World Court Orders Prosecution of Chad’s Former Dictator

Posted July 20th, 2012 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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The International Court of Justice has ruled that Senegal must either put former Chadian President Hissene Habre on trial for genocide or extradite him “without further delay.”

The court at The Hague issued the decision on Friday in a response to a request by Belgium to prosecute Mr. Habre on charges of crimes against humanity.

A 1992 Truth Commission in Chad found Mr. Habre responsible for the politically motivated torture and the deaths of at least 40,000 people. The alleged abuses took place during his eight-year rule, which began in 1982.

Mr. Habre has denied the charges. He is living in Senegal, under house arrest, after being overthrown by Chad's current president, Idriss Deby.

Victim's advocate Clement Abaifouta tells VOA Senegal has waited too long to bring justice to this case.

“Within 12 years, Senegal on behalf of Africa, has done nothing to judge Hissene Habre, so I think the African reason is not the right view for us.”

Abaifouta, who heads the Association of Victims of the Crimes of Hissene Habre, says justice is needed to bring peace to Chad.

“Without justice there's no reconciliation and without justice all of our countries are living in the punishment.”

In Friday's ruling, the court said Senegal had “breached” its international obligations under the United Nation's torture convention by failing to prosecute Mr. Habre.

In 2008, Chad tried the former leader in absentia and sentenced him to death for planning to overthrow the government.

Last year, Senegal canceled plans to extradite Mr. Habre to Chad after the U.N. warned that he might be tortured if he returned to his homeland.