From the Editor’s Keyboard

Dictators and their stolen billions

By  | 18 May 2010 at 02:46 | 329 views


When one quickly analyzes the plight of the world’s infamous brutal leaders, it will come to light that in the last two decades, not a year or two passes by without the radar of justice dragging a notorious dictator into the international limelight.

Many analysts and pundits have closely followed such unfolding historical events with thoughtful analyses and questions about why dictators are faced with such a plight.

Following such careful analysis, numerous others contended that the evolution of our world around historical trajectories is the only simple answer to the question why dictators end up in disgrace. Such theoretical analyses could be found deeply embedded in the historical artifacts of societal transformations from ancient civilizations to modern times.

Using religious doctrines and theories around human history, the annihilation of the Pharaoh and his army persecuting Prophet Moses and the Jews; the destruction of Pontius Pilate and his Roman colleagues for crucifying Prophet Jesus Christ; and the defeat of the idolaters in ancient Mecca for persecuting Prophet Mohammed (May Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon him), are all historical realities that could used in theorizing the modern plight of disgraced dictators around the world.

The most recent international outcry that brought to light the plight of Haiti’s former political thug, the octogenarian and iron-fisted Baby Doc Duvalier, and Guinea’s short lived erratic and almost insane dictator, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara are living testaments of the historical artifacts surrounding societal transformations. Both Baby Doc Duvalier and Captain Moussa Dadis Camara were ruthless dictators and tyrants who thwarted justice by oppressing the righteous voices just as the Pharaoh, Pontius and his Roman friends, and the idolaters of ancient Mecca did , when they attempted to silence the righteous voices of the Holy Prophets of God.

Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier

Today, as the world awaits the plights of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, former Yugoslavia President Milosevic and wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, and the former Cambodian Khmer Rouge leaders who are all facing international criminal or hybrid courts for war crimes or crimes against humanity, Haiti’s Baby Doc Duvalier and Guinea’s Captain Dadis Camara have successfully penned their names on the list of disgraced dictators on the run worldwide.

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara

In a most recent development, the Swiss government has frozen assets of the family of Haiti’s former dictator – a policy move that has gone against a ruling by its own Supreme Court.

The Swiss Federal Criminal Court has already declared the Duvalier family a criminal organization. The seven-member executive that heads the government, said it wants to avoid allowing the family to receive the assets — which it said are worth $5.7 million — because the family acquired them by "illicit means."

The Swiss Court further argued that it will no longer allow Swiss financial centers to become the vanguard and backyard for such corrupt and irresponsible leadership around the world. Over the years the Swiss have handed over billions of stolen money by both the Abacha dynasty of Nigeria, and the Mobuto empire of former Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo. In their most recent strengthening of policy, the Swiss Federal Council warned:

"In pursuing its policy to avoid allowing the Swiss financial center to become a haven for illicitly acquired assets, the Federal Council has decided to continue the freeze on the Duvalier assets on the basis of the federal constitution."

The recent events in the West African State of Guinea-Conakry also brought to light the plight of a short lived and erratic African dictator, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. Hailed as a liberator and a hero after coming to power following the death of the country’s decades long dictator, Lansana Conte, the September 28th 2009 stadium shootings that killed 156 people shifted Guinean politics to one of Africa’s most complex political situations.

Complications and controversies surrounding the stadium shootings triggered an assassination attempt on Captain Camara by his own aide, Lieutenant Toumba Diakite. Even though a Guinean commission absolved Captain Camara of criminal responsibility, a decision by the International Criminal Court investigating the stadium massacre will bring to light the culpability of the decapitated and convalescing former junta head.

What have we therefore learned from the tale of both Haiti’s Baby Doc Duvalier, and Guinea’s former junta chief, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara? This is the good question that the world’s remaining tyrants and dictators must carefully ponder.

In comparing the two tragic political variables, it is important to know that both the regimes of Baby Doc Duvalier and short lived Captain Camara were clothed with blatant disrespect for human life. The world has shamelessly watched the Duvaliers (father and son) kill over 60, 000 Haitians, rob the island nations of millions, and then comfortably live in Europe at the expense of the Haitian nation.

On the other hand Captain Camara deceived the world by promising a restoration of democracy, ending of corruption, and fostering national development, when his military led junta viciously and brutally murdered over 157 innocent citizens, tortured and raped women in a belligerent move of hanging on to power. Other reports indicated that the number of people killed, tortured and raped under his junta’s watch far exceeds the numbers reported, not to mention the millions of dollars siphoned under his watch. And yet there continue to be echoes of absolving Camara of criminal responsibility. Hopefully the International Criminal Court will redeem our world from such shamelessness of our times.

Nonetheless, from ancient civilizations to modern times, our world has always evolved around such parables. However, only by understanding the impact of such evolutionary trajectories on our existence as a people will our collective quest of becoming a better global community be strengthened. Using justice, honesty, integrity and respect for human life must be our all encompassing tool guiding our actions. And our relations with dictators and tyrants must be no exception to that. Just as the plight of Haiti’s Duvalier and Guinea’s Camara are brought under the radar of transnational civil society, so must the world’s remaining dictators be confronted along the same parallels. This is so because there are still the likes of Abacha, Mobotu and Samuel Doe across global political leadership horizons. What else could one say?