti-communist campaign. Some scholars estimate that the Duvalier regime’s death squad the Tonton Macoutes murdered 30,000 to 50,000 people.
This time period in Haitian history resulted in the mass exodus of people ranging from skilled laborers, political leaders and peasants. The Haitian people’s democratic election of Aristide and his grassroots vision offered hope. For many Haitian people, “Aristide symbolizes the truth.” The 1991 coup d’état interrupted Haitians’ self-determination.
Today, Duvalier’s dictatorship resurfaces under the Martelly administration.
In 2011, Martelly was (s)elected as president with less than a quarter of the vote in an electoral race that unconstitutionally banned Lavalas party candidates from running. Also, elections were held under terrible conditions, far from guaranteeing transparency and democratic participation.
Martelly, a former kompa style music singer aligned with the Tonton Macoutes, has increased state surveillance, political persecution, the restriction and criminalization of freedom of thought and association punishable by the death penalty under his administration.
However, Martelly does little to censor himself. In 2011, Martelly publicly insulted the Lavalas movement and Aristide after the former president’s return to Haiti while praising the return of Jean Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier. Martelly was caught on camera saying: “The Lavalas are so ugly. They smell like s**t. F**k you, Lavalas. F**k you, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.”
Foreign political, economic and military intervention has thrived under Martelly’s mandate. International NGOs and private investors have been set on selling any vestiges of the Haitian people’s dignity by converting the country into a textile sweatshop, mega luxury tourist destination and open for mining as well as oil exploitation.
In 2012, former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton remarked that Haiti “is open for business, and that’s not just a slogan.”
In addition, millions of foreign aid monies (donated for earthquake relief efforts) from well known international charities, NGOs and governments have been invested in NGO salaries, extravagant hotels and other tourist projects.
A growing militarized presence under United Nations troops and the construction of a US$74 billion U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince plagues Haiti. The U.S. base of operations will be a geo-political gold mine against the region’s growing integration movement.
This present day plunder and policing is only permissible under Martelly’s current administration as he continues to strip away rights and protections guaranteed by the Haitian constitution.
For example, the Haitian parliament is coming closer to absolute non-functionality as Martelly refuses to call elections (a power subscribed to the president under the constitution). Instead, Martelly is bullying the Senate to approve the El Rancho Agreement. The unconstitutional agreement would allow Martelly to hand pick the country’s electoral council.
Presently, “six senators have resisted and say, how can this supersede the constitution? The U.S. Embassy has not denounced this. And we have a saying in Haiti, if you don’t say anything when people misrepresent you, that means you are in agreement,” remarks one Haitian organizer.
In the event that the Haitian people do not democratically select officials, all state power will be concentrated in the executive branch by January 2015.
The popular movement has staged sit-ins in front of the parliament in solidarity with the six senators who risk imprisonment for defending the constitution under Martelly’s administration.
Court Case Charade Surrounds Elections
In August, Judge Lamarre Belizaire, appointed by Martelly, issued a court order accusing Aristide of “illicit drug trafficking, embezzlement of public funds, forfeiture and concussion, and money laundering.” This is not the first time that unfounded corruption charges have been used to defame Aristide’s character.
Brian Concannon Jr., the Executive Director for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti explains, “there have been a long series of cases against President Aristide and Lavalas party members and officials including: dozens of criminal cases filed in Haiti between 2004 and 2006, that led to months of pre-trial detention for dozens of people, in some cases two or more years…a criminal Grand Jury proceeding targeting Aristide in US Federal Court in Miami, that continued for over a year, and never led to any charges agaisnt him…a civil suit in the US against Aristide and several other officials, that was filed, but never served on the defendants…and a series of charges against Aristide and over 20 other officials filed under the Martelly regime since 2011.”
Now is the time for solidarity with the Haitian people as a campaign to undo Lavalas’ achievements are underway.
Click here for the full text.
Forced evictions are continuing in Haiti due to the government’s plans to rebuild Port-au-Prince. The poor are often left with just 10 minutes to gather their belongings before their homes are destroyed. This article describes this situation and other human rights violations related to development in Haiti, such as sweatshop labor.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti: Where will the poor go?
Seth Donnelly, San Francisco Bay View
September 26, 2014
During my last trip to Haiti this June with a delegation of students and human rights observers, we were exposed to the raw violence of the ongoing forced dispersal of the poor. On May 31, the Martelly regime intensified a process – in the name of “eminent domain” – of violently evicting the poor from their homes in downtown Port-au-Prince and then physically destroying their homes and businesses.
In downtown Port-au-Prince, the Martelly regime has been destroying homes of the poor in the name of “eminent domain.” – Photo: Seth Donnelly
We met with a group of men and women who had been subjected to this violence and we filmed their extensive testimony. They spoke of SWAT police and bulldozers coming at night, of having only 10 minutes to flee their homes, then witnessing the destruction of everything they had.
These survivors came to us with tears, anger and backpacks full of the only possessions they had left. They spoke of having to sleep in parks or on roofs, of children being put out on the street, of vulnerability to infection and ongoing harassment by the government.
One man, speaking on behalf of the Representatives of the Citizens of Centre-Ville Against Forced Displacement, stated that more than 62,000 people had lost their homes in downtown Port-au-Prince since May 31. The Martelly regime has not provided compensation and humane, alternative housing – in clear violation of the Haitian Constitution.
Indeed, official sources acknowledge that 400 properties have been destroyed, but only 17 people compensated.[i] Clearly, this grossly underestimates the numbers of people rendered homeless since legally registered pieces of property may actually consist of multiple dwellings of the poor with dozens of people living within them.
Secretary of State Planning Michel Presume stated earlier in the spring that the Martelly regime had taken all the necessary steps to compensate “the owners.” “We deposited this money in a deposit account. Owners have just to appear with their original titles, so they can receive from the Expropriation Committee the value of their land or their homes in accordance with the evaluation criteria for buildings.”[ii] Undoubtedly, the problem with this compensation formula is that it does not take into account the thousands of people dispossessed of their homes who were tenants, not owners.
