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Haiti: Legal Status of Former Dictator Jean Claude Duvalier

(Jan. 31, 2011) After 25 years in exile in France, the former Haitian dictator Jean Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti on January 16, 2011. At a hearing held in Port au Prince on January 18, 2011, by General Prosecutor Auguste Aristidas, Duvalier was charged with, among other things, corruption and embezzlement. An investigating judge, Carvès Jean, has been appointed to conduct a judicial inquiry. In addition, four complaints for crimes against humanity have been filed against Duvalier. (Quatre plaintes pour “crime contre l'humanité” déposées contre Duvalier, LEMONDE.FR (Jan. 19, 2011),
; Quatres anciennes victimes de Duvalier portent plainte, HAITI HEADLINES (Jan. 19, 2011),

One complaint was filed by the Haitian journalist Michèle Montas, former spokesperson for United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. She stated that she lodged complaints against Duvalier for acts of arbitrary sequestration, exile, destruction of private property, physical and moral torture, and violation of civil and political rights (id).

Other plaintiffs are Alix Fils-Aimé and Claude Rosier, who were imprisoned for ten years during Duvalier's dictatorship, and Dr. Nicole Magloire, who had also been imprisoned and exiled by Duvalier. The complaints were filed before the General Prosecutor. Additional complaints are expected to be filed by other victims (id).

Duvalier is reported to be represented by several attorneys: Reynold Georges, Fritzto Canton, and Alix Aurélien Jeanty (id). Duvalier left the court on his own recognizance after the hearing but has been asked to remain at the disposal of the judicial authorities (Haïti: Duvalier a quitté le palais de justice “libre,” LE NOUVELLISTE (Jan. 18, 2011),
). It appears that an order prohibiting him from leaving Haitian territory may have been issued (Duvalier a interdiction de quitter Haïti, HAÏTI EN MARCHE (Jan. 24, 2011),