NCHR recalls that on 23 January 2003, Justice Pierre Josiard Agnant suspiciously authorized the release of Jean Salim Batrony (alias Johny Batrony), an individual accused of drug trafficking after a search of his home resulted in the discover of fifty-eight (58) kilograms of a white powder that later tested proved to be cocaine. Information began circulating throughout the halls of the Court House and throughout the capital, leaving one to believe that the Judge had profited financially from his decision. Credible sources claim that the accused paid out three hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($350,000US) for the transaction.
Faced with a general outcry provoked by this astonishing decision and in view of combating the use of bribes within the judicial system, the Justice Ministry decided to suspend the Judge, the American government revoked his United States visa, and the Supreme Judicial Council took charge of the case complaint filed by the Coordinator of the National Commission for the Fight against Drugs.
On February 6, 2004, the Supreme Judicial Council pronounced a ruling against Justice Agnant with the simple punishment of censorship. This decision, made at the highest level of the judiciary in the country, seems to justify the accusations of dishonesty which are being presented before the courts.
The reasons behind the Supreme Council?s decision to censor the judge are offensive to the Judge?s character:
– the way in which Justice Pierre Josiard Agnant reacted demonstrates his lack of honour and dignity, as he sought to dismiss as quickly as possible his imposed duties as a judge rather than arming himself with courage and patience to commit himself to the difficult task which would have allowed him make an honest and dignified decision reflecting a justice relevant for one and for all;
– the Judge, having reacted with such casualness, did not take into consideration the psychological, physiological, socio-economic, moral and material impact of illegal drug trafficking and drug use;
– the Judge deserves to be reprimanded for having reacted in such a way so obviously worried about protecting the accused, while forgetting his duty above all to protect society.
With such a judgment on his record, NCHR questions with what morality will such a judge continue to work and to rule on similar cases?
What has become of the dual principles of Justice and Ethics for those who have allowed this Judge to resume his duties? Such a decision leads one to question the alleged engagement of the transitional government to battle against drug trafficking, impunity and corruption.
NCHR considers the re-integration of Justice Pierre Josiard Agnant to his duties as a terrifying message to those supporting the anti-corruption campaign within the judiciary. This is an unacceptable decision that requires immediate correction.
Port-au-Prince, 8 June 2004