Dear Ms. Waters:
This is in response to your letter of October 13 to Secretary Powell
regarding the arrest of Father Gerard Jean-Juste. The State Department has
been following this arrest closely.
We understand that on October 20 the State Prosecutor of Haiti formally
charged Father Jean-Juste with “plotting against the security of the state.”
On October 27, senior Embassy officials discussed this case with Prime
Minister Latortue and with the Minister of Justice. Haitian legal experts
have told us that under Haitian law, the government can hold Father
Jean-Juste for up to three months in his current status while finalizing the
case against him.
We continue to remind the Interim Government of Haiti (IGOH) of the need to
respect the highest standards of human rights in all arrests and ensure due
process for all individuals accused of criminal acts. In this regard, we
note that Father Jean-Juste has been visited by two independent Haitian
human rights organizations since his detention began.
On October 18, an official of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti met with Father
Jean-Juste to ask him about the circumstances surrounding his arrest. Father
Jean-Juste told us that the officers who arrested him had manhandled him. He
showed the Embassy officer an abrasion on his shin he said resulted from
this treatment. Nonetheless, he said that since his arrest, he had been
treated well at both jails where he has been held, despite overcrowding at
the Petionville Prison. Father Jean-Juste has a lawyer who is representing
him in Haitian court, and who met with U.S. Embassy officials on October 27.
We are not aware of any bystander injuries during the arrest of Father
Jean-Juste, but continue to inquire with Haitian officials. We will continue
to monitor this situation closely, and are in regular contact with the IGOH
and Father Jean-Juste himself. We have neither heard of any other
irregularities surrounding the arrest, nor of the arrest of other
individuals with Father Jean-Juste.
I hope this information has addressed your concerns, please do not hesitate
to contact us if you have further questions.
The US State Department
Dear Ms. Waters: