Cutting a Deal: Baby Doc's Retirement Fund

  • Posted on: 1 June 2007
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
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Baby Doc DuvalierSwitzerland has been holding US 6.2 million dollars in accounts that were established by Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. Since his exile in 1986, he has been living quite cozily in France though it has been said his ex-wife, made off with most of the funds. Under a deal proposed by Switzerland a large portion of the money would go to humanitarian projects in Haiti while some would be released back to Baby Doc. The Haitian form of government under the Duvaliers has been described as a "kleptocracy" - meaning that aid and trade was encouraged only to the extent that the government officials would profit.

Proving that the money was a result of graft and corruption, we hope, will not be difficult to prove. The Haitian government is trying to do so, though the window of time will be limited. He and his father inflicted incalcuable damage to the country. For Baby Doc to be allowed to keep money stolen from the Haitian people is simply unnaceptable. We hope that the Swiss government will make the right decision and not hand over any money whatsoever.

By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA, May 22 (Reuters) - Switzerland is set to return 7.6 million Swiss francs ($6.2 million) next month which it seized in accounts belonging to former Haitian ruler Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, a senior Swiss official said on Tuesday.

Under an agreement proposed by Switzerland, a large portion of the frozen funds would be given to Haiti for humanitarian projects but the rest will be given back to the former dictator, exiled in France, and his family. The funds, blocked since Duvalier was ousted in 1986, will be released on June 3 unless the government in Haiti produces last-minute evidence tying the money to corruption or crime, said Paul Seger, legal adviser at the Swiss Foreign Ministry.

"There is a glimpse of hope that we will find some kind of miracle solution before that date," Seger told Reuters in a telephone interview, noting Haitian investigators have promised to intensify their efforts as the deadline approaches.

"The settlement will foresee that the majority of the money will be used for projects of a humanitarian and social nature in Haiti," Seger said, declining to specify the amount until the deal is signed. Over the past 20 years, Switzerland has returned nearly $1.3 billion in loot stashed by Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, Peru's former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos and Nigeria's leader General Sani Abacha to their homelands.

Legal and practical hurdles have so far prevented such a resolution in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, where authorities failed to gather adequate legal proof that the Duvalier fortune was ill-gotten. Similar issues have also ground proceedings to a halt in the case of 8 million Swiss francs ($6.49 million) belonging to the late Zairean strongman Mobutu Sese Seko, held since 1997.

Authorities in the country -- now the Democratic Republic of the Congo-- have not yet produced evidence that the funds were illicit. Swiss law requires the funds to be released by the end of 2008 if no resolution is reached in the case.

"We will have a bit of time," Seger said. Judicial experts argue that poor countries, particularly those with institutions ravaged by war and unrest, need legal assistance to recover money stashed abroad by corrupt leaders.

Switzerland has argued for faster global implementation of a U.N. anti-corruption convention that criminalises bribery, money laundering and the embezzlement of public funds. The pact obliges countries to return illegally acquired assets.


Haiti Support Group press release - Swiss government extends freeze on Duvalier's accounts, 4 June 2007

Good news! - Following moves by a Miami-based law firm representing two victims of the Duvalier dictatorship, and a spirited lobbying campaign by Haitian, Latin American, and European NGOs over the last week, the Swiss government on Friday announced it had extended a freeze on Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier's Swiss bank accounts for a further three months.

The money, 7.6m Swiss francs (£3.1m/US$6.2m), has been frozen for the past five years as the Haitian government has argued for its release, but was due to be surrendered to Duvalier on 3 June.

Now the accounts will remain blocked for a further three months from 3 June, according to Swiss government spokesman Oswald Sigg. He stated that the Swiss foreign ministry would now try to resolve the situation with the Duvalier family and representatives of Haiti's government. It was still the Swiss government's aim to find a solution in favour of the Haitian people, added the spokesman.

Congratulations to Marc Henzelin, the lawyer acting for Haitians, Etzer LaLanne and Father Gerard Jean-Juste, who obtained an order from the Geneva state court blocking one of Duvalier's accounts in Switzerland in respect of a suit successfully filed in the US. District Court in Miami in 1988.

Congratulations also to the Haitian Platform to Advocate for Alternative Development (PAPDA), the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), the Swiss Haiti Platform, Jubilee South Americas, the Haiti Advocacy Platform UK-Ireland, and the Coordination Europe-Haïti, for petitioning the Swiss authorities to halt the release of Duvalier's accounts.

