Tag: chad

Hissène Habré Sentenced to Life for Atrocities

Over 25 years ago, Souleymane Guengueng, a deeply religious civil servant who watched dozens of his cellmates succumb to torture and disease in Hissène Habré’s Chadian prisons, took an oath that if he ever got out of jail alive, he would bring his tormentors to justice.

Today I sat alongside Souleymane and other survivors as Habré was convicted of atrocities by a special court in Senegal, where he’s lived in luxurious exile since his overthrow in 1990.

For many years, as Souleymane and his colleagues hit one obstacle after another on their path to justice, the common refrain was that they would never succeed. But in a case which looked dead so many times, the victims made it clear that they would never go away. They pressed forward in Senegal and Belgium, at the UN Committee against Torture, at the African Union and, with the support of Belgium, at the International Court of Justice. As the NY Times wrote recently, “many African countries have endured abusive dictators, warlords and large-scale bloodshed that has gone unpunished. But the Habré case has stood out because of determined victims who were advised and supported by Human Rights Watch and other advocates.”