Habré living on borrowed time
Six weeks have elapsed since Belgian judge Daniel Fransen issued an arrest warrant for the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, for “serious violations of international humanitarian law”. Habré is currently exiled in Senegal. This will be the second time that the Senegalese courts will have to rule on the fate of their guest, whose uninterrupted reign in Chad from 1982 – 1990 was marked by tens of thousands of political assassinations. In 2000, he escaped legal proceedings in Senegal. Five years later, his chances of avoiding extradition to Belgium appear to be slim.
In January 2000, Chadian victims filed charges against Habré before a Dakar court and introduced documents detailing several hundred acts of violence committed by the Chadian Office of Documentation and Security (DDS), the political police of Chad’s ex-Head of State. The Senegalese judge charged him with complicity in crimes against humanity. One year later, the appeals court ended up ruling that Senegalese courts do not have jurisdiction to try crimes committed outside Senegal. Boucounta Diallo, attorney for the victims and current president of the National Human Rights Organization in Senegal, notes that “despite the fact that the proceedings have ended, a former African Head of State was charged for the first time by a Senegalese judge.”