Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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Interview avec Mario Joseph sur Duvalier et Martelly

October 9, 2014 - 12:09

Un grand interview avec Mario Joseph sur Duvalier et les droits humains en Haïti. Dans l’interview, il explique comment le gouvernement Martelly ne respecte pas les droits humains, pourquoi certains ont une “Duvalier nostalgie,” et plus.

Cliquez ICI pour lire l’interview complète.

«Le président Martelly tient tous les leviers du pouvoir»

Angélique Mounier-Kuhn, Le Temps
9 octobre 2014

Ce n’est qu’à sa sortie de l’avion qui l’amenait en Suisse, le week-end passé, que Mario Joseph a appris la mort de Jean-Claude Duvalier, l’ancien dictateur rentré en Haïti en 2011 après vingt-cinq ans d’exil. Considéré comme l’un des défenseurs des droits de l’homme haïtiens les plus influents, Mario Joseph est à Genève cette semaine à l’occasion de l’examen d’Haïti, ces jeudi et vendredi au Palais Wilson, par les 18 experts indépendants du Comité des droits de l’homme. Leurs conclusions seront publiées le 30 octobre prochain.


Cliquez ICI pour lire l’interview.

Public Call on Human Rights in Haiti (Français)

October 9, 2014 - 09:00

Join Mario and Nicole for a live public call from Geneva.

Joignez Mario et Nicole dans un conférence en direct de Genève. (français ci-dessous)


BAI Managing Attorney Mario Joseph and IJDH Staff Attorney Nicole Phillips are participating in Haiti’s historic review by the UN Human Rights Committee for their implementation of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Receive a live update on the prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier, overdue elections and Haitians’ right to vote, persecution of human rights defenders, and access to justice for gender-based violence claims. Other Haitian human rights defenders will also join the call. The call will be conducted in French, with an English summary released afterwards.


To join, dial 712 432-1212* and enter meeting ID 416-399-999


Thursday, October 9th at 7pm Geneva time (1pm EST)


*Long-distance charges may apply for international callers but a calling card will work as it’s a US phone number. Your country may also have a free conference call number available here.



Les avocats Mario Joseph (BAI) et Nicole Phillips (IJDH) participent à l’examen historique d’Haïti par le Comité des droits de l’homme pour leur mise en œuvre du Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques (PIDCP). Recevez une mise à jour directe de l’ONU à Genève de la délégation de la société civile d’Haïti, qui incluent Maitre Mario JOSEPH du Bureau des Avocats International (BAI), Antonal MORTIME de la Plateforme des Organisations Haïtiennes des Droits Humains (POHDH), Viles ALIZAR du Réseau National des droits humaine (RNDDH), et Jocelyne Colas Noel de la Commission Episcopale Nationale Justice et Paix (CE-JILAP).  La délégation va parler sur six points que la préoccupe : l’impunité, l’indépendance du système judiciaires, les élections, les libertés publiques (expression, réunion et association), les LGBTs et la situation des femmes. L’appel se déroulera en français, avec un résumé en anglais publié après l’appel.


Composez 712 432-1212* et entrez code 416-399-999. Ou contactez par Skype « Nicole.M.Phillips ».


Jeudi 9 octobre, 7pm à genève (1pm ET)


Des frais peuvent s’appliquer pour les appels internationaux, mais une carte d’appel fonctionnera comme c’est un numéro de téléphone américain. Votre pays peut aussi avoir un numéro de conférence gratuit disponible ici.

Bertha Justice Institute Now Hiring

October 9, 2014 - 05:46

The Bertha Justice Institute (BJI) at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) needs a new Associate Program Director.

CCR  is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

CCR’s teaching and training arm, the BJI is dedicated to building the next generation of people’s lawyers through a range of programs including: post-graduate fellowships, internships, regional conferences, international exchanges, national training institutes and movement strategy sessions. The BJI is building a national and international network of legal workers, law students, lawyers, law professors, and activists that believe in using law to build the power of social movements. The BJI is also part of the global Bertha Justice Network which connects cutting-edge legal organizations across the world—in Haiti, Palestine, India, Colombia, the Philippines, South Africa and Europe—to train our respective next generations and build a global movement for justice

The Associate Program Director will be responsible for managing and executing all of the BJI’s programs with a particular focus on writing curriculum and designing/implementing trainings for lawyers and law students. This position is one that has a high-level of responsibility and offers an ambitious individual the opportunity to shape and build the vision of the BJI’s training programs and methods.

A J.D. is strongly preferred and 4 years of experience is required.

Applications are due by October 24, 2014. Please read the attached job description or click here for full details on the position and how to apply. Please forward widely and e-mail with any questions! For more information on the BJI visit:

Hearing Set For UN Cholera Case

October 9, 2014 - 05:00


Press Contact:

Shannon Jonsson, Legal Fellow, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-617-652-0876

Kermshlise Picard, Communications Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, +1-617-652-0876

PRESS ADVISORY: Hearing Set For UN Cholera Case

District Court to rule on UN claim to absolute immunity from justice

(New York, October 8, 2014)—Judge J. Paul Oetken has granted Plaintiffs’ request for an oral argument in Georges v. United Nations, 1:13-CV-7146, the ongoing case against the United Nations (UN), the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and former head of MINUSTAH Edmond Mulet, for recklessly introducing cholera to Haiti in 2010. Victims of the resulting epidemic filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October 2013. Judge Oetken has now ordered that counsel for the parties and amici curiae appear to present arguments on the Plaintiffs’ motion regarding service of process. The argument will address jurisdictional questions, including UN immunity. It will take place on October 23, 2014, and is open to media and the public.

