Senegal: Hissène Habré indicted for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture

On June 2nd 2013, Hissène Habré, former Chadian dictator between 1982 and 1990, was indicted for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. He was remanded in custody by the Senegalese investigating judge in charge of this case.

Habré is accused of thousands of political murders and the systematic use of torture when he was in power. Since then, he lives in exile in Senegal. In February 2013, the Extraordinary African Chambers within the Senegalese tribunal were created by Senegal and the African Union to try the crimes committed during the dictatorship. On June 30th 2013, Habré was remanded in custody by order of the Chambers’ Prosecutor. The investigating judges charged him following his first appearance on July 2nd 2013. He was then indicted and remanded in custody as requested by M. Mbacké Fall, General Prosecutor of the Extraordinary African Chambers.

FIDH and its member organisations in Chad, the “Chadian Association for the promotion and defense of Human rights - ATPDH”, the “Chadian Huamn rights league - LTDH” and in Senagal “the National Organisation for Human rights - ONDH”, and “the African reunion for Human rights - RADDHO”, welcome the indictment of Hissène Habré by the Extraordinary African Chambers. It marks a significant step forward for this case on which FIDH and his member organizations have been working on for over a decade, both regarding the establishment of facts and legal representation. In 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’Djeména. 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 those documents and use them freely, enabling them to fuel the successive judicial proceedings.

This case has been marked by numerous developments. Habré was first prosecuted in Senegal in 2000 after a complaint filed by 7 victims, with the support of many NGOs including FIDH. However, the Senegalese tribunals declared that he couldn’t be tried there. The victims then filed a complaint in Belgium. In September 2005, after four years of investigation, a Belgian judge indicted Habré and Belgium requested his extradition. After Senegal’s refusal to extradite Habré to Belgium and three years of meticulous negotiations regarding a request made by the African Union, Belgium filed a complaint against Senegal with the International Court of Justice. The Court ordered Senegal, on July 20th 2012, to prosecute Habré “without delay” because of the extradition refusal.

After Macky Sall’s election as President of Senegal in April 2012, the African Union and Senegal agreed to create the “Extraordinary African Chambers” in order to bring the trial within Senegalese jurisdiction. These mixed Chambers have the jurisdiction to try the most serious crimes committed between 1982 and 1990 within the Chadian territory.

The pre-trial phase opened by the Chambers should last fifteen months. It could be followed by a trial opening at the end of 2014 or in 2015.

For more information on the Habré case, please visit:
- the “Hissène Habré case” section on the FIDH website
- the FIDH report on Hissène Habré Case of November 2008
- the Extraordinary African Chambers website

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