Amnesty International today urged the Haitian authorities to bring former president Jean-Claude Duvalier – also known as 'Baby Doc' – to justice for human rights abuses committed during his regime in the 1970s and 80s.
“The widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in Haiti during Duvalier’s rule amount to crimes against humanity. Haiti is under the obligation to prosecute him and anyone else responsible for such crimes," said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.
Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti on 16 January after nearly 25 years in exile in France. He fled Haiti in 1986 after a popular uprising which was violently repressed by the former Haitian Armed Forces and a local militia known as the “tonton macoutes”.
Throughout his 15 years in power (1971-1986) systematic torture and other ill-treatment were widespread across Haiti.
Hundreds of people "disappeared" or were executed. Members of Haiti’s armed forces and the militia National Security Volunteers – also known as the "tonton macoutes" -- played a primary role in repressing pro-democracy and human rights activists. The “tonton macoutes” were disbanded in 1986 after Jean-Claude Duvalier went into exile.
"The Haitian authorities must break the cycle of impunity that prevailed for decades in Haiti,” said Javier Zuñiga. “Failing to bring to justice those responsible will only lead to further human rights abuses.”