Frequently Asked Questions
The Extraordinary African Chambers is a court established by an agreement between the African Union and Senegal to try international crimes committed in Chad between June 7, 1982 and December 1, 1990. This period corresponds to the regime of former Chadian President Hiss√®ne Habr√©.
The ‚ÄúChambers‚ÄĚ are referred to in the plural, because the tribunal is comprised of four:
- The Extraordinary African Investigative Chamber
- The Extraordinary African Indicting Chamber
- The Extraordinary African Trial Chamber
- The Extraordinary African Appeals Chamber
The Extraordinary African Chambers were inaugurated on February 8, 2013 in Dakar, the capital of Senegal’s capital.
After he was deposed by a coup in December 1990, the former president of Chad, Hiss√®ne Habr√© was then exiled in Dakar. Chadians initially filed a complaint against him in Senegal in 2000, accusing him of serious crimes.
Other complaints were filed against Habr√© in Belgium, which opened an investigation, issued an arrest warrant and requested his extradition. As Senegal did not comply with the the extradition request, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered it either to prosecute Habr√© or extradite him.
The Senegal then referred to the African Union to know how to proceed. Thus, the African Union, after asking Senegal “to prosecute Habr√© on behalf of Africa”, established the ‚ÄúExtraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese courts” by agreement with Senegal. It is headquartered in Dakar the capital of Senegal.
The EAC are mandated to prosecute and judge ‚Äúthe principal person or persons responsible‚ÄĚ for crimes within its jurisdiction, and that were committed in Chad between June 7, 1982 and December 1, 1990.
They are therefore those responsible. They should be suspected of having participated in the commission of one of the four serious crimes under international law. The crimes must have been committed during the period indicated.
NO, unless it is believed that they might have participated in the crimes referred to in Chad between 1982 and 1990.
This court only has jurisdiction to judge crimes committed in Chad during this period. Its mandate stops once the trial is or trials are completed.
The EAC are an international tribunal created by an international agreement and housed within the Senegalese justice system.
They have jurisdiction over international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture, and apply the principles of international criminal law.
They are the first inter-African criminal court. They are international by way of their mandate, the way in which they were created by international agreement, and the way in which judges, who pass by the chairman of the African Union Commission, were appointed. In addition, the presidents of the Assize Court and the Court of Appeal will be non-Senegalese Africans.
The EACs are a creation of the African Union, in agreement with the State of Senegal. They benefit from the support of the African Union and its partners.
The states and institutions that have provided financial support:
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† African Union
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† European Union
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Chad
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† United States
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† France
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Belgium
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Germany
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Luxembourg
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Netherlands
The provisional overall budget of the institution is estimated to date to be ‚ā¨8.5 million over three and a half years covered in the following way:
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Chad 35 %
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† European Union 15 %
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Netherlands 11 %
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† African Union 9 %
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† United States 8,5 %
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† France 3,5 %
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Belgium 3 %
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Germany 2 %
- ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Luxembourg 0,5 %
Comparatively, with an annual budget of less than ‚ā¨3 million, the EAC cost less than other models of international tribunals:
– The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which sat for nearly 20 years in Arusha (Tanzania), cost more than ‚ā¨70 million per year;
–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which sat for over 11 years in Freetown and The Hague (Charles Taylor trial), cost around ‚ā¨20 million per year;
–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which sat for 8 years in Phnom Penh, cost about ‚ā¨20 million a year;
–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The International Criminal Court (ICC) which has been headquartered for 12 years in The Hague (Netherlands), has an annual budget of approximately ‚ā¨120 million.
The staff at the EAC, integrated within the Senegalese justice system, is Senegalese. It is not composed of foreigners, with the exception of the two presidents of the Trial Chamber and Appeals Chamber, who are nationals from another member state of the African Union . As well as the chambers assisted by the court administration service, the existence of a public ministry and administration should be noted. The composition is as follows:
The Extraordinary African Investigative Chamber of the Regional Tribunal of Dakar is composed of four examining judges of Senegalese nationality and two deputy judges, also of Senegalese nationality.
The Extraordinary African Indictment Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Dakar is composed of three judges of Senegalese nationality and a deputy judge of Senegalese nationality.
The Extraordinary African Trial Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Dakar is composed of a president, two Senegalese judges and two deputy judges, also of Senegalese nationality. The President is a national of another member of the African Union.
The Extraordinary African Appeals Chamber is composed of a president, two Senegalese judges two deputy judges also of Senegalese nationality. The Speaker of the House is a national of another Member State of the African Union .
Clerks are Senegalese and are appointed by the Minister of Justice of Senegal. The administration service of the EAC consists of six clerks and three deputies.
The Attorney General and his three deputies, Senegalese nationals, are appointed by the President of the African Union Commission following the proposal of the Minister of Justice of Senegal.
The administration of the chambers is directed by a manager appointed by the President of the African Union Commission. The manager is assisted by an administrative and financial manager. The court administration service is supported by a communication unit. All are of Senegalese nationality .
According to the Statute of the EAC, they will have completed their mandate at the end of the decision of the Appeals Chamber. However, their mandate can be completed earlier in two cases:
– The Indictment Chamber decides at the end of its work that there is no need to continue. A dismissal would end the existence of the EAC;
–¬†¬†¬†¬† There is no appeal against the decision of the Extraordinary African Trial Chamber. This decision therefore becomes final and ends the procedure and mandate of the EAC.
