Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Half-Hour for Haiti: 950 Nights In Jail Is Enough

October 25, 2006

Update:  First, some provisional good news: yesterday a Federal Judge in New York ordered former Haitian death squad leader and CIA agent Emmanuel Constant to pay three women who were raped and otherwise tortured by his FRAPH death squad a total of $19 million dollars. Constant is currently in a New York jail on mortgage fraud charges, and it is unclear whether he has any money to pay the judgment. But he will no longer be living well while his victims suffer. Congratulations to the victims, who fought for justice for over a decade, and to their lawyers at the The Center for Justice and Accountability in San Francisco. See CJA’s press release, and the Court’s Opinion.Some people had trouble downloading last week’s alert, Paul Farmer’s Never Again: Reflections on Human Values and Human Rights. If you still cannot download it, let us know and we will email it to you. Another piece well worth reading came out recently, What Future for Haiti? An Interview with Patrick Elie, by Reed Lindsay.No good news on political prisoners this week, but a coalition of human rights groups in Haiti has organized a week of mobilization to change that. The mobilization kicked off with an Open Letter to the Minister of Justice to demand the liberation of political prisoners. In the U.S., the National Lawyers Guild issued a press release calling for the prisoners’ release (we will have the open letter and the press release up on later today). The Haitian groups asked us to pitch in too, so……This week’s actionPlease write to Haitian Minister of Justice René Magloire. We previously wrote to Minister Magloire on August 8, 2006 and June 20, 2006 urging fairness for the defendants accused in the December 5, 2003 incidents at the State University. Those defendants were in fact provided a fair trial on August 15, acquitted and freed. A sample letter urging justice for the remaining political prisoners is below in English and French (translation courtesy of Jean-Francois Corbett), feel free to customize it. They may be sent by regular mail, or by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number) or email:, and we will ensure that they are delivered promptly.  

Me. René Magloire
Ministre de la Justice et de la Sécurité Publique
Ministère de la Justice
18 Avenue Charles Sumner
Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Dear Mr. Minister:
I am writing to urge you to take every possible step to end the unjust incarceration of the defendants jailed in the La Scierie case. As you know, Amanus Maette, Hora Jean-Baptiste and Wantalès Lormejuste have collectively spent over seven years in pre-trial detention in this case. Over a year has passed since Mr. Maette filed his appeal, five months have passed since the Appeals Court hearing on the case, and since the defendants requested pre-trial release (main levée). The Court has not ruled on either the Appeal or the main levée requests. It is over four months since Me. Paphius, the Commissaire du Gouvernement at the Appeals Court recommended that the case against all three be dropped for lack of evidence.
Please encourage and assist the prosecutors under your direction to a) immediately petition the Court of Appeals of Gonaives to grant main levée for Mr. Lormejuste, Mr. Jean-Baptiste and Mr. Maette; and b) convey to the Court, by every appropriate means, the Executive Branch’s determination that the case against the three defendants should be dismissed as legally inadequate.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the measures you have taken since your investiture to obtain freedom for political prisoners, especially your role in assuring a fair trial in the case of the December 5, 2003 events at the State University, and your intervention to obtain main levée for Yvon Neptune. I look forward to hearing about further achievements in advancing the rule of law in Haiti.

Me. René Magloire
Ministre de la Justice et de la Sécurité Publique
Ministère de la Justice
18 Avenue Charles Sumner
Port-au-Prince, Haïti
Monsieur le Ministre,
Je désire par la présente vous encourager à déployer tous les efforts nécessaires afin que prenne fin l’incarcération injuste des accusés incarcerés dans l’affaire de La Scierie. Comme vous le savez, Amanus Maette, Hora Jean-Baptiste et Wantalès Lormejuste ont collectivement passé un total de sept ans en prison sans avoir un jugement. Il s’est passé plus d’un an depuis que M. Maette a porté appel, et cinq mois depuis la séance de la Cour d’Appel à ce sujet; à la même occasion, les accusés avaient demandé la main levée d’écrou. Malgré ces délais, la Cour n’a toujours rendu de jugement ni sur l’appel, ni sur la requête de main levée, un fait d’autant plus désolant que Me Paphius, le Commissaire du Gouvernement, a, voilà plus de quatre mois, recommandé à la Cour d’Appel que les accusations envers les trois personnes ci-haut mentionnées soient retirées, faute de preuves.
Je vous prie de bien vouloir encourager les commissaires du gouvernement qui relèvent de votre direction
a) à présenter une requête à la Cour d’Appel de Gonaïves à l’effet que soit accordée la main levée à MM. Maette, Jean-Baptiste et Lormejuste ;
b) à transmettre à la Cour, par tous les moyens appropriés, la conclusion de la branche exécutive comme quoi les accusations portées contre ces même personnes devraient en bon droit être rejetées, puisque légalement inadéquates.
Je voudrais profiter de l’occasion pour vous remercier des mesures que vous avez prises depuis votre investiture pour de redonner la liberté aux prisonniers politiques, particulièrement le rôle que vous avez joué afin d’assurer un procès juste dans l’affaire des événements du 5 décembre 2003 à l’Université, ainsi que votre intervention afin que soit accordée à Yvon Neptune la main levée. C’est avec impatience que j’attends les nouvelles de vos prochaines actions dans la promotion de l’état de droit haïtien.
Veuillez agréer l’expression de mes sentiments les plus distingués,
For more information about the Half-Hour For Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti or human rights in Haiti, see To sign up for the weekly Action Alert, send an email to 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.

Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
867 Boylston Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (857)-201-0991
General Inquiries:
Media Inquiries: