(New York/London) - Human Rights Watch today called on the British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to hold General Augusto Pinochet for extradition if the House of Lords rules that he is not immune from prosecution as a former head of state.

The House of Lords' decision on whether Pinochet enjoys absolute immunity from suit in England will be delivered on Wednesday, November 25. If the Lords rule that he is not immune for the thousands of killings, disappearances" and acts of torture committed under his command, the extradition requests of Spain, France and Switzerland will come before the British government.  
 
The Chilean government is pressing the U.K. to release General Pinochet on "humanitarian" grounds even if the Lords rule against him. Chile has sent high-level representatives to London and postponed talks over the purchase of frigates from Britain worth about $100 million.  
 
Human Rights Watch called on the Home Secretary to resist such pressure, taking into account "the gravity of General Pinochet's offenses, the impunity which General Pinochet would continue to enjoy on returning to Chile, and the United Kingdom's obligations under international law."