Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

U.S. Ambassador Calling One-Man Rule in Haiti Constitutional is Incorrect, Dangerous

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For immediate release
Contact:
Nicole Phillips, Esq. Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (San Francisco), nicole@ijdh.org,  +510-715-2855
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (Boston), brian@ijdh.org, +1-617-652-0876-263‑0029 (English, French, Creole)

U.S. Ambassador Calling One-Man Rule in Haiti Constitutional is Incorrect, Dangerous

Boston, January 30, 2015 — The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) reacted to the statement by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power that Haiti’s President Martelly’s rule by executive authority without a Parliament is “permitted by Haiti’s Constitution,” calling it “incorrect as a matter of fact, and dangerous as a foundation for policy.”

Ambassador Power made the statement on January 29, in a UN briefing about the UN Security Council’s January 23-25 mission to Haiti. Elections have not been held in Haiti for over three years, resulting in vacancies in every seat in Parliament except ten Senate seats, as well as all local elected offices. On the same day as Ambassador Powers’ briefing, twenty Haitian human rights groups denounced the unconstitutional installation of a government without Parliamentary approval.

“Nothing in Haiti’s Constitution permits one-man rule. The Constitution did clearly require legislative elections in 2011 and 2014 that the government failed to hold, creating this unconstitutional void,” said Nicole Phillips, an IJDH Staff Attorney. Attorney Phillips warned that “a mischaracterization of such a fundamental fact could lead to dangerously uninformed policy. With the large roles played by the UN and United States in Haiti, there is a lot at stake.” The UN Security Council oversees the MINUSTAH Peacekeeping mission in Haiti, which will spend over $500 million this year.

IJDH noted that Ambassador Power’s statement did acknowledge the potential dangers of unchecked presidential power, and urged “free, fair and inclusive elections, as soon as possible.” But IJDH Executive Director Brian Concannon cautioned that “the pressure those words placed on Haiti’s Executive branch was undermined by the statement’s failure to place responsibility with President Martelly for creating the crisis in the first place.”
The UN and the United States government have been criticized in Haiti and abroad for offering blind support to President Martelly. Although the causes of the crisis are complex, most observers agree that President Martelly’s establishment of a series of electoral councils that failed to comply with the Constitution and maximized his influence on the elections played an important role.

Attorney Phillips added that “Haiti’s political crisis was generated by a failure to comply with the Constitution.  If the international community wants to contribute to a solution to the crisis, it should criticize illegal practices, not endorse them.”

For more information about the legal issues surrounding Haiti’s political crisis, see IJDH’s Ensuring Fair Elections in Haiti: Legal Analysis of Recent Developments.

 

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Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
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