The Haiti Support Group has today written to Haiti's minister of foreign affairs calling on him to seize the opportunity provided by the extended freeze and quickly come up with the documentation proving that Duvalier's money was accumulated as a result of criminal and corrupt actions during the dictatorship. On submission of this proof, the Swiss government will be obliged to hand over some - perhaps all - of the money to the Haitian authorities. The money can then be used for socio-economic programmes to help counter poverty and stimulate economic development in Haiti.


Forwarded as a service of the Haiti Support Group - solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for human rights, participatory democracy and equitable development - since 1992.

Web site:

hello this is a true haitian speecking i say take some of the money and give some to him you may ask why ? well he's one off us too who grew up in a brutal unadicate unlawfull regime even if he said go right they go left anyway iam not said he was allinnocent example we still in big trouble we should be ok by now at leasse i want someone to tell me how can i help rebuilt my country get my pride back so they stop calling us poorest country in westant world

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Can anyone tell me if it is true that as a condition of independence in 1804, Haiti agreed to pay a substantial sum of money to France, on a yearly basis, which continues to this day?

If this is true, why is this not questioned? If this is true, perhaps Wyclef jean could get the attention of Bono and Angelina Jolie, to demand the nullification, the forgiveness of this abhorable condition.

would this not help Haiti significantly?

thoughts, anybody?

What you said is half true.

Haiti got his independence through fights, defeating the strongest army of that time, the French's Napoleon Bonaparte army. But to keep this independence, with the threat of the return of Bonaparte's army, to claim "their territory", the Haitian government at that time negotiated with the French government to pay indemnity $$ to the former slaves owners;some say that was a smart move, it protects our independence and others see it as treason, we got it through fights, we could keep it through fights.

But in regard to whether or not the Haitian government is still paying that indemnity to this day, No! that had stopped long time ago.

Aristide, with a salt of demagoguery, tried during his last presidency to have the French government to pay back that money that we have paid long time ago. Many say, for this reason, the French government supported, orchestrated his overthrow in 2004.



