Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Jens Iverson


Yvon Neptune v. Haiti is a noteworthy decision of the Inter- American Court of Human Rights, with potentially wide-ranging impacts. The Court ordered a wholesale change in the Haitian prison system in order to prevent Haiti from violating former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune's rights again. Haiti violated Articles 1 (obligation to respect rights), 5 (humane treatment), 7 (personal liberty), 8 (fair trial) and 25 (the right to judicial protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights. Haitian and U.S. human rights groups worked together with a "virtual" human rights clinic to trigger the decision by filing a petition with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. The decision has significance for Yvon Neptune, other Haitian detainees, Haitian activists and attorneys, Haitian government officials, U.S. law students, human rights organizations, foreign governments and international agencies, and the Inter-American Human Rights System generally. While Yvon Neptune is no longer a political prisoner, the decision is only a partial victory because Haiti currently refuses to implement the decision. Yvon Neptune v. Haiti, as a partial victory in the effort to bring rule of law in a transitional justice context, parallels the unfinished state of Haiti's transition to democracy. Further efforts to protect the human rights of Haitian detainees will require the support of many groups, working together, to succeed.