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Haiti adopts constitutional amendments

The president of Haiti on Tuesday gave final approval [press release, in French] for amendments to the Constitution of Haiti [BBC backgrounder] that will allow dual-citizens to vote and be appointed to administrative positions. President Michel Joseph Martelly originally opposed the amendments but ultimately approved them. The changes became official when they were posted to Haiti's National Gazette [official website, in French]. Dual-citizens are still barred from running for key political offices [Reuters report], including offices of President, Prime Minister, Senator, and the lower house of Parliament. Martelly said the compromise was necessary to prevent further division of the Haitian population. The new amendments also create a permanent electoral council to organize elections and a council to oversee the Haitian judiciary.

Haiti has struggled to improve its rule of law in recent months. The US State Department in February dispatched a team of international law experts to Haiti to assess how to reinforce the Haitian judiciary's power and independence. Earlier that month, UN independent expert Michel Forst proclaimed that the rule of law is making significant progress in Haiti [JURIST report]. Forst focused on the establishment of judicial offices and the adoption of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [text, PDF]. In January, a Haitian judge convicted eight police officers [JURIST report] of shooting and killing at least ten prisoners following the January 2010 earthquake. In December 2011, the UN urged an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged torture and unlawful killings perpetrated by the Haitian National Police (HNP). In September of that year, Amnesty International (AI) called on Haitian authorities to prosecute Duvalier [JURIST report] for crimes against humanity. In July, a UN rights expert requested that Haiti prosecute Duvalier [JURIST report] and improve its human rights record.

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