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#5332: Judiciary Weakens Haiti's Progress (fwd)
Judiciary Weakens Haiti's Progress
The Associated Press, Tue 17 Oct 2000
UNITED NATIONS (AP) ? Haiti's weak judiciary continues to be a major
problem in restoring democracy to the country, an independent U.N.
human rights investigator said in a report Tuesday. The investigator,
Adama Dieng, said the country is rife with arbitrary detentions and
corruption is rampant among police and judges. He said donor support for
improving detention conditions has been ``gravely undermined'' by the
continued dysfunction of the criminal justice system, which has seen its
prison population jump from 1,500 five years ago to 4,000 today.
`The cases of most of those being held in pretrial detention are
affected by serious judicial irregularities,'' he said in a report to
the U.N. General Assembly. ``People are being detained for years
without appearing before the judicial authority that is supposed to
rule on their case.''Dieng pointed to corruption stemming from drug
trafficking through Haiti. It occurs particularly among the
police, but judges have also been involved, his report said: It cited
one justice in southeast Haiti who demanded that a suspect give him
proceeds from the sale of two kilograms of cocaine. The judge was
later dismissed and prosecuted. Haiti's political crisis has continued
despite legislative elections in May and July. All main opposition
parties charge that President Rene Preval helped rig the vote to favor
candidates from the party of his mentor, former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, who won 80 percent of seats.
The opposition is boycotting the Nov. 26 presidential election, which
Aristide is nearly certain to win. Haiti had been without a parliament
for 19 months until this year's elections because Preval dismissed
legislators amid charges of fraud in 1997 legislative elections. Those
elections subsequently were annulled.