At the EAC, legal proceedings can only be put in motion by the state prosecutor. In practice, the state prosecutor acted on the basis of complaints filed in Senegal and other elements that it could gather in order request the opening of proceedings.
The prosecutor got authorization to open an investigation against the main suspect and five others from the Investigating Chamber in July 2013.
The judges conduct investigations on the ground, in the context of international rogatory commissions carried out in Chad. They are looking for evidence for the prosecution and the defence of those indicted. On the ground they are assisted by Senegalese and Chadian police .
In the context of this case, the investigating judges may also investigate outside of Chad and gather evidence in countries where judicial authorities have already carried out works, such as in Belgium.
A judicial cooperation agreement was signed between Senegal and Chad on May 30, 2013. The two countries pledged to grant each other the widest possible legal and judicial support for the EAC.
Chad cooperates in international rogatory commissions, during which victims and witnesses are interviewed, confrontations are organized, access to archives and the identification of mass graves are facilitated, and research for evidence for the prosecution and the defence is carried out. A specialized judicial pool was created in N’Djamena, Chad, composed of judges who carry out in Chad the judicial acts requested by the EAC and assist the Chambers in the framework of this cooperation, particularly during the hearing of witnesses and recording of victims.
International arrest warrants and requests for transfer of suspects being held in Chad were also launched by the EAC.
Chad didn‚Äôt proceed to the transfer of two suspects who were held in custody. They were alternatively tried and sentenced before a national court.
The EAC were created by the African Union, therefore all member states have an obligation regarding the execution of the arrest warrant and transfer of suspects.
In the context of international judicial cooperation, any State which receives an arrest warrant issued by the EAC is required to execute it.
The Statute of the court (Article 24) provides for a maximum penalty of life imprisonment ‚Äúif the extreme gravity of the crime and the individual circumstances of the convicted party justify it‚ÄĚ
To the sentence of imprisonment, the EAC can add:
- A fixed fine ine under the criteria provided by Senegalese law;
- Forfeiture of proceeds, property and assets derived directly or indirectly from that crime , without prejudice to the rights of bona fide third parties
In principle, sentences decided in the context of the EAC are served in Senegal in the prisons of this same country. If circumstances require, the sentences can be carried out in another member state of the African Union, which has reached an agreement with Senegal as to the enforcement of said sentences.
The head of state of the country where the sentence is served may, with the consent of the president of the African Union Commission, pardon the convicted person if he/she has served two thirds of his/her sentence, or when there are compelling humanitarian reasons for early release.
The Statute of the EAC recognizes all the rules of right to a fair trial, to which those of international law are added, in particular from the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
- The right to an independent and impartial trial;
- The right to the presumption of innocence;
- The right to be informed of the nature and motives of the accusation;
- The right to time and necessary facilities for a defence;
- The right to appear before the court personally;
- The right to be assisted by the counsel of his/her choice;
- The right to equality of arms under the principle of a fair hearing;
- The right to silence: the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess guilt;
- The right to a public trial;
- The right to a reasoned judicial decision;
- The right to be tried within a reasonable time;
- The right to respect of the principle of legality of criminal offences and penalties;
- The right not to be tried twice for the same offence;
- The right to compensation for miscarriage of justice.
The Chadian government has no special prerogative vis-√†- vis the EAC and their staff:
- It did not participate in the appointment of members of the EAC;
- It has no power to instruct;
- Judges are independent and decide on their conscience according to the law and the facts;
The prosecutor is also independent and not dependent on any country.
A victim is any person who has suffered physical, material or moral harm. Under Senegalese law, a victim can be a person or a legal entity. Before the EAC, the victims are those who have suffered physically, materially or morally by the crimes that come under the Statute and which were committed between June 7, 1982 and December 1, 1990.
This is a person claiming to be aggrieved by an offence and who decides to complain. According to the Statute of the EAC, the victim or his/her heir may launch civil proceedings by written request to the Registrar of Chambers. It can be done at any time during the duration of the investigation.
The victim or his heir (in the event of death of the direct victim) may act alone or be represented by a lawyer (Chadian or Senegalese). The victims are grouped around several associations in Chad, whose lawyers represent them at the EAC.
The Statue of the African Extraordinary Chambers (EAC) specifies that reparations can be attributed to victims, individually or collectively, ‚Äúwhether or not they participated in the proceedings.‚ÄĚ Compensation possibly attributed to the outcome of the trial will not be reserved for victims who were part of civil proceedings.
The Statute of the EAC provides three types of reparations: restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. Restitution may include measures to help those who were forcibly displaced or whose land was stolen, or people‚Äôs reinstatement to positions of public service. Compensation includes financial compensation distributed to victims. Rehabilitation can provide for counseling, physical rehabilitation, or medical assistance.
A compensation fund was intended for the benefit of victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the EAC and their heirs. According to the Statute, this fund ‚Äúis funded by voluntary contributions from governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations and other sources willing to provide support to victims.‚ÄĚ
The Statute of the EAC provides for a ‚ÄúVictims‚Äô Fund‚ÄĚ financed by voluntary contributions from ‚Äúforeign governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations and other sources willing to provide support to victims.‚ÄĚ
Compensation is not only for civil parties but also all other victims. According to the Statute, reparations can be attributed individually or collectively to victims, whether or not they participated in proceedings before the EAC.