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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 58 min 1 sec ago
This article discusses a US Federal Court’s decision to uphold UN immunity in the cholera case, in the context of foreign interference in Haiti. It includes the crippling “debt” Haiti paid France in exchange for independence, the US-led coup against former president Aristide, and the failed post-earthquake reconstruction.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.US Court Dismisses 8,700 Haitian Lives
Joe Emersberger, teleSUR
January 22, 2015
Those responsible for continued Haitian suffering enjoy impunity.
Throughout its history, Haiti has received lessons in savagery from the world’s big imperial powers. The latest lesson was delivered about a week ago by a U.S. court that said the UN cannot be held accountable for criminal negligence that has killed 8,700 Haitians from cholera since 2010. The Obama administration, needlessly worried that the court might take the side of common decency, formally urged the court to rule the way it did. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) noted that “Despite calls from around the world — including from the UN’s own human rights chief — that the UN must provide remedies to the victims of cholera, the organization has persistently refused.”
UN troops (known as MINUSTAH) have been stationed in Haiti since 2004 when they took on the task of consolidating a coup directly perpetrated by the U.S. government with considerable assistance from France and Canada. As U.S. troops kidnapped Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s democratically elected president at the time, and flew him off to Africa, Canadian troops secured the airport in Port-au-Prince. French troops also participated. Days after the coup, a New York Times headline explained things to its readers as follows: “U.S. and France Set Aside Differences in Effort to Resolve Haiti Conflict.” The “free press” of the self-proclaimed “civilized” countries seldom fails to dazzle. MINUSTAH propped up a dictatorship headed by Gerard Latortue which presided over the murder of about 4000 of Aristide’s supporters in the greater Port-au-Prince Area from 2004-2006 according to a study published in the Lancet medical journal. 
Click HERE for the full text.
Join Senator Forry in Boston for a meeting on immigration programs for Haitians.
A special meeting that Senator Linda Dorcena Forry will be hosting with United States Custom & Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians to discuss federal programs HFRPP, DAPA and DACA and their positive impact on the Haitian community. The purpose of the meeting is to bring the Haitian community together to discuss the various programs and to share up to date information and next steps in the implementation of HFRPP, DAPA and DACA.
St. Angela’s Parish Hall
1554 Blue Hill Avenue
Thursday, January 22, 2015
6pm to 8pm
*Parking accommodations generously provided by Jubilee Christian Church located at 1500 Blue Hill Avenue, two doors down from St. Angela’s Parish.
Click HERE for the flyer.
Partout en Haïti, les gens sont préoccupés par le rôle actuel de la communauté internationale dans la crise politique. La communauté internationale n’a pas mis assez de la responsabilité de la crise sur le président Martelly et plutôt, a promis de le soutenir. Afin d’être un médiateur efficace dans la crise, la communauté internationale doit être impartiale et se tenir sur le côté de la démocratie. Lors de leur visite cette semaine, le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies a l’occasion de le faire. Haïti a besoin d’élections constitutionnelles et équitables, qui incluent tous les partis politiques.
Ci-dessous est la traduction non-officielle. Click HERE for the original article, in English.Choisi le côté de la démocratie en Haïti
Par Morenike Fajana and Nicole Phillips
Publié dans le Miami Herald le 22 janvier 2015
Si la communauté internationale veut aider à résoudre la crise politique polarisant en Haïti, elle doit s’établir comme une médiatrice neutre, prête à encourager tous à respecter les règles du jeu démocratique. L’opinion publique en Haïti, qu’il s’agisse de la presse, l’Assemblée nationale ou dans la rue, nous indique que ceci sera difficile car la plupart des haïtiens croient que les Etats-Unis, les Nations-Unis (ONU) et d’autres prennent parti pour le président haïtien Michel Martelly, au lieu du processus démocratique. La visite du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU en Haïti se présente comme l’occasion d’inverser cette perception.
Le retardement des élections compromet la démocratie en Haïti. Les délais d’élection expirés depuis parfois plus de trois ans résultent aujourd’hui dans le non-fonctionnement de l’Assemblée nationale. Tous les sièges de l’Assemblée nationale, sauf dix du sénat, sont actuellement vacants, et tous les officiers municipaux normalement élus ont été remplacé par des officiers nommés par l’exécutif. Effectivement, le président Martelly dirige l’Etat sans respecter la séparation des pouvoirs.
Les causes de cette impasse sont complexes. Alors que les avis sont divers, en Haïti, la faute est le plus souvent attribuée au président. Durant ces derniers quatre ans, le président Martelly a proposé l’établissement de plusieurs conseils électoraux chargés d’organiser les élections qui ne conforment pas aux exigences constitutionnelles. Par contre, ces conseils dites indépendants, laissaient une place trop importante à l’influence du président. Ainsi, son gouvernement a arrêté plusieurs adversaires politiques et des manifestants sur la base de preuves insuffisantes.
Cependant, la communauté internationale appuie publiquement les conseils électoraux du président Martelly et blâme les membres de l’Assemblée nationale pour la crise car ils ont utilisé leurs pouvoirs législatifs pour faire obstacle aux conseils électoraux anti-constitutionnels. Le Département d’Etat américain a affirmé, dans une lettre daté de décembre 2014, son soutient du président et a applaudit ses mesures prises pour résoudre la crise électorale. L’ambassadrice américaine en Haïti, Pamela White, s’est rendue à l’Assemblée Nationale le 12 janvier, le jour même de l’expiration des mandants de la majorité des parlementaires, pour presser la législature à voter sur une série d’accords conclut à la dernière minute, souvent inconstitutionnels. L’Organisation des états américains, dans une déclaration du 14 janvier 2015, a reproché les sénateurs de l’opposition d’avoir « choisit la stratégie du chaos ».
Le fait que la communauté internationale ne reconnait pas que le président Martelly est responsable de cette crise électorale va nuire à sa crédibilité comme médiatrice neutre. Les Parlementaires s’opposaient à l’intervention de l’ambassadrice White. Les manifestants qui descendants dans les rue d’Haïti, au moins une fois par semaine, orientent une partie de leur colère envers les Etats-Unis et l’ONU. La presse haïtienne de tous horizons politiques déplore la perte de souveraineté que représentent ces interventions.
Si le Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU et la communauté internationale veulent contribuer à une solution durable de la crise politique en Haïti, ils doivent encourager tous à respecter les règles du jeu démocratique, et ne pas appuyer sur un seul joueur. Afin de respecter ces règles, il faut, autant que possible, un conseil électoral en conformité avec la constitution qui mène des élections impartiaux, permettant la libre participation des tous les partis politiques. Ainsi, il faut laisser les politiciens s’organiser et les manifestants se manifester sans risque d’être arrêté sans raison légitime.
Le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU va probablement se réunir avec une diversité d’acteurs différents ce vendredi, et les encourager de s’accorder pour organiser les élections. Le Conseil peut soutenir le bon fonctionnement du system démocratique en avertissant le président Martelly qu’il va soutenir les élections que si elles sont équitables, ouvertes et constitutionnelles, et en assurant tous les haïtiens que la communauté internationale est du côté de la démocratie.
MORENIKE FAJANA, Avocat au Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) à Port-au-Prince, Haïti, NICOLE PHILLIPS, Avocat À L’Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti à Boston, qui travail ensemble avec BAI, et professeur à L’Université de la Californie Hastings, École du Droit.
Click HERE for the original article, in English.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (in Haiti), email@example.com, +509‑3938-9831 (French, Creole, English)
Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (Boston), firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-617-652-0876-263‑0029 (English, French, Creole)
Rights Groups Urge Security Council to Address UN Cholera on Haiti Trip
Port-au-Prince, Boston, January 21, 2015 — As the United Nations Security Council prepares to travel to Haiti this week, human rights groups in Haiti and the United States are urging the delegation to address the worsening cholera crisis that has plagued Haiti since UN peacekeepers introduced the disease in 2010. Since then, cholera has sickened over 720,000 and killed 8,700 people in Haiti alone— more than the total number of people killed by Ebola worldwide over that span.
Members of the Security Council are traveling to Haiti on a three-day trip beginning January 23 to address the electoral crisis. Elections have not been held in Haiti for over three years, resulting in the majority of Parliamentary terms expiring on January 12, 2015 and leaving the legislature unable to pass laws. Meanwhile, no date has been set for elections, and human rights groups have urged the international community to support a constitutional electoral process.
“It is shameful for the Security Council to come to Haiti in support of democracy when it has never even acknowledged that UN wrongdoing has caused tremendous pain and suffering in our country,” said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Haiti, which has been working with cholera victims to seek justice from the UN since 2010.
Cholera was introduced to Haiti by UN peacekeepers stationed at a MINUSTAH base that regularly discharged raw sewage into Haiti’s largest river. The UN’s refusal to acknowledge its role in causing the epidemic and to respond justly has caused a credibility crisis for MINUSTAH. The Security Council oversees MINUSTAH’s mandate and function, but beyond mentioning cholera as a humanitarian crisis in its report, the Council has not acknowledged UN responsibility or taken action in favor of a just response.
“The Security Council will lecture Haitians on respecting the rule of law while its own organization refuses to respect its legal obligations to victims of cholera. To Haitians, this is a hypocritical position and undermines the UN’s credibility here,” Joseph stated.
Cases of cholera have surged recently, yet cholera treatment centers around the country are increasingly shut down. “The epidemic is spiking, but UN efforts are receding,” said Joseph. While, the Council has spent over $2.5 billion in funding for MINUSTAH since the cholera outbreak, the UN’s plan to eliminate cholera continues to be underfunded at only 13%.
Brian Concannon, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, stressed, “Since the cholera epidemic broke out, MINUSTAH has spent $2.5 billion on a peacekeeping mission in a country with no war, while failing to fund the plan to control a real cholera epidemic. It is time for the Security Council to reassess its priorities in Haiti.”
