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Liberation of Human Rights lawyer Mr André Michel

Judge Jean Serge Joseph died last July under suspicious circumstances while investigating alleged corruption by Haiti’s Presidential Family. The complainant, Enold Florestal, was arrested one month later in mid-August. More recently at the end of October, Mr André Michel, human rights lawyer and legal representative of the complainant was arrested. With the help of some lawyers and public outcry – both within Haiti and outside of Haiti – he was released the next day (see video above). His client Enold Florestal is still in prison. From the beginning of the corruption case, André Michel says that he was the victim of intimidation and threats. Additionally, an arrest warrant was issued against him. Recall that the Senate Inquest Commission concluded that intimidation and threats led to the death of the judge investigating this case, Judge Jean Serge Joseph. Both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies Inquest Commissions concluded that President Martelly, Prime Minister Lamothe and the Minister of Justice Renel Sanon should be impeached in relation to Judge Joseph’s death. Proposal to impeach must come from the Chamber of Deputies which does not meet again until January, unless President Martelly calls a special session.

Below is a sample letter about human rights lawyer Mr André Michel written by Front Line Defenders of Dublin, Ireland. They suggest that you send a copy to President Martelly. We suggest that you also copy your Head of State or Ambassador to Haiti. If you write only Martelly, unless you write in large numbers at one time (also a good idea), he may ignore the letter. If you copy the letter (cc) to your own government officials he will not be able to do so. If you are writing from the USA then you should only copy President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry since the US Ambassador appears, at least figuratively speaking, in bed with the Haitian Executive branch. You may also want to add that the complainant in the corruption case, Enold Florestal, should be released from prison. If as a group-organization you could send many e-mails all together back to back then they would be more obvious in President Martelly’s inbox.

Haiti: “harassment against human rights lawyer André Michel continues
Posted 2013/10/25
Take action on behalf of Haitian human rights defender André Michel.
Copy the enclosed letter and send it to the address provided.
Thank you for taking action.

Target adresses:
President Michel Joseph Martelly
Palais National
Rue Magny,
Port-au-Prince,
Haiti.
Email:
communications@presidentmartelly.ht

Letter:
Your Excellency

On 22 October 2013, human rights lawyer Mr André Michel was arbitrarily held in police custody after police attempted to carry out a search on his vehicle. He was eventually released the next morning but remains at risk of arrest. André Michel is involved, as legal representative of the complainant, in a case of corruption and embezzlement of public funds allegedly implicating members of the President’s family. Since the beginning of the corruption case, André Michel has denounced receiving intimidation and threats and an arrest warrant, never executed, was issued against him.

While on his way back home in the evening of 22 October, André Michel’s car was stopped by police officers, who attempted to carry out a search of the vehicle. The human rights lawyer refused to get off the car and accept the search unless a justice of the peace (juge de paix) was called, request which is in accordance with Haitian law. The search was eventually carried out in the presence of the juge de paix, and showed no evidence of wrongdoing. In spite of this, the Office of the Prosecutor ordered that André Michel be held in custody overnight on charges of obstructing justice, in violation of legal provisions that prohibit arrests after 6 pm, except in the case of flagrante delicto.

The same evening, hundreds of supporters of André Michel gathered in front of the Office of the Prosecutor demanding his release. The police intervened to disperse the crowd including by using tear gas. André Michel was eventually let go by the authorities in the morning of 23 October. Shortly after the release, however, a member of the Office of the Prosecutor declared to the press that an earlier arrest warrant against André Michel, pending since July 2013 but never executed, would be carried out. A government official reportedly publicly declared that André Michel was a fugitive.

Since the beginning of the corruption case, André Michel has denounced receiving intimidation and threats. An arrest warrant, on the basis of his alleged involvement in a murder, was issued against him in July 2013, shortly after the beginning of the corruption case. André Michel’s client, the complainant in the corruption case, was arrested on the basis of the same charge and remains in detention to date. In the last two years, an increasing number of human rights lawyers have denounced being victims of intimidation, judicial harassment and arbitrary actions by police and judicial authorities.

I would like to express my concern at the harassment of human rights lawyers and the apparent political use of the judicial system. The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers of 1990 outlines at paragraph 16 that: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”

I urge the authorities in Haiti to:

1. Drop the arrest warrant against André Michel, as it is believed it is solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work as a human rights lawyer;

2. Carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the unlawful detention of André Michel, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Haiti are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Yours sincerely,

André Michel Anti-corruption court judicial harassment Haiti” See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/24088/action

Letter in French:
Haïti : Le harcèlement judiciaire à l’encontre de l’avocat défenseur des droits humains André Michel continue
Agissez en faveur du défenseur des droits humains André Michel.

