August 19, 2022

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Two more years awaiting Haiti’s penal code

By Anneli Ruiz Garcia

Prensa Latina reporter in Haiti

After a cabinet meeting on June 22, the authorities decided to postpone the implementation of this law for two years, considering that the decree was conditional on commitment to a series of measures that have not yet been implemented.

He described the decision as a victory by various national sectors that called for the abolition of the rule.

Former Senator Jean Renel Senatos asserted that the law tainted moral values ​​and human dignity and insisted that corrections should be made before it could be implemented.

For his part, Reverend Gregory Toussaint declared that the struggle must continue to amend the text, which in his opinion promotes corruption, and confirmed that more than 180,000 Haitians, or about 1.5 percent of the population, signed a petition demanding its reform.

Against religion and politics

Moyes approved the law in June 2020, a year before the assassination, while he was the target of mass mobs criticizing his administration, and alleged cases of corruption and authoritarianism.

In this context, he gave the green light to the law, as a result of at least a decade’s investigation and slept three years in Parliament. With nearly a thousand articles in existence, the new code should replace the existing code in place since 1835; Many voices consider that it does not respond to the needs of society in terms of justice.

However, the main criticism came from religious sectors that questioned the criminalization of discrimination based on sexual orientation, the supposedly mandatory nature of same-sex marriage, and bitterly denounced the decriminalization of abortion.

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“If a pastor did not want to marry two men or two women, he would be arrested and face imprisonment for one or three years,” Reverend Wesmond John said at the time, leading to a large rally in defense of the “traditional family.” There is no article referring to the LGBT union.

In the current legislation, women are penalized for the decriminalization of abortion and anyone who practices it under any circumstances is a matter of public health because of the number of people who go into this practice with very serious consequences, members of the Presidential Committee defended. They revised the script prior to its release in 2020.

Former Senate President Yuri Latortue’s vote was another crucial one, as the new ruling only exempts cases of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes from the right to pardon, leaving the way for the president to pardon for political affairs and financial crimes. , then confirmed.

Defense of the new regulation and objections

However, the former Haitian Minister of Justice and Public Security, Jean-Joseph Exome, believes that this is a “wrong” interpretation of the amnesty and amnesty provisions, because the new instrument “semi-word” reproduces the existing provisions on these issues in the 1860 law amended in 1906 and 1994.

Exumi, who was in charge of the reform commission, denied that the commission did not meet with various sectors during the process of drafting the legislation, and insisted on having a broad discussion with the institutions on the text; “It wasn’t done in one day, but over several years,” he said.

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The new law, which should come into force after a government decision in 2024, allows fines and their penalties to be determined by law or by presidential decree, at the request of the relevant minister, and provides a legal basis for the principles that govern Haitian criminal law.

It states that this applies to any person in the national territory who has committed a crime of genocide or against humanity, regardless of where the facts are.

Likewise, it makes legal entities accountable and introduces a variety of alternative sentences to imprisonment, absent in current legislation, while contemplating criminal penalties for behavior associated with new technologies, white collar crime, and illicit drug trafficking.

However, for the National Association of Haitian Judges, a group of experts must analyze the legal consequences of the document, while the Senate insisted that the context is not ideal because the conditions necessary to ensure implementation are not in place.

For its part, the Port-au-Prince Bar Association said that the time is not right because there are “substantial and formal” problems, as well as at the level of mechanisms that must enter into force before implementation.

Likewise, they asserted that some of the rules contained in the document “are detrimental to the constitutional order, in particular the granting of independent regulatory power to the executive in criminal matters.”

After the meeting, they emphasized that these provisions destroy the hierarchy of rules, spoil the separation of powers and disrupt the foundations of the rule of law.

With its extension, another of the assassinated president’s projects has been postponed, while elections, constitutional reform and 24-hour electricity look like dreams in the midst of the Caribbean nation’s acute political and security crisis.

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Arp / An