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Jean-Claude Duvalier must face justice for Haiti rights violations

    January 17, 2011

    Amnesty International today urged the Haitian authorities to bring former president Jean-Claude Duvalier – also known as 'Baby Doc' -- to justice for human rights abuses committed during his regime in the 1970’s and 80’s. “The widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in Haiti during Duvalier’s rule amount to crimes against humanity. Haiti is under the obligation to prosecute him and anyone else responsible for such crimes," said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

    Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti on 16 January after nearly 25 years in exile in France. He fled Haiti in 1986 after a popular uprising which was violently repressed by the former Haitian Armed Forces and a local militia known as the “tonton macoutes”.

    Throughout his fifteen years in power (1971-1986) systematic torture and other ill-treatment were widespread across Haiti.

    Hundreds of people "disappeared" or were executed. Members of Haiti’s armed forces and the militia National Security Volunteers – also known as the "tonton macoutes" -- played a primary role in repressing pro-democracy and human rights activists. The “tonton macoutes” were disbanded in 1986 after Jean-Claude Duvalier went into exile.

    "The Haitian authorities must break the cycle of impunity that prevailed for decades in Haiti,” said Javier Zuñiga. “Failing to bring to justice those responsible will only lead to further human rights abuses.”

    Notes to Editors

    Javier Zuñiga is a special advisor at Amnesty International. With over 30 years experience in the field of human rights, Zuñiga has spend much of his career looking at the situation of Haiti, both as an expert with Amnesty International and as part of a UN mission in Haiti between 1995 and 1996.

    He is fluent in Spanish, English and French and is currently based in London.

    Gerardo Ducos is the researcher on Haiti for Amnesty International. He has written a number of reports and analysis pieces on the human rights situation in the country, including after the earthquake and is currently in Port-au-Prince.

    He is fluent in Spanish, English and French.

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
    Josefina Salomon on +44 7778 472 116 or

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236