#HAITI DICTATORSHIP: Emasculating the Police Chief’s power is a vague attempt at restoring dictatorship

 

Emasculating the Police Chief’s power is a vague attempt at restoring dictatorship

 

For some time now, Jovenel Moïse has been calling for a return to dictatorship. But the decree he issued on May 28 leaves no doubt about his intention to set aside the institutions responsible for ensuring the smooth progress of democracy and fully support all initiatives aimed at its strengthening. The situation compels the various forces in the nation to unite to abort and nullify the President’s latest decision aimed at emasculating the power of the Director General (DG) of the National Police (PNH). Moreover, they must resolve to forcefully counter the anti-democratic instinct of the Banana Man and his team, all allied to former President Martelly’s Bald Headed Party.

 

The anti-democratic tendency of the Head of State was manifested rather early, even before he was sworn into office. There’s no forget- ting his outburst when the decision to organize the 2017 national carnival in Les Cayes was opposed by various sectors. “The President has spoken, that’s it,“ he thundered. Since then, he has persisted with his unilateral decisions, paying no attention to criticism or denunciations. In concert with his allies in Parliament, he pushed through laws to strengthen his unilateral way of proceeding. As the months passed, he thought he had done enough arbitrary things to simply bypass the Parliament. Thus, the May 28 decree that he ordered published in Le Moniteur, the official State gazette, in total ignorance of both Chambers! He just puts everyone in front of a fait accompli. Unquestionably, the May 28 presidential decree to sideline the DG of the PNH is a flagrant violation of the Constitution. The constitutional prerogatives entrusted the DG are now subject to ratification by the Higher Council of the National Police (French acronym CSPN). Michel- Ange Gédéon must obtain the approval of the CSPN to appoint, pro- mote or transfer the executives of the institution for which he is constitutionally responsible. The decree also forbids him from taking any disciplinary action against any police officer without prior consent of the CSPN. He can’t even blame, neither arrest, any member of the PNH without approval of the CSPN, now his over- lord. The same applies to training and staffing. Undeniably, the decree turns the DG into a figurehead, his title and function being just symbol- ic. Since its creation nearly twenty- four years ago, the PNH has operated without such interference from the Executive. There’s no justification for the President’s decision. There was no hint of a major dis- agreement pitting the D G against the Moïse-Lafontant administration. Therefore, we must conclude that the measure is intended to give President Moïse and his team the power to circumvent the DG from taking actions that fall within his competence but which could negatively affect the President and his allies, even com- promise their interests. Based on this reasoning, some people point to the close collaboration existing between the PNH and the local agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA,) who work closely with the office of that institution in Haiti. It’s a fact that the DEA supports the Haitian Anti- Drug Fighting Brigade (French acro- nym BLTS) and the General Directorate of the Judicial Police (French acronym DCPJ.) That collaboration was evident in January of last year when Guy Philippe, an ally of President Moïse, was arrested and quickly transferred to Miami where he stood trial and was sentenced to nine years in jail for his involvement in drug trafficking. Credible sources within the PNH suggest that the ruling team is not only aiming at strip- ping the DG of effective authority. They want to shrink his ability to take timely decision, especially relat- ing to cooperation with the American anti-drug agency. By modifying the functioning of the PNH chief, President Moïse and his political allies make it impossible for the Police institution to take decisions likely to affect the fate of certain parliamentarians. For, it’s known that American judicial authorities had asked the President to waive the immunity of certain legislators. Obviously, the expulsion process would become convoluted and cumbersome, dragging on indefinitely when submitted to the CSPN for approval. That would be contrary to past actions when matters were left to the discretion of the DG. Again, the swiftness shown in the Guy Philippe case proves the obvious. It‘s no secret that with the CSPN as the ultimate authority, PNH decisions will be made at a snail’s pace. Understandably so, because the CSPN, unlike the PNH, is not an organization with boots on ground. Rather, it‘s a strategic entity which meets only four times a month at the most. Moreover, its members are cabinet ministers, meaning the eyes and ears of the Executive. Now, any decision by the DG must await the ratification of the CSPN before implementation. In that case any cooperation with DEA officials must be approved by the CSPN before implementation. Since the CSPN is con- trolled by the Executive, it will likely submit to the whims of the President whenever his interests and those of his political allies are in conflict with those of the foreign entity. The presidential decree of May 28 violates the Constitution twice. First, it violates the article of the Ba- sic Charter that created the Haitian National Police and stipulated the prerogatives of the PNH’s DG. Then, it violates the law that created the CSPN by conferring on the latter powers not provided for in the 1987 amended Constitution. Admittedly, President Moïse and his team are sinking right into illegality. Fortunately, authoritative voices have spoken out to denounce the President’s deviation, asking that the illegal decree be rejected immediately. Also, several members of civil society have raised their voices to demand the withdrawal of the decree. Some parliamentarians, including members of the Bald-Headed ruling Party, have also spoken out against the President’s power grab. In fact, a group of 10 Deputies, the equivalent of US Congress members, sent a letter to the Speaker of the House requesting a special meet- ing of Parliament to debate the President’s decree. Clearly, Jovenel Moïse has succumbed to his autocratic reflexes, a flaw manifested throughout his fifteen months in power. This is a challenge to the defenders of democracy who must mobilize their forces to defeat the budding dictator before it’s too late.

 

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