Accompanied by a Haitian human rights journalist, we visited the areas of downtown that had been subjected to these demolitions; we saw massive destruction spanning blocks and blocks, including half of the General Hospital. We saw a bulldozer still at work and Haitians standing around the rubble, perhaps some still in shock, as if another earthquake had hit.
The initial eminent domain decree for the downtown was issued by President Preval in 2010, then repealed and re-issued (with some modifications) by Martelly. Ostensibly, the goal is to rebuild the administrative center of the city, but Martelly has also stated that he welcomes the involvement of “entrepreneurs” and the private sector.
Secretary of State Planning Presume stated that “the State has a budget of about 150 million U.S. dollars (for the construction of the administrative city) from several sources: Petrocaribe, Treasury and Fund of the Cancellation of Haiti’s Debt.”.[iii]
The people who shared their testimony with us blamed Martelly for their dispossession and current misery. According to these Haitians, the eminent domain project involves not just the reconstruction of the administrative center, but the transformation of the downtown into an upscale, commercial zone. Further investigation is required to determine other facets of this plan and sources of funding and investment involved, particularly those by the “private sector” welcomed by Martelly.
Where will the poor go? Where have so many tent city dwellers already gone? The Martelly regime has dismantled most of the tent cities through stick-and-carrot methods: Many families have received a one-time payment of $500 to relocate while others have been violently evicted from the camps.
The $500 payment is notoriously inadequate given the spike in land and housing prices and rents, a “market reaction” in large part to so many rich foreigners now living in Port-au-Prince as part of the NGO-U.N. network. Moreover, the price of rice – now “Made in the USA” – has increased dramatically in recent years, perhaps as much as 500 percent, further rendering this $500 aid package paltry.
We gained a sense of where so many desperate people are relocating when we visited Canara, a “city” of approximately 200,000 people seeking to eke out an existence in the arid, “dust bowl” hills in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince…
Click HERE for the full text.
This article uses the inhumane conditions in Haiti’s National Penitentiary to illustrate the poor condition of the prison system in general. Haiti’s prisons are way overcrowded and the rate of pretrial detention is extremely high. Unfortunately, the Haitian government doesn’t have the funds or will to improve the prisons itself. Haiti needs systemic change in order for its people’s human rights to be respected, inside and outside of prisons.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Inside Haiti’s prisons: a nation battles crime and human rights abuses as it struggles to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake
Martin Bentham, London Evening Standard
September 25, 2014
The former French naval officer looks down from the walls of Haiti’s National Penitentiary at the mass of prisoners crowded in the yards below and delivers a simple verdict.
“It’s just not human,” says Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, shaking her head in dismay, before continuing her tour of the Port au Prince prison with the United Nations team that she now works for.
Her assessment of the prison is blunt, but accurate.
Each of the National Penitentiary’s yards is crammed full of inmates. Some are naked and washing even their most intimate parts in full view of their fellow prisoners.
Others simply stand without clothes in the stifling heat. Each man has only a yard or two in which to stand. Any notion of personal privacy or space is absent. They are conditions that would be denounced in a zoo.
The situation inside the cell blocks is equally dire with prisoners sleeping three to a bed because of the huge overcrowding in a prison which is meant to hold 1,500 inmates, but has 4,600 instead.
Perhaps worst of all three quarters of the men have yet to be convicted. Pre-trial detention of three years or more is common in Haiti because of the snail-paced speed of a deeply flawed justice system that is marred by problems in every area.
A recent United Nations report on the country summarised the situation by warning that “overcrowding, prolonged pre-trial detention, lack of qualified health personnel and insufficient budgetary allocations” all remain “key challenges” for Haiti’s prison system.
Budget restrictions: a lack of funds mean a prison meant for 1,500 inmates is packed with 4,600The report added: “Persons held in pre-trial detention account for more than 70 per cent of the total prison population”. It also put the overcrowding rate across the country at 172 per cent with women and children held alongside men in some of the country’s prisons.
In the National Penitentiary, Inspector Michel Evens, who has run the prison for the past two years, admits that conditions are unsatisfactory.
“I’m a person too so of course I wish things were better here,” he says, adding that he manages to keep inmates calm and prevent serious disorder through constant vigilance and the use of informants who can alert staff to emerging tension.
Gang members are rotated between prison blocks to stop criminal networks from the streets outside reforming inside the jail. Armed guards monitor the prisoners from watch posts high on the prison walls.
Mr Evens admits, however, that the task of maintaining order remains difficult in the face of the severe overcrowding and the inordinate delays in the justice system which provoke frustration among the many inmates awaiting trial.
He adds: “It’s good intelligence, not force, that helps us keep order. Anything here can provoke violence, even a rumour, or lack of water or food.”
Speaking outside the prison, Carl Alexandre, a Haitian born former US prosecutor, who is overseeing the United Nations’ efforts to bolster the rule of law in the country, said that conditions were unacceptable.
“This can’t continue. Our goal is to get the best out of a pretty bad situation,” he said. “I’m not interested in releasing murderers and kidnappers. But if they freed the prisoners with minor cases they could get 1,000 people out of that prison.”
Mr Alexandre adds that large numbers of the National Penitentiary’s inmates have been in prison for longer than any jail term they might receive after trial.
Click HERE for the full text.
Join CHRGJ in NYC for a film screening on housing rights in Haiti.
Lester Pollack Colloquium Room, 9th Floor
245 Sullivan Street
New York, NY
September 23, 2014 6:30pm – 8:30pm
After a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, 1.5 million people lost their homes. Four years later, more than 100,000 people continue to live in informal tent cities where they face regular threats of eviction, water and sanitation problems, and security risks. The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice invites you to watch Mozayik, a documentary about life in the Mozayik displacement camp. Following the film hear from filmmaker Jon Bougher, Haitian housing rights activist Jackson Doliscar, and Professor Meg Satterthwaite. The panelists will discuss the human rights issues highlighted in the film, how they fit into the international legal context, how activists can encourage participation within affected communities, and how participation can facilitate rights protections.
Click HERE to RSVP.
Click HERE for more on the event and panelists.
Take this new CLE course on the 2013 DR Constitutional Court ruling.
Ethnic Denationalization in the Dominican Republic: A Critical Analysis of Constitutional Court Ruling TC 168/13
3 (Skills) NY Credits /3 (Municipal/General) NJ Credits
This CLE course will focus on the controversial 2013 Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruling (TC 168/13) divesting Dominicans of Haitian descent of citizenship. The program features a distinguished panel of presenters ranging from academia, practitioners and activists. Our panel of experts will explore issues such as:
- Who is a citizen?
- What is statelessness?
- How are the rights of stateless persons protected?
- What international/regional treaties address the right to nationality?
- What impact do international pressure and social movements have in shaping a country’s domestic politics?
An English translation of the Constitutional Court’s decision will be available at the program.
Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
One Battery Park Plaza
New York, NY 10004
Tuesday September 23, 2014
Presented by Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York, Inc.
Dr. Luis Barrios, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies
Ms. Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste, Program Director, Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice
Ms. Laura Bingham, Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative
Dr. Samuel Martinez, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut, Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Mr. Vladimir Duthiers, CBS News Correspondent
Haitian American Lawyers Association of New Jersey
The Haitian Roundtable
Dominican Bar Association
Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Marino Legal Academy
Click HERE to register.
Catch this historic exhibit at Boston Public Library before it’s gone!
Toussaint Louverture exhibition closing event
Boston Public Library, Copley Sq
Tuesday, September 23 at 6pm
Click HERE for more info.
Récemment, plus de 200 personnes et organisations ont paraphé une lettre ouverte de soutien a l’ancien président Jean-Bertrand Aristide. L’acteur américain, Danny Glover, est l’un des signataires et il a écrit un autre article excellent sur ce sujet. Cet article décrit les autres signataires et les développements récents concernant Aristide.Haïti-Justice : Deux cents personnalités et institutions dans le monde apportent leur soutien à Aristide La plainte contre le juge Lamarre Bélizaire « n’est pas encore évacuée », selon le président du Cspj
22 septembre 2014
P-au-P, 22 sept. 2014 [AlterPresse] — Plus de 200 personnalités, associations et organisations dans le monde, ont paraphé une lettre ouverte de soutien à l’ancien président Jean-Bertrand Aristide, visé par la justice pour corruption et trafic de drogue, entre autres.
« Arrêtez les attaques contre le président Aristide et le mouvement Lavalas », demandent ces personnalités et institutions, qui estiment « urgent » d’agir en ce sens, dans un document dont a pris connaissance l’agence en ligne AlterPresse.
Les signataires du document d’appui à Aristide sont des artistes, des professeurs d’universités, des journalistes, des prédicateurs, des coalitions d’anciens prisonniers politiques, des organisations internationales de défense des droits humains, des éducateurs et des parlementaires.
L’acteur américain, Danny Glover, qui a toujours soutenu Aristide, fait partie de la liste, de même que le célèbre journaliste américain condamné à mort, Moumia Abu-Jamal.
Les signataires demandent la « révocation définitive » du « mandat d’arrêt », émis contre l’ancien chef d’État, et des « accusations » portées contre les lavalassiens.
Pour eux, ces attaques viseraient « une consolidation de la dictature » en Haïti.
Toute cette démarche judiciaire contre le « leader symbolique » et des proches du parti « Fanmi Lavalas » n’aurait d’autre objectif que les empêcher de participer aux prochaines élections, qui doivent se tenir dans le pays, considèrent les 200 signataires du document.
Des professeurs à l’instar de Mattias Gardell, de l’Université D’Uppsala en Suède (Europe), et Susan Roberta Katz, de l’Université de San Francisco, ont paraphé le document aux côtés des leaders religieux comme Francis Ackroyd, ministre d’église à Ilford en Angleterre, Thomas Gumbleton, monseigneur de l’archidiocèse de Detroit (États-Unis),
Parmi les organisations, on retient le Comité pour la solidarité Latino-Américaine de la région de la baie (Balasc), l’Unité africaine américaine (Ouaa) et le Réseau international juif anti-sioniste entre autres.
Au début du mois d’août 2014, le juge d’instruction Lamarre Bélizaire a publié une liste de plus d’une trentaine de personnes, frappées d’interdiction de départ, parmi elles Aristide et des proches de son parti.
Le juge a émis un mandat de comparution, qui allait vite se transformer en mandat d’arrêt.
Entre-temps, les avocats d’Aristide ont présenté une demande en récusation du juge Lamarre Bélizaire, en charge de l’instruction du dossier, dans lequel est cité le nom de l’ancien chef d’État, pour détournement de fonds, blanchiment des avoirs et trafic de stupéfiants.
Dans la foulée, le juge aurait décidé de placer Jean-Bertrand Aristide en résidence surveillée.
Une intention, qui a poussé les sympathisants lavalassiens, indignés, à aller camper devant la demeure de l’ancien président, en guise de solidarité.
Depuis quelques jours, un véhicule de l’Unité départementale de maintien d’ordre (Udmo) est remarqué non loin de la résidence d’Aristide à Tabarre, municipalité au nord-est de Port-au-Prince. Auparavant, des policiers administratifs y étaient déployés.
Une situation qui inquiète les parents d’élèves d’établissements se trouvant à proximité. Ces parents craignent d’éventuelles turbulences, qui pourraient occasionner l’utilisation de gaz lacrymogènes…
Dans la nuit du jeudi 11 au vendredi 12 septembre 2014, ont été rappelés les agents de l’Unité de sécurité générale du palais national (Usgpn), qui assuraient la sécurité de Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Sur la base des faits signalés, les signataires de la lettre appellent à la « suspension » du juge Bélizaire.
Cet appel des signataires de la lettre de soutien arrive dans un contexte, où le Conseil supérieur du pouvoir judiciaire (Cspj) a commencé une période de certification des juges dans le système judiciaire du pays.
« Tous les juges de la république » devront être certifiés, fait savoir à AlterPresse, le président du Cspj, Anel Alexis Joseph.
Les juges, concernés par des plaintes non évacuées, « tomberont » dans le processus de validation, souligne Anel Alexis Joseph.
Des avocats ont déjà déposé une plainte au Cspj contre le juge Bélizaire, relative au dossier des frères (Enold et Josué Florestal).
La dernière ordonnance de Bélizaire sur le dossier des frères Florestal est qualifiée d’ avilissante pour la justice par le Réseau national de défense des droits humains (Rnddh).
La plainte contre le juge Lamarre Bélizaire « n’est pas encore évacuée », « pense » le président du Cspj. [srh kft rc apr 22/09/2014 1:45]
Cliquez ICI pour l’original.
Actor, Producer, and humanitarian Danny Glover has joined in the call to end the political harassment of former president Aristide. In this article, Glover describes US involvement in the 2004 coup against Aristide and in supporting the current president in the deeply-flawed 2011 elections. Finally, he calls for the US government to “stop standing in the way of the popular will of the Haitian people.”
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Stop the Political Persecution of Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas Once and for All
Danny Glover, The World Post
September 19, 2014
In March of 2011 I accompanied Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on his trip home to Haiti following years of forced exile in South Africa. I did so in support of Haitian democracy and Aristide’s civil rights, and in protest against my country’s role in illegally removing him from power in 2004 and then preventing him from returning to his native land for seven long years. Today, Haitian democracy and the rights of Aristide are again under threat and the U.S. government appears to be turning a blind eye.
Since returning to Haiti, Aristide has focused his energy on rebuilding and reactivating a medical university that he founded in 2001 and that had been closed down during his time in exile. Though he hasn’t been directly involved in politics, he remains a popular figure and is the leader of Fanmi Lavalas (FL) — a political party that has won the majority of votes in every election in which it has participated. However, FL has been kept off the ballot by Haiti’s authorities ever since the 2004 coup that led to Aristide’s forced exile.
Haiti’s parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for 2011, are now three years overdue and the UN and other foreign entities have repeatedly called for them to take place before the end of the year. With Aristide back in Haiti it would appear to be more difficult this time around for the government to prevent FL from participating. This is perhaps why the deposed president is once again under attack.
Last month, a Haitian judge reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Aristide. The case being mounted against him reeks of political persecution directly tied to efforts to suppress a popular alternative to the current administration of Michel Martelly, who is supported by conservative Haitian elites and the U.S.
The charges against Aristide stem from an investigation conducted by the illegal government established by the 2004 U.S.-backed coup. Under that government, human rights researchers found that some 4,000 people were killed for political reasons, while many others were imprisoned on bogus charges. Despite his powerful enemies’ best efforts, and a grand jury investigation in the U.S., no evidence has been produced that could support criminal charges against Aristide. In the meantime, the persecution of Lavalas and human rights defenders continues. On August 20, Lavalas activist Clifford Charles was killed following a protest demanding the release of fellow activist Louima Louis Juste.
The judge who issued the warrant for Aristide’s arrest has been disbarred from practicing law for 10 years — as soon as he steps down from his position as judge — for his role in the arrest last year of Andre Michel, an attorney investigating corruption within the Martelly administration. Lawyers for Aristide contend that they never received the initial summons from the judge and that when they did go to the court at the required time, the judge himself was a no-show. Now, in an apparent attempt at saving-face, the judge has ordered house arrest for Aristide, something that is not even legal in Haiti. The National Network for the Defense of Human Rights, Haiti’s most prominent human rights organization, has pointed out that these are not the actions of a neutral third-party.
On the night of September 11th, Haitian authorities went a step further, removing the security detail that had been with Aristide since his return from exile, a move that put him, his family, and his supporters at risk.
Click HERE for the full text.
Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alert:
Thursday September 18, 2014
Help spread the word: It’s been almost 4 years and still no UN accountability
Be Part of the Solution for Haiti: Make a Difference a Half Hour at a time
Thank you so much if you attended yesterday’s conference call on cholera justice. We had a lively conversation about the history and status of the ongoing legal case and how it advances the goal of UN accountability. We also heard about upcoming opportunities for advocacy. If you missed it, dial (712) 432-1219 and follow the instructions using Meeting ID 416-399-999 and Reference Number 2 to listen.*
As promised, here’s how you can help us advocate for justice:
The cholera epidemic was brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers in 2010, shortly after an earthquake already devastated the country. The epidemic has killed more than 9,000 people and nearly 800,000 have become ill. Through advocacy by our supporters, journalists, human rights organizations, government officials and more, the UN response to cholera has changed drastically. But there’s still work to be done! It’s been almost four years since the epidemic began and we need your help to make sure the cholera victims’ stories aren’t forgotten.
Please help us keep the pressure on by:
- Tweeting about the anniversary. Tell your followers why justice for cholera victims matters to you. Use #ICareBecause each week until the 4th anniversary of the cholera epidemic, October 19. Remind everyone that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
- Helping with translations. To make sure we partner with Haitians for cholera advocacy, we often need quick translations to or from Haitian Creole and French. If you can help on short notice, please email email@example.com.
- Hosting a screening. A key part of advocacy is informing new supporters about a cause. Spread the word about cholera in Haiti by screening Baseball in the Time of Cholera for your organization, friends, or family.
Learn more about the cholera litigation against the UN in our public conference call. The cholera team just completed their final brief on the question of UN immunity, and now await the court’s decision. IJDH Staff Attorney Beatrice Lindstrom, Legal Fellow Shannon Jonsson, and Executive Director Brian Concannon will discuss recent updates, how the case has progressed since it began, and how you can help fight for justice for cholera’s victims. There will also be lots of time for your questions.
Wednesday, September 17 1-2pm
Dial (712) 432-1212* and enter the meeting ID, 416-399-999.
*Long-distance charges may apply for international callers but a calling card will work as it’s a US phone number. Your country may also have a free conference call number available here.
August 19, 2014, Brian Concannon spoke about our work at a Next Mile Project brown bag lunch. He explained the connection between BAI and IJDH and how the two organizations collaborate with each other and with other organizations. Next Mile Project made a great short video compiling Brian’s interview and the slideshow he presented during the lunch.ADAPTING TO CHANGES IN SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCACY TRENDS
Next Mile Project
September 2, 2014
For the PowerPoint slides and NMP’s short bio of Brian, click HERE.
Représentant américaine Maxine Waters a écrit une lettre au secrétaire d’État John Kerry, exprimant ses préoccupations au sujet de le retrait de la sécurité d’Aristide 11 septembre. Sa plus grande préoccupation citée est une confrontation potentielle entre les partisans d’Aristide et la police: Elle craint que cela qui puisse mener à des pertes de vie et d’instabilité politique en Haïti. Rep. Waters exhorte Kerry à intervenir immédiatement.Haïti – Politique : La Congressiste Maxine Waters demande l’intervention de John Kerry
September 16, 2014
Dans une lettre adressée au Secrétaire d’État John Kerry, la Congressiste Maxine Waters, dit craindre une situation dangereuse après le retrait des agents chargés de la sécurité de l’ancien Président Aristide et lui demande d’intervenir sans délai, afin d’éviter une confrontation dangereuse entre les forces de l’orde et les partisans d’Aristide.
« L’Honorable John Kerry
2201 C Street, NW, Room 7226
Washington, DC 20520
Cher Secrétaire Kerry:
Je suis profondément concerné par la situation en Haïti.
J’ai été informé que des ordres ont été donnés de rappeler tous les officiers du commissariat de police qui fournissait la sécurité à la maison du Président Aristide et tous les policiers ont quitté les alentours ce matin aux environs de 1h00 a.m. [jeudi 11 septembre 2014]. Cela rend le Président Aristide et sa famille, totalement exposés.
Je suis extrêmement concerné qu’il existe un effort d’arrêter de manière illégale le Président Aristide. Étant donné que les supporteurs du Président Aristide se sont rassemblés autour de sa maison au cours des derniers jours pour montrer leur soutien envers lui, on peut raisonnablement s’attendre qu’ils aillent encercler sa maison pour prévenir son arrestation. Personne ne devrait vouloir une confrontation entre les partisans du Président Aristide et la police. Je crains qu’une situation dangereuse se développe, qui puisse mener à des pertes de vie et d’instabilité politique plus profonde en Haïti.
S’il vous plait intervenez immédiatement pour éviter une confrontation inutile et dangereuse et éviter que s’en suive le chaos en Haïti.
Membre du Congrès
cc: Thomas C. Adams, Haiti Special Coordinator
Ambassador Pamela A. White, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti»
Par ailleurs nous apprenons que ce mardi 16 septembre 2014, des sénateurs de l’Opposition anciens membres de l’organisation politique Fanmi Lavalas, des politiciens d’allégeance lavalassienne, des membres du MOPOD et des représentants d’organisations populaires, ont la ferme intention, en signe de solidarité, de rendre visite au Président Aristide, à sa résidence de Tabarre, sans demander l’autorisation au Juge Lamarre Bélizaire
Cliquez ICI pour l’original.
We are pleased to announce that on Friday, Sept 12, six reports were sent to the UN Human Rights Committee for review of Haiti’s obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee will review Haiti in Geneva October 8th and 9th.
The reports are on the following topics:
(1) ICCPR Violations in the Context of the Cholera Epidemic in Haiti
(2) The Plight of Restavèk (Child Domestic Servants)
(3) Freedom of Expression in Haiti: Violations of the Freedom of the Press
(4) Prison Conditions and Pre-Trial Detention in Haiti
(5) The Right to Vote
(6) Access to Judicial Remedies in Haiti (includes Duvalier, gender-based violence, human rights defenders, labor, and forced evictions)
Links to each report are below.
For years, the international community has been aware that elections in Haiti were being delayed and have called for elections that respect Haiti’s Constitution. Now that elections have been delayed further, the international community seems more focused on the holding of elections than on having them be fair, democratic, and Constitutional. Instead, they blame the delay on the 6 opposition Senators who are pushing for Constitutional elections. This post outlines the change international community’s response to the delays from 2010 to today.
Part of the post is below. Click HERE for the full text.U.N. and U.S. Blame Haiti’s Opposition for Delayed Elections, Ignore History
Center for Economic and Policy Research
September 16, 2014
At the United Nations Security Council meeting last week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power did not mince words regarding who was to blame for Haiti’s electoral impasse. Power, speaking to the assembled members, stated bluntly [PDF]:
But a group of six senators seems intent on holding elections hostage to partisan concerns, even going so far as to prevent a debate on the electoral law.
Legislators in a democracy have a responsibility to defend their constituents’ rights. But when elected officials take advantage of democracy’s checks and balances to cynically block debates and elections altogether, they stand in the way of addressing citizens’ real needs.
It wasn’t just the U.S. referencing the so called “Group of 6.” The head of MINUSTAH, the U.N. mission in Haiti, also blamed a “group of Senators opposed to the El Rancho Accord.” Today, in a separate action, 15 U.S. members of Congress wrote to the Senate president Simon Desras. As the Miami Herald reports, the lawmakers wrote that:
“We are deeply concerned that the Haitian Senate has been unable to pass the requisite legislation to authorize elections this year….We believe that Haitians deserve better than to have this fundamental democratic right continually delayed.”
But, the Herald continues, “[i]n addition to the senators, several large political parties in Haiti are also opposed to the agreement and were not part of the negotiations [the El Rancho Accord]. In addition to raising constitutional issues, Martelly opponents have also raised questions about the formation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) tasked with organizing the vote. Many feel that it is currently being controlled by the executive.”
Opposition leader Mirlande Manigat, a conservative who lost to Martelly in a run-off election in 2011 and is a constitutional scholar, responded to the comments from the U.S. and the U.N., saying it was unreasonable to overlook the role that Martelly has played in the delay:
“For three years, he refused to call elections. A large part of this is his fault…It is unfair to accuse the six senators for the crisis.”
As we have noted previously, there are legal and constitutional reasons behind the oppositions’ electoral stance. According to Mario Joseph, managing lawyer for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, “Prompt elections are much needed, but elections will only remedy Haiti’s political crisis if they are run fairly by a constitutionally-mandated electoral council. President Michel Martelly has delayed elections for three years because he does not want to lose the political control he has enjoyed without full parliamentary oversight.”
Given the outrage coming from the U.S. and other foreign powers about the delayed elections and the focus on this group of senators, it could be easy to forget that indeed, as Joseph and Manigat point out, this issue has been developing for years, a fact of which the international community is well aware. For starters, much of the current political stalemate arises from the deeply flawed presidential elections in 2010, through which Martelly was elected only after the arbitrary intervention of the Organization of American States. Since that election, every year, without fail, the Martelly government has pledged to hold elections and then subsequently failed to live up to its promises. By overlooking this background and simply blaming a group of six senators, the international community and the U.S. are once again prioritizing the holding of any election, without regard to the quality of said election.
To illustrate just how long this has been an issue, and the changing viewpoints and criticisms from the international community one need only look back over the last few years of U.N. Security Council meetings.
In September 2011 Martelly had been in office for less than 6 months. With partial legislative elections on the horizon, then head of MINUSTAH Mariano Fernandez Amunategui spoke to the council [PDF]:
“It will also be important to support the electoral process in Haiti, which is preparing for partial legislative and local Government elections in November. In that respect, I stress that electoral reform, including the establishment of a credible permanent electoral council, is indispensable if Haiti hopes gradually to reduce its dependence on international electoral assistance.”
One year later, after those scheduled elections had not taken place, Fernandez once again addressed the Security Council [PDF]:
An exceptional situation in Haitian political life is currently being played out in that the Senate, which is theoretically made up of 30 members, today has only 20 members… That continues to distort political life, with negative consequences for the democratic stabilization process in Haiti In addition, there is at present a serious impasse in the formation of the Permanent Electoral Council.
The formation of an electoral body of nine members in accordance with the stipulations of the Constitution is an unavoidable prerequisite for any elections; its establishment will determine how soon the pending elections can be held to renew a third of the Senate as well as to elect all municipal mayors and councillors. That is why MINUSTAH is currently working in coordination with the international community to promote dialogue and prepare the way for the soonest possible establishment of a Permanent Electoral Council that is legitimate and legal and that enjoys the broadest possible support.
That year (another with no elections held), the terms of some 130 mayors expired. Rather than let them continue until elections were held, they were replaced by appointees of Martelly. Fast forward another year, and MINUSTAH has a new head, Sandra Honoré. In her address to the Security Council, she states [PDF]:
Turning to the political situation, the continued delay in the holding of long-overdue partial senatorial, municipal and local elections is of increasing concern and poses a series of risks to the stabilization process. Yesterday’s long-awaited submission to Parliament by President Martelly of the draft electoral law that is required to launch the electoral process is a most welcome development. However, there have been protracted delays caused, in part, by the eight months that it took the three branches of Government to designate the nine members of the Electoral Council…
Click HERE for the full text.
US Representative Maxine Waters recently expressed concern for Aristide’s safety in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. Though many others have expressed similar concerns since the former president’s security was withdrawn, there has been no response from Kerry yet. Meanwhile, there is still no set date for elections in Haiti, which are years overdue. While prominent members of the international community, like Samantha Power, blame opposition senators for the current delay, the senators maintain that they are trying to uphold the Constitution.
Click HERE for more on the delay and what’s at stake.As Haiti election delays continue, Aristide remains focus
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
September 16, 2014
Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was put under house arrest as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into corruption and drug trafficking allegations, is expected to get some moral support Tuesday.
A group of opposition leaders and senators opposed to a political accord the international community had hoped would lead to elections this year, say they plan to visit the former priest-turned-twice deposed president despite a judge’s order requiring visitors to seek approval before entering Aristide’s gated compound on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
“There is no such thing as house arrest under Haitian law,” said opposition Sen. Jean Baptiste Bien-Aime, who plans to join the delegation.
Aristide was ordered to stay put last week by investigative Judge Lamarre Bélizaire who is reviewing allegations that he and his associates stole millions from the Haitian treasury and pocketed kickbacks from drug traffickers between 2001 and 2004. Days later, police officers assigned to Aristide were recalled without explanation.
The actions were the latest in a series of moves by Bélizaire. They have perplexed and outraged Aristide supporters, including U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who is calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene “to avoid an unnecessary and dangerous confrontation and ensure that chaos does not ensure in Haiti.”
“No one should want a confrontation between President Aristide’s supporters and the police,” Waters wrote to Kerry, whose office has yet to respond. “I fear that a dangerous situation may be developing that could lead to a loss of life and further political instability in Haiti.”
Waters, a long-time Aristide supporter, told the Miami Herald that she is “really concerned” about Aristide’s safety.
“He is at risk down there,” she said, noting that she has been fielding calls from equally concerned individuals such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and soon plans to mount a letter-writing campaign. “I don’t understand the legality of what’s being done and a lot of people don’t understand it. Where is Bélizaire getting his orders from? What gives him the authority to do this? How does Bélizaire, a judge, have the ability to reach over into the police and remove police from security operations? We just don’t understand this.”
Equally confused Haitians say they believe the Aristide saga might be an attempt to test his popularity while some supporters say it’s a way of preventing his political party, Fanmi Lavalas, from staging a comeback. Martelly’s government has not commented on Aristide’s case but has said that it will not interfere in the work of the judiciary.
The house arrest and police removal came the same week in which Haiti’s lower chamber recessed without approving an electoral law, and Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, accused the six opposition senators of blocking political progress.
“A group of six senators seems intent on holding elections hostage to partisan concerns, even going so far as to prevent a debate on the electoral law,” Power said during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Haiti.
“Legislators in a democracy have a responsibility to defend their constituents’ rights,” Power said. “But when elected officials take advantage of democracy’s checks and balances to cynically block debate and elections altogether, they stand in the way of addressing citizens’ real needs.”
Power’s strong statement immediately drew rebuke in Port-au-Prince from the senators and other opposition leaders, who said her characterization of Haiti’s complex deepening political crisis was unjust and misinformed.
“We are not obstructionist. We are a group of senators who are defending the Haitian constitution,” said opposition Sen. Francky Exius.
Opposition party leader Mirlande Manigat said the international community consistently overlooks the role President Michel Martelly has played in delaying the vote for two-thirds of the Senate, the entire lower chamber of deputies, municipal administrations and local councils.
“For three years, he refused to call elections. A large part of this is his fault,” said Manigat, a constitution expert who lost to Martelly in the 2011 presidential runoff. “It is unfair to accuse the six senators for the crisis.”
Manigat’s party is among several that are also refusing to acknowledge the political agreement known as the El Rancho accord. The group has also taken issue with how the nine-member provisional electoral council was formed, saying it doesn’t instill confidence.
Ahead of the U.N. Security Council meeting, Martelly’s spokesman announced that the president was ready to resume talks with opposition parties, civil society and the six senators over elections. But so far, opposition leaders say, no talks have been scheduled.
Sandra Honoré, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative to Haiti, told Power and other council members that “given the need for logistic preparations, the window for holding the elections before the end of the year is now rapidly closing.”
“This is particularly worrisome since without elections, parliament would be rendered dysfunctional on 12 January, thereby creating an institutional vacuum until elections are held and a new Legislature is installed,” she said.
Ban’s report to the council noted that Bélizaire’s efforts to question Aristide had erupted into controversy, starting with an Aug. 13 warrant for Aristide to be brought to court after he failed to show.
Aristide’s lawyers have said the warrant wasn’t properly served. Haiti’s leading human rights group, the National Human Rights Defense Network, has noted that while no one is above the law, it is concerned by “the arbitrary ways” in which Bélizaire has decided to pursue the case. His “actions defy logic,” it said in a statement.
For instance, when Haitian lawyers sought house arrest for former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in his legal case, they were told it doesn’t exist, allowing him to leave home at will.
“Today, they are trying to create a crisis to hide all of the problems in the country like the hunger and the misery that are ravaging the population … and the elections that they haven’t done since 2011 and won’t do this year,” said Aristide’s spokeswoman, Dr. Maryse Narcisse.
Click HERE for the original.
Click HERE for more on the elections delay and what’s at stake.
Fran Quigley is travelling around the country speaking about his new book, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign. The book covers everything from global and grassroots cholera activism, to the failed post-earthquake recovery, to the Duvalier prosecution, all while demonstrating why a better Haiti will come from the grassroots, up. This book is a must-read if you want to understand the link between poverty and human rights, and how Haiti is ready for change, with lessons that are applicable not just there, but all over the world.
WHEN AND WHERE:
- September 4th, 3:30 – 5pm; Book Talk with Fran and Brian; Agora Cafe at Mariano’s West Loop location, Chicago, IL. Brian is in Chicago to receive the Debra Evenson Award from the National Lawyers Guild and author Fran Quigley will join him for this talk. This is a rare opportunity to see both Fran and Brian – all are welcome! Refreshments available. (Open to the Public)
- September 15th, 7:00-8pm; Bread for the World event; St. Luke’s Methodist Church: 100 W. 86th Street Indianapolis, IN; Fran will share the agenda with author, former Wall Street Journal reporter, and food policy expert Roger Thurow. (Open to the Public)
- September 20th; Parish Twinning Program of the America’s National Conference; Nashville, TN (Closed Event)
- October 14th, 5pm; Lecture, book signing and reception; Wynne Courtroom and Atrium, Inlow Hall, McKinney School of Law at Indiana University: 530 W. New York Street Indianapolis, IN; (Open to the Public, RSVP)
- October 21 – 23; Haiti Justice Alliance of Northfield, MN (More Info to Come on Event Availability to Public)
- November 10th, 7pm; “How Human Rights Can Build Haiti…And How You Can Help”; Laws Room, First Presbyterian Church, 512 7th St. Columbus, IN; Co-sponsored by Friends of Haiti, Konbit Lasante Pou Limonade, Peace & Justice Ministry of St. Bartholomew, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, IN, Columbus Peace Fellowship, Social Justice Committee at First Presbyterian, North Christian Church, Pride Alliance of Columbus, & Art for AIDS. (Open to Public – Books Available for Purchase)
- More events forthcoming…
Contact Kathy Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to organize an event in your area.
Click HERE to learn more about the book.
In recent months, old charges of corruption have been brought against former President Aristide again. Charges of this nature are usually dropped before Aristide can challenge them in court. Now, Aristide supporters all over the world have come together against the latest political harassment campaign.
Part of the petition is below. Click HERE for the full text and list of signers.As former Haitian President Aristide is placed on house arrest, supporters worldwide demand immediate halt to attacks on him and Lavalas Movement
By the Haiti Action Committee, in The San Francisco Bay View
September 13, 2014
On Aug. 21, Haitian police wearing black masks and carrying heavy arms appeared in front of the home of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as a Haitian judge issued calls to arrest him. Hundreds of people courageously surrounded the house to protect him.
One week before, President Aristide was summoned to court on false corruption charges. On Sept. 10, he was placed on house arrest and barred from leaving the country.
This is the fourth time since his return to Haiti in 2011 that he has been the target of a politically motivated legal case. Previous charges were dropped before he could even challenge them in court.
The judge in this case, Lamarre Bélizaire, has been suspended for 10 years from practicing the law by the Port-au-Prince Bar Association for using the court to persecute opponents of the present regime. His suspension is due to begin once he steps down as judge.
President Aristide, a former priest, was Haiti’s first democratically elected president. He is loved and trusted by the majority of Haitians. While in office he built schools and hospitals, encouraged agriculture and doubled the minimum wage.
He was removed and forced into exile with his family in 2004 by a U.S.-backed military coup. Thousands of members of his Lavalas movement were killed, raped or falsely imprisoned in the aftermath of the coup.
