Half-Hour For Haiti: Celebrate the Liberation of Three Political Prisoners, Support BAI and IJDH
Update: Thanks to everyone who wrote on Bob Molière’s behalf. We did not get him out yet, but we did help free three other political prisoners in time for Easter: grassroots activist Mario Exilhomme (at right, pictured yesterday wearing the smile of freedom while inspecting his house, which the police destroyed in his absence), freed after 10 months in jail; Anthony Nazaire, a former officer in the National Palace Security Unit, freed after 25 months (pictured below in December 2004, showing scars from a beating in prison); and Harold Sevère, a former mayor of Port-au-Prince, freed after 25 months in jail.The three were liberated by order of Judge Mimose Janvier, who we wrote to for our October 18, 2005 Half-Hour action, and upon the recommendation of Prosecutor Leny Fredd’Herck, who we wrote
to on February 28. The three had been held in connection with violence at a demonstration at the State University on December 5, 2003. It is important to note that both the judge and prosecutor conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing against any of the three (see, Ordonnance de Renvoi du Juge Mimose Janvier). Judge Janvier also dismissed the charges in that case against former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Minister of the Interior Jocelerme Privert, both of whom remain in jail on other charges, and against Paul Keller and Rospide Petion, who had been on provisional release since January 2005 (a judge had ordered provisional release for Nazaire and Sevère, but the interim government illegally refused to execute the order).
Unfortunately, Judge Janvier’s order left several others in jail in the same case, even though there was not a single piece of evidence, or a single witness against them either, including Annette Auguste, Paul Raymond and Antoine « Zap-Zap » Yvon. Even the prosecutor had recommended dropping the charges against Auguste and Raymond. So there is still work to do…
This Week’s Action: This week we are asking you to consider supporting the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Haiti, and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) in the U.S. Freedom is not free in Haiti: in order to win the release of the three political prisoners, the BAI invested hundreds of hours of lawyers’ time over two years, and paid thousands of dollars in court fees (In Haiti, criminal defendants must pay fees for everything from filing a writ of habeus corpus to obtaining copies of documents in their case file). BAI provided all this at no charge to the political prisoners. In the U.S., IJDH provided legal backup and helped keep these cases on the world’s radar screen through its website, human rights reports and these action alerts.
IJDH and BAI try to keep expenses very low- IJDH is run out of the Director’s home, neither organization has a vehicle. But supporting the two organizations’ work, including office expenses, salaries, the website and travel, requires about $16,000 a month, about ¾ of which goes to the BAI in Haiti (for more information about our work and our finances, see IJDH’s Annual Report).
The return of democracy to Haiti (expected on May 14) will not end the need for BAI and IJDH to work on behalf of Haiti’s poor. We will keep fighting for the political prisoners until all are released, and we will help victims of the last two years’ persecution seek justice in Haiti’s courts. We will stand up for the economic and social human rights of Haiti’s poor in Haitian and international courts. Most important, we will work to avoid the next coup d’etat by helping to implant the rule of law in Haiti and forcing the world’s powerful countries to respect Haiti’s sovereignty and the democratic choices of its citizens.
Donations to IJDH can be made with a credit card or Paypal account on our website, www.ijdh.org. Checks may be sent to IJDH, Box 745, Joseph, OR 97846. They may be earmarked for BAI if you would like your donation to specifically support the work in Haiti. IJDH is a charitable organization under section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
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.