Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

US Protection Helped Duvalier Escape Justice

One major factor that slowed the Duvalier prosecution was the United States’ refusal to help. The US has the ability to provide evidence and support that would’ve made a major difference in the trial but instead, and unlike past actions in Haiti and elsewhere, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to leave the prosecution to the Haitian government. Now, Duvalier has died a free man. The victims and their advocates still want justice and will continue by prosecuting Duvalier’s co-defendants. It’s just a shame that Duvalier, too, was not held accountable for his crimes.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

From Cradle to Grave, the US Protected Jean-Claude Duvalier

Fran Quigley, Common Dreams
October 10, 2014

In February of 2013, I stood in a sweaty, overcrowded Port-au-Prince courtroom and watched as Jean-Claude Duvalier answered questions about hundreds of his political opponents being arrested, imprisoned, and killed during his tenure as Haiti’s “President for Life.”

Many of Duvalier’s rivals were held in the notorious three prisons known collectively as the “Triangle of Death”—Casernes Dessalines, Fort Dimanche, and the National Penitentiary. One political prisoner held in the Casernes Dessalines recalls being placed in a cell underneath the grounds of the National Palace, where Duvalier lived. The prisoner was led to an area so dark he could not see, but a guard’s torchlight revealed the man was locked in a room amid the skeletons of former prisoners.

At the court hearing I attended, Duvalier ducked responsibility, saying that the killing and oppression was done without his knowledge.

Then he walked out of that courtroom a free man, which is how he died earlier this month, at age 63.

On a previous visit to Haiti, I interviewed Raymond Davius, who still carries the physical and psychological scars from being imprisoned and tortured for daring to join a political party that opposed Duvalier. “The problem is not as much about Duvalier himself as it is what he represents,” Davius said. “If Haiti does not judge Duvalier, we have lost the opportunity to send a message to Haitian leaders who think they can kill whoever they want and steal whatever they want, and not be judged.”

Instead, the message after Duvalier’s death continues to be one of impunity in Haiti, if you are rich enough and powerful enough. From his cradle in the National Palace run by his despotic father to his grave, where the latest U.S.-backed Haitian president called for asalute to an “authentic son of Haiti,” Jean-Claude Duvalier enjoyed U.S. protection. I ended my column on the February, 2013 court hearing with this sentence: “The U.S.has enormous influence here, and most observers feel Duvalier will be held accountable for his crimes only if the U.S. speaks up.”

We didn’t, and he wasn’t.

Click HERE for the full text.

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