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Haiti’s newsreel: Seeking justice…

After struggling to find a willing judge to preside over the judicial inquiry into the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, the Dean of the court of First Impression instance in Port-au-Prince, Judge Bernard Saint-Vil, was able to obtain assurance from Judge Mathieu Chanlatte to preside over the investigation, a month after the assassination of the president. Before he was able to get the magistrate to take on this responsibility, Judge St Vil also secured assurances from the Ministry of Justice and Public Safety, that the government would make available resources as well as assure the safety of the judge and his team to safely execute their duties. Minister Rockefeller Vincent stressed that his ministry is responsible for investments in the justice system and the security of citizens in the country, including judges and all jurisdictions and plans to make sure the magistrate will be allowed to undertake his responsibility without fear or lack of resources. He also noted that the investigation will be thorough and last an expansive period of time. The president of the national association of Haitian magistrates, l’Association nationale des magistrats haïtiens (ANAMAH) Judge Jean Wilner Morin, the choice of Mathieu Chanlatte is a good one and they wish him luck and hope that he is able to do a good job and not allow himself to be intimidated by anyone. For Pierre Espérance who heads the human rights network, RNDDH, hopes that the judge will deal with the case in serenity with the law as a compass without tipping into political persecution, noting also that Judge Chanlatte is one of the slowest judges in the judicial system and that was chosen to oversee this investigation when he hardly completes the caseloads before his court on a timely fashion. Judge Chanlatte was the judge presided over the Dermalog case in 2020 and the state’s case against Sogener in 2020.

While commenting on the judiciary’s choice for the investigation into the assassination of the president, Pierre Espérance, also revealed that a considerable amount of money was found in the Jovenel Moïse household at the time of his assassination. Mr. Espérance stated that there were bags of cash found in the house, the same bags used by the national bank, BRH, containing bundles of US dollars and gourdes, and that the widow, Martine Moïse, was able to recover some of the money after returning to the country. An amount of US$40,000 was found in the bulletproof vest of one of the Colombian nationals who died during their capture. Another Colombian victim was found with an undetermined amount of money to which residents of Morne Calvaire and Jalousie, where some of the attackers were captured helped themselves. The human rights advocate also claimed that the headquarters of the judicial police and the FBI have not traced the document that President Moïse’s wife claimed the attackers took after killing her husband, signaling that they will speak with Mrs Moïse to find out what she knows. He further pokes holes in the assassination narrative, especially with the police and the security agents on the time they took to begin investigations and other measures that technically should have begun as soon as the situation became known. Mr. Espérance blamed the police for allowing a suspect Christian Emmanuel Sanon to run away and only arrested later at the residence of Samyr Handal, who was escorted out of the country by the police. It took almost a month for a search warrant to be executed on his residence where a cache of arms was found. The human rights advocate is not confident that justice will be done in the Moïse case. In his testimony on July 9, 2021, Judge Clément Noël stated that the following items have been found in the vehicle used by the assassins: 5 firearms (2, .9mm pistols, 5.56 caliber cartridges, the server to the security camera at the President’s residence, a Banque nationale de crédit BNC checkbook belonging to the presidential couple, about 20 bags, an axe, pliers, clothing food and money (109), 20-dollar bills, a bundle of 100, $100 dollar bills and more money in various denominations, a bulletproof vest, two license plates for an Avis rental car, rented on July 6, 2021 and cellular phones.

In other news, the new Prime Minister Ariel Henry is multiplying his meetings and consultations with state actors to get the state on a good path, providing brief synopsis of such meetings on the state’s official website. According to the site, the Prime Minister was reported to have met the Minister of Economy and Finance, Michel Patrick Boisvert and his close collaborators to discuss the urgent need to reduce the costs of state operations, by revitalizing the public service and develop a budget that meets the mission of the interim government; which is to dote the country with a legitimately elected political personnel through free, honest, impartial, and transparent elections. According to the official website, the meeting is part of the government’s effort to achieve a rigorous consolidation of public revenue and state spending. In the very difficult and precarious socio-economic climate, rife with insecurity, violence and food insecurity, the Prime Minister is advocating for a labor-intensive sanitation program, a policy for job creation and to act to reduce the level of food insecurity among the vulnerable. The Prime Minister also put the gangs on alert that he’s determined to get them off the streets to allow for people to move freely and about their daily life without fear of being kidnapped or becoming victim to the numerous senseless gang violence.

In other news, after several attempts, authorities in the South, have ruled against the sale of gasoline on the black market. With the help of the mayor and the courts in Cayes, the Director of Commerce and Industry in the South Department, Evens Clovis confiscated 786 gallons of gasoline and diesel oil this past Saturday afternoon. (114 gallons in 5-gallon jerrycans, and four (4) 54-gallon drums.) Two sellers were arrested during the operation which targeted one house and several street vending spots. The gas was not secured and left in open containers and at various places, near fire, making for hazardous conditions. While promising to use the operation as a deterrent to those who are willing to go into this trade, Mr. Clovis called on gas stations to stop selling gas to people in containers and only sell directly to people filling up their vehicles. It has been suspected that the petrol station operators sell the gas to the black-market operators at night, at 400 gourdes per gallon. The government is planning to crack down on this practice as it has created fuel shortage in the department.

The Ministry of Education and professional development, MENFP has published the new school year calendar and according to the calendar, the 196 days school year will begin on Monday, September 6, 2021. The year will end on Friday June 30, 2022, with state exams taking place between June 20th and 22nd for students in elementary school and from the 4th through 7th of July for high school students (Bac traditionnel).

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