Globe Editorial

Haiti: Putting ‘Baby’ in the dock

Jean Claude Duvalier walks by the Hotel Karibe in Port-au-Prince Thursday. Jean Claude Duvalier walks by the Hotel Karibe in Port-au-Prince Thursday. (Getty Images)
January 22, 2011

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During Jean-Claude “Baby Doc’’ Duvalier’s reign as dictator in Haiti from 1971 to 1986, Haitians were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by his security forces. Now that he is back in Haiti after a 25-year exile in France he must not be allowed to escape justice either for the crimes against humanity or for his flagrant theft of enormous sums of money.

Given the history of US involvement in Haiti and the fact that American aid funds were mixed in with the millions Baby Doc stole, the Obama administration should not be taking an impartial, hands-off posture on Haitian demands that Baby Doc be prosecuted for his crimes. Hence the wrong signal was sent when State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley was asked what should be done with Baby Doc and answered “This is a matter for the government of Haiti and the people of Haiti.’’

Americans have shown laudable compassion and generosity in trying to ease the suffering of Haitians after last year’s horrendous earthquake. The US government should be no less generous in siding with all those Haitians who long to see their former tormentor brought up on charges. It isn’t every day that a notorious human-rights violator returns to the scene of the crime. This chance for justice shouldn’t be missed.