Gérard Jean-Juste

Fr. Gérard Jean-Juste (1947–) is the Roman Catholic rector of Saint Claire's church for the poor in Port-au-Prince, Haïti. He is also a liberation theologian and a supporter of the Fanmi Lavalas political party, the largest in Haïti. In 1978, Father Jean-Juste founded the Haïtian Refugee Center in Miami, Florida. He has been characterized as a beloved figure among South Florida's Haïtian community. [ [http://kendrickmeek.house.gov/press/2004.10.20.shtml Meek to Bush Administration: Ensure Safety of Imprisoned Priest in Haiti] ] [ [http://www.miaminewtimes.com/Issues/2005-10-27/news/strouse.html Free This Priest] ]

He gained recent renown throughout Haïti and the Haïtian diaspora as a determined opponent of the interim government of Prime Minister Gérard Latortue. Gérard Latortue's "de facto" rule came about after the violent overthrow of the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide by anti-government rebels (see 2004 Haiti rebellion).

In November 2004, he was released from prison by police after seven weeks in incarceration, following outcries of opposition to his incarceration. wikinews|Imprisoned Haitian priest may need US doctors wikinews|Officials of Fanmi Lavalas party threaten boycottwikinews|Lavalas candidate barred from elections

On July 21 2005, he was arrested by police following his return from a trip to Miami, Florida in connection with the abduction and subsequent murder of journalist Jacques Roche, despite the fact that Jean-Juste was out of the country at the times of both Roche's abduction (July 10) and the discovery of his mutilated, bullet-riddled body (July 14). No evidence was presented against Father Jean-Juste and it was widely understood that the trial was politically motivated by unelected officials in the interim regime. Jean-Juste, who had turned up at the locale of Roche's funeral to pay his respects, was mobbed, and assaulted and accused of being involved in the murder by Roche's family immediately following the service.

On July 28 2005, Amnesty International named Jean-Juste a "prisoner of conscience" [ [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR360082005?open&of=ENG-HTIHaiti: Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience: Gérard Jean-Juste] ] [ [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/28/149242 Amnesty International Declares Father Jean-Juste a “Prisoner of Conscience] ] .

He also emerged as a potential candidate for the Fanmi Lavalas in the 2006 General elections in Haiti which, after several postponements, took place on February 7 2006.

In August 2005, officials of the Fanmi Lavalas party threatened to boycott the elections if Jean-Juste, and other alleged political prisoners, were not released. They believe Jean-Juste's arrest, made by the interim government, which is an opposition party to Lavalas, is an effort to prevent Lavalas from once again winning in elections. In September, the party attempted to register Jean-Juste as a candidate for president, but they were denied. The provisional electoral council said that electoral law requires candidates to register in person. On February 7 2005, Jean-Juste formally endorsed Rene Preval. [ [http://cbs4.com/local/local_story_037161543.html Jean-Juste Endorses Preval For Haiti Presidency] ]

In late December, 2005, a US medical doctor confirmed a colleague’s initial diagnosis that Jean-Juste has cancer. After examining Jean-Juste and analysing a blood sample he drew from him, prominent Harvard University physician and Aristide supporter Paul Farmer said Jean-Juste has chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He said the disease is not immediately fatal but can develop into a more virulent strain of cancer. Farmer told the Miami Herald: "Father Gerry's in serious trouble if he isn't released from jail for proper work-up in the States." [ [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/30/1521216 Doctor: Jailed Haitian Priest Has Cancer] ]

On January 26 2006, a judge dropped (informal) charges against Jean-Juste in regards to the death of Roche. However, Jean-Juste was indicted on two lesser counts of weapons possession and conspiracy, according to Jean-Juste's lawyer, Mario Joseph. No court date has been set.

On January 29 2006, Jean-Juste, after having been granted temporary release by the interim Haiti government, arrived in Miami to receive proper medical treatment for his leukemia. [ [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-01-29-voa28.cfm Jailed Haitian Priest Flown to US to Seek Medical Treatment] ]

On November 26, 2007, the Court of Appeals of Port-au-Prince heard Fr. Jean-Juste's challenges to the remaining charges against him- weapons possession and criminal conspiracy. Fr. Jean-Juste declared that "my rosary is my only weapon, and the prosecution could produce no evidence to contradict him. The prosecutor even conceded that there was no evidence in the file against Jean-Juste, and asked that the charges be dismissed. [ [http://blog.ijdh.org/haiti_justiceblog/2007/11/my-rosary-is-my.html#more My Rosary Is My Only Weapon- Fr. Jean-Juste goes to Court in Haiti, Again] ] . The Appeals Court judges declined to dismiss the case, on the grounds that they needed more time to consider it (Fr. Jean-Juste's appeal was filed 22 months before) [http://blog.ijdh.org/haiti_justiceblog/2007/12/haiti-justice-d.html#more Haiti: Justice Denied Again, South Florida Sun-Sentinel] . Large crowds of Fanmi Lavalas [http://haitianalysis.com/2007/11/30/photo-exhibit-crowds-cheer-persecuted-priest-gerald-jean-juste grassroots democracy supporters] gathered to cheer on the priest, a former political prisoner according to Amnesty International.

In June 2008 in an interview with [http://haitianalysis.com/2008/6/19/charges-finally-dropped-against-fr-gerard-jean-juste HaitiAnalysis] , Father Jean-Juste confirmed that all charges had been dropped against him.

External links

* [http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/haiti/12429213.htm Miami Herald Article, August 2005] (Link dead as of 03:02, 15 January 2007 (UTC))
* [http://news.google.com/news?q=gerard%20jean-juste&hl=en&lr=&sa=N&tab=wn Google News coverage on "Gerard Jean-Juste"]
* [http://news.yahoo.com/fc/world/haiti/ Yahoo News Full Coverage - "Haïti"]
* [http://www.sevenoaksmag.com/questions/31.html sevenoaksmag.com]
* [http://www.haitiaction.net/ Haïti Action Committee]
* [http://www.ijdh.org The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haïti]
* [http://www.haitianlaysis.com HaitiAnalysis] Articles on Father Jean-Juste appear frequently.
* [http://wadnerpierre.blogspot.com IPS journalist, human rights photographer, and HaitiAnalysis co-founder Wadner Pierre spent a chunk of his youth growing up in the orphanage run by Father Jean-Juste]

References


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