International advocates file lawsuit against Haiti’s pick for prime minister

Lawyers representing Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) on Monday, July 11 submitted a petition before the Haitian parliament for the High Court of Justice to indict and try President Michel Martelly’s nominee for prime minister, Bernard Gousse, for crimes committed during his tenure as justice minister under Haiti’s 2004-2006 de facto regime.

Prime Minister Gerard Latortue’s dictatorship following the 2004 coup d’état murdered thousands and illegally detained hundreds of political dissidents, the lawyers claim. Gousse, they say, served as the architect of a campaign of political repression, whose victims included Catholic priest and political activist, Father Gerard Jean-Juste.

When Judge Jean-Sénat Fleury threw out the false charges against Father Jean-Juste, Mr. Gousse forced Judge Fleury off the bench, flagrantly disrespecting Haiti’s separation of powers, the lawyers conend.

The BAI is requesting the Senate to seize the High Court of Justice on the assassinations committed by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue’s regime, including those of: Abdias Jean, a journalist, who was killed in a slum called the “Village of God” on Jan. 14, 2005; Ederson Joseph, a school child, who was killed by a hooded police officer in the yard of his home on Rue Estimé at Fort National on Jan. 17, 2005; and Jimmy Charles, an employee of the state-operated telecommunications company, Teleco, and member of Fanmi Lavalas, whose family found his body in the morgue of the General Hospital on Jan. 13, 2005, eight days after he was illegally arrested and taken to a holding cell in Antigang.

On Jan. 25, 2005, the families of these victims filed a complaint with the prosecutor of Port-au-Prince against Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, Minister of Justice and Public Security Bernard Gousse, Secretary of State of Public Security David Bazile, Director-General of the Haitian National Police (HNP) Leon Charles, Director of the West Department of the HNP Renan Etienne, and the police officers who are alleged to have committed these crimes.

Each of these state agents was either an orchestrator of or active participant in the assassinations of Abdias Jean, Edson Joseph, and Jimmy Charles, the lawyetrs claimed..

On Jan. 24, 2006, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and BAI filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on behalf of Jimmy Charles against the Republic of Haiti. On April 18, 2006, the commission directed the government of Haiti to provide its response within two months. The Haitian government never responded.

Prime Minister Latortue and Justice Minister Gousse, as members of the Superior Council of the National Police (CSPN), led a repressive force that systematically violated the human rights of the Haitian people, the lawyers claim

During Latortue’s regime, the lawyers say, the judiciary “failed in its principal mission to provide justice to victims of crimes and posed one of the greatest impediments to building the rule of law in Haiti. Instead of enforcing the law, it served as one of the institutions principally responsible for creating impunity, insecurity and instability in the country.”

For these reasons, the BAI submitted a petition before the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies to seize the High Court of Justice on the matter of these murders and indict and try Gerard Latortue, Bernard Gousse, David Bazile and their accomplices for their role in these crimes, in accordance with articles 185-190 of the Haitian Constitution of 1987.

Courtesy Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

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