Topic: Law

Primary Author: Ali Thompson

Current Situation:

The judicial system of Haiti is composed of four levels: the Courts of Cassation, the Courts of Appeal, the Civil Courts, and the Magistrates Courts. Military Courts also exist for use in military related cases. In law, the judicial system is designated as separate from the military, however in practice this separation has not existed. The Haitian court system entirely lacks effectiveness and justice. The people of Haiti have no confidence in the judicial system and try to avoid bringing cases to the courts. The power of the system lies within the wealthy, as people are able to pay off judges and prosecutors, and the military uses the system as a form of intimidation and oppression. In addition to the apparent corruption that plaques Haitian justice, the Judicial System lacks resources and personnel. Law schools lack supplies and are extremely outdated, court houses resemble shacks and possess no aspects of necessary technology, and judges and prosecutors lack basic training and essential law texts.

Issues to be discussed

  • The revisal of the Haitian court system
  • The separation of the military and the police force
  • The revitalization of Haitian law schools and law personnel
  • The formation and appointment of courts and judges

Acknowledging that the current judicial system and constitution in place in Haiti has not been effective.
Noting that drug trafficking, gang involvement, and military power have corrupted the government and the judicial system.
Aware that the law has been used as a weapon by military leaders and the powerfully wealthy to oppress the nation.
Concerned that the Haitian judicial system entirely lacks sufficient resources, competent personnel, independence, stature and trust.
Recognizing that previously UN-backed reforms have ended in corrupt dictatorship and confident in a more successful approach to the needs of Haiti.

Calls upon the UN to:

I.Create a Constitution- Written Law

A. Send a provisional authority to act as a government in order to institute a stable goverment and judicial system.
1. This authority, appointed by the UN, will have full control over the Haitian government for a duration of 4 years and will act as a presence for an extended period of time.
a. See Constitution

II. Directs a full reform of the Judicial System
A. Calls upon the Judicial System under the provisional government to act immediately:

1. Investigate past human rights violations
a. The U.N. (ICJ, CCJ) should be responsible for the investigation into past serious violations in human rights.
b. The Haitian people lack confidence in their human rights and their judicial system while the lawyers and prosecutors are hesitant to conduct theses investigations due to military and wealthy minority intimidation.
c. The U.N. investigation and prosecution in these cases should help restore the Haitians faith in justice and sense of their rights while removing the power of intimidation the military and wealthy have over the court personnel.

2. Authorize a reform of the Court System
a. The Courts
1. All buildings should be solid and substantial government buildings.
2. All courts should possess the necessary law texts: the Civil Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Penal Code.
3. All courts should have electricity and be updated to have a computer, a fax machine, and a copier.
4. Thorough and accurate records and paper trails.
5. All texts should be available in Creole and court proceedings should take place in both French and Creole (currently conducted only in French)

b. The Personnel
1. All current court personnel (lawyers, prosecutors, record keepers) should be immediately assessed for education, commitment to justice.
a. Any persons appointed during coups should be removed from position and prosecuted by the U.N. for any violations in the rights of Haitians.
1. These personnel will be replaced with law graduates from the Haitian Law School and trained on criminal investigation and court procedure.
b. All capable judges should receive proper law education and training.
1. This training should be done by Haitian lawyers from France and lawyers from Creole-speaking Caribbean islands that also use the Civil Law, Napoleonic Code.
2. The U.N. Office on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice should help in this training and education
c. The U.N. Development Program will train personnel on record keeping and document preservation, essential to the truth and honest prosecution of the cases.
2. The salaries of the court personnel should be raised
a. Salary should be based on level of education, suitable experience, and ability.
b. This will give judges a desire to learn the correct court procedure.
3. The Ministry of Justice should be relocated to a single location
a. The Ministry will have a tenure of 10 years
b. The Ministry will not have the sole power to remove and appoint judges.

c. The Image
1. The image of justice in Haiti should be greatly improved
a. The public should be made aware of Human Rights.
1) This can be accomplished through radio, school

B. Additionaly calls upon the Judicial System to plan for long term reforms:
1. Modernize legal texts
a. Accomplished by Haitian Lawyers with the help of French, other Creole speaking Civil Court, Napoleonic Code lawyers.
2. Reform of law schools.
a. create law libraries
b. raise salary and ability of professors
c. improve structures of schools
3. Create system of free representation
a. Free lawyers for persons accused of serious crimes
b. Students, paralegals for those entering Justice of the Peace
4. Judicial Academy
a. This academy will offer training for new lawyers and ongoing training for current lawyers and prosecutors.

Court House Reforms:
Supplies (texts, copy, fax, computers):
Salary Increase of court personnel:
Law Schools:
Professor Salary:
*** the cost of this reform will be mostly an initial cost. The cost will be constant

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