News and opinions on situation in Haiti
  
Subscribe to InI’s Mailing List/Newsletter
  
19/4/06

Equal Treatment for Haitians: Mass Rally in Miami to ask for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Stop Deportations to Haiti | US/Euros funding of Haitian overseers (ANAMAH, Forum Citoyen, CONAP, Group 184, ENFOFANM) and Foreign NGOs sponsoring tyranny in Haiti, Wives of political prisoner, Paul Raymond and Yvon “Zap Zap” Antoine speak, UN Role in terrorizing innocent and very poor Haitians outlined

 

   

Date: 19 April 2006

Rally and march on April 22, 2006 in
Miami for Equal Treatment and TPS for Haitians
www.margueritelaurent.com/campaigns/campaigntwo/grantstatustohaitians.html#TPS

“I have suffered total abuse. I have been here for two years, and I haven’t seen a judge in all that time,” he told us. (Yvon “Zap Zap” Antoine of the popular Haitian band, Ranram)

“UN forces have also detained an uncounted number of Haitian civilians without charge, and have then handed them over to the Haitian police, exacerbating the crisis within Haiti’s packed jails. Interviewed on Flashpoints Radio in Berkeley, journalist Lyn Duff reported that an uncounted number of children have been pre-emptively arrested in poor neighborhoods by the UN and Haitian police.

Some of these kids are as young as 7, 8, 9 years old
Many have been arrested and are being held in preventive detention, which is when they arrest the child because there is the assumption that the child is from a poor neighborhood and therefore may be a criminal sometime in the future…”

“…the Haitian Judges Association (ANAMAH)…has been viewed as a key partner in the efforts of the UN to promote independence of Haiti’s judiciary, perhaps not surprisingly as it was created by the International Federation of Electoral Systems (IFES) an organization funded by US and Canadian aid agencies.”

*********************************

RALLY & MARCH SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 2006, FOR EQUAL TREATMENT FOR HAITIANS! Gather at 54th Street and North Miami Avenue at 2 pm & March to 79th & Biscayne Boulevard

TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS (TPS) AND WORK PERMITS FOR HAITIANS NOW! STOP DEPORTATIONS TO HAITI!

Nationals of seven countries currently enjoy Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States: Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Burundis, Somalis, Liberians, and Sudanese but not Haitians! TPS halts all deportations and grants work permits to all nationals of countries so designated. But Haitians have never received TPS and continue to be deported to Haiti despite conditions there!

We are glad for Cubans and for the Central Americans who have TPS and cannot be deported. They are our brothers and sisters! But it is immoral and wrong to deport Haitians despite the catastrophic natural disasters, devastating economic conditions, brutal human rights abuses, political paralysis, endemic violence, institutional failures and meltdown, and massive unemployment and poverty in Haiti!

Grant Haitians TPS! These deportations destroy our families, devastate our community, cut off remittances which sustain hundreds of thousands in Haiti, and discriminate against Haitians!

Our elected political leaders will LISTEN when we demonstrate and march! Gather Saturday, April 22 at 2 pm at 28 NE 54th Street and march to the DHS building at 79th and Biscayne Boulevard!

Stand up and come out this Saturday April 22! Don’t be left out! Celebrate with thousands of Haitian brothers and sisters and bring your family and friends! Raise your voice to demand: Stop Haiti Deportations! TPS and work permits for Haitians! Equal Treatment for Haitians Now!

Contact: Marleine Bastien, Executive Director, FANM/Haitian Women of Miami, 305 756-8050; Lavarice Gaudin, 786 285-3209; Steven Forester of FANM, 786 877-6999.

Supported by the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition; Haitian Women of Miami; the Haitian Lawyers Association, Haiti Solidarity; Veye Yo, Haitian Youth of Tomorrow, SEIU and a broad host of other organizations, groups, and Haitian elected officials!

*********************

The Politics of Finger Wagging: Canada, the UN and “Judicial Reform” in Haiti
By Stuart Neatby, haiti.nspirg.org, April 19, 2006

Both Paul Raymond and his wife had been living in the Dominican Republic in exile for several months.

In the months following the removal of elected Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide in February of 2004, a removal which was carried out by US Marines and Canadian Joint Task Force 2 troops as US-armed and trained rebels closed in upon Haiti’s capital, hundreds of political activists and former government officials were arrested and jailed. Many were killed. Paul Raymond, a well-known Lavalas political activist and coordinator of the literacy and feeding programs of the St-Jean Bosco Parish in Port-au-Prince, had opted for exile in hopes of avoiding this fate.

