Press Release Final appeal decision in the Hissein Habré case before the EAC Reviewed by Momizat on . Dakar – N’Djamena – Brussels – 27 April 2017 The final appeal decision in the Hissein Habré case is out. On Thursday, 27 April 2017, the Extraordinary African C Dakar – N’Djamena – Brussels – 27 April 2017 The final appeal decision in the Hissein Habré case is out. On Thursday, 27 April 2017, the Extraordinary African C Rating: 0

Press Release Final appeal decision in the Hissein Habré case before the EAC

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LOGOS-Mbres-CONSORTIUM-Twitter-FB-650x485Dakar – N’Djamena – Brussels – 27 April 2017

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The final appeal decision in the Hissein Habré case is out. On Thursday, 27 April 2017, the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar, Senegal, rejected the appeal lodged by the lawyers of Chad’s former president, except for the charge of direct rape, on which it acquitted him. The Chamber upheld Mr. Habré’s life sentence for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. As regards to civil claims, the Appeals Chamber ordered to pay substantial amounts in reparations to 7,396 victims.

The Appeals Chamber’s verdict

  • Concerning the appeal lodged by Mr. Habré’s court-appointed defence lawyers, the Appeals Chamber ruled as follows:

It rejected all but one of the grounds of appeal – which included the unlawful composition of the appellate bench, alleged infringement of the rights of the defence, the fact that witnesses attended the trial proceedings prior to their giving testimony and the failure to issue the full Trial Chamber judgement within the time limits for appeal.

It acquitted the appellant on the charge of direct rape, because it considered that the Trial Chamber exceeded its powers of re-characterising the crimes when it convicted the accused of a crime that did not feature in the indictment, and did not afford equal treatment to the parties to the case. It is important to note that Mr. Habré’s conviction for other acts of sexual violence, committed against women in the military barracks at Kalaït and Ouadi Doum, was upheld. All of the eight rape victims who were recognised by the Trial Chamber were recognised as such by the Appeals Chamber.

The Appeals Chamber held that the Trial Chamber had sufficient evidence to find Mr. Habré guilty on command responsibility, since he had effective control over the DDS, the internal security service. It underscored in regard of defence’s claim that Idriss Déby was responsible for massacres in southern Chad, that Mr. Habré was in any case still responsible for those crimes.

  • As concerns the civil parties’ applications for reparations, the Appeals Chamber ruled as follows:

it ordered Mr. Habré to pay compensation to 7,396 victims, who were recognised as such, but it rejected the applications of 3,489 persons;

it maintained the amounts and types reparations as decided by the Trial Chamber, for a total of 82,290 billion CFA francs (equivalent to approximately 124 million euros);

it ordered that the proceeds from the sale of Mr. Habré’s assets were to go towards the implementation of reparations, and that the same applied to any assets that would be recovered subsequently;

it rejected several civil parties grounds of appeal in respect of reparations, including for collective reparations, which it denied;

it invited the Victims Trust Fund to, nonetheless, endeavour to establish a collective reparations scheme and underscored the importance of such a scheme; and

it ordered the Victims Trust Fund to implement the reparations, and to constantly monitor Mr. Habré’s financial situation; it also permitted the Trust Fund to pay reparations to other victims.

  • The EAC’s judgement is final. It is not appealable, according to the EAC Statute.

Recap of the Trial Chamber judgement

  • Mr. Habré’s court-appointed lawyers appealed the Trial Chamber’s decision. They filed their appeal brief on 7 December 2016, and made submissions in relation thereto at the hearing held on Monday, 9 January 2017. The civil party lawyers also appealed the Trial Chamber decision in respect of reparations, which they deemed insufficient.

The appeal proceedings

  • Pursuant to Article 25 of the EAC Statute, the appeal must be on grounds of: a procedural error, an error concerning a material question of law invalidating the decision, or an error of fact which has occasioned a miscarriage of justice. So the appeal concerned questions of law and was not an opportunity for de novo review.

  • On 29 December 2016, the Appeals Chamber rendered a preliminary decision on “hearing witnesses and admitting additional evidence on appeal”. In that decision, the Chamber rejected the request by the defence to call eight witnesses, show two documentaries and produce three documents, on the ground that those elements could have been produced at trial. Also in that decision, Chamber also denied – in reliance on the same reasoning as above – the civil parties’ request to produce new evidence.

  • The Appellate bench of the Extraordinary African Chambers was composed of one President, Judge Wafi Ougadeye, of Malian nationality, and two alternate judges of Senegalese nationality, namely Judge Matar Ndiaye and Judge Bara Gueye, who were appointed by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

After the final verdict:

  • The Habré case is viewed by both victims and observers of international justice alike as a unique and noteworthy event, in that a head of State was held to account due to the mobilisation and perseverance of a determined civil society. It is viewed as a victory in the fight against impunity for international crimes in Africa, a subject that has aroused a great deal of interest all across the African continent.

  • The EAC is to be dissolved, pursuant to Article 37 of the Statute.

  • Thanks to support from The Netherlands and Belgium, the three partner organisations of the Outreach Consortium for the African Extraordinary Chambers – RCN Justice & Démocratie (Belgium), Magi Communication (Chad) and Primum Africa Consulting (Senegal) – are able to continue providing outreach support to the victims and the Chadian people at large, with a view to helping them understand the recent appeal judgement, something that is considered essential to the quest for justice.

The Consortium

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