News / Africa

Chad Arrests Accused Ex-President's Police Chief

Map of Chad, Africa
Map of Chad, Africa

Location

Borkou, Chad
Anne Look
Chadian justice officials are questioning and arresting associates of ex-Chadian president Hissene Habre who are accused of torturing and killing political opponents during Habre's eight years in power.   Habre fled to Dakar in 1990 after being ousted in a military coup. The flurry of activity in Chad comes just months after Senegal launched a long-awaited special tribunal to try the former president for crimes against humanity "on behalf of Africa."

Chadian justice officials have arrested former police chief Mahamat Djibrine.

He served under ex-Chadian president Hissene Habre, as head of the feared political police, the Directorate of Documentation and Service, or DDS.  Human rights activists say the DDS was involved in the brutal torture and killing of opponents of the Habre regime, as well as other atrocities including waves of ethnic cleansing.

Chadian human rights activist and attorney Jacqueline Moudeïna says Djibrine's name was part of a list of 47 Habre associates that she filed with authorities on Oct. 26, 2000, as part of 17 official complaints by victims of abuses under the Habre regime.  

She says it is that lawsuit that was the basis of Djibrine's arrest Wednesday, almost 13 years later.  

Moudeïna says they are welcoming this recent action not so much with joy, because there haven't been any judgments yet, but rather with a sort of satisfaction that at least something is being done. Better that the accused be brought in for questioning, that they be worried, she says, than nothing at all.

Chadian officials have reportedly issued international arrest warrants for four other Mr. Habre associates and continue to question more.

But why now?  

Some say it reflects a renewed political will within Chad to heal the wounds of the past.  Others say the establishment in February of the special tribunal in Senegal to try Habre, who was first indicted in 2000, was a catalyst to the start of judicial proceedings back home.  

However, human rights lawyers working on the Habre case in Senegal say investigations into his accomplices in Chad are not directly linked to the case being prepared against the former president in Dakar.  

Moudeïna says this has always been the strategy: to go after Hissene Habre on the international stage and to focus within Chad on going after his accomplices, who she says should be tried in Chad to send a strong message against impunity.

Activists say the case against Habre in Senegal would set a landmark legal precedent of African courts judging African leaders.

But Moudeïna says they can't stop there.  

She says thousands of people worked in Habre's repressive machine.  She says investigations into Habre's regime point to 40,000 people killed and that was not the work of just a few people.

Habre denies the charges against him.  No date has been announced for the start of the Habre trial in Senegal.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs