National Implementation of IHL
Ministère Public v Hissein Habré, Extraordinary African Chambers, Judgment of 30 May 2016
Ministère Public c. Hissein Habré, Chambre Africaine Extraordinaire d'Assises, 30 Mai 2016

Extraordinary African Chambers

On 30 May 2016, the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese (EAC) court system delivered the verdict in the case Ministère Public c. Hissein Habré, former Head of State of Chad. The EAC sentenced Habré to life imprisonment for having perpetrated crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture against the Hadjerai and Zaghawa ethnic groups, the people of southern Chad and political opponents, in the period between 7 June 1982 and 1 December 1990.

On 4 July 2000, five months after the Senegalese Regional Tribunal of Dakar had indicted Habré on torture charges, the Court of Appeal of Dakar reverted the decision by declaring that tribunals were not competent to judge acts of torture committed by a foreigner outside Senegal. On 20 March 2001, a ruling from the Court of Cassation confirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal. As Senegalese courts had declared a lack of jurisdiction to prosecute the former Head of State of Chad, the situation was referred to the African Union which, in 2006, mandated Senegal to try Habré in its territory “on behalf of Africa”. To this end, Senegal underwent a revision of its constitution and criminal laws to enable his prosecution.

On 18 November 2010 and as a response to the petition filed by Habré claiming his right not be prosecuted based on the principle of non-retroactivity of the law, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ruled that Senegal must try Habré through a “special or ad hoc procedure of an international character”. Following the ECOWAS Court’s judgment, Senegal and the African Union signed an agreement on 22 August 2012 establishing the Extraordinary African Chambers - embedded in the Senegalese justice system - to prosecute the “person or persons” most responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990.

The trial began on 20 July 2015 and approximately one year later, the EAC found Habré guilty of torture, of the crimes against humanity of rape, forced slavery, murder, massive and systematic practice of summary executions, kidnapping of persons followed by their enforced disappearance, torture and inhumane treatment, and of the war crimes of murder, torture, inhumane treatment and unlawful confinement. The conviction represents not only the first time a former Head of State has been tried and convicted in another State, but also the first universal jurisdiction case in Africa as the crimes prosecuted were committed abroad and by a foreigner, regardless of the nationalities of the victims. An appeal was filed against this judgement on 10 June 2016.

File TypeSizeFile Name
application/pdf 66,299 KB Senegal- Hissein Habré judgement, 2016 [FRE].pdf