This report is based on the panel presentation and the views expressed at a public forum hosted by USIP’s Haiti Program on February 15, 2012 discussing justice in Haiti and the path forward for judicial reform.

Peace Brief: Providing Justice in Haiti

Summary

  • In spite of the Haitian government’s stated priority of improving rule of law, a Haitian court’s decision not to prosecute former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier for crimes against humanity has cast doubt on the sincerity of that commitment.
  • The failings of Haiti’s judicial system are well-known, but historically reform efforts have been ineffective. Improved provision of justice is critical for the creation of conditions for stability and the eventual withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
  • Modernizing Haiti’s antiquated legal and penal codes are an essential component of rule of law reform. Some progress is being made toward this end.
  • A greater emphasis is needed on coordinating efforts among international donors and improving interaction with Haitian counterparts to achieve progress on judicial reform.

About this Brief

This report is based on the panel presentation and the views expressed at a public forum hosted by USIP’s Haiti Program on February 15, 2012 entitled “Justice for Haiti.” The panel included Ugo Solinas, senior political affairs officer in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations; Joel Danies, deputy coordinator for Political Affairs & Office Director in the U.S. State Department Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator; Mark Schneider, vice president of International Crisis Group; and Vivienne O’Connor, senior program officer in USIP’s Rule of Law Center.

About the Author

The author of this report, Robert Maguire, is a professor of the Practice of International Affairs in the International Development Studies Program of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and Director of GWU’s Latin America and Hemispheric Studies Program. He is also the chairman of USIP’s Haiti Working Group and a former USIP Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow (2008-2009).

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