News / Americas

Haiti's Duvalier Charged With Corruption

Police officers take ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier out of his hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 18 Jan 2011.
Police officers take ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier out of his hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 18 Jan 2011.

Haitian police escorted former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier from a luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince Tuesday, two days after Duvalier's surprise return to the country after nearly 25 years in exile.

Authorities in Haiti have charged former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier with corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds, two days after he made an unexpected return to his homeland after 25 years in exile in France.

Duvalier, who was not wearing handcuffs, waved to a crowd that had assembled outside the Hotel Karibe as police led him to a waiting car Tuesday.

Rights issues

Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are urging Haitian authorities to prosecute Duvalier for abuses committed during his 15-year rule, which ended with a popular uprising in 1986.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva Tuesday that Duvalier's surprise return to Haiti brings up issues of accountability and impunity.  "It's not clear if Haiti is in a position to arrest and charge Jean-Claude Duvalier for anything at this point, but it's something we are looking into right now," he said.

Colville said it is conceivable that charges could be filed. "There are major issues surrounding him such as [a] considerable range of human rights abuses that took place in Haiti during the 15 years he was in power, especially by the Tontons Macoutes, [and] also, of course, other issues such as corruption," he said.

History

Duvalier, known as "Baby Doc," assumed power in 1971 at the age of 19, upon the death of his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier.  The elder Duvalier was elected president in 1957 and later declared himself "president for life."

The regime of both Duvaliers was characterized by repression and the use of a paramilitary force known as the Tontons Macoutes, which brutally cracked down on the Haitian people.

In recent years, the World Bank has commended Haitian and Swiss officials for their attempts to recover about $6 million in allegedly stolen assets that are held by the Duvalier family in Swiss banks.  Authorities say those assets have been frozen since 1986.

Jean-Claude Duvalier has not publicly explained his reasons for returning to his homeland after nearly 25 years in exile.  He had been expected to hold a news conference Tuesday.  

U.S. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington that the United States did not know about Duvalier's return in advance. Crowley said the French government first notified U.S. officials about an hour before Duvalier's plane landed in Port-au-Prince Sunday.

Crowley called Duvalier's return "one more complication" in an already challenging situation. "If I look at the list of challenges that Haiti faces today, having a former dictator return to Haiti just adds to Haiti's ongoing burden. But, as to his [Duvalier's] status in the country and what happens, this is a matter for the government of Haiti and the people of Haiti," he said.

Crowley said he understood that Duvalier was meeting with Haitian government and legal officials Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking in broad terms, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that current or former political actors should not be focused on themselves, but on the best outcome for the Haitian people.

Duvalier's return comes at a time of turmoil in Haiti.  The country is contending with November's disputed elections, last January's massive earthquake that ravaged the capital and killed more than 200,000 people, and an ongoing cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 3,000 lives.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

New $9.15B Airport for Mexico City to Quadruple Passenger Capacity

New international airport will eventually handle 120 million passengers a year, President Enrique Pena Nieto said in his annual state-of-the-nation address
More

Venezuelan Socialist Party Swaps God for Chavez in New Prayer

Delegate Maria Estrella Uribe recites 'prayer' on Monday at PSUV party Congress to implore beloved late leader for protection from evils of capitalism
More

Tropical Storms Bear Down on Mexico From Both Coasts

Two separate storms risk a double hit on country a year after pair of storms converged to cause major flooding that killed over 100 people
More

Mixed Signals on Second Migrant Wave at US Border

Number of Central Americans apprehended at the border peaked in June, but reports from migrants indicate more might be on the way
More

Cuba Enacts New Rules to Restrict Imports

New rules increase duties on items such as televisions, limit the number of personal items air travelers can bring to Cuba and increase duties on mailed packages
More

Nicaragua Rescuers Save 20 Miners; Search Continues

Wall of mud, rocks trap miners at El Comal site in Bonanza, 420 kilometers northeast of Managua
More