people you need to be well formed, before you add a comment on the internet.
simone was jn claude duvalier his mother, not his wife. benette michel was his wife, who stole haiti's fortune and left.
the world is already upside down, by putting false information on the people's mind. you'll get them more silly.
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By Eric Pape
Antoine Gyori / CorbisJean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier told The Daily Beast he'd like to donate $8M to his homeland. But is the former despot too broke to support even himself—or just as corrupt as ever? When you inherit the family mantle of President for Life at age 19, things don’t necessarily go as expected—for you or for your country.
Haiti’s fate—since Jean-Claude Duvalier’s all-powerful father died, bequeathing control of the Caribbean island onto the teenager in 1971— has involved a cruel series of shocks for country in desperate need of something better. As for Duvalier, since his fall from power he has just kept on falling, from a rich thirtysomething playboy tooling around southern France in a Ferrari in the mid-1980s, to a man who has been “broken” by exile and who got caught skipping on his bills.
In recent years, his entourage has asserted that the former Haitian President for Life stays in a modest two-room Parisian apartment with his companion for just $1,275 per month. That is why his pledge of $8 million to bolster the desperate earthquake relief effort in his decimated homeland this week which came in an exclusive email to The Daily Beast—raised so many questions. Does he really have the money to pledge, or is he just promising to donate money he no longer controls for PR purposes?
More importantly, what happened to the tens—or perhaps hundreds—of millions of dollars that he has been accused of siphoning from Haiti during his 15-year rule? That money is sorely needed in Haiti now more than ever. Let’s start with the $8 million “pledge.” In his message to The Daily Beast, Duvalier asked Swiss authorities to “immediately transfer the entirety of the assets of the Foundation in the name of my late Mother Somone Ovide Duvalier ($8 million) to the American Red Cross with an eye toward bringing emergency assistance” to an array of Haitian cities.
Duvalier didn’t clarify exactly which money he was talking about, but the Swiss Office of Justice made clear in February 2009 that it would return the remaining known portion of the Duvalier fortune in Swiss vaults to Haiti to support humanitarian, social, and financial projects aimed at improving the lives of the Haitian people. Anyone with title to the money—Duvalier or his associates, for example—who wanted to prevent this transfer was given a multi-month time-frame by which they needed to provide proof that the money was not ill gotten.
The amount that Duvalier referred to in his message to The Daily Beast is about equal to the 7.6 million Swiss francs that the Justice office referred to last year. (At the current exchange, that would be equal to about $7.4 million, but the dollar has recently recovered several percent of its value.)
The Swiss apparently discovered millions of Swiss francs attributed to the Duvaliers in 2002, and froze the money.
This means that the Duvalier "pledge" is unlikely to carry any weight at all, but that the Swiss might end up channeling this money, as planned, toward helping Haiti. But what about the rest of the Duvalier money? The Haitian government has estimated that the Duvaliers and their associates swindled the nation for around $120 million, largely from social works funds (perhaps of the sort that would have strengthened the nation’s infrastructure and helped it to better weather a massive earthquake). Other estimates about the looted amount vary wildly, from $20 million to as much as $300 million.
Duvalier himself told Newsweek in 2004 that such allegations are lies, and he noted that no court had convicted him for corruption. Then again, there is no record of him ever having held a paying job. The Duvaliers were undoubtedly worth many millions when they moved to France 24 years ago. To console himself over the loss of the trappings of absolute power, “Baby Doc” tooled around the Côte d'Azur in a shiny Ferrari Testarossa and lingered at the Théméricourt chateau with his shopaholic (former) first lady of Haiti, Michèle Bennett—who he married in an astoundingly decadent ceremony said to cost $3 million in 1980. But by the mid-1990s, after a bitter divorce, she apparently made off with the lion’s share of the remaining money. While there has been great skepticism in the Haitian community about comments by Duvalier's associates that he squandered it all (or lost it to his ex-wife)—other than what is being held in Switzerland— Duvalier’s hardships have increasingly eked out over the last decade.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2003 that Duvalier had been detained for skipping out on the bill in a $78-per-night hotel where he had lived with his mother in southern France. (His girlfriend reportedly paid the bill to get him released.) In recent years, his entourage has asserted that the former Haitian President for Life stays in a modest two-room Parisian apartment with his companion for just 850 euros ($1,275) per month, and that the perpetually unemployed Duvalier lives off the largess of friends or longtime supporters. If true—and that is a big "if"—it could explain his increasing rumblings about returning to his homeland. In 2005, a regional newspaper reported that the reborn Duvalier political party intended to run Jean-Claude as their presidential candidate the following year.
That plan fell apart as it became clear that he would have to appear in person in Haiti to register. In a rare 2007 radio address to his country, Duvalier apologized to his people for the “wrongs” of his regime, saying: “If during my presidential mandate the government caused any physical, moral, or economic wrongs to others, I solemnly take the historical request forgiveness from the people and ask for the impartial judgment of history."
That halting apology followed what he described as confusion over countless allegations of human-rights abuses in the 2004 Newsweek interview. He noted that U.S. aid was “conditioned on our human-rights record,” and the money kept rolling in. “We had no problem with the American (Reagan) administration,” he said, as justification. Not surprisingly, Haitian President René Préval rejected Duvalier’s radio apology, but he noted that Duvalier is legally welcome to return to Haiti at any time—and that he will face a trial for his regime’s abuses if he does. In the radio address, Duvalier also said that exile has “broken” him— wording that echoes his secretariat’s description of his feelings in a phone message left for The Daily Beast, when Duvalier was described as “very shocked and “crushed” by the quake.
Amid the mystery about Haiti’s lost—and desperately needed—millions, one thing seems certain. Even if Duvalier and his ex-wife really squandered nearly all of it, they still look disturbingly fortunate from the vantage point of their accursed homeland.
Eric Pape has reported on Europe and the Mediterranean region for Newsweek magazine since 2003. He is co-author of the graphic novel Shake Girl, which was inspired by one of his articles. He is based in Paris. Follow him at