What: Oral argument on the Plaintiffs’ motion regarding service of process in Georges v. United Nations.

When: Thursday, October 23, 2014, at 10:00 am.

Where: Courtroom 706, Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, New York, NY 10007.  Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Attorneys for the Plaintiffs will be available for interviews immediately following the oral argument. Interviews will be available in English, French, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Korean, and Swedish.


The hearing follows several months of briefing on whether the Defendants have immunity from suit and service of process. Plaintiffs served summons on the Defendants earlier in the year, but the Defendants have not responded or appeared in the lawsuit. In March 2014, the U.S. Government filed a Statement of Interest asserting that the case should be dismissed because the Defendants have immunity from service and suit in domestic courts. Plaintiffs responded with an opposition brief, and 25 prominent international law and human rights experts—several with current or former affiliations at the UN—signed amicus briefs in support of the Plaintiffs’ position. Plaintiffs argue that the UN does not enjoy immunity in this case because its failure to establish an alternative process for adjudicating victims’ claims violates its treaty obligations and denies victims their fundamental right to a remedy.

The hearing, which is scheduled to take place on the day prior to UN Day, marks the first court proceeding in the case.

Speaking about the significance of the hearing, Brian Concannon, Jr. Esq., Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), stated, “The Court’s decision to schedule a hearing shows that it is taking a serious look at the UN’s international law obligation to provide victims justice, as a precondition for asserting immunity.”

All prior court briefings, including the initial complaint, are available here. In the last four years, over 8,500 people have died and more than 705,000 have been infected by cholera.



Victims Fear Duvalier’s Crimes Being Forgotten

October 9, 2014 - 01:40

Victims of the Duvalier regimes fear that the memory of the terror the two dictators inflicted is being lost. More than half the Haitian population wasn’t born when Jean Claude-Duvalier’s dictatorship ended in 1986 and it isn’t taught in schools, leaving the youth to learn about the Duvalier regimes through rumors. As the current administration is also Duvalier-friendly, victims fear that things in Haiti won’t change if the truth is forgotten.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Can Haiti keep alive memories of ‘Baby Doc’s’ brutal dictatorship? Victims and survivors of dictator Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier say they fear the truth behind his violent reign are being forgotten in Haiti, where half the population wasn’t even born by the time he was forced into exile.

Amy Bracken, Yahoo News
October 9, 2014

Bobby Duval is not mourning Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former Haitian dictator who died of a heart attack last Saturday. Mr. Duval’s more inclined to grieve for the more than 180 people he says he saw perish during his eight months at Fort Dimanche – a notorious prison under the Duvalier dictatorship.

When Mr. Duvalier returned from exile in France three years ago, Duval testified against him, sharing memories of the 13-by-14 foot cell, crammed with dozens of naked men who were weak from disease, abuse, and near-starvation. Duval’s is among countless repugnant stories of a regime responsible for thousands of deaths, as well as torture, rape, and arbitrary incarceration in the 1970s and 1980s.

But for Duval and other victims, what’s even worse than remembering these atrocities is seeing the country forget.

“It’s not normal that students don’t know the history [of the Duvaliers],” he says. “They’re not critical. Everything is rumor. There are people who say Duvalier was very good, and when Jean-Claude returned to Haiti it was a lot of young people who greeted him.”

Jean-Claude Duval (no relation to Bobby) was still in his mother’s womb when his father was jailed in Fort Dimanche. His dad was kept there for four years, and, unlike Bobby, he never made it out. “It was a regime of terror I grew up in,” Mr. Duval says. “I was always afraid.”

Duval hopes to write a book about his family, which was also targeted under Francois Duvalier. “The thing I can do [to make a difference] is to teach people, because you have young people who don’t know what happened, who see Duvalier as just a president.”


Click HERE for the full text.

Potential Strides Towards a Cholera-Free Haiti

October 8, 2014 - 16:45

This month, Haiti’s cholera epidemic has the spotlight. Oral arguments have been granted for October 23, and October 9, a donor’s conference including Haitian Prime Minister Lamothe will attempt to raise funds for cholera eradication. We’re excited to see what comes of both.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti’s sanitation needs to be focus of meeting in capitol

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
October 8, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Four years after cholera arrived in Haiti, the country still is trying to curb the epidemic, even as it sees significant drops in the numbers of people succumbing to the deadly waterborne disease.

Still, more than 30 people a day continue to get infected with cholera, a number that remains unacceptable, according to Haitians and other officials as they prepare for a major donor conference Thursday in Washington focused on bringing clean water and sanitation to the country.

“The fact that we have fewer cases and it’s not part of the major news cycle around the world gives the impression we have already had this progress,” said Pedro Medrano, the United Nations’ assistant secretary general charged with overseeing the cholera response in Haiti. “That is not the case.”

For months, Medrano has been meeting with donors, including those in the Latin American region, trying to get them to assist the United Nations and Haiti in making cholera a thing of the past by contributing toward a 10-year $2 billion plan launched by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012.

