The conviction of Hissène Habré by the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese Courts: Bringing justice in cases of serious human rights violations in Africa

Juan Pablo Perez-Leon-AcevedoAuthor: Juan Pablo Pérez-León-Acevedo
Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

Background

On 30 May 2016, the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal (EAC) found the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré criminally responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. The EAC condemned Hissène Habré to life in prison. The EAC indicated that the defence would have 15 days to appeal the conviction. Accordingly, the defence lawyers proceeded to appeal the conviction on 10 June 2016. During the trial that started on 20 July 2015 and ended on 11 February 2016, 96 witnesses, victims and experts participated, and 5600 transcript pages and over 56 exhibits were examined. The trial concerned crimes committed in Chad between 7 June 1982 and 1 December 1990, which corresponded to Habré’s rule. The EAC Trial Chamber convicted Habré, as a member of a joint criminal enterprise (involving, among others, directors of his political police aka the Direction de la documentation et de la sécurité (Documentation and Security Directorate (DSS)), of crimes against humanity of rape, sexual slavery, murder, summary execution, kidnapping followed by enforced disappearance, torture and inhumane acts committed against the Hadjerai and Zaghawa ethnic groups, the inhabitants of southern Chad and political opponents. As a member of a joint criminal enterprise, Habré was also convicted of torture. Additionally, the Chamber convicted Habré, under the modality of superior or command liability, of the war crimes of murder, torture, inhumane treatment and unlawful confinement committed against prisoners of war (international armed conflict), and of the war crimes of murder, torture and cruel treatment (non-international armed conflict). War crimes were examined, on the one hand, in the context of the non-international armed conflict between the Forces Armées Nationales du Tchad (National Armed Forces of Chad (FANT)) and the Gouvernment d’Union Nationale de Transition (Transitional Government of National Unity (GUNT)), and, on the other one, in the context of the international armed conflict between Libya, allied to the GUNT, and Chad supported by France and the United States. Nevertheless, the Chamber acquitted Habré of the war crime of unlawful transfer.

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Fumbling Justice: ICC Sentences former Congolese Warlord, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo to 14 years and criticizes Ocampo’s handling of the case

Rebecca BrowningAuthor: Rebecca Browning
LLM candidate, University of Amsterdam

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands issued its first sentence since its inception in 2002, sentencing Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (see sentencing judgment), former president of the Union Patriotes Congolais (UPC) to a 14 years jail term on child soldier charges. The sentence is in sharp contrast to the 50-year sentence handed down to Charles Taylor for his involvement in sponsoring the civil war in Sierra Leone in May this year, and reactions were varied, with some calling it too lenient and others praising the measured and coherent sentence and its reasoning.

Lubanga was found guilty on 14 March 2012 of conscripting, enlisting and using children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities in the Ituri Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 1 September 2002 and 13 August 2003.He was arrested and transferred to The Hague in 16 March 2006 for his involvement in a long-running civil war for political and military control in the Ituri region in the eastern DRC after being referred to the ICC by DRC President Kabila. Mr Lubanga will receive credit for time served in detention, and will effectively serve an 8-year sentence unless the sentence is overturned by an appeals chamber.

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