Senegal Justice Minister Aminate Toure and Chadian Justice Minister Jean-Bernard Badare signed an agreement Friday allowing Senegalese judges to carry out investigations in Chad in preparation for the prosecution of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The agreement [UPI report] allows for Senegalese judges to travel to Chad, speak with witnesses, visit former prisons and do whatever else is necessary to investigate charges against Habre. Senegal and the African Union (AU) [official website] signed an agreement [JURIST report] in December to set up the Extraordinary African Chambers [statute, in French], which has a budget of €7.4 million (USD $9.7 million) to try Habre for allegations of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture during his time in power between 1982 and 1990, where rights groups report that some 40,000 people were killed.
Habre fled to Senegal after being deposed in 1990 and denies charges of killing and torturing tens of thousands of his opponents after coming to power in 1982. The AU began talks with Senegal to come up with a plan for Habre's trial after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled [JURIST report] in July that Senegal must either try Habre promptly or extradite him to Belgium for trial. The court's legally binding order also noted that Senegal had failed to make serious efforts to prosecute Habre, who has been been under house arrest there since 2005. In March lawyers for the Belgian government asked [JURIST report] the ICJ to force Senegal to bring Habre to trial in Belgium. In July 2011 Senegal reversed its decision to deport Habre [JURIST report] back to Chad after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned of possible torture. That month Pillay issued the plea [JURIST report] to stay Habre's deportation to Chad after the nation's courts sentenced him to death in absentia.