All over Haiti, people are concerned by the international community’s current role in the political crisis. The international community hasn’t placed enough of the blame for the crisis on President Martelly and instead, has vowed support for him. In order to be an effective mediator in the crisis, the international community must be unbiased and stand on the side of democracy. During their visit this week, the UN Security Council has an opportunity to do just that. Haiti needs fair, constitutional elections that include all political parties.
Click HERE for the original article.No cheerleading for Martelly
Morenike Fajana & Nicole Phillips, Miami Herald
January 21, 2015
If the international community wants to be part of the solution to Haiti’s polarizing political crisis, it must establish that it is a neutral broker, willing to encourage all sides to respect the rules of the democratic game.
Opinion in Haiti — widely reflected in the press, in Parliament and on thestreets — indicates that this is an uphill battle, as most Haitians believe that the United States, the United Nations and others are taking the side of Haiti’s President Michel Martelly, rather than their democracy. As the United Nations Security Council heads to Haiti Friday, it has an excellent opportunity to reverse this perception.
Stalled elections have put Haiti’s democracy in jeopardy. As a result of elections delays, some for more than three years, Parliament is no longer operational. All of Parliament except for 10 Senate seats are vacant, and all elected municipal officials have been replaced with executive branch appointees, allowing President Martelly to run the country without any checks or balances.
The causes of this impasse are complex. Although blame has been cast widely, in Haiti, more often than not the fingers are pointed at the president. Over the past four years, President Martelly has proposed a series of electoral councils to run the voting, each of which fell short of constitutional requirements and gave the president significant leverage over the supposedly independent council. His government has alsoarrested many political opponents and protestors on flimsy evidence.
The international community, by contrast, has publicly supported President Martelly’s electoral councils and blamed members of Parliament for using legislative procedures to block the unconstitutional councils.
The U.S. State Department affirmedits continued support in a December 2014 letter in which it “commended” Martelly’s efforts to resolve the crisis. U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White went to Parliament and pressed legislators to vote on a series of last minute deals — many of them unconstitutional — on Monday of last week, the day the majority of parliamentary terms were set to expire. The Organization of American States (OAS) chastised opposition senators for “choosing the strategy of chaos” in a follow-up declaration two days later.
The international community’s failure to acknowledge President Martelly’s responsibility for the electoral crisis threatens its credibility as a mediator. Members of Parliament objected to Ambassador White’s interference. The protestors who throng Haiti’s streets at least once every week direct part of their ire at the United States and United Nations. Haitian media from across the political spectrum bemoan the loss of sovereignty demonstrated by this interference.
If the U.N. Security Council and the rest of the international community want to contribute to a sustainable solution to Haiti’s political crisis, they will encourage all sides to respect the rules of the democratic game, not act as cheerleaders for one player.
Respecting the rules means installing an electoral council that complies as much as is now possible with the Constitution and runs fair elections that allow the free participation of all political parties.
It means allowing politicians to organize and demonstrators to protest legally without risking arrest.
Security Council members will likely meet with a range of actors Friday, and encourage them to come together to support elections. The diplomats can make the elections worth coming together for by warning President Martelly that it will only support fair, inclusive, constitutional elections, and assuring all Haitians that the international community is on the side of their democracy.
MORENIKE FAJANA IS A HUMAN RIGHTS FELLOW AT THE BUREAU DES AVOCATS INTERNATIONAUX (BAI) IN PORT-AU-PRINCE HAITI. NICOLE PHILLIPS IS A STAFF ATTORNEY AT THE INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE & DEMOCRACY, BAI’S AMERICAN PARTNER ORGANIZATION, AND ADJUNCT LAW PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA HASTINGS SCHOOL OF LAW.
Click HERE for the original article.
Instead of focusing on the needs of the people it’s supposed to help, USAID’s projects in Haiti after the earthquake have focused on furthering American interests. USAID has used American contractors, which costs a lot more than using Haitians, and has only built a fraction of the houses initially proposed. Attempts to find out where all the money has gone lead into an impenetrable black box, which USAID claims is necessary to prevent demonstrations. As long as aid is disbursed in this way, Haiti will continue to struggle with rebuilding.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Is USAID Helping Haiti to Recover, or US Contractors to Make Millions? The international community pledged enough aid to give every Haitian a check for $1,000. The money went elsewhere.
Jake Johnston, The Nation
January 21, 2015
The corrugated metal fences surrounding construction sites in downtown Port-au-Prince are covered with a simple message: “Haiti ap vanse,” or “Haiti is moving forward.” Where once many thousands of people made tattered tents and makeshift shelters their home, now massive concrete shells and cranes stand tall amidst the rubble. Returning to Haiti, along with much of the world’s major media, for the five-year anniversary of the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 and displaced 1.5 million, it’s impossible not to see some signs that Haiti is in fact “moving forward.” The large camps of internally displaced persons, the most visible sign of the quake’s lasting impact, have for the most part been cleared, though certainly some remain. But beneath the veneer of progress, a more disturbing reality is apparent.
Eighteen kilometers north on the dusty hillsides overlooking the sea is Canaan, an informal city now home to hundreds of thousands of people and, according to the State Department, on its way to becoming the second largest city in Haiti. “It’s a living hell,” says Alexis, one of the area’s residents, as we sit overlooking a new $18 million sports complex built by the Olympic Committee for Haitian national teams at the foot of the hills. “I’ll stay here because I can’t afford to go anywhere else,” she adds. Like many others here, Alexis received rental support from an NGO to move out of the camps in Haiti’s capital, but when it ran out, she was displaced all over again. While no longer facing the constant threat of eviction, Alexis faces a new set of problems: There are no government services in Canaan, water is scarce, employment even more so.
Click HERE for the full text.
Join the Indiana Council on World Affairs for a book talk with Fran Quigley.
Reception 5:30-6:15 pm, Dinner 6:15 pm, Talk 7:00 pm, Adjournment 8:30pm
No reservations are necessary for the “talk” portion of the program, however there is a $3 fee for members and a $5 fee for non-members. For those who are not attending the dinner, please do not arrive before 6:50 pm.
Dinner Reservation Procedure
Reservations for the dinner portion of the program must be made in advance. If you are attending, there are three ways to make a reservation: via mail, via phone or via email. All reservations must be RECEIVED by Friday, January 16th at 5:00 pm. The cancellation deadline is also Friday, January 16th at 5:00pm to avoid a financial commitment to ICWA.
Cost: Members and their guests: $27 in advance. Non members: $32 in advance. For phone and email reservations you may pay at the door for a $2 extra fee: $29 members & their guests. Non members $34.
(South of 75th St, just north of the White River bridge on Westfield Blvd, east side of street)
6729 Westfield Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
5:30pm reception, 6:15pm dinner, 7:10pm talk
For more about Fran and making a reservation, click HERE.
On January 9, 2015, a US judge ruled that UN Immunity is absolute in the case of Haitian cholera victims. Since the UN hasn’t provided an alternate method of seeking justice, this implies there is nowhere in the world where cholera victims can find justice. As this author reminds us, many cases of human rights violations were dismissed at first, until public pressure caused justice to be served. The cholera victims and their lawyers will appeal this decision and keep fighting until they get justice.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haitian Cholera Victims Undaunted by Court Ruling of UN Immunity
Fran Quigley, Common Dreams
January 20, 2015
Earlier this month, on the eve of the 5th anniversary of Haiti’s tragic earthquake, a U.S. District Court judge ruled against Haitians’ class action suit asking the United Nations to take responsibility for the deadly cholera epidemic it triggered in October of 2010. Viewed from both narrow and broad perspectives, the decision in Delama Georges, et al, v. United Nations, et al, was the wrong one, and it will be appealed.
In a narrow sense, the court erred in holding that the UN was immune from any suit. The Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations calls for the UN to settle claims like those brought by the Haitian victims, a practice the organization has followed across the globe for decades. Moreover, the UN entered into a specific Status of Forces Agreement with Haiti where it pledged to create a process to address claims by private citizens, a promise the UN never fulfilled.
Click HERE for the full text.
This article details the latest developments in Haiti’s political crisis, which include President Martelly’s appointment of a new Prime Minister and 36 other ministers and members of government. Martelly finally claimed responsibility for the current crisis and promised credible elections but many aren’t so sure: Opponents promise continued protests demanding Martelly’s resignation. Haiti experts blame the international community’s unwavering support of Martelly for letting the crisis get so bad. So far, it seems Martelly will have it in his corner indefinitely.
Click HERE for the original article.Martelly assumes responsibility for crisis as Haiti gets new government
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
January 19, 2015
With foreign diplomats looking on, an uneasy Haitian President Michel Martelly looked into the television cameras and in a solemn address to the nation, affirmed his support for credible and fair elections even as he assumed “responsibility” for the political stalemate that has plunged Haiti deeper into turmoil.
It was an about face for a man who, until that TV address on Friday, blamed Haiti’s fractured opposition for a brewing political crisis that resulted with last week’s dissolution of parliament.
“Some 28 years after the adoption of the Constitution in March 1987, we still struggle to put in place all the institutions that our fundamental Charter had planned,” Martelly acknowledged. “Today 44 months after my installation… we must humbly admit our weaknesses and our collective mistakes, arising from old demons of mistrust, divisions and intolerance that still cross our minds after more than 200 years.”
For the second time this century, a Haitian president is ruling without a functioning parliament, meaning in essence Haiti has one-man rule. The next few days and weeks will be critical in determining whether Haiti — and Martelly, who beginning Friday will host a three-day visit by the U.N. Security Council — can properly manage a political tinderbox.
Will his address to the nation translate into a real process of inclusion, and set the path toward legitimate elections later this year?
Observers say he must for Haiti’s sake.
“It’s the first time a sitting Haitian President has done what you usually see leaders of the modern world do: When something bad happens, say ‘the ultimate responsibility is with the president,’” said Reginald Boulos, the Haitian businessman who headed the 11-member presidential commission Martelly appointed in November to help him find a way out of the turmoil. “But the speech is the first step. It cannot be the last.”
