Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Earlier today, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued a decision in the case of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad who has been indicted for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.
After many years of litigation and waiting, Habre is set to be tried by the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC), a special court created pursuant to an agreement between the African Union (AU) and Senegal, where Habre has been residing since he stepped down from power in 1990.
Habre brought suit at the ECOWAS Court seeking an “order [for] the immediate suspension of activities, investigations, and prosecutorial acts undertaken or to be undertaken within the framework of the application of the Chambers’ statute” on the ground that the Extraordinary African Chambers were not legitimate. Habré’s lawyers also alleged that he could not get a fair trial before the Chambers. The ECOWAS Court held that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on the application because the EAC was established pursuant to a treaty between Senegal and the AU. It dismissed his case, clearing the way for trial at the EAC.