News24

Haiti to probe Duvalier abuses

2011-01-21 22:07

Port-Au-Prince - Haiti will investigate crimes against humanity committed during the 15-year rule of ousted strongman Jean-Claude Duvalier, who recently returned from exile, Amnesty International said Friday.

"Investigating Jean-Claude Duvalier for the human rights crimes committed during his time in power is a massive step forward, Gerardo Ducos, Haiti researcher for the London-based rights group, said in a statement.

"What we need to see now is a swift and impartial process, in line with international standards, that truly brings justice for those who have been waiting for too long."

Amnesty pointed to torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s when the dictator known as "Baby Doc" Duvalier was in power, and said it called on Haitian authorities to allow survivors of the abuses to provide evidence in the probe.

"Justice must be done if Haiti is to move forward," Ducos said.

Duvalier, ousted in a popular uprising that ended his 1971-1986 rule, shocked many Haitians by returning to his homeland last weekend after a quarter century of exile, claiming he wanted to help the country in the wake of last year's devastating earthquake that killed more than 220 000 people.

But he has stepped into a series of deep legal challenges that leave his fate in serious doubt.

On Tuesday he was charged with corruption, embezzlement of public funds and criminal association during his rule, and in a separate legal challenge, four Haitians filed criminal suits against him on Wednesday alleging crimes against humanity.

On Thursday, a judge barred the 59-year-old Duvalier from leaving Haiti because of a court order against him.