PORT-AU-PRINCE — For more than two years, Harry Junior Michel has been locked up in an overcrowded city jail in Haiti, accused of sexually assaulting a woman, a crime his family and friends say Michel did not commit. Michel still has not been brought in front of a judge to formally proclaim his innocence.
“In Haiti, injustice wins out more often than not,” says Presley André, a friend of Michel’s. “The [current] justice system should be reformed from top to bottom to form a more equitable version.”
Haiti’s justice system has long been dysfunctional, viewed as a corruptible branch that largely serves the interests of ruling politicians and moneyed citizens. For one, a task as simple as obtaining judicial records could be daunting. Between the inconsistent filing systems, clerks charging fees illegally to retrieve case files and prosecutors being unable to locate documents in time for trials, the integrity of the system has always been tenuous.
Haiti’s disorganized judicial branch obstructs cases big and small, including the Moïse assassination, hampers livelihoods and stymies justice for all Haitians, observers and workers say.
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