Senegal announced on July 12 that it had finalized a plan and a budget to investigate and try Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad who lives in exile in Senegal. Human Rights Watch has been working for eight years with Habré's victims to bring him to trial. In July 2006, after a landmark request by the African Union, Senegal agreed to prosecute him. After a year passed with little progress, we conducted a media blitz in Dakar and Paris, with our Chadian and Senegalese partners, to press for action.
We have also been urging international donors to provide financial and technical support to ensure a prompt and fair trial. On July 24, following similar pledges by Belgium and Switzerland, France also vowed to help. French President Nicolas Sarkozy made the announcement in Dakar days after we briefed his new Minister for Human Rights, who said that she had convinced Sarkozy after hearing from us. Only three weeks earlier, France had said the trial was an internal matter for Senegal. "The Dictator Hunter," a film about Human Rights Watch Senior Counsel Reed Brody's work on the case, is being featured at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.