IACHR Remindes Haiti of its Ongoing Duty to Investigate and Prosecute Human Rights Violations
January 19, 2011
Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been informed of the presence in Haiti of Mr. Jean-Claude Duvalier, former President of that country, who had fled in February 1986 amid popular unrest. Mr. Duvalier ruled Haiti as President-for-life between 1971 and 1986, and his government was characterized by massive violations of human rights, which were documented by the IACHR, other international organizations, and civil society.
In December of 1979 the IACHR submitted its Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, prepared on the basis of an on-site visit observation carried out in that country from August 16 to 25 of 1978, to the General Assembly of the OAS. In that report, the Commission pointed out concrete violations of the right to life, to personal integrity, to personal liberty, to judicial guarantees, freedom of investigation, opinion, expression and dissemination of thought, freedom of association, freedom of residence and movement, the right to nationality, and political rights. Included in the 1979 report is the recommendation to the Haitian State “that it investigate and punish those responsible for the numerous violations of the right to life and physical security”.
The IACHR must remind the authorities of the State of Haiti of the on-going duty to investigate, prosecute, punish and remedy human rights violations that are crimes under national or international law. To date the Inter-American Commission has not learned of any full investigation or punishment, undertaken consistent with due process guarantees as established in the American Convention and other applicable instruments, of the persons responsible for the violations committed in Haiti between 1971 and 1986, especially the authorities in charge of the State apparatus during that period.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.