According to Raymond’s wife, who introduced herself only as Mme. Raymond, on July 21st of 2005 Dominican Police, Haitian Police, and police of other nationalities came to their house, demanding to see her husband’s passport. He was then arrested.

“They ransacked the house completely, they cleaned it out,” she told us.

Raymond would later be extradited to Haiti and would be charged with “association with malefactors” and “arson.” Haitian authorities claimed that he had been implicated in a December 5th, 2003 attack against the National University of Haiti. At that time, Mme. Raymond insisted that her husband was out of the country, in Cuba.

We accompanied Mme. Raymond on March 8th when she, like hundreds of other family members of detainees in the National Penitentiary, visited her jailed husband. Like every other week, the two were given only 10 minutes of contact.

“The reason I am in jail is for political reasons, to fight against all violations of human rights,” Raymond told us, insisting that there were many others who had been imprisoned for political reasons.

Yvon “Zap Zap” Antoine, whose wife we had met at a demonstration of family members of prisoners the previous day, had been imprisoned in the National Penitentiary for more than two years. The musician and grassroots activist is known throughout the country as a member of the popular and radical band Raram.

“I have suffered total abuse. I have been here for two years, and I haven’t seen a judge in all that time,” he told us.

Both men were cut short from giving us further details. A synthesized rendition of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, began playing out of a portable loudspeaker carried by a watchful prison guard. Everyone else recognized this signal; Visit time was over.

The cases of Raymond and Zap Zap are not unique.

In recent days, Haiti’s judicial and prison system has come under fire from members of the United Nations, whose previous silence on such human rights abuses committed by the Latortue government has effectively amounted to a stance of outright support. On March 31st, UN spokesperson David Wimhurst publicly denounced the state of Haiti’s prisons, decrying the fact that, of the estimated 4,034 people imprisoned nationwide, only 450 inmates had been convicted of any crime. During the same press conference, Thierry Fagart, head of the UN Human Rights Commission would state that the judicial system was “failing at all levels.” These statements followed the recent release of a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) which criticized Haiti’s justice system for maintaining the majority of its detainees in prison without having the chance to see a judge, often for up to two years.(1)

Although this recognition of the brutal conditions within Haiti’s prisons is perhaps a positive step, the UN continues to ignore the direct role that its own personnel have played in maintaining a state of judicial impunity for Haiti’s elite and members of the former military, while allowing the apparatus of the justice system to be used as a means of blanket repression and incarceration against government critics and residents of poor neighbourhoods. Similarly, the attempts of international donors, lead by the Canadian government, to facilitate a role for “civil society” in “judicial reform” has effectively amounted to a hand-out of millions of “aid” dollars to the same elites who have shown an almost total contempt for constitutional law, and for human rights.

Such “democracy promotion” programs are far more than just an enormous waste of money within the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere; They have allowed the targeted abuses against Haiti’s poor majority to be obscured and forgotten. After the recent electoral victory of President-elect Rene Preval, whose support is largely found amongst Haiti’s poor, these efforts may also allow Haiti’s small elite to maintain control of the judiciary after Preval assumes the Presidency.

Targeted Brutality and Targeted Impunity

Both Antoine and Raymond are likely kept inside a wing of the National Penitentiary reserved for political activists, known as “the brig.”

According to Evel Fanfan, the director of the Association of University Graduates Motivated for a Haiti with Rights (AUMOHD), conditions within the brig are particularly brutal. Detainees are often beaten by prison guards during recreation times, are kept in over-crowded cells without lighting or ventilation, and are sometimes barred access to washroom facilities. Prisoners in solitary confinement spend whole days in darkness. Further to this, what lavatory facilities that do exist within this area are close to the prison’s water wells, raising concern about the contamination of water supplies.

Mario Michele, who was released from detainment shortly before we met him, told us that he had witnessed a coordinated beating of detainees in the brig on February 7th. The detainees had planned a small celebration in expectation of the February 7th election, which frontrunner and former elected president Rene Preval was expected to win. As they began singing “Vent en Vire” (”The Wind Will Change”) in their cells, 4 separate teams of guards, consisting of approximately 50 in total, entered the Brig and began severely beating the detainees. Detainees were reportedly passed between the four teams, and beaten sequentially by each one.

