Hissène Habré convicted of international crimes: a historic verdict for victims


(Dakar, N’Djamena, Paris) In a historic verdict, on 30 May 2016 the Extraordinary African Chambers found Hissène Habré guilty of torture, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. This decision underlines the importance of the long fight by victims, together with the organisations supporting them, for truth, justice and reparation.

“Today, after many long years of politico-judicial twists, an African court has tried and convicted a former African Head of State, showing that no perpetrator of international crimes - irrespective of their official capacity - can escape justice.”

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Hissène Habré was found guilty, in his capacity as leader of the repression during his regime in Chad from 1982 to 1990 and in the context of a joint criminal enterprise, of crimes of torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including for rape and sexual slavery. He was also found guilty, as a direct perpetrator, of multiple rapes against one of the civil parties heard during the trial. The Defence lawyers have 15 days to launch an appeal.

“This verdict is a victory for the thousands of victims who, for more than 20 years, have fought to have their voices heard and to see the main perpetrators of international crimes answer for their actions before an impartial court of law. It is especially a victory for the victims of sexual crimes who had the courage to break the silence, and for women’s rights more generally, given that the judges recognised the reality of these crimes.”

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The judges called a status conference on civil interests the day after the verdict to clarify the process and timetable for reparations for victims. Hissène Habré’s assets, which have been seized by the Chambers and are valued at close to 600 000 USD, ought to be used to fund potential reparation measures. Although a fund for victims is envisaged by the Statute establishing the Chambers, it has not been put in place. The judges have until 31 July 2016 to rule on reparation measures for victims.

“The victims’ struggle is not over. The Extraordinary African Chambers should now establish a comprehensive reparation system, including possible measures of compendation, rehabilitation and restitution. Resources must be gathered to allow the Chambers to conduct the process effectively within a reasonable timeframe, so that the fund for victims can be set up and so that potential reparation measures can take effect.”

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For more information, see our special dossier on the Habré case.

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