Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Senegal Decides Not to Repatriate Hissene Habre to Chad

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today welcomed Senegal’s decision not to repatriate former dictator Hissène Habré to Chad, but said that he should not be left to live with impunity in Senegal.

Navi Pillay had called for a stop to his repatriation to Chad over the weekend because she was not satisfied that the conditions for security and fair trial were guaranteed and because there appeared to be a real risk that he would be tortured if he were to be returned, Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news briefing in Geneva.

“Nevertheless, the High Commissioner stresses that this should not simply mean a return to the status quo, with Habré continuing to live with impunity in Senegal, as he has done for the past 20 years,” Mr. Colville said. “It is important that rapid and concrete progress is made by Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habré to a country willing to conduct a fair trial.”

“This has been the High Commissioner’s position all along. It is also the position of the African Union (AU), as well of much of the rest of the international community. It is a violation of international law to shelter a person who has committed torture or other crimes against humanity, without prosecuting or extraditing him,” he said. 

Mr. Habré ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, when he was overthrown and went into exile in Senegal. It is alleged that during his rule thousands of Chadians were tortured and unlawful killings and other serious human rights violations took place.

Mr. Colville pointed out that at the recently concluded summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the AU called on Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habré to any other country willing to try him.  So far the only country that has indicated a willingness to put him on trial is Belgium, he added.

(UN Press Release)

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