Court of Appeal Rescinds Statue of Limitations for Duvalier Human Rights Violations

Haiti's Court of Appeal in February 2014 reversed a January 2012 ruling by an investigative judge ex-President Jean-Claude Duvalier could not stand trial for crimes against humanity. The judge based the ruling on an expired statue of limitations. But the Court of Appeal has ruled "substantial evidence" exists, indicating Duvalier's culpability in human rights violations during his 15-year rule.


Amnesty International (AI) counted the ruling as a significant step forward for victims, attempting to get justice 28 years after Duvalier was exiled from office. He fled to Paris and returned to Haiti in January 2011. Upon his return, Haitian officials resurrected the criminal case against him, including charges of torture and murder, and corruption charges.

The Court of Appeal has tasked one of its judges to look into the allegations against Duvalier. The investigating judge is being asked to get new testimony from victims not allowed to testify at 2013's appeals hearings. During the hearings that ran from December 2012 until May 2013, both victims and Duvalier testified before court officers.

Special Advisor for AI, Javier Zuniga, said, "The Court of Appeal has correctly ruled . . . there can be no statue of limitations for crimes against humanity . . . the attempt to derail justice has been stopped . . ."

Despite publicity Duvalier has committed human rights violations, the government of Haiti has continued to extend invitations to him, most blatantly the 200th commemoration of Haiti's independence.

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