By Joseph Guyler Delva
Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier made a surprise return from exile to his Caribbean homeland on Sunday, saying he wanted to help in the rebuilding of his earthquake-battered nation. It was the first time that Duvalier, who is now 59 but was once the world's youngest head of state at 19, had returned to Haiti since he was forced out in 1986 by a popular uprising and U.S. pressure. His unexpected return comes at a time when Haiti, still the poorest state in the Western Hemisphere, is facing political uncertainty following November 28 presidential and legislative elections whose preliminary results have triggered fraud allegations and violent street protests. The chaotic elections went ahead during a cholera epidemic in the country, which is still recovering from a devastating earthquake a year ago that killed more than 300,000 people. Wearing a blue suit and tie and accompanied by his current French wife, Veronique Roy, Duvalier arrived at Port-au-Prince airport on an Air France flight from Paris, witnesses said. "I was waiting for this moment for a long time. When I first set foot on the ground, I felt great joy," Duvalier said, while hundreds of enthusiastic supporters outside the airport chanted "Long live Duvalier!".
The former ruler, who as a chubby playboy assumed power in Haiti in 1971 on the death of his father, the feared autocratic Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, said he had returned to his homeland "because I know the people are suffering". "I wanted to show them my solidarity, to tell them that I am here, I am well disposed and determined to participate in the rebirth of Haiti," he told Reuters, without spelling out his exact intentions. He was expected to give a news conference Monday. Not everyone was enthusiastic about the return of the surviving member of the father-and-son Duvalier dynasty, which marked a 28-year epoch of fear and corruption in Haitian life. "We are waiting to see what he's doing here. But it's not a good thing. I lived under Duvalier," said one Port-au-Prince resident, Christian Joseph, 49. Some were even afraid to talk about him. "Are you joking? He would kill me. Don't you know Duvalier?" said another person, who would not give a name.
During his rule, "Baby Doc" Duvalier had tried to improve Haiti's image after the rule of terror of his despotic father. Well aware of the outside world's contempt for the Tonton Macoutes thugs with their dark sunglasses and pistols who served his "Papa Doc", Duvalier renamed them "the volunteers for national security." However, he did not get rid of them. He had also faced accusations of corruption, political repression and human rights abuses when he fled the country in 1986 during massive street protests and diplomatic pressure from Washington. However, no current arrest warrants were known to exist against him, and as Haiti's existing constitution bans the practice of exile for Haitians, there was nothing legally preventing his return. A source close to Duvalier said he had returned under a diplomatic passport, but was required to inform Haiti's Interior Ministry of his whereabouts.
Duvalier's return adds a new intriguing figure to the turbulent atmosphere in Haiti, just days after the country commemorated the first anniversary of the massive January 12, 2010 earthquake. The outcome of the confused November 28 elections is still up in the air after a team of Organization of American States (OAS) experts last week delivered a report to outgoing President Rene Preval challenging the preliminary official results from the vote. Preval has said he has "reservations" about the OAS report, which recommends that government technocrat and Preval protege Jude Celestin be eliminated from a second round run-off vote in favor of popular musician Michel Martelly.
Preval, accused by opponents of rigging the U.N.-backed November elections that took place amid widespread fraud allegations, had originally asked the OAS to help verify the disputed preliminary election results. It was not clear whether Preval would reject the OAS report's recommendation or seek to discuss his reservations further with the OAS experts. Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council is the final arbiter of elections in Haiti. The OAS report, which cited "significant" vote tally irregularities, confirmed opposition matriarch Mirlande Manigat as the candidate who won the most votes in the first round. She did not gain enough votes to win outright but is in the second-round run-off. But whether this will be with Celestin or Martelly remains to be seen.
Election observers say that even if the CEP heeds the OAS experts' findings, it still has to complete a disputes settlement procedure before it can formally announce final revised results from the first round vote. This means Haiti will not be able to hold a presidential election second round run-off before February, at the earliest. Last month's protests and violence triggered by the December 7 announcement of the results killed at least four people and increased fears that instability could delay the hand-over of billions of dollars of reconstruction funds for Haiti from foreign donors.
(Additional reporting by Allyn Gaestel; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Philip Barbara)

