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8915: RSF : Open letter to Justice Minister, Gary Lissade. (fwd)

From: "[iso-8859-1] Régis BOURGEAT" <ameriques@rsf.fr>

<fontfamily><param>Geneva</param>Mr Gary Lissade		

Minister of Justice	


Republic of Haiti		

16 August 2001		

Dear Sir,

During our mission to Haiti in connection with the murder of journalist
Jean Dominique, and on the occasion of our meeting with you in
Port-au-Prince, you informed us that you were earnestly committed to
ensuring that the investigation into this murder was successfully
concluded. However, four months later, Reporters Sans Frontières is
concerned about the way in which you are handling the case.

On 10 August 2001 you decided to refer to the senate a decision by the
Judge Emmanuel Jean-Philippe, a civil judge in charge of matters of
special urgency. Calling into question the impartiality of Judge
Gassant in the inquiry into the murder of Jean Dominique, Judge
Jean-Philippe demanded a "stay of execution" of the investigating
judge's request to lift the parliamentary immunity of Mr Toussaint, and
"any decision [by Mr Gassant] relative to this affair".

Your decision to refer this ruling to the senate is difficult to
understand in light of the principle of separation of powers. RSF
wonders what competence the Judge Jean-Philippe, who normally deals
with civil matters, has to pass judgement on a request by an
investigating judge, that is, on a penal matter. Notwithstanding,
simply the fact that Mr Toussaint's lawyers referred the matter to the
Judge Jean-Philippe on the basis of illegal questioning should have
caused you to declare latter's decision inadmissible. The petition
presented by Mr Toussaint's lawyers to the Judge Jean-Philippe is based
on Magistrate Gabriel Ambroise's questioning of several persons
detained in connection with this affair. Considering these questionings
as illegal, you personally took disciplinary measures against Mr
Ambroise last July. Since five of the six petitions submitted to
various jurisdictions by Mr Toussaint's lawyers are based on these
testimonies, RSF considers that your refusal to take a stand on the
decision of the Judge Jean-Philippe can only encourage the "war of
procedures" launched by Mr Toussaint's lawyers to slow down the course
of justice and discredit Mr Gassant.

Moreover, after trying to put pressure on the judge by illegal means,
Mr Toussaint's lawyers are now asking for the establishment of a
special procedure for their client. On 8 August the senator's lawyers
asked you if Philippe Markington, jailed in connection with this
affair, could be heard by a special commission. According to his
lawyers, the prisoner indicated in a letter addressed to Mr Toussaint
that Claudy Gassant was pressurising him to accuse important
personalities in the country. RSF requests you to unambiguously dismiss
this request and to publicly renew your trust in Judge Gassant. Since,
according to several observers, you were Mr Toussaint's lawyer before
occupying the function of justice minister, a decision to the opposite
effect could cast doubts on your impartiality in this affair.

Lastly, RSF wishes to express its intense concern regarding new
disclosures on the existence of a presumed plan to murder Judge Claudy
Gassant. According to information broadcast on 11 August 2001 by the
station Radio Haiti Inter, three former soldiers allegedly met on 8
August to plan the judge's murder. According to the radio station,
which did not reveal the three protagonists' names, the murder could be
intended to block the procedure of lifting Mr Toussaint's parliamentary
immunity. On 12 June, in a letter still unanswered to date, we alerted
you about a supposed plan to murder the judge, also following
disclosures by Radio Haiti Inter. We urge you to order an immediate
investigation into these threats. Only in-depth investigations to
identify and punish those responsible can prevent an attempted murder.
We wish to remind you that Judge Gassant has been threatened several
times and has been the victim of acts of intimidation, both anonymous
and from government officials and political personalities. He is the
second investigating judge in charge of the inquiry into Jean
Dominique's murder. His predecessor, Jean-Sénat Fleury, preferred to
drop the case due to pressure. RSF would also like to be kept informed
of developments in this inquiry.

During our visit to Haiti in March this year, you told us that your
"greatest hope" was that "justice would be done" in this case. Our
organisation thinks that the moment has come for your to show that this
was not said simply to reassure us, and is expecting you to take clear
action on the points raised in this letter.

We look forward to your reply and wish to remind you of our keen
interest in continuing the dialogue started with you in

Yours faithfully,

Robert Ménard

General secretary

Régis Bourgeat

Despacho Américas / Americas desk

Reporters sans frontières

5, rue Geoffroy-Marie

75009 Paris - France

tél. : +33 (0) 1 44 83 84 57

fax : +33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51

e-mail : ameriques@rsf.org

	/ americas@rsf.org