Pere Gerard Jean-Juste (1)

Re: Pere Gerard Jean-Juste

To: Monsieur Gerard Latortue, Primier Ministre

From: Morris A. Chochla

Date: 2005-07-20

LRWC is greatly concerned for the safety of Pere Gerard Jean-Juste, Pastor of St. Clarie’s Catholic Church in Port-au-Prince. We are equally concerned regarding the treatment of Judge Fleury, until recently, a member of the Haitian judiciary.

I am writing, as a member of LRWC, in response to information obtained from Professor Quigley of Loyola University New Orleans School of Law. The information forwarded to us indicates that Pere Gerard Jean-Juste was searched, taken into custody, interrogated for hours, violently arrested, jailed while feeding hundreds of children at his Church, and
imprisoned for 48 hours (ultimately being released by Judge Fleury for lack of evidence). We understand that Pere Gerard Jean-Juste is and has been supportive of deposed President Aristide.

We have also been advised that, shortly after Judge Fleury released Pere Gerard Jean-Juste from custody for lack of evidence, all of his criminal cases were taken away from him and he was forced to resign from the judiciary.

Haiti has acknowledged the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political rights. Article 9 of that document states that “everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such
procedures as are established by law”. “Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.” We are concerned that Pere Gerard Jean-Juste has been arbitrarily arrested and/or detained and wrongfully deprived of his liberty.

Article 19 states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expressions; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or to any other media of his choice”. We are concerned that these rights are being denied Pere Gerard Jean-Juste.

Haiti, as a member of the United Nations General Assembly is also bound by the “Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary”, of which article 1 states that “…the independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by the State…”, article 4 states that “there shall not be any inappropriate or unwarranted interference with the judicial
process…”, article 12 states that “Judges, whether appointed or elected, shall have guaranteed tenure until a mandatory retirement age or the expiry of their term of office, where such exists”, and article 19 states that “all disciplinary, suspension or removal proceedings shall be determined in accordance with established standards of judicial
conduct.” We are concerned that the Haitian Government has failed to ensure that Judge Fleury was provided these protections.

Haiti has a responsibility to adopt such measures as are necessary to guarantee the life and physical safety of Pere Gerard Jean-Juste. This duty arises from Haiti’s membership in both in the United Nations and the Organization of American States. This same responsibility also arises from many UN conventions and covenants including the above noted International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.

It appears that Judge Fleury’s independence has been threatened. Article 17 of the United Nations General Assembly “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” states that “where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities”. The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders further requires that your Government conduct a prompt, impartial and effective investigation of the shocking actions taken as against Judge Fleury as a result of his dismissal of the charges against Pere Gerard Jean-Juste.

Failure to protect and investigate violations of the rights of Pere Gerard Jean-Juste and Judge Fleury constitutes an egregious breach of Haiti’s duties under binding international laws and principles including the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights to which Haiti is a signatory. The duties guarantee the physical safety of Judge
Fleury and Pere Gerard Jean-Juste.

LRWC respectfully urges your Government to act in accordance with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international and regional pacts and covenants ratified by Haiti; and ensure the implementation of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 8, 1998, in
particular article 1 which provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels”.

Arbitrary arrest and detention without charge are not legitimate acts of the state.

I respectfully remind you that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Haiti is a party, sets out the minimum standards as noted earlier in this letter.

LRWC calls for the immediate and thorough investigation into the actions taken against Pere Gerard Jean-Juste and Judge Fleury and for the results obtained to be made public and for those responsible to be brought to justice. LRWC also calls upon the government of Haiti to take swift and effective action to ensure the security of all human rights defenders so that they can continue to carry out their legitimate and important work defending human rights.

Please advise LRWC by mail, email or fax of the actions that the Government of Haiti is taking to:

1. Ensure the present and future safety of Judge Fleury and Pere Gerard Jean-Juste;

2. Investigate the actions taken against Pere Gerard Jean-Juste and Judge Fleury with the goal of identifying the persons responsible and bring them to trial.

LRWC awaits your response.