Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Demand Fairness for Amanus Mayette

September 5, 2006
Half-Hour for Haiti: Demand Fairness for Amanus Mayette  
Update: No good news this week on political prisoners, René Civil remains in prison. For a longer analysis of political prisoners, see IJDH’s:  Haiti’s Political Prisoners: Not President Preval’s Fault, But They Are His Problem, on the JURIST website.We have issued several alerts over the last few months regarding the illegal detention of defendants in the La Scierie case. Most of those defendants, including former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Minister of the Interior Jocelerme Privert, have been granted pre-trial release while the Appeals Court of Gonaives decides the appeal of the case. But the court’s decision is taking a long time: almost 4 months since the appeals hearing in mid-May, and over 11 months since the appeals were filed last October.  In the meantime, one of the La Scierie defendants, Amanus Mayette, a former member of the House of Deputies, remains in jail, even though the appeals court prosecutor recommended dropping the charges against him in June. The Court has not even ruled on his request for pre-trial release.This indefinite detention during the appeals process violates Haitian law, specifically Article 15 of the July 26, 1979 Law on Penal Appeals, which requires the appeals court to decide appeals in the cases of defendants in pre-trial detention within 30 days, absent unforeseen obstacles.

The La Scierie case is a complex one, involving many defendants. The case’s size might justify a reasonable delay in preparing the opinion, but four months is hardly reasonable. The size of the case does not justify a delay in ruling on Mr. Mayette’s request for provisional release, nor did it justify the Court’s taking 7 months to even hear the appeal.

This week’s action:  Write to the Gonaives Appeals Court, urge the court’s Chief Justice, Hugues St. Pierre to ensure that the La Scierie appeal is decided fairly and rapidly, and that in the meantime the court decide Mr. Mayette’s request for provisional release. A sample letter is below, in French and English, feel free to customize it.  Letters can be sent to us by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number), email: avokahaiti@aol.com, or regular mail (PO Box 745, Joseph, Oregon USA, 97846) and we will ensure that they are delivered promptly.  

__________________________
Me. Hugues Saint Pierre
Président de la Cour d’Appel de Gonaïves
En son cabinet
Honorable Magistrat,
I would like to thank you for holding a hearing in the appeal of the La Scierie case in May, and for issuing a decision on the requests of some of the defendants for provisional release. I would also like to urge you to ensure that the appeal of the case is decided quickly and fairly, and that a decision on defendant Amanus Mayette’s request for pre-trial release is made immediately.
As you know, Article 15 of the July 26, 1979 Law on Penal Appeals requires the appeals court to decide appeals within 30 days, absent unforeseen obstacles, if the defendants are held in pre-trial detention. You also know that the La Scierie appeals were filed eleven months ago, in October of 2005.

I understand the La Scierie case is complex, with many defendants, and that preparing a high quality decision takes time. On the other hand, every day the decision is not issued is another violation of the legal rights of the defendants, who have already spent over two years in prison, even though they have not been convicted, and even though the Commissaire du Gouvernement at your court has recommended dismissing the charges.

The complexity of the case would not prevent an immediate decision on Mr. Mayette’s request for pre-trial release. Your court was able to rule on a similar request, made at the same time, by Jocelerme Privert in June, three months ago.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request, and for your efforts to achieve justice in the case of La Sciérie.

Sincerely,

Me. Hugues Saint Pierre
Président de la Cour d’Appel de Gonaïves
En son cabinet
Honorable Magistrat,
Je désire vous remercier d’avoir tenu une audience lors de l’appel juridique de l’affaire de La Scierie au mois de mai, et d’avoir rendu une décision quant aux demandes de libération provisoire pour certains accusés. Je vous prie aussi de bien vouloir vous assurer que l’appel en question soit tranché rapidement et de façon équitable, et qu’une décision soit rendue immédiatement quant à la demande de libération provisoire de l’accusé Amanus Mayette.
Comme vous le savez, l’article 15 de la Loi du 26 juillet 1979 sur l’appel pénal oblige la Cour d’appel en matière de détention provisoire à se prononcer dans les trente jours. Vous savez aussi que ces appels ont été logés il y a déjà onze mois, en octobre 2005.
Je comprends que l’affaire de La Scierie est complexe et comporte plusieurs accusations, et que la préparation d’une décision de haute qualité prend du temps. Par contre, chaque jour de délai représente une violation des droits légaux des accusés, qui ont déjà passé plus de deux ans en prison, bien qu’aucune condamnation n’ait eu lieu, et bien que le Commissaire du Gouvernement ait, dans votre cour, recommandé que les accusations soient rejetées.
La complexité de l’affaire ne devrait pas empêcher une décision immédiate quant à la demande de libération provisoire de Mr Mayette. Votre cour s’est montrée capable de rendre une décision sur une demande semblable, faite en même temps, par Jocelerme Privert en juin dernier, il y a trois mois.
Veuillez recevoir, Honorable Magistrat, mes remerciements pour la considération que vous accorderez à la présente, et pour les efforts que vous déployez afin que justice soit faite dans l’affaire de La Scierie.
______________________________________________________________
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. To sign up for the weekly Action Alert, send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org.Your financial support is needed for IJDH to continue its work. Contributions may be made online on our website, or mailed to IJDH, PO Box 745, Joseph, OR 97846.

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