Michele, who witnessed this attack from a nearby cell, stated that the guards “broke sticks [while beating] them, hit them with their guns, stepped on them with their boots, and kicked them. They treated them very very badly.”

Details of the February 7th prison beating were made public in a press conference held by AUMOHD in late March, days before the 19th anniversary of the establishment of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution. The Collectif Fanmi Prisonniers (Prisoners Family Collective) and other Haitian and international organizations had been calling for the release of the thousands of political prisoners and illegally detained poor Haitians currently held in Haiti’s jails by this date. It was hoped that a release of unlawfully detained prisoners might serve as a show of good faith that members of the interim government were committed to working to improve Haiti’s failing judicial system. The date passed without a single prisoner being released. Regardless of this, since January, members of the Prisoners Family Collective have been staging weekly protests outside of the Palais de Justice in the middle of downtown Port-au-Prince.

Yet for those close to the interim government, Haiti’s justice system has worked quite well. In May of 2005, Haiti’s Supreme Court overturned the trial by jury conviction of former paramilitary Louis Jodel-Chamblain, as well as 14 other individuals, who were convicted by Jury of carrying out the 1994 Raboteau massacre. Many human rights organization, including Amnesty International, have criticized the acquittal of Chamblain as an indication of the climate of impunity that pervades Haiti’s justice system.(2) The 2000 Raboteau conviction had been seen internationally as a landmark victory for human rights in Haiti. On March 10th, police command Carlo Lochard and six other officers, who were among the twelve officers charged in connection with the August 20, 2005 massacre of several civilians during a soccer match in Gran Ravine, were released and the charges against them were dropped. Their arrest had marked one of the few cases in which members of the Haitian National Police were detained in connection with one of the many human rights abuses that have been carried out by their officers since February 2004. (3)

Haiti’s Prisons and the International Community

All UN official interviewed during our recent visit to Haiti were quick to point out the deficiencies of Haiti’s prison system. Thierry Fagart, the director of the UN’s Human Rights Commission told us that more than 90% of detainees in Haiti’s prisons were in pre-trial detention, and that many had been in jail for more than two years without seeing a judge.(4) Haiti’s constitution requires that detainees see a judge within 48 hours of their arrest. When interviewed, UN spokesperson David Wimhurst stated that Haiti’s judicial system was “totally chaotic,” adding that “it doesn’t work.”(5) Michelle Deslaurier, the Canadian Chief of the Corrections Unit within the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) stated that the number of pre-trial detainees in Haiti’s prisons was so high that, as of the end of March, he had been informed by the director of the National Penitentiary that it could not handle any more prisoners.(6)

Yet, the growing statements of concern issued by members of the UN and the OAS surrounding Haiti’s prisons have almost completely avoided any mention of the political and class character of such widespread imprisonment. The UN’s March 31st press release(7) includes no mention of the many high-profile political prisoners still imprisoned on illegitimate charges such as former Lavalas Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, folksinger So Anne Auguste, and former interior minister Jocelerme Privert. The recent report of the Organization of American State’s Inter-American Commssion on Human Rights (IACHR) attributed the high rates of pre-trial detention to the inadequate salaries and working conditions of judicial magistrates, as well as the “outdated nature of many of Haiti’s laws, lack of effective access to legal assistance, and the failure of police to execute judicial orders.”(8) Although such factors certainly contribute to the dysfunction of Haiti’s judicial system, the propensity for this system to jail Lavalas activists, supporters, and politicians went completely unmentioned in the report. The IACHR report includes only a brief, one-paragraph mention of “concern” for Neptune’s imprisonment, and completely omits any mention of the politicians and cabinet ministers of the deposed government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, as well as the untold number of Lavalas political activists and sympathizers such as Yvon Antoine and Paul Raymond, who remain imprisoned based upon baseless charges or even no charges at all. (9)

Reached in Port-au-Prince, Deslaurier stated that politically motivated detention was “not the main problem” of Haiti’s criminal justice system. Paradoxically, he claimed that the majority of those currently imprisoned were poor and as a result had no access to legal representation. Despite this acknowledgement, the viewpoint that poor neighborhoods in Haiti’s capital were targets for politically-motivated imprisonment was certainly not popular amongst any UN officials we spoke to. (10)

