Law School Headlines
IU McKinney Law Professor's Work in Haiti Subject of Forthcoming Book
As disheartening as the poverty is in Haiti, that is not the island nation’s primary problem.
It seems like a shocking thing to say about a nation where more than 70 percent of its citizens live at or below the poverty line, but the real problem is impunity, said Professor Fran Quigley, ‘87.
He has made five visits to Haiti in the last year, thanks to funding from the John S. Grimes Fellowship. He is currently at work on a book, tentatively slated to be published in 2013, titled The Victory is for the People: How Human Rights Can Save Haiti. The book tries to answer the question of how to make the government more responsive.
“The real answer for Haiti is the rule of law,” he said. “If the rule of law were respected there, it would lead to democratic representative government with an obligation to protect the rights of its people, and would lead to schools and an economy that works.”
While students are not yet permitted to travel to Haiti, they can observe from their Health and Human Rights Clinic classroom what the lack of the rule of law has meant for Haiti’s people. This is a tremendous lesson for students about how vital the work is that lawyers do in that area. Professor Quigley hopes students eventually will be able to travel to Haiti, which is only a 90-minute flight from Miami, to see conditions first-hand. “There’s a lot we can do, a lot of the action is here,” Professor Quigley said. “If we don’t address the human rights issues, we’ll just keep putting a Band-Aid on it, and it won’t work.”
Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Haiti’s president from 1971 to 1986, fled his homeland rather than face going to court over the jailing, torturing, and killing of political opponents and journalists and diverting public funds to his accounts. Now Duvalier is back home in Haiti, walking around as a free man and the current president is lobbying that Duvalier should have political immunity and not face trial.
A little pressure from the nation’s northern neighbor could go a long way toward a trial for Duvalier. “If the U.S. President wants Duvalier to be put on trial, he’ll be tried,” Professor Quigley said. “If he remains unscathed, it leaves a message that criminals won’t be held accountable.”
Professor Quigley, a clinical professor of law and director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at IU Robert H. McKinney School of law, also is the senior advisor for the IU Center for Global Health.