Article written

  • on 19.05.2015
  • at 12:49 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

What former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré’s trial next month in Senegal means for his victims 0

Next month former president Hissène Habré, who ruled my native Chad from  June 7, 1982 to December 1, 1990, goes on trial in Senegal, in a special tribunal set up by the African Union.  Habré’s reign was one of absolute terror.  He created the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS), which quickly developed into a machine of repression. According to the report of an investigation ordered by the Chadian government in 1992, 40,000 people were killed in the prisons of the DDS.

As Human Rights Watch reminds us, “Habré’s trial will be the first in which the courts of one country prosecute the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes. It will also be the first universal jurisdiction case to proceed to trial in Africa.” 

Habré lives in exile in Senegal after he fled there following a coup d’etat by the current president, Idriss Deby Itno.  In February 2000, we decided to file charges against Habré before the Senegalese judiciary.

Ever since October  2000—nearly 15 years ago—we had engaged the Cabinet of the First Investigating Magistrate in Chad by handing him 57 charges and a collective complaint against the principal collaborators and accomplices of  Hissène Habré, citing them by name.

The two proceedings, in Senegal and Chad, were a long, hard battle. In Senegal, the former President Abdoulaye Wade not only did not want Habré to be prosecuted, but also refused to extradite him to Belgium so that he could be tried there, even as Belgium made repeated requests to extradite him. In Chad, the courts offered no response to our numerous efforts at bringing the henchmen of the former dictator to trial.

The election of the current president, Macky Sall changed things Negotiations between Senegal and the African Union were sealed with an agreement enabling the creation of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC), which provide for a court of an international character but operating under Senegalese jurisdiction. (The case will be heard by a Burkinabe judge along with two senior Senegalese judges.)

The Chambers were tasked with trying Habré and all people who committed crimes during his rule.

Continue reading on Africa Is a Country

by Jacqueline Moudeina

Photo Credit: Flickr/UNAMID (African Union headquarters, 8 December 2013. Addis Ababa)

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