By Pooja Bathia
TO LITTLE pomp and widespread confusion, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former dictator of Haiti, returned to his country last night, a quarter century after fleeing to exile on the French Riviera. Mr Duvalier arrived on an Air France flight a little before six in the evening, and a few hundred people greeted him outside the airport. A convoy of Haitian national police then accompanied him to a glitzy hotel in a suburb of Port-au-Prince, the capital. Along with his Haitian companion, Veronique Roy, and a smattering of associates, he dined on a grilled conch and promised a press conference. But in the morning, about a hundred reporters waited in vain for Mr Duvalier to appear. A shabbily suited spokesperson cited “capacity problems” at the hotel and promised that the ex-dictator would talk tomorrow.
Little is known about the intentions of Mr Duvalier, who simply said upon arrival that he had “come to help”. His trip may well have been prompted by Haiti’s current political turmoil—its presidential run-off election, originally scheduled for yesterday, has been postponed indefinitely because of arguments over who should participate. But with both the Haitian government and the UN peacekeeping force keeping mum, speculation is running rampant over what he has in mind. One theory holds that the French sent him to pressure René Préval, the president, to accept the findings of a report by the Organisation of American States, which called for the government's presidential candidate, Jude Celestin, to be dropped from the run-off. (The French embassy has denied any involvement). Another contends that Mr Préval himself cooked up the visit as a “Wag the Dog”-style ploy to distract the country. “Do you hear anyone talking about the election this morning?”, quipped Louis Henri Mars, an anti-violence campaigner. A less popular interpretation is that the stooped, haggard Mr Duvalier just wants to spend his last days at home.
It is also unclear why Mr Duvalier, a torturer, kidnapper and thief—although a less brutal ruler than his father and predecessor, François—has not been arrested. The Haitian government reiterated in 2008 that its criminal proceedings against him were ongoing, and he faces a $500m judgment in the United States. Haiti has no statute of limitations for misappropriation of public funds, and international law holds than crimes against humanity can always be prosecuted. One of Mr Duvalier’s opponents was Boby Duval, a football star, who was held for 17 months in the late 1970s at Fort Dimanche, a notorious torture chamber. He saw dozens of his fellow prisoners die, and weighed just 90 pounds when he was released following strong advocacy from the United States. He later became a democracy activist, and now runs a football programme for poor youth. “They’re trying to put us back in the dark ages,” he said after learning of Mr Duvalier’s return. “[The dictatorship] was a very harsh reality we thought we had passed.” But Mr Duval’s reaction to Mr Duvalier’s homecoming is not universal. Three-fifths of Haiti’s population is under 30; most of the country has no direct memory of the dictatorship. And some older Haitians express nostalgia for a time they remember as more stable, orderly, and prosperous. Lane pase toujou pi bon, says the Haitian proverb: Last year was always better.

Amnesty International
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 1970s and 80s. “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 15 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.”

Extraordinary drama unfolded Tuesday in Port-au-Prince as former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was taken into custody at his hotel and transported to a courthouse for a hearing. But a source close to Duvalier told CNN that he did not expect Duvalier to be charged with any crimes or face arrest. He said the former dictator could be back in his hotel room by afternoon's end. A flurry of intense legal activity preceded Duvalier's emergence from the Karibe Hotel, where he had been since his mysterious return to Haiti on Sunday. His hands free of handcuffs, he made his way down three flights of stairs and waved to a small crowd of supporters before heavily armed police escorted him away in a waiting white van.
Outside the hotel in the swanky suburb of Petionville, throngs of journalists had waited for Duvalier's appearance amid speculation that the former despot would be arrested. Several hundred people lined the downhill road from Petionville to downtown Port-au-Prince to show support. Some held banners and photos of Duvalier when he was in his prime. Duvalier shocked the world by returning to his homeland Sunday night after some 25 years of exile in France. He is accused of pillaging the country, siphoning money from Haiti's treasury into his family's pockets during his rule, which ended with a popular rebellion in 1986.
Human rights groups also have sounded a call for justice for atrocities committed during his 15 years of rule. Under Duvalier's presidency, thousands were killed and tortured, and hundreds of thousands of Haitians fled into exile, according to Human Rights Watch. Michele Montas, a Haitian journalist who has fought for democracy and is a former spokeswoman for the United Nations secretary-general, said Monday night that she plans to file a criminal complaint against Duvalier. "We have enough proof. There are enough people who can testify. And what I will do is go to a public prosecutor, and there is a public prosecutor that could actually accommodate our complaints," she said on CNN's "Parker Spitzer."
The United Nations said Tuesday that Duvalier's presence in Haiti had taken the global body by surprise and it "clearly raises issues of impunity and accountability." Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said a range of human rights abuses and corruption issues surround Duvalier. It's still unclear why Duvalier decided to go back to Haiti and speculation mounted Tuesday over what he had hoped to accomplish. His presence certainly added to a bubbling cauldron of political turmoil sparked by a presidential election in controversy. "Obviously this is an important and crucial time for the people of Haiti," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "Any political leader or any former political leader should focus not only on him or herself, but on making progress towards a set of important elections," Gibbs said, adding that such people should dedicate "their time and their energy toward the reconstruction of the country." Journalist Amy Wilentz, author of "The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier," said the "Baby Doc" media circus was taking the focus off Haiti's leadership crisis. "it's a giant side show to the electoral debate," she said. Preliminary results of the November 28 election placed former first lady Mirlande Manigat in a runoff with Jude Celestin, the candidate backed by Haiti's unpopular President Rene Preval. However, international monitors charged fraud and a subsequent election review put Celestin in third place. Observers suggested he be eliminated from contention.
Preval's government has not officially commented on Duvalier's return, though some Haitians, craving a father figure to lead the nation out of crisis, have commented favorably on the old days of Duvalier. Back then, the streets were safe, said Port-au-Prince resident Jean Etienne. People could walk outside at night and food was cheap, he said. But Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor of the New York-based Haitian Times, blamed the father-son Duvalier dynasty for a nation struggling to regain footing. He said the scars still run deep from an era when no one trusted each other. Pierre-Pierre said he hopes that justice would finally prevail. "If there is a bright sport," he said, "finally we have to face that decision that we have never faced straight up. We've been in denial about what happened during the 29-year reign of dictatorship of the Duvaliers." Duvalier was supposed to have held a news conference Monday but it was canceled and he remained huddled inside the Karibe until he was taken away Tuesday. The source close to Duvalier said he had not intended to make any political declarations but instead wanted to speak broadly about his homeland. Henry Robert Sterlin, a Duvalier associate, told reporters that Duvalier returned because he was moved by the anniversary of last year's tragic earthquake and because he missed his native land. "He's deeply hurt in his soul after the earthquake," Sterlin said. "He wanted to come back to see how is the actual Haitian situation -- of the people and of the country." Sterlin said he did not know how long the former leader had planned to stay. His arrival on Haitian soil immediately garnered calls for his arrest.
"Duvalier's return to Haiti should be for one purpose only: to face justice," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch. "His time to be held accountable is long overdue." Amnesty International also said Duvalier should face trial. "The widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in Haiti during Duvalier's rule amount to crimes against humanity," said Javier Zuniga, special adviser at Amnesty International. "Haiti is under the obligation to prosecute him and anyone else responsible for such crimes." The Duvalier family ruled Haiti for three decades, starting in 1957 when Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier was elected president. He later declared himself president for life. When he died in 1971, he was succeeded by his son, then only 19.

