Amnesty calls on Haiti to prosecute 'Baby Doc'

17th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rights group Amnesty International on Monday urged the Haitian authorities to bring former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to justice after he made a surprise return to the country.

Duvalier flew in from France on Sunday for the first time in 25 years in the wake of disputed presidential elections and as Haiti struggles to recover from a huge earthquake a year ago.

The former leader declared he had "come to help".

Amnesty said he should now face justice for the nearly three decades of rule by Duvalier and his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, which many Haitians recall as a time of repression and fear.

"The widespread and systematic human rights violations committed in Haiti during Duvalier's rule amount to crimes against humanity," said Javier Zuniga, a special advisor at the London-based group.

"Haiti is under the obligation to prosecute him and anyone else responsible for such crimes."

Zuniga added: "The Haitian authorities must break the cycle of impunity that prevailed for decades in Haiti.

"Failing to bring to justice those responsible will only lead to further human rights abuses."

"Baby Doc" came to power in 1971 when his father died. He sought to control the poverty-ridden country with an iron fist, banning opposition, repressing dissidents and siphoning off government revenue for his private use.

He ruled Haiti for 15 years until a popular uprising in 1986, when pro-democracy forces rallied in the streets.

He was urged to step down by the United States and left the country on a US Air Force plane. He was later allowed to live in exile in France.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told AFP late Sunday that Duvalier "is a Haitian and as such is free to return home" without commenting on whether he would face possible legal action.

© 2011 AFP

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