Lawyers representing former prime minister of Haiti, Jean Henry Céant has written to the Canadian government seeking an urgent meeting to discuss Canada’s decision to impose sanctions on their client “in response to the egregious conduct of Haitian political elites who provide illicit financial and operational support to armed gangs”.
In the letter addressed to Foreign Affairs Minister, Mélanie Joly, and other senior Canadian government officials, the Montreal-based Gélinas, Leclerc,Teolis law firm their client “denies any allegation against him that could have led to your recommendation.
“It is in this context and in accordance with Article 8 of the Rules that we urge you to remove his name from the said list, and this without delay. We consider that there is a total absence of evidence against him allowing the application of the Regulation.
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“In addition, we urge you to send us without delay your reasons in support of your recommendation to the Governor in Council,” the lawyers wrote.
They said they believed that the recommendation “may have been made on the basis of reports and/or findings by third parties, the veracity and reliability of which must be carefully assessed in the current social context in Haiti.
“We believe it is appropriate to hold a meeting with you quickly for this purpose. We will make ourselves available given the urgency of the matter,” they added.
Canada and the United States have over the past few months placed sanctions on a number of Haitian politicians, including Senate President Joseph Lambert, former Senate president, Louri Latortue, accusing them of abusing their “public position by participating in corrupt activity that undermined the integrity of Haiti’s government.
Canada and Washington have also claimed that there is “credible information” of their involvement in “a gross violation of human rights, namely an extrajudicial killing”.
They have all denied the accusations and have called on the two countries to provide the evidence to support the allegations.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) has placed “restrictive measures” on Jimmy Cherizier alias “Barbecue” one of the most influential gang leaders in Haiti who leads a coalition of Haitian gangs known as “G9 family and allies”.
This is the first time that the EU has imposed sanctions against Haiti and the EU said the restrictive measures allow for a framework for introducing travel restrictions; targeted arms embargo; freezing of funds and economic resources of, and a prohibition to make funds and economic resources available to, persons, entities or bodies engaged in or supporting gangs involved in violence…
“Jimmy Cherizier (alias “Barbecue”) has engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses.”
It said while serving as an officer in the Haitian National Police (HNP), Cherizier planned and participated in the November 2018 deadly attack against civilians in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood known as La Saline. During this attack, at least 71 people were killed, over 400 houses were destroyed and at least seven women were raped by armed gangs.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, Cherizier led armed groups in coordinated, brutal attacks in Port-au-Prince neighborhoods and in May 2020, he led armed gangs in a five-day attack in multiple Port-au-Prince neighborhoods where civilians were killed, and houses were set on fire.
The EU said in October, Cherizier and the G9 blocked the free movement of fuel from the Varreux oil terminal, the largest in Haiti until November 3, and that his actions directly contributed to the economic paralysis and humanitarian crisis in Haiti.