News Americas, PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Fri. Sept. 23, 2011: Amnesty International wants Haitian authorities to bring former President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to justice but his supporters crashed a press conference in Haiti and slammed AI as imperialists.
AI yesterday called for Duvalier to be brought to justice for the human rights abuses committed under his regime from 1971 and 1986 even as the rights group released a new report with evidence of arbitrary detentions, torture, deaths in custody, killings and disappearances during Jean-Claude Duvalier’s rule.
“Please get out!” said Osner Fevry, an attorney long hired by political figures with ties to the Duvalier regime as he and others crashed the press conference at Le Plaza Hotel. “We don’t need people to come to divide us.”
Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International, insists: “There’s sufficient evidence to prosecute Jean-Claude Duvalier for the widespread arbitrary detentions, torture, deaths in custody, killings and disappearances that took place during his regime, some of which amount to crimes against humanity.”
“What is needed is political will from Haiti’s new administration to comply with their international obligations and their duty to the survivors and victims of abuses,” he added.
Duvalier returned to Haiti in January 2011, after 25 years in exile in France. He was indicted by Haitian authorities for embezzlement, theft of public funds and crimes against humanity committed during his presidency. But to date he has yet to be tried and remains free, dining out publicly in jazz clubs and top restaurants.
At the time, Amnesty International provided Port-au-Prince’s Public Prosecutor with documented evidence of human rights abuses committed during his rule to help inform the investigation.
Between 1971 and 1986, political leaders, journalists, trade unionists and those suspected of being opponents of the government were particular targets of arbitrary detentions, torture, political killings and disappearances.
Deaths in custody were common among political prisoners, who regularly suffered torture, illness, and a lack of food and sanitary facilities.
The judiciary intervened only in the very few cases that received wide international publicity but Duvalier’s government never recognized the existence of political prisoners.