Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Legal Experts Issue Briefing Paper on Haiti’s Current Political Crisis





Mario Joseph, Av., Managing Attorney, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI),,                +509 2943 2106/07 (in Port-au-Prince, speaks French and Creole)

Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Executive Director, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH),, +1 541 263 0029 (in Boston, speaks English, French and Creole)

Legal Experts Issue Briefing Paper on Haiti’s Current Political Crisis

Say Compliance with Law Critical to Ensure Fair and Inclusive Elections

(Boston, MA, January 9, 2015) The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) issued a briefing paper today entitled Ensuring Fair Elections in Haiti: Legal Analysis of Recent Developments, which provides in-depth legal analysis of Haiti’s rapidly developing electoral crisis.  Elections are several years overdue in Haiti, and the crisis is coming to a head as one-third of the Senate and all 99 seats of the House of Deputies are scheduled to term out on January 12, 2015. Another one-third of the Senate already termed out in 2012.

Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney at BAI, warns that “Haiti’s electoral crisis undermines the government’s democratic functioning and cripples governance.”

As the briefing paper explains, several political stalemates have prevented elections from being held since Haitian President Michel Martelly took office in 2011, many of which have revolved around the unconstitutional composition of the electoral councils tasked with organizing elections.  Amidst months of nation-wide demonstrations and public pressure following another stalling of elections in October 2014, President Martelly convened a Consultative Commission and announced a negotiated agreement in December 2014 to conditionally extend parliamentary terms. The Commission’s recommendations include establishing a new constitutional Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), releasing political prisoners and amending the 2013 Electoral Law.

The briefing paper focuses on the constitutional and legal issues at stake as the country prepares for the upcoming elections. The December negotiated agreement and the government’s implementation of some of the recommendations made by the Commission are a positive step towards addressing the political impasse. But an election date still has not been announced, there is little announced progress towards a Constitutional CEP and the President has asked Parliament to approve an unconstitutional electoral law.

Joseph warns that “fair elections will require an impartial, independent and constitutional CEP to facilitate the free participation of all political parties, and propose an electoral Law.” Joseph adds, “President Martelly’s repeated appointments of unlawful electoral councils to maximize executive influence raise concern over his undue influence in the elections.”

The paper also discusses the role of the international community. According to Brian Concannon, Executive Director of IJDH, “Progress in earthquake reconstruction, stabilizing Haiti’s democracy and ending poverty will only be possible if the upcoming elections in Haiti are prompt, fair and inclusive. The international community must not repeat the errors of the past. U.S. support for the 2010/2011 flawed elections set Haiti on its way to its current political crisis. The international community can support rule of law and democracy by conditioning election funding on a lawful and independent electoral council that can run fair and inclusive elections.”

The briefing paper is available at:  

Click HERE for the pdf version.

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