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Pinochet Must be Prosecuted, Says Rights Group

(London) - Human Rights Watch today expressed confidence that a new panel in the House of Lords would also deny immunity to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

"Pinochet will not escape his day of reckoning," said Reed Brody, Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring organization based in New York.

"Even Pinochet is entitled to due process of law," added Brody, "but it is a rich irony that a dictator whose war tribunals conducted sham trials and ordered the summary execution of political opponents, is now taking advantage of the full measure of British rule of law."

The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment obligates Britain to extradite General Pinochet to a country that seeks to try him, or to put him on trial in the United Kingdom.

"International law is unmistakable on this point: no one, not even a former head of state, can claim immunity for torture or systematic murder," said Brody. "Britain's legal obligation is equally clear: to try General Pinochet or to extradite him." The United Nations' Committee Against Torture reminded the U.K. of this obligation in a ruling last month.

A new panel of five Lords will convene in January. Human Rights Watch said that it would again seek leave to present legal arguments to the Lords, as it had in the November proceedings.

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