But the campaign has been struggling, with both Haiti and the United Nations facing difficulties in meeting the two-year goal of raising the initial $400 million.

Lawyers suing the U.N. in one of the cases are scheduled to give oral arguments later this month over whether the body has immunity from lawsuits.

The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti filed the lawsuit. Brian Concannon, the organization’s executive director, has long contended that the U.N. “recklessly” introduced cholera in Haiti 10 months after the country’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.

He said the U.N. would have more credibility in attempting to raise money for cholera “by being honest and responsible about its role in causing the epidemic.”

While rights advocates are applauding the gathering in New York, they also are asking the government and donors to be more focused in their approach.

With nearly 60 percent of Haiti’s schools lacking toilets and more than three-quarters lacking access to water, for instance, Human Rights Watch said clean latrines and safe water for drinking and hand-washing at schools should be key on their list.


Click HERE for the full text.

Haitian Students Need Better Water and Sanitation

October 8, 2014 - 12:53

While education is a crucial part of a better future for Haiti, schools currently pose a major threat to students’ health. Most schools lack toilets or access to water, increasing children’s risk of contracting illnesses like cholera. As the October 9th conference–intended to increase financial commitments to water and sanitation–approaches, this is a key topic of discussion.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti: Students Need Safe Water, Toilets

Human Rights Watch
October 8, 2014

(Washington, DC) – The World Bank, international donors, and the government of Haiti should include an emphasis on water and sanitation in schools at the October 9, 2014 donors’ conference, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to a vice president at the World Bank. The conference in Washington, DC, is intended to galvanize greater financial commitments for clean water and improved sanitation and health in Haiti.

Safe, clean latrines and water for drinking and hand-washing at schools are among the key areas donors need to address as they discuss combatting water-borne diseases like cholera in Haiti, Human Rights Watch said, based on its research in Haitian schools. Nearly 60 percent of Haiti’s schools  have no toilets and more than three-quarters lack access to water.

“The majority of children in Haiti attend schools in such poor condition that they risk contracting disease,” said Amanda Klasing, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If donors at this conference are serious about improving health in Haiti, then they have to address kids’ right to attend schools that don’t make them sick.”

“Addressing Haiti’s water and sanitation needs requires a firm commitment to ensure that children don’t face a high risk of infection when they go to school,” Klasing said. “That includes making sure that kids have safe water and toilets at school.”


Click HERE for the full text.

How Duvalierism Persists Despite the Dictator’s Death

October 8, 2014 - 11:33

This article connects Duvalierism with many issues that are ongoing in Haiti, such as the lack of democratic elections and constant interference by foreign powers. It cites our work on prosecuting Duvalier, Fran Quigley’s book How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, and Haiti’s need for sovereignty.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

The Tyrant Jean-Claude Duvalier Is Dead, but His Legacy Still Lives in UN-Occupied Haiti

Roger Annis, Truthout
October 8, 2014

Jean-Claude Duvalier, the tyrant who ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986, has died in Haiti at the age of 63. His death provides a moment for political reflection by the Haitian people, especially in view of the reality that so much of Duvalier’s harsh political legacy remains alive and well in the island country.

A UN Security Council foreign military occupation has entered its 11th year. It serves to bolster much of the authoritarian Duvalier legacy, which has always, at its heart, been about excluding the Haitian people from governing their own country.

“President for Life”

Duvalier was appointed “president for life” in 1971 by his dying father, Francois Duvalier. Known as “Papa Doc” for the medical education he received in his early years, the elder Duvalier muscled his way into power in 1957 and established one of the most ruthless dictatorships the world had ever known. He was 64 when he died.

Son Duvalier was an upstart playboy with zero qualifications to govern when he began his rule. He was 19 years old. He carried forward his father’s legacy faithfully, becoming known as “Baby Doc.” The pillars of his rule were the same as his father’s, and included the ruthless, secret police called the Tontons Macoutes and their networks of domestic spies, prisons, torture chambers and dumping grounds for the thousands illegally assassinated.

The Duvalier case is documented on the website of one of the leading legal agencies involved, the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and its partner office in Port au Prince, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.

Brian Concannon, director of the IJDH, says the prosecution of Duvalier’s crimes should continue. “The case is as much about setting a precedent for protection of human rights as it is about securing a conviction of the man. Duvalier’s death is not a reason to stop the fight for justice for his victims,” he said.

A new book on Haiti has just been published and it is easily the best overview of the political, human rights and social challenges confronting the country in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. It is authored by Fran Quigley, professor at the McKinney School of Law at Indiana University, and is titled, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti.

Quigley writes in the introduction that the pervasive state of poverty in Haiti and the extensive damage caused by the 2010 earthquake could have been avoided if Haiti’s leaders followed the country’s laws and were accountable to the people. What is uniquely important in the book is how it documents the role of the big foreign powers in preventing that course.

For the Haitian people, the struggle against foreign occupation and for national sovereignty is the path that will consign the Duvalier legacy to the dustbin once and for all.


Click HERE for the full text.

