Press Release: Court’s Order That Jean-Claude Duvalier Appear In Court Is Another Victory For The Victims

Press release from the IJDH.

Court’s order that Jean-Claude Duva­lier appear in court is another vic­tory for the victims

Baby Doc Duvalier returns to HaitiThe 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.”

The lawyers note that this vic­tory comes in the midst of a very dif­fi­cult con­text for a fair hear­ing. Haiti’s Pres­i­dent, Michel Martelly, has pub­licly sup­ported Mr. Duva­lier, and his top offi­cials include many chil­dren of top Duva­lier regime offi­cials. The Martelly government’s largest sup­port­ers, espe­cially the United States, France and MINUSTAH, have declined to pub­licly rec­og­nize the Hait­ian government’s inter­na­tional law oblig­a­tion to pur­sue the crimes against human­ity claims against Mr. Duvalier.

Accord­ing to Brian Con­can­non of the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti, “every human rights orga­ni­za­tion that has addressed the issue — from the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Com­mis­sion on Human Rights, to Amnesty Inter­na­tional, Human Rights Watch and the FIDH — has con­cluded that Duvalier’s vic­tims should get their day in court. By refus­ing to speak up in favor of finan­cial account­abil­ity and against polit­i­cal vio­lence, the Martelly regime’s sup­port­ers are plac­ing friend­ship over the long-term sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity of Haiti. It is espe­cially dis­ap­point­ing that the cur­rent U.S. State Depart­ment, which boasts some of the world’s top human rights lawyers and speaks out boldly for human rights else­where, is let­ting Duvalier’s vic­tims down.”