Sharing is caring! 7 Views no discussions NewsRegional Amnesty slams Haitian judiciary for dropping Duvalier case by: – February 2, 2012 Share Tweet Jean-Claude DuvalierLONDON, England — Haiti’s judicial authorities have dealt yet another blow to the victims of former leader Jean-Claude Duvalier, Amnesty International said this week after the criminal case against the former “president-for-life” for grave human rights violations was dropped.An investigating judge in Port-au-Prince on Monday announced that Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier will not stand trial for alleged crimes against humanity – including torture, disappearances and extrajudicial executions – but only for embezzlement of public funds committed during his rule between 1971 and 1986. The text of the judge’s decision has not been made public.Duvalier has been under investigation in Haiti since he returned from exile in France in January 2011, after a group of victims filed complaints accusing him of crimes against humanity as well as corruption and theft. The victims can appeal the judge’s decision and Amnesty International has vowed to continue supporting their search for justice.“The conclusion of the sham investigation into Duvalier is a disgrace and will further entrench impunity in Haiti. No serious effort was made to determine the truth despite the multiple complaints and abundant evidence about the crimes committed and the victims,” said Javier Zúñiga, special adviser at Amnesty International, who researched the crimes of Jean-Claude Duvalier in the 1980s. “The handful of victims that have been interviewed had been subjected to intimidation by Duvalier supporters and his lawyers. It is clear that the investigating judge left out invaluable evidence and decided not to interview all the victims that filed complaints. This is a dark day for Haiti and for justice.“Duvalier benefited from a safe haven in France for 25 years until he returned to Haiti, where the authorities have failed to hold him to account for the crimes under international law perpetrated by his subordinates while he was in power.”In January 2011, Amnesty International submitted extensive documentation on the grave human rights violations committed under Duvalier, none of which was considered by the magistrate. Under international law, torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and arbitrary arrests are considered crimes against humanity when committed as part of a systematic or widespread attack against the civilian population. No statute of limitations may apply to crimes against humanity and the alleged perpetrators cannot benefit from amnesties, even in the case of former heads of state. Amnesty International has expressed concern that the current Haitian government lacks the will to bring Duvalier to justice. “Recent public statements from President Martelly hinted at pardoning Duvalier. This could amount to unacceptable pressure and interference with the investigation. Inviting Jean-Claude Duvalier to take part in public official ceremonies clearly showed that the government wanted to rehabilitate Duvalier instead of holding him to account,” said Zúñiga.“Haiti has failed to live up to its international obligations to investigate all allegations of crimes against humanity and bring their perpetrators to justice. Victims have been awaiting justice for more than 25 years, and today’s decision is a major setback to them and all Haitians. But this is not the end of the road – we will continue to support the victims at the appeal stage and in international instances if necessary.”Caribbean News Now Share Share
In Jamaica, the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of the National Chest Hospital, Dr. Terry Baker, is urging citizens to stay away from using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). He warns they are dangerous and should not be viewed as a viable option to regular cigarettes.Dr. Baker says although e-cigarettes have been put forward as a safer alternative to cigarettes, dangers still abound. “A number of persons have turned to e-cigarettes or vaping in the belief that it is not harmful, including persons who are using it as a transitional tool to quit smoking,” she said. While acknowledging some of her colleagues have not drawn the same conclusions, she is among those that are of the firm view that the product is harmful.Not as innocuous as some believe“We believe that they are not as innocuous as some people may think,” she said, noting that there are certain substances used in the manufacture of e-cigarettes, and the vapor that is produced is not standardized. While e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they have other substances that have been shown to be toxic, such as nicotine, which is highly addictive.“You then run the risk of having a myriad of substances that are going to be inhaled into the lungs. Persons will say they are not inhaling, but you can’t accurately determine what is going to be entering the body or the lungs,” she added.Contain dangerous formaldehydeAccording to the senior health official, some of the other flavorings included to make e-cigarettes attractive have been known to cause lung disease. She pointed out that some e-cigarettes even contain the dangerous formaldehyde, which is used as a preservative or embalming fluid.“While it might not be in the concentration that embalmers use, by no means does formaldehyde belong in your lungs. It is carcinogenic,” she warned. Dr. Baker noted that some places in the United States have regulated the use of e-cigarettes in a similar manner to regular cigarettes.“They have prevented sale to minors and are looking at putting graphic health warnings on the packages, just like cigarettes. So, while research continues into vaping and e-cigarettes, they are by no means harmless,” she said.Other than lung cancer, cigarette smoking is associated with a number of other cancers, including cancers of the tongue, breast, cervix, stomach and colon as well as heart disease. National Chest Hospital is the only specialist hospital in the island that specifically treats patients with chest-related illnesses. Jamaican medical officer cautions that e-cigarettes are a dangerous alternative to traditional cigarettes.