Cholera Hearing Could Mean Trouble for UN

October 8, 2014 - 08:16

The cholera hearing set for October 23, 2014 has a lot of implications, many of which can be bad for the UN if the decision is in the plaintiffs’ favor. The plaintiffs have a very good chance of winning because the UN has provided them no alternate mechanism for justice. The UN, though, is probably not ready for the consequences of a victory for the victims. Now more than ever, the UN should take responsibility for the cholera epidemic and be accountable for its actions.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haitian cholera victims could soon bring the UN to court

Rosa Freedman, The Conversation
October 8, 2014

In October 2010, a cholera outbreak began in Haiti for the first time in more than 100 years. The strain that was brought into Haiti has been traced to a region in Nepal from which a UN peacekeeping contingent arrived days before the outbreak and it has been established that the United Nations failed adequately to screen its peacekeepers for the disease prior to them entering into Haiti.

Poor waste management at the UN peacekeepers’ camp resulted in infected human faeces being deposited in a tributary that feeds into Haiti’s main river. Within the first 30 days, Haitian authorities recorded almost 2,000 deaths from cholera. At its July 2011 peak, the epidemic was infecting one person every minute – and four years on, the country is still struggling to rid itself of the disease.

But on September 30, a New York judge gave cholera victims pursuing justice a new ray of hope, ordering oral submissions on whether the United Nations can be brought before the court. The hearing date is now set for October 23.

The cholera litigation has been brought by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), acting on behalf of thousands of claimants. The IJDH is mounting a significant challenge to UN immunity, and has submitted numerous amici briefs from international law scholars and practitioners in the US and in Europe.

Case law from various courts and jurisdictions shows that the UN’s absolute immunity has been challenged, albeit unsuccessfully, on the facts of a great many cases. The basis for those challenges has been that the UN’s legal immunity violates claimants’ rights to access a court and to a judicial remedy – and in all of the cases so far, the UN has argued that individuals’ ability to access alternative mechanisms for dispute resolution means their rights have been realised.

But the Haitian victims have no alternative mechanism through which to resolve their dispute. The scene is therefore set for the first successful challenge to the UN.

If the UN continues to ignore the rights of cholera victims, it may well find its absolute legal immunity blown out of the water. That will be a win for the cholera victims, but it also set a precedent for which the UN is not ready. We could soon start to see cases being brought against the UN in other jurisdictions.

It seems clear that the better alternative for everyone would be for the UN to accept responsibility for the cholera outbreak and to offer an alternative method of dispute resolution while that opportunity remains on the table. Otherwise, the UN’s peacekeeping operations around the world could soon find themselves under a level of scrutiny they have never before experienced.


Click HERE for the full text.

Can Duvalier’s Victims Get Justice Despite His Death?

October 8, 2014 - 07:12

While some, like Duvalier’s victims and BAI, are working on prosecuting Duvalier’s accomplices, some believe that even if Duvalier hadn’t died, the prosecution wouldn’t have succeeded. This segment features Brian Concannon, of the former camp, and former Haitian police director Pierre Denize, of the latter.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text and audio.

Haiti’s Crucial Question: Would Baby Doc Have Gone To Jail If He’d Lived Longer?

Tim Padgett, WLRN
October 8, 2014

As Haiti’s national police director from 1996 to 2002, Pierre Denize had a mission: to help the country’s fledgling democracy build a more professional and humane justice system.

Denize had seen too much of the polar opposite in his youth – especially when his parents were jailed, brutalized and exiled during the three-decade-long reign of cruelty and corruption known as the Duvalier dynasty.

“What [the Duvaliers] did to Haiti was absolutely horrendous,” says Denize, whose surgeon father was an early Duvalier health minister until he broke with the regime because of its brutality. “It was unacceptable. Inhumane.”

The dictatorship’s patriarch, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, ruled from 1957 until his death in 1971. By the time Haitians tossed his feckless dictator son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, into exile in 1986, the family had allegedly robbed almost a billion dollars from the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. Their murderous militia, the Tonton Macoutes, allegedly killed more than 30,000 opponents.

So now – after Baby Doc Duvalier’s sudden death last Saturday in Port-au-Prince at age 63 from a heart attack brought on in part by a tarantula bite – Denize and the rest of Haitian Nation are asking:

If Baby Doc had lived longer, would the Haitian justice system have eventually convicted and jailed him for his alleged and epic crimes?

What may well have derailed the prosecution in the end, however, wasn’t law but politics. Current Haitian President Michel Martelly is an admitted Duvalier admirer – and his government had urged prosecutors to drop the Baby Doc cases.

But many Haiti experts believe the legal proceedings that were underway when Duvalier died set a positive precedent for Haiti. The focus now will be on prosecuting surviving Duvalier loyalists who allegedly took part in the crimes.

“Duvalierism was a system,” says Concannon. “Jean-Claude Duvalier was the head of it, but he’s not the only person involved. I’m hearing loud and clear from the victims in Haiti that they want to continue this fight.”

The buzz in recent days is that Baby Doc cheated justice by dying. But Denize, the reform-minded ex-police chief who is now retired in Miami, says Haiti doesn’t yet deserve that assumption – and won’t until it gets serious about creating a more credible justice system.

“My contention is that we don’t yet have a justice system,” says Denize. “The whole question of justice now has very little to do with Baby Doc and so much more to do with Haiti and Haitians.

“Haitians have cheated and continue to cheat themselves out of justice.”

And they can only hope now that they bury that problem along with Duvalier.


