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Haiti - Justice : Fighting against preventive detention, a government priority
16/10/2010 14:52:32

Haiti - Justice : Fighting against preventive detention, a government priority
The new haitian court year began last Monday. The Minister of Justice, Paul Denis, for his part, presented the fight against prolonged pretrial detention, as one of government's priorities for the new judicial year.

The National Penitentiary, the main prison center of the capital, home the largest number of people in preventive detention, 1,348 of a total population of 1,469. In the women's prison in Petion-Ville, on the 284 residents, 247 are in preventive. At Les Cayes, they are 326 in this situation on a effective of 433.

Many times these people have been waiting a long time, their trial. "Criminal investigations hang time" and as pointed out Me. Gervais Charles, the barrister of the Bar Association of Port-au-Prince "the procedures are too formal and too rigid. Judges fail to annually process that very few records". The difficulties for litigants to have access to justice and the impossibility of fulfilling the fees charged by lawyers, are also shortcomings in the judiciary.

To help reduce the rate of pretrial detention and prison population and make effective the right to a fair trial has been put in place a National System of Legal Assistance (Système National d’Assistance Légale SYNAL). The system currently consists of 9 Offices Legal Assistance (Bureaux d’Assistance Légale BAL) that provide free legal services to the poor. In Port-au-Prince is set up by the bar while the other eight work with the support of the international community.

Me Andre Bignon, president of the National Association of Clerks explains that "the inaccessibility of justice, the absence or remoteness of the courts in remote areas of the country responsible for monitoring the judicial decisions and the fact that Too often, beneficiaries are not informed of the decisions handed down to them, or are not able to pay the registration fee required" are other causes for these situations.

Mr. René Magloire, Special Advisor to the Head of State, Rene Preval, for its part considers that the legal instruments, including the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure are outdated and are largely responsible for the "failure of the penal chain".

The road ahead is still long before our country's criminal justice system that meets the requirements of the rule of law, as defined on the international level. Among the challenges include among others: the independence of the judiciary, the appointment of the President of the Court of Cassation, the fight against corruption, the professionalization of judges, police, investigators, the modernization of legal texts and improving the living conditions of inmates.

Only the Reform of Justice will ensure security and public order, to make reforms at the level of the civil status and cadastral and offer the necessary guarantees, investment and job creation, a set of issues vital to the reconstruction and development of Haiti.

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