(Dakar) – Human Rights Watch today released a new video, “Hissène Habré: Scenes from an historic trial,” about the trial in Senegal of the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré. At the end of the trial on February 11, 2016, the court announced that the verdict would be scheduled for May 30. Habré faces charges of crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes before the Extraordinary African Chambers, which is part of the Senegalese court system.
A Human Rights Watch team will be in Dakar beginning May 25, 2016, along with leaders of the victims’ campaign and the victims’ lawyers. Human Rights Watch will also have representatives in Paris available for interviews.
Habré’s trial, which began on July 20, 2015, was the first in the world in which the courts of one country prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes. Witness hearings ended in December, after 52 days of trial, and were followed by the parties’ summations in February. The new Human Rights Watch video highlights some of the key moments of the trial.
“It took 25 years of relentless campaigning by the Chadian victims to make this trial happen,” said Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch who has worked with the survivors since 1999. “We hope that other survivors, other activists will be inspired by what Hissène Habré’s victims have been able to do.”
Habré is accused of thousands of political killings and systematic torture during his rule, from 1982 to 1990, when he was deposed by the current president, Idriss Déby Itno, and fled to Senegal. After a 22-year campaign by his victims, the chambers indicted Habré in July 2013 and placed him in pretrial custody. After a 19-month investigation, judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers found that there was sufficient evidence for Habré to face trial.
A Human Rights Watch question-and-answer document includes information about the history of the case and details about the trial and the Extraordinary African Chambers.