With elections delayed for more than three years, Haiti today has no elected mayors, no elected community representatives. The terms of a second-tier of the 30-member Senate has expired, leaving only 10 Senators. The entire 99-member Chamber of Deputies also left before it could approve the new prime minister or government.
There is no head of the Supreme Court, and the terms of the Governor of the Central Bank and several board members have ended while the term of the Chief of Police will be over in a few months. All require parliament’s blessings.
The institutional void has Martelly’s opponents stepping up calls for his resignation, with one leader, attorney Andre Michel, saying that while they are not advocating violence with renewed street demonstrations, “when there is no parliament, anything can happen.”
“Haiti will know dark days without a working Parliament, without a constitutional government, without an electoral board and a lame judicial guardianship that is at the behest of the executive,” former Senate President Simon Desras said. “Many people are in the streets almost daily to demand the resignation of the President. It is a defacto reign that unfortunately, is being unconditionally supported by the international community.”
Moments after his Friday speech, Martelly installed longtime opposition leader and former Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul as prime minister. On Monday, less than 24 hours after their names were released as promised, the 36 men and women tapped to form what is supposed to be consensus government were sworn in at the National Palace.
With Martelly keeping nearly all of the key ministries, some are questioning the cabinet, saying it doesn’t reflect his speech, in which he said he wanted “to ensure that the composition of the next government and its management…fully reflect this desire for reconciliation with the opposition.”
Though opposition groups got some ministries, nine of the 20 ministers in the new government had previously served under ousted Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. Among the more controversial appointments, which was nixed after pressure from the international community: the swearing-in of a former police officer, Carel Alexandre, as the Secretary of State for Public Security.
All face a tough task — from creating the confidence needed for long-overdue legislative and local elections, and the presidential balloting, due this year, to governing amid tough economic times.
Five years after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, which saw millions of dollars in foreign debt forgiven, Haiti is once again in deep debt. Its main source for post-quake rebuilding and Martelly’s social programs, the discounted-Venezuela Petrocaribe oil program, is being depleted with the drop in global oil prices and Venezuela’s own tough economic times. Instead of achieving its projected 4.8 percent growth at the end of 2014, Haiti achieved 2.8 percent.
Three protests a week, make it impossible for [the Haiti tax office] and Customs to collect revenues,” outgoing Finance Minister Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie said, while noting that a drop in consumption is also gravely impacting government coffers as customs revenues take a dive.
For his part, Martelly will have to convince Haitians and the international community that he’s not only a defender of democracy but that he’s committed to doing what he hasn’t done in the four years since he became president: hold elections and work with the opposition.
Some, like Boulos, are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Others, like Senator Steven Benoit, are not.
“After he came into power, he told all of us in a meeting, ‘I don’t like parliament, I am going to destroy parliament,’ ” said Benoit, a longtime friend-turned political adversary and one of the 10 remaining lawmakers. “That was the dream, and he has kept his word.”
Senator Steven Benoit isn’t convinced the President has changed.
“The Americans think they can control Martelly,” said Benoit, whose bitter exchange with the president during a meeting last week made headlines here. “Nobody can control Martelly. He’s a trickster. Martelly is playing everybody including his bosses, the Americans.”
Martelly’s speech came hours after he spoke to Vice President Joe Biden via telephone. The U.S. had hoped a last-minute deal brokered between Martelly and several opposition political parties would have allowed for lawmakers’ terms to be extended for up to four months, and an electoral law to be passed. But parliament dissolved before either measures could be voted after pro and anti-Martelly senators failed to show up to provide the necessary 16 member quorum.
Biden commended Martelly’s “efforts to reach a negotiated agreement,” while recognizing that he had “made several important concessions in order to reach consensus, and expressed disappointment that Haiti’s Parliament did not pass an electoral law before lapsing on January 12,” said the statement from the White House.
Hours before the signing of the deal, the U.S. Embassy issued a press release stating U.S. support for Martelly should he have to rule by decree. Many believed that statement, and later U.S. Ambassador Pamela White’s appearance in the parliament chambers on the night of the aborted vote, were deal changers that helped encourage senators not to show up. Both were widely condemned as un-welcomed interference in Haitian domestic politics.
Even so, the international community has a critical role to play, say Haiti experts.
“With the dissolution of Haiti’s parliament creating an absence of national — that is, Haitian — checks and balances in political process, international actors shoulder the responsibility of trying to ensure that democratic process is not stymied by strong-man rule,” said Robert Maguire, a Haiti specialist at George Washington University.
“They also must take the lead in assuring that the country’s overdue parliamentary and municipal elections, as well as the presidential election required before year’s end, are organized on a level playing field and are inclusive of all Haitian political parties and organizations wishing to participate in them.”
The U.S., however, is in a particularly fragile position, he said.
“Assuming an un-biased and balanced approach in support of Haiti’s electoral process may be particularly difficult for the United States, given its track record of strong, unwavering, and seemingly uncritical support of President Martelly,” Maguire said.
Robert Fatton, a University of Virginia political science professor and Haiti expert, said despite the ongoing domestic criticism of Martelly, he appears to be in good shape. He’s saying the right things and has the support of the international community, from the U.S. to Brazil.
If the electoral council is soon named and elections are scheduled some time soon, Fatton said, “we may be entering a new phase in Haitian politics.”
“If things go slowly and [Paul] is incapable of establishing his authority and independence, things could easily fall apart,” he said.
Like the U.S., the Security Council also will publicly reiterate its support for Martelly while urging “the radical” opposition to stop its politics of resignation demands.
“Privately, the UN Security will tell Martelly that he has no other alternative but to do what he said in his speech installing Evans Paul as Prime Minister,” Fatton said.
As for the opposition and their stepped up anti-government demonstrations, Fatton said, if the various groups “cannot put large numbers in the streets, then Martelly will have outflanked them and these groups will have to compromise and join the other so-called moderate parties and accept that Martelly will not be resigning.
“So at the moment Martelly is winning the chess game, but the positions are not totally aligned for him to claim checkmate,” he added.
Click HERE for the original article.
January 19, 2015
Click HERE for the pdf version.
ENSURING FAIR ELECTIONS IN HAITI: LEGAL ANALYSIS OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
Haiti faces an electoral crisis that undermines the government’s democratic functioning and cripples governance. Legislative elections that were constitutionally required in 2011 and 2013 have been stalled, and as a result, the terms of most members of Parliament expired on January 12, 2015. Consequently, ninety-nine (99) members of the House of Deputies and ten (10) members of the Senate were forced to vacate their seats – leaving just ten (10) members of Parliament remaining. These remaining ten are unable to obtain the quorum necessary to enact laws. With Parliament unable to act, President Martelly now has no parliamentary oversight, and has claimed the power to issue executive orders in order to resolve the current electoral crisis, among other issues of national concern.
This briefing paper explains the electoral crisis and analyzes the constitutional and legal issues at stake as the country prepares for the overdue elections. The current electoral crisis includes:
- The expiration of all House of Deputies seats and one third of Senate seats on January 12, 2015.
- The vacancy of another one third of the Senate since January 2012, when their terms expired without elections for the seats. From that point until January 12, 2015, with ten vacant seats, the Senate did not have a quorum to conduct business unless fifteen of the remaining twenty members participated. Six Senators were able to prevent a vote by refusing to participate.
- The terms of all mayors also expired in 2012. Those elected officials were replaced by “municipal agents,” who were unconstitutionally appointed by President Martelly.
- The Constitution requires Presidential elections to held by the end of 2015.
Although elections must be held as soon as possible to install democratically-elected legislators and mayors, the elections will only remedy Haiti’s political crisis if they are run fairly by a lawfully-constructed electoral council, the body responsible for overseeing elections. The most recent Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) was not constituted in accordance with the Constitution. The Consultative Commission, assembled in November by President Martelly amidst national and international pressure, made a number of constructive recommendations to move past political and legal roadblocks and hold elections in 2015. Among the recommendations were replacing Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, creating a new CEP and liberating political prisoners. These recommendations and the government’s quick implementation of some of the recommendations are a positive step towards ending the political impasse and holding elections in 2015.
But the political crisis was not created overnight, nor can it be resolved overnight. Fair elections will require an impartial, independent and constitutional CEP to facilitate the free participation of all political parties. The process must also install trust among political actors, but also the electorate. The Martelly Administration’s repeated efforts to implement election-related policies that fall short of constitutional requirements has deeply undermined the trust that is essential for elections, especially those held without Parliamentary oversight. Many of the government’s opponents believe that fair elections are impossible under President Martelly. The mistrust has been aggravated by measures taken by the international community that have convinced Haitians across the political spectrum that the international community, including the United Nations, the United States and the Organization of American States, have taken sides in this election, in favor of President Martelly rather than in favor of fair elections. This perception reduces the international community’s ability to play a meditating role.
BACKGROUND: ELECTIONS DELAYED, RIGHTS DENIED
Haiti’s elections have been delayed for many reasons, but the principal roadblock has been the lack of a constitutionally-mandated electoral council to oversee the election process. The failure to hold timely legislative elections, and the ensuing difficulties in reaching a quorum in the Senate, has effectively allowed President Martelly to rule without legislative oversight for most of his term. For example, in November 2013, the Senate held a vote of no confidence on the Prime Minister and two other ministers. The Senators present voted overwhelmingly against the ministers, but because of the ten vacant seats they fell just short of the sixteen votes necessary to force the government’s resignation. As a result, the vote had no legal effect and the ministers were able to stay in office despite the lack of support from the legislature.
Permanent vs. Provisional Electoral Council
Haiti’s Constitution provides for two types of electoral councils: provisional and permanent. The electoral council plays a crucial role in elections. In addition to organizing and overseeing elections, including determining the results, the council drafts the electoral law that dictates the terms of elections, which is submitted to Parliament for final approval. The Provisional Electoral Council was an interim solution placed in Haitian’s 1987 Constitution to oversee the first election of a President, local officials and a complete Parliament. After the first election, a Permanent Electoral Council would be established for future elections according to Article 192 of the Constitution. In practice, a Permanent Electoral Council has never been properly constituted; a Provisional Electoral Council has run every Haitian election since 1990.