However, it is clear that the high degree imprisonment of poor Haitians is no coincidence, nor is the UN exempt from responsibility for Haiti’s overcrowded prisons. Poor neighborhoods have been the target of systematic raids, checkpoints, and searches by UN forces, as well as by the UN/Canadian-trained Haitian National Police, over the last 26 months. These neighborhoods, such as Cite Soleil, Bel Air, La Saline, Pele, and Solino have been stigmatized due to the fact that support for the deposed Lavalas government of Aristide has remained strong within them. Such neighborhoods have been consistently deemed “gang” or “criminal” neighborhoods in Haiti’s elite-owned radio stations and newspapers, and influential members of Haiti’s business community have maintained strong pressure on the UN to “clean up” such neighborhoods. The resulting raids have resulted in uncounted numbers of civilian deaths at the hands of UN forces and the Haitian National Police, as documented in reports conducted by the Miami Centre for the Study of Human Rights, the Harvard School of Law, and Amnesty International.(11)

UN forces have also detained an uncounted number of Haitian civilians without charge, and have then handed them over to the Haitian police, exacerbating the crisis within Haiti’s packed jails. Interviewed on Flashpoints Radio in Berkeley, journalist Lyn Duff reported that an uncounted number of children have been pre-emptively arrested in poor neighborhoods by the UN and Haitian police.

Some of these kids are as young as 7, 8, 9 years old
Many have been arrested and are being held in preventive detention, which is when they arrest the child because there is the assumption that the child is from a poor neighborhood and therefore may be a criminal sometime in the future.(12)

Our own interviews and testimony collected from several family members of prisoners in Cite Soleil and Pele supports this account. Most stated that their relatives, some as young as 12 years old had been detained by Brazilian UN troops, and had been imprisoned for several months. Some, particularly in Pele, had resorted to paying bribes to prison officials in the hopes of obtaining a release of their relatives. Most claimed their relatives had simply been charged with “Association with Malefactors.”

The role of MINUSTAH and the UN Development Program (UNDP) within Haiti’s prisons has been ostensibly focused upon offering training to prison supervisors and wardens, offering technical advising in the design of training modules for prison officials, and offering a security presence at all prisons in Haiti. In response to the February 19th, 2005 prison break, where 481 prisoners were released after armed men entered the prison through the front doors, the Canadian government and MINUSTAH have developed a special training seminar to “strengthen the capacity” of prison guards to deal with such issues of security. Outside of the National Penitentiary, large UN Armored Personnel Carriers and Jordanian UN troops guard the front entrance, while a smaller UN security force is present at all 16 other prisons throughout Haiti.

Despite these new “capacity-building” measures, the lack of response from the UN to abuse within Haiti’s prisons, such as the coordinated prison beating of Lavalas activists on February 7th, as well as the accounts of special, punitive status for political activists within prison, indicates that their determination of the value of the rights of prisoners is a low priority at best.

The UN has also been harshly criticized for failing to investigate several well-known cases of prison beatings and killings that have been carried out by prison guards. The most well known case occurred on December 1st, 2004 when guards shot and killed between 12 and 60 un-armed prisoners after a brawl broke out in the National Penitentiary. Although the UN has stated that it has carried out an investigation of the killings, more than a year and a half after the incident, the findings have not been made public.(13)

“Democracy Promotion” and Haiti’s Judiciary

Since the appointment of the interim government of Gerard Latortue in March of 2004, Haiti’s Judicial Branch has inarguably been subordinate to its Executive Branch. Yet tensions arose between the Haitian Justice Ministry and the Supreme Court on December 9th, 2005 after President Gerard Latortue dismissed five Supreme Court judges and replaced them with his own appointees. The dismissed judges had ruled against Latortue in his attempts to disqualify Texan businessman Dumarsais Simeus from running in the upcoming Presidential election, on the grounds that Simeus was not a Haitian citizen. In response, the Haitian Judges Association (ANAMAH), whose membership comprises 500 of Haiti’s 750 judges held a five-day strike. Although the legal validity of both positions in this dispute was questionable (the Haitian Constitution does require Presidential candidates to have lived in the country for five years, but prohibits the politically-motivated dismissal of Supreme Court Judges by a sitting President), the UN Human Rights Commission and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued statements condemning the dismissal,(14) effectively supporting the ANAMAH strike.

ANAMAH has been viewed as a key partner in the efforts of the UN to promote independence of Haiti’s judiciary, perhaps not surprisingly as it was created by the International Federation of Electoral Systems (IFES) an organization funded by US and Canadian aid agencies.(15) In a report prepared for MINUSTAH, the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), an association of legal experts from around the world, identified ANAMAH as a key candidate for financial support for Judicial Reform projects aimed at bringing about “judicial independence.”(16) ANAMAH is known to have received funding from UNDP programs, as well as the US Agency for International Development.

