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Human Rights Group Urges Haiti to Make History with 'Baby Doc' Trial


Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, center, leaves Canape Vert Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 29, 2011

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, center, leaves Canape Vert Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 29, 2011

A human rights group is urging Haiti to prosecute former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier to the fullest extent of the law, saying such a trial would be a chance to make history.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch Thursday released a 47-page report, calling on Haiti to try Duvalier for what it calls grave violations of human rights.

Human Rights Watch counsel Reed Brody also called on the international community to support Haiti's justice system, to make sure Mr. Duvalier gets a fair trial.

Known as "Baby Doc," Duvalier took power in 1971 at the age of 19 following the death of his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who had ruled Haiti since 1957 and was accused of brutality.

Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled Haiti between 1971 and 1986, when he was ousted in a popular uprising.

Human rights groups have long accused the younger Duvalier of human rights abuses, including the torture and killings of thousands of people. He also is alleged to have stolen millions of dollars in public funds.

Duvalier made a surprise return to Haiti in January after 25 years in exile. He has already been charged with corruption, embezzlement and other abuses of power.

Human Rights Watch says Duvalier also could be held liable under Haitian law as an accomplice for any crimes carried out by those under his command.

Last month, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on Haitian authorities to pursue all legal and judicial avenues in Mr. Duvalier's case.

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