MADRE Signs on to Open Letter to the President of Haiti
Posted on: Friday, January 27, 2012
Open letter to the President of the Republic, Mr. Michel Joseph Martelly
Port-au-Prince, 23 January 2012
Mr. Michel Joseph Martelly
President of the Republic of Haiti
Object: The case against the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier
Dear Mr. President,
In the name of truth and justice, the signatories to this letter believe that it is of paramount importance that the nation be informed about the state of the criminal proceedings against the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier who returned to the country he ravaged 25 years after a popular revolt forced him to seek sanctuary in France.
A few days after his return, several victims of his dictatorial regime filed complaints against him. The Prosecutor’s Office in Port-au-Prince, contrary to what is required by law, hastened to send the complaints to the investigating judges’ office without carrying out a preliminary investigation, identifying the perpetrators, co-perpetrators and accomplices of all the prohibited acts reported. At the investigating judges’ office, with the exception of hearing the plaintiffs’ testimonies, no thorough investigation has been carried out.
We wish to restate that it is the State’s responsibility to take all necessary measures to establish the facts in relation to the crimes perpetrated under the responsibility of the former President-for-life Jean-Claude Duvalier. Duvalier had proclaimed himself Commander in Chief of the Haitian Armed Forces and the National Security Volunteers (commonly known as tonton macoutes), and governed autocratically. Therefore, it is fundamental to show a strong and absolute determination, firstly, by giving the investigating judge all the human and material resources needed to conduct a thorough investigation; and secondly, by accepting the collaboration and expertise offered to the Haitian government and the justice system by authoritative institutions, in particular the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
We reiterate that crimes against humanity are characterized not only by their number and their systematic nature, but also by the brutality and inhumanity with which they are committed. The crimes perpetrated during the regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier correspond to this category of crimes under international law which is binding on Haiti. Contrary to the claims of Duvalier supporters, these systematic and serious crimes are not subject to a statute of limitations and Haitian courts have competency to prosecute crimes against humanity.
We are concerned and distraught that after one year, Jean-Claude Duvalier has not been held to account despite the fact he is under investigation by the Haitian state and he is the object of complaints by victims. His co-perpetrators and his accomplices are also to be held accountable. The case has not moved forward in accordance with the necessity of imparting justice.
We raise our voices against the tendency toward dismissing Duvalier’s dictatorship, against the contempt for the legitimate quest for justice by those who suffered and continue to suffer in silence, and who are confronted with the arrogance and the threats of those for whom the law is an illusion. Who ordered the restitution of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s properties, obtained at the cost of the blood of the Haitian people? How can we accept that he receives a state pension as if he had been a good president and served the nation with honor and integrity?
Mr. President, the Haitian authorities can no longer, like Pontius Pilate, wash their hands of all responsibility in this matter. The Executive branch of government and the Parliament have precisely to ensure that adequate resources are available to the justice system in order to carry on with its fundamental mission: to seek the truth. Haiti’s national reconciliation, so highly desired and yet so long awaited, will inevitably occur through unveiling the truth about this period of history that has deeply marked our society.
We, sons and daughters of Haiti, condemn the repeated insults against direct and indirect victims of the Duvalier regime. Duvalier’s sponsorship of the students’ graduation at the Law and Economic Sciences School in Gonaïves is an open provocation but seeing Jean-Claude Duvalier beside the President of the Republic in Titanyen is even more unbearable.
Mr. President, the presence of Jean-Claude Duvalier in Titanyen can be understood as an act of sacrilege and complicity. It is an absolute insult and an offence to the nation that we cannot accept. How could we forget, that Titanyen, like Fort-Dimanche, is the graveyard of thousands of Haitians, dehumanized, tortured by the henchmen of Jean-Claude Duvalier and his father and whose bodies were dumped there for the dogs to feed on?
Mr. President, you have promised, during your electoral campaign and in the government programme you run with Prime Minister Mr. Gary Conille, to devote yourself to the construction of the rule of law in our troubled country. Impunity and the rule of law cannot coexist under any circumstance; there cannot be reconciliation without justice. To fulfill your promises, it is essential, that according to your functions as defined in the Constitution, you exhort Haitians to leave behind ancient practices and embrace the law, without bias and without exceptions.
Jean-Claude Duvalier must be brought to trial for the crimes against humanity for which he is responsible, and the embezzlement of public funds as already recognized by a Swiss court. Ending impunity is a sine qua non condition for the reconstruction of Haiti, that is the unequivocal message long awaited by the nation.
Please accept, Mr. President, our patriotic salutations.
Signatory organizations and individuals (open list):
1. Collective against impunity (a structure regrouping plaintiffs and human rights organizations)
2. Ecumenical Center for Human Rights (Centre Œcuménique des droits humains, CEDH)
3. Pétion Bolivar Centre
4. Center for Economic and Social Research and Training for Development (Centre de recherches et de formation économique et sociale pour le développement, CRESFED)
5. Justice and Peace Episcopal Commission (Commission épiscopale Justice et paix, JILAP)
6. Refugees and Repatriates Support Group (Groupe d’appui aux rapatriés et réfugiés, GARR)
7. Research and Intervention Group in Alternative Education (Groupe de recherche et d’intervention en éducation alternative (GRIEAL)
8. Kay Fanm (Women’s house)
9. Haitian Women’s Movement for Education and Development (Mouvement des femmes haïtiennes pour l’éducation et le développement, MOUFHED)
10. National Human Rights Defense Network (Réseau national de défense des droits humains, RNDDH)
11. Haitian Human Rights Organizations Platform (Plateforme des organisations haïtiennes de droits humains, POHDH)
12. Alix Ambroise
13. Carlo Cantave
14. Jean-Max Calvin
15. Paul A. Corbanese
16. Eddy Chapoteau
17. Bernac Célestin
18. George Jean-Charles
19. Julien Jumelle
20. Patrick Lemoine
21. Michèle Montas
22. Raoul Peck
23. Elder F. Thébaud
Archives"Press Room" Home July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Haitian woman faces death threats for speaking out about violence against women (WBEZ Worldview, July 16, 2014)
Media Spotlight Turns Away from Iraq, as Concerns Mount Over Human Rights and Political Stalemate (Uprising Radio, July 11, 2014)
Iraq: The women left behind (Aljazeera, July 3, 2014)
Under Isis, Iraqi women again face an old nightmare: violence and repression (The Guardian, July 3, 2014)
How Can We Protect Women From A Sexual Jihad? (HuffPost Live, June 26, 2014)