Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Last week, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights issued its first ever ruling in the Matter of Michelot Yogogombaye vs. The Republic of Senegal. Yogogombaye petitioned the Court to intervene in a legal matter against former Chadian president, Habre, now pending in Senegal, where Habre is under house arrest pending trial for his alleged participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Chad. Yogogambaye argued that the case against Habre should be dimissed on the basis of the principle of non-retroactivity and abuse of the principle of universal jurisdiction. Yogogambaye is generally considered a supporter of Habre and argued that any citizen of Chad should have standing to bring this matter before the African Court. The Court dismissed the petition because Chad has not entered a declaration accepting the Court's jurisdiction to hear individual petitions as required by the 1998 Protocol establishing the Court. The Court's decision has been criticized, not so much for the result, but for the length of time (12 months) it took to render a fairly short decision (12 pages) with respect to a jurisdictional issue that appears relatively straightfoward.