Click HERE for the full text and audio.

L’importance de continuer le procès Duvalier

October 7, 2014 - 15:56

De Genève étant, Maitre Mario Joseph explique pourquoi le procès de Duvalier devrait continuer malgré la mort de celui-ci. Joseph explique, aussi, la situation de droits humains en Haïti, notamment concernant les élections longtemps différées par le gouvernement Martelly.

“Un procès du régime Duvalier serait un remède à l’impunité”

7 octobre 2014

“Jean-Claude Duvalier ne sera pas jugé, son régime, oui”. L’avocat haïtien Mario Joseph s’est exprimé mardi à la RTS, en marge d’une réunion de la Commission des droits de l’Homme de l’ONU à Genève, qui se penche sur le cas d’Haïti.

L’homme de loi, qui représente des victimes des exactions commises sous la dictature de l’ex-président Duvalier décédé samedi, plébiscite “un procès de ses partisans, de sa femme, des membres de son gouvernement.”

“Remède à l’impunité”

Un tel procès permettrait de “donner un peu de mémoire à ceux qui n’ont pas connu les exactions du régime Duvalier”. “Il s’agit d’un remède à l’impunité”, estime Mario Joseph.

Selon l’avocat, l’impunité est un fléau dans le pays, où les droits de l’homme continuent d’être bafoués par les forces gouvernementales, mais aussi par des organisations internationales.

“Les trois pouvoirs ne sont toujours pas séparés, nous vivons un culte de la personnalité (du président haïtien Michel Martelly)”, dénonce Mario Joseph.


Cliquez ICI pour l’audio.

Duvalier Regime Investigations Must Continue Despite His Death

October 7, 2014 - 08:42

Amnesty International insists that Duvalier’s death must not result in impunity for the crimes committed by his brutal regime. His collaborators must be prosecuted so that the victims can have justice. Amnesty also notes the disrespect for the victims evident in President Martelly’s statements about Duvalier and lack of will to prosecute him.

Part of the press release is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti: The truth must not die with Jean-Claude Duvalier

Amnesty International
October 7, 2014

The death of former Haitian ruler Jean-Claude Duvalier must not halt the investigations and prosecutions owed to thousands of people killed, tortured, arbitrarily arrested and disappeared under his regime, said Amnesty International today.

“The death of Jean-Claude Duvalier must not be used to brush away the crimes committed under his regime. An entire network of volunteer militia and state authorities are also suspected of perpetrating human rights violations under Duvalier’s command. These people too must be investigated and, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecuted in fair trials,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“This is not the final chapter in this horrific episode of Haiti’s recent history. Instead it should be a reminder that there are thousands of victims who still deserve justice, truth and reparation for the human rights violations they suffered.”

In response to news of the death, Haiti’s current President Michel Martelly has spoken of reconciliation and called Jean-Claude Duvalier a “true son of Haiti”. In the past, President Martelly has hinted in several public statements at pardoning the former leader. Despite being investigated for embezzlement charges, Jean-Claude Duvalier was issued with a diplomatic passport in 2013, and participated in several official ceremonies and events.

“Whereas President Martelly could have expressed compassion for the thousands of victims of Duvalierism and participated in forging memories about the crimes committed at that time, he willingly decided to express ‘sadness’ and ’sympathy’ only for Duvalier’s family. This is a slap on the face for human rights and the victims’ struggle to justice,” said Erika Guevara.


Click HERE for the full text.

UN Urges Continued Investigation of Duvalier Crimes

October 7, 2014 - 07:41

Many feared that with former dictator Duvalier’s death, victims of his regime would never find justice and closure. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reminds us that Duvalier didn’t commit crimes alone. His accomplices can and should still be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions.

Haiti: despite death of former President, UN urges continued probes into alleged abuses

UN News Centre
October 7, 2014

It is “essential” that legal proceedings and investigations against individuals associated with former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier continue despite the former leader’s recent passing, the United Nations human rights office urged today.

Serious human rights violations, including torture, rape, and extrajudicial killings, dating to the period spanning 1971 to 1986 – the years when Mr. Duvalier, also known as “Baby Doc,” was in power – have been extensively documented by Haitian and international human rights groups.

Earlier this year, Haiti’s Court of Appeals reversed a January 2012 decision that stated that the former leader could not be charged with crimes against humanity which occurred during his reign because the statute of limitations had expired.

At a press briefing held in Geneva, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) noted that while all the crimes were “obviously” not committed by Mr. Duvalier himself, it was imperative that the perpetrators of all abuses be brought to trial.

“It is the right of the Haitian people to obtain accountability for past violations of their human rights and the duty of mankind to remember, establish the truth and ensure justice for the victims,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters.

After years living in exile, Jean-Claude Duvalier’s return to Haiti in 2011 spurred victims and civil society organizations to seek justice for the abuses committed during his 15 years in office.

Mr. Duvalier died on 4 October of a reported heart attack. He was 63.


Click HERE for the original.

Duvalier Death “Sad for Haitians” Denied Justice

October 6, 2014 - 11:48

This interview with writer Jean Saint-Vil and journalist Amy Wilentz, author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier” features victims’ responses to the death of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and information on Duvalier’s repressive regime. The interview also discusses the current Haitian government’s support of Duvalier and President Michel Martelly’s reaction to his death, seen as a “slap in the face” of Duvalier’s victims. Human rights defenders hope to continue the Duvalier prosecution, against those who helped carry out his regime’s crimes.

