It is sad but true that there is only one place in the world where a vicious despot who perpetuated atrocities against his people can return no doubt in hopes of being rehabilitated and returned to power.
And if there was ever a time when Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier could brazenly return to Haiti, it would be now. The country is still reeling from the earthquake that struck almost exactly a year ago, on Jan. 12, 2010, killing some 230,000 people, leaving a million homeless and destroying the capital. Then came a cholera outbreak which, in recent months, has killed nearly 4,000 Haitians and the toll is mounting. And then there is an intense, often violent, political confrontation over presidential elections.
So the last thing Haiti and its suffering people need at this moment is another plague, even if it has a human form. Haiti needs people who can help to stabilize the country, not further destabilize it, people who can contribute to rebuilding the infrastructure and provide a period of calm that the troubled nation has rarely enjoyed.
It was surprising to learn that some elements of the population welcomed Mr. Duvalier and harkened to a period when, they said, there was stability, there were jobs and homes and food. There will always be elements such as those in any country, the sycophants of the dictators, people who benefited from the dictatorship and yearn for a return of their good old days, and people who are so desperate they are willing to accept any supposed solution to their problems.
Mr. Duvalier is not the answer. It is very likely that he returned to Haiti because, as some news reports suggest, he is broke. He may be making a bid to get back into power so he can once again enrich himself on the backs of the people, capitalizing on the tragedy of the times. He is nothing more than a former despotic tyrant who is believed to be responsible for crimes against humanity. His return should be an occasion for him to be tried not just for corruption and embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from the impoverished nation but also for the untold murders and acts of torture perpetrated against the Haitian people during the years he presided over the government.
Amnesty International has given a rundown of the actions that Mr. Duvalier must be held accountable for: “the multitude of human rights abuses that were committed under his rule, including torture, arbitrary detentions, rape, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.” The human rights group is right to call for a criminal investigation into his responsibility for such acts.
The victims of Mr. Duvalier deserve no less.