At 22, a young man spent a year in the National Penitentiary, for possession of a dummy weapon 

Donald Arris, 22, was heard before the Port-au-Prince court of first instance, this Tuesday, December 28, 2021, sitting in his correctional powers. Reproached in a police report for possession of a dummy weapon.  

We are Tuesday, December 28, 2021. It is exactly 22 minutes after 11 am, the court has just taken seat where the judge declared the hearing of that day open. A serene room which is filled with people, such as the sitting magistrate, assisted by a bailiff and a clerk, the defense counsel, representatives of the prosecution and assistance, who await the authorization of the Judge so that the hearing is held. 

The named Donald Arris was arrested red-handed by a police patrol from the Port-au-Prince police station on the evening of December 10, 2020, where he had in his possession a dummy weapon in his suitcase. That means : “An object sometimes very realistically imitating a real weapon. Dummy weapons are most often toys or replicas intended for collectors ”, a specified one of the representatives of the prosecution. 

To continue the debate, the defense counsel, that is to say the defenders of the accused, after having consulted the key pieces of the said file revealed that during the first hearing of Donald Arris by the government commissioner of this jurisdiction , that he was unable to attend by a lawyer or a witness of his choice, or article 25-1 of the amended constitution of March 29, 1987 provides that: “No one may be questioned in the absence of his lawyer or a witness of his choice”. 

On the other hand, the public prosecutor Me Jacques Lafontant, that we usually call him outside of trials, “the government commissioner”, contradicted the argument raised by the opposing party, saying “the judge is subject to strict application in criminal matters” , this means that defense counsel has nothing to do with today's correctional hearing. 

Indeed, the sitting Judge, Me Berge O. Surprised, a granted to the two parties (the defense counsel and the representative of the public prosecution) to address questions directly to the accused and the magistrate also asked them, in order to shed light on the court's lantern on the charge against him. 

“Magistrate, one day I had finished, I took a motorcycle to buy a dish at Champ-de-Mars so that I could taste. Along the way, a police patrol had camped the biker, then the police had searched my bag and found a fake weapon in my possession ”, confirmed Mr. Donald Arris during his hearing. "Magistrate, this alleged weapon was not mine", he continues.  

We are currently at the bottom of the case, the parties are in the process of producing their request in favor of the defendant since the charges that the police report was charged against him did not comply with the law.  

”Considering the minutes of the police report dated December 21, 2020, considering the statement of the defendant at the hearing of this day, considering article 167 of the Haitian criminal investigation code, we recognize that he does not There is neither crime nor misdemeanor in this file. So we ask the court to grant the release of the named Donald Arris, to allow him to enter his home freely. It will be justice magistrate “, asked the public prosecutor in favor of the accused.  

At the same time, the defense counsel also requested the sitting judge for the immediate release of Donald Arris, because it was a fake weapon (a dummy weapon), and the Haitian penal code does not mention dummy weapon in its articles. "In this sense, there is no crime, no offense in the absence of a law".  


To close the debate and for the court to render its decision, the Judge reiterated everything that was said during the hearing, saying: ”Whereas during his arrest by the police authorities, he had said that the weapon found in his suitcase was his property; Whereas at the hearing of the day the defendant denied the information which suggests that the weapon found in his bag was not in his possession and denied the accusation of the police report, whereas the public prosecutor asks the court to declare non-constant the facts charged to the accused; Whereas the defense counsel boarded the request of the party opposite, saying that the charges against the named Donald Arris did not comply with article 167 of the code of criminal investigation. Therefore, the court grants the immediate release of the defendant ”, ruled the magistrate in seat, Me Berge o. Surprised following the analysis of this file.  

After the release of Mr. Donald Arris, Netalkole media had the opportunity to interview this young man who had spent about a year at the National Penitentiary. He feels happy after his release, but he regretted these 12 months spent in prison without doing anything and he took the opportunity to provide advice to his generation. 

 ”I feel a bit happy because I will be seeing my family and my co-workers again after a year that I have lived in prison, however I am stressed that I have spent all those days without shooting. profit, but I am a mechanic, I could earn money if I was free “, admitted the native of St Marc in his interview. “During my career at the National Penitentiary I did not feel like a person, I suffered from several illnesses, the foods I used to consume in the prison were prepared no matter what. The water that I used to shower is this that I drink as well. At this stage, I advise young people not to use these games (artificial weapon or dummy weapon), because our country is extremely trapped, “advised this victim to young people who want to own this object.  

Following the decision taken by the government commissioner of Port-au-Prince, Me Jacques Lafontant, to combat prolonged preventive detention in his jurisdiction, from December 22, 2021 to January 22, several people accused of cases of fraud, breach of trust, simple theft, assault regained their freedom during these 6 days of correctional hearings. 

According to a report by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) last April, the pretrial detention rate of the country's prison population stands at more than 85%, this brings prolonged pretrial detention as the most alarming situation in the country. the largest prison in the country. 

It should be noted that the correctional hearings took place this year at the Peace Tribunal of the South Section of Port-au-Prince due to the insecurity situation in the Bicentenary area. 

WRITING: Stevinsonne YOUNG



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Stevinsonne Jeune
Stevinsonne JEUNE, journalist and editor. Graduate student in legal sciences at the State University of Haiti Law practitioner in the Delmas peace court.