Haiti Support Group press release
Swiss government extends freeze on Duvalier's accounts
4 June 2007
Good news! - Following legal moves by a Miami-based law firm
representing two victims of the Duvalier dictatorship, and a spirited
lobbying campaign by Haitian, Latin American and European NGOs over the
last week, the Swiss government on Friday announced it had extended a
freeze on Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier's Swiss bank accounts for a
further three months.
The money, 7.6m Swiss francs (£3.1m/US$6.2m), has been frozen for the
past five years as the Haitian government has argued for its release,
but was due to be surrendered to Duvalier on 3 June.
Now the accounts will remain blocked for a further three months from 3
June, according to Swiss government spokesman Oswald Sigg. He stated
that the Swiss foreign ministry would now try to resolve the situation
with the Duvalier family and representatives of Haiti's government. It
was still the Swiss government's aim to find a solution in favour of
the Haitian people, added the spokesman.
Congratulations to Marc Henzelin, the lawyer acting for Haitians, Etzer
LaLanne and Father Gerard Jean-Juste, who obtained an order from the
Geneva state court blocking one of Duvalier's accounts in Switzerland
in respect of a suit successfully filed in the US. District Court in
Miami in 1988.
Congratulations also to the Haitian Platform to Advocate for
Alternative Development (PAPDA), the European Network on Debt and
Development (Eurodad), the Swiss Haiti Platform, Jubilee South
Americas, the Haiti Advocacy Platform UK-Ireland, and the Coordination
Europe-Haïti, for petitioning the Swiss authorities to halt the release
of Duvalier's accounts.
The Haiti Support Group has today written to Haiti's minister of
foreign affairs calling on him to seize the opportunity provided by the
extended freeze and quickly come up with the documentation proving that
Duvalier's money was accumulated as a result of criminal and corrupt
actions during the dictatorship. On submission of this proof, the Swiss
government will be obliged to hand over the some - perhaps all - of the
money to the Haitian authorities. The money can then be used for
socio-economic programmes to help counter poverty and stimulate
economic development in Haiti.
Forwarded as a service of the Haiti Support Group - solidarity with the
Haitian people's struggle for human rights, participatory democracy and
equitable development - since 1992.
Web site: www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org