- Senegalese authorities have been scolded for flouting the United Nations decision to prosecute or extradite the former Chadian dictator, Hissené Habré.
Human rights organisations wonder why no action has been taken two years after a UN committee finalised its decision.
Since his overthrow in 1990, Habré has been living in exile in Senegal.
Senegal has an unambiguous legal obligation to prosecute or extradite the former dictator to face charges of torture, said a joint statement by the six human rights organisations, including the Human Rights Watch, International Federation of Human Rights and those from Chad.
In September 2005, a Belgian court charged the former dictator with crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture during his ten-year rule. This led to his arrest by Senegalese security in November 2005, before seeking the African Union's advice.
In July the following year, at the request of the African Union, Senegal agreed to prosecute Habré in the local courts. But Senegal has not yet prosecuted the man whose regime was accused of killing and torturing thousands of people between 1982 and 1992.
On May 17, 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture ruled that Senegal, which is a party to the UN Convention Against Torture, had asked the West African country to honour its treaty obligations to prosecute or extradite Habré.
"We have been fighting for 18 years to bring Hissène Habré to justice, and time is running out. Unless Senegal takes action soon, there won’t be any victims left at the trial," said Souleymane Guengueng, founder of the Chadian Association of Victims of Political Repression and Crime (AVCRP), and the lead petitioner in the case that led to the UN ruling. “Senegal has mocked us for eight years and now it is mocking the United Nations.”
Last November, Senegal told the UN committee about its preparedness to try Habré, but that it needed international funding.
But rights groups could not understand why Senegal is still dragging its feet, after all the European Commission, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands, had agreed to foot the trial bills.
Besides, the European Union sent a mission to Senegal in January to determine what is needed for the trial, and proposed that Senegal define a prosecution strategy, work according to a precise calendar, and name an administrative and financial coordinator for the trial, none of which has been done.
"It is not the money that is lacking, but Senegal’s political will," said Alioune Tine of the Dakar-based African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights (RADDHO). "Nothing prevents Senegal from opening an investigation right away, which would be the best way to dispel the victims’ legitimate concerns."
Senegal is in the process of amending its constitution to mandate its courts to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the past. But at the same time, it has appointed the former Coordinator of Habré’s legal team, Madické Niang, as Minister of Justice – the government official heading the agency responsible for the organization of the trial.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.