Now is the Moment for Haiti to Achieve a New Era of Democratic Governance and Accountability

Item 10: ID with the Independent Expert for Haiti

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As Delivered by Erik Richardson

Human Rights Council 22nd Session

Geneva

March 20, 2013

Mr. President,

The United States thanks the Independent Expert, Michel Forst, for his work on Haiti and for his important service to Haiti and to the international community.  The Independent Expert’s attention to the deficiencies in Haiti’s rule of law and institutions is timely, as Haiti is at a crossroads. Now is the moment for Haiti to overcome the challenges it faces to achieve a new era of democratic governance and accountability.

As the Independent Expert highlighted, chronically weak rule of law institutions and an inefficient, overburdened judicial system vulnerable to political influence, are two key ongoing hurdles to bringing alleged human rights abusers to justice.

These institutional challenges are not insurmountable.  Indeed, the Government of Haiti has made considerable progress on rule of law.

Most recently, the government has named Parliament’s three candidates to the Transitional Permanent Electoral Council. We are encouraged by this sign and optimistic that the Government will take the necessary, constitutional steps to organize and hold credible, transparent elections at the earliest opportunity.

We are also encouraged by the Government’s willingness to address endemic weaknesses in its institutions.

To this end, the United States welcomes the July 2012 establishment of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary (CSPJ).  We note that the Council already has asserted its influence and strengthened the independence of the judiciary by suspending a controversial judge for lack of qualifications, and over-involvement in a high-profile murder case with ramifications for the executive branch.  We look forward to Parliament’s passage of the updated Criminal Code and Criminal Procedures Code.

We are also pleased to see the continued progress of the Haitian National Police towards its goal of reaching 15,000 officers by 2016.  We are equally gratified to note the Government of Haiti’s reinvigorated efforts to combat corruption, as demonstrated by its continued support of the Anti-Corruption Unit and Central Financial Intelligence Unit with the necessary resources.

In closing, we recognize and commend the Government of Haiti for cooperating with the Independent Expert in an effort to improve the lives of its people.

We have the following questions:

Civil Society:  First, civil society in Haiti is vibrant.  How can civil society be a constructive player in suggesting and implementing solutions to the rule of law and human rights challenges in Haiti?

Second on Rule of Law:  Given that resources are limited for many institutions, such as the Office of Citizen Protection, how can the Government of Haiti afford to institute an additional post, at the level of inter-ministerial delegate or deputy prime minster as recommended in the report?  Can’t an existing entity develop a coherent approach to establishing the rule of law across ministries?

Pre-Trial Detention:  Third, updating the Criminal Procedures Code was a necessary step to help decrease the use of pre-trial detention. What additional steps should the government of Haiti take to ensure that judges and prosecutors are adequately informed of the new provisions?

Thank you.

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