Haitian president faces renewed pressure for Duvalier trial

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday November 28, 2011 – The administration is facing renewed pressure to bring former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to justice for human rights abuses committed under his regime.

Some 16 Canadian organizations under the grouping Concertation pour Haiti (CPH) have written to President Michel Martelly demanding a “just and fair” trial for the former dictator.

“We are also aware that to complete a just and fair trial against Jean-Claude Duvalier and other officials under his command is a huge challenge for the Haitian judicial system,” the group wrote.

“We are convinced that can be met with technical support from the international community. If the Haitian authorities send a request to this effect to the government and civil society of Canada, the Concertation pour Haiti will (put) pressure so that an adequate response would be given.”

Many individuals and groups, including Amnesty International, have criticised the pace of investigations following Duvalier’s return to Haiti in January this year after 25 years in exile.

CPH, in its letter to the president, asked that the government publicly state that it would not interfere in the work of the judicial authorities.

It said this would “lead to the end of thorough and impartial investigations into the violations committed during Duvalier’s 1971 and 1986 rule.”

“Hold a just and fair trial, would be bring justice to the thousands of victims of Duvalierism and restore confidence in a Haitian justice system strengthened. On the contrary, put an end to the process would confirm the idea that there is no justice in Haiti, even for the worst crimes,” the group said.

“We recognize that moving forward is a difficult decision and that many reasons, sometimes of noble appearance, may be invoked to avoid it. But there is no possible escape, because the history has shown that for a genuine reconciliation and national agreement worthy of the name, it is necessary to go through the path of truth, justice and reparation.”

The letter is signed by Amnesty International Canada (french section), Quebec Association of International Cooperation Organizations, Faith and Justice Centre, and United Church of Canada among other groups. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)