Former Haiti dictator again summoned to court after failing to appear

[JURIST] A Haitian judge on Thursday ordered former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to appear in court for a hearing on whether he should face charges for human rights abuses. The summons follows a previous order [JURIST report] from nearly two weeks ago by a Haitian appeals court for Duvalier to appear for the hearings, a directive which the ex-president failed to follow [AP report]. Duvalier returned to Haiti in 2011 after 25 years in exile, prompting an investigation for crimes committed from 1971-1986. Last January a magistrate judge dismissed human rights charges against Duvalier [JURIST report], including allegations of rape, torture and murder, on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired. Twenty victims of Duvalier's reign initiated the charges and appealed the case after it was dismissed. Judge Joseph Lebrun dismissed an appeal by defense counsel to have the case heard by the Supreme Court, stating that it is imperative that Duvalier appear before the court next week.

Earlier this month Amnesty International and the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy websites] urged Haiti to ensure that Duvalier is brought to justice [JURIST report]. Last February the US State Department [official website] dispatched [JURIST report] a team of international law experts to Haiti to assess how the country could reinforce the power and independence of its judiciary. That same month, UN Independent Experty Micael Forst said that Haiti is making significant progress [JURIST report] with the respect to the rule of law, citing improvements such as the establishment of judicial offices and the adoption of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [text, PDF].

 

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