On July 13, Haitian Judge Jean Serge Joseph passed away under suspicious circumstances—sparking controversy within Haiti that his death was related to his involvement in a high profile corruption investigation against President Michel Martelly’s wife Sophia and their son Olivier.
The charges of corruption against Martelly’s family are related to the disappearance of large sums of money from several nationwide sports and social programs which are personally run by Sophia and Olivier, instead of the respective government ministries that should provide oversight. A group of lawyers, including Newton Louis Saint-Juste and André Michel, initially brought forward the high-profile case in August 2012. On July 2, the case took an important turn when Judge Joseph ordered the Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, and several senior officials to appear in court as witnesses.
Well over 15,000 people poured out from all corners of Haiti’s capital to march alongside the cortege of cars that carried former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to his home in Tabarre from the Port-au-Prince courthouse he visited on May 8.
Thousands more massed along sidewalks and on rooftops to cheer the procession on, waving flags and wearing small photos of Aristide in their hair, pinned to their clothing, or stuck in their hats.
Led by Fanmi Lavalas party coordinator Maryse Narcisse through a gauntlet of jostling journalists, Aristide had entered the courthouse (the former Belle Époque Hotel) at exactly 9:00 a.m., the time of his appointment to testify before Investigating Judge Ivickel Dabrésil. Aristide had waited with Narcisse in a car outside the court’s backdoor for about 45 minutes. It was only the second time that Aristide had left his home (and the first time publicly) since returning to Haiti on Mar. 18, 2011 from a seven-year exile in Africa following the Feb. 29, 2004 Washington-backed coup d’état which cut short his second government.
by Rashmee Roshan Lall and Ed Pilkington. Originally posted at The Guardian
The UN has taken the rare step of invoking its legal immunity to rebuff claims for compensation from 5,000 victims of the Haiti cholera epidemic, the worst outbreak of the disease in modern times and widely believed to have been caused by UN peacekeepers importing the infection into the country.
Citing a convention laid down in 1946, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, telephoned President Michel Martelly of Haiti to tell him that the UN was not willing to compensate any of the claimants. The epidemic has killed almost 8,000 people and stricken hundreds of thousands more – about one out of every 16 Haitians.
For the UN to claim immunity for a crisis that most experts are convinced it unwittingly caused through its own disaster relief mission is highly contentious. The infection is thought to have been carried into Haiti by UN peacekeepers from Nepal sent to help with disaster relief following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Three years after a devastating earthquake, the “Republic of NGOs” has become the country of the unemployed
“HAITI is open for business”, Michel Martelly, the country’s president since May 2011, likes to proclaim. His government has backed up this talk by making it easier for foreigners to own property and by setting as a goal that Haiti climb into the top 50 countries in the World Bank’s ranking for ease of doing business (it now comes 174th out of 185). In November the president opened a gleaming arrivals hall at Toussaint Louverture airport. Mr Martelly himself is in such constant motion abroad—courting donors and investors, he says—that his peregrinations and the per diems alleged to be associated with them have become a source of mordant jokes.
But gangbuster growth, hoped for as the country rebuilds itself after the earthquake of January 12th 2010 that wrecked the capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed tens of thousands of people, has failed to materialise. In the 12 months to the end of September the economy expanded by a modest 2.5%. It was the second year of dashed expectations: the IMF had forecast growth of 8% in both 2011 and 2012.
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Haitian President Michel Martelly said Monday he plans to introduce an amendment in parliament giving millions of Haitians living in the diaspora, including South Florida, the right to vote in future elections. “Of course it will be up to the parliament to decide if it goes through,” Martelly said during a press conference Monday after an all-day invitation-only diaspora forum with members of the Haitian-American community at the North Miami Beach Library.
Martelly arrived in Miami over the weekend after a tour of Japan. He said he proposed the South Florida visit and the meeting with the Haitian community “to first of all thank the diaspora for their support” during his historical 2011 presidential victory and “to inform them on the progress in Haiti and finally to find a way to engage them to help us really develop Haiti.”
“I believe there is more that can be done by the diaspora,” he said. “But before we even ask for anything, I thought it was very important that we come here to not just tell them what we do, but also show them.”
Haiti President Michel Martelly’s Rome trip included a meeting with Jose Graziano da Silva, the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization at the organization’s headquarters.
Martelly stressed the need for a contingency plan in Haiti to deal with the damage caused by the two storms that have damaged Haiti in the last several months, Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Isaac.
Da Silva reportedly informed Martelly that the FAO was working to respond to natural disasters in Haiti.