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Report calls for prosecution of rights abusers under Haiti's Duvalier

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) — Human rights organisations called Tuesday for the prosecution of human rights abusers during Haiti's brutal Duvalier dictatorship.

In a report, The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) highlighted the urgency of bringing justice as only seven of 17 people accused of abuses are still alive.

It also insisted that Jean-Claude Duvalier's death in 2014 did not spell the end of the fight for justice.

Victims testified about their experience of torture and arbitrary detention in court hearings in 2012 and 2013 -- but more than three decades after the end of the dictatorship, many have also died without seeing justice.

The report said that even if media interest in the case diminished with Duvalier's death, it "must nevertheless continue to avoid the general impunity of the regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier."

Nicknamed "Baby Doc," Jean-Claude Duvalier came to power at age 19, following the death of his father Francois Duvalier, known as "Papa Doc," in 1971.

Driven from power in 1986 and exiled in France for 25 years, Jean-Claude Duvalier chose the first anniversary of the deadly 2010 earthquake to make an unexpected return to Haiti.

Since February 2014, a judge has been in charge of the investigation -- but progress has been slow due to a lack of resources and political pressure.

"The judge has little to work with because of the persistence of so-called Duvalierists within successive Haitian powers," the report said, adding that former president Michel Martelly had done little to hide his admiration for the former dictator.

Prosecuting the perpetrators would demonstrate the importance of fighting impunity in Haitian society, it added.

The report also said the Duvalier regime was by no means the last to commit human rights violations -- and called on authorities to guarantee the necessary resources and judicial independence to hold other perpetrators to account

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