GENEVA — The return of Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti increases the chances that the former Haitian dictator could be charged with atrocities committed during his 15-year rule, the UN human rights office said Tuesday.
Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have urged Haiti to hold Duvalier accountable for the crimes committed by his secret police, known as the Tonton Macoute, who tortured and murdered political opponents. The former dictator was also notorious for siphoning the Haiti's wealth into his family's pockets until a popular rebellion drove him into exile.
"The country where the crimes were committed is a much easier place to bring charges," Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told The Associated Press.
Before his surprise return home Sunday, Duvalier had been living in France for the past quarter-century.
"I believe there have been various cases brought over the years in France," Colville earlier told reporters in Geneva. "We're checking ... exactly what happened over the many years he's been resident in France and why he wasn't arrested."
Colville cautioned that it is unclear whether Haiti's fragile judicial system is in a position to mount a case.