Above: crowds outside the Presidential Palace in Haiti in 2011 (UN Photo/Victoria Hazou)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier must face charges for human rights abuses, the United Nations said today.
The world body voiced its concern over reports that Duvalier would not face charges on series human rights violations that took place during his 15-year rule in Haiti.
“The High Commissioner has consistently reminded Haiti of its absolute obligation to investigate these well-documented, serious human rights violations and to prosecutor those responsible for them,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the High Commissioner.
Duvalier returned to Haiti in January 2011 following 25 years of exile in France. Soon after, the UN’s Human Rights Commission offered Haitian authorities help in prosecuting the crimes.
Some reports have quoted Haitian judicial officials saying Duvalier would only face charges of financial corruption rather than human rights abuses.
“We are extremely disappointed at reports that Mr Duvalier may not be charged with any human rights crimes, despite numerous complaints by victims to the prosecutor,” he said. “It is clear under international law that there is no statute of limitations for such crimes, and the UN human rights office has provided technical assistance and legal advice stressing this point.”
Michel Forst, the Independent Expert on human rights in Haiti for the UN, also voiced his concern about the potential not to bring human rights charges.
“This would be a very serious blow to the credibility of the process of judicial reform in Haiti,” he said.