The Provisional Electoral Council is to be comprised of nine members pursuant to Article 289 of Haiti’s Constitution, chosen from nine different sectors of society (Executive Branch, Catholic Bishop’s Conference, Advisory Council, Supreme Court, human rights organizations, the University Council, journalists associations, Protestant religions, and the National Council of Cooperatives). The Constitution recognizes that in a situation like the current one, where the three branches of government are not fully operational, public confidence and fairness will be enhanced if the Council is chosen from a broad spectrum of public actors, rather than by government branches with limited legitimacy and independence.
Amendments to Haiti’s Constitution, finalized in 2012, simplified the procedures for choosing the Permanent Electoral Council. The permanent council is to be comprised of nine members as well, but each branch of government – Executive, Judicial and Legislative – appoints three members. The term of each member is nine years.
Controversial Electoral Council Appointments
Haitian parliamentarians, political opposition and human rights groups claim that President Martelly has delayed elections since he came into office in May 2011 by establishing electoral councils that did not comply with the law and that provided the Executive branch with unfair influence in the election process. Political stalemates resulted when critics resisted these unlawful and unfair initiatives.
Permanent Electoral Council in 2012
President Martelly attempted to appoint a Permanent Electoral Council in 2012, but many of the appointments were controversial. The President of the Council, a close Presidential ally and former Minister of Justice, was forced to resign following a rape accusation by an electoral council employee. According to human rights groups and some members of Parliament, the judicial branch’s selections were not independent because President Martelly illegally named three Supreme Court justices in 2012 (Chief Justice Anel Alexis Joseph was over the maximum age of appointment and the other two were not selected from the official lists submitted by the Senate as required by Article 175 of the Constitution). These appointments allowed President Martelly to influence the nomination of the Superior Council of Judicial Power, a new judicial council headed by Justice Joseph, which selected the Permanent Electoral Council’s judicial members.
Many Senators opposed appointing candidates from the legislative branch to the nine-year Permanent Council terms. They felt that a Senate missing one-third of its members lacked the legitimacy to make such a long-term appointment to a critical position. They proposed naming one more Provisional Council to run elections to complete the Senate, after which a Permanent Council could be established to run the elections scheduled for 2013. President Martelly attempted to convene the Permanent Electoral Council with only 6 of the 9 seats filled, but the council lacked legality and credibility, and was never operational.
Collège Transitoire du Conseil Électoral Permanent (CTCEP) in 2013
In December 2012, President Martelly and others, including the Senate, agreed to appoint a compromise entity called, the Collège Transitoire du Conseil Électoral Permanent (known by its French acronym “CTCEP”). Named in April 2013, the CTCEP was charged with drafting a new electoral law. The appointments were made in accordance with the Article 192 method of appointing a Permanent Electoral Council – each branch of government selecting three members, but with an understanding that they would only serve until the election was completed. Similar to the appointment of members to the Permanent Electoral Council in 2012, however, the Executive branch largely controlled the CTCEP appointment process for the Executive and Judicial appointments, and influenced the Legislative appointments. The Senate found it difficult to meet quorum with one-third of its seats vacant. The CTCEP submitted a proposed electoral law to a Presidential commission on July 1, 2013. The President submitted the law to parliament in September 2013, and after growing tensions and accusations of intentional delays on both sides, both chambers passed the electoral law at the end of 2013.
Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in 2014
In March 2014, President Martelly and some political parties, parliamentarians, and members of civil society signed the El Rancho Accord, which proposed to hold elections on October 26, 2014, rename the CTCEP to a Provisional Electoral Council, and approve necessary amendments to the 2013 electoral law. The Accord was not approved by the Senate and was widely denounced as a maneuver by the President to circumvent the legislature’s exclusive prerogative to approve the electoral law. Although many civil society organizations signed the Accord, many others refused, including virtually every political party with a record of electoral success, other than the President’s party.
Many parliamentarians, including six of the twenty sitting senators (known as the G6) opposed the Accord on constitutional grounds, because the proposed CEP a) would in essence be the former CTCEP composed under the permanent council procedures, although each government branch was permitted to replace one of their appointed members; and b) would be authorized to bypass the legislature and pass electoral law amendments. As a result of these objections, the Senate never voted on the El Rancho Accord.
Despite the Senate’s constitutional objections and refusal to approve the El Rancho Accord, President Martelly implemented a new CEP in May 2014 based on the Accord guidelines, which contained 7 of the 9 members from the CTCEP. The G6 senators, opposition groups and human rights groups protested, and called for a new, constitutionally-mandated CEP. The G6 refused to participate in a vote on the proposed electoral law, as it had been prepared by the President rather than the CEP, as required by the Constitution. There was no vote on the electoral law and elections did not take place on October 26, 2014.
Amidst growing political protests and public calls for the government to step down, President Martelly appointed an eleven-member Consultative Commission on November 28, 2014, to propose a solution to the political crisis.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CONSULTATIVE COMMISSION
On December 8, 2014, the President’s Consultative Commission released recommendations for resolving the political crisis and moving forward with elections. The Commission’s recommendations respond to calls from opposition parties and human rights groups and address some of the legal issues, but will need to be fully implemented in a manner consistent with the Constitution if there is to be real progress towards inclusive and fair elections. The Commission’s key recommendations are:
- The immediate release of political prisoners;
- The dismantling of the current Provisional Electoral Council (from the El Rancho Accord) and establishment of a new Provisional Electoral Council in accordance with the Constitution;
- The resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and the formation of a consensus government;
- The resignation of the president of the Superior Council of Judicial Power, a judicial council tasked with securing judicial independence and appointing members of the judiciary; and
- Voting on the amendments to the 2013 Electoral Law.
President Martelly announced that he accepts the recommendations of the Consultative Commission. At the time of this publication, implementation of several of the recommendations has begun, including the resignation of the El Rancho CEP, the release of an estimated 20 political prisoners, and the resignation of the Prime Minister. These recommendations and the status of implementation are discussed more fully below.
LEGAL ANALYSIS OF KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
Establishment of a Constitutional Provisional Electoral Council
The Consultative Commission recommended the establishment of a constitutional CEP by January 12, 2015, to oversee elections. This recommendation echoes what the political opposition has consistently called for since the President created the Permanent Electoral Council in 2012.
The CEP created after the El Rancho Accord was unconstitutional; it was essentially the former CTCEP appointed according to the Permanent Electoral Council process. The El Rancho Accord allowed each of the three branches to withdraw and reappoint one seat. With 7 of the 9 CTCEP members, the new CEP was essentially the CTCEP. As a provisional council, the CEP should have been established in accordance with Article 289, as the Commission recognized, which calls for the nine members to be selected from nine different sectors of society.
The Executive branch’s repeated efforts to control the Permanent Electoral Council, CTCEP and the CEP have contributed to widespread concern that the CEP will not allow for fair and inclusive elections. In 2010 elections, the CEP that was hand picked by then President René Préval and marred by corruption allegations arbitrarily excluded over a dozen political parties without providing an explanation adequately grounded in Haitian law. In light of the exclusions and other irregularities, voters deemed the elections unfair and refused to vote. Less than 23 percent of voters participated in the 2010 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
On December 18, 2014, the nine current CEP members sent a letter to President Martelly announcing that they would resign upon the appointment of a new CEP. On January 7, 2015, the Martelly administration announced that a new CEP would be appointed within 48 hours. On January 11, 2015, the Executive signed an accord with four parties from the political opposition regarding the reconstitution of the CEP. The accord stipulated that a new CEP would be created “in the spirit of Article 289 of the Constitution,” which would include constituents from the nine groups provided for in the Constitution. The proposed CEP deviated from the relevant constitutional provisions in several respects, including the participation of new civil society groups, and prohibiting the participation of government agents and political parties. The corresponding accord required the approval of Parliament by January 12, 2015, before it could go into effect –giving Parliament a mere 24 hours to approve the plan.
This accord was neither joined, nor supported by key opposition groups. As a result, several key parliamentarians did not participate in the January 12, 2015 vote, which contributed to the failure to obtain a quorum to vote on the proposal for the CEP. President Martelly has stated that he will appoint a CEP based on the agreement. He has asked the specified organizations to present their nominations. Without the checks and balances of parliamentary oversight, there are serious concerns whether a CEP that meets constitutional requirements can be reconstituted.
Release of Political Prisoners
The release of political prisoners is also a welcome and critical step to ensuring that elections are inclusive and that political opponents to the government can participate in elections without intimidation and unlawful punishment. Since President Martelly took office, leaders of the political opposition, activists and human rights defenders have faced increased harassment, threats and in many cases, arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention. The leading role played by the judicial branch in this persecution indicates a troubling lack of judicial independence and failure to provide human rights protections and legal remedies for political opposition groups.
Since the recommendations, over 20 political prisoners have been released. Among them, Enold and Josué Florestal (the Florestal brothers) were released on December 19, 2014. The Florestal brothers were arrested in connection with a murder case after they filed a lawsuit in 2012 against President Martelly’s wife, Sophia Martelly, and son Oliver Martelly, for corruption. In October 2014, the Florestal brothers and their lawyer, André Michel (an outspoken leader of RNDP, the political party that finished second in Presidential elections in 2011, 2006, 2000 and 1991), were indicted in the 2010 murder case with little to no factual justification. On December 17, 2014, the case was referred to the court of appeals, which ordered the brothers’ liberation.
Biron Odigé and Rony Timothée, leaders of the opposition organization FOPARK, were also released from custody after being apprehended after participating in a demonstration on October 26, 2014. Lawyer Evel Fanfan confirmed that 17 of 18 individuals arrested in connection to an October 17, 2014 demonstration have also been released.
