Haiti: ‘Baby Doc’ escapes justice for past abuses

Torture technique used in the 1800s ...and the 1980s

Given the Slugger community’s interest in Haiti, I thought it worthwhile to note the regrettable decision by a Haitian court not to charge the country’s former dictator,  Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, over allegations of torture and murder.

Duvalier returned to Haiti this time last year after 25 years in exile in France. Since then, he has been under investigation for serious human rights violations – including torture, disappearances and extrajudicial executions – that took place during his rule from 1971 to 1986.  In September, Amnesty International published You cannot kill the truth: The case against Jean-Claude Duvalier (pdf), a report that revisits the organization’s previous research on widespread human rights abuses committed in Haiti in the 1970s and 1980s.

Despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary, Carves Jean, the judge responsible for investigating the case, has decided: “I did not find enough legal grounds to keep human rights charges and crimes against humanity against him. Now my job is over. The case is no longer in my hands.”

As the UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay has already noted: “The thousands of Haitians who suffered under this regime deserve justice.”

This court ruling cheats them of any such chance.

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