Human Rights Watch to Monitor Duvalier Court Hearing
(New York, February 19, 2013) – Reed Brody, senior counsel at Human Rights Watch, will be in Haiti beginning February 20, 2013, to attend the Court of Appeal hearing in the case of former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
On February 21, the court will hear an appeal by victims from the January 2012 ruling by an investigating judge that Duvalier could not be prosecuted for alleged human rights crimes committed during his rule, from 1971 to 1986, because the statute of limitations had expired.
Duvalier, who has been ordered to attend the February 21 hearing in person, is also appealing the lower-court judge’s ruling that he can be prosecuted for alleged embezzlement and other financial crimes.
“Haiti has a binding legal obligation to investigate and prosecute the grave violations of human rights under Duvalier’s rule, and cannot use the statute of limitations to ignore this obligation,” Brody said. “Haitians who suffered under Duvalier’s rule deserve justice, and all Haitians deserve to know what happened during that dark period. Countries from Argentina and Uruguay to Cambodia are prosecuting human rights crimes from decades ago. There is no reason why Haiti should not do the same.”
Duvalier returned to Haiti on January 16, 2011, after nearly 25 years in exile.
Duvalier’s rule was marked by systematic human rights violations. Hundreds of political prisoners held in a network of prisons known as the “triangle of death” died from mistreatment or were victims of extrajudicial killings. Duvalier’s government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten, and in some cases tortured, jailed, and forced to leave the country.
Brody is co-author of the 2011 Human Rights Watch report: “Haiti’s Rendezvous with History: The Case of Jean-Claude Duvalier.” Brody was prosecutions advisor to the Minister of Justice in Haiti from 1995 to 1996, and has since specialized in building human rights prosecutions as counsel in the case of Augusto Pinochet, and lead counsel for the victims in the case of the exiled former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré, who faces trial in Senegal.
The Human Rights Watch report, “Haiti’s Rendezvous with History: The Case of Jean-Claude Duvalier"