A country is under the rule of law when the government acts according to the laws, according to the law, and according to justice. The rule of law exists when citizens can rely on institutions to protect them from abuse, exaction, and crime. The rule of law exists when government officials who violate the law and the rights of citizens are brought to trial and sentenced by the courts.

The Ecumenical Center for Human rights (Centre Oecuménique des Droits Humains) calls the attention of the Minister of Justice on serious and repeated violations requiring corrective action as soon as possible, if the question of judicial reforms is to be taken seriously.

1.- Disappearance: Disappearance, a form of torture used by dictatorial regimes in Latin America, was widely used by the macoute regime under the Duvaliers and, later, by the military governments. Thirty to forty years later, there are families who still do not know where, when, and how their relatives perished, nothing to say about so popular now slip and fall cases, – and whose inalienable right to KNOW is still violated today. We remember the indignation that had caused 200,000 people to take to the streets on November 7, 1986, to ask for the release of Charlot Jacquelin. And now again, disappearances are occurring.

Five (5) Kid activists have disappeared in similar scenarios:
– On Monday October 14, 2002, police officers arrested Mondésir JEAN LATOUCHE and David BARJON at Delmas 4.

– On Sunday June 10, 2001, Vanel PIERRE and Patrick JONAIS were arrested by a police patrol at Delmas 27, and taken to the police station of Delmas.
In October 2001, Sévère JOSEPH was beaten to death at the police station of Plaisance.

– Félix BIEN-AIMÉ, leader of an organization based in Martissant, who had been seen at the police station of Port-au-Prince following a traffic accident, and whose car was found at Sources Puantes, never came back, and that situation has caused violent reactions among his followers for the past few weeks.

2.- Illegal arrests and unlimited preventive detention: The case of Rosemond JEAN, of Conasovic, as well as the reasons and procedures used for his arrest and detention, are raising serious questions. Almost 90% of those detained at the National Penitentiary are awaiting a court decision, and, in most cases, the duration of detention has already exceeded the legal limits.

3.- Refusal to comply with a release order: The refusal to comply with the court order for the release of former general Prosper AVRIL, and, more recently, the decision of the Court of Appeal of Gonaives, resemble a case of persecution where questionable legal mechanisms are systematically used against a citizen.

Regardless of the seriousness of the charges against him, and, more precisely, because of it, the Ministry of Justice and the Executive power should take all precautions to avoid being suspected of arbitrary practices and indulging in personal vendetta. Otherwise, abuses of power are allowed to occur, sowing in our society the seeds of anger and violence.

Jean-Claude Bajeux, CEDH Executive Director, October 25, 2002