AU summit decides to try Hissène Habré in Senegal

Banjul- Gambia (PANA) – African heads of state mee-ting here Sunday decided to try former Chadian president Hissène Habré in Senegal, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal has disclosed.
The Senegalese leader, who is attending the 1-2 July African Union summit here, noted that the African leaders however ruled out the possibility of extraditing Habré outside the African continent.
Habré, who accused of human rights abuses during nearly a decade as leader of Chad, has been exiled in Senegal since he was deposed in 1990.
President Wade said after African leaders decided against extraditing Habré outside the continent, they were left with two options: try Habré in Dakar (Senegal) or in Chad, his home country.
Wade explained that his country, Senegal, then accepted to try the former Chadian president, given that "all crimes must be prosecuted and tried".
The Senegalese president, who also mentioned the scores of victims who are demanding compensation, put forward another argument, the "pan-African character" his country's constitution.
"Our constitution is the only one to state that Senegal relinquishes its sovereignty in favour of the African Union," he averred, adding that he would inform the Senegalese parliament of his decision to accept to try Habré in Dakar.
Once all obstacles are removed, President Wade believes that Senegal is in the best position to conduct this trial, particularly when it has "no interest in this affair, except the search for truth".
He noted that "it would be difficult to have a fair trial in Chad".
Meanwhile, the summit has called on Chad to lend its full cooperation to Senegalese judicial authorities by transferring all the files necessary for the prosecution of the accused Habré.
It also asked Chad to facilitate the work of legal practitioners, who will have to travel to the country to look for evidence and hear the testimonies of victims.
In a report meant for African heads of state, a committee of high-level lawyers constituted by the African Union, had noted that Senegal can and must try Habré as it has ratified the United Nations convention against torture.
The same applies to Chad, which has also ratified the convention, the committee added, urging Senegal to equip the tribunal, which will be set up with special powers in order to enable it to correctly carry out it work.

02 july 2006 18:12:00

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