Originally published in the Miami Herald
March 4, 2020
As Haitian President Jovenel Moïse used his one-man rule Wednesday to install his fifth prime minister in three years, hundreds of miles away on Capitol Hill U.S. lawmakers were trying to figure out how to help Haiti while receiving an earful on the president’s poor human-rights and governance record.
“President Moïse by decree appointed a prime minister,” Ellie Happel, an attorney and Haiti project director at New York University’s Global Justice Clinic, told the bipartisan Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights as the swearing-in of Joseph Jouthe and his 21-member government unfolded in Port-au-Prince. “This is quite concerning in the sense that he had been encouraged … to have a prime minister of consensus. Instead, he unilaterally appointed an individual and there is real discontent at what seems to be his great, grandiose method of impunity; that he in fact can take any action unilaterally.”
Happel, who also accused Moïse of manipulating the judiciary for his own purposes, said it would be interesting to see what kind of statements the U.S. State Department would issue in relation to the new government’s appointment. She didn’t have to wait long.