Human Rights Watch to Monitor Duvalier Hearing
(New York, February 26, 2013) – Amanda Klasing, researcher in the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, will be in Haiti on February 28, 2013, to attend the Court of Appeal hearing in the case of the former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
The court is hearing an appeal by victims from the January 2012 ruling by an investigating judge that Duvalier could not be prosecuted for alleged human rights crimes during his rule, from 1971 to 1986, because the statute of limitations had expired.
On February 21, when Duvalier failed to appear as ordered at a previous hearing, the court issued a warrant (mandat d'amener) for the prosecutor to ensure that Duvalier was brought into court on February 28.
“Duvalier shouldn’t be allowed to thumb his nose at the justice system,” Klasing said. “The Haitian authorities need to ensure that he shows up to face his victims.”
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.