Chronology of the Hissène Habré Case

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Chronology of Hissène Habré Case

 December 1990 – President Hissène Habré of Chad is overthrown and arrives in Senegal.

 May 1992 - The national Commission of Inquiry into the crimes and misappropriations committed by ex-President Habré, his accomplices and/or accessories, created in 1990 in Chad, publishes its report. The Commission drew up a list of 3 806 individuals – including 26 foreigners – who had either died in detention or had been illegally executed between 1982 and 1990, and made an estimate that the final number could amount to 40 000 dead. It recorded a total number of 54 000 prisoners (including both dead and alive) during the same period.
The Commission’s estimate was that the task it had carried out only dealt with 10% of the violations and crimes committed under Habré.

 26 January 2000 – Seven Chadian victims file a criminal complaint against Habré in Dakar.

 3 February 2000 – A Senegalese judge, Demba Kandji, indicts Habré as an accomplice to torture, barbarous acts and crimes against humanity.

 18 February 2000 – Habré’s lawyers ask the Dakar Appeals Court to dismiss the case.

Read also our Questions & Answers on Hissène Habré’s case

 30 June 2000 – The Supreme Council of Magistracy, chaired by President Abdoulaye Wade, transfers Judge Kandji, removing him from the Habré investigation, and gives the president of the Dakar Appeals Court a promotion.

 4 July 2000 – The Dakar Appeals Court rules that Senegalese courts cannot pursue the charges because the crimes were not committed in Senegal. The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers and on torture criticize the decision and the circumstances under which it was issued. The victims appeal.

 30 November 2000 – Chadian victims living in Belgium file charges in Brussels against Habré. 

 20 March 2001 – Senegal’s highest court rules that Habré cannot stand trial because his alleged crimes were not committed in Senegal.

 7 April 2001 – President Wade asks Habré to leave Senegal.

 23 April 2001 – The United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) calls on Senegal not to allow Habré to leave the country.

 May 2001 – Thousands of documents archived by Hissène Habré’s sinister political police were discovered in the buildings of the former Direction de la Documentation et de la Sécurité (DDS) in N’Djaména. The Chadian Government allowed the Association of victims of crimes and political repression in Chad (AVCRP), with the support of FIDH and Human Rights Watch (HRW), to consult these documents and use them freely.

 27 September 2001 – President Wade agrees to hold Habré in Senegal pending an extradition request. “If a country that can organize a fair trial wants him – they speak of Belgium - I wouldn’t see any obstacle.”

 19 September 2005 – After a four-year investigation, including a mission to Chad, a Belgian judge issues an international arrest warrant for Habré for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. Belgium requests his extradition from Senegal.

Pictures taken during an FIDH mission in Chad in 2001

 15 November 2005 – Senegalese authorities arrest Habré.

 24 November 2005 – The state prosecutor recommends that the Dakar Court of Appeals declare itself without jurisdiction to rule on the extradition request.

 25 November 2005 – The Dakar Court of Appeals rules that it has no jurisdiction to rule on the extradition request. Habré is released.

 27 November 2005 – Senegal asks the African Union during its summit to indicate “the jurisdiction that is competent to try this matter.”

 24 January 2006 – The African Union establishes a “Committee of Eminent African Jurists” (CEAJ) to consider options for Habré’s trial.

 18 May 2006 – The UN Committee against Torture rules that Senegal has violated the UN Convention against Torture and calls on Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habré. 

 2 July 2006 – The African Union, on the report of the CEAJ, asks Senegal to prosecute Habré “on behalf of Africa.” President Wade agrees to the request.

 31 January 2007 – The Senegalese National Assembly adopts a law that allows Senegalese courts to prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture, even when committed outside of Senegal. It later amends its constitution.

 July 2007 – The Presidents of Switzerland and France are the first to promise assistance to Senegal for the conduct of the investigation and trial.

 16 September 2008 – 14 victims file complaints with a Senegalese prosecutor accusing Habré of crimes against humanity and torture.

 2008 – 2010 – Senegal refuses to move forward until it receives full funding for the trial, and President Wade threatens to expel Habré unless funding arrives. The European Union and the African Union send numerous delegations to negotiate with Senegal. Senegal first requests €66 million, then €27 million, and finally agrees to an €8.6 million budget.

 19 February 2009 – Belgium asks the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habré. On 28 May, the ICJ accepts Senegal’s formal pledge not to allow Habré to leave Senegal pending its final judgment.

