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Nearly 26 years after he was forced out of power, former Chadian president Hissène Habré has been found guilty of crimes against humanity, torture (including sexual violence) and crimes of war committed under his rule from 1982 to 1990. He has been condemned to life imprisonment by the judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EACs), a court specially created by Senegal upon the request of the African Union (AU). This was the first trial of its kind on the continent and years of lobbying were necessary to convince the AU and Senegal to proceed with it. In pushing Africa to bring Habré to justice, the victims and the international coalition of non-governmental organisations that have supported them have shown that Africa’s relationship to international criminal justice is far more open than the statements of some African leaders might suggest. Africa’s people demand such justice, and will pull all the necessary levers to obtain it.

On 31 May 2015, TrustAfrica hosted a meeting on the margins of the Dakar Conference on “the Habré trial, Complementarity and Universal Jurisdiction”. Various key civil society actors working in the field of international criminal justice were convened to provide updates on Africa state interactions with the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as to strategize around the African Union (AU)-ICC relationship.

On Monday, May 30, 2016, the Extraordinary African Chambers in charge of the trial of former Chadian President, Hissène Habré delivered its verdict after 4 months of hearings and over 3 months deliberations.

On behalf of the Court, Presiding Judge Gustave Kam Gberdao found the former strongman of Ndjamena guilty of crimes against humanity and torture. In the verdict, the Court also convicted Hissène Habré of acts of sexual violence and rape. These charges were absent from the initial indictment. However, they were brought to light by civil parties and their lawyers during the hearings.

Hissène Habré was sentenced to life imprisonment. Subsequently, the Court granted 15 days to the accused counsels to appeal the decision.

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