More than 20 years after he was overthrown, former Chadian president Hissène Habré will soon face justice before a special court created by Senegal and the African Union (AU).
Habré is charged with crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes allegedly committed while he served as president of Chad.
Civil society has welcomed the charges, and in an open letter, 141 human rights groups from around Africa expressed their support for the efforts of Senegal and the AU.
Victims and their families sought justice for Habré’s alleged crimes for over two decades. In 2012, following an International Court of Justice ruling enjoining Senegal to bring the former Chadian president to justice, the Senegalese government and the AU created the ‘Extraordinary African Chambers in the courts of Senegal’ to prosecute Habré and others found to be most responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990.
Yasmin Sooka, director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa:
“Hisséne Habré’s victims have been tenacious in their struggle to bring him to justice. It is crucial for the trial and prosecutorial process to be exemplary, as it would send an important signal that it is possible to hold perpetrators to account in Africa and that victims of serious violations in Africa also matter.”
The Extraordinary African Chambers are currently seeking two judges for the Habré case: a trial chamber president and an appeals chamber president.
Former officials who served in Habré’s administration also face charges in Chad. The open letter calls on the Chadian government to ensure that those trials are fair and transparent.