•Says appeal ruling closes dark chapter for victims
The Amnesty International (AI) has lauded the extraordinary African Chambers appeal judgment in Senegal upholding the conviction of the former Chadian President Hissène Habré for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture, and the sentence of life imprisonment, but acquitting him of rape.
The AI in a statement by Erica Bussey said that the Thursday’s “judgment marks another significant milestone in the long and determined quest for justice by former President Hissène Habré’s victims.”
The statement read: “This will inspire victims of serious human rights violations elsewhere to overcome the many obstacles on the path to justice. But we hope the judgement will also pave the way for other African countries to use universal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes under international law or for the establishment of similar hybrid courts, such as in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.”
“The African Union must ensure that the mandated Trust Fund implements the reparation order of the court effectively and fairly and works with international donors and the government of Chad to ensure that the fund has sufficient resources. Efforts should also be made to trace, freeze and seize Habre’s assets for reparation.”
“The conviction of President Hissène Habré does not bring to an end the quest for justice in Chad. Today’s victory should serve as a reminder to the government of Chad that the victims of other serious human rights violations, including mass killings and sexual violence committed between 1982 and 1990 still demand justice and accountability.”
The appeals chamber had in its ruling on Thursday affirmed Habré’s conviction for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture but acquitted him of rape.
In response to the appeal by the civil parties, the court affirmed the trial chambers rejection of collective reparations and confirmed the total amount of reparations at 82 billion francs CFA (125,008,194 euro). The appeal chamber also ordered the Trust Fund to facilitate the execution of the reparation order.
The judgement marks the final stage of proceedings in this landmark case.
The Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) was created in 2012 by an agreement between the African Union and the Government of Senegal. The trial against Hissène Habré opened on 20 July 2015, and 69 victims, 23 witnesses and 10 expert witnesses testified during the proceedings. A former Amnesty International staff member testified during the trial as an expert witness.
On 30 May 2016, the EAC sentenced Habré to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture committed between 1982 and 1990 in Chad. On 29 July 2016, the EAC granted civil party victims of rape and sexual violence in the case each USD $33,880, victims of arbitrary detention, torture, prisoners of war and survivors in the case each $25,410 and the indirect victims each $16,935.
Appeal hearings took place from 9 to 12 January 2017. Habré’s defence lawyers as well as the lawyers for the civil parties appealed different aspects of the trial chamber’s judgment.
Habre will serve his sentence in Senegal or in another member state of the African Union.