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Duvalier Must Face Justice

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Three days ago, on January 16, Jean-Claude Duvalier made a surprise return to Haiti after 25 years in exile in France. The former dictator ruled Haiti from 1971 until 1986, after inheriting the presidency at the age of 19 from his notorious father nicknamed Papa Doc.

When asked what prompted his return, Duvalier said he was not there for politics, but for “the reconstruction of Haiti.” The reconstruction? He is a year too late.

It is greed that has brought him back. The international community has donated billions of dollars since the earthquake. Duvalier wants the unspent aid money, probably to re-start his lavish lifestyle after his funds were frozen in Swiss bank accounts and depleted by spousal support payments. 

Some questions remain. Why did Duvalier show up just as the run-off election is set to begin? What role are France and the US playing in his return?  

But most worrying is that there is so much speculation as to why he has returned to Haiti and not enough focus on how to get him on trial to face a long list of charges. These include corruption, theft, misappropriation of funds, embezzling, murder, arbitrary arrest and torture. A few charges were finally laid after 2 days in Haiti, but a judge still has to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.

The questions we must be asking now are how to ensure that he faces justice. Baby Doc must be prosecuted. Amidst the cholera, poverty, rape, political turmoil, and the struggle to rebuild, Duvalier is the last thing that Haiti needs.



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