A key player in the Executive Branch’s use of the courts to attack political opponents is Judge Lamarre Bélizaire, a President Martelly appointee. Judge Bélizaire’s 2012 appointment was illegal, because he did not meet Haiti’s 5-year legal experience requirement for judges, and had not observed a required break between employment as a prosecutor and installation as a judge. Although cases are supposed to be randomly distributed among the judges of the Port-au-Prince trial court, Judge Bélizaire has received the vast majority of politically-sensitive cases. He handled the cases of the Florestal brothers and Biron Odigé and Rony Timothée, as well as prominent and controversial investigations against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who heads Haiti’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas. That investigation started in August 2014 and has targeted many senior members of Lavalas. The investigation has been criticized by human rights groups across the political spectrum as illegal and politically-motivated. Judge has been suspended by the Port-au-Prince Bar Association for 10 years, starting when he leaves the bench, because of his illegal pursuit of political dissidents.
Resignation of the President of the Superior Council of Judicial Power
According to the law creating the Superior Council of Judicial Power (known by its French acronym “CSPJ”), which is tasked with promoting the independence of the judiciary and names the judiciary’s CEP candidate, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court serves as the CSPJ President. Chief Justice Anel Alexis Joseph’s 2012 appointment by President Martelly to serve on the Supreme Court was illegal because he exceeded the maximum legal age to hold office. By extension, his role as head of the CSPJ is also illegal, and provides the Executive with substantial leverage on the position tasked with ensuring judicial independence.
Chief Justice Joseph resigned from the Supreme Court (and thereby the CSJP) on January 7, 2015.
Resignation of the Prime Minister
Among the Consultative Commission’s recommendations, the Prime Minister’s resignation has received the most attention in the media. The resignation of the Prime Minister is a political, and not a legal issue. Although the Prime Minister’s resignation may serve to ease political tensions, inclusive and fair elections will ultimately depend on the implementation of the recommendations concerning the CEP and the respect of all of the Constitutional requirements for elections.
The Consultative Commission called for the establishment of a consensus government that includes political opposition parties. The President nominated Evans Paul, the leader of a political organization known as KID, as the new Prime Minister on Christmas Day. Under the Constitution, the President chooses the Prime Minister in consultation with the presidents of the Senate and House of Deputies. The President’s choice must be ratified by Parliament. Opposition parties and some senators have said that Mr. Paul cannot be considered a consensus Prime Minister under the Consultative Commission’s recommendations, because he was chosen unilaterally by the President. Approving Mr. Paul as Prime Minister was one of several issues covered in the January 11th accord, which Parliament failed to ratify. Mr. Paul’s appointment was officially confirmed by President Martelly in a presidential address on January 16. In his address, President Martelly announced that there would be a government named within 48 hours.
Voting on Electoral Law Amendments
The Consultative Commission called on the Senate and the House of Deputies — through the convocation of an emergency session — to vote on amendments to the 2013 Electoral Law. In order for the elections to proceed in accordance with the Constitution, the electoral amendments will need to be prepared by the new CEP then transmitted to the President in accordance with Article 191.1, who then submits the law to Parliament for approval. Simple approval of the current amendments by the two houses of parliament without the involvement of a legally-constituted CEP would be once again skirting Haiti’s Constitution.
The agreement to extend parliamentary terms reached on December 29, 2014, by President Martelly, leaders of both house of Parliament and the CSJP was conditioned on passing amendments to the electoral law before January 12, 2015, when the current legislative terms were set to expire. Parliament convened on January 11, 2015 to consider a vote on the law, but lacked the participation of key opposition parliamentarians, and thus, fell short of the necessary quorum. Parliamentarians in the opposition declined to participate in the vote to demonstrate their frustration with the negotiations process. A failure to meaningfully consult opposition parliamentarians in the drafting of the December 29 agreement, in addition to the excessive involvement of foreign governments, generated great frustration among the opposition.
Opposition parliamentarians maintained their dissatisfaction with the negotiation process when a vote was called the following day, as Parliament again lacked the necessary quorum to come to a vote.As a result, 99 seats of the House of Deputies and 10 out of 30 seats in the Senate have expired, leaving the Parliament without the quorum necessary to pass future laws. As of the time of publication, there are only 10 parliamentarians who remain in office.
CONCERNS & WHAT CAN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY DO TO SUPPORT FAIR, INCLUSIVE AND TIMELY ELECTIONS IN HAITI?
Progress in earthquake reconstruction, stabilizing Haiti’s democracy and ending poverty will only be possible if the upcoming elections in Haiti are fair and inclusive. The government’s implementation of many of the Consultative Commission’s recommendations and the December 29 agreement are positive steps toward ending the political crisis and holding elections. However, last-minute concessions and negotiations do not suffice to reverse the political disorder caused by the Martelly administration’s failure to hold elections over the last four years. This undue delay has jeopardized governance at the national and municipal levels, and generated a lack of trust in the Martelly administration’s willingness to administer fair and free elections in 2015.
It is essential that elections in Haiti follow the Constitutional prescriptions as closely as possible, and are managed to establish the trust of opposition parties and the Haitian voters. Establishing trust will be especially difficult without the counterbalance of a Parliament. Already, many government opponents have concluded that the Administration cannot hold fair elections, and are calling for the President’s resignation before elections can be held. The distrust in the electoral process has been aggravated by the perception that the international community has chosen President Martelly over the Haitian voters. The perception is broad-based, is held across Haiti’s political spectrum, and is expressed regularly by members of Parliament, in the press and on the streets through demonstrations. The perception was fueled recently by unjustified attacks by MINUSTAH soldiers against demonstrators, including one officer filmed firing live ammunition at protestors, by the U.S. Ambassador’s presence at Parliament during the attempted votes on the political accord on January 10 and 11, and the many messages of support for President Martelly just before and after he allowed the expiration of Parliament’s mandate.
The Haitian Constitution requires the Electoral Law to be passed by both houses of Parliament. Without a Parliament to approve it, any electoral law, and any elections run under it, will be open to challenge as unconstitutional.
To address these concerns and ensure free and fair elections in Haiti, we encourage members of the international community to:
- Call for the establishment of a Provisional Electoral Council that complies with Art. 289 of the Constitution and is selected in a fair and inclusive manner in order to ensure credibility;
- Call on the Martelly administration to ensure the Provisional Electoral Council operates with independence;
- Call on the Martelly administration and Provisional Electoral Council to ensure inclusion and full participation of all political parties in all facets of the electoral process;
- Work with human rights groups to identify and encourage the immediate liberation of all political prisoners, and promptly denounce any future arrests of Martelly regime opponents unless clearly justified; and
- Secure the Haitian public’s right to freedom of assembly and expression by refraining from use excessive force on demonstrators and condemning arbitrary arrests and use of force by Haitian police.
- Respect the right to Haitian self-determination and self-governance
These elections must not repeat the errors of the past. Illegitimate elections in 2010, contaminated by a corrupt electoral council, illegal exclusion of political parties, ballot-stuffing and an arbitrary revision of the results set Haiti on its way to its current political crisis. A month before the 2010 elections, 45 members of the U.S. Congress warned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that supporting flawed elections “will come back to haunt the international community” by generating unrest and threatening the implementation of earthquake reconstruction projects. The U.S. government ignored these warnings and provided the majority of the funding for those elections, directly contributing to the current crisis. The U.S. and other international donors 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.
 Haïti-Parlement : Trois ministres du gouvernement échappent à la censure grace à une minorité de sénateurs, AlterPresse, Nov. 6, 2013, http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article15418#.VK_y8yf6YYp. The Minister of the Interior received 15-3 votes of no confidence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs received 13-5 votes of no confidence and the Minister of Justice received 14-4 votes of no confidence. Id.
 Haiti Const. of 1987 (Amended 2012), arts. 289, 192. An unofficial version is available at https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Haiti_2012.pdf (last visited Dec. 30, 2014). The 2012 Amendments, published in Le Moniteur June 19, 2012, are available at http://www.oas.org/juridico/PDFs/mesicic4_hti_amend.pdf.
 Id. art. 289. Parliament approved an amendment to Article 289, published in Le Moniteur October 6, 2009, which changed the CEP composition to “representatives of the public sector, political parties and civil society organizations.” That amendment appears to have been superseded by subsequent vote and caught in a quagmire of fraud allegations with 2011 and 2012 amendments. See Haiti – Constitution: Rapport du Group des juristes indépendents, HaitiLibre, Jul. 3, 2012, http://www.haitilibre.com/article-5106-haiti-constitution-rapport-du-groupe-de-juristes-independants-texte-integral.html. The original 1987 version of Article 289 appears to remain en vigeur.
 Id. art 192.
 Haïti-Conseil électoral permanent: Martelly passe aux actes et installe six conseillers au lieu de neuf, AlterPresse, Aug. 21, 2012, http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article13271#.VKHRfF4ANg.
 Haiti- Elections: Swearing in, installation, and élection of members of the Bureau of CTCP, HaitiLibre, Apr. 30, 2013, http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-8385-haiti-elections-swearing-in-installation-and-election-of-members-of-the-bureau-of-ctcep.html. See also To rebuild Haiti, Restoring Democracy is a Must, Bloomberg, April 7, 2013, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-07/to-rebuild-haiti-restoring-democracy-is-a-must.html.
 RESEAU NATIONAL DE DEFENSE DES DROITS HUMAINS (RNDDH), Rapport Sur La Situation General Des Droits Humains en Haiti au Cours de La Troiseme Anee de Presidence de Michel Joseph Martelly 5 (2014), available at http://rnddh.org/content/uploads/2014/05/Rapport-Droits-Humains-Mai-14.pdf.
 El Rancho: The Church and a Fundamentally Bad Accord, Haiti Sentinel, http://www.defend.ht/columns/blogs/the-editors-blog/5488-el-rancho-the-church-and-a-fundamentally-bad-accord.
 Haiti – Politic: Senator Desras Asserts that Parliament is Not Linked to El Rancho Agreement, HaitiLibre, Apr. 22, 2014, http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-10989-haiti-politic-senator-desras-asserts-that-parliament-is-not-linked-to-el-rancho-agreement.html.
