By Amnesty International
Prisoners of conscience, political prisoners
Scores of detainees were held for long periods without legal basis and denied a fair trial. In November, Louis Joinet, the UN Independent Expert on Haiti, expressed concern about the lack of transparency of the justice system and the unjustifiable delays in bringing detainees to trial. He called for the release of all political prisoners.
The UN Security Council and other international bodies urged the interim government to expedite the cases of political prisoners, in particular that of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune.
- Former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, imprisoned since June 2004, staged a hunger strike in March and April in protest at his prison conditions and detention without trial. In June, the investigative magistrate finally indicted Yvon Neptune and 30 other individuals for their involvement in an alleged massacre at La Scierie in February 2004. At the end of 2005, he was still awaiting trial.
- On 21 July, Father Gérard Jean-Juste, a Catholic priest and Aristide supporter, was taken into police custody after a mob attacked him outside the church where journalist Jacques Roche’s funeral took place. Considered a potential presidential candidate for the Lavalas party, Father Jean-Juste was illegally arrested and held on trumped-up charges. He was a prisoner of conscience.
- Annette Auguste (known as Sò Ann), a grass-roots organizer and folk singer, remained imprisoned without having been formally charged. The 65-year-old woman was arrested on 11 May 2004 by US Marines, part of the Multinational Interim Force deployed in Haiti hours after former President Aristide went into exile. Annette Auguste was handed over to the Haitian authorities, who imprisoned her in the Pétion-Ville Penitentiary. The reason for her initial detention was unclear but she remained imprisoned without trial on suspicion of inciting Lavalas supporters to attack university students in December 2003.