Haitian attorneys André Michel and Louis Newton St. Juste arrived in the U.S. recently to meet with representatives of human rights organizations (HRO). The reason for the visit was to obtain support for Michel and St. Juste's allegations that President Martelly's family has been engaging in corruption practices.
Michel and St. Juste, who are practicing members of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association, spoke before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about the continuing problem of corruption in the Haitian government. They met also with representatives of the U.S. State Department, Congress, and the Haitian Diaspora.
Together with HRO legal counsel, Michel and St. Juste have begun preparations to prosecute Sophia and Olivier Martelly, the president's wife and son, for diverting funds allocated to state programs for their personal use. Other government officials are said to be involved in the corruption scheme as well.
Three Haitian human rights attorneys have been targets of death threats for their criticisms against the government of Haiti (GOH) over the last several months. Mario Joseph, Newton St. Juste and André Michel have also turned up on a list of dissidents the Ministry of Justice wants to arrest for unknown reasons.
The advocacy organization, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), along with Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) have appealed to Haitian law enforcement, pressuring them to look into the sources of threats and scare tactics. They are also asking for a security detail to guard the attorneys.
Mario Joseph, Director of the International Lawyers Office, has been working on cases involving Jean-Claude Duvalier, former dictator of the GOH; the United Nation's part in the uptick of cholera cases; and illegal tenant evictions following the 2010 earthquake.
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