Wednesday, April 17, 2024

‘Arrest Baby Doc Duvalier’


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Human rights groups have urged the Haitian government to arrest and prosecute former President Jean-Claude Duvalier for abuses committed during his 1971-86 leadership.
Mr Duvalier, 59, also known as “Baby Doc”, has just returned to Haiti.
He said he had “come to help” after last year’s earthquake, but Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said he should face justice.
It is not clear whether any warrants exist for his arrest.
Mr Duvalier was just 19 when he inherited the title of “president-for-life” from his father, the notorious Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who had ruled Haiti since 1957.
“Baby Doc” is accused of massive corruption, repression and human rights abuses during his 1971-1986 rule.
Critics allege he embezzled millions of dollars from the impoverished Caribbean nation, a charge he denies.
Like his father, he relied on a brutal private militia known as the “Tontons Macoutes”, which controlled Haiti through violence and intimidation.
Human Rights Watch Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco said Haiti had enough problems without Mr Duvalier.
“Duvalier’s return to Haiti should be for one purpose only – to face justice,” he said in a statement. “His time to be held accountable is long overdue.
“Duvalier’s presence – unless he is immediately arrested – is a slap in the face to a people who have already suffered so much.”
Amnesty special adviser Javier Zuniga said Mr Duvalier’s abuses amounted to crimes against humanity and Haiti was “under obligation” to prosecute him.
But Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Mr Duvalier was free to return home, adding that there was no reason to believe he would destabilise the country which is facing uncertainty after disputed presidential elections.
The reason for his visit is not clear, although a French diplomatic source told AFP news agency that he had a return ticket to France for 20 January.
His return to Haiti came on the day it was supposed to hold the second round of elections to choose a successor to outgoing President Rene Preval.
But the vote has been postponed because of a dispute over which candidates should be on the ballot paper. (BBC)
Took over presidency aged just 19 when his father, Haiti’s authoritarian leader Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, died in 1971.
Called himself “president-for-life” and ruled with an iron fist, aided by a brutal private militia known as the Tontons Macoutes.
Accused of corruption and human rights abuses that prompted more than 100,000 Haitians to flee the country during his presidency.
Ruled for 15 years before outbreak of popular protests led him to flee to France in 1986.
Asked Haitian people for forgiveness for “errors” made during his rule in a 2007 radio interview.
Returned to Haiti as it was supposed to hold run-off election to choose successor to outgoing President Rene Preval, although vote has been postponed.


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