Rights chief hails trial of Chad’s former dictator Habré

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Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN File Photo/Violaine Martin

The news that Chad's former dictator Hissène Habré is to stand trial for crimes against humanity has been called a "milestone for justice in Africa" by the UN's top human rights official, his office said Monday.

Habré's trial is being held at a special court in Senegal where he faces charges relating to his eight-year rule from 1982 to 1990.

UN human rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has welcomed the development and hailed what he's called the "tireless quest for justice of the victims" of the Habré era.

Here's Daniel Johnson's report from Geneva.

The victims of Chad's former dictator Hissène Habré have travelled the world to raise awareness about crimes he's been charged with as the country's leader in the 1980s.

These include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.

Now, 25 years after Habré left office, he's standing trial at a special court in Senegal, where he sought refuge after leaving office.

The trial, which began Monday, comes after Senegal and the African Union signed an agreement to set up what's called the Extraordinary African Chambers.

It means that Hissène Habré could be just the first defendant to be tried for human rights abuses in Chad during his rule.

Here's Cécile Pouilly, spokesperson for the High Commissioner's office in Geneva, OHCHR:

"The agreement that has been signed to establish this special court can try perpetrators of international crimes that were committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990…so today's a first trial but there could be more people tried before these chambers."

The UN's top human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said in a statement that it meant those accused of serious crimes "should not assume that they can evade justice forever".

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'05"

 

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