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Departing UN Official Blasts Haiti’s Rights Record

The former United Nations human rights monitor in Haiti is taking a swipe at the Caribbean nation’s legal system as he leaves his post.

In an open letter that was sent to the Haitian press and obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, Michel Forst criticized the government for the continuation of arbitrary and illegal arrests, its interference in the justice system, and for threatening journalists.

“When I leave my office, I do not want to hide my concerns and disappointment in the developments in the field of rule of law and human rights,” Forst wrote.

There was no immediate response from the government of President Michel Martelly.

In his list of concerns, Forst describes how arbitrary and illegal arrests continue throughout the country. They appear in weekly reports submitted to the U.N.’s human rights section.

The letter also expresses concerns over political intervention in the legal system, citing the case of Calixte Valentin, a presidential adviser who was locked up on charges of killing a young farmer. Valentin was released six months later “by a judge specially appointed for this purpose by the current minister of justice,” Forst wrote.

And Forst pointed to threats that were made by the minister of communication against journalists, along with reports that journalists would not be allowed to participate in official events because their publications are suspected of supporting the opposition.

Based in Geneva, Forst stepped down last week as the U.N.’s independent expert on human rights in Haiti, a post that he had held since June 2008.

Read more: ABC

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