[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Sunday urged Senegal not to deport former Chadian president Hissene Habre [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] back to Chad, where he has been sentenced to death. Pillay advised Senegal to review its decision [AFP report] to return Habre, citing a possible violation of international law due to the absence of guarantees that he would be free from torture and receive a fair trial. Senegal announced its decision [JURIST report] to deport Habre on Friday, with his return scheduled to take place Monday. After refusing to extradite him for years, Senegalese leaders stated their recent decision is based on a desire to be in compliance with the African Union (AU) [official website]. A commission for the AU met last month to discuss a report [HRW report] in which Senegal’s progress in organizing a trial was described as “marginal.” A court in Chad sentenced Habre to death [JURIST report] in 2008 during a trial from which he was absent.
Last year, an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] report [JURIST report] cited the case of Habre as a prime example of Senegal’s “contempt” for the rule of law. In 2009, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) [official website] found that it lacked jurisdiction [JURIST report] to hear a case against Senegal on whether charges against Habre should be dropped. Habre has been accused of involvement in the murder or torture of more than 40,000 political opponents during his rule from 1982 to 1990. He later fled to Senegal after being removed from power in 1990. Belgium has sought to try him under the principle of universal jurisdiction, but Senegal has long refused extradition. Earlier in 2009, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] denied [JURIST report] Belgium’s request to compel Habre’s extradition. Belgium had accused Senegal of violating international law, including Article 7 of the Convention Against Torture, by not trying Habre in Senegal, where he has lived under house arrest since 1990. The ICJ found that assurances made by Senegal that Habre would remain in custody until trial were sufficient and that “the risk of irreparable prejudice to the rights claimed by Belgium is not apparent.”