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Haiti

    February 19, 2016

    Joint Release AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, FIDH, LAWYERS WITHOUT BORDERS CANADA

    AI Index: AMR 36/3478/2016

    (Mexico City, Washington, DC, Quebec City, and Paris, February 20, 2016) – The current critical political situation in Haiti should not be used as an excuse to deny justice to the victims of human rights violations during the regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, FIDH, and Lawyers Without Boarders Canada (LWBC) said today. February 20, 2016, is the second anniversary of a judicial decision that re-opened the investigation against Duvalier – who passed away in October 2014 – and his subordinates.

    On February 20, 2014, the Port-au-Prince Court of Appeal re-established the accusations of crimes against humanity and crimes related to serious human rights abuses against Duvalier and others by appointing one of its sitting judges to investigate the allegations further. However, no results have been made public so far.

    January 07, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  8 January 2015

    Five years on from a devastating earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of people remain homeless as government policy failures, forced evictions and short-term solutions have failed many who lost everything in the disaster, said Amnesty International today.

    The new report, “15 minutes to leave” - Denial of the right to adequate housing in post-quake Haiti, documents worrying cases of people being forcibly evicted from  temporary, make-shift camps. The report also explores how the influx of development aid that came in the wake of the disaster failed to be transformed into long-term, secure housing solutions.

    “Many people who lost everything in the 2010 earthquake have faced renewed hardship as they are thrown out of their shelters and makeshift camps. Others face homelessness and destitution in the long-term as financial support programs from international donors begin to dry up,” said Chiara Liguori, Caribbean Researcher at Amnesty International. 

    October 07, 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.”

    February 21, 2014

    The decision of a Haitian court to allow investigations to continue into crimes against humanity committed during the rule of “president-for-life” Jean-Claude Duvalier is a major boost for the victims in their long quest for truth and justice, Amnesty International said.

    “This much-needed green light to continue the investigations is a victory for the victims of torture, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations committed under the rule of Duvalier and their relatives,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor for Amnesty International.

    “It also bolsters hopes for a new Haiti, founded upon the rule of law and equality of justice for all.”

    The Court of Appeal in the capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday reversed a January 2012 ruling by an investigative judge. The earlier decision stated that Duvalier could not be charged with crimes against humanity filed by victims of alleged forced disappearances and torture during his rule from 1971-1986 because the time for the prosecution of those offences had elapsed.

    January 15, 2014

    A lack of political will and unacceptable court delays are allowing Haiti’s former “president-for-life,” Jean-Claude Duvalier, to escape justice for human rights violations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. 

    The authorities re-opened a criminal case against the former Haitian dictator three years ago, shortly after he returned to the country on 16 January 2011, following a 25-year exile in France. He faced charges of serious human rights violations such as murder and torture of political opponents, and of corruption. But the case has stalled for almost a year. 

    “It appears that the Haitian authorities have no intention of carrying out thorough investigations into Duvalier-era abuses,” said Javier Zúñiga, Amnesty International’s special adviser to regional programs.

    “The judicial process has stalled, denying victims of his reign of terror their right to truth, justice and reparation. To add insult to injury, Duvalier continues to take part in public events, often at the invitation of the Haitian government.”

    January 13, 2014
    Four years ago, a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean island of Haiti, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead and more than 2 million homeless. © Amnesty International
    By Chiara Liguori, Caribbean researcher at Amnesty International

    Four years ago, a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean island of Haiti, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead and more than 2 million homeless. It was a disaster on an almost unprecedented scale. And, for a country already wracked by poverty with so many institutional weaknesses, it was a complete catastrophe.

    When I visited Haiti two months after the earthquake, my worst fears were confirmed. The Haitian authorities were completely overwhelmed, with most of the country’s government buildings having collapsed and countless public officials dead. The blank stare of then Haitian President René Préval was one of the most telling symbols of a country stood on the precipice of an abyss.

    Unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the earthquake, Haiti was headline news across the globe. Yet four years on, with the cameras gone, the problems and suffering of the people remain.

    Continue reading this blog on CNN’s Global Public Square.

    January 09, 2014

    Four years after the devastating earthquake which killed around 200,000 people and left some 2.3 million homeless, very little has been done to ensure the respect, protection and fulfilment of the right to adequate housing in Haiti, Amnesty International said today.

    More than 170,000 people are estimated to still be living in more than 300 displacement camps, in the majority of cases in appalling conditions with no access to essential basic services such as clean water, toilets and waste disposal. While the dire sanitation conditions leave them exposed to the risk of cholera and other diseases, the lack of solid shelters makes them vulnerable to flooding and other adverse weather conditions especially during the hurricane season.

    Although official numbers of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) have significantly gone down from the initial estimated 1.5 million in July 2010, most people who have been relocated from camps have not benefitted from durable housing solutions which ensures their right to adequate housing.

    April 23, 2013

    Forced evictions in Haiti are worsening the already desperate situation of thousands of people still living in displacement camps more than three years after the devastating earthquake of January 2010, Amnesty International said as it launched the report ‘Nowhere to go’: Forced evictions in Haiti’s camps for displaced people.

    “Appeals from Amnesty International and other NGOs to halt the forced evictions have fallen on deaf ears - not only has the Haitian government not put an end to them, but it has allowed them to increase since the beginning of this year,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

    Almost 1,000 families have been forcibly evicted from their homes between January and March this year – an about-turn from 2012 when forced evictions were on the decline, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    These 977 new families evicted come on top of the at least 60,978 people who were forcibly evicted between July 2010 and the end of 2012. Many of these forced evictions have been carried out or condoned by the authorities.

