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Haiti - Justice : Should we judge Duvalier or his regime ?
13/02/2011 09:22:44

Haiti - Justice : Should we judge Duvalier or his regime ?
The government of Haiti should be encouraged and supported in its decision to move forward with the prosecution of the former dictator Jean‑Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier for grave violations of human rights, Human Rights Watch said today at the end of a mission to the country.

"Haitians who suffered under Duvalier's rule deserve justice, and all Haitians deserve to know what happened during that dark period," declared Reed Brody, counsel with Human Rights Watch. "A fair trial for Jean‑Claude Duvalier could help restore Haitians' faith in a justice system that has almost always shielded the perpetrators of the worst atrocities."

Human Rights Watch said that the Haitian government appeared determined to move forward with the prosecution, but would face many obstacles, including the fragility of its justice system. The offer to assist Haiti with the case from the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, was extremely helpful, and other international actors should follow her lead, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch has provided Haitian authorities with all its reports on the Duvalier period.

"During his tenure, from 1971 to 1986, Duvalier commanded a network of security forces that committed serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions, torture, "disappearances," rape, and summary executions [...] The human rights violations during Duvalier's rule, if shown to be part of a widespread or systematic attack against a sector of the population, would constitute crimes against humanity" clarified the legal counsel of HRW.

Should we judge Duvalier or his regime ?

Beyond the fact that Jean Claude Duvalier "symbolizes" a highly repressive regime in the eyes of a portion of the population, the question now is to know if it is man that we want to judge or his regime ?

Our thoughts are based on a profane observation of how the major trials (war crime, crime against humanity, genocide...) have occured. Observations that led us to find that it is not enough, to know, to affirm or to file complaints, whatever the crime, so that the accused be convicted by the court. Nobody here calls into questions the atrocities committed under the regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier, but if he is the man we want to judge, it will be necessary to prove with irrefutable documents or direct testimony or other admissible evidence by the court, that he is the one who ordered the crimes which he is charged or that he knew about them (directly or indirectly). If this is demonstrated, then the court will indict, judge and convict Jean Claude Duvalier, depending on its degree of responsibility for the crimes whose he could be charged. If this is not the case, this is the trial "symbolic" of the Duvalier regime, will be done before history, by respect and remembrance for victims of that dark era. Note that on the complaints currently filed, to date, the Haitian justice has not yet decided, whether there will be prosecution or not.

The emotion should not make us forget the rules of law. All abuses (even worse), committed in a country, is not always the responsibility of the Head of State of that country. If that were the case, it would be necessary to judge and convict all the Presidents of Haiti but also those of other countries around the world without exception. The debate is open.

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