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Senegal Adopts Law to Try Former Dictator

Lawmakers in Senegal have passed a law creating a special court to try former Chadian leader Hissene Habre for crimes against humanity.

The National Assembly ratified an agreement with the African Union to create the court, which is being called the "Extraordinary Chamber."

Rights groups have been calling for years for Senegal to try Habre, who has been under house arrest in Dakar since 1990. He was indicted in 2000, but little progress was made under Senegal's previous government.

Habre was president of Chad from 1982 until 1990, when he was deposed in a coup by Idriss Deby, the country's current leader.

The Chadian Truth Commission reported in 1992 that Habre was responsible for more than 40,000 political killings, systematic tortures and human-rights violations.

Reed Brody, a lawyer for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, says the trial is an opportunity for African courts to show that they can deliver justice for crimes committed in Africa.

"This will be the first time, not just in Africa, but anywhere in the world, that courts of one country are prosecuting human-rights crimes committed by the leader of another country."

He says human-rights organizations have already uncovered tens of thousands of documents that can be used as evidence.

Joseph Dan