Rights group seeks clear decision on Habre trial

Banjul- The Gambia (PANA) -- New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) Friday hailed the three-point recommendation by an AU panel on the trial of former Chadian leader Hissene Habre, who is exiled in Senegal, but is wanted in Belgium for alleged rights violation and war crimes.
HRW, which has been pushing to bring Habre to trial, however, said the recommendations must lead to a clear decision by African leaders, who are due to meet this weekend in Banjul, the Gambia.
A committee of Eminent African Jurists, set up by the AU summit in Khartoum in January 2006, recommended that Habre should either be tried in Senegal, Chad or any other African country willing to do so.
"If Senegal is willing to try him now, we can only be happy," HRW counsel Reed Brody told a group of journalists in Banjul, adding: "Victims will get their day in court.
" He, however, said his organisation would have liked to see Habre extradited to Belgium, which has spent years investigating the case against him.
"All of the work (done by Belgium) shouldn't go to waste.
Belgium stands ready and willing to give Habre a fair trial," Brody insisted.
The HRW official added: "We don't believe he should be returned to Chad for trial (because) he won't get a fair trial there.
" He also said setting up an ad hoc tribunal to try Habre was "not just realistic" and would cost over US$100 million.
"We will like to see from here a clear decision, not just recommendation," Brody stressed.
Following an international arrest warrant issued by a Belgian court in 2005 charging Habre with crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture during his 1982-90 rule, he was arrested by the Senegalese authorities.
But after a Senegalese court refused to rule on the extradition request, Senegal referred the case to the AU Summit.
The summit subsequently set up a Committee of Eminent African Jurists to consider the options for Habre's trial and to report back at the July 2006 summit in Banjul.

30 june 2006 21:50:00

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