Half-Hour for Haiti: Don’t Let Prison Be A Death Sentence

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Half-Hour for Haiti: Don't Let Prison Be A Death Sentence

Post by » Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:13 pm

[quote]January 3, 2006

Half-Hour for Haiti: Don't Let Prison Be A Death Sentence

For Father Gerry

We have some bad news to report on Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, the Haitian priest who has been imprisoned in Haiti since his illegal arrest on July 21. Dr. Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School, who has run a clinic in Haiti for 20 years, examined him on Christmas Eve and ran some tests. The tests came back last week, and show that Fr. Gerry has chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Dr. Farmer could not say exactly how advanced Fr. Gerry's leukemia is- those tests need to be done in the U.S.- but the symptoms are progressing rapidly, and could advance quickly into a fatal stage, or compromise Fr. Gerry's immune system enough that the diseases of a Haitian prison would kill him.



For more
information, see three excellent pieces in the Miami Herald: Prisoner of Conscience Faces a Deadly Illness (Editorial), Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste- Languishing and Sick in a Haitian Jail (Dr. Farmer's Op-Ed), and Jailed Priest has Developed Leukemia (news story). For more information on Fr. Gerry and his legal situation, see http://www.ijdh.org/articles/article_jean_juste.htm..



The cancer is probably treatable now, but not in a Haitian hospital. We need to make sure that Fr. Gerry is released from prison and provided medical treatment in the U.S.



The U.S. is the Interim Haitian Government's principle patron, providing generous financial support as well as guns for the police. Almost all top government officials travel regularly to the U.S. A credible threat to withhold aid to the Interim Government and to cancel the U.S. visas of those responsible for Fr. Gerry's persecution would quickly pry Fr. Gerry's cell doors open..



The U.S. has, so far, declined
to use its influence, telling both Republicans and Democrats in Congress that the Haitian justice system needs time to work, and that Fr. Gerry is receiving adequate healthcare in prison. But the State Department's own website calls medical care in Haiti “scarce and substandard” and warns travelers that “medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited, and … life-threatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance….” In Fr. Jean-Juste's case, the government insisted as late as December that its doctors could find nothing wrong with Fr. Jean-Juste.



Haiti's justice system was corrupt and politicized (the UN called it “catastrophic” in October) even before December 9, when the Prime Minister illegally fired five Supreme Court Justices and replaced them with his henchmen, and the courts shut down in protest (see BAI Press Release on Illegal Replacement of Supreme Court , and IJDH's Down in Haiti, the Chickens are Coming Home to Roost). The courts have remained closed, and there is no resol
ution to the impasse in sight.



Help save Fr. Gerry's Life: Write, fax or call Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. A sample letter is below, feel free to modify it. Sec. Shannon's telephone number is: 1-202-647-5780, his fax is 1-202-647-0791. You can try emailing to shannonta@state.gov, but we have not been able to confirm that address.



Via Facsimile No. 1-202-647-0791

Thomas A. Shannon

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520



Re: Haitian Political Prisoner Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste



Dear Assistant Secretary Shannon:



I am writing to urge you to immediately take every possible measure to ensure that the Interim Haitian Government (IGH) releases political prisoner Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste immediately. These measures should include suspending all financial aid and arms transfers to the IG
H, and suspending the U.S. visas of IGH officials involved in Fr. Jean-Juste's persecution, including President Boniface Alexandre, Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and Judge Jean-Paul Perez.



The IGH has held Fr. Jean-Juste, Haiti's most prominent political dissident, for five months without presenting any evidence against him. This unjustified detention may convert to a death sentence: Dr. Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School recently diagnosed Fr. Jean-Juste with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.



U.S. State Department officials have justified not intervening by claiming that the Haitian justice system needs time to work, and that Fr. Gerry is receiving adequate healthcare in prison. But the State Department's own website calls medical care in Haiti “scarce and substandard” and warns travelers that “medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited, and … life-threatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance….” In Fr. Jean-Juste's case, the government told the Associated P
ress in December that its doctors could find nothing wrong with Fr. Jean-Juste. Doctors who did not diagnose an advanced cancer last month should not be counted on to treat it now. Moreover, Dr. Farmer has concluded that adequate facilities for diagnosing and treating Fr. Jean-Juste are not available in Haiti.



Haiti's justice system was corrupt and politicized (the UN called it “catastrophic” in October) even before December 9, when the Prime Minister illegally fired five Supreme Court Justices and the courts shut down in protest. The courts have remained closed, and there is no resolution to the impasse in sight.



Haiti's justice system has been particularly unjust to Fr. Jean-Juste. In Amnesty International's words, he has been “detained solely because he has peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression.” Fr. Jean-Juste has been arrested illegally twice, and when a courageous judge released him for lack of evidence in November, 2004, the government illegally for
ced the judge off the bench.



If Fr. Jean-Juste dies in prison, it will not be of “natural causes.” It will be because the IGH, with the acquiescence of the U.S. government, killed him by keeping him in prison without justification and prevented him from receiving adequate treatment. There is still time to prevent this tragedy, and the U.S. has the power to do it. I therefore urge you to do everything in your power to liberate Fr. Jean-Juste immediately.

