- Belgium has filed a lawsuit against Senegal in the International Court of Justice yesterday, accusing the west African state for failure to prosecute the former Chadian leader Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity saying this is in breach the international law.
Mr Habré who has been living in exile in Senegal since he was ousted from power 19 years back is accused of gross violations of human rights during his eight-year rule from 1982 to 1990.
Belgium has been pushing for years for him to be prosecuted in Senegal or sent to Brussels for trial in a case brought by Belgian nationals of Chadian descent.
The former Chadian ruler was first indicted in Senegal in 2000 but its courts ruled he could not be tried there. Senegal then rebuffed a Belgian extradition request for Mr Habré in 2005.
Since then, the African Union has ordered Senegal to put Mr Habré on trial, but, the Belgian lawsuit indicated, the West African country has said it is having financial difficulties that prevent it from bringing Mr Habré to trial.
In July last year, Senegal did however lift the last constitutional obstacle to its courts trying Mr Habré as its upper and lower legislative chambers passed an empowering bill and appointed four judges to hear the case.
In May last year, a coalition of human rights organisations accused Senegal of "flouting the United Nations decision to prosecute or extradite Mr Habré." The groups said unless Senegal took immediate action, there won't be any victims left at the trial.
Senegal has been blamed for its missing political will because financing the trial is not the problem.
"Nothing prevents Senegal from opening an investigation right away, which would be the best way to dispel the victims’ legitimate concerns," said Alioune Tine, Secretary General of the Dakar-based African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights.
Mr Habré's and his 11 leaders of eastern rebel group were sentenced to death in absentia in Chad.
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