Despite ANAMAH’s intransigence with the Latortue government in December, the organization has never raised any objection to the many violations of Haiti’s Constitution or to the rights of its citizens that have occurred within Haiti’s prison system, within Haiti’s courts, or at the hands of the Haitian National Police. ANAMAH issued no response after the Haitian Supreme Court overturned the 1994 Raboteau massacre convictions, nor did it speak out in the fall of 2004 when then-Minister of Justice Bernard Gousse dismissed Judge Fleury after he ordered the release of detained opponents of the Latortue government, citing lack of evidence in support of their detention.

In addition, the record of ANAMAH’s current President, Jean Peres Paul, has been one of total disregard for due process and human rights in Haiti. Peres Paul has been presiding for over a year upon the case of slain Radio Haiti Inter journalist Jean Dominique, who was murdered outside of his radio station on the morning of April 3rd, 2000, and has been singularly responsible for bringing the case to a state of legal limbo.(17) Peres Paul, active in the anti-Lavalas political opposition before the removal of elected Aristide, was also responsible for the six-month detention of Catholic Priest and Lavalas activist Father Gerard Jean-Juste, whose life was placed in immediate danger after he developed leukemia in prison. September 2005, Peres Paul personally ordered the arrest of journalists Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil, yelling “terrorist” and “white bandit” at Pina after the two began filming a police raid of the Parish of Father Gerard Jean-Juste.(18) Pina and Ristil were released several days later after an international outcry. On December 30th, 2005, Peres Paul ordered the release of four individuals ( Stantley Handal, Wilfrid Francois, Sony Lambert, and Rénald Cinéus) who were implicated in a kidnapping ring. Three were police officers; the fourth, Handal, was a member of one of Haiti’s wealthiest families and a supporter of the 2004 coup against Aristide.

Most recently, on March 7th, Peres Paul released the 7 police officers, including former Division Commander Carlo Lochard, who were arrested in connection with the Gran Ravine massacre of August 2005. Witnesses claimed that as many as 20 police officers, and members of a gang known as the Lame Ti Machete (Little Machete Army) walked into a crowded soccer stadium and began picking off individuals accused of association with Lavalas, shooting and hacking them with machetes. Between 12 and 50 individuals are believed to have been killed.(19)

Beyond the support received by ANAMAH, the UNDP claims to offer support for building an arena for dialogue between government and civil society, geared towards creating judicial reform. The main coordinator of this effort is known as the Citizen’s Forum (Forum Citoyen), which is a member of the coordinating committee of the rabidly anti-Lavalas “civil society” coalition, the Group 184.(20) Jean Lavoie, the Coordinator of Projects for the UNDP noted that the Forum Citoyen is to serve as the key coordinator of programming aimed at strengthening civil society’s ability to advocate for judicial reform.(21) The Group 184 was established by the US government-funded Haiti Democracy Project as a “civil society” organization opposed to Aristide’s government in December of 2002. Such an organization is hardly an impartial observer within the operation of Haiti’s judiciary for certain individuals.

The Group 184's leader Andre Apaid is a wealthy owner of Alpha industries, a collection of large cheap labour export assembly factories. In a human rights report conducted by the Miami Centre for the Study of Human Rights, investigator Thomas Griffin heard from various sources that Apaid had paid a Cite Soleil gang leader named Labanye to kill Lavalas supporters. Apaid would later admit to the investigators that he had ordered the police in the capital not to arrest Labanye.(22)

In the lead-up to the Presidential elections last February, Apaid and the Group 184 consistently pressured UN forces to “clean up” poor neighborhoods such as Cite Soleil. As a result of this pressure, UN raids in Cite Soleil resulted in an uncounted number of civilian deaths. The largest toll occurred on July 6th when a UN raid resulted in 23 deaths in total, many of whom were women and children.(23)

Apaid may have played a role in the suicide of UN General Urano Bacellar. Bacellar apparently killed himself on the night of January 7th after a tense argument with Apaid and industrialist and media mogul Reginald Boulos. Bacellar apparently disagreed with the high degree of civilian casualties that were the result of UN operations in Cite Soleil.(24)

The Group 184 does, of course, already hold a large sway over Haiti’s legal system. In some respects, it seems likely that the dispute over Simeus represented a beginning of a tug of war for control of Haiti’s judiciary between members of Haiti’s interim government, and the Group 184 in advance of Rene Preval’s installation as President in May. Recently, on April 10th, Latortue installed 6 of 8 members of the Superior Council of the Judiciary, tasked with overseeing the “independent” functioning of the judicial system. Latortue claimed that the Superior Council would also be tasked with investigating allegations of corruption amongst judges. This act was criticized by Gervais Charles, head of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association and lawyer for the Group 184, who described the Council as a “clique of friends” of Latortue’s government.(25) Both the Forum Citoyen and the Federation of Haitian Bar Associations, also lead by Group 184 member Jacques Sanno, chimed in with criticism of this appointment.(26)

Canada’s Role

Canada has a dominant role within the UN’s prison and judiciary branches. UN Human Rights Commissioner Thierry Faggart spelled this fact out for us in an interview:

“Canadians in particular are very involved in the prisons area. Both at the UNDP and MINUSTAH, the guys who are in charge are all Canadians.”

Canadian personnel also command the UN Civil Police force, which is mandated to train, vet, and provide operational support to the brutal Haitian National Police.

Canada was identified by UNDP director of programming Jean Lavoie as a key source of funding for correctional programs, along with Sweden and the European Union.

Much of the funding for the UNDP and MINUSTAH’s correctional and judicial programs has come from the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) “Justice and Human Rights Support Fund Phase II”. This program, valued at approximately $3 million, has provided funding for a number of Haitian NGO’s and “civil society” organizations that form the Group 184's coordinating committee, including the Forum Citoyen and the Catholic Church’s Justice and Peace Commission, according to Lavoie.

The first phase of the “Justice and Human Rights Support Fund” provided steady funding for the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), recently renamed the Reseau National du Defense des Droits Haitien (RNDDH). NCHR/RNDDH has been criticized and discredited to the point of changing its name due to its continued insistence that jailed Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune was responsible for a massacre that occurred in La Scierie in February of 2004. As explained to us by Thierry Fagart, evidence indicates that what occurred at La Scierie was a battle between pro- and anti-Aristide military groups, as well as the Haitian National Police. There is no evidence linking Neptune to the events that took place in La Scierie.(27) Regardless, Neptune has remained imprisoned for almost two years. NCHR received $100,000 from CIDA in February of 2004 shortly after it made its accusations against Neptune.(28)

In addition, as of late February, CIDA also approved a $5 million “Democracy and Peace Fund,” designed to “build capacity” and strengthen “good governance principles” for Haitian-based civil society organizations and NGO’s over a period of four years. According to Jean Lavoie, the key player in this new initiative will be the Forum Citoyen, which will be ostensibly geared towards building a civil society dialogue with the Haitian government in order to bring about judicial reform. ANAMAH is expected to receive a portion of the funding from this program as well, distributed through Forum Citoyen.

The Canadian organization Rights and Democracy is also playing a significant role in this process. Rights and Democracy was initially created by an act of Canada’s parliament in 1988. Ed Broadbent, former leader of the New Democratic Party, Canada’s left-leaning social democratic political party, has been among previous leaders of Rights and Democracy. Although a significant amount of R&D’s budget originates from CIDA, the organization has previously been associated with progressive politics, and has often been a critic of neoliberal economic policies.

Under the “Phase II” fund, however, R & D has begun a $415,000 project in which they have contracted both Forum Citoyen and the National Coordination for Advocacy on Women’s Rights (CONAP), an anti-Lavalas women’s organization lead by Danielle Magloire, to design a training module for Haitian civil society organizations.(29) Magloire, also the director of the women’s organization ENFOFANM, was appointed to the “Council of the Wise Men” by the US, Canadian, and French governments after Aristide was deposed. This Council later appointed Gerard Latortue as the interim Prime Minister of Haiti. Both CONAP and ENFOFANM received substantial funding from CIDA during the years 2000-2004, along with numerous other anti-Lavalas political organizations, despite the fact that Haiti’s government was under an aid embargo at the time.(30) An official reached at R&D’s head office in Montreal informed me that other partners involved in this training program have included Justice and Peace, and Haiti Solidarity International, two more organizations who sit on the coordinating committee of the Group 184.

