Justice cry from Haiti to Caricom
Published on: 8/26/08.
ALTHOUGH FORMER prime minister of Haiti, Yvon Neptune – who was incarcerated for 27 months as a political prisoner, won his case of unlawful detention before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), his pleas for justice continue to fall on deaf ears by President Rene Preval's administration. It now seems high time for the Caribbean Community to become actively interested.
The CARICOM Office in Port-au-Prince should be alerted to pursue the case of former prime minister "Yvon Neptune versus the State of Haiti" as determined by the Washington-based hemispheric human rights court in a 60-page ruling made public in June this year.
Neptune was among hundreds of Haitians who became political prisoners following the 2004 coup that toppled the government of ex-president Jean Bertrand Aristide and the installation of a United States-backed interim regime headed by Gerard Latortue as prime minister.
CARICOM had opposed the United States-led invasion and suspended Haiti's involvement in the councils of the 15-member community until new and internationally supervised elections resulted in President Preval once again becoming head of state.
Preval had lost no time in reaffirming his own commitment to the governance principles of CARICOM which have at the core respect for the rule of law. But at home in his native land, the cries of Neptune for justice continue to be ignored as he remains, officially, with the status of a "provisionally released prisoner", instead of unconditional freedom.
Even assuming that no official communication has yet been received by the Community Secretariat in Georgetown, CARICOM governments in general can hardly claim ignorance of the outstanding human rights case of ex-prime minister Neptune.
The ruling in this first-ever case involving Haiti, one of 22 member countries of the IACHR, referred to 11 specific violations of the American Convention On Human Rights. It also pointed to a 15-month failure by the Appeals Court in Port-au-Prince to serve an order confirming earlier errors made by the Haitian justice administration system that continue to expose the former prime minister to further "judicial abuse".
Further, the court ordered the Haitian authorities to offer compensation to Neptune to the equivalent of BDS$190 000, but no action has been taken on this aspect as well. This attitude has been strongly condemned in a statement by Brian Concannon, director of the Institute For Justice And Democracy In Haiti that represented Neptune's case before the IACHR.
As argued by the institute, failure by Haiti to resolve Neptune's legal status in order for him to freely enjoy his fundamental human rights, and to pay him the costs due him, make a mockery of the government's commitment to the rule of law.