Confronting Impunity In Africa


A judge in Senegal has charged the former president of Chad with crimes against humanity and ordered his detention pending trial. Hissene Habre has lived in exile there since being overthrown in a 1990 coup. Critical of his despotic rule, many Chadians and human rights groups have long pressed for him to be held accountable for his alleged role in the mass killings and systemic torture of which his government is accused. The indictment by a special court in Dakar marks a blow against impunity and abuse of power in Africa.
Confronting Impunity In Africa
U.S. President Barack Obama participates in a joint news conference with Senegal's President Macky Sall in Senegal. June 27, 2013.

Senegal first detained Habre more than a decade ago, but did not take action against him in because it determined that it lacked jurisdiction. That changed last year with the creation of a hybrid Senegalese-international court to pursue the charges. The action, taken in conjunction with the African Union, sends a signal that heads of state who would brutalize their own populations will be held to account for their actions.

The United States welcomes Habre’s arrest and the filing of charges against him. During President Obama’s recent visit to Senegal, we announced a pledge of $1 million to support the work of the court, known as the Extraordinary African Chambers. We hope that this trial will make positive contributions toward delivering justice and accountability for victims in Chad.