Part of the transcript is below. Click HERE for the full text and video.

Death of U.S.-Backed Ex-Dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier Won’t End Haitian Victims’ Quest for Justice

Democracy Now!
October 6, 2014

The former U.S.-backed dictator of Haiti, Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc,” has died at 63. Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986, taking power after the death of his father who had ruled since 1957. Baby Doc’s death came just months after a Haitian court ruled that he could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law, and that he could also be held responsible for abuses by the army and paramilitary forces under his rule. Under his regime, hundreds of political prisoners held in a network of prisons died from their extraordinarily cruel treatment. Baby Doc’s government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten, in some cases tortured, jailed and forced to leave the country. Despite his human rights record, Baby Doc was a close ally of the United States. After years of exile in France, he returned to Haiti in 2011 and became an ally of Haiti’s current president Michel Martelly. We are joined by Haitian activist and writer Jean Saint-Vil and journalist Amy Wilentz, author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier has died at the age of 63. Known as Baby Doc, Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986. He took power after the death of his father, who had ruled since 1957. His death came just months after a Haitian court ruled that he could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law and that he could also be held responsible for abuses by the army and paramilitary forces under his rule. According to Human Rights Watch, Baby Doc’s rule was marked by systematic human rights violations. Hundreds of political prisoners, held in a network of jails, died from their extraordinarily cruel treatment. Duvalier’s government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten; in some cases, tortured, jailed and forced to leave the country. One of his most vocal critics in the 1980s was a priest named Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who would later become Haiti’s first democratically elected president.

AMY GOODMAN: Despite his human rights record, Jean-Claude Duvalier was a close ally of the United States. After years of exile in France, Baby Doc returned to Haiti in 2011 and became an ally of Haiti’s current president, Michel Martelly. In messages posted on Twitter Sunday, Martelly called Baby Doc, quote, “an authentic son of Haiti.” There is now talk about a possible state funeral for Duvalier. Many victims of his regime have spoken out against the idea. Robert Duval was a political prisoner who was jailed for 17 months during Duvalier’s rule.

ROBERT DUVAL: You know it is a crime against humanity. It’s like the—you’re talking about torture. You’re talking about disappearances. You’re talking about summary executions. You’re talking about starving people in jail. You’re talking about genocide. You know, whole families have gone, even to the point of having children two years old be thrown in the air and come down in bayonet. This is the type of crime that his regime has committed. And he was the head of it for 15 years, under the regime of Duvalier. It’s very well known and very well documented. More than 50,000 to 60,000 people have perished under those conditions I told you about. So, to give this man a national funeral, that would be a slap to all of the victims and to the nation in general.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Duval. To talk more about Baby Doc’s legacy, we’re joined now by two guests. Jean Saint-Vil is an Ottawa-based Haitian writer, radio host and activist. His website He’s joining us from Ottawa. Amy Wilentz is also with us, an award-winning writer and journalist. She’s the author of several books on Haiti, including Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti, which was published last year and received the National Book [Critics Circle] Award. She’s also the author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. She teaches in the literary journalism program at the University of California, Irvine, joining us from Los Angeles.


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Haitians Need Closure After Duvalier’s Death

October 6, 2014 - 10:35

This article discusses US support for both Duvalier regimes, the negative economic and social effects, and how Haitians might deal with the lack of accountability left by Jean-Claude Duvalier’s sudden death.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

How Will Haiti Reckon with the Duvalier Years?

Laurent Dubois, The New Yorker
October 6, 2014

In January, 2011, one year after an earthquake killed tens of thousands of people (by some estimates, hundreds of thousands), Jean-Claude Duvalier landed unannounced in Haiti following twenty-five years of exile in France. In the years between his return to the country and his death on Saturday at the age of sixty-three, he circulated freely about Port-au-Prince, meeting with old friends, dining at fancy restaurants, and occasionally accepting invitations to government events. For Haitians who had suffered imprisonment or torture under his regime, or who had been forced into exile themselves, Duvalier’s unapologetic presence in the country was shocking. A group of twenty-two plaintiffs, the Collectif contre l’impunité (the Collective Against Impunity) had been pushing for a trial against him, and had been gathering evidence to present in court. This February, they won a victory when a Haitian appellate court ruled that Duvalier could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law. The next step never came, and now it is too late. According to the Human Rights Watch lawyer Reed Brody, who worked on the case, “Duvalier’s death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human-rights trial in its history.”

Instead of a trial, we’ll have a funeral. What will it look like? Who will speak, and what will they say? In a tweet, Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly, made clear the tone he would seek to set: “Despite our quarrels and differences, let us salute the departure of an authentic son of Haiti.” But how we remember Duvalier is much more than a matter of “quarrels and differences”; it is a question of how, decades on, we should remember and confront a haunting and traumatic history of political repression.

When Duvalier is buried, there will be many conversations in the streets and homes of Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and Gonaïves, but also in those of Brooklyn, Miami, Montreal, Cayenne, the Bahamas, Guadeloupe, and Paris. The memories of those who suffered under the Duvalier regime have been passed on quietly within families inside and outside of the country, and more openly through such writers as Marie Vieux-ChauvetFrankétienne, and Edwidge Danticat. But many have inherited a hesitation to speak about what happened during those years. The deep desire for closure, redemption, and reparation is still shadowed by a legacy of impunity and forgetting. Haiti’s future depends on a serious reckoning with the inheritance of the Duvalier regime. Now that Jean-Claude is gone, what shape will that reckoning take?


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Ex-Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier Dead

October 4, 2014 - 12:34

Jean-Claude Duvalier, notorious for the corruption and human rights abuses that reigned during his presidency, died of a heart attack this weekend. Some fear that justice for Duvalier’s victims can’t be served now that he’s died but many hope that the prosecution will continue with others who were involved in Duvalier’s human rights abuses.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Ousted Haitian Dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier Dies

Evens Sanon & Trenton Daniels, ABC News
October 4, 2014

Jean-Claude Duvalier, who presided over what was widely acknowledged as a corrupt and brutal regime as the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti until a popular uprising sent him into a 25-year exile, has died. He was 63.

Duvalier died Saturday from a heart attack at the home of a friend in Port-au-Prince where he had been staying, said his lawyer, Reynold Georges, and several officials in the impoverished nation.

The former leader, known as “Baby Doc,” made a surprise return to Haiti in 2011, allowing victims of his regime to pursue legal claims against him in Haitian courts and prompting some old allies to rally around him. Neither side gained much traction, however, and a frail Duvalier spent his final years quietly in the leafy hills above the Haitian capital.

Haitian President Michel Martelly expressed his condolences to the former dictator’s family, making no mention of the widespread human rights abuses that occurred under Duvalier and his more notorious predecessor and father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier.

“On behalf of the entire government and people of Haiti, I take this sad occasion to extend my sincere sympathies to his family, his relatives and his supporters across the country,” Martelly said.

The elder Duvalier was a medical doctor-turned-dictator who promoted “Noirisme,” a movement that sought to highlight Haiti’s African roots over its European ones while uniting the black majority against the mulatto elite in a country divided by class and color.

“Papa Doc” tortured and killed political opponents, relying on a dreaded civilian militia known as the Tonton Macoutes.

In 1971, Francois Duvalier suddenly died of an illness after naming his son to succeed him. At 19, Jean-Claude Duvalier became the world’s youngest president.

Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled for 15 years, retaining the Tonton Macoutes and the brutality of his father’s regime, though to a lesser extent. The son’s administration was seen as less violent and repressive than that of the father, though it perhaps was more corrupt.

Wisps of press freedom and personal criticism, something never tolerated under the elder Duvalier, emerged sporadically during the reign of “Baby Doc” because of international pressure. Still, human rights groups documented abuses and political persecution. A trio of prisons known as the “Triangle of Death,” which included the much-feared Fort Dimanche for long-term inmates, symbolized the brutality of his regime.

Since his return from exile, victims of the regime have testified in a criminal investigation of human rights abuses during his 15-year reign but the case has moved fitfully and there had been few signs of progress. His death brings an end to that effort without giving Haiti a chance to reconcile with that past, said Amy Wilentz, author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier,” and other works about the country.

“What this means is that there will never be a trial against him and there won’t be a chance for the Haitian people to have justice and to purge from its soul the true horrors of the Duvalier era,” Wilentz said. “It’s an end but there is no closure that comes with it.”

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Duvalier Death Denies His Victims Justice

October 4, 2014 - 07:33

Notorious former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier died of a heart attack over the weekend. He was under investigation for corruption and crimes against humanity. but now that he’s dead, his victims fear that justice may never be served.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti: Justice Denied by Duvalier’s Death Ex-Dictator Under Investigation for Crimes Against Humanity

Human Rights Watch
October 4, 2014

(New York) – The inability of Haiti’s courts to bring to trial former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier deprived his countless Haitian victims of the justice they sought, Human Rights Watch said today. Duvalier’s death was reported on October 4, 2014.

“It’s a shame that the Haitian justice system could not bring Baby Doc Duvalier to trial before he died,” said Reed Brody, special counsel at Human Rights Watch, who worked with Duvalier’s victims. “Duvalier’s death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human rights trial in its history.”

Duvalier inherited power from his father, the dictator François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986. During the son’s rule, Haiti was marked by systematic human rights violations. Hundreds of political prisoners held in a network of prisons known as the “triangle of death” died from their extraordinarily cruel treatment. Others were victims of extrajudicial killings. Duvalier’s government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten, and in some cases tortured, jailed, or forced into exile.

“A Haitian proverb says ‘He who gives the blow forgets; he who carries the scar remembers,’” Brody said. “Duvalier may have forgotten the blows he gave to the Haitian people, but his victims remember.”


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Former Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier Dead

October 4, 2014 - 06:30

This article describes former dictator Duvalier’s rise to power, presidency, and exile from Haiti. The Duvalier regime was marked by embezzlement, violence, murders, and forced disappearances. Originally supported by the US, Duvalier’s gross human rights violations and corruption lost him US support and played a large role in his exile.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Jean-Claude Duvalier, ex-Haitian leader known as Baby Doc, dies at 63

Stephanie Hanes, The Washington Post
October 4, 2014

Jean-Claude Duvalier, the second-generation “president for life” who plunged one of the world’s poorest countries into further despair by presiding over widespread killing, torture and plunder, died Oct. 4 at his home in Port-au-Prince. He was 63.

He had a heart attack, his lawyer, Reynold George, told the Associated Press.

Despite a brief, hopeful window when it appeared that the overweight, overwhelmed dauphin might liberalize the country, the younger Duvalier soon followed in his father’s violent footsteps. Tens of thousands of Haitians were killed under the regimes, with many more tortured, according to human-rights groups.

Jean-Claude Duvalier maintained his father’s well-established terror apparatus — most notably the Tontons Macoutes, the shadowy militia whose name means “bogeymen” — and added new techniques for skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from the national treasury.

Under the younger Duvalier’s watch, Haiti became the Western Hemisphere’s epicenter for AIDS, as well as a major cocaine-trafficking stop. Although he courted the United States and other donors with promises of human-rights reforms and a business-friendly economic policy, living conditions for Haitians dipped even lower than their already dismal standing.

Illiteracy rose and life expectancy sank. When tens of thousands of desperate, malnourished “boat people” tried to flee Haiti for U.S. shores during the 1970s and ’80s, Duvalier’s response, true to form, was to demand kickbacks from their unscrupulous human smugglers.

By the time he and his family boarded a U.S. Air Force cargo plane and flew to exile in 1986, with truckloads of Louis Vuitton luggage and millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts, Duvalier had cemented his country’s status as the basket case of the Americas.

He remained unrepentant.

“I got to know Duvalier as a man who is by turn intellectually dishonest, manipulative, even downright clueless,” wrote Haitian-born journalist Marjorie Valbrun in a 2011 Washington Post essay, which recollected interviews she had conducted with Baby Doc in 2003.

“In rare but telling moments, he also seemed deeply sad,” Valbrun added. “He denied any past wrongdoing. He rejected accusations of corruption during his presidency. He dismissed allegations of officially sanctioned murders and arrests of political opponents as fictional creations of a biased news media. He never uttered a word of remorse and ceded only one major mistake: ‘Perhaps I was too tolerant.’ ”

According to official records, Jean-Claude Duvalier was born July 3, 1951. He was the only son of Simone Ovide and her husband, the doctor Francois Duvalier.

In January 2011, Jean-Claude Duvalier surprised Haitians by returning to his earthquake-damaged country with his companion, Veronique Roy. The frail-looking Baby Doc said that he was not there for politics, but because he wanted to “help.” Banking experts, however, suspected that he had arrived to circumvent new Swiss regulations preventing exiled leaders from obtaining money stolen from their countries.

He was promptly arrested and charged with embezzlement and other crimes, but remained living in a high-end hotel in the mountains of Port-au-Prince.


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Haiti in a Time of Cholera Wins Emmy

October 3, 2014 - 05:37

September 30th, “Haiti in a Time of Cholera” won an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. This is a unique opportunity to draw attention to the still-ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti and the United Nations’ lack of accountability for the epidemic its peacekeepers caused.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Haiti Cholera Documentary Wins Emmy

The Haitian Times
October 3, 2014

A documentary about the Haiti cholera epidemic won an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a News Magazine on Sept.30. Fault Lines: Haiti in a Time of Cholera, which was produced by Al Jazeera media network, looked at the United Nations’ (UN) refusal to comply with its own legal obligations in the face of overwhelming evidence that it introduced cholera to the small island country.

“This Emmy leaves the UN nowhere to hide from justice,” Mario Joseph, managing attorney for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) said. The BAI has worked with cholera victims in Haiti since 2011. Millions of people including over 100 members of congress and UN human rights officials denounce the UN’s “failure to respond justly to its cholera epidemic.”

The film begins in Haiti, where thousands died after a cholera outbreak.

“The only outstanding question is whether the UN will continue to undermine its own credibility by refusing to submit to the rule of law that it so enthusiastically promotes.”

“Al Jazeera tells stories of people that are not often heard, and ‘Haiti in a Time of Cholera’ is an example of such a story,” Walker, who worked as a producer and correspondent on the film said. “This Emmy award is a testament to the team who worked on the program and an opportunity to draw attention to the scale of the cholera crisis in Haiti.”


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Big Step Towards Justice for Haiti’s Cholera Victims

October 2, 2014 - 14:58

The judge in the cholera case against the UN has granted oral arguments, set to take place October 23. This article gives a quick overview of cholera in Haiti and discusses why oral arguments are a big step towards justice for Haiti’s cholera victims.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Will Haiti Cholera Victims See UN in Court?

Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams
October 2, 2014

It’s been almost four years since the cholera outbreak began in Haiti following the disastrous earthquake.

Since then, the disease—brought to the Caribbean nation by United Nations troops from Nepal—has claimed the lives of over 8,500 Haitians and sickened over 700,000.

But the victims’ journey towards justice took a positive step on Tuesday when Judge Oetken granted oral argument in the case. The court date is set for Oct. 23 in New York.

Haiti justice advocates are welcoming the development.

Brian Concannon, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti(IJDH), stated, “The Court’s decision to call a hearing shows that it is taking a serious look at the UN’s international law obligation to provide victims justice, as a precondition for asserting immunity. The hearing is also an excellent opportunity for discussing the UN’s compliance with its obligations, both in court and without.”


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