Originally: Disturbing, Unfortunate, Astonishing

“We are heedlessly running toward the precipice after blocking our view of it.” (Pascal)


By Claude MoVse

LE MATIN Editorial, November 16, 2004

The Prime Minister announced, last Friday, November 12, that an international warrant was imminent for the arrest of former president Aristide, suspected of embezzlement of public funds and involvement in political crimes. He strongly emphasized that the Minister of Justice had been instructed to proceed as quickly as possible. If that is true, we can assume that the government has a strong case. What is troubling, in this seemingly resolute announcement, is that it was made after the representatives of some foreign powers had stated that it would be in the interest of Haiti to clarify Aristide’s case, and that the latter should “be held responsible.” Should it then be inferred that the government suffers from such a lack of autonomy that it must wait for a green light from abroad, before it can move on a case that it had more than enough time to document during the last eight months?


Still more disturbing is the fact that Prime Minister Latortue made his statement at the inauguration ceremony of an “administrative investigation commission about possible embezzlement by the deposed regime between 2001 and 2004.” What would then be the purpose of that commission, if the case has been sufficiently researched for an international arrest warrant to be issued? How creative that is, and how interesting to know whether it can work without interfering with some of the responsibilities of the High Court of Audits and Administrative Affairs, as well as the responsibilities of the recently formed committee against corruption! Let’s just wait and see.


It is unfortunate to recall that the Prime Minister has a habit of making this kind of announcement without follow-up. The last time, it was about the sand pits of Laboule. The strong announcement banning the excavations ended in backpedaling (see Sabine Manigat’s editorial in Le Matin, November 5.) Several human rights organizations expressed skepticism about the practices of the transitional government. I cannot believe that the head of this government fails to realize how damaging those circumstances can be for his credibility.


Finally, to say the least, it is astonishing that the appointed head of that investigating commission is an unwavering adversary and a vocal detractor of the deposed regime. Mr. Paul Denis, spokesperson of the Convergence (if it still exists) or, in any case, an OPL representative, does not seem to realize that a minimum of ethics and a basic concern for fairness should keep him from accepting this role. Law experts would say that it is not enough that justice be served, but there must also be an appearance of justice.


There is an ethics of political responsibility. It is very strict. Its application is sometimes in the details. It is a must for all political leaders, whether in power or not, especially when those leaders claim to be moving us from anarchy by the way of democracy.