LONDON, UK – Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier should stand trial for killings, torture and rape committed during his 15-year rule, the UN human rights office said Tuesday, voicing deep concern over a Haitian judge’s proposal that Duvalier be tried on corruption charges only.
Carves Jean, the investigate magistrate handling Duvalier’s case, recommended yesterday that the former president not go on trial for alleged crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses in the impoverished Caribbean nation, the AP reported, due to insufficient legal grounds.
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At a news briefing in Geneva today, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Haitian authorities to ensure that Duvalier is prosecuted for these crimes for which “there is not statute of limitations,” saying that the UN had repeatedly reminded Haitian judicial authorities of their “absolute obligation” to do so:
"Very serious human rights violations including torture, rape and extrajudicial killings have been extensively documented by Haitian and international human rights organizations to have occurred in Haiti during the regime of Duvalier," said Rupert Colville, according to Reuters.
"Impunity for such serious crimes cannot be allowed to prevail and we urge the relevant authorities to ensure that justice is, albeit belatedly, delivered to the many victims of human rights abuses committed under the government of Mr Duvalier."
Duvalier, 60, became dictator of Haiti in 1971 after the death of his father, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who had ruled the country since 1957.
Haiti’s government estimates that “Baby Doc” embezzled more than $100 million through social programs before he was driven out of the country in 1986 after a brutal fifteen years in power, according to the AFP.
He returned to the country last year after 25 years of exile in France. Coville said today that a senior expert had been sent by the UN in March to provide the Haitian authorities with legal and technical advice on prosecuting a former head of state for serious human rights violations.
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