 Haiti – Politic: The dialogue between the Executive and the Senate ends in failure, HaitiLibre, Jun. 5, 2014, http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-11302-haiti-politic-the-dialogue-between-the-executive-and-the-senate-ends-in-failure.html.
 Haiti-Elections: Martelly nomme un nouveau Conseil electoral proviso ire, sans l’avis du sénat, AlterPresse, May 6, 2014, http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article16383#.VKHbAF4ANg.
 The full document, including other recommendations, is available here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article4393117.ece/binary/Read%20the%20presidential%20commission%27s%20report%20%28PDF%29.
 Jake Johnston & Mark Weisbrot, Ctr. Econ. & Pol’y Research, Haiti’s Fatally Flawed Election 2 (2011), available at http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/haiti-2011-01.pdf.
 Haiti- Flash: Démission des 9 conseillers du CEP, Haiti Libre, Dec. 19, 2014, http://www.haitilibre.com/article-12765-haiti-flash-demission-des-9-conseillers-du-cep.html.
 Jacqueline Charles, Haiti Supreme Court chief resigns; new electoral council to come, Miami Herald, Jan. 7, 2014, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article5582412.html.
 Haiti – Politic: The Executive signs an agreement with 4 opposition parties, Haiti Libre, Jan 12. 2015, http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-12922-haiti-politic-the-executive-signs-an-agreement-with-4-opposition-parties.html
 See Haiti Const. of 1987 (Amended 2012), art. 111.
 Political uncertainty in Haiti as parliament is dissolved, BBC News, Jan. 14, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-30807811
 Ezra Fieser, Haiti Congress Misses Deadline to Avert Political Crisis, Senator Says, Bloomberg News, Jan. 13, 2015, available at http://www.businessweek.com/news/2015-01-12/haiti-s-leaders-face-midnight-deadline-to-avert-political-crisis.
 Martelly promet “un seul décret” pour les elections, Radio Kiskeya, Jan. 13, 2015, available at http://www.radiokiskeya.com/spip.php?article10344
 Inst. for Justice & Democracy in Haiti et al., Access to Judicial Remedies in Haiti (2014), available at http://www.ijdh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/HRC_Access-to-judicial-remedies_Sept-12.pdf; see also RNDDH Report, supra note 9.
 Haiti-Justice: La marche vers une libération complète des prisonniers d’opinions, AlterPresse, Dec. 16, 2014, http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article17456#.VJHB98kw8dU.
 Ctr. For Econ. & Policy Research, Will Former President Aristide be Arrest? After 10 Years of Investigations, He Has Never Been Charged, Haiti: Relief & Reconstruction Watch Blog (Aug. 14, 2014 3:37 PM), http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/will-former-president-aristide-be-arrested-after-10-years-of-investigations-he-has-never-been-charged.
 Loi Creant le Conseil Superieur du Pouvoir Judiciare, art. 1, available at http://www.leparlementhaitien.info/lesenat/kr/article/47-49e-legislature/161-loi-creant-le-conseil-superieur-du-pouvoir-judiciaire.html.
 Loi Portant de Stature de la Magistrature art. 51 (2007), available at http://www.oas.org/juridico/PDFs/mesicic4_hti_loi_magis.pdf (establishing a maximum legal age of 65 for the nomination of any judge).
 Charles, supra note 18.
 Haiti – Politic: The Executive signs an agreement with 4 opposition parties, HaitiLibre, Jan 12. 2015, http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-12922-haiti-politic-the-executive-signs-an-agreement-with-4-opposition-parties.html.
 Haiti – Flash: Officiel, Evans Paul installé à la Primature, HaitiLibre, Jan. 17, 2015, http://www.haitilibre.com/article-12963-haiti-flash-officiel-evans-paul-installe-a-la-primature.html.
 Jacqueline Charles, Martelly asks Haitians to ‘Give Country a Chance, Miami Herald, Jan. 12 2015, available at http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article6066399.html.
 Haiti-Politique: La Plateforme ‘Pitit Desalin’ très remonté contre l’ambassade américaine, AlterPresse, Jan. 14, 2014, http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article17579#.VLgvvmSG9rl.
 Yvince Hilaire, Une dernière séance avortée, la 49e legislature part dans l’indifférence, Le Nouvelliste, Jan. 12, 2015, available at http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article6066399.html.
 Ezra Fieser, Haiti Congress Misses Deadline to Avert Political Crisis, Senator Says, Bloomberg News, Jan. 13, 2015, available at http://www.businessweek.com/news/2015-01-12/haiti-s-leaders-face-midnight-deadline-to-avert-political-crisis.
 Roberson Alphonse, Martelly, seul maître à bord reste faible en dépit du support de l’international, Le Nouvelliste, Jan. 13, 2015 available at http://lenouvelliste.com/lenouvelliste/article/140317/Martelly-seul-maitre-a-bord-reste-faible-en-depit-du-support-de-linternational.
 Inst. for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Haiti’s November 28 Elections: Trying to Legitimize the Illegitimate (Nov. 22, 2010), available at http://ijdh.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Election-Report-11-23-2010.pdf.
 Jason Beaubien, Weary, And Wary, Haitians Prepare For Elections, NPR, Oct. 7, 2010, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130402973; see also Elections that Do Not Reflect the Will of the People, http://www.ijdh.org/on-the-violation-of-voting-right-in-haiti-elections-that-do-not-reflect-the-will-of-the-people-bureau-des-avocats-internationaux-canada-haiti-action-network-transafrica-forum-louisiana-justice-in/#.Ujje3dJQGuJ.
 Dan Beeton & Georgianne Nienaber, Haiti’s Doctored Elections, Seen from the Inside: An Interview with Ricardo Seitenfus, Dissent Mag., Feb. 24, 2014, http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/haitis-doctored-elections-seen-from-the-inside-an-interview-with-ricardo-seitenfus.
 Lawmakers Urge Clinton to Ensure Haiti Elections Are Inclusive, Reuters, Oct. 8, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/world/americas/09haiti.html?_r=1.
Click HERE for the pdf version.
Land disputes in Haiti have not only economic, but also human rights implications. Due to factors starting during the colonial period, land ownership is unclear in much of Haiti. After the 2010 earthquake, this caused many problems for groups hoping to build developments for the displaced. Now, it’s causing problems for residents of Ile-a-Vache, whose land is being taken by the government in hopes of bringing tourists to the island off Haiti’s coast.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Who Owns What in Haiti?
Jacob Kushner, The New Yorker
January 18, 2015
The island of La Tortue, off the northern coast of Haiti, has become best known as a place where Haitians facing hard times set sail for lot bo dlo—the other side of the water. When President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was first ousted, in 1991, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted and repatriated some eighteen hundred “boat people” who had fled Haiti’s north coast en route to South Florida. Recently, though, one British-American company has been working to bring large numbers of people in the other direction, from South Florida to La Tortue. In July, Carnival Corporation, the cruise-ship company, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Haitian government, which would allow a port to be opened on the island’s Pointe-Ouest beach, to serve as a stopover for its Caribbean ships. Haitian officials claimed that the development would create two thousand jobs, and would represent a major step forward in a plan for tourism to propel the nation’s economy. Five years after an earthquake caused an estimated $8.1 to $13.9 billion in damage—more than the country’s G.D.P. at the time—Haiti remains plagued by chronic underemployment and poverty.
The port deal is now at risk, however, because the ground onto which Carnival’s passengers would disembark may not have been the government’s to offer. In 1970, François (Papa Doc) Duvalier, Haiti’s President at the time, agreed to lease much of La Tortue to a Texas businessman named Don Pierson, with the aim of creating a free port; Pierson’s son, Grey, now holds the lease. The contract gave Don Pierson’s company a ninety-nine-year lease, and specified that he would develop the island’s infrastructure for tourism. Though Pierson soon began signing deals to that end, including one with Gulf Oil, for three hundred million dollars, the development project never got off the ground.
Click HERE for the full text.
Haitian President Michel Martelly has appointed a new Prime Minister and announced plans to appoint a cabinet and electoral council. Normally, Parliament would have to ratify the Prime Minister and electoral council but since most Parliamentarians’ terms have expired, Parliament is now unable to reach a quorum. This has left Martelly to rule by decree since January 12. As protestors continue to demand Martelly’s resignation, Martelly finally acknowledged his responsibility for the current political crisis and promised to rectify the situation.
Click HERE for the original article.Haiti president to announce new government after parliament dissolved
Amelie Baron, Reuters
January 16, 2015
(Reuters) – Haitian President Michel Martelly announced plans on Friday to form a consensus government within the next 48 hours in a bid to rescue the impoverished Caribbean nation from a looming political crisis.
Martelly in a major speech urged anti-government demonstrators to maintain order as he seeks to steer the country toward new elections despite the dissolution of parliament earlier this week.
Speaking before an audience of political leaders and the foreign diplomatic corps, Martelly said he would swear in a new prime minister later on Friday before using his executive authority to appoint a cabinet and a new electoral authority.
“The weakness of our institutions and in particular the failure of the … legislature, cannot and should not last. It is urgent to correct these deficiencies as soon as possible because the big loser in this crisis remains our Haitian nation,” Martelly said.
Haiti has not held legislative or municipal elections for three years, leaving parliament without a quorum as terms expired and Martelly ruling by executive authority.
Under normal circumstances, the prime minister and the electoral authority would have to be ratified by parliament.
In a phone call with Martelly on Friday U.S. Vice President Joe Biden commended his efforts to reach a negotiated agreement with the parliament, but Biden expressed disappointment with the failure of parliament to pass an electoral law before it lapsed.
As he announced last month, Martelly said he would install former Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul as prime minister, with the composition of the new government to be announced over the weekend.
For months Martelly battled opposition senators over an electoral law required before any vote can take place. He recognized on Friday that he had failed to hold elections, municipal or legislative since he assumed power in May 2011.
“Today, as president of all Haitians, I take the responsibility for this situation,” he said.
