GENEVA (20 July 2015) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday welcomed the opening of the trial of Hissène Habré, the former President of Chad, before a special court in Senegal, calling it “a milestone for justice in Africa.”
“This trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers is of tremendous significance in a number of ways,” Zeid said. “It was the victims’ remarkable and tireless quest for justice and accountability for the gross human rights violations committed during Habré’s eight-year rule which made it possible for this trial to take place, more than 25 years after he left office and found refuge in Senegal,” Zeid said. “This shows that leaders accused of serious crimes should not assume they can evade justice for ever. Nowadays, there is a good chance their crimes will eventually catch up with them .”
On 22 August 2012, an agreement was signed between Senegal and the African Union to establish the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese justice system to try the alleged perpetrators of international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture.
The UN human rights chief praised the unprecedented agreement between Senegal and the African Union as “a historic example of regional leadership and willingness to fight against impunity for international crimes.”
The High Commissioner noted that his Office, which has actively supported accountability efforts in Senegal and Chad over the past few years, will also closely monitor the trial’s progress.
Zeid also welcomed the ongoing outreach efforts deployed by the special court in Chad. It is “fundamentally important to establish a clear two-way communication between the special court in Senegal and the Chadian population, in order to ensure that the conduct of the trial breeds a real sense of ownership and justice within Chad itself,” he said.
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