November 29, 2007
Update: Lots of news this week. First, there�s an update on last week’s alert asking for your support to keep IJDH and BAI going: IJDH�s Board of Directors, led by Paul Farmer, Ira Kurzban and Laura Flynn, have committed to match up to $30,000 of donations that arrive before December 15. So for the next two weeks, your tax-deductible contribution can build twice as much justice for Haiti.
On Monday, November 26, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste,
Haiti�s most prominent advocate of non-violent social change, had an
appeals court hearing on his efforts to dismiss the charges that have
hung over his head for three years. The prosecutor conceded there was no evidence against him, but the appeals court did not issue a decision yet. See “My Rosary Is My Only Weapon” for more.
One of the best books on Haiti in the last fifteen years, Peter Hallward�s Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment , has been released. Paul Farmer says it is �an excellent book, the best study of its kind.� The book has already become an important reference work for us at IJDH, we consider it essential for anyone writing, speaking or learning about contemporary Haitian politics and U.S. policy to Haiti. For more on the book, see http://www.HaitiJustice.org. The book will not be available in bookstores in North America until April, but is available now from IJDH, click here to order.
Human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, abducted on August 12, is still missing. The mobilization for his return continues: in the U.S. Congress (see the letter from Rep. Maxine Waters to President Preval); on the streets (vigils at Brazilian Consulates in London and Los Angeles by Global Women�s Strike, a Rally for Lovinsky’s Safe Return planned for December 11 in San Francisco); and on the internet (Petition to Save Lovinsky).
This week�s action: Comes from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York, regarding former Haitian death squad leader Emmanuel �Toto� Constant (click here for more background on the Emmanuel Constant case). Mr. Constant had a hearing on his mortgage fraud case in New York today (with a Toto Constant Must Stand Trial! demonstration outside). But his lawyer withdrew, and the hearing was continued until next Wednesday, December 5. So please write this week to the judge, urging him to ensure that Mr. Constant serves a just sentence in New York before being returned to Haiti, where he will most likely be set free. CCR makes it very easy to send a message online, click the link below or go to: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/383/t/4089/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=21847.
Stop Toto Constant from being returned to Haiti!
Help us prevent former death-squad leader and known human rights abuser Emmanuel “Toto” Constant from going back to Haiti and wreaking havoc once again upon the nation. Your letters have played a major role in the past and can do so again.
After fleeing Haiti, Emmanuel “Toto” Constant settled in the New York area and was later indicted on charges of grand larceny and fraud. In May of this year, CCR, the Center for Justice and Accountability, and you, our supporters, were able to convince the judge in this case to deny a plea bargain to Constant. But another plea is on the table that could result in Constant being sent back to Haiti as soon as July 2008.
That must not happen because the human rights crisis in Haiti is only getting worse. Haiti is currently fraught with an incompetent judiciary, a weak prison system, and a complete disregard for the rule of law. The United States judicial system must consider what impact Toto Constant’s return will have on this dire human rights situation.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Abraham Gerges offered Constant a new plea of 3-to-9 years at a sentencing hearing on October 31, 2007. While this plea would give Constant a longer sentence than the earlier plea, it is still not enough. On Wednesday, December 5, Constant will return to the courthouse to let Judge Gerges know whether or not he accepts the plea. We must make sure that Judge Gerges takes the plea bargain off the table.
Our supporters helped us ask Judge Gerges to vacate the plea agreement in the past; please take time to help us now. Write to Judge Gerges today to demand that Toto Constant stand trial for the crimes of grand larceny and fraud for which he was originally indicted and face the maximum sentence under the law.