Legislative

Money laundering, terrorism financing law blocked in Lower House

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) - A committee of 9 deputies working on the draft law on money laundering and the financing of terrorism, already passed in the Senate, is causing a stir, saying Senators had voted for a document full of controversial statutes that compromise democratic gains.

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Deputies, members of the lower house are refusing to vote for the same terms as the Senators have because of "traps contained in the text", according to one.

It is said that the current document equates assault and battery to acts of terrorism and would give foreign countries the right to apprehend Haitian citizens in Haiti for crimes committed in their country and force businesses to reveal trade secrets or be under penalty of prosecution.

The President of the Lower House Jean Tholbert Alexis informed the media on Tuesday that the special committee is hard at work and`will soon submit its report to the congregation.

Deputy Alexis said, contrary to the information that circulated in recent weeks, March 31 was never a deadline for the vote on the document by deputies. "We have until June to vote," he said.

Alexis informed that several sectors including the Federation of Bars of Haiti have already made proposals likely to enable the assembly to make adjustments deemed necessary.

"We hope that the various meetings with representatives of civil society will enable the Special Committee to produce its report in better conditions," said Deputy Alexis.

The President of the Economics and Finance Committee of the Lower House, Antoine Rodon Bien-Aime said he recognized a lot of controversial statutes in the bill on money laundering and terrorist financing.

Bien-Aime called on different sectors who have concerns with the text already voted in the Senate to submit them to the lower chamber for adjustments.

The deputy gave assurance that his congregation will take into account the recommendations of the FBH and the association of notaries especially against certain articles which trample democratic gains made in Haiti.

Deputy Bien-Aime noted that the main concerns are that Articles 4, 11 and 84 of the text. These were already approved by the Senate.

The Deputy of Gonaives, Sadrac Dieudonne, says the lower house will take its time to analyze this bill, stressing that if the text is adopted by the assembly as it was passed in the Senate, the consequences will be worse than sanctions announced by the international community in the case of not being adopted.

The Financial Action Task Force of the Caribbean, to which Haiti is a party in October 2011, will soon want to analyze the progress made by each of its members.

The parliamentarian said that the law as passed by the Senate undermines the democratic gains. "This is not normal," he said.

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