CAS overturns former Haitian FA president Yves Jean-Bart’s life ban for sexual abuse

February 15 – Human rights bodies have reacted with stunned disbelief to the news that former Haitian FA president Yves Jean-Bart’s lifetime ban has been annulled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The shocking scale of the alleged sexual abuse carried out by Jean-Bart was laid bare in 2021 by the full report of his transgressions released by FIFA whose ethics committee found him guilty of “having abused his position and sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors” from 2014.

He was also fined CHF1 million for his reign of terror but appealed before CAS claiming the allegations against him – which first appeared in Britain’s Guardian newspaper – had been fabricated and that rumours that he fathered children with teenage girls are preposterous since he was infertile.

In a statement, CAS said the 75-year-old’s ban had been “annulled due to insufficient evidence to establish the existence of violations of the FIFA rules.”

A decision had been expected last summer but CAS finally announced its ruling Tuesday after its panel “unanimously noted the lack of coherence and inaccuracies in the statements of victims and witnesses presented by FIFA”.

It also criticised Human Rights Watch and the international players’ union Fifpro for failing to “corroborate or confirm” evidence they had presented to FIFA.

“In conclusion, the arbitral panel considers that the evidence brought against Yves Jean-Bart regarding the accusations of sexual abuse, are inconsistent, vague and contradictory and that, consequently, they are not sufficient to establish a violation” of FIFA’s code of ethics.

In a statement, a relieved Jean-Bart said: “Three years after being falsely accused, I have awaited this day when my honour could be fully restored. I am grateful to God, my family, legal counsel, and all of those stood with me through this difficult process while I defended myself against these baseless, maliciously motivated smears.”

But as soon as CAS overturned the ban, Minky Worden, a director at Human Rights Watch, described the verdict as a “travesty of justice” and spoke of the devastation among the alleged victims.

“This decision shows the utter failure of the sports system to protect and respect survivors of sexual abuse, and to protect them from violent threats,” she said.

“CAS is supposed to deliver rapid justice to athletes. Three years after survivors reported abuse to FIFA, it’s done just the opposite.”

In the year that the Women’s World Cup is set to take place, Worden added: “This is such an abject failure to deliver some tiny measure of justice to the survivors who courageously called out Jean-Bart’s abuse.”

Worden also made the point that several alleged victims had refused to give evidence at all because they feared for their safety.

“FIFA and CAS did not create the conditions where it was safe for whistleblowers and survivors to come forward with evidence of horrific abuses. They were threatened into silence.”

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