Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Hold Hearing on Haiti

December 09, 2020

The follow is a guest post from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. 

On Thursday, December 10, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold a hearing on pervasive impunity and a lack of judicial independence in Haiti. The event will be broadcast live here. The Commission, a quasi‐judicial body of the Organization of American States (OAS) mandated to protect human rights, called this hearing in response to a Request submitted by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). We will be posting additional information and documents on the IJDH website.

The civil society delegation at the hearing will be comprised of Mario Joseph, Managing Director of the BAI; Alexandra Filippova, an attorney with IJDH; Sonel Jean-Francois, Director of Judicial Inspection for the Conseil Supérieur du Pouvoir Judiciaire (and former Director of Unité Centrale de Renseignements Financiers – Haiti’s Central Financial Intelligence Unit); and Lionel Constant Bourgoin, former prosecutor and former Director General for Unité de Lutte Contre la Corruption, Haiti’s Anti-Corruption Unit. The government of Haiti is also invited to attend; it has sent representatives in the past, as with last year’s IACHR thematic hearing on corruption.

At the hearing, we plan to demonstrate the pervasive nature of impunity in Haiti with examples of continued lack of accountability for individuals (i) convicted in absentia in the 1994 Raboteau massacre trial; (ii) implicated in the 2018 La Saline massacre, 2019 Bel-Air massacre, and similar ongoing violence; and (iii) responsible for Duvalier-era human rights violations. We will likewise highlight how such pervasive impunity, alongside judicial dysfunction and corruption, leave perpetrators free and emboldened to commit further abuses, abandon victims without recourse, and undermine public confidence in the justice system; in our view, they can be directly linked to rising violence and insecurity in Haiti. It is our legal assessment that such impunity and lack of judicial independence represent serious violations of Haiti’s obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights and thus merit the IACHR’s active engagement to support the people of Haiti in their efforts to secure accountability for abuses and a judicial system that protects and advances justice. We hope that this hearing is one more step towards that goal.

This post will be updated after the hearing with links to the participants’ written submissions before the IACHR.

[Update 12/14/2020]: 
You can watch the full recording of the hearing here.
BAI & IJDH Request for Thematic Hearing of September 23, 2020 (French version)
BAI & IJDH Written Submission of November 16, 2020 (French version); Attachment 1 (IJDH Human Rights Update of March-October 2020)

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