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Duvalier case: UN human rights expert applauds the Court of Appeals decision to fight impunity in Haiti

GENEVA (25 February 2014) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti, Gustavo Gallón, applauded the Court of Appeals’ decision to order additional investigations into crimes against humanity and not only into financial crimes against former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier. 

“The decision of the Court of Appeals is a significant rectification in the path in which impunity for past human rights violations was so far engaged in Haiti,” Mr. Gallón stressed. “It unequivocally reverts the incomprehensible ruling taken previously by the lower chamber judge who threw out the human rights charges against Duvalier and only charged him for the alleged financial crimes.”

The three-judge panel found that there was significant evidence of Mr. Duvalier’s criminal responsibility in his capacity as Head of State.

“I congratulate the courage of the three judges from the Court of Appeals for their decision taken in a not always conducive atmosphere,” the human rights expert said. “I now encourage the Haitian Government to provide the appointed investigating judge an independent and secure environment to perform his long awaited and difficult task.”

The UN Independent Expert also praised the victims and their lawyers for their courage to pursue justice against all odds, and invited the Government to take the necessary measures to protect them and their vital and dangerous challenge.

“This decision, taken in conformity with international human rights law, is particularly important as it recognises that crimes against humanity are an integral part of the Haitian legal framework,” Mr. Gallón noted, “and is capital as it also recognises that crimes against humanity do not prescribe.”

The Independent Expert will present his report on Haiti to the Human Rights Council on 25 March 2014.

The Human Rights Council appointed Mr. Gustavo Gallón as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti in June 2013. Mr. Gallon has over 30 years of experience as a human rights defender and University Professor of Public Law and Human Rights. He was the Special Representative of the United Nations Human Rights Commission for Equatorial Guinea from 1999 to 2002. He is currently the director of the Colombian Commission of Jurists since its establishment in 1988. Mr. Gallón is independent of any government and performs his mandate in his individual capacity only. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/HT/Pages/IEHaiti.aspx

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

For additional information and requests for interviews please contact Santiago Martinez de Orense (+41 22 928 93 52 / smartinez-orense@ohchr.org) or write to ie-haiti@ohchr.org

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