Haiti’s government says it would need help from international jurists to prosecute former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier for alleged human rights crimes committed during his reign more than 25 years ago.
Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier (C) walks in the civil courthouse after being detained by police in Port-au-Prince January 18, 2011. Haitian police detained Duvalier on Tuesday after authorities said he would be questioned and could be prosecuted over money stolen from the national treasury during his 1971-1986 rule. Duvalier returned on Sunday to Haiti after 25 years in exile in France.
” It is not only a Haitian matter, because convicting Duvalier would send a psychological message to humanity, to all the dictators or to those who are tempted by power (that) the law will not pardon them, that punishments await them ”
Justice Minister Andre Antoine told the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Monday that Haiti’s judges and prosecutors lack the training and experience necessary to handle a case of crimes against humanity.
“The magistrates are players in this game, it is like a football match: if they don’t have a good manager, it will be difficult to win,” Antoine said.
“We recognise that our justice system is weak and needs to be reinforced.”
Former justice minister Jean-Joseph Exume told the commission that 16 individual cases had been filed against Duvalier in the court system starting immediately after his January 16 return to the country from 25 years of exile.
Exume said “concrete measures” would be necessary to protect plaintiffs and witnesses.
Antoine also said prosecution of Duvalier for human rights violations was of international importance.
“It is not only a Haitian matter, because convicting Duvalier would send a psychological message to humanity, to all the dictators or to those who are tempted by power (that) the law will not pardon them, that punishments await them,” he said.
Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. His father, Francois, ruled as “president for life” from 1957 until his death.
The family reign has long been accused of widespread human rights violations including murders, torture and disappearances.
This is bizarre Jean-Joseph Exume was personally involved with the assassination of Mireille Durocher-Bertin, exactly 15 years ago, and walks free on the streets of Haiti. You can visit his law offices, and retain his services.
It is amazing how bold, and brazen these people can be in view of Haiti’s ongoing atmosphere of impunity.
What about the many human rights crimes committed by Aristide, Preval and their associates.
There is an old saying…”Let sleeping dogs lie…” but people continue to snipe at Duvalier who cannot be prosecuted for any real – or mostly imaginary crimes, committed under his presidency. They are all Statute Barred.
On the other hand, both Aristide’s presidencies, and those of Preval fall within the statute and can still be prosecuted.
On a purely criminal – with possible human rights results – Michel Martelly has demanded that Preval replace the $198,000,000 he stole from Petro Caraibe Funds, funds supposedly dedicated to the relief of Gonaives, and other areas, after the 2008 hurricane disaster. The cynic Preval, and his close associates, openly plundered the fund. Now they may face retribution.
Haiti’s Minister of Justice already knows that there is no legal case against Duvalier, yet he makes believe that the international community can assist in what is a violation of Haiti’s Constitution. You simply cannot make up the law as you go.
Duvalier is harassed while Aristide remains untouched.
Things may change when Martelly takes office.
Preval could be arrested.