Miami Herald
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude ``Baby Doc'' Duvalier was charged Tuesday with corruption, embezzlement and wrongful association stemming from his 15-year rule, his lawyer said. But Gervais Charles, who has represented the 59-year-old Duvalier in the past, said the charges date to 2008 and the statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment. The charges came during a day of high drama surrounding Duvalier, who stunned Haitians when he returned to the country on Sunday. Judge Gabriel Ambroise and Haitian attorney Reynold Georges arrived at the posh Karibe Hotel about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, as Haitian police officers were asked to secure the premises. A helicopter could be heard buzzing overhead. Duvalier said nothing as police, guns in hand, picked him up at the hotel and escorted him out the back of the building. Scores of journalists trailed the convoy as he was transported to a courthouse in downtown Port-au-Prince. Charles called the move ``a scandal.'' Human rights attorneys greeted the news with caution. ``It could be a very good step in the right direction if the Haitian justice system truly pursues this case,'' said Brian Concannon, director of Haiti's Institute for Justice and Democracy. ``It could also be a whitewash if they don't pursue him and find a reason to let him go.''
In Haiti, Duvalier had spent Monday receiving visits from members of the secret police that once terrorized the country, fueling fears that his return would deepen a political crisis sparked by the nation's disputed Nov. 28 presidential elections. No winner emerged and the streets of Haiti have been roiled by violence as activists try to influence which candidates would engage in a runoff. In Washington, a State Department spokesman said the French government notified the United States about Duvalier's arrival in Haiti ``roughly an hour before'' he landed at Port-au-Prince's international airport. ``We don't believe at this point Haiti needs any more distractions,'' said spokesman P.J. Crowley. ``Our focus right now is to help Haiti through this delicate period, have a new government emerge that is credible enough and legitimate enough and viewed positively in the eyes of the Haitian people so that the country, with international support, including the United States, can move ahead with the ongoing efforts to -- to rebuild Haiti.''
Duvalier had spent Monday receiving visits from members of the secret police that once terrorized the country, fueling fears that his return would deepen a political crisis sparked by the nation's disputed Nov. 28 presidential elections. No winner emerged and the streets of Haiti have been roiled by violence as activists try to influence which candidates would engage in a runoff. Duvalier's return stirred confusion and protest. The United States and Canada denounced his return, with Ottawa tersely referring to Duvalier as a ``dictator.'' Human Rights Watch estimates that up to 30,000 Haitians were killed, many by execution, between the presidency of Duvalier and his father François ``Papa Doc'' Duvalier before him, from 1957 from 1986. A private militia, the Tonton Macoute, reinforced the Duvalier rule.
The French, meantime, denied complicity in his arrival from France, where he has lived in exile since fleeing a popular revolt 25 years ago. ``This was no plot. We did not know he was coming,'' said Didier Le-Bret, France's ambassador to Haiti. He only learned of the looming arrival once Duvalier boarded an Air France flight from Guadeloupe, the Caribbean archipelago 730 miles away. Le-Bret said he immediately notified Haiti's foreign affairs minister and prime minister. ``He's not a focal point of the French government,'' Le-Bret said. ``He's a simple French citizen, he's allowed to do what he wants to do.'' In Washington, Florida Rep. Connie Mack, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere subcommittee, frankly told MSNBC's ``Morning Joe'' that, ``we don't know what's going on in Haiti.'' He struggled to elaborate: ``I mean there's been so much corruption in Haiti,'' he said. ``Obviously after the tragic events in Haiti, there was a lot of outpouring of support from this country, from the citizens of this country. But we're not seeing it being managed properly and we're not seeing that we're getting the results that we want.
