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AU, Senegal to create special court to try Habre

The African Union (AU) [official website, English] and the government of Senegal agreed [HRW report] on Tuesday to create a special court to try ex-Chadian dictator Hissene Habre [JURIST news archive] for killing and torturing thousands of political opponents during his reign from 1982-1990. Habre has been living in Senegal since 1990, when he fled Chad after being deposed. The AU began talks with Senegal to come up with a plan for Habre's trial after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] Friday that the country must either try or extradite him. The special court will consist of four sections to administer the instruction, investigation, trial and appeal, and African judges will be appointed by the AU to administer the trial.

The international community has repeatedly called on Senegal to prosecute Habre. Belgium asked the ICJ in March to order Senegal either to prosecute or extradite Habre after a Senegal court rejected a Belgian court's request [JURIST reports] for it to do so in January. A year ago, Senegal reversed its decision [JURIST report] to send Habre back to Chad after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay suggested that he might be tortured. A year earlier, Amnesty International released a report citing [JURIST report] Senegal's refusal to prosecute or extradite Habre as just one of many examples of the country's "contempt" for rule of law.

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