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#3950: About the elections, arrest ...Blanchet comments

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>

On the elections, arrest, and in response to various
comments made at one point or the other by Pina,
Chamberlain, Arthur, ...

-- The recent elections were not the result of some
conspiracy hatched by the US Government, IFES, elatriye.
I like to think of them as a requirement of the March 87
Constitution which specifies a fixed schedule for the
holding of elections. In this regard, the country had
fallen seriously behind schedule as a result of the
ferocious infighting among the various components
of the political establishment, especially among the
former allies of the Lavalas coalition of 1990.

I dare say historians will look back upon our era
with dismay at the irresponsibility of the political class
for its failure to come up with a quick an equitable
solution against a backdrop of a country in a free
fall that has its genesis in the 29-year dictatorship
of the Duvaliers.

As for the Haitian people, their enthusiastic and
large participation in these elections is an indication
of their faith in the democratic process in spite of the

-- the elections of 1997 were fraudulent. This was
amply demonstrated by the Lissade Commission,
named after its president, Maître Lissade, a respected
member of the Port-au-Prince barreau and appointed
by President Préval himself. Its report was disclosed
by the Center for International Policy, a turn of event
which did much to discredit these so-called elections.

Among its many recommendations, the Lissade report
recommended that ID cards with pictures be issued to
all eligible voters. Again, there was much suspicion of
the idea and much infighting over it, but with hindsight,
it was an excellent idea and one that was well received
by the Haitian people. Let us hope that it will become a
permanent feature of future elections, one that will be
further refined by a Permanent Electoral Council.

-- The Constitution is very clear on the procedure to be
followed when anyone is arrested or detained by the Police.
Within 48 hours, a judge must look into the matter and
decide what to do next.

There is no such animal as preventive detention, though it
has been applied in some cases by the Préval Administration.
Case in point: that of ex General Claude Raymond who was
detained for years without the opportunity to appear before
a judge. To the government's credit, he was not tortured or
bludgeoned to death in the basement of the National Palace.
By all accounts he was treated humanely, the GOH going
as far as transferring him to l'Asile Français when his
condition deteriorated. He died there of complications
resulting from AIDS.

His detention was nonetheless illegal. Those interested in
this case and the whole issue of due process in the
context of Haitian law should read Amnesty International's
comprehensive report on Haiti issued earlier this year. It
gives an overview of recent events and a status report on
the police, the judiciary, the prisons as well as the network
of human rights organizations.

It is available on Amnesty's web site.