International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

The Hissène Habré Trial


Human Rights Watch has released updates on the Hissène Habré Trial, which is expected to occur mid-way through 2015. Hissène Habré was the former dictator of Chad from 1982-1990; after he was dismantled he fled to Senegal where he has been living in exile since. Habré was responsible for widespread political killings, systematic torture, and thousands of arbitrary arrests. Human Rights Watch found that the Habré government was responsible for periodic targeting of civil and ethnic populations. Both the United States and France supported Habré, with the belief that Habré could combat Gaddafi successfully. Habré was indicted for crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes.

The Toronto Globe describes this case as “one of the world’s most patient and tenacious campaigns for justice”. The reason for this is that the trial will occur almost 25 years after the fall of Habré. When Habré was indicted in 2000 by a Senegalese judge, the then president of Senegal proceeded to engage in a “political and legal soap opera”. In 2012, the new president of Senegal was ordered by the International Court of Justice to prosecute or extradite Habré.

The case is particularly important because it shows that it is possible for victims to bring a dictator to court with perseverance. Hopefully the courts in Senegal will be able to fairly prosecute him and there is no impunity for any sides involved.

To read more about the trial click here.


One response to “The Hissène Habré Trial

  1. swashington April 30, 2015 at 12:31 am

    One thing that I find especially interesting about this case is where the case is being tried. The case is being tried in the Extraordinary African Chambers, which are the result of a collaboration between Senegal and the African Union within the Senegalese court system. This case also represents the first universal jurisdiction case going to trial. Despite many of the cases we’ve studied in class where African countries have failed in some ways to produce justice, this case seems to be an innovative step in the right direction. Instead of international actors having control over the attainment of justice, African states are playing a direct role in justice in their own territories.

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