``And now you've got the former dictator that's come back to the country. You can't tell me that he's back there just to go see some friends. I think he's up to no good.'' The Obama administration also expressed concern and worry that Duvalier's sudden appearance could have ``an unpredictable impact'' on Haiti's delicate political state. Haiti's government, meanwhile, sought to downplay Duvalier's presence and its impact on the country as it wrestles with who will follow President René Préval's five-year presidential term. The government announced that a controversial report on the presidential elections will officially be handed over to the Provisional Electoral Council, which will determine which candidates among the three front-runners should advance to a runoff.
José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, said Monday that he ``had no opinion'' on Duvalier's visit. Instead, he sought to downplay the impact of the OAS election report, which proposes that popular singer Michel ``Sweet Micky'' Martelly replace Préval's preferred candidate, Jude Célestin, in the runoff. The report, Insulza said, is based on ``calculations'' and not results. ``It's not in our power to give results,'' he told The Miami Herald. ``We are not publishing any kind of results.'' On Tuesday OAS Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Albert Ramdin briefed the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, on Haiti's political developments. Préval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive have disputed the report, saying its conclusions were based on faulty methodology. Insulza defended the findings, and said he was ``in no position to change the report.'' But the focus Monday was less on who would enter the runoff, and more on Duvalier, who returned to the country shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday. Throughout the capital, victims relived trauma as ``Baby Doc'' friends and supporters argued that the country was better during his rule.
``After 25 years, we are nostalgic,'' said an elderly woman, who gave only her surname, Gerard Destin, after a visit to Duvalier. ``He's happy that we were able to see each other again after 25 years. He wants peace, unity and love.'' Ralph Brossard, 53, an urban planner said he, too, was happy to see the dictator's return and hoped that more exiled presidents would follow. Charles reported from Haiti, Clark from Washington D.C. and Daniel from Miami. Duvalier's father, Francois ``Papa Doc'' Duvalier, he said, was a witness at his parents' wedding more than 50 years ago. Still, even he was baffled by the visit and its timing, particularly after visiting Duvalier at the Karibe hotel.
``What's happening is Préval's last stand,'' he said. ``Préval doesn't want to go into exile. This is his last card. I think he made a deal for Duvalier to return.'' Préval has not publicly commented on the return, but those close to him said he was as surprised as everyone. Bellerive said the passport Duvalier used to leave France was issued in June 2005 by the then U.S.-backed interim government of Gerard Latortue. It expired last year. It was not known what charges, if any, Duvalier would face. His companion, Veronique Roy, spoke to an Associated Press reporter by phone from inside the court, and asked if Duvalier had been arrested, said, ``Absolutely not.'' She said she did not know why authorities decided to escort him to court and did not expect to be there much longer. ``We are very relaxed, drinking coffee and water,'' she told AP. ``They said they are making photocopies. We don't know why.'' He was being held Tuesday afternoon at the Parquet, the name of a downtown courthouse used for some of Haiti's more serious prosecutions. Outside, a crowd gathered and changed ``Arrest Préval,'' seemingly expressing their dissatisfaction with Duvalier's detention.
Human rights groups in Haiti and the U.S. had demanded Duvalier's arrest as victims, such as United Nations official Michele Montas, relived trauma from the Duvalier's reign of terror. ``I am outraged, angry and dismayed that this could happened,'' said Montas, a former journalist and radio station owner who spent six years in exile after being jailed for 10 days, then expelled in 1980. Montas said she had no explanation for her treatment. She said she planned to file a civil action against Duvalier for ``arbitrary arrest, forced exile, torture.'' ``What bothers me the most is the fact that so many people seem to have forgotten what happened,'' she said. ``When I talk about Nov. 28, 1980, when our radio station was ransacked, destroyed, when all of the journalists present at the station were arrested -- young people have no notion that something like this could have happened. ``I tell them that the price that we paid for freedom of the press they are enjoying right now was a price paid in blood. Journalists died, they were killed.''Charles reported from Haiti, Clark from Washington D.C. and Daniel from Mia

