[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] announced Friday that Haitian authorities will investigate crimes committed against humanity [press release] allegedly committed under the rule of Jean-Claude Duvalier [BBC backgrounder] during the 1970s and 80s. The announcement comes one day after an Amnesty International researcher met with Haitian prosecutor Harycidas Auguste, giving him documents pertaining to dozens of cases of detention without trial, systematic torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in Haiti between 1971 and 1986. The group also urged Haiti to allow for abuse victims to speak with the government to provide evidence. Al’s researcher on Haiti, Gerardo Ducos praised the government’s decision to investigate Duvalier and emphasized its importance to the country:
Investigating Jean-Claude Duvalier for the human rights crimes committed during his time in power is a massive step forward. 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…Torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions are crimes under international law…Justice must be done if Haiti is to move forward.
AI is also calling on the UN to provide technical support for the investigation to ensure that it is properly administered.
Duvalier, also known as “Baby Doc,” is the son of former Haitian leader Francois Duvalier, or “Papa Doc,” whom he succeeded as leader [BBC report] in 1971. Following a tumultuous reign, which included accusations of thousands of murders by his regime [HRW report], Duvalier fled Haiti in 1986, and has since resided in France. In 2007, current Haitian leader Rene Preval expressed a renewed commitment to bring Duvalier to justice [JURIST report], despite Duvalier’s pleas for forgiveness [Guardian report].