Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.
Jacqueline Moudeïna, a Chadian lawyer and human rights activist, is leading the effort to bring to trial the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré and to achieve justice for his victims.
Habré, president of Chad from 1982 to 1990, is accused of widespread atrocities. Files of his dreaded political police that Human Rights Watch recovered reveal the names of 1,208 people who were killed or died in detention and 12,321 victims of human rights violations. After he was deposed, Habré lived in quiet luxury in Senegal for 22 years.
Moudeïna has represented Habré’s victims since 2000. She put herself at risk by pursuing charges against Habré’s accomplices, many of whom are now senior government officials. In 2001, Moudeïna was severely injured in an assassination attempt ordered by a police commissioner she had charged with torture under Habré. Moudeïna was not deterred. In 2013 she won an important victory when a special court in Senegal indicted the former dictator for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture. Habré’s trial is scheduled for 2015.
Moudeïna’s work extends far beyond the Habré case. As president of the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, the leading human rights nongovernmental organization in Chad, she has assumed a prominent role on such issues as prisoners’ rights, conditions for child herders, women’s rights, and corruption.
Human Rights Watch works closely with Moudeïna and Habré’s victims, building the factual and legal case against him and campaigning for justice. When the special Senegal court finally arrested Habré in 2013, The New York Times wrote that the “case has proved unusual for the tenacity of his victims, and of Human Rights Watch, in seeking to bring him to justice.”
Human Rights Watch honors Jacqueline Moudeïna for her commitment to bringing justice to the victims of Hissène Habré and for protecting human rights in Chad.