Visitors look at pictures of missing people at an exhibition about the government of Haiti’s former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier at the college of human sciences in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 until 1986, becoming the youngest president on earth as he was 19 years-old when he was sworn in. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
February 12, 2011
The complex case is part of a global push to hold former dictators accountable for atrocities during their reigns, said Human Rights Watch counsel Reed Brody, and it could break important new legal ground in Haiti, where the judiciary, like other institutions, is historically weak and ineffective.
“This case provides a real chance to put Haiti’s justice system squarely on the side of those who have suffered under his rule,” Brody said. “It will set a precedent and will be a civics lesson on a very dark period in Haiti’s history.
“The trees need to be shaken to get people to come forward, even if people are still scared. But I think there’s good evidence so far,” Brody added. “And as far as we can tell, the political will is there. … It’s important that it be carried over into the next government” – a reference to the power transition that should take place in the coming months from Presidential Rene Preval to his yet undetermined successor.