30 May 2016

Africa: Hissene Habré Sentenced to Life Over Reign of Rape and Terror

Photo: Le Soleil
Hisséne Habré

The former Chadian leader from 1982 until he was deposed in 1990 has been sentenced to life by AU backed court in Dakar, Senegal. This follows his long term accusations of war crimes and torture against humanity during his eight year governance.

The verdict says that among the crimes, he personally raped a female prisoner four times and would give orders and participate directly in torture of civilians. Habré controlled the organs of repression and was involved in their day to day running.

His repression was joint criminal enterprise, rape, sexual slavery. During his rule, his opponents were systematically hunted down in the entire country by ordering their murder.

Habré created a secret police force known as the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS), under which opponents of Habré were tortured and executed. The court reminded that a sexual violence victim's testimony need not be corroborated.

When there was armed conflict in northern Chad with rebels and Libya government army executed hundreds of prisoners of war. The reign was characterized by Systematic and generalized attacks on the civilian population of Chad

Habre served as prime minister during Malloum's government. A later election brought Goukouni Oueddei to the presidency but was later deposed by Habre in a coup on 7 June 1982. Since then followed a period of turmoil but also later Habré was deposed in 1990 by Idriss Déby.

Habre's reign was characterized by widespread human rights abuses and atrocities. In 2012, the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Senegal to put him on trial or extradite him to face justice overseas. However he has been denying killing and torturing tens of thousands of his opponents.

Some methods of torture commonly used were burning with incandescent objects, spraying of gas into the eyes, ears, and nose, forced swallowing of water, and forcing the mouths of detainees around the exhaust pipes of running cars.

Habré fled to Senegal after being overthrown in 1990. He was placed under house arrest in 2005 until his arrest in 2013. He is accused of war crimes and torture during his eight years in power in Chad, where rights groups say that some 40,000 people were killed under his rule.

Human right watch claims that 1,200 were killed and 12,000 were tortured, and a domestic Chadian commission of inquiry claims that as many as 40,000 were killed and that over 200,000 were subjected to torture.

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