Some of his opponents have taken to the streets to protest poverty, corruption and what they consider his autocratic rule. They accuse Martelly of deliberately bringing about the crisis in order to rid himself of stubborn opposition in parliament.
“Martelly wanted to control everything and now he is controlling everything,” said Arnold Elie, who joined a protest of about 1,500 people in downtown Port-au-Prince on Friday morning.
“We are protesting to tell Martelly: This country is not just for you. We want him to be arrested and judged for his financial crimes,” said Elie.
Martelly invited protesters to join a national dialogue he started in recent weeks with political parties.
“I recognize the right of all those who have chosen the path of peaceful demonstrations to express their demands and frustrations,” he said.
Adding a touch of political mystery to his speech, Martelly said he would encourage a major discussion over Haiti’s constitution, including “necessary amendments,” but did not elaborate.
He stressed he had no intention of changing the constitution to seek re-election, which is currently banned.
“To avoid any misunderstanding … I want to emphasize clearly and loudly, that … in no case will I be a candidate in the next election,” he said.
Haiti is scheduled to hold presidential elections at the end of the year. Municipal and legislative elections are unlikely to be held before this summer due to complicated logistics and the need to find foreign donors to foot the bill.
(Reporting by Amelie Baron in Port-au-Prince; Writing by David Adams; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Click HERE for the original article.
This article summarizes conflicting views of what led to Haiti’s current political crisis, from lack of international intervention to excessive intervention in the small country. It not only cites our briefing on the crisis and CEPR’s 5th earthquake anniversary report, but even ties in Haiti’s battle for independence. A very interesting analysis.
Click HERE for the original article.Haiti: There’s Nothing Wrong With American Imperialism That Can’t Be Solved With What Is Right About American Imperialism
Greg Grandin, The Nation
January 15, 2015
Haiti’s been under effective occupation by the United Nations Stabilization Mission In Haiti (MINUSTAH, in French) for ten years, since 2004, after the United States, Canada and France came together to drive out Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Over that decade, MINUSTAH troops haveshot at protesters, introduced cholera, raped, raped again and engaged in other acts of predation. Meanwhile, the “international community,” again led by Washington, Paris and Ottawa, carried out a second coup—an electoral coup—in 2010-11, engaging in heavy-handed vote manipulation to install Michel Martelly as president. After Haiti’s devastating earthquake that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives—the five-year anniversary of which just passed—even Bill Clinton apologized for forcing Haiti to gut its rice industry to benefit US agro-industry.
And yet The Washington Post, in a recent editorial, thinks Haiti needs even more intervention:
From time to time, Haiti’s chronic political dysfunction erupts in crisis and violence, compelling the international community to re-engage with an impoverished country it might prefer to disregard. Haiti is at just such a juncture right now. Policymakers in Washington and elsewhere should pay prompt attention, before the predictable calamity arrives… . Recognizing that the standoff has become dire, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has urged a negotiated settlement that would “open the door for elections to be scheduled as soon as possible.” Yet without more aggressive mediation by U.S., United Nations, French, Canadian and other diplomats, the chances of such a settlement are slim…. As Mr. Kerry pointed out, too much progress has been made since then toward rebuilding Haiti to risk extinguishing all hope amid renewed political violence. To dismiss Haiti as a basket case or shrug off its troubles as insoluble is to forget a history that suggests that without outside help, the country can deteriorate into anarchy, at which point ignoring it is no longer an option.
To paraphrase Clinton, there’s nothing wrong with American imperialism that can’t be solved by what is right with American imperialism.
Here’s the “too-much-progress” that has been made in the last decade, drawn from the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s “Haiti by the Numbers”:
Extreme poverty in rural Haiti in 2000: 38 percent
Extreme poverty in rural Haiti in 2012: 38 percent…
Number of people still living in tent camps, as of September 2014: 85,432…
Number of individuals living in informal settlements on outskirts of Port-au-Prince, not counted in official displaced population, according to Haitian government: 300,000…
Total amount awarded in contracts and grants by USAID: $1.5 billion
Percent that went directly to Haitian organizations: 1
Percent that went to firms located inside the beltway (DC, Maryland and Virginia): 56…
Total amount awarded to Chemonics International, a [DC-based] for-profit “development” company, since the earthquake: $216 million.
Martelly is running a neo-Duvalierist restoration, as Jeb Sprague and Dan Beeton, among others, have argued. Elections are more than three years delayed, he’s appointed more than 130 mayors and has stacked the government, including the electoral council, with his supporters.
The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti has just put out a policy briefing that is a good corrective to the Post’s paternalistic interventionism, pretty much a point-by-point guide of everything the United States, France and Canada doesn’t want to see happen in Haiti (because to do so would be to bring Aristide supporters back into the political arena):
• Encourage the Martelly administration to work in good faith with the Parliament and opposition groups to form a consensus government;
• Call for the establishment of a Provisional Electoral Council that complies with Art. 289 of the Constitution and is selected in a fair and inclusive manner in order to ensure credibility;…
• Call on the Haitian government and Provisional Electoral Council to ensure inclusion and full participation of all political parties in all facets of the electoral process;
• Work with human rights groups to identify and encourage the immediate liberation of all political prisoners, and promptly denounce any future arrests of Martelly regime opponents unless clearly justified; and
• Secure the Haitian public’s right to freedom of assembly and expression by refraining from use excessive force on demonstrators and condemning arbitrary arrests and use of force by Haitian police.
A few years ago, Keane Bhatt and I also put together a ten-point essay on why MINUSTAH should get out of Haiti and why UN troops should not be given immunity for their many crimes. More recently, we sent in this letter to the Post, which appears here as published:
The December 28 editorial “Haiti’s broken politics” concluded that, absent international intervention, Haiti will crumble into anarchy. In fact, Haiti’s crisis is, in large part, a consequence of U.S. and international intervention. This country has been occupied by U.N. soldiers for more than a decade. And it was U.S. pressure that led to the 2010 elections, months after the earthquake and weeks after the eruption of a virulent cholera outbreak, introduced by those U.N. troops. Fewer than 23 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. President Michel Martelly has never had a democratic mandate. It was only after a nine-member team from the Organization of American States, controlled by the United States and its allies, reversed the first-round results—in an unprecedented maneuver and without justification—that Mr. Martelly even made it to the second round. Since taking office, Mr. Martelly has failed to schedule elections, now more than three years delayed. He has appointed more than 130 mayors, sidestepping the democratic process. He stacked the electoral council with his supporters. The six “opposition” senators blamed in the editorial are a convenient scapegoat. These senators (and the thousands who have been protesting daily) are demanding legitimate, fair elections rather than a repeat of 2010. The international community indeed plays a role in shaping Haiti’s political future. But it is not one that it should be proud of.
What is at stake here is fear of democracy, as it has been in Haiti ever since that night of August 21, 1791, when Dutty Boukman, a vodou high priest, gave the signal to revolt. “The god of the white man calls him to commit crimes; our gods ask only good works of us,” Boukman reportedly said; “throw away the image of the god of the whites who thirsts for our tears and listen to the voice of liberty that speaks in the hearts of all of us.” Thus began the thirteen-year-long Haitian Revolution, resulting in the overthrow of Haitian slavery and the establishment of the second republic in the Americas.
This was the ceremony that Pat Robertson was referring to when he said, five years ago after the earthquake, that Haitians “swore a pact to the devil” for their freedom and “ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another.” Robertson is nuts, but he’s right: there was a deal made, not with the supernatural but the financial, though these days it is hard to tell the two apart. Haitians agreed to pay France reparations to lost property—that is, the slave system they destroyed. Over the last decade, there’s been a movement to demand that France pay Haiti reparations for the reparations it extracted, which according to one tally amounts to$21,685,135,571. And 48 cents. This figure doesn’t count “interest, penalties or consideration of the suffering and indignity inflicted by slavery and colonization.” France of course refuses to pay, though a few years ago pranksters impersonating government officials set up a fake web page and released the following statement: “the historic debt of 90 million gold francs Haiti paid to France following the former’s independence at the dawn of the 19th century…. the 90 million gold francs, which Haiti paid France from 1825 until 1947, will be reimbursed in a yearly budget over the course of 50 years. Economic advisors working with the ministry have calculated that the total sum amounts to €17 billion including adjustments for inflation and a minimal interest rate of 5 percent per annum.” Paris issued an immediate denial.
Meanwhile, in the real legal world, last Friday, a New York district court just ruled against Haitian cholera victims, in a lawsuit demanding that the UN pay restitution:
One way or another, it sees, Haitians continue to pay and they continue to be cursed, now because of the neoliberal concessions Aristide had to promise Clinton before the US would restore him to power after the first coup against him (only to have the US intervene and stage a second coup that drove him back out of power).
In any case, here’s Wikileaked cable from 2008, from the US ambassador to Haiti, Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson. She calls MINUSTAH an “indispensable tool in realizing core USG [or US government] policy interests in Haiti.” Sanderson says that one of the main threats that MINUSTAH is helping to contain are “resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces,” which if unleashed would reverse the “gains of the last two years.”
Ah, those elusive and fragile gains…
Click HERE for the original article.
Il y a des rumeurs qu’avec son nouveau pouvoir, président Martelly nommera Evans Paul comme Premier ministre lors d’un discours prononcé le 16 janvier. Des sources proches du gouvernement nient les rumeurs et prétendent que le président est toujours à la recherche d’une solution à la crise politique.
Partie de l’article est ci-dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.Martelly s’adressera au pays, l’horizon se dégage pour Evans Paul
Roberson Alphonse, Le Nouvelliste
15 janvier 2015
« Le président Michel Martelly doit effectivement délivrer un message à la nation ce vendredi 16 janvier 2015 », a confirmé Lucien Jura, porte-parole de la présidence. Le corps diplomatique, les dix sénateurs en fonction, d’anciens parlementaires, des représentants d’autres secteurs sont invités, a-t-il poursuivi, sans révéler l’objet de cette adresse.