United Nations Human Rights Council
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
OHCHR Country page – Haiti:
For more information and media requests, please contact Michael van Gelderen (Tel: +41 22 92 89355 / email: or write to

Four Haitians are suing ex-dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier for alleged torture, exile and arbitrary detention during his 15-year rule, according to a former UN spokeswoman. "We have just lodged criminal complaints for crimes against humanity with the government prosecutor," Michele Montas, a Haitian activist and journalist as well as former spokeswoman for UN chief Ban Ki-moon, said. She was joined by two former political prisoners, Alix Fils-Aime and Claude Rosiers, who were both jailed for 10 years under Duvalier's 1971-1986 regime, and another victim, Nicole Magloire. Ms Montas was forced into exile during Duvalier's rule, while her station Radio Haiti Inter was ransacked. "We have lodged lawsuits for arbitrary detention, exile, destruction of private property, torture and moral violation of civil and political rights," she said after meeting with the chief prosecutor Aristidas Auguste.

By Associated Press
GENEVA — The Swiss government has asked a court to authorize the seizure of millions of dollars frozen in accounts belonging to former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. The Finance Department says it has initiated forfeiture proceedings before the Federal Administrative Court, a quarter-century after the funds were first frozen in Switzerland. That was shortly after Duvalier’s ouster from power in 1986. The government recently drew up a special law to prevent Duvalier or his family from reclaiming the estimated 5.8 million Swiss francs ($6.7 million). The Finance Department said Monday that Switzerland will give the money to Haiti for use in aid projects if the court action is successful.

The creation of a truth commission would help promote reconciliation for Haitian victims who suffered during the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, a U.N. human rights official said Tuesday. The U.N.'s Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, said at a press conference that the panel wouldn't replace ongoing efforts to prosecute Duvalier, a former despot known as "Baby Doc," but would work alongside them. More than 20 lawsuits have been filed in a Haitian court against Duvalier for crimes ranging from attempted murder and torture to embezzlement since he made an unexpected return to his homeland in January after 25 years in exile. "We do not think that this (Duvalier) case and a truth commission are necessarily exclusive," Kang told The Associated Press. "We do believe that there is a need for a broader coming to terms with the past. And a truth commission would serve that broader purpose whereas the Duvalier case would focus specifically on the accountability of the leader of what was a very brutal period."
Upon his return, criminal charges were brought against Duvalier and a judge placed him under house arrest though he's been seen dining with friends at high-end restaurants in the hills above Port-au-Prince. The case has moved at a sluggish pace. Duvalier has answered questions before an investigating judge twice since May. Advocacy groups say the case could break important new legal ground in Haiti, where the judiciary like other institutions is historically weak and ineffective. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in January that he offered to assist in the prosecution, saying the alleged crimes have no statute of limitations. Defense attorney Reynold Georges said the statute of limitations had expired and that he opposed the creation of a truth commission. "I totally disapprove," Georges said by telephone. "We have our own legal system, and we're going to stick to it. ... Love (Duvalier) or leave the country."
So far in her four-day visit, Kang said she met with Martelly, Haitian lawmakers, diplomats and rights advocates. She said she also met with a group of plaintiffs on the Duvalier case. The topic of the Duvalier case did not come up in her meeting with the president, she said. Before he was sworn in on May 14, Martelly told a Montreal French-language newspaper that he was open to the idea of considering amnesty for Duvalier, citing a need for national reconciliation. Martelly has aligned himself with Duvalier allies, including Daniel Supplice, a minister of social affairs under Duvalier who now runs Martelly's transition team. Bobby Duval, a former soccer star who's among the plaintiffs, said he welcomed the idea of a truth commission, along with prosecution. "We'll take whatever we can get," said Duval, who was tortured during 17 months without charge in a prison under Duvalier. "It's a great idea because it will finally bring the truth out against the Duvalier regime."

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