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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora