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Cablegate: Haiti Monthly: March, 2008

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INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 1861
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 1664
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 000531

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STATE FOR WHA/EX AND WHA/CAR
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INL FOR KEVIN BROWN AND ANGELIC YOUNG
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
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WHA/EX PLEASE PASS USOAS

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TAGS: HA PREL PGOV KJUS ECON
SUBJECT: HAITI MONTHLY: MARCH, 2008

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1. (U) This message is sensitive but unclassified -- please
protect accordingly.

2. (U) Summary: This is a monthly report on various topics of
interest which do not merit a full reporting cable. End
summary.

3. (SBU) PARLIAMENT BEGINS DEBATE ON ARREST AND DETENTION
REFORM: The justice committees of the Chamber of Deputies
and Senate met March 19 with Haitian legal experts to discuss
reforms to arrest and detention procedures. The committees
solicited input from a variety of judicial officials
including former Ministers of Justice Jean Joseph Exume and
Gary Lissade, Secretary of State for Judicial Reform Daniel
Jean, and the Vice President of the Bar Association.
According to the participants, important topics that should
be addressed through new justice reform legislation include:
increasing regulations on detention prior to arrest
(guard-a-vue); improving respect for human rights along the
entire penal chain; fixing time limits for pre-trial
detention as well as instituting mechanisms for pre-trial
release; and providing alternatives to prison. The session
was the first in a series of roundtables sponsored by USAID
through the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).

4. (SBU) MINISTRY OF JUSTICE - PROSECUTOR GASSANT DUST-UP:
Port-au-Prince Chief Prosecutor Claudy Gassant has taken
another step to show that his subordination to the Ministry
of Justice is in name only. Secretary of State for Judicial
Affairs in the Ministry of Justice Daniel Jean sent Gassant a
letter of reprimand March 19, noting that he had exceeded his
authority in several instances, including in trying to exert
authority over prosecutors in other districts of Haiti. The
letter reminded Gassant that he is subordinate to several
layers of officials under the Minister of Justice. The press
reported, and French emboffs subsequently confirmed, that
Gassant and Jean had a verbal altercation at the French
Embassy that became physical when they later encountered each
other at the Ministry of Justice. The press printed
Gassant's March 24 letter to Justice Minister Magloire,
stating that the points in Jean's letter were at variance
with Haitian law and administrative regulations, and
requesting the Minister return the letter to its originator.

5. (U) PRESS REACTION TO BLTS/DEA OPERATION: The Haitian
Anti-Drug Unit (BLTS) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
operation on March 25 targeting drug fugitives has generated
public expressions of concern for the violation of proper
procedures and constitutional norms. There has been no
virtually no commentary alleging the operation violated
Haiti's sovereignty. All press commentary assumes the
operation was aimed at fugitive Guy Philippe. Senator Youri
Latortue, Professor Jean Claude Bajeux of the Ecumenical
Center for Human Rights, Pierre Esperance of National Network
for the Defense of Human Rights, and Father Jann Hansen of
the Catholic Church's Justice and Peace Commission all
questioned the legality of the raid and noted that the BLTS
and the DEA must respect Philippe's constitutional rights
even as they try to capture him. (Note: Title 3, Chapter 2,
Section B, Article 24-3.4 of the Haitian constitution
stipulates that no person may be arrested between the hours
of 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM. This constitutional provision was
imposed as a reaction to nighttime disappearances carried out
under the Francois Duvalier regimes. End note.) Separately,
MINUSTAH disavowed any involvement with the operation.
Meanwhile, Guy Philippe has given several radio interviews
since the operation, and has vowed that he intends to run for
a senate seat.

6. (SBU) PENAL CODE PUSH-BACK: National Committee on
Dismantlement, Disarmament and Reinsertion (CNDDR) Director
Alix Fils-Aime told Poloff March 14 that Chief Prosecutor
Claudy Gassant was ''messing with the wrong guy'' when he
summoned him for questioning the week of February 18. After
refusing to comply, Fils-Aime publicly announced that Gassant
should be arrested based on Article 187 of the Penal Code
which authorizes punitive measures for abuse of power. He
believes President Preval interceded on his behalf since
Gassant quickly and uncharacteristically backed down from his
summons as soon as Fils-Aime pushed back in the public forum
(reftel).

7. (U) RETURN OF WINROCK TO DISCUSS BIOFUELS: Nicholas
Martin of Winrock International returned to Port-au-Prince
March 4-7 to assist private sector biofuels project sponsors
in preparing and submitting project information. (Note:
Winrock identified 14 private sector projects prior to and
during the first visit to Haiti in October 2007. End note.)
Martin also encouraged project sponsors to develop detailed
terms of reference as needed by prospective funders (notably
U.S.-Brazil Biofuels Memorandum of Understanding Partnership
partners) to allow expeditious evaluation and release of
funds to proceed with technical assistance, financial support
and similar activities needed to promote production and
consumption of biofuels in Haiti. Some of the private sector
sponsors included representatives from Biocarburants d'Haiti,
Centro Hispaniola de Investigacion en Bioenergias y
Agricultura Sostenible (CHIBAS), Haytrac and Terminal Varreux.

8. (U) FOUR HAITIAN DELEGATES TO BIOFUELS MEETING AND WIREC:
Minister of Public Works, Transportation and Communication
(MPTC) Frantz Verella, Secretary of State for the Ministry of
Agriculture Joanas Gue, Dr. Arlan Lecorps (Ministry of
Agriculture biofuels taskforce member) and Rene Jean-Jumeau
(Energy Consultant in MPTC) attended the biofuels steering
group meeting March 3 and the Washington International
Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) on March 4-6. Verella
and Gue reaffirmed their support for the partnership
assistance and provided updates on biofuels development in
Haiti. The Government of Haiti via the Ministries of Public
Works and Agriculture made a pledge at WIREC to put into
place the basic infrastructure needed to create an
environment conducive to developing renewable energy intended
to foster energy security.

9. (U) MARCH 26 REPATRIATION OF 12 HAITIAN MIGRANTS: The
U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) repatriated 12 clandestine Haitian
migrants on March 26 into the custody of the GOH in
Cap-Haitien. The USCG intercepted the migrants on March 22
when their powerboat ran out of gas 40 nautical miles west of
Andros Island, The Bahamas. The migrants claimed that they
left Haiti from Port-de-Paix. Separately, the Haitian media
reported on March 7 and 8 respectively that a clandestine
Haitian migrant was among the 40 persons intercepted on a
boat to Puerto Rico and that 37 clandestine Haitian migrants
landed on West Palm Beach.
SANDERSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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