News / Africa

Senegal to Try Chad's Ex-Dictator in Special Court

Former Chadian leader Hissene Habre, left, in Dakar, Senegal, in 2005 (file photo)
Former Chadian leader Hissene Habre, left, in Dakar, Senegal, in 2005 (file photo)
Jennifer Lazuta
Senegal will inaugurate a special court on Friday to try former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity.  Human Rights Watch says this will be the first time the leader of one country is prosecuted by the courts of another country.  

Senegal will make history on Friday as it moves one step closer to seeking justice against ex-Chadian dictator Hissène Habré.  After years of stalling, a special tribunal, known as the Extraordinary Chambers, will finally become operational in Dakar.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that this will be the first time a world leader is prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the government of another country. Previous trials have taken place either within their home country or under the jurisdiction of the international community, in a setting such as The Hague.

Reed Brody is a lawyer for the New York-based rights group and has been working with Habre’s victims since 1999.  He says the inauguration of the court not only marks the start of a landmark case, but is a huge victory for the victims.

“The opening of this court has an enormous symbolic significance," said Brody. "These are victims who have been fighting for 22 years for their day in court.  And when the judges are sworn in and when the court is open for business, they will have that day in court.  And it means that the real business begins and that justice is on its way.”

Habré, who ruled Chad from 1982 until he was deposed in a 1990 military coup, is accused of more than 40,000 political killings, systematic torture and human rights violations.  He has been living under house arrest in Dakar for the last 13 years.

The African Union (AU) ordered Senegal to try Habré on Africa’s behalf in 2006, but Brody says little progress was made under the former government of Abdoulaye Wade.

“In 10 months, Macky Sall and Aminata Toure and the government of Senegal have moved this case more than Abdoulaye Wade had done in 12 years.  Finally, the tenacity and the perseverance of the victims is being been rewarded by this government," he said.

Senegal’s National Assembly ratified an agreement with the AU to create the Extraordinary Chambers in December.  The government initially said the tribunal would be inaugurated by the end of 2012.

Souleymane Guengueng, a victim himself, is the founder of the Association of Victims of Crimes of the Regime of Hissène Habré.  He said it’s about time the former Chadian leader's trial got underway.

“This will be for us a great day, because for a long time we have been waiting for justice," said Guengueng. "We having been hoping for a long time, and now, with the new Senegalese government decision, we are hoping for this real justice.”

Friday’s inauguration of the Extraordinary Chambers will mark the start of a three-phase, 27-month process.  Brody said the initial, pre-trial investigations are expected to last 15 months.  This will be followed by a seven-month trial and five-month appeals process.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More