In addition to its role as a major funding agency of “civil society” organizations aligned with Haiti’s wealthy elite, Canadian aid dollars have also been used to pay the salary of officials within Haiti’s Ministry of Justice. In the Griffin report, Deputy Minister of Justice Philippe Vixamar admitted to investigators that he was appointed to his position by the Canadian government, and that his salary was paid by the Canadian International Development Agency. Vixamar also denied that there were human rights abuses and constitutional abuses within Haiti’s criminal justice system.(31) Vixamar, interviewed by Griffin in November of 2004, remained on the payroll of CIDA through the summer of 2005. Dilia Lemaire, a woman with a long record of employment with CIDA, now commands the same position held by Vixamar within Haiti’s Justice Ministry. It is unknown as to whether she is also on the payroll of CIDA.

Given its lead role in both overseeing the international community’s training within prisons, its authority over the UNPOL training and vetting of the Haitian police (the director of UNPOL is Canadian), as well as its lead role in providing “democracy promotion” assistance to civil society organizations aligned with Haiti’s elite, the Canadian government bears much responsibility for the continued state of impunity that prevails over the judicial and prison systems in Haiti. Sadly, such efforts fall within the pattern of Canada’s unquestioning support of Haiti’s interim government, as well as its military support for the US-orchestrated removal of elected President Aristide in February of 2004.

As of now, Canada’s official position regarding politically motivated jailings in Haiti remains, in the words of former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, that “there are no political prisoners in Haiti.”

Conclusion

The international community’s efforts in Haiti have served, without fail, to buttress the illegal government of Gerard Latortue, regardless of the consequences of this unquestioning support upon such stated development goals as “good governance” and “judicial reform.”

Judicial reform is certainly a process of great importance in Haiti. Haiti ‘s prisons are packed with wrongfully imprisoned individuals and activists, and prison employees continue to ignore basic human rights of prisoners. Haiti’s judiciary is still far from independent from the government’s justice ministry as well as powerful lobby groups, and is often staffed with judges who have inadequate working conditions and salaries. Many of these difficulties have been carried over from the Duvalier years, and have continued on through the 1990's under the Preval and Aristide governments.

But the international community’s partners in “reform” have consistently been those who have continuously violated Haiti’s constitution at almost every turn since the removal of the elected government in February of 2004. In relying solely upon civil society organizations rooted within Haiti’s elite, it is clear that the United Nation’s, and particularly Canada’s, continued support of these forces have ensured that the justice system has operated as a tool used to suppress and imprison Haiti’s poor majority. Both Canada and the United Nations seem bent upon aiding the Group 184's efforts to dominate Haiti’s judiciary, which is sure to undercut the incoming government of Rene Preval.

In addition, the prominent role played by ANAMAH director Jean Perez Paul in reform plans geared towards promoting “judicial independence” is outrageous. Perez Paul has shown utter contempt for human rights in Haiti, for the welfare of detainees in Haiti’s prisons, and for the very notion of due process. Although the international community has resorted to what amounts to finger wagging in recent weeks in response to the issue of pre-trial detention, the continued instances of warrantless arrest still carried out by MINUSTAH troops in poor neighbourhoods undercuts any credibility that such expressions of “concern” might otherwise have.

Stuart Neatby recently spent several weeks in Haiti as part of a small delegation of independent journalists.

* * *

1. “Haiti: Failed Justice or the Rule of Law,” OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, March 2006, Pg 68. www.cidh.oas.org/countryrep/HAITI%20ENGLISH7X10%20FINAL.pdf

2. “Haiti: Obliterating justice, overturning of sentences for Raboteau massacre by Supreme Court is a huge step backwards.” Amnesty International, May 26, 2005. web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR360062005?open&of=ENG-HTI

3. “Libération de 7 des hauts cadres et policiers accusés d’implication dans le massacre de Grand Ravine,” Agence Haitienne de Press, March 10, 2006.

4. Interview, March 17, 2006.

5. Interview, March 9, 2006.

6. Interview, April 5, 2006.

7. “Communiqué de la MINUSTAH sur la situation des prisons,” MINUSTAH, March 31st, 2006. www.minustah.org/compress.html

8. “Haiti: Failed Justice or the Rule of Law,” OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, March 2006, Pg v-vi. www.cidh.oas.org/countryrep/HAITI%20ENGLISH7X10%20FINAL.pdf

9. The work of Thierry Faggart has been the notable exception to this. He told us outright that his investigation had found that there was little evidence of involvement of imprisoned Prime Minister Yvon Neptune in a massacre at La Scierie and that he should be released immediately. The charge had been initially leveled against Neptune by the US and Canadian-funded “human rights organization,” the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR). Fagart has even gone so far as to publicly call Haiti’s human rights situation a “disaster” and has recently called for the release of pre-trial detainees in Haiti’s prisons, a constitutional option that has been summarily ignored by the rest of the international community.

