PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti–A Haitian judge on Thursday summoned Jean-Claude Duvalier to appear in court after the former dictator defied an order to attend a hearing to determine whether he should again face charges for human rights abuses committed during the nearly 15 years of his brutal regime. A prosecutor said the judge’s order requires Duvalier to appear in court next Thursday.
In an airless courtroom filled with human rights activists, journalists and other observers, magistrate Jean Joseph Lebrun also dismissed an appeal filed by the defense team that sought to take the case to the Supreme Court.
The rulings in Haiti’s Court of Appeal provided some hope to a group of plaintiffs who are seeking to have the former dictator better known as “Baby Doc” prosecutor for alleged rights abuses. “Today’s decision is an important victory for Duvalier’s victims who never gave up hope of seeing him in court, and for the Haitian people who have the right to know what happened during the dark years of the Duvalier dictatorship,” said Reed Brody, counsel and a spokesman for Human Rights Watch. “It’s now up to the authorities to make sure that this summons is swiftly executed.”
Court’s order that Jean-Claude Duvalier appear in court is another victory for the victims
The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), in its mission to defend Haiti’s poor and the inalienable rights inherent to all human beings, considers the appellate court’s reiteration on February 7, 2013, of the summons to Jean-Claude Duvalier to personally appear in court another victory for his victims.
Additionally, this was the first time that the Court recognized Jean-Claude Duvalier’s status as the accused, so his personnel appearance at a hear set for February 21, 2013, will be required or he risks arrest. According to lawyer Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, one of the victim’s lawyers, “the Court’s order is also a victory for the victims claiming civil damages because the Court also confirmed our standing as civil claimants despite efforts from the lawyers for the accused to derail the process. Their strategy was to block Duvalier from appearing before the court to be questioned.”
When Lucmane Délille, Port-au-Prince’s district attorney, summoned former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to appear before him on Wednesday, Jan. 9 to answer patently frivolous complaints, it caused a great awakening of the Lavalas masses, alarming those in Haiti and abroad who thought it was time to behead Aristide’s party, the Lavalas Family.
Indeed, tensions ran high that day when thousands of Aristide’s supporters massed outside the courthouse where Aristide was summoned to appear before Délille at 10 a.m.. Similar outpourings took place in Haiti’s major cities like Cap Haïtien, Gonaïves, and Jérémie. However, when the prosecutor saw the crowds, he decided, at the urging of Aristide’s lawyers, to go meet with the former head of state at his home in Tabarre, on the northern outskirts of the capital.
When the crowd heard that news, the thousand of demonstrators marched, jogged, and ran from the courthouse to Aristide’s home, about four miles away.
Three years after a devastating earthquake, the “Republic of NGOs” has become the country of the unemployed
“HAITI is open for business”, Michel Martelly, the country’s president since May 2011, likes to proclaim. His government has backed up this talk by making it easier for foreigners to own property and by setting as a goal that Haiti climb into the top 50 countries in the World Bank’s ranking for ease of doing business (it now comes 174th out of 185). In November the president opened a gleaming arrivals hall at Toussaint Louverture airport. Mr Martelly himself is in such constant motion abroad—courting donors and investors, he says—that his peregrinations and the per diems alleged to be associated with them have become a source of mordant jokes.
But gangbuster growth, hoped for as the country rebuilds itself after the earthquake of January 12th 2010 that wrecked the capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed tens of thousands of people, has failed to materialise. In the 12 months to the end of September the economy expanded by a modest 2.5%. It was the second year of dashed expectations: the IMF had forecast growth of 8% in both 2011 and 2012.
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