Thursday’s session is part of an appeal by regime victims who filed a complaint against the former dictator in 2011 for crimes against humanity. In January 2012, a judge rejected the charges, citing Haiti’s 10-year statute of limitations on murder as one reason. The ruling was condemned by local and international rights groups, and by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Bureau of International Lawyers (Bureau des Avocats Internationaux – BAI), one of the groups representing the victims, noted that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch all say the abuses under Duvalier’s rule constitute crimes against humanity.
“These crimes cannot be barred by any statute of limitations pursuant to international law that is binding on Haiti. As a matter of law, the Court of Appeals must grant the victims’ appeal and allow Duvalier to stand trial for his both his political violence and fraud crimes,” BAI attorney Mario Joseph said in a statement on Thursday following the hearing. “Given the events today, we are hopeful this court will issue a fair decision.”