Copiez la lettre ci-dessous et envoyez-la à l’adresse indiquée.

Merci pour votre action.

Target adresses:
President Michel Joseph Martelly
Palais National
Rue Magny, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Email: communications@presidentmartelly.ht

Letter:
Votre Excellence,

Le 22 octobre 2013, l’avocat défenseur des droits humains Me André Michel a été arrêté arbitrairement et mis en garde à vue à Porte au Prince suite à un fouille de sa voiture par la police. Il a enfin été relâché le lendemain, mais il reste à risque d’arrestation. André Michel est impliqué, en tant que représentant légal du plaignant, dans un cas de corruption et appropriation de biens publiques qui impliquerait des membres des la famille du Président. Depuis le début de ce cas, André Michel a denoncé avoir été victime d’intimidation et des menaces ; un mandat d’amener, jamais exécuté, a été émis contre lui en juillet 2013.

Alors qu’ils rentrait chez lui le soir du 22 octobre, dans le quartier Martissant à Porte au Prince, la voiture de André Michel a été bloqué par la police, qui a voulu procéder à une fouille. L’avocat a refusé demandant la présence d’un juge de paix, requête qui est permis par la lois. La fouille a ensuite eu lieu en présence du juge de paix, et aucune preuve d’activité criminelle a été trouvé. Malgré cela, le parquet a émis un mandat d’arrestation sur la base de ‘obstruction de la justice’. L’arrestation a été faite en violation de la lois qui interdit les arrestations après 6h de soir, sauf en cas de flagrant délit.

Apres l’arrestation, le soir du même jour, des centaines de sympathisants se sont réunis devant le parquet et ont demandé que André Michel soit relâché. La police est intervenu afin de disperser la foule en utilisant des gaz lacrymogènes.

André Michel a été relâché dans la matinée du 23 octobre. Toute de suite après sa libération, un représentant du parquet aurait déclaré aux médias qu’un mandat d’amener issu à l’encontre de André Michel en juillet 2013 allait être exécuté. Le commissaire du gouvernement aurait ainsi déclaré que André Michel était un fugitif.

Depuis le début du cas de corruption et appropriation de biens publiques, André Michel a dénoncé avoir été victime d’intimidation et menaces. Un mandat d’amener a été issu contre lui en juillet 2013, toute de suite après le début du cas de corruption, sur la base de son implication présumée dans un cas de meurtre. Le client de André Michel et plaignant dans ledit cas a été arrêté pour les mêmes charges et il reste en détention.

Pendant les deux dernières années, un nombre grandissant d’avocats défenseurs des droits humains ont dénonce avoir été victimes d’intimidation, de harcèlement judiciaire, et des actes arbitraires de la police et des autorités judiciaires. Je tiens à exprimer ma préoccupation face au harcèlement des avocats défenseurs des droits humains et ce qui paraît être une utilisation politique du système judiciaire. Les Principes de base relatifs au rôle du barreau adoptés par les Nations Unies en 1990 rappellent que : “16. Les pouvoirs publics veillent à ce que les avocats a) puissent s’acquitter de toutes leurs fonctions professionnelles sans entrave, intimidation, harcèlement ni ingérence indue; b) puissent voyager et consulter leurs clients librement, dans le pays comme à l’étranger; et c) ne fassent pas l’objet, ni ne soient menacés de poursuites ou de sanctions économiques ou autres pour toutes mesures prises conformément à leurs obligations et normes professionnelles reconnues et à leur déontologie.”

Je demande instamment aux autorités en Haïti de:

1) Retirer le mandat a amener issu à l’encontre de André Michel, car il semble être motivé uniquement par son travail légitime et pacifique en tant que avocat défenseurs des droits humains;

2) Mener immédiatement une enquête exhaustive, indépendante et impartiale sur la détention illégale de André Michel, d’en publier les résultats et de traduire les responsables en justice selon les standards internationaux ;

3) Veiller à ce que tous les défenseurs des droits humains en Haïti, exerçant leurs activités légitimes de défense des droits humains, soient en mesure d’opérer sans restrictions ni représailles, y compris le harcèlement judiciaire.

Je vous prie d’agréer l’expression de ma haute considération.
” – See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/fr/node/24089/action

Prime Minister Lamothe should know Spanish as his parents do. President Martelly may or may not.
Spanish http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/es/node/24101/action

Russian http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/ru/node/24094