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Haiti’s newsreel – Coregroup

One of the least spoken legacy of the Moïse administration is the pace at which legislation is being rammed through the system in the absence of parliament. In the past year, there has been one decree or another on almost everything in the country, with the President boldly declaring that he does not intend to negotiate with anyone as far as reforms are concerned. Decrees on topics are varied as the penal code, energy, security, the display of prices in gourdes have been published in the national gazette with such rapidity that some of the decrees seem to nullify others. While most of the decrees have gone uncontested, others have not even been noticed. An example of one that went unnoticed was the decree regarding modifying the rights of spouses based on the type of marriage, and one that went unchallenged had been the decree fixing the profit margin of traders. It appears that President Jovenel Moïse has mastered the art of modulating the reactions of opposition and civil society leaders on a weekly basis. While most opponents denounce the president’s autocratic tendencies, it is the recent criticism by the Core group, which is composed of the US Special Envoy to Haiti, the ambassadors of Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the US, France as well as the EU and the OAS. The group objected to a new decree creating the National Intelligence agency and their protest drew the Haitian government’s ire.

Since his election, President Jovenel Moïse has had a cordial working relationship with the Core Group, but when the Group questioned the administration on the issue of individual and human rights, regarding the creation of the new intelligence agency. The government shot back, in a tweeter storm, one of the president’s advisors, Renald Lubérice boldly stated that “We have seen enough, lived enough. From our ‘friends we can receive advice, but no lesson to be learned. All the lessons of the past have been bad. If you still doubt it, admire the results” The tweet was made to disavow the international community’s criticism of the decree. According to Mr. Luberice’s tweet, the international community is somewhat responsible for what is happening in the country, because of their dictates, advice and lessons. But last weekend, the Core group expressed concern over two key Executive orders that they deem undemocratic and has the potential to infringe on the freedom of innocent citizens. These 2 troublesome decrees are: to establish the national intelligence agency (ANI) and a s well as a decree on public security.

According to the Core Group, the decree on public safety has gone too far to qualify certain practices as terrorist acts when, they do not amount to terrorism. As an example, erecting barricades and burning tires on public roads do not qualify as terrorist acts to warrant the heavy sentence of 30 to 50 years jail term. It is one thing to try to minimize or dissuade the people from violently demonstrating and create riots, but to ensure the rights of every individual, it is important to assure the people’s right to protest and demonstrate. Secondly, the new intelligence agency with virtual immunity from any legal action is a recipe for potential abuse. If staff of this agency know that they can execute their duties with impunity, then there is no telling how much abuse they can get away with and one can only imagine the effects on ordinary citizens. The Core Group instead demand the reestablishment of parliament as soon as possible, because decrees such as these two previously mentioned fall within the competence of the legislature, otherwise, these decrees do not comply with some of the fundamental principles of democracy, the rule of law, civil and political liberties and rights of citizens. The group called for organizing parliamentary elections, once the environment is sound enough to organize one.

In other news, the central bank of Haiti, La Banque de la république d’Haiti (BRH) announced the injection of US$150m into the national economy for the next two months to stabilize the gourde against the dollar and ensure the needs of the people. The bank will prioritize necessities, drugs, construction materials and petroleum products, as stated by to the governor of the BRH, Jean Baden Dubois and the Minister of Economy and Finance, Michael Patrick Boisvert, at a joint press conference yesterday. During the 2019/20 fiscal year, the bank injected US$93.7m into the economy to stabilize the gourde against the dollar. The bank further plead with the government to invest on infrastructure projects and factors of competitiveness such as security, work to maintain stability of the gourde. With just over two weeks to the end of the year, the government stated that it wants to prioritize spending in security to protect shoppers during the end of year shopping season. Two measures have been adopted with the aim of containing the expenditure at both the internal revenue service, Direction générale des impôts (DGI) and the customs l’Administration générale des douanes (AGD), so that expenditure is compatible with revenues collected. The government further hoped to achieve an 18.2% inflation rate by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2021. The bank’s financing undertaken till date amounts to approximately 6.1 billion gourdes, which is a targeted funding compared to budget forecasts.

The US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on former government officials, Fednel Monchéry and Joseph Pierre Richard Duplan as well as reputed gang leader Jimmy Chérizier alias Barbecue, for gross human rights violations. The sanctions were imposed on Thursday December 10, 2020, which was proclaimed as this years’ international day for human rights. The sanctions were a result of their involvement in the massacre at La Saline, near Port-au-Prince in November 2018. Corona virus appears to be rearing its ugly head again in Haiti, with 56 new cases recorded and one death in one day, according to information from the Ministry of Health. According to health officials, the positivity rate has increased from 8% in November to 14% in December. To date, there have been more than 9000 people have tested positive and 234 deaths since the virus was detected.

Dela Harlley

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