[JURIST] Belgium filed suit [press release] against Senegal in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] on Thursday, asserting that the ICJ must intervene because the nations are in disagreement over the prosecution of former Chadian President Hissene Habre [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for alleged crimes against humanity. The complaint also contained "a request for the indication of provisional measures in order to protect [Belgium's] rights" until the matter is resolved. Belgium filed the complaint to advance either the planned Senegalese trial [JURIST report] or the current Belgian case against Habre, and alleges that:
Senegal’s failure to prosecute Mr. H. Habre, if he is not extradited to Belgium to answer for the acts of torture that are alleged against him, violates the [United Nations] Convention against Torture.
Under Article 30 of the Convention against Torture [text], any dispute concerning the Convention may be resolved by the ICJ.
Senegal has dealt with numerous suits involving Habre since his exile from Chad in 1990 and has adapted its laws to permit his prosecution. In October, lawyers for Habre filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) [official website] to prevent his trial for crimes against humanity in Senegal from moving forward. In August, Chad convicted and sentenced Habre to death in absentia [JURIST report] for crimes against the state but did not seek extradition. Since 2005, Belgium and Senegal have been engaged in a legal battle over Habre because Senegal has long refused extradition [JURIST report].