Ex-President Hissene Habre's immunity
ABIDJAN, 6 Dec 2002 (IRIN) -
Watch (HRW) on Friday hailed the waiver of ex-President Hissene
Habre's immunity by the Chadian government, saying it would pave
way for his prosecution in Belgium. It also opens the way for
his indictment and extradition from Senegal where he lives in
exile, HRW said in a news release.
"This waiver is a clear green light for Habre's prosecution,"
Reed Brody of HRW, which helped the Chadian victims file the
case against Habre said. "We are one step closer to the day when
Habre will have to answer in a court of law for his terrible
In a letter to the Belgian judge investigating the charges
against Habre, Chad's Justice Minister Djimnain Koudj-Gaou
wrote: "Hissene Habre cannot claim to enjoy any form of immunity
from the Chadian authorities".
The document dated 7 October, 2002, was given to HRW on Friday
and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH),
which immediately made it public.
In February and March, the Belgian judge, Daniel Fransen,
visited Chad with a police team to investigate the charges
against Habre. The judge visited Habre-era prisons and mass
grave sites and interviewed victims as well as many of Habre’s
collaborators, HRW said.
The investigation has since been put on hold, however, as
Belgian courts, restricted the scope of the anti-atrocity to
cases in which the accused is already indicted in Belgium. The
Belgian parliament is now considering two laws to overturn those
decisions and restore the law’s longer reach, it added.
Meanwhile Chadian activists hailed the waiver, HRW said. "For
the first time, the Chadian government has committed itself to
bring about justice and fighting impunity," it quoted Dobian
Assingar, president of the Chadian League for Human Rights and
vice-president of the FIDH, as saying. "We welcome this stand,
but we will remain vigilant to see how this plays out."
Habre, labeled an "African Pinochet", was indicted in Senegal
two years ago on charges of torture and crimes against humanity
before the Senegalese courts ruled that he could not be tried
Chadian victims then filed charges against him in Belgium. The
president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, has said that he would
extradite Habre to Belgium if a request were made, HRW said.
More information on the cases against Hissene Habre can be found