Human Rights Watch today hailed the decision by the British Home Secretary to authorize extradition proceedings against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Pinochet's victims have been waiting 25 years for this day," said Reed Brody, Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch, which was authorized by the House of Lords to take part in the Pinochet case. "This definitive ruling means that Pinochet will finally have to answer in a court of law for his terrible crimes."

Brody, who presented Human Rights Watch's legal arguments to Home Secretary Jack Straw last week after the House of Lords reduced the charges against the ex-dictator, noted that Pinochet's lawyers would challenge the decision in court. But he expressed confidence that any judicial review of Straw's decision would, like the two decisions of the House of Lords, deny Pinochet immunity from extradition.

"This decision is proof of a growing international consensus, both legal and political, that those responsible for the worst atrocities should not escape punishment," said Brody. "Dictators the world over should take notice. It's going to be harder than ever to get away with torture and murder."