Conflicts & War

Haiti appoints new judges in crackdown on judiciary after failed coup

By Maria Montecelos

Port-au-Prince, Feb 13 (efe-epa).- Haiti has replaced three Supreme Court judges who allegedly participated in a failed bid to overthrow the government of President Jovenel Moise amid a mounting public outrage over when his term ends.

The new Supreme Court judges are Octélus Dorvilien, Louiselmé Joseph, and Pierre Harry Alexis.

However, their designations may not be conforming to the constitutional clauses that govern the appointment of judges for the country’s top court.

The same is true of the executive order with which Moise, on Monday, forcibly retired judges Joseph Mécène Jean Louis, Wendelle Coq Thelot and Yvickel Dabrésil.

Dabrésil was also among 20 people arrested on Feb.6 for plotting the alleged coup against the president and was not released until Thursday.

In yet another step against the opposing judges, the government Friday issued an order against magistrate Jean Louis, banning him from leaving the country.

The controversial orders have sparked an outcry in Haiti and drawn criticism from several countries and international organizations.

These include the Organization of American States (OAS).

The Professional Association of Magistrates (APM) called the appointments “illegal and arbitrary” and against the procedures.

However, Moise defended the appointments, saying on Twitter that he chose the new judges from “a list previously sent by the Senate,” a constitutional requirement in the case of Supreme Court judges.

The Senate, which has been practically closed for a year now because two-thirds of its members ended their term, has neither confirmed nor denied that information.

The Haitian president’s crackdown on the judiciary began last weekend, which led the opposition to appoint an interim president – Supreme Court Judge Joseph Mécène Jean Louis – a day after Moise denounced the coup attempt.

According to Moise’s detractors, his five-year term ended on Feb.7.

But the president makes a different interpretation of the constitution and considers it legal for him to remain in office until Feb.7, 2022, since he came to power in 2017.

Canada, which has a substantial Haitian community, Friday joined the United States and the OAS in condemning the treatment of the judges in the Caribbean nation.

Canadian Foreign Minister, former astronaut Marc Garneau, conveyed to his Haitian counterpart, Claude Joseph, his concern about the situation in the country.

He also urged “all stakeholders to engage in dialogue for democratic renewal,” the Canadian and Haitian foreign ministries said on their respective Twitter accounts.

The US, the OAS, and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) have expressed their support for Moise’s plans to hold legislative and presidential elections in September.

Meanwhile, Port-au-Prince is regaining normality after the eruption of the crisis over the weekend, which was evident in the intense traffic and commercial activity, both formal and informal, in the country’s capital.

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