UN rights chief urges justice for Haiti dictator's victims

Haiti must offer justice for the victims of abuses committed under the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, better known as "Baby Doc", the UN's human rights chief said Thursday.

As Haiti's court of appeal resumed hearings over the strongman's 15-year rule, UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay said there was a duty to ensure that abuses do not go unpunished.

"Such systematic violations of rights must not remain unaddressed," Pillay said in a statement.

"All those Haitians who suffered such abuses have a right to see justice is done. I encourage the judicial authorities to act on their responsibilities and ensure the victims are provided with the long overdue justice they deserve."

Duvalier was due in court in Haiti Thursday for a hearing that aims to establish what charges he should face, two years after his surprise return to the country following 25 years of exile in France.

The son of former dictator Francois Duvalier -- alias "Papa Doc" -- Duvalier took power in 1971 at the age of just 19.

He ruled with an iron fist in what remains one of the poorest nations of the western hemisphere.

Ousted by a popular uprising in 1986, he fled the country. He returned to Haiti in January 2011.

Pillay said that despite the elapse of time since Duvalier was overthrown, he and his entourage should be called to account.

She said there is no statute of limitation under international law for serious violations of human rights such as torture, extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances and rape.