 18 November 2010 – The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rules that Senegal must try Habré through a “special or ad hoc procedure of an international character.”

 24 November 2010 – A donors’ roundtable results in pledges of €8.6 million, fully covering the estimated costs of all the proceedings. Senegal’s Minister of Justice says the meeting was the “completion of a long process of preparation leading up to the actual start of trial.”

 10 December 2010 – President Wade declares that “The African Union must take its case back…I’ve had enough of it at this point…….I am going to get rid of him, full stop.”

 12 January 2011 – The United Nations Committee against Torture responds to Wade’s statement by reminding Senegal of its “obligation” to prosecute or extradite Habré.

 13 January 2011 – President Wade rejects an AU plan to try Habré before a court composed of Senegalese and African judges, on the model of the Cambodian mixt Chambers that are trying former Khmer Rouge officials.

 31 January 2011 – The African Union calls for the “expeditious” start of Habré’s trial based on the ECOWAS decision.

 4 February 2011 – President Wade startes: “Now, the chairman of the African Union Commission [says] we have to create a new jurisdiction, based on I-don’t-know-what principle, to try Hissène Habré. I said stop. For me, it’s over. I am no longer seized of this case. I am giving him back to the African Union.”

 24 March 2011 – Senegal and the AU announce having reached an agreement on an “Ad hoc International Court” to try Habré and agree to meet in April to finalise the Statute and Rules of the Court.

 30 May 2011 – Senegal walks out on the meeting which objective was to finalise the Statute and Rules of the Court.

 11 July 2011 – President Wade decides to sendHissène Habré back to Chad, where a Chadian Court sentenced him in absentia to death after an expeditious trial in 2008 for his alleged support to the rebellion’s movement in February 2008. FIDH and its member organisations in Chad denounce this decision, which violates the Senegalese law and the general principles of international law.

 22 July 2011 – The Chadian Government asks Senegal to extradite Hissène Habré to Belgium.

 10 January 2012 - The Dakar Court of Appeals refuses the new request of extradition, arguing the documents sent by the Senegalese Government were not well-formed.

 2 April 2012 – Macky Sall is elected President of Senegal.

 20 July 2012 – The ICJ orders Senegal to prosecute Hissène Habré without delay if he is not extradited.

 24 July 2012 – Senegal agrees with the project of the African Union, which provides for the creation of a special tribunal within the Senegalese court system, composed of African judges appointed by the African Union.

 22 August 2012 – Senegal and the African Union sign an agreement creating the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese court system. The Statute of the Extraordinary African Chambers is adopted the same day.

 8 February 2013 – The Extraordinary African Chambers are inaugurated. It is a turning point in the fight against impunity for the crimes committed under Habré’s presidency.

 23 May - 1 June 2013 - The General Prosecutor of the Extraordinary African Chambers sends a mission to Belgium.

 23 April 2013 – Hissène Habré’s lawyers file a new complaint against Senegal before the Court of Justice of the ECOWAS. In their point of view, Senegal does not respect the decision taken by the Court in 2010.

 8-16 June 2013 - The General Prosecutor of the Extraordinary African Chambers sends a mission to Chad.

 2 July 2013 – Hissène Habré is indicted by the Extraordinary African Chambers for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture committed within the period of 7 June 2013 and 1 December 1990.

 15-16 July 2013 – First hearings of victims testimony before the investigating judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers, supported by the collective of Civil Parties lawyers.

 20 August – 2 September 2013 – The execution of the letter rogatory transmitted by the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) held in Chad to hear statements from 1097 victims and approximately thirty witnesses and to hold discussions with the representatives of the victims’ associations. The AEC also inspected a number of former detention sites and transferred the records of the regime’s political police to the premises of the Courts in N’Djamena.

 5 November 2013 – The ECOWAS Court of Justice denied Hissène Habré’s petition to dismiss the proceedings against him filed by the EAC. In its decision, the Court of Justice stated that it was not competent to rule on Hissène Habré’s application since the EAC are an ad hoc tribunal set up on the basis of an agreement between Senegal and the African Union; a solution recommended by the ECOWAS Court of Justice in a previous decision.

 30 November - 22 December 2013 – Execution of the second letters rogatory transmitted by the Extraordinary African Chambers to hear evidence in Chad from 797 victims and 14 witnesses. The experts assisting the judges identified likely sites of mass graves.

