April 26, 2007
Update: Last night was Amanus Maette�s one-thousand-one-hundred-thirty-second night in prison- 3 years, one month and one week since his arrest on March 19, 2004.� Tonight he is home with his wife and daughter. On Tuesday, the trial court of St. Marc ordered the pre-trial release of Mr. Maette, a former Parliamentarian, and Hora Jean Baptiste (in jail since August 2005).� After a few technical glitches, the release orders were executed today. Click here for a photo essay on the release by Wadner Pierre.
Mario Joseph, the lawyer for Mr. Maette and Mr. Jean-Baptiste, asked me to thank everyone who wrote on behalf of the political prisoners last week, or responded to the many alerts we have issued in this case (see Fighting for the Rule of Law in Haiti, an interview with Mario). Mario notes that he never would have had the chance to argue for the release in court without the pressure we applied from outside Haiti.
This victory is a limited one. The releases are provisional, and both defendants are still technically accused in the La Scierie case, which is back in the pre-trial instruction phase. Also co-defendant Roland Dauphin will spend his 1,150th night in jail tonight. Mario is working on that case, but the court has not granted a pre-trial release for Mr. Dauphin.
But the victory is nonetheless important. We�ve shown the justice system that people in Haiti and abroad are watching closely, and will keep insisting on justice until it is delivered. We have demonstrated to people in prison that they are not forgotten. We have forced the justice system to work.
There is also some sad news related to this case: Me. Hugues St. Pierre, the Chief Judge of the Appeals Court of Gonaives, was hit by a truck while crossing the street Monday, and died on Tuesday. Me. St. Pierre was also the Dean of the Gonaives Law School, and the pastor of a local church. He had a long judicial career, and was well-respected in Gonaives for his simplicity and his honesty. The Gonaives Appeals Court issued its decision in the La Scierie case on April 13.
Coming Attractions: The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti is having a fundraiser in New York City on May 24 at 6 PM at the Judson Church in Washington Square. We�ll have more details next week.
This Week�s Action: Celebrate the freedom of Amanus Maette and Hora Jean-Baptiste.� Have even more fun and watch this short (2 minutes), but great video from The Onion. It makes some serious points about perceptions and news coverage of Haiti, but makes us laugh too:� Something Is Happening in Haiti.