Haiti: resolution on the independence of the judicial power

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Resolution adopted by FIDH 38th Congress.

Presented by: le Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH) - Haïti

38th FIDH Congress, 23 – 27 May 2013, Turkey

The establishment by the current government of the Supreme Judicial Council (CSPJ) on July 3, 2012, appears to be a positive step in the fight for independence of the judiciary power. In accordance with the amended Constitution, there are three (3) bodies in Haiti: the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. However, the Judiciary power is the only one which until the setting up the CSPJ, was directed by an Executive body, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. It has therefore proved important for this body to have its own decision-making apparatus, in the same way as do the Legislative and Executive; hence the establishment of the CSPJ.

Article 184.2 of the amended Constitution provides that  “the Administration and control of the Judicial Power are entrusted to a Supreme Judicial Council which will exercise the right of supervision and discipline over the Magistrates, and which has the general power to inform and make recommendations on the state of the magistracy. The conditions of the organisation and operation of the Supreme Judicial Council are set out in law.”

In spite of the establishment of the CSPJ, the general working conditions of judicial staff and the lack of any career plan remain causes for concern. The allegations of the corruption of Magistrates, the lack of a code of ethics for Magistrates and Lawyers, the allegations of contravention of the code of ethics by court bailiffs and clerks who pretend to be lawyers and provide assistance to people awaiting trial, often with the complicity of the Prosecutors, corrupt the situation and undermine the efforts of the CSPJ to restore the image of Justice and win the confidence of the people.

More than ever, the organisation, efficiency and independence of the judicial power and the establishment of the CSPJ in society as an independent democratic institution are concerns for the people of Haiti.

- Considering that during its 37th Congress, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) passed a resolution on the establishment of the CSPJ;

- Considering that this resolution reflects the three (3) laws promulgated in 2007 relating in particular to the establishment of the CSPJ, the School of the Magistracy and the independence of the Magistracy;

- Considering that on July 3, 2012, following the recommendation of the FIDH resolution, the current government set up the CSPJ ;

- Considering that the Executive, via the Presidency and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, appears not to wish to relinquish control of the judicial power despite being obliged to do so by the above-mentioned Laws and the Constitution;

- Considering that the Executive refuses to transfer authority and competency to the CSPJ which, however, after its Councillors have taken oath, is legally recognized as being capable of administering the judicial power;

- Considering that a power, whatever it may be, cannot operate with complete independence if its senior body does not have the scope required to do so;

The 38th FIDH Congress, at its meeting in Turkey from 23 to 27 May 2013, recommends that the Haitian authorities work for the effective independence of the judicial power by giving the CSPJ every means to operate, including the transfer of powers, transfer of competencies and an appropriate budget.

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