Many reports have detailed the crimes and human rights violations perpetrated during the US-orchestrated coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. These crimes include the illegal arrests and detention of hundreds of political prisoners associated with President Aristide and the Lavalas movement.
In February 2006, the Haitian people showed their determination to return to sovereign and democratic rule by electing Mr. Rene Preval as their president. Yet nearly a year later, despite ongoing protests in Haiti and around the world, the vast majority of political prisoners remain locked down in Haiti’s dungeons. They were arrested illegally by an unconstitutional regime, targeted for their political affiliation, and have been in jail without trial far longer than Haitian law permits. It is past time for their release.
We call on the government of President Rene Preval to stand up to the US/UN occupiers of Haiti and immediately release these political prisoners!
WHO IS AMANUS MAYETTE?
Mr. Mayette was a member of Parliament until shortly before his jailing after the February 29, 2004 coup. In a July 2004 interview in Haiti’s National Penitentiary with members of the Haiti Action Committee, Mr. Mayette proudly expressed his affiliation with Fanmi Lavalas and told interviewers that he was ready to die so that President Aristide could return to Haiti. Here is the story of his arrest and imprisonment:
1. Illegal Political Arrest – On the evening of March 19, 2004, Mr. Mayette was seized at his home by masked men dressed in black. He was hooded and handcuffed, and his feet were chained. The men drove Mr. Mayette around, threatening to kill him if he didn’t disclose the whereabouts of other Lavalas members. Mr. Mayette refused. The men were directed by Michael Lucius, corrupt former Head of the Judicial Police -- currently under indictment for using his police position to carry out kidnapping for ransom. Mr. Mayette was eventually brought to Lucius’ office for questioning. Mr. Mayette continued to refuse to talk, and demanded to be set free. Four hours later, his captors replaced the chains, handcuffs and mask, and drove him around in a truck. Security forces again threatened to kill him for not speaking, but he continued to refuse to give any information about other members of Lavalas. Subsequently, he was taken to the National Penitentiary.
2. Phony Charges –Like Haiti’s former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert, Mr. Mayette was accused of participating in a “massacre” of anti-Aristide forces near the town of St. Marc in the days before the coup. The story of the massacre was spread by the National Coalition for Haitian Rights-Haiti (NCHR-Haiti), a virulently anti-Aristide group that supported the coup. While no definitive evidence of such a massacre was ever uncovered, Mr. Mayette has now been held for close to three years without trial. The top UN Human Rights official in Haiti called the charging document “a Flagrant Violation of the Constitution” because it called for trial and sentencing of Prime Minister Neptune and some 30 others including Mayette by a single judge without a jury.
3. Illegal Detention –Most defendants in the La Scierie case have been granted pre-trial release while the Appeals Court decides the appeal. It has been over a year since the appeals were filed in October 2005, and seven months since the court heard the appeal. The Appeals court has declined to decide the appeal, despite Article 15 of Haiti’s July 26, 1979 Law on Penal Appeals, that requires the appeals court to decide appeals in the cases of defendants in pre-trial detention within 30 days, absent unforeseen obstacles. In addition, the appeals court prosecutor has recommended that the case against Mr. Mayette be dropped for lack of evidence.
In the meantime, Amanus Mayette remains in prison. He has spent over 1000 days in prison without trial in intolerable and sub-human conditions.
Demand release of jailed democracy fighter Amanus Mayette! Don’t let them silence the voices of Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement!
Free Amanus and all political prisoners!