Diaspora

Former Haitian PM initiates legal proceedings against Canadian government – Jamaica Gleaner

OTTAWA, CMC – Former Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, has initiated legal proceedings before the Federal Court of Canada seeking to have a decision by the Canadian government to include his name on the list of people subject to special economic measures overturned and annulled.
Lamothe, who served as prime minister between 2012-2014, is among a number of “Haitian political elites” that Canada alleges provide illicit financial and operational support to armed gangs in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country in a bid to destabilise the country and remove Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry from office.
In the legal proceeding, Lamothe argues that “the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Mélanie Joly, arbitrarily included his name on the sanctions list without providing any evidence or due process.”
He claims that the allegations that he provided financial and operational support to armed gangs in Haiti are wholly unfounded and contrary to the actions taken by him during his term as prime minister.
Lamothe said he promoted law and order as a top policy priority for the people of Haiti, and made the “fight against insecurity in the country one of his main objectives by implementing a zero-tolerance policy against armed gangs.
“The Minister of Foreign Affairs’ recommendation is capricious, irresponsible, and not based on any verifiable facts. Her allegations contradict Mr Lamothe’s public record and actions he took during and after his term in office as Prime Minister of Haiti,” his lawyers argued.
They have also criticised the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Justin Trudeau government for “a complete lack of transparency and failing to provide an account of the reasons his name was added to the list of special economic measures.
“Further, the Government of Canada never informed Mr Lamothe of its actions nor gave him the opportunity to refute the unfounded accusations.”
They said that upon learning of Canada’s decision via social media, Lamothe sent a formal notice to the office Minister of Foreign Affairs requesting information on its actions but received no response.
In his legal application, Lamothe describes the decision by Canada to impose economic sanctions on him as “unreasonable” saying it is predicated on blind credence of unfounded allegations.
Lamothe said he remains resolute in obtaining justice since he believes “the actions of the Canadian government against him to be defamatory, baseless, and unjust, and he will not stop fighting until he is cleared”.
Earlier this month, lawyers representing former prime minister Jean Henry Céant wrote to the Canadian government seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the 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 Joly and other senior Canadian government officials, the Montreal-based Gélinas, Leclerc,Teolis law firm stated that its 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.
“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.
Canada and the United States have over the past few months placed sanctions on a number of Haitian politicians, 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 for the two countries to provide evidence to support the allegations.
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