Senegal urged to move fast on Habre

2010-11-25 22:19

Dakar - Senegal was under pressure on Thursday to launch the trial of Chadian ex-dictator Hissene Habre after receiving pledges of more than €8m from donors to pay for it.

The trial has been held up for years as Senegal insisted on full up-front international funding to prosecute Habre for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

However, in what Human Rights Watch advocate Reed Brody described as a "heavily negotiated document" signed in Dakar on Wednesday, the budget was set at €8.59m.

Senegal initially wanted €27m stage the trial of Habre, who has lived in exile in Dakar since being ousted in 1990.

The Economic Community of West African States ruled this week that Senegal alone cannot try Habre for crimes against humanity, but said a special tribunal could be used.

Brody, who has spearheaded the case against the man he dubs "Africa's Pinochet" for his eight-year reign of brutal torture and murder, told AFP on Thursday that "the ball is now in Senegal's court".

Donor pledges

"Senegal will need to respond to the Ecowas decision, but it all depends on Senegal's political will," he said.

Brody was concerned that Senegal - mandated by the African Union to try Habre in 2006 - would use the Ecowas ruling to hold up the trial further.

The donor meeting in Dakar saw pledges from Chad of around €3m, €2m from the European Union and €1m each from Belgium, the Netherlands and the African Union.

Germany has promised €500 000, France €300 000 and Luxembourg €100 000.

The final document from the donor round table expressed the need for "the immediate launching of the prosecution once the necessary resources have been mobilised".

It said "it is more important than ever that the procedure begins very rapidly without further delay".

"The EU said they could put their €2m in almost immediately," Brody said, adding that this would enable Senegal to launch its prosecution at once.

Habre is accused of overseeing up to 40 000 political murders and often horrific tortures.