_______________________________________________________

For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.ijdh.org.


Brian Concannon Jr., Esq.
Director
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
PO Box 745
Joseph, OR 97846
541-432-0597
www.ijdh.org
Brian@IJDH.ORG

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Your Support Urgently Needed

Post by admin » Thu Jan 12, 2006 12:04 am

[quote]Haiti news

January 2006

Jailed Haitian Priest Diagnosed with Leukemia: Your Support Urgently Needed

------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Click Here to Take Action
http://action.humanrightsfirst.org/campaign/JeanJusteII
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Six months ago, Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a Haitian priest, human rights advocate, and political activist, was imprisoned on politically motivated grounds. He remains jailed to this day even though he has not been convicted of any crime.

Last night, Dr. Jennifer Furin of Harvard Medical School and Haitian physician Dr. Jacques Boncy confirmed that Father Jean-Juste has leukemia.

Father Jean-Juste needs your help now more than ever. Experts have comme
nted that if Father Jean-Juste contracts an infection it could be life-threatening and that the chances of infection are high in prison.

"In the 1970s, Father Jean-Juste became a valued friend and colleague of Human Rights First as we worked together to help Haitian refugees in the United States," said Michael Posner, President of Human Rights First. "We are deeply concerned for the welfare of this dedicated human rights advocate and ask you to help secure his release."

Please join Human Rights First in demanding with renewed urgency Father Jean-Juste's release, and an end to the persecution of human rights defenders in Haiti.

Click here to Take Action:
http://action.humanrightsfirst.org/campaign/JeanJusteII

Learn more about the case of Father Gerard Jean-Juste:
http://action.humanrightsfirst.org/camp ... xplanation

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Enough is Enough, Release Fr. Gerry Now!

Post by admin » Wed Jan 25, 2006 12:16 am

[quote]January 24, 2006

Half-Hour for Haiti: Enough is Enough, Release Fr. Gerry Now!

This is, unfortunately, another alert about Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, the Haitian priest and political prisoner who is suffering from potentially fatal leukemia. Even though a judge dismissed the charges that were the basis for his two arrests, he remains in jail, without treatment. But work goes on on other urgent cases too:

1) Last week the Institute for Justice & Democracy (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) filed a Petition with the Inter-American Commission On Human Rights against the Interim Haitian Government and Brazil on behalf of Jimmy Charles, a grassroots activist arrested by UN Peacekeepers and executed in Haitian National Police custody on January 13, 2005.

2) On January 19, lawyers throughout the U.S. filed
motions to stop all deportations to Haiti, because of the country's disastrous human rights situation.

There has been a lot of activity on Fr. Gerry's case in the last week. The movement for his liberation continues to grow: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL) wrote to Secretary of State Rice asking her to intervene to obtain Fr. Jean-Juste's release. Human Rights First called on Haiti's Minister of Justice to do the same thing. Prof. Bill Quigley, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and others visited Fr. Jean-Juste in Haiti, and issued an Action Alert. Fr. Gerry wrote a moving Letter from a Haitian Prison.

Legal Developments: Judge Jean Peres Paul, the judge who had been holding Fr. Gerry since July 21, issued two documents called “ordonnances” on Thursday, January 19. The ordonnances confirmed that there was no basis for the allegations that had been made publicly against Fr. Gerry: that he was involved in the July 2005 kidnapping and murder of Jacques Roche, the killing of two police officers in the fal
l of 2004, or a plot against the state. Judge Paul dismissed all those charges.

But Judge Paul added two new charges: illegal weapons possession and association de malfaiteurs (criminal conspiracy). These charges are equally without legal or factual foundation. They are based on Fr. Gerry's employment as a chaplain at the National Palace under Haiti's ousted constitutional government. His position entitled him to five security guards, who were issued a total of three pistols and two shotguns by the government. The ordonnance charges Fr. Gerry with illegal arms possession, even though there is no evidence that the security guards lack a valid license, that their employment has been terminated, that the National Palace authorities have asked for the guns back or that the guns were involved in any illegal activity. The conspiracy charge does not allege that Fr. Jean-Juste or anyone else planned or engaged in illegal activity; its sole basis is that he refused to tell the judge the names of his five securi
ty guards (see the BAI/IJDH legal analysis of the ordonnances).

If the ordonnance stands, Fr. Gerry would have to go to trial before a single judge. He would not have a jury. He could be convicted if the government proves that either a) he did not return the five weapons, or b) that he refused to name his five security guards, both of which he concedes. As the ordonnance is written, the prosecutor would not need to prove that the guns are illegal or that anyone engaged in or planned any illegal activity.

Conviction on the conspiracy charge could mean a sentence of forced labor for 3-15 years, and would cost Fr. Gerry many civil and political rights, including the right to run for almost any elected office. Conviction could also prevent Fr. Gerry from being admitted to the U.S. for cancer treatment.

