In mid-2015, the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré, will stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegal court system. The chambers were inaugurated by Senegal and the African Union in February 2013 to prosecute the “person or persons” most responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990, the period when Habré ruled Chad.
Habré’s trial will be the first in the world in which the courts of one country prosecute the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes. It will also be the first universal jurisdiction case to proceed to trial in Africa. Universal jurisdiction is a concept under international law that allows national courts to prosecute the most serious crimes even when committed abroad, by a foreigner and against foreign victims. The French newspaper Le Monde has called the case “a turning point for justice in Africa.”
The following questions and answers provide more information on the case and what lies ahead.