Amnesty International Press Statement

For Immediate Release:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011 


Contact:  Wende Gozan Brown at 212-633-4247, [email protected], or Josefina Salomón at +44-7778-472-116, [email protected].

Amnesty International has urged the Haitian authorities to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by former president Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as ‘Baby Doc,’ following his detention today in Port-Au-Prince.  

Jean-Claude Duvalier, who has been accused of presiding over numerous human rights violations during his rule from 1971 to 1986, was detained after being questioned by police. It is not yet clear which charges he will face.  

“This landmark arrest is a welcome first step toward bringing to justice a leader whose security apparatus carried out widespread and systematic human rights violations including torture, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances," said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.  "Haiti must investigate Jean-Claude Duvalier, and anyone else allegedly responsible for such crimes, some of which amount to crimes against humanity, in a trial that is thorough, independent and fair."    

Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti on January 16 after nearly 25 years in exile in France. He fled Haiti in 1986 after a popular uprising that 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, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances were widespread across Haiti and affected hundreds of people, including pro-democracy and human rights activists.

"A cycle of impunity has prevailed for decades in Haiti, with victims of abuses and their families denied justice for way too long – now the opportunity has come for justice, truth and reparations," said Javier Zuniga.  

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International, currently in London, and Gerardo Ducos, Haiti researcher at Amnesty International, currently in Port-au-Prince, are available for comment.

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