 25 February 2014 – The State of Chad applied to become a civil party to the proceedings “to provide support to the other civil parties, but only for the economic and financial aspects of the case”. The Chad minister of justice stated that plundering was a war crime and that Habré “[...] had not neglected to empty the State’s coffers.”

 15 - 30 March 2014 – Execution of the third international letter rogatory in Chad to hear evidence from 522 civil parties and 28 witnesses.

 21 May 2014 – The investigating judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers ruled Chad’s request to become a civil party inadmissible because the crimes Chad claimed to be a victim of did not fall within the jurisdiction of the EAC.

 25 May - 8 June 2014 – Execution of the fourth letter rogatory in Chad to hear statements from 24 civil parties and 2 witnesses. Examination of the records kept by Habré’s political police (the DDS) was completed and the judges, accompanied by forensic anthropologists, went to the north east (Abéché and Mongo) and to the south (Déli and Koumra) to exhume remains and locate suspected mass grave sites.

 27 August 2014 – The Indictment Division of the EAC found Chad’s application to become a civil party inadmissible.

 4 September 2014 – Regarding the Chadian legal proceedings, Amir Abdoulaye Issa, the investigating judge in charge of the proceedings against DDS police officers, issued an order to terminate these proceedings with a view to referring the case to the Criminal Court. The Indictment Division must examine the referral.

 3 October 2014 – The Judicial Investigations Division (Chambre d’instruction) of the EAC transmitted a fifth letter rogatory to Chadian authorities with a view to interrogate and indict Saleh Younous and Mahamat Djibrine alias “El Djonto,” who were in custody in N’Djaména and were subsequently prosecuted by the Extraordinary African Chambers for crimes against humanity and torture.

 14 October 2014 – Chad Judicial authorities notified the Indictment Division (Chambre d’instruction) of the African Extraordinary Chambers their refusal to execute the request for mutual assistance (letter rogatory).

 23 October 2014 – (Chad) The Indictment Division of the of the N’Djaména Court of Appeals referred the case of the 29 former officers of the defunct DDS, 8 more than the 21 who were initially under investigation, to the Criminal Court with a view to holding an historic trial in Chad.

 14 November 2014 – (Chad) The trial of the 29 former DDS police officers began before the N’Djaména Criminal Court. Twenty-one (21) former officers in Habré’s police were accused of assassination, torture, abduction, illegal detention, assault and battery and acts of barbarism.

 5 February 2015 – The Public Prosecutor before the Extraordinary African Chambers made a final submission for the referral of Hissène Habré for indictment to the Trial Chamber of the EAC on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.

 13 February 2015 – The investigating judges of the EAC in charge of the case ruled that there was sufficient evidence to try the ex-dictator for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture.

 4 March 2015 – The Senegal Constitutional Council rejected the request for dismissal of the case filed by Hissène Habré’s legal counsel on the basis that the agreement of 22 August, under which the EAC was created, was unconstitutional; the objective being to prove that the EAC did not have jurisdiction.

 4 March 2015 – (Chad) The N’Djamena Office of the Public Prosecutor asks the court to find 16 of the defendants guilty and to acquit the remaining 7.

 25 March 2015 – (Chad) The N’Djamena Criminal Court upholds the sentence of forced labour for 20 defendants, acquitted 4, and withdraw the charges against 4 persons presumed dead.

 6 April 2015 - Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam, from Burkina-Faso and a former judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was appointed presiding judge of the Trial Chamber of the AEC by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

 20 July 2015 – The opening of Hissène Habré’s trial before the Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar (Senegal).

 22 July 2015 - Day two of the trial. In the absence of Habré’s lawyers, the President of the Court nominates three public defence lawyers to defend him, and announces a 45 day deferral of the proceedings in order to allow them to study the case.

 7 September 2015 - The trial reopens, after 45 days. Subject to a Court order mandating his presence, Habré attends only when forced to do so by law enforcement officers.

 8-11 February 2016 - Final arguments by the Prosecution, Civil Parties and the Defence are heard. The Attorney General Mbacké Fall calls for life imprisonment for Habré and requests that his assets in Senegal be seized.

 11 February 2016 - After 56 days , during which 93 witnesses testified, the trial comes to an end.

 30 May 2016 - The Extraordinary African Chambers within the Senegalese court system will deliver its verdict in this historic trial. It has taken more than 20 years to put the former Chadian dictator on trial. His regime is believed to be responsible for the death of 40,000 persons and the suffering of an additional 200,000 victims.

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