Jean-Claude Duvalier: Investigating Crimes against Humanity

Amnesty International reports that the current government of Haiti will launch an investigation into human rights violations committed by former Haitian president-for-life Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier.  This follows calls by both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch to prosecute the former dictator of Haiti for crimes against humanity.

Thirty years ago while I was in college, my campus group worked on several cases in Haiti.  Those who survived attacks by the Tonton Macoute, Baby Doc’s quasi-legitimate militia and group of thugs, told terrifying and horrifying stories about their experiences.  These included witnessing dismemberment of victims, some of them still alive at the time.  :(  Jean-Claude Duvalier was no garden variety human rights abuser. In kind, if not in numbers, he was one of the worst of the worst.

The Haitian government has probably agreed to this investigation primarily because of an outcry against Duvalier in countries that provide most of the aid that it depends upon for survival.   The majority of the Haitian population is too young to remember Baby Doc as the country’s ruler.  Those who are old enough to remember him are too frightened to speak openly.

The Haitian government needs to follow through on this commitment.   Duvalier does not belong in Haiti, or (in my opinion) anywhere on this earth, except in a cage. :(

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