Eight years of dictatorship, 40,000 murders, 200,000 cases of torture, and over 12,000 human rights violations, including rape and sexual enslavement, has finally been brought to justice. Former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré (aged 73), who ruled the country from 1982 to 1990, has been charged with life imprisonment for grave human rights violations.
He was brought to the world’s attention already in 1974, when he and his group of rebels kidnapped three hostages from Europe and demanded 10 million francs in ransom money. In 1982 he led a coup d’etat and took power of the Chadian government. In his first year of power he was responsible for a number of political killings, landing him on Amnesty International’s human rights watch list.
After being overthrown in 1990 by current Chadian President Idriss Déby, Habré fled to Senegal and lived in exile for over 20 years – after which he was arrested in 2013. His trial was initiated by the African Union in July of 2015 in Dakar, Senegal. Habré has denied the charges, pleading innocence and has accused judges in the court hearing of working with America.
As of Monday, 30th of May, Habré has been sentenced to life in prison by Senegal officials, the first time a former leader of a country has been charged with crimes against humanity in a country other than their own. Over 90 people acted as witnesses in the trial of the former dictator. Despite the possibility of appeal within the next 15 days, the victims of his crimes, as well as human rights activists, are rejoicing this day. They have been fighting for the imprisonment of Habré for over two decades.
Despite the possibility of appeal within the next 15 days, the victims of his crimes, as well as human rights activists, are rejoicing this day. They have been fighting for the imprisonment of Habré for over two decades.
This trial has awoken hope in victims of other dictators across Africa, as it has shown that former dictators can be brought to justice for their crimes. While it may be a process that takes time and will most likely hit many bumps in the road, the trial has shown that justice is possible and dictators will not be forgiven for their crimes. Africa still holds on to the hope that many wounds can be healed.
Based in Stockholm, Sweden, with a Bachelor in Political Science and a Master in Business and Management.