Hissene Habre prosecution ordered by UN highest court


Mobutu Sese Seko (c), president of Zaire and Hissen Habre (l), president of Chad, in April 1987, upon Mobutu's arrival in N'Djamena. The United Nations' highest court ordered Senegal to either prosecute or extradite Habre on July 20, 2012.



The United Nations' highest court on Friday ordered Senegal to either prosecute or extradite former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, according to the Associated Press.

The International Court of Justice ruled unanimously that by ignoring the charges against Habre, Senegal breached the 1984 Convention against Torture, said The New York Times.

The dictator, who has lived in Dakar for two decades, was accused by a truth commission in Chad of more than 40,000 political killings during his eight-year role, according to the AP. A court there has already sentenced him to death in absentia.

Habre was deposed in 1990 by a former associate, now President Idriss Deby Itno, according to Agence France Presse.

In its ruling, the ICJ said, "Senegal must, without further delay, submit the case of Mr. Hissene Habre to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, if it does not extradite him," according to AFP.

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The Senegalese government said, "Senegal notes the ruling by the ICJ, and reaffirms its firm will to organize Hissene Habre's trial in Dakar," in a statement sent to AFP.

Senegal said that it would try Habre as far back as 2006, but a trial was never organized, noted AFP.

The Times reported that the government immediately sent extra security to Habre's luxury villa after the ruling.

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Justice Minister Aminata Touré told The Times that Senegal wanted the trial to start later this year. She said, "We are a new government, and we regret that for years this trial did not take place."

Reed Brody, a lawyer with Human Rights Watch, said, "Today’s decision is a huge victory for Hissene Habre’s victims who have been fighting for justice for 21 years. This tenacity and perseverance has paid off today."

Reuters noted that the ICJ ruling has implications for other deposed leaders because it gives all 150 signatory states the right to demand prosecution of an alleged torturer living within another signatory state's boundaries.