Why the Habré trial is the event of the year
“What the ICC has dreamed of, the EAC is doing.” This remark by a long-time observer of war crimes tribunals highlights one of the reasons the Extraordinary African Chambers appears to be the most important event in the field of international criminal justice this year. The aim of the International Criminal Court has been to prompt national courts to take responsibility for war crimes prosecutions – something that the EAC has already achieved.
This past March [IJT-178], a court in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, completed a four-month trial involving 24 former officials under ex-president Hissène Habré. It was the first time since the fall of the regime in 1990 that people were held accountable and punished for the estimated 40,000 Chadians who lost their lives during his eight-year reign. And it was clearly a national response, albeit late and opportunistic, to the upcoming trial of Habré himself before the EAC in Dakar, Senegal.