In 2011, after seven years of grassroots organizing in Haiti backed up by an international campaign, President Aristide and his family returned home. Tens of thousands of people welcomed him.President Aristide, a former priest, was Haiti’s first democratically elected president. He is loved and trusted by the majority of Haitians. While in office he built schools and hospitals, encouraged agriculture and doubled the minimum wage.
He promised to work for education and the inclusion of all Haitians in the democratic process. He has done just that – reopening the Aristide Foundation’s university, UNIFA, where today over 900 students from all sectors of society, including those who cannot afford higher education, are training to become doctors, nurses and lawyers.
Legislative elections due to take place in Haiti in October are triggering a new chilling wave of repression aimed at President Aristide and his supporters. Lavalas has overwhelmingly won every election in which it has participated, but since the 2004 coup the party has been barred from elections.
Click HERE for the full petition and list of signers.
After security agents were mysteriously removed from in front of Aristide’s residence around 1am September 12, many questions have arisen about the cause and the former president’s safety. There are reports that the order came from the National Palace, which, if true, mean the Martelly government has put the lives of Aristide and his family at great risk. This development comes amidst an ongoing investigation of corruption charges against Aristide that have never been proven. Aristide supporters promised major protests if he were arrested. Any harm resulting from the security withdrawal could result in “significant disruption” in Haiti.Is the Martelly Government Putting Former President Aristide in Danger?
Center for Economic and Policy Research
September 12, 2014
Fanmi Lavalas leaders report that the police that have guarded former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s residence since he returned to Haiti in 2011 were removed around 1:00 a.m. this morning. It is unclear who ordered the removal of the state security agents, but Agence Haitienne de Presse is reporting that Haitian National Police deny giving the order, and that a “pro-government source” says the orders came from the National Palace. This news conflicts with reports yesterday that Aristide is being placed under house arrest. While Judge Lamarre Belizaire reportedly issued an order for “agents of the prison administration, known as APENA” to be placed around Aristide’s house in Tabarre (according to the Caribbean Media Corporation) and “agents of the Central Department of the Judicial Police” to guard the perimeter of his residence, witnesses on the ground say it appears that law enforcement agencies have ignored Belizaire’s order. Under Haitian law, house arrest has no legal basis.
Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, whose sister organization the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux’s Managing Attorney Mario Joseph represents Aristide, sees the withdrawal of security as retaliation against Aristide for exercising his civil rights. Specifically, Aristide’s lawyers’ are seeking the recusal and dismissal of Judge Belizaire, who is already barred from practicing law for 10 years after he leaves his position as judge.
Concannon says that the message is that “If you assert your civil rights, we’re going to expose you and your family to being killed.” He sees it as a clear signal from the Haitian government that “the police will not come to Aristide’s aid if something happens.” The secretive way in which the security was pulled, in the dead of night, is worrying, he notes.
Aristide continues to have many enemies in Haiti. He was twice ousted in violent coups, in 1991 and 2004. Some of the people involved in the coups and in the killing of Fanmi Lavalas members and other Aristide supporters continue to walk free in Haiti. Haiti’s former dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier – who was ousted in a popular uprising by the grassroots movement that later provided the base for Aristide’s party – also lives freely in Haiti despite the various human rights atrocities committed during his rule and the diverting of hundreds of millions of dollars from the government for his family’s personal use.
There have been numerous recent attacks and threats against human rights defenders and political activists. Haïti Liberté reports:
On Wed., Aug. 20 in Cité Soleil, Clifford Charles, a member of the Fanmi Lavalas Political Organization was killed following a demonstration by residents demanding the release of their imprisoned comrade Louima Louis Juste in the National Penitentiary for the past six months for his political opinions.
Human rights defender Daniel Dorsinvil and his wife Girldy Larêche were murderedearlier this year. Well-known Fanmi Lavalas leader and human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine remains missing after being forcibly disappeared in 2007, to name a few other examples.
In this context, the danger to Aristide is real, and it is clear that the Martelly government is putting his life and safety at risk.
Aristide continues to be widely popular, as was seen when thousands of peopleaccompanied his caravan from the airport to his residence in 2011. Over the past weeks, crowds of supporters have repeatedly gathered outside Aristide’s residence following rumors and news of his pending arrest. The AP reported on demonstrations in support of Aristide yesterday on the 26th anniversary of the most infamous assassination attempt against him, when death squads killed at least 13 people and injured 80 more at the St. Jean Bosco church where Aristide was saying mass. The AP’s Evens Sanon writes:
Supporters promised major protests would erupt if what they see as a politically motivated arrest is carried out.
“There is only one person who represents the people of Haiti and his name is President Aristide,” 37-year-old Lionel Patrick said in the yard of the church, which was destroyed in the January 2010 earthquake. “If anything happens to him, Haiti is going to be shut down.”
Any attack on Aristide’s residence is likely to result in many additional casualties.
As we have pointed out previously, the supposedly impending charges and arrest of Aristide – and now the new threat to his security – may be intended to distract from the postponement, yet again, of legislative and local elections that were supposed to be held on October 26. With another third of senate seats expiring next year, as well as the entire House of Deputies, the Martelly administration will be unencumbered by the check-and-balance of the legislature on his authority if elections are not held soon. He also could be in a position to replace local mayors with more appointed “municipal agents,” as he’s already done with 130 of them.
This real exercise of anti-democratic behavior by the current administration is getting far less attention than the rehashed allegations of corruption targeting a past president, even though 10 years of investigations in Haiti and a grand jury in the U.S. have failed to produce evidence of actual corruption by Aristide that could support criminal charges.
The security team’s unusual withdrawal is not just dangerous for Aristide, his wife and daughter. It puts the reputation of the Martelly administration, and its chief international supporter, the Obama administration on the line. If anything does happen to the Aristide residence, fingers will be pointed at President Martelly and the U.S. Embassy. Many of those fingers will come from the hands of irate Lavalas supporters, who will likely take to the streets in numbers that will cause significant disruption in Haiti.
Click HERE for the original.