Search

 

Cablegate: Justice Minister Moving On Justice Reform

VZCZCXRO2290
OO RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #1224/01 1941530
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 131530Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6509
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1588
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1407
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL//OLE/OI//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 001224

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
DRL
S/CRS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/30/2011
TAGS: PGOV PREL KJUS KDEM KCRM SNAR PINR HA
SUBJECT: JUSTICE MINISTER MOVING ON JUSTICE REFORM


Classified By: Classified by Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary. Justice Minister Rene Magloire on July 3
told the Ambassador that his ministry was moving forward to
vet Haiti's judges, even as his legislative reform proposals
remain stalled in parliament. Because most judicial terms
will expire in the coming months, the minister will use the
opportunity to review the performance of all judges and
expected to fire a number of poor performers. The Ambassador
advised the minister that the USG was moving toward a
decision to provide funding for prison renovations, news that
he enthusiastically welcomed. While the minister was his
usual passive self reporting on the status of reform in
parliament, he was as engaged and energetic as we have ever
seen him on other reform measures in the works -- an
encouraging signal that the GoH will be able to proceed with
judicial reform at least to some degree. End Summary.

Reform in Parliament
----------

2. (C) The justice minister received the Ambassador and
Polcouns in his office to discuss recent developments within
his ministry. When asked about the status of his proposed
reform legislation before the parliament, the minister
replied wanly that he was waiting to hear some news from
parliamentary leadership on when they might take action. He
understood that Senator Youri Latortue, president of the
senate's justice committee, had proposed numerous changes,
but he had yet to hear specific counter-proposals. He
related that he had told Latortue that he was open to any
changes that the parliament wished to consider, but wanted to
be included in their consultations. (Comment. From other
sources involved in justice reform, we hear that this has
been Magloire's consistent message since he first submitted
his proposals to parliament -- "go ahead and make changes --
please let me know" -- an remarkably passive stance from the
point man on what is one of President Preval's avowed
legislative priorities. End comment.)

Reform in the Ministry
----------

3. (C) Magloire reported that in the meantime, he will
proceed to vet all of Haiti's judges, pending the approval of
his proposed legislation that would establish a formal
certification process. Because the terms of Haiti's judges
will expire in the coming months, the minister will take the
opportunity to review the performance of each judge in terms
of both workload and the content of their decisions, before
deciding whether or not to renew their mandates. The
minister would conduct the review under the auspices of the
current "Superior Judicial Council" that is constitutionally
responsible for judicial discipline. Though the president of
the supreme court presides over the council and the justice
minister is only a member, Magloire said that the supreme
court president was satisfied to let him take the lead in the
vetting process and would not take an active role. Ministry
personnel would conduct the performance reviews without
outside help, and Magloire expected to dismiss a "significant
number" of judges in the process. (Comment: We assume that
Magloire referred to circuit level judges, who serve
seven-year terms, and most recently were appointed, en masse,
under President Aristide. Replacing the current judicial
council, widely acknowledged to be completely ineffective, is
a key element of the reform package before parliament. End
Comment.)

4. (SBU) Magloire stated that his other priority regarding
reform in advance of the passage of reform legislation was
the re-opening of the magistrates' school. He hoped to work
with USAID through its judicial assistance program in
re-invigorating the school. The Ambassador replied that
USAID was finalizing the details of the next phase of our
judicial assistance, and that we would consult with the
minister on how we could assist in supporting the school.
(Note: Key elements in the proposed reform legislation
covering the magistrate's school would establish strict
criteria for the hiring and training of both judges and
prosecutors ("magistrats"). Magloire pointed out that the
school could in the meantime still be utilized to conduct
training. End Note.)

5. (U) Magloire concluded his thoughts on reform by
emphasizing that Haiti had to modernize its outdated
Napoleanic system. No one, he noted, not even France,
continued to use the original Napoleonic model. He did not
expect Haiti to move fully to adopt a system of common law,
but he hoped to modernize the legal code nonetheless. The
most important issue was to end the "cabinets of instruction"
where judges of instruction deliberated and rendered
decisions behind closed doors. This lack of transparency
allowed corruption to flourish.

Prison Assistance
-----------

6. (SBU) The Ambassador informed the minister of her
consultations within the Department the previous week and
reported that the USG was finalizing plans to provide
assistance to renovate Haiti's prison facilities. Magloire
received the news enthusiastically, noting that his staff had
completed an assessment of needs within the context of
overall reform of facilities and showed the Ambassador the
resulting document specifying what facilities were in need of
what improvements.

Comment
----------

7. (C) Magloire displayed his usual passivity in discussing
the prospects of his reform legislation in parliament: his
admission to ceding the initiative to Youri Latortue,
Preval's and PM Alexis' most stalwart opponent, further
demonstrates his lack of political savvy. However, hearing
the details of plans to proceed with elements of justice
reform, particularly the vetting of judges, was by turns
surprising and heartening. On these topics, Magloire was as
energetic and well-briefed as we have ever seen him. Since
it appears that Magloire has weathered recent criticism and
will remain in place, we are encouraged that if the GoH can
overcome the political hurdle of getting its reform proposals
through parliament, Magloire will actively work to implement
them.
SANDERSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN SDG: UN Appoints Twenty Eminent Thinkers To Shed New Light On The World’s Greatest Challenges

New York, 21 January 2021 – Twenty prominent personalities, globally renowned for their intellectual leadership in economic and social fields, will form the second United Nations High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs, the ... More>>

UN: As COVID Deaths Pass Two Million Worldwide, Guterres Warns Against Self-Defeating ‘Vaccinationalism'

With more than two million lives now lost worldwide to COVID-19, the UN Secretary-General appealed on Friday for countries to work together and help each other to end the pandemic and save lives. In a video statement , Secretary-General António Guterres ... More>>

UN: Violent Attempt At US Capitol To ‘overturn’ Election, Shocking And Incendiary

A group of independent UN rights experts released ... More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>