Thursday, May 28, 2009
ICJ Says No Preliminary Measures in the Case on the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal)
The International Court of Justice ruled today on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by Belgium in the case concerning Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal). In its Order, the ICJ found by 13 votes to one that "the circumstances, as they now present themselves to [it], are not such as to require the exercise of its power under Article 41 of the Statute to indicate provisional measures." Click here to read more in the ICJ's press release.. Belgium is seeking the prosecution or extradition of Hissene Habre, the former President of Chad.
Although it rejected Belgium’s request for the indication of provisional measures, the Court emphasizes that its decision in no way prejudges the question of the jurisdiction of the Court to deal with the merits of the case or any questions relating to the admissibility of the Application, or relating to the merits themselves. It added that the decision also leaves unaffected Belgium’s right to submit in future a fresh request for the indication of provisional measures if new facts arise.
FORMER CHADIAN LEADER TO REMAIN IN SENEGAL PENDING FINAL RULING BY UN COURT
The United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) today issued an order leaving former Chadian president Hissène Habré in the custody of Senegal, where he is under house arrest for alleged war crimes.
Belgium lodged a request to the ICJ in February to bar Mr. Habré, who has been accused in a Senegalese court of massive human rights abuses committed by his regime during the 1990s, from leaving Senegal while his trial is pending.
It had also sought to have him extradited to face charges in Belgium, citing among other things procedural delays in Senegal’s handling of the case. For its part, Senegal had asked the Court to dismiss the Belgian filing, saying its judiciary is competent to carry out the prosecution.
In its order, the ICJ found that “there does not exist, in the circumstances of the present case, any urgency to justify” Belgium’s bid.
However, the Court also stressed that today’s order leaves unaffected Belgium’s right to pursue the case should new facts emerge.
In addition, Senegal has given assurances it would not allow Mr. Habré, who has been living in house arrest for nearly 20 years, to leave the country pending a final ICJ ruling on the matter, noted the Court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.
Mr. Habré ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, when he was overthrown and went into exile in Senegal, and it is alleged that during his rule thousands of Chadians were tortured and unlawful killings and other serious human rights violations took place.
Although he was charged in February 2000 by a lower court in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, an appeals court later ruled that Senegalese courts did not have the legal competence to try such cases if they were perpetrated in another country.
But then in April 2008, Senegal’s National Assembly adopted an amendment to the constitution that together with previous changes allowed the country’s legal system to deal with such cases.