DUVALIER’S RETURN-RUSHING JUSTICE
Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti on January 16, 2011. Within 48 hours, he had been interrogated in a proceeding launched to examine allegations of theft and money laundering. There have been further calls that he be tried for murder. He has been released on condition he remain in Haiti pending completion of the judicial investigation.
Allegations of corruption, torture, and murder did indeed define the Duvalier regime. Under significant local and international pressure, Jean-Claude Duvalier left his native Haiti in 1986, in disgrace, and settled in France. However, during the near 25 years that followed, the Haitian authorities have never requested his extradition on any charge. How is it that charges of this magnitude could be so quickly instituted? How is it that a nation, seemingly unable to provide its citizenry with the most basic services, finds the resources to file such significant and complex charges, overnight?
It must be borne in mind that Duvalier, pariah that he may be, still has his supporters in Haiti and as such, his political enemies. These charges effectively squelch any hope he may have had (foolish as that may seem) of a political comeback. Clearly, if the Haitian authorities had the required evidence, he would have been extradited long ago. The pall of political interference contaminates this investigation.
We do not know if Duvalier is guilty of these or other crimes. But there can be no justice unless the process is impartial and independent. The people of Haiti deserve better.