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Haiti / Jean-Claude Duvalier: “Justice must take its course,” says UN Independent Expert

GENEVA (19 January 2011) – UN Independent Expert Michel Forst urged Wednesday the international community to “allow justice to take its course in Haiti, recalling that there still are open proceedings against Jean-Claude Duvalier in the country.

“At a time when the international community strengthens its support for the restoration of the rule of law in Haiti, unwavering support to the fight against impunity for serious crimes would be a good signal to send to the people of Haiti and particularly to victims and victims' families,” said the Independent Expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Haiti.

“Since 1986 and up until 2008, several legal proceedings were initiated by Haitian justice against Jean-Claude Duvalier for crimes against humanity, torture, financial crimes, acts of treason, which would justify an arrest,” the Independent Expert recalled after learning that Duvalier was released on Tuesday after being charged with corruption, misappropriation of funds and illicit association by the justice of his country.

Mr. Forst noted that Section 466 of the Haitian Code of Criminal Procedure does admittedly provide for a statute of limitation of 10 years, but this requirement does not apply to serious crimes such as torture or crimes against humanity.

Michel Forst was appointed as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti by the Secretary-General, which was approved at the 8th regular session of the Human Rights Council in June 2008.

For more information on the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, go to http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/HTIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country page – Haiti: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/HTIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Michael van Gelderen (Tel: +41 22 92 89355 / email: mvangelderen@ohchr.org) or write to ie-haiti@ohchr.org