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U.N.: Haitian ex-dictator should face human rights charges

January 31, 2012 | 10:22 am

Duvalier

The United Nations says former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier should face charges for human rights abuses on his watch.

“We are extremely disappointed at reports that Mr. Duvalier may not be charged with any human rights crimes, despite numerous complaints by victims to the prosecutor,” Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement released by the world body.

Colville said serious human rights violations, including torture, rape and extrajudicial killings, had been extensively documented by Haitian and international human rights organizations during his reign.

A Haitian judge on Monday recommended that Duvalier, who is also known as Baby Doc, be tried only on corruption charges, saying that the statute of limitations had run out on any human rights crimes.

Duvalier returned unexpectedly to Haiti last year, stirring up memories of his repressive rule, which stretched from 1971 to 1986. The Times' Tracy Wilkinson reported from Haiti last year:

The younger Duvalier's regime was characterized by brutal repression of opponents enforced by the notorious Tonton Macoutes secret police and the excessive lifestyle of the first family, who allegedly embezzled tens of millions of dollars. The chubby, baby-faced Duvalier lived as a playboy until marrying extravagant divorcee Michele Bennett Pasquet, who enjoyed the high life and alienated Haiti's masses.

With hunger and poverty deepening, protests against the regime mounted in the early 1980s, along with ever-bloodier government crackdowns and international condemnation. The rebellion, along with pressure from the Reagan administration, drove Duvalier from power in February 1986. A U.S. Air Force jet took him and his wife to France, where they lived in exile on the Riviera until their divorce in 1993.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Ousted Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier speaks at a news conference Jan. 21, 2011, in Petion Ville, Puerto Principe, Haiti. Credit: Hector Retamal / Agence France-Presse

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