The Haitian Judges Association, ANAMAH, was heavily consulted by the OAS investigators in their report “Haiti: Failed Justice or the Rule of Law.” Accordingly, many of their recommendations concern improving the working conditions of magistrates. By contrast, the possibility of releasing detainees who remain imprisoned without charge was not discussed in the report.

10. The officials interviewed include Graham Muir, head of UNPOL, Thierry Faggart, director of UNHRC, David Wimhurst, MINUSTAH spokesperson, Michelle Deslaurier, MINUSTAH’s director of Corrections, Barry Macleod, MINUSTAH’s head of election security, Jacques Dyotte, UNDP director of Corrections, and Jean-Marie Lavoie, UNDP chief of programs. With the exception of Faggart, all the officials mentioned above were Canadians.

11. See: “Keeping the Peace in Haiti?” Harvard School of Law. March 2005. www.law.harvard.edu/programs/hrp/clinic/past%20projects/americas/haiti.html

“Haiti: Disarmament Delayed, Justice Denied.” Amnesty International. July 28, 2005. web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR360052005?open&of=ENG-HTI

“Haiti: Human Rights Investigation: November 11-21, 2004.” Center for the Study of Human Rights in Miami. January 2005. www.law.miami.edu/cshr/CSHR_Report_02082005_v2.pdf

12. Interviewed on Flashpoints Radio, March 23, 2006. www.flashpoints.net

13. See www.ijdh.org/articles/article_halfhourforhaiti_june-28-05.htm

14. “Haiti: Failed Justice or the Rule of Law,” p 15-16.

15. “Haiti: Human Rights Investigation: November 11-21, 2004" Center for the Study of Human Rights in Miami. January 2005. www.law.miami.edu/cshr/CSHR_Report_02082005_v2.pdf

16. “ILAC Report: Haiti, January 2005.” ILAC. Pg 7-9. www.ilac.se/sajt/bilder/pdf/HaitiReport.pdf

17. “How Important is Jean Dominique?” Michele Montas and Jan Dominique. April 3, 2006. https://listhost.uchicago.edu/pipermail/haiti-news/2006-April/001439.html

18. See www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/9_30_5/9_30_5.html

19. Graham Muir of UN Civil Police stated that 12 individuals were killed, while Evel Fanfan, director of AUMOHD, has claimed that 50 individuals were killed.

20. “ILAC Report: Haiti, January 2005.” Pg 24. www.ilac.se/sajt/bilder/pdf/HaitiReport.pdf

21. Interview, April 7, 2006.

22. “Haiti: Human Rights Investigation: November 11-21, 2004" Center for the Study of Human Rights in Miami, p 27. www.law.miami.edu/cshr/CSHR_Report_02082005_v2.pd

23. “UN Troops Accused in Death of Haiti Residents,” by Joseph Guyler Delva. Reuters. July 15, 2005.

24. “Elite in Haiti Pressure UN.” Aaron Lankoff and Leslie Bagg w/t the Haiti Information Project. Jan 18, 2006. www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/1_18_6/1_18_6.html

25. “ Installation of the Judiciary’s Superior Council in the absence of the interim President, the Prime Minister, and the Diplomatic Body.” Agence Haitienne De Presse. April 10th, 2006.

26. “Haïti : les premières réactions fusent après l’investiture ce lundi du Conseil Supérieur du Pouvoir Judiciaire Haïtien.” Radio Signal FM, April 11, 2006. www.signalfmhaiti.com/PageArticle.asp?ArticleID=40

27. Interview, March 17, 2006.

28. “Faking Genocide in Haiti: Canada’s Role in the Persecution of Yvon Neptune.” Kevin Skerret. Znet, June 23, 2005. www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=8142

29. www.dd-rd.ca/site/what_we_do/index.php?subsection=documents&lang=en&id=1583

30. “Canada’s Growing Role in Haiti’s Affairs” by Anthony Fenton, March 21, 2005. Znet. www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7496

31. “Haiti: Human Rights Investigation: November 11-21, 2004,” p. 24.


Stuart Neatby
(902) 405-9480
stu.neatby@gmail.com

  
Main Index >> Haiti Index