PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — The Haitian Senate has approved a resolution strongly condemning the arrest and extradition of Guy Philippe to the United States in January on drug trafficking charges.
At least 19 of the 24 senators voted on the resolution during a sitting earlier this week that also demanded the return of Philippe “and all those who are illegally detained in the United States under the agreement of 17 October 1997”.
Philippe, 48, who is in a US federal jail in Miami, had been elected as a Senator last November to represent the Grand Anse region, in southwestern Haiti.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges of cocaine trafficking and money laundering from 1997 to 2003. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
The US Attorney’s Office said it is also seeking to recover US$1.5 million in drug profits from Philippe, a former member of the now disbanded Haitian army and a former police commissioner.
He rose to international prominence 13 years ago after leading a caravan of heavily armed militiamen into Port-au-Prince amid a bloody coup that removed then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power on February 29, 2004.
According to the resolution, the arrest of Philippe constitutes “an attack on democracy, human rights and to the rule of law, which are the foundations of the mission of the United Nations, of the OAS […]” and also a lack of respect “of rights to self-determination of the Haitian people.”
The senate is also recommending that the governments of Haiti and the United States correct the errors contained in the 1997 Convention in order to maintain good diplomatic relations and make an injunction to the Haitian Government to undertake without delay “all the necessary diplomatic steps” for an immediate return to Haiti of elected Senator Guy Philippe”.
The senators have also said they want to impeach the outgoing Justice Minister Camille Edouard Jr in order “that he be tried before the High Court of Justice for a crime of high treason.”
The resolution also urges the lawmakers to assist Guy Philippe and the members of his family.
Philippe is due back in a US court during the week of April 3.