Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Target Another Judicial Official Involved in Persecution

September 20, 2005

Half-Hour for Haiti: Target Another Judicial Official Involved in Persecution

There are three big upcoming Haiti events, the first two in Washington DC: on Thursday, September 22, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will present a panel discussion, “ Haiti: The Time For Action Is Now,” as part of its 35th Annual Legislative Conference at the Washington Convention Center, room 202B, from 12:30-1:30. On Friday, September 23, the International Tribunal on Haiti will come to order at 7PM at George Washington University, 1957 E St. NW. The third event will take place in dozens of communities worldwide, in support of demonstrations that day in Haiti: the September 30, International Day of Solidarity with Haiti. There are 22 confirmed events in four countries outside of Haiti so far, and many others developing. For more information, or to organize your local event, email sub@sonic.net. Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has issued a call for Religious Leaders to Sign Letter for Release of Fr. Jean-Juste, and has asked for signatures to be sent to tjgdet@juno.com by September 28.

Following last week’s action, prosecutor Jean-Pierre Audain Daniel resigned in disputed circumstances. It is not certain what role our mobilization played in that decision, but it is certain that his departure did not lead to freedom for any political prisoners. We will need to continue to target other judicial officials until the political prisoners are freed.

We will start this week with Judge Jean Paul Peres, the juge d’instruction or investigating magistrate on the case of Rev. Gerard-Jean Juste . Judge Peres also ordered the September 10 arrests of journalists Jean Ristil and Kevin Pina. A juge d’instruction combines what the anglo-american system calls prosecutorial and judicial powers. The judge conducts a pre-trial investigation on serious criminal cases- he or she interviews witness and the accused, issues arrest warrants and ultimately decides whether there is enough evidence to send a case to trial. The juge d’instruction does not preside at trial or make a final determination of guilt.

Judge Peres issued a mandat de depot (detention order), the document that currently holds Fr. Jean-Juste in prison. The mandat appears to make the imprisonment technically legal, but the surrounding circumstances indicate that the prosecution is politically motivated and not supported by facts:

1) Fr. Jean-Juste has been politically persecuted for almost a year now. He spent seven weeks in prison last fall before being released for lack of evidence. The judge who made that order was later illegally removedby the Minister of Justice. In the week prior to his July 21 arrest, Fr. Jean-Juste was detained for questioning by the police, summoned a second time, and then summoned by Judge Peres. None of these interrogations revealed any basis for pursuing a criminal case.

2) The July 21 arrest was illegal, executed without a warrant and without any probable cause. The UN forces and the Haitian police who made the arrest told Fr. Jean-Juste he was being held for his own safety.

3) As a well-known priest with a large parish, who has repeatedly made himself available to police and the courts, Fr. Jean-Juste is an excellent candidate for release on his own recognizance, or main levée (as the judge ruled last fall). Although Fr. Jean-Juste’s lawyers filed a motion for main levée in August, Judge Peres has declined to rule on that motion. This had the effect of preventing Fr. Jean-Juste, a potential Presidential candidate, from registering his candidacy by last Thursday’s deadline.

4) Tomorrow will mark 2 months of imprisonment for Fr. Jean-Juste, and so far no evidence of his guilt has been revealed, inside the courtroom or out.

Judge Peres is currently the head of ANAMAH, the Haitian Judges’ Association. ANAMAH has received substantial funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (see Haiti Human Rights Investigative Report, Center for the Sutdy of Human Rights, page 21), and was part of a coalition of civil society organizations that supported the forced ouster of President Aristide.

Action: Write to Judge Peres, to show your concern that he may be involved in abuse of the justice system. Inform him that you are following the case of Fr. Jean-Juste and other political prisoners in Haiti, and that you will urge your government to restrict entry to anyone involved in political persecution in Haiti. Sample letters in French and English are below. It is best to send it by regular mail, even better to send it on organizational or professional letterhead.

___________________________________________________________________

Me. Jean Paul Peres

Juge et Juge d’Instruction

Ministère de la Justice

18 Avenue Charles Sumner

Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Dear Judge Peres:

I am writing as someone concerned about human rights in both your country and mine. I am disturbed by reports of abuse of the justice system in Haiti to persecute political opponents of the Interim Government, including Fr. Jean-Juste. I have been following the latter case, and am concerned that: 1) there appears to be no factual basis for the pursuit of the case; 2) the procedure has involved several irregularities, including an illegal arrest without a warrant; 3) the current case fits in a long context of unjustified legal proceedings against Fr. Jean-Juste since last October; and 4) you failed to even consider Fr. Jean-Juste’s request for main levée, which prevented him from registering as a Presidential candidate.

Although I believe in respecting the judiciary’s independence, I do not believe that that respect should extend to tolerating abuse of judicial procedures through unjustified and illegal prosecutions. I also do not believe that my country should allow people involved in political persecution to either visit or immigrate here. Accordingly, I will continue to follow the cases of government opponents, and if it appears that those prosecutions are unjustified and used as a means of political persecution, I will inform my government of that fact, and urge that the persecutors be denied entry for any reason.

Sincerely,

[Name, Country of Residence]

Me. Jean Paul Peres

Juge et Juge d’Instruction

Ministère de la Justice

18 Avenue Charles Sumner

Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Cher juge Peres,

Je vous écris de par l’intérêt personnel que je porte aux droits humains, tant dans votre pays que dans le mien. Les informations que je reçois, selon lesquelles on abuse du système judiciaire haïtien pour persécuter les adversaires politiques du gouvernement intérimaire, en particulier Fr. Jean-Juste, me troublent au plus haut point. C’est avec intérêt que je suis le cas de Fr. Jean-Juste, et il m’apparaît :

  1. que la poursuite de ce cas est sans fondement factuel ;
  2. que la procédure suivie à ce jour est entachée d’irrégularités, dont une arrestation illégale et sans mandat ;
  3. que cette affaire s’inscrit dans une longue suite de procédures judiciaires totalement injustifiées contre Fr. Jean-Juste depuis octobre dernier ;
  4. que vous avez sommairement ignoré la demande de mainlevée de Fr. Jean-Juste, ce qui l’a empêché de se présenter en tant que candidat à la présidence.

Bien que je crois en l’importance de respecter l’indépendance du système judiciaire, je ne crois pas que ce respect doive s’étendre à la tolérance d’un abus des procédures judiciaires via des poursuites injustifiées et illégales.

Je ne crois pas que mon pays devrait permettre aux personnes se livrant à la persécution politique de visiter ou d’immigrer ici. En conséquence, soyez assuré que je continuerai à suivre cette histoire ainsi que celles d’autres opposants au gouvernement, et que si de tels abus judiciaires continuent à servir de moyens de persécution politique, j’informerai mon gouvernement de ce fait, et demanderai instamment que les persécuteurs soient interdits d’accès au pays pour quelque raison que ce soit.

Veuillez agréer ici l’expression de mes sentiments les plus sincères,

[nom, pays de residence]

____________________________________________________________________

For more information about the Half-Hour For Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti or human rights in Haiti, see www.ijdh.org.

 

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