Haiti: UN Hails Court’s Decision to Open New Investigations into Duvalier

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - February 22, 2014

Above: Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Photo)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The United Nations is “hailing” the decision this week by a Haitian court to open new investigations into former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier for crimes against humanity.

In a statement, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the move would “help ensure accountability for past abuses.”

“The decision by the Court of Appeals in Haiti on 20 February in favour of opening new investigations into former President Jean-Claude Duvalier for crimes against humanity is a landmark step for Haitian justice in combating impunity,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The decision, which was made on Thursday, was made by a three-judge panel, which found that acts allegedly committed by Duvalier qualified as crimes against humanity and, crucially, “did not fall under the statute of limitations.”

The panel found that crimes against humanity are part of Haitian law as they pertain to customary international law, by which Haiti is bound.

The Haitian judges found “significant evidence” of Duvalier’s criminal responsibility in his capacity as head of state.

One of the courts members has been appointed to act as an investigating judge to interview witnesses and people associated with Duvalier.

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