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25 years since Jean-Claude Duvalier fled Haiti

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Uploaded on Feb 7, 2011

Testimonies from victims of human rights violations committed during the former president's 15-year rule.

François Duvalier (better known as "Papa Doc") came to power in 1957. After an attempted coup against him in 1958, Duvalier rewrote the Haitian constitution, making himself a President for Life. Believing the Army was planning to overthrow him (as they had previous leaders), he disbanded all law enforcement agencies in Haiti, including the army. He executed all high-ranking Generals. To keep law enforcement completely loyal to his own ruling family, in 1959 he created a private security force, the Tonton Macoutes, who were granted automatic amnesty through his powers for any crime they committed.

He died in 1971 and was succeed by his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier. In the 1984 election to Haiti's 59-seat National Assembly, no opposition candidates were permitted to contest the election. Human rights violations and abuses increased in the aftermath.

This film shows AI's 1985 report on Haiti and gives information about individual cases such as Yves Medard, (better known as the poet, writer and filmmaker Rassoul Labuchin), Evans Paul, Frank Blaise, Sylvio Claude and William Josman. It also cites examples of people imprisoned without charge or trial, or who are left in incommunicado detention. It shows how Amnesty International responds to these human rights abuses through the Urgent Action network. Features footage of the relevant urgent action notices coming off the telex machine.

There is also a brief historical introduction to the country with details of the Tontons Macoutes. The video closes by looking briefly at how AI members organize against human rights violations.

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