PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The U.S. State Department is sending a team of experts in international law to Haiti to look at ways to strengthen its beleaguered judiciary, Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille said Monday.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Conille said the delegation is scheduled to arrive in Haiti this week following a recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"We did ask them for assistance in looking at how do we make sure that we can reinforce our judiciary system," Conille said. "We need to look at how do we make sure that when a judge gives a verdict, in whatever direction, people feel comfortable, that the judge ruled in all independence."
Conille didn't offer details about the delegation but said that one of its aims would be to look at a much-criticized ruling in the case of former strongman Jean-Claude Duvalier.
An investigative judge recommended last month that the former despot known as "Baby Doc" face trial for financial crimes rather than the human rights abuses associated with his 15-year rule.
The decision prompted condemnation from human rights groups and plaintiffs, who said they suspected political interference from the government.
The administration of President Michel Martelly has said it has never influenced the case.
The Justice Ministry filed an appeal of the judge's ruling, Martelly's office said last week.
Both plaintiffs and the defense, which has said Duvalier is innocent on all charges, also plan to appeal.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Jon Piechowski said the team of international experts from the State Department would be meeting with Haitian officials, but declined to give further details. The delegation is expected to arrive on Wednesday.
Conille said he met with U.S. officials in Washington last week and discussed Haitian government proposals to revive the army, which was disbanded in 1995 because of a history of abuse.
Haitian officials hope the "modern" army they have in mind will eventually take over security responsibilities from a U.N. peacekeeping mission that has been in Haiti since 2004, when then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was toppled.
The U.N. Security Council arrived in Haiti on Monday for a four-day mission that will review the work carried out by its peacekeeping force, which has 11,000 troops in the country.