Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haitian Ex-Dictator Is Questioned in Court Over Reign

Isabeau Doucet and Randal C.Archibold, The New York Times Feb 28, 2013 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Jean-Claude Duvalier, the former dictator known as Baby Doc accused of bearing responsibility for the deaths, torture and the disappearance of hundreds of people, walked into a muggy, packed courtroom here on Thursday, sat down next to shocked victims and for the first time answered questions in a court of law about his brutal, 15-year reign. The hearing, one he had avoided three times before but attended under renewed pressure from a judge, provided few answers about the violent period in Haiti that eventually ended with his downfall and the first, halting steps toward democracy. But few here ever expected the spectacle of a former dictator, dressed in a blue suit and gray tie, giving patient if evasive, and occasionally inaudible, responses while being called to account […]

Haitian Judge Says Duvalier Must Appear at Human Rights Hearing

By Susana Ferreira, Reuters Feb 7, 2013 Haitian Judge Says Duvalier Must Appear at Human Rights Hearing (Reuters) – An appeals court judge ordered former Haitian President Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier to appear in court later this month on human rights allegations following a raucous hearing on the issue on Thursday. Duvalier, 61, the country’s former “president for life,” returned to Haiti in January 2011 after 25 years of exile and was briefly detained on charges of corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds. A separate set of charges of crimes against humanity filed by people who charged they were victims of wrongful imprisonment and torture and who said their family members “disappeared” under Duvalier, were set aside by an investigating judge last year who ruled the statute of limitations had run out. Duvalier appealed the corruption charges, and the civil complainants […]

Inside Story Americas : Did Haiti’s Duvalier get away with murder?

Al Jazeera February 3, 2012 As Jean-Claude Duvalier escapes trial for crimes against humanity we ask if his victims will be happy to reconcile. Human rights groups have condemned a decision not to try Jean-Claude Duvalier, Haiti’s former ruler, on crimes against humanity. A Haitian judge decided this week that Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, should not stand trial for crimes against humanity. He is accused of the torture and murder of thousands of his own people during his 15 year rule in the seventies and eighties. A year ago, Duvalier made a surprise return to the country after 25 years in exile. The judge ruled that his alleged crimes fell outside Haiti’s statute of limitations. The judge, however, did say that Duvalier should stand trial on corruption charges. He is accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars during […]

Rights Groups Blast Haiti Judge on Duvalier Case (AP)

By Trenton Daniel, Associated Press  Human rights groups harshly criticized a Haitian judge Monday after he recommended former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier face trial only on corruption charges — and not for rights abuses during his brutal 15-year rule.The organizations, both Haitian and foreign, said Investigative Magistrate Carves Jean ignored critical testimony that would’ve given weight to a prosecution of the once-feared ruler known as “Baby Doc” for crimes that include torture, false imprisonment and murder.”The Haitian people deserve their day in court to prove Duvalier’s culpability, which is an essential part of any meaningful reconciliation process,” said William O’Neill, director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum. Mario Joseph, a lawyer whose Haitian-run firm is representing some of the Duvalier regime’s victims, said the judge “made so many errors” that they compromised his pre-trial investigation. He said the judge disregarded […]

Will Jean-Claude Duvalier Ever Stand Trial for His Crimes Against Haiti? (By Fran Quigley,

Fran Quigley, Judging Duvalier has become an opportunity to send a message, but prosecuting old crimes in a neglected justice system has its challenges. Myrtha Jean-Baptiste was thirteen years old the first time that Jean-Claude Duvalier’s army arrested her. In August, 1979, a special intelligence unit based out of the Casernes Dessalines barracks on the grounds of Haiti’s Presidential Palace burst into Jean-Baptiste’s family home in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood and seized her, along with her mother, sister, three brothers, and a brother-in-law. The family crime was membership in the Haitian Christian Democrat Party which opposed Duvalier. Jean-Baptiste was interrogated and released, but the rest of her family stayed behind bars. Her brothers were held for over two years without ever going to court, and were beaten and tortured by army jailers until the young men bled from their ears. […]

U.S. and Latin America Should Support Prosecution of Haiti’s Duvalier (

By Jeena Shah,  January 3, 2012 Nunca Mas. Never again. From Argentina to Guatemala, nunca más served as the clarion call for justice for the victims of the mass atrocities and systemic political repression that plagued Latin America and the Caribbean for decades. On January 16, 2011, the hope that the call would someday be universally heeded rose again when one of the last century’s most notorious despots, Jean-Claude Duvalier, returned to Haiti after 25 years in exile. Also known as “Baby Doc”, Duvalier terrorized Haiti from 1971 to 1986, picking up where his father François “Papa Doc” Duvalier had left off. Duvalier’s army and the dreaded Tonton Macoutes death squad systematically beat, imprisoned, tortured, and killed the regime’s political opponents. Nearly 50,000 Haitians were killed under the combined reign of father and son. Duvalier and his profligate wife, […]

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