Haiti: The death of former president Duvalier should not impede justice for the victims of his regime

Following the death of former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as ‘Baby Doc,’ on October 4th, Development and Peace supports the call of its partners in Haiti who are asking that the victims of his regime not be denied the justice they seek.

“The death of Jean-Claude Duvalier does not put an end to legal proceedings brought against his regime, for Duvalier’s victims have also filed complaints against the former dictator’s acolytes,” says Pierre Espérance, Executive Director of the National Human Rights Defence Network (RNDDH), a Development and Peace partner in Haiti.

Another Development and Peace partner in Haiti, the Collective against Impunity, maintains that “Jean-Claude Duvalier’s death may mean that he can no longer be prosecuted, but it in no way eliminates the liability of his collaborators, including individuals who helped perpetrate massive crimes. […] His passing cannot serve as a pretext for further impunity. As a state, Haiti is still obliged to investigate and punish those found guilty.”

In February 2014, the Court of Appeal of Port-au-Prince had re-instated charges brought forward by the State against the ex-dictator that had previously been overturned by the former investigating judge assigned to the case. However, proceedings had not moved forward, report Development and Peace’s partners.

“The passing of Duvalier must not lead to impunity for those in his regime accused of crimes against the Haitian people and corruption,” says Mary Durran, Programs Officer for Haiti at Development and Peace.

Development and Peace has been working in solidarity with communities in Haiti since its founding in 1967, mainly in promoting respect for human rights and access to justice for all.