According to the Haitian Constitution, the legislative, executive, and judicial powers constitute the essential foundation on which the State’s organization is based. Within the exercise of their respective powers, duties, and functions, they are entirely independent. However, since January 2020, the failure to hold legislative elections has resulted in a gradual deterioration of this branch of power, the mandate of all deputies and two thirds of the senate having ended. The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on the night of July 6th to 7th, as well as the death of the President of the Court of Cassation have worsened the situation from an institutional standpoint. This situation has exacerbated the dysfunction of the three branches: the National Assembly and the Superior Council of the Judiciary (Conseil Supérieur du Pouvoir Judiciaire – CSPJ) are now null, while the executive struggles to lead the nation effectively. An institutional vacuum is being created on top of the political and health crisis. Moreover, the recent earthquake of August 14, 2021 generated additional urgent needs, further exacerbating the aforementioned shortcomings and suggesting an upcoming deterioration of the human rights situation in Haiti.
The Recurrence of Violent Acts
For more than two years, Haitians have been facing an increase in organized banditry, with armed groups being present in several neighbourhoods of the capital and other provincial towns. This banditry has resulted in numerous gross human rights violations, including massacres, kidnappings, rapes, and street assassinations. Some neighbourhoods, under the control of armed groups who regularly clash to gain more territory, are left to their own devices, the bandits having driven the police away from precincts.
The proliferation of these groups and the recurrence of violent clashes have led to the displacement of nearly ten thousand Haitians, particularly affecting populations in vulnerable situations such as women, children, people living in poverty, as well as those living with disabilities. Typically living in makeshift shelters, these internally displaced people are subject to all kinds of human rights violations. When fleeing their homes, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence, including but not limited to sexual violence.
China’s new Rule of Law Concept contradicts in central points the internationally established conception of the Rule of Law. The Chinese proposal stands for rule by law. These ideas should be countered in the international debate as well as by further promoting the current Rule of Law model in cooperation with partner countries and civil society. However, existing judicial dialogues and legal cooperation with China itself should also be continued in an appropriate manner.
China’s five-year plan to build the rule of law (2020 – 2025) contains a conception of law that departs from the current UN conception of Rule of Law in fundamental respects and contradicts the interests of both the European Union and the United States. The main sticking points are the strict rejection of the separation of powers/independence of the judiciary, a completely different understanding of human rights, data, and privacy protection as well as democracy. Furthermore, digital systems are to replace the decisions of an independent judiciary in important areas.
The bottom line is that ruling by law is taking the place of the Rule of Law.In particular, the digital elements of the Chinese model are reminiscent of a 4.0 version of the dystopia of a total surveillance state described by George Orwell in his novel 1984.
According to the Five-Year Plan, the declared goal is to promote Chinese-style rule of law internationally. For this purpose, China is relying on participation in UN bodies, international cooperation, judicial dialogues, exchange programs and new arbitration procedures. This announcement should set alarm bells ringing. The concept adds a new dimension to legal development, as China challenges the existing international consensus on Rule of Law.
How are the corruption cases left by the MACCIH advancing before the Honduran courts? How much have the reforms to some laws approved by the deputies of the National Congress affected them? A brief and worrisome panorama shows that the “shielding” of corruption networks has worked in this Central American country.
To analyze the issue, the corruption case known as “Red de Diputados” becomes emblematic. In December 2017, the binomial formed by the Support Mission against Corruption and Impunity (MACCIH), and the Special Prosecutorial Unit against Impunity for Corruption (UFECIC, today called UFERCO), presented this case, initiating a criminal action against five deputies of the National Congress in collusion with three members of an NGO called the National Association of Producers and Industries of Neighborhoods and Colonies of Honduras (ANPIBCH), through which they illegally appropriated public funds that were intended for social projects.