L’intervention du chef de l’Etat intervient à un moment où l’horizon semble être dégagé en ce qui a trait à l’installation du Premier ministre nommé Evans Paul. Ce jeudi, une source de Inite proche des discussions a confié au journal « qu’un accord est presque trouvé pour accepter K-Plim ». Parce qu’il n’y a pas d’autre choix, a-t-elle indiqué.
Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.
A political crisis has been brewing in Haiti for over 3 years now, ever since the Martelly administration failed to hold elections in 2011. The crisis came to a head January 12, when the terms of 1/3 of Haiti’s Senate and of the Chamber of Deputies expired, leaving Parliament unable to reach a quorum to pass any laws. This also means that President Martelly is ruling by decree, the de facto dictator of Haiti. New protests arise every day and the UN Security Council heads to Haiti next week to find a solution. So far, it’s unclear what that might be.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti’s Political Earthquake Five years after the devastating earthquake, has Haiti fallen into de facto dictatorship?
Nathalie Baptiste, Foreign Policy in Focus
January 14, 2015
Five years after the now-infamous Haitian earthquake, the small country faces another crisis.
As Haitians mourn the earthquake that robbed them of their loved ones and livelihoods, they’ll also be treated to yet another meltdown of their government. With President Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly and members of the opposition proving unable to organize parliamentary elections, the political gridlock that has been plaguing Haiti for over three years has turned into a full-fledged crisis as the country’s legislature has dissolved — leaving a de facto dictator in charge.
In the weeks leading up to the dissolution of what had been left of the Haitian government, political pundits argued and radio talk show hosts held lively debates about the political crisis. As days kept passing, a concrete resolution wasn’t even on the horizon. Tensions in Port-au-Prince were running high.
No Elections, No Peace
Glittering up above a backdrop of shantytowns and poorly constructed shacks is Petionville, the wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince. On Bourdon Street, informal merchants sell art to the upper class and brand new hotels appear to spring up weekly along the quiet suburban streets. Petionville is home to the tiny Haitian elite, and up here Martelly is beloved.
Click HERE for the full text.
The current electoral crisis in Haiti can be traced back to the laws created when former dictator Duvalier went into exile. These laws were meant to check any branch of government from becoming too powerful but have been abused by many presidents to prevent other government branches from functioning. Most recently, US-installed President Martelly has used them to delay elections for over 3 years. Now that most of the terms of Parliamentarians have expired, Martelly is left with full control of the Haitian government.
Click HERE for the original article.What Caused the Haitian Election Impasse?
Teresa Welsh, U.S. News & World Report
January 13, 2015
Haiti’s government failed to reach an agreement to schedule parliamentary elections before a midnight deadline passed Tuesday morning, leaving President Michel Martelly to rule by decree. The elections have been repeatedly postponed since 2011 as the president and opposition parties have failed to agree on terms and timing of the electoral process.
Because there was no agreement, the terms of members of Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies and Senate have expired. The system has 99 deputies and 30 senators, but they no longer have a quorum to pass laws, making them legally unable to function. It is unclear if or how a potential agreement between the president and lawmakers could reinstate their ability to legislate.
Municipal elections have also been delayed.
Haiti is in this position because of the legacy of dictatorship that ended in 1986 when Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, went into exile. The Haitian constitution was then drafted to prevent one leader from dominating the country and to establish a system of checks and balances that would allow one branch of the government to prevent the functioning of another.
Click HERE for the original article.
Brian Concannon, Executive Director of IJDH, was invited to participate in a Congressional briefing panel on Haiti’s political crisis. The panel was called “Roundtable Discussion: Haiti’s Political Crisis and the Impact on Reconstruction”. Brian’s planned remarks are below.
January 13, 2015
Other Featured Participants:
Amb. Tom C. Adams, Special Coordinator for Haiti, U.S. State Department
Antonal Mortime, Plateforme des Organisations Haïtiennes de Droits Humains (POHDH)
Prof. Robert Fatton, University of Virginia
Prof. Robert Maguire, George Washington University
First, I thank everyone: happy to be on a panel with Amb, Prof, Prof, but especially happy to see Antonal here. Vitally important to have Haitian voices included in these discussions.
Three Important points that I think are worth inserting into the discussion.
I. First: what is the political crisis?
Is it the challenges of implementing Sunday’s political accord, or the November recommendations 1987 Constitution.
All of us up here, and many in the room, have been involved in panel discussions on Haiti for years. Me, almost 20. Prof. Fatton and Maguire, longer. Many, if not most, of those panels have addressed how the political crisis of that moment was affecting addressing an important problem in Haiti. And I although I enjoy these discussions, I would really like to talk about something else, for example how we improve access to justice for poor victims of rape, how we deal with Haiti’s pretrial detention problem, etc . But we just can’t get to those things because are always stuck with a political crisis.
There is a strong argument to be made that the main problem facing Haiti isn’t reconstructing from the earthquake, but is constructing a a stable, complete, constitutional government in Haiti, which has never happened under the 1987 Constitution. Ambassador Adams can explain how much long-term governance problems- inability to establish land titles, capacity in the Ministries, etc., have hobbled the reconstruction effort. Even the extreme death toll of the earthquake was largely a governance issue- most of those killed died when poorly constructed homes built on hillsides that were illegally steep for buildings collapsed.
II. Second Point: Should we be reversing the question: if the most important problem is governance, then perhaps we should be worrying about how reconstruction is impacting governance?
Is the international community’s earthquake assistance effectively supporting long-term government capacity to deliver basic government services? Is the international community taking steps that might help advance a specific aspect of the reconstruction, but do so at the cost of reinforcing unconstitutional rule in Haiti?
III. Third Point: Importance of rules
If you have a hammer in your hand, every problem looks like a nail. If you have a law degree, every problem looks like a rules violation. But I really do think rules are important here, especially the rules set down in the Constitution. That is actually a fairly uncontroversial statement applied to the US, but is somehow more controversial when applied to Haiti.
For example, what if President Obama announced ahead of the 2016 elections that his successor would be elected by direct voting, not the Electoral College. I would have good reasons for supporting that decision. It is more small d democratic, and may increase the chances that the candidate I support would win. Others would have good reasons to oppose it, especially tv viewers in swing states who want to see even more campaign ads. But no one would even assert those policy and political arguments. We would all oppose the President’s plan simply because the constitution says that we chose Presidents through the electoral college. This might run against my short term political interests, but I understand that the long-term stability of the US is enhanced by complying with the constitution.
The analog in Haiti is the electoral council. This is a complicated issue- we tried to make sense of it all in the briefing we put out last week, and it was a challenge to capture all the complexity. And many of the problems predate the current administrstion. But the President has proposed a series of electoral councils that have their advantages, and may be justified by policy and political concerns. But they fall short of constitutional requirments in in very important ways. I think that Haiti attaining the stability that we take for granted in the US requires all of us-political leaders in Haiti, but also everyone in the US engaged with Haiti- political leaders, government officials, commentators and advocates- to apply the same level of respect for Constitutional rule in Haiti as we would in the US.
Haitian President Michel Martelly has finally begun the process of convening a lawful Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which should be appointed by 9 sectors of Haitian society, according to Haiti’s Constitution. The problem? The terms of most members of Parliament have expired, so they won’t be able to establish a quorum and vote on this new CEP!
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.Haiti – Elections : 24 hours to present candidates for the CEP !
January 13, 2015
Following the agreement concluded Sunday, 11 January between President Martelly and various political parties for the holding of elections, the General Secretariat of the Presidency, in a press release informs the population in general that the President of the Republic is working to the formation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) which must organize the upcoming legislative, municipal and local elections in greater transparency.
Click HERE for the full text.
Ever since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, everyone has had a crucial question in mind: Where did all the aid money go? The Clinton Foundation is one group that could answer this question, as they allegedly led the fundraising and recovery efforts. A group of Haitians, rightfully upset at the scant results of those efforts, gathered in from of the Foundation’s offices to demand answers.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text and video.Clinton Foundation HQ Protested For ‘Missing Money’ In Haiti Recovery
Washington Free Beacon Staff, The Washington Free Beacon
January 12, 2015
The Clinton Foundation is facing protests due to its mismanagement of resources for the post-earthquake recovery efforts of Haiti.
Five years after a disastrous earthquake ripped through the small island nation, disturbing reports of a lack of progress in the country’s recovery have angered many Haitian Americans.
The country is still in ruin. Only 900 homes have been built in the last five years even though over $10 billion was donated from the international community to help rebuild Haiti.
Click HERE for the full text and video.
While the UN is leading (unsuccessful) efforts to eradicate cholera from Haiti, it has still not accepted responsibility for causing the epidemic and continues to dodge accountability in court. On January 9, 2015, a judge ruled that the UN is absolutely immune from suit unless it expressly waives immunity. IJDH and BAI lawyers leading this case plan to appeal the decision. Two other lawsuits against the UN are pending.
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.U.N. immune from accountability for cholera in Haiti, says U.S. court
Tom Murphy, Humanosphere
January 12, 2015
Victims of the cholera outbreak brought to Haiti by U.N. peacekeeping troops from Nepal cannot sue the body in U.S. courts, a district judge ruled. Judge J. Paul Oetken of U.S. District Court in Manhattan agreed with the U.N.’s own assessment that it was immune from such a lawsuit, at the end of last week.
Oetken cited the issue of immunity and concerns that allowing the case could open the door to more lawsuits against the U.N. as reasons for throwing out the case.
“Where such an express waiver is absent, the U.N. and (its operation in Haiti) are immune from suit,” he wrote in his decision.
Human rights activists and lawyers with the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, IJDH, brought forward the lawsuit saying that the U.N. did not fulfill its obligation to allow victims of the cholera outbreak to seek justice. They plan to appeal.
“We are disappointed that the U.S. government and the Court accepted this position, but more disappointed that the U.N. would take it. It goes against everything the U.N. is supposed to stand for,” said Brian Concannon Jr., director of IJDH and counsel for the plaintiffs, in a statement.
Click HERE for the full text.