    April 17, 2013

    Allegations that a man died after being beaten by the police as he took part in a protest against an arson attack on a camp for displaced people in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince must be thoroughly and impartially investigated, said Amnesty International.

    Civil Merius, a resident of the camp, was reported to have been beaten as he was detained by police on Monday after protesting about the arson attack, and the failure by the police to respond to the incident. He later died while in police custody.

    Another camp resident, Darlin Lexima, who told Amnesty International that had not taken part in the protest, was beaten and then taken into custody. He was released without charge on Tuesday afternoon.

    The arson attack occurred less than 48 hours after the alleged owner of a portion of the land where the camp is located told the residents that he would “use all possible means to evict them.”

    March 01, 2013

    The presence of former Haitian “president for life” Jean-Claude Duvalier in court yesterday on charges relating to human rights abuses brings a glimmer of hope for the families of those subjected to extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances and the survivors of torture during Duvalier’s years in power, said Amnesty International.

    The hearing was suspended after five hours and will be continued on Thursday 7 March.

    The Court of Appeal did not make a decision on whether to try Duvalier for serious human rights violations.

    “The fact that Duvalier was actually present this time gives some hope of the capacity of the Haitian justice system to deal with sensitive cases,” said Javier Zúñiga, special adviser for Amnesty International. “However, the road to justice is a long one.”

    On 21 February – when Duvalier failed to show up to court for the third time - the Court of Appeal asked the Public Prosecutor to bring the former leader in for the next hearing under the threat of being imprisoned if he failed to appear again.  

    February 22, 2013

    Former President Jean-Claude Duvalier must either face a court hearing over charges of human rights abuses or be arrested, Amnesty International said amid fears he may flee the country using a newly-granted diplomatic passport.

    On Thursday Duvalier- also known as “Baby Doc”- refused for the third time, to face court. The judge of the Court of Appeal has rescheduled for 28 February and instructed the Public Prosecutor to bring him to that hearing.

    Yesterday’s hearing was due to examine an appeal brought by victims of human rights violations against the January 2012 decision by an investigative judge not to put Duvalier on trial for violations of human rights so serious they amount to crimes against humanity– including torture, killings and disappearances committed during his time in office.

    “Jean-Claude Duvalier cannot be beyond the reach of justice,” said Béatrice Vaugrante, an Amnesty International delegate who was present at the hearing.

    February 19, 2013

    An Amnesty International expert will be observing the hearing in the case against Haitian former President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier on Thursday 21 February.

    The hearing is to assess an appeal brought by victims of human rights violations against the decision of an investigative judge in January 2011 not to try Duvalier for crimes against humanity.

    The court will hear evidence of Duvalier’s alleged responsibility for the widespread human rights violations that took place during his time in office, between 1971 and 1986 – including torture, disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

    Duvalier returned to Haiti in January 2011 after 25 years in exile in France.

    Béatrice Vaugrante is the director Amnesty International’s office in Canada (francophone branch) and has been closely following the proceedings surrounding Duvalier’s prosecution.

    Vaugrante is available for interviews in French and English on: +1 514 814-2800.

     

    February 06, 2013

    Former Haitian leader Jean-Claude Duvalier must not be allowed to evade justice for his alleged responsibility for crimes against humanity committed during his time in office and the victims must receive reparations, Amnesty International said as a Court was due to hear an appeal on the case against the former President known as "Baby Doc".

    During the hearing, the Court will assess a request by victims’ families and survivors of torture, illegal executions and enforced disappearances during Duvalier’s time in power (1971-1986) to overturn a previous decision not to investigate the former leader’s alleged responsibility for the crimes.

    In January 2012, the investigating judge assigned to the case decided to try the former leader only for embezzlement of public funds, claiming the crimes against humanity for which he was accused had expired under a statute of limitations in Haitian law.

    February 01, 2013

    The Haitian authorities must urgently move to prevent illegal and violent evictions of people living in make shift camps and take meaningful steps to provide them with appropriate housing, said Amnesty International today, after a new wave of evictions affected hundreds of families across Port-au-Prince.

    Many of the 350,000 people still living in makeshift camps following the 2012 earthquake are also at risk.

    On 22 January, police officers violently evicted 84 families from camp Fanm Koperativ, in the municipality of Port-au-Prince.

    According to information gathered by Amnesty International, families were not given any notice of the eviction and were forced out of their make-shift tents by the police accompanied by a group of men armed with machetes and hammers.

    Suze Mondesir, a member of the camp committee, recounted their ordeal: "Around 10am a group of police officers accompanied by men armed with machetes and knives arrived at the camp. They insulted us and began to demolish our tents. The men pushed us around and the police waved their guns at us to prevent us from reacting."

    January 11, 2013

    WATCH VIDEO: Haiti, the crisis, 3 years on

    Three years on from the Haiti earthquake the housing situation in the country is nothing short of catastrophic with hundreds of thousands of people still living in fragile shelters, Amnesty International said as it urged the authorities and the international community to make housing a priority.

    The 12 January 2010 earthquake left more than 200,000 people dead and some 2.3 million homeless.

    It is estimated that more than 350,000 people currently live in 496 camps across the country.

    According to testimonies gathered by Amnesty International in Haiti, living conditions in the makeshift camps are worsening – with severe lack of access to water, sanitation and waste disposal – all of which have contributed to the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera.
    Women and girls are vulnerable to sexual assault and rape.

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