Haiti: 29 Members of Congress pressure Bush for the release of political prisoner Father Gerard Jean-Juste
August 12, 2005
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Haiti: 29 Members of Congress pressure Bush for the release of political prisoner Father Gerard Jean-Juste

Washington, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent a letter to President Bush, urging him to take action to obtain the release of Father Gerard Jean-Juste from prison in Haiti. A total of 29 Members of Congress signed the Congresswoman's letter. Copies of the letter were sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Special Representative Juan Gabriel Valdés, and Ambassador James Foley, the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti. The text of the letter follows:

We write to express our profound concerns about the unjust imprisonment of Father Gerard Jean-Juste in Haiti. We urge you to take action at once to seek his immediate and unconditional release from prison.

Father Jean-Juste is a widely-respected Catholic priest and a courageous advocate for peace and human rights in Haiti. During the 1970's, he founded the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami, Florida, where he worked to provide assistance to refugees who were fleeing persecution under the Duvalier regime. He returned to Haiti in 1991 and currently serves as the pastor of Saint Claire Church in Port-au-Prince and runs a soup kitchen for impoverished children in his parish. Fr. Jean-Juste has always spoken out forcefully against all forms of violence.

Father Jean-Juste was arrested on July 21, 2005, while attending the funeral for Jacques Roche, a Haitian journalist who was kidnapped, held for ransom and then murdered. Haitian police claimed he was arrested because a "public clamor" at the funeral accused him of murdering Jacques Roche, although he was in Miami at the time of the murder. He currently is being detained in the Haitian National Penitentiary.

Amnesty International has determined that Father Jean-Juste is a prisoner of conscience, who is detained solely because he has peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International has urged that he be immediately and unconditionally released.

We respectfully request that you urge the Interim Government of Haiti to release Father Jean-Juste immediately and unconditionally. We appreciate your attention to our concerns.


Maxine Waters Jan Schakowsky Barbara Lee
John Conyers Charles Rangel Barney Frank
Lynn Woolsey Sherrod Brown Maurice Hinchey
Sheila Jackson-Lee Corrine Brown Earl Blumenauer
Eleanor Holmes Norton Edolphus Towns Melvin L. Watt
Tammy Baldwin Kendrick B. Meek Raúl Grijalva
Donna Christensen Al Green Julia Carson
Carolyn Kilpatrick Gregory Meeks Dennis Kucinich
Donald Payne James P. McGovern Robert Wexler
Major R. Owens Bob Filner

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