Hissène Habré, Chad's former president (1982-1990), is currently facing trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers (EACs) in Dakar, Senegal. He stands accused of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. The EACs were established by Senegal (where Habré has been living in exile since 1990) at the request of the African Union, following a judicial agreement with Chad authorising investigations on its soil. At a time when an increasing number of African leaders are openly critical of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its heavy focus on Africa, this trial of a former African head of state by an African court of justice is notable. Whether it sets a legally binding precedent, on which other African victims of authoritarian rule can draw, remains to be seen. There is in any case much to be analysed and learned from the 15-year-long campaign, led by an international coalition of civil society actors, to call on a wide set of international state actors to bring about the trial. This includes the role they have played in gathering and producing evidence, their on-going coherence and leading role during the trial and the campaign to add sexual violence to the list of crimes for which Habré may be condemned in May when the judges deliver their verdict. In many respects, the Habré trial and the EACs question an all-too-easy portrayal of an African continent that rejects the very idea of international criminal justice.
SAIIA has invited Dr Marie Gibert to present her findings on the Habré trial. Marie Gibert's research focuses on the international politics of transition in West Africa. Recent projects have focused on Guinea-Bissau's political transition and on the Habré trial. She was awarded her PhD (Politics) from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, before acting as a visiting lecturer at the Human Rights and Peace Institute of the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal. She was subsequently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of International Relations of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is currently an associate lecturer at Birkbeck College, London and also teaches human rights at the Pan-African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) in Tlemcen, Algeria.
The respondent will be Professor Frans Viljoen, who is the director of the Centre for Human Rights, at the University of Pretoria. His research interests include African human rights law, African regional integration law, international human rights monitoring mechanisms, sexual minority rights in Africa and comparative constitutional law.
The chair will be Steven Gruzd, Head: Governance and APRM programme, SAIIA
Date: Monday, 22 March 2016
Venue: SAIIA, Jan Smuts House, East Campus, Wits University, Johannesburg
Time: 10h00 - 12h00 (registration, and tea and coffee 09h30-10h00)