[News] Haiti - Firing of Supreme Court Justices

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 21 13:53:49 EST 2005

<http://www.ijdh.org/index.html>INSTITUTE FOR 
JUSTICE <http://www.ijdh.org/index.html>AND DEMOCRACY IN HAITI
(541) 432-0597 - 
<http://www.ijdh.org/index.html>www.ijdh.org - 
<mailto:info at ijdh.org>info at ijdh.org


Half-Hour for Haiti: Firing of Supreme Court Justices

Thank you to everyone who responded to the alerts 
for Fr. Jean-Juste last week..

Forty-one members of Congress signed Rep. 
Waters’ Letter to President Bush seeking Fr. 
Jean-Juste’s release. That is the most we have 
had for any Congressional letter on Haiti to 
President Bush, despite a short timeframe and the 
holiday season. Rep. Dan Burton (R. IN, Chair of 
the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the 
House Committee on International Relations) 
demonstrated that this was a bipartisan issue by 
urging Asst. Secretary of State Thomas Shannon to 
ensure that Fr. Jean-Juste receives immediate 
treatment.  Please thank your Representative if 
he or she pitched in on this effort.

This week’s action is short and educational: read 
the attached press release from the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.

BAI condemns the firing of Haiti's Supreme Court Judges

(BAI) Port au Prince, Haiti - The Bureau des 
Avocats Internationaux (BAI), directed by 
Attorney Mario Joseph, strongly condemns the 
forced retirement of five Justices of the Cour de 
Cassation (Supreme Court) of the Republic of 
Haiti and considers the action a serious attack 
against the independence and integrity of the 
Judicial Branch and of the Constitution.

The firings constitute a flagrant violation of 
articles 174 and 177 of the Constitution of 1987, 
which prescribe that the Justices of the Cour de 
Cassation are named for a term of ten (10) years, 
are irremovable, and cannot be dismissed except 
for a legally established breach of duty or 
suspended following an indictment. They cannot be 
retired during their term except in the case of 
properly documented permanent physical or mental 
incapacity. The BAI emphasizes that the Executive 
Branch has no role in making such a 
documentation, even less in the absence of any medical report.

The BAI points out that the nomination of five 
new judges was illegal, and consequently void, 
being contrary to article 175 of the 
Constitution, according to which justices of the 
Cour de Cassation are named from a list submitted 
by the Senate of the Republic. No nomination may 
be made without Parliamentary participation, even in a transition period.

The BAI is concerned by the fact that the five 
new judges took the oath of office in the 
National Palace, contrary to the principles of 
separation of powers and article 129 of the 
Decree of August 22, 1995 on Judicial 
Organization, which stipulates that the Cour de 
Cassation sits at the Palace of Justice. 
Furthermore, the swearing in at the National 
Palace violated the principle of public access to 
official events, established by article 180 of 
the Constitution and by article 61 of the above-mentioned decree.

The BAI observes that the strike by judges and 
other judicial personnel declared by the National 
Association of Haitian Magistrates (ANAMAH) has 
paralyzed the judicial system. The BAI is 
especially preoccupied by the fact that the first 
victims of this paralysis are those detained in 
the country's jails, over ninety percent of whom 
have never been tried. The BAI appeals to the 
judges to consider that the detainees should not 
pay the price of the unconstitutional acts of the 
Executive Branch and its frustrated allies. Is 
now a good time for a strike, when the famous 
cases of Raboteau, Piatre, Jean-Rabel, Jean 
Dominique, Brignol Lindor etc. to this day lie 
dormant in the desk drawers of the country's courthouses?

The BAI deplores that ANAMAH and the entire 
judicial corps did not protest with the same 
fervor against other interferences and attacks on 
judicial independence in the recent past, such as 
the letter from former Justice Minister Bernard 
Gousse, of December 30, 2004 to the Chief Judge 
of the Port-au-Prince trial court. The letter 
ordered the Chief Judge to remove all the case 
files in the possession of Investigating 
Magistrates Jean Sénat Fleury and Brédy Fabien, 
after Judge Fleury had ordered the liberation of 
Fr. Jean-Juste, and Judge Fabien had accorded 
provisional release to Harold Sévère, Jaques 
Anthony Nazaire, Paul Keller and Rospide Pétion. 
Did we not see, less than a year ago, Minister 
Bernard Gousse revoke by a simple circular a 
restraining order on the offices of the BNC of 
Cap-Haitien issued by the Chief Judge of the 
Trial Court, without any protest by the 
Magistrates of ANAMAH? The BAI also asks: do the 
magistrates go on strike to protest against the 
practice of illegal arrests made without any 
judicial warrant and outside of any hot pursuit 
justification, where the police substitute 
themselves for the justice system? What is said 
against the corruption that has infected the justice system?

According to the BAI, the justice system cannot 
be surprised by the decision to fire five judges 
of the Cour de Cassation after having, for 
months, shown complaisance towards the Executive 
Branch, even approved some of its many arbitrary 
acts. Examples of this complaisance are manifest 
in the decision of the Cour de Cassation 
annulling the judgment of the Trial Court of 
Gona*ves in the Raboteau massacre case. In order 
to do so, the Cour de Cassation contradicted a 
series of decisions that had become settled law: 
its own earlier decision, issued in 2000, which 
had confirmed a decision of the Gona*ves Court of 
Appeals, which itself had confirmed a court order 
to send the case before a jury. The BAI observed 
the same complaisance in the procedures and the 
liberation of Louis Jodel Chamblain, who, before 
turning himself into the justice system gave a 
press conference with the Minister of Justice at 
his side, which implied the influence on the 
government throughout the whole procedure.

In conclusion, the BAI believes that that the 
protests and the work stoppage of the Magistrates 
of ANAMAH and other judicial personnel to defend 
and rescue the integrity of the Judicial Branch 
come much too late. Justice died well before now.

The Freedom Archives
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