Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Half-Hour for Haiti: Free The Political Prisoners Too

Jul 19, 2007

Update: An Unbroken Agony (Haiti: From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President) by best-selling writer and social justice activist Randall Robinson, has just been released. I have not received my copy yet, but Mr. Robinson is a compelling writer and insightful social critic, and he had a front row seat to the unfolding of Haiti�s 2004 coup d�etat in Washington, Port-au-Prince, the CARICOM countries and the Central African Republic. Mr. Robinson was interviewed Monday, along with Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, Kevin Pina and Jean St. Vil on KPFA�s Flashpoints (click here to listen). He�ll be interviewed on C-SPAN�s� Q & A program this Sunday, at 8 and 11 PM (also available by podcast from the Q & A archives).

Upcoming Events: The Jubilee USA Network is organizing a 40-day fast for debt cancellation and economic justice from September 6 to October 15. A Haiti debt cancellation day will be part of that, we�ll send details soon. In the meantime, Jubilee USA is looking for organizations to commit to participating, including joining a one-day fast on September 6 and adding your name to the list of organizational sponsors. For more information on the fast, click here, or contact Brian Swarts,

This Week�s Action:�� We have an excellent opportunity to include political prisoners in a scheduled large release of prisoners. The Port-au-Prince Prosecutor, Claudy Gassant, announced this week that over hundred prisoners will be released soon to ease overcrowding and reduce prolonged pre-trial detention. The prosecutor�s office cited mothers, children and those suffering from tuberculosis as the priority categories for release, but Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux has presented Me.Gassant with a file documenting one hundred cases of political prisoners who have been held for as long as three years without any legal basis. Mario has asked us to back him up by writing the Prosecutor and urging him to release the political prisoners as part of this initiative.

Please help Mario out and take advantage of this opportunity by writing to Me. Gasssant. A sample letter is below; feel free to customize it to integrate your personal experience and interests. You may send the letter directly to Me. Gassant by regular mail, or to us by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number) or email:, and we will ensure that it is delivered.


July�� , 2007
Me. Claudy Gassant
Commissaire du Gouvernement
pr�s du Tribunal de Premi�re Instance de Port-au-Prince
Minist�re de la Justice
18 Avenue Charles Sumner
Port-au-Prince, Ha�ti

Re: Release of Political Prisoners Held in Prolonged Detention

Dear Prosecutor Gassant:

I am writing to thank you for your announced plan to fight excessive pre-trial detention by releasing over one hundred prisoners, and to encourage you to include political prisoners among the people that you release.

As you know, there are more than 100 prisoners in the National Penitentiary who were politically active before their arrest and have no legal justification for their detention in their case file. All of these people are being held in contravention of their rights under Haitian and international law; many have been unjustly imprisoned for three years or more already.

I commend you for doing your best to free children, mothers and tuberculosis sufferers, and suggest that you can do even more good by adding political prisoners to your list. Freeing the political prisoners will immediately reduce both overcrowding in the prison and your government�s expenses in detaining those prisoners. It will also respond to the recommendations of the Consultative Commission and the various human rights groups and experts, who have called for the release of those arrested illegally and those held for excessive periods. Most importantly, releasing the political prisoners will demonstrate your commitment to applying the rule of law equally, without regard to the political opinions of those before you.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.



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