GENEVA — The UN human rights office on Tuesday expressed concern about reports that former Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier may escape charges relating to serious human rights violations under his regime.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville at a press briefing cited reports saying Duvalier "may only face charges of financial corruption rather rather than ones relating to the serious human rights violations that took place during his time in power".
Haitan investigating judge Jean Carves told AFP on Monday that the former dictator should face trial for embezzlement during his 15-year rule of the impoverished Caribbean nation.
He said that Duvalier, known as "Baby Doc," however, should not face charges for the time being for allegations of crimes against humanity however.
Duvalier, who returned to Haiti in 2011 after 25 years of exile in France, will fight the corruption charges, his lawyer Frizto Canton said.
"Very serious human rights violations, including torture, rape, and extra-judicial killings have been extensively documented by Haitian and international human rights organisations to have occurred in Haiti during the regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier," said Colville.
Under international law there is no statute of limitations for such crimes, and the UN Human Rights office said it has consistently reminded Haiti of its obligation to investigate serious human rights violations.
"There can be no true reconciliation and forgiveness without justice," said Colville.
Duvalier, 60, led a brutal dictatorship in Haiti from 1971 to 1986 before being driven out of office and the country.
He is the son of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who ruled Haiti from 1957 until he died in 1971.
The government estimates that more than $100 million (75 million euros) was embezzled via social programmes before Duvalier was deposed.
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