On February 7, 1986, Former Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier departed from Haiti. To mark the 25th anniversary of his departure, Amnesty International has released video testimony from victims of human rights abuses committed during Duvalier’s rule. The video features testimonies gathered by Amnesty International in 1985, when Duvalier was still in power.
Testimonies include that of Yves Médard, who was arbitrarily arrested in 1983, Evans Paul, detained and tortured in 1980, Mark Roumain, unfairly detained for three years and Sylvio Claude, arbitrarily arrested and ill treated in several occasions.
During Duvalier’s fifteen-year rule (1971-1986), Amnesty documented dozens of cases of arbitrary detentions, torture and disappearances. The former president is now in Port-au-Prince and is being investigated by local authorities on charges of corruption and human rights abuses. The fact that Haiti is investigating abuses committed during Duvalier’s rule is a great step forward, but it is important that the process remains swift and fair.
As we reported earlier this week, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who has been accused of presiding over numerous human rights violations during his rule from 1971 to 1986, was detained after being questioned by police on Tuesday, January 18th. It is not yet clear what charges he will face. Amnesty’s Haiti researcher Gerardo Ducos gives a brief interview and analysis on the latest developments:
“The arrest of Jean-Claude Duvalier is a positive step but it is not enough to charge him only with corruption. If true justice is to be done in Haiti, the Haitian authorities need to open a criminal investigation into Duvalier’s responsibility for the multitude of human rights abuses that were committed under his rule including torture, arbitrary detentions, rape, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.”
Former Haitian president, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, returned suddenly to Haiti this past weekend after living in exile for nearly 25 years in France. We are calling on Haiti to use this opportunity to bring Duvalier to justice for human rights abuses committed during his regime in the 1970s and 80s.
The widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in Haiti during Duvalier’s rule amount to crimes against humanity. Haiti is under the obligation to prosecute him and anyone else responsible for such crimes.
Duvalier returned to Haiti expectantly on January 16th. He fled Haiti in 1986 after a popular uprising which was violently repressed by the former Haitian Armed Forces and a local militia known as the “tonton macoutes”.
Throughout his 15 years in power (1971-1986) systematic torture and other ill-treatment were widespread across Haiti.
Hundreds of people “disappeared” or were executed. Members of Haiti’s armed forces and the militia National Security Volunteers – also known as the “tonton macoutes” — played a primary role in repressing pro-democracy and human rights activists. The “tonton macoutes” were disbanded in 1986 after Jean-Claude Duvalier went into exile.
Media reports today have indicated that Duvalier will be questioned by Haitian police. We’ll be monitoring the situation as it unfolds.
The Haitian authorities must break the cycle of impunity that prevailed for decades in Haiti. Failing to bring to justice those responsible will only lead to further human rights abuses.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.