University of Miami Inter-American Law Review


This article discusses Haiti’s efforts to seek restitution from France for the “Double-Debt” imposed in 1825. After Haiti gained independence in 1804 following a slave revolt, France threatened to invade and re-enslave the Haitian people if they did not pay compensation to French slave owners for their lost “property.” This became known as the Double-Debt, as French and American banks profited by converting the debt into high-interest loans. In 2003, on the 200th anniversary of Haitian hero Toussaint Louverture’s death, Haiti’s president Jean-Bertrand Aristide announced his intention to demand repayment from France. This sparked retaliation from France and Haiti’s elite, who sought to undermine Aristide’s government. A legal team developed arguments that the 1825 agreement was unlawful given the threat of re-enslavement. A draft complaint was prepared but the 2004 coup against Aristide halted the legal proceedings. The article argues that the restitution claim remains legally valid and an important symbol in Haiti’s fight for justice, despite political opposition.