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Press briefing notes on Haiti

31 January 2012
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Subject: Haiti

We are very concerned about a string of reports quoting Haitian judicial officials saying that former President Jean-Claude Duvalier may only face charges of financial corruption rather than ones relating to the serious human rights violations that took place during his time in power.

Very serious human rights violations, including torture, rape, and extra-judicial killings have been extensively documented by Haitian and international human rights organizations to have occurred in Haiti during the regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier. The High Commissioner has consistently reminded Haiti of its absolute obligation to investigate these well-documented serious human rights violations and to prosecute those responsible for them.

It is clear under international law that there is no statute of limitations for such crimes, and the UN Human Rights office has provided technical assistance and legal advice stressing this point. We are extremely disappointed at reports that Mr. Duvalier may not be charged with any human rights crimes, despite numerous complaints by victims to the prosecutor. Impunity for such serious crimes cannot be allowed to prevail and we urge the relevant authorities to ensure that justice is, belatedly, delivered to the many victims of human rights abuses committed under the government of Mr. Duvalier. There can be no true reconciliation and forgiveness without justice.

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org).

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