QUÉBEC CITY, Oct. 4, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The death of former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier does not put an end to the prosecution of those most responsible for serious human rights violations committed under the Duvalier regime. More than ever, the right to justice and reparation of the victims of these crimes must be respected and implemented, declares Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), the principal partner of the Collectif contre l'impunité (Collective Against Impunity), which is comprised of the majority of plaintiffs in the case against the ex-dictator and his close associates.
While Duvalier's death elicits bitter feelings among the plaintiffs, it also strengthens their determination to obtain justice and reparation.
Echoing this sentiment, Mr. Pascal Paradis, Executive Director of LWBC, remarked that "the death of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier does not mark the end of legal proceedings in Haiti to bring to justice those most responsible for the grave human rights violations that were committed between 1971 and 1986. We stand in solidarity with the Collectif contre l'impunité and the plaintiffs in our determination to continue the struggle against impunity".
LWBC highlights the fact that the legal proceedings involve not only the former "President for Life", but also his closest aides and associates, including Jean Valmé, Rony Gilot and Emmanuel Orcel.
Even if his death brings an end to legal action against Jean-Claude Duvalier, it does not affect proceedings against his associates, and Haitian authorities are obliged to make every effort to ensure that the rights of victims to obtain justice and redress are fully respected. A recent landmark decision by the Port-au-Prince Court of Appeal stated that the inquiry should target all those indicted.
Mr. Paradis notes that "the current case cannot be closed. Haitian authorities have obligations under both Haitian and international law to investigate grave human rights violations and to take legal action against those responsible, which they were reminded of by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2011" The international community similarly has an obligation to ensure Haiti respects its international commitments to end impunity for those responsible for gross violations of human rights under international law.
Nor does the death of the former dictator mark the end of efforts to reconstitute the collective memory of events under the Duvalier regime. "These efforts to establish collective memory are fundamental for Haitians" emphasizes Danièle Magloire, coordinator of the Collectif contre l'impunité, civil party to the proceedings against the main perpetrators of the Duvalier regime. "The documents uncovered, the testimony collected, the words exchanged, are all part of the struggle against impunity, and contribute to the creation of a democratic society in Haiti, one that is able to confront its past in order to build a better future."
About LWBC: Lawyers Without Borders Canada (www.asfcanada.ca) is an international non-governmental organization whose mission is to help defend the human rights of the most vulnerable by promoting access to justice and legal representation. Active in more than 15 countries since 2002, LWBC has worked in Haiti since 2006 to strengthen the fight against impunity and the legal representation for victims of human rights violations.
SOURCE: Lawyers Without Borders Canada
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