Habre must face prosecution: UN rights chief

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

UN rights chief Navi Pillay on Tuesday welcomed Senegal's decision to halt the repatriation of Hissene Habre to Chad, but said the former dictator must not be allowed to continue living with impunity.

"The high commissioner welcomes Senegal's announcement that it is suspending its proposed repatriation of Hissene Habre to Chad," said Pillay's spokesman Rupert Colville.

"Nevertheless, the high commissioner stresses that this should not simply mean a return to the status quo, with Habre continuing to live with impunity in Senegal, as he has done for the past 20 years," Colville added.

"It is important that rapid and concrete progress is made by Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habre to a country willing to conduct a fair trial," he stressed.

Senegal reversed a decision to send Habre back to Chad, where he faces the death penalty for alleged rights abuses, after Pillay warned that he could be tortured there.

Habre ruled Chad from 1982 until 1990, when he was ousted by incumbent President Idriss Deby Itno and fled into exile in Senegal, where he has been living since.

A 1992 truth commission report in Chad said Habre had presided over 40,000 political murders and widespread torture.

In 2008, a court there sentenced him to death for crimes against humanity following a trial held in his absence.

On Monday, the Belgian foreign ministry announced that it would broach the option with Senegal's ambassador of trying Habre in Belgium, for crimes against humanity.

Belgium has wanted to try Habre since 2005, when it issued an international arrest warrant against him for "serious violations of international humanitarian law".

© 2011 AFP

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