February 1, 2002 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Senate refuses to lift Dany Toussaint's parliamentary immunity

In a letter to Senate Speaker Yvon Neptune, RSF denounced the Senate Commission's refusal to lift Dany Toussaint's parliamentary immunity. The commission's decision was announced on 31 January 2002. Tousssaint is the number one suspect in the assassination of journalist Jean Dominique. "This decision testifies, yet again, to the government's determined resolve to ensure that light is not shed on the death of Radio Haïti Inter's director," stated RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. "Following the non-renewal of investigating Judge (Claudy) Gassant's mandate, this latest decision proves that the farce continues," he added. "The Senate is merely protecting one of its own, a true baron of the regime, and demonstrating its contempt for the most basic justice," Ménard concluded. According to information collected by RSF, the Senate commission responsible for examining the request for the lifting of Senator Toussaint's immunity refused to reach a decision. Stating that it was lacking information, it asked the investigative judges for further information on the case. Judge Gassant had issued the request for the lifting of the senator's immunity when he was in charge of the investigation. The six-senator commission has been studying the request since August 2001. RSF recalls that through a presidential decision, Judge Gassant, whose mandate expired on 4 January, was replaced by Judges Josua Agnant, Bertrand Sainvil and Joachim Saint-Clair on 23 January. The progress of Judge Gassant's investigation was constantly obstructed by the authorities, Haitian police and Senator Toussaint's entourage. The judge wanted to call Toussaint as a witness in the case. Dominique, who was well-known for his independent stance, was gunned down in the courtyard of his radio station, Radio Haiti Inter, on 3 April 2000. Targets of his criticism had included former Duvalierists, soldiers and the country's powerful families. Shortly before he died, he also criticised those he suspected within President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party of seeking to "divert the movement from its principles."