Fr. Gerry's lawyer, Mario Joseph of the BAI, appealed the ordonnance because it is legally defective and exposes his client to a great injustice with severe consequences. The Interim Haitian
Government (IGH) and U.S. Embassy staff implored Attorney Joseph not to file an appeal, and the IGH is pressuring him to withdraw it. The IGH and U.S. stated that it would be quicker for Fr. Jean-Juste to go to trial, and proposed that the Haitian government could pardon Fr. Jean-Juste if he was convicted.

The Commissaire du gouvernement, or public prosecutor, has the authority and responsibility to protect the health of prison inmates, and prosecutors routinely release prisoners for medical treatment. This responsibility is independent of the procedural status of the case, and is not affected by the appeal of the ordonnance. The prosecutor could release Fr. Gerry for life-saving treatment with less than 30 minutes' paperwork.. Fr. Gerry, who wants to clear his name in a fair trial and has appeared at court or the police station every time he has been summoned, has promised to return if he is provisionally released.

The IGH has refused to release Fr. Gerry for leukemia treatment, insisting that
he must accept its deal of a trial on the defective ordonnance with the hope of a pardon. Accepting this deal would require Fr. Gerry to trust the IGH, which has pursued him for 15 months on charges it now admits were baseless, to fulfill its promise of a pardon. It also requires the IGH to do something relatively complicated and unusual to save his life (trial followed by a pardon), when it refuses to do something simple and routine, (issuing an order for provisional release). Most importantly, by accepting the deal and waiving his appeal rights, Fr. Gerry would be subjecting himself to a serious criminal conviction for engaging in activity that is not illegal.

Help save Fr. Gerry's Life: Two weeks ago we asked you to write to Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Subsequently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Duddy traveled to Haiti and helped arrange the independent medical examination that confirmed the leukemia diagnosis. Please contact Mr. Shann
on again, thank him for his past efforts but urge him to take the steps necessary for Fr. Gerry's release. A sample letter is below, feel free to modify it. Sec. Shannon's telephone number is: 1-202-647-5780, his fax is 1-202-647-0791. You can try emailing to shannonta@state.gov, but we have not been able to confirm that address.



Via Facsimile No. 1-202-647-0791

Thomas A. Shannon

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520



Re: Haitian Political Prisoner Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste

Dear Assistant Secretary Shannon:

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Haitian political prisoner Fr. Jean-Juste. The State Department's intervention was vital in assuring the January 10 independent medical evaluation that confirmed the leukemia diagnosis. On January 19, the Interim Haitian Government (IGH) released judicial orders confirming that the stated justifications for Fath
er Jean-Juste's eight months of detention- accusations of the murder of two police officers and journalist Jacques Roche and a plot against state security, were baseless. In fact, the Commissaire du gouvernement,or public prosecutor, concluded in one order that “the investigation does not reveal the participation of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste in any criminal enterprise” (emphasis supplied).

Unfortunately, those developments have not led to any leukemia treatment. The Commissaire du gouvernement,has refused to exercise his authority to provisionally release Fr. Jean-Juste for medical treatment. This authority is based on his responsibility to assure the health of prisoners, is independent of the case's procedural status, and is routinely exercised in Haiti. Fr. Jean-Juste, who wants to clear his name in a fair trial and has appeared at court or the police station every time he has been summoned, has promised to return from abroad if he is provisionally released.

The government is now insisting t
hat Fr. Jean-Juste stand trial on two new charges, illegal weapons possession and association de malfaiteurs (criminal conspiracy), before he receives treatment. These charges are without legal or factual foundation, and neither alleges any underlying criminal acts. Fr. Gerry's lawyer has appealed the charges because they are legally defective and expose his client to a great injustice with severe consequences. Conviction could expose Fr. Gerry to fifteen years hard labor, permanent loss of civil rights, including the right to hold elective office, and potential exclusion from the U.S. and its cancer treatment facilities.

The IGH and U.S. Embassy staff implored Fr. Jean-Juste's attorney not to file an appeal, and the IGH is pressuring him to withdraw it. The IGH and the U.S. Embassy official stated that it would be quicker for Fr. Jean-Juste to go to trial, and proposed that the Haitian government could pardon Fr. Jean-Juste if he was convicted.

There is no justification for forcing a defendant
to stand trial on a defective but serious accusation as a precondition of receiving treatment for a deadly disease. The IGH should process Fr. Jean-Juste's case promptly, with full respect for his procedural rights. In the meantime, it should release him immediately for treatment.

The new charges and the pressure to drop the appeal are the latest in a 15-month long persistent persecution of Fr. Jean-Juste. In all that time the IGH has yet to present evidence of a single illegal act. It is now time for the United States to take action commensurate to that persecution. I urge you to immediately revoke all U.S. entry visas for IGH officials involved in the persecution, including Commissaire du gouvernement Erman Alce, Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, and Minister of Justice Henri D'Orleans. I also urge you to immediately suspend disbursement of all financial and other assistance to the IGH, until Fr. Jean-Juste is released for life-saving treatment.



For more information about the Half-Ho
ur for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.ijdh.org.


Brian Concannon Jr., Esq.
Director
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
PO Box 745
Joseph, OR 97846
541-432-0597

Brian@IJDH.ORG
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