Haitian prosecutor asks for police help to save Palace of Justice

Haitian prosecutor asks for police help to save Palace of Justice

Lafontant wrote to the Department’s Law Enforcement Directorate asking for an escort with at least two armored cars to enter the facility, which has been in the hands of armed groups since Friday.

“The visit to the premises will allow not only the recovery of files from the offices of the deputy commissioners, but also the opening of an investigation against the perpetrators of the attack on the Palace of Justice,” reads the letter circulating on social networks.

At dawn on Friday, an armed group forcibly cleared the judicial authorities and took possession of the site.

Meanwhile, the judges, lawyers and prosecutors could only get out by climbing the walls of the prison and, thanks to urgent police intervention, receiving a detailed report from the Je Klere Foundation, a human rights organization.

Lafontant assured that he intends to prosecute those responsible and to fulfill his obligations, and announced the temporary transfer of some public prosecutor’s services to the Peace Court in the south of Port-au-Prince to allow access to justice.

According to the foundation’s report, at least seven vehicles were seized by the armed groups and one person injured in the raid.

The platform also criticized that since Monday the equipment stolen from the Palais de Justice has been put up for sale on the Champs de Mars, a few meters from the National Palace, without the intervention of the authorities.

The attack was the second in less than a week and the third since October, when intruders broke into the offices of Judge Garry Orélien, who was then investigating the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse (2017-2021).

The National Association of Haitian Magistrates said it was concerned but not surprised that the Port-au-Prince Court of First Instance was ransacked by bandits and reiterated calls for the courthouse to be moved out of the area where it is located .

The Palace of Justice is located in Martissant, on the southern exit of the capital, a gang-controlled area from which more than 20,000 people were forced to flee in June 2021 due to gang clashes.

jf/anne