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17 April 2023

The Observatory learns with horror of the assassination of Haitian lawyer André Charleus, whose body was later burned.

A lawyer in the commune of Montrouis, where a land conflict has been dragging on for several weeks, André Charleus was defending the peasants of Piatre, victims of looting and damage by armed groups in the region.

On his way to his home on Wednesday 12 April 2023, in Délugé, Arcahaie, André Charleus was ambushed by individuals who opened fire on his vehicle. His body was then dragged along National Road 1 and found burnt on the road.

This assassination takes place in a context of generalised violence in certain regions of the country, with increasingly violent and frequent clashes between gangs, the latter trying to expand their territories by targeting the population of areas controlled by their rivals. In this context, the assassination of André Charleus comes a few days after he denounced the burning of approximately 25 houses, the looting of properties and the seizure of land by armed gangs in the locality of Piatre during an interview with the organisation “Tèt kole Ti Peyizan” on 10 April 2023.

The Observatory is indignant and strongly condemns the assassination of André Charleus because of his profession as a lawyer.

The Observatory calls on the Haitian authorities to carry out an independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the assassination of André Charleus, who was targeted for having defended the peasants of Piatre against armed gangs.

The Observatory calls on the Haitian authorities to provide greater protection for legal professionals, particularly lawyers.

The Observatory reminds the Haitian authorities that the independence of the legal profession is one of the main indicators of democratic health and the consolidation of the rule of law. This is in line with the United Nations Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990), which state that:

“Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all their professional functions without hindrance, intimidation, harassment or undue interference; (…); and (c) are not subject to, or threatened with, prosecution or economic or other sanctions for any actions taken in accordance with their recognized professional obligations and standards and their professional ethics.” (Principle 16)

“Lawyers shall not be equated with their clients or their clients’ cause by reason of the performance of their duties.” (Principle 18)

“Lawyers, like all other citizens, shall enjoy freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. (Principle 23)