Analysts say this signals new phase in AU affairs
Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation which has been campaigning in the favor of the victims of human right violation in Chad since the 1970s and the African Union, AU have urged all parties involved to ensure that those entitled get paid.
This is coming on the heels of a recent judgement to that effect.
In a bid to promote and protect human rights everywhere on the continent, and as stated in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, AU, the pan-African body had ordered the exiled erstwhile ruler of the Republic of Chad, Hissene Habre, to pay millions of dollars as compensation to victims of crimes against humanity committed during his tenure.
The special criminal court set up by the AU within the Senegalese court system ordered the ex-ruler to pay $34,000 each to victims of rape and sex slavery, amongst other crimes he had reportedly committed during his rule. While victims of arbitrary detention, torture and prisoners of war will receive $25,000 each, the indirect victims will receive $14,000. With the court ruling, Habre is expected to compensate about 47,000 victims.
Habre, who seized power in 1982 from Goukoni Oueddei through the help of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), had committed a series of heinous crimes against humanity during his eight year-rule in Chad. Some of these crimes were the use of cigarette burns, gas squirting into victims’ eyes, electric shock, ordering of killings, rape and severe torture, amongst others.
Before the recent ruling by the special criminal court, a series of failed attempts had been made by the international community to convict the ex-Chadian ruler and to make him pay for his crimes. This is evident in the arrest warrant issued by the Belgium court in 2005 but which proved abortive due to house arrest granted to Habre by the Senegalese authorities. But the 73-year old ex-ruler was later convicted in May for his crimes.
In response to the AU backed special criminal court ruling, Gaetan Mootoo, a Western Africa researcher of the Amnesty International (AI) described the court ruling as a victory to all victims who wanted Habre to pay for his crimes under international law.
“The verdict is a victory for those victims who fought tirelessly to ensure Hissene Habre would not get away with crimes under international law. It demonstrates that when there is enough political will, states can work together effectively to end impunity in even the most entrenched situations,” he said.
It is worthy of note that the intervention of AU is based on the aim of the organization to protect human rights. It is clearly stated in the organization’s Agenda 2063, Aspiration 3 subsection 27 that it aspire to strengthen democratic values and also uphold the human right values.
“We aspire that by 2063, Africa will; Be a continent where democratic values, culture, practices, universal principles of human rights, gender equality, justice and the rule of law are entrenched.”
It has been reported by a Commission of Inquiry formed in Chad that Habre’s government carried out some 40,000 politically motivated murders and 200,000 cases of torture in the eight years he was in power.