Human rights groups are calling on Haiti to prosecute former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier following his surprise return to the country.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said that Duvalier should be held accountable for the torture and killing of civilians under his rule.
Duvalier returned to Haiti on Sunday after being forced from power following a popular uprising in 1986 and President Rene Preval had said in 2007 that Duvalier would face justice if he returned.
His return comes as Haiti struggles with a political crisis, cholera epidemic and stalled earthquake reconstruction.
Duvalier greeted several hundred cheering supporters at Haiti’s airport upon his return from exile in France.
“I’m not here for politics,” he said. “I’m here for the reconstruction of Haiti.” His long-time companion, Veronique Roy, said that he planned to stay three days but gave no further details.
The 59-year-old Duvalier apparently faces no criminal charges from the period of his rule. He took power at age 19 as part of a father-and-son dynasty that presided over one of the darkest chapters in Haitian history. He arrived on an Air France jet in a jacket and tie to hugs from supporters, waving to a crowd of about 200 as he climbed in a van and headed to a hotel.
Once a teenage ruler, Duvalier is now a large, stocky man with greying hair and his return comes as the country struggles to work through a dire political crisis following the problematic November 28 first-round presidential election.
Three candidates want to go onto a second round. The Organisation of American States sent in a team of experts to resolve the deadlock.
The country, meanwhile, is dealing with a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 3,500 people since October and more than a million people are living in crowded, squalid tent encampments after their homes were destroyed from the earthquake in January last year.