Meeting with victims in Abéché: “Better late than never” Reviewed by Momizat on . Abéché, 8 October 2014 Men and women, for the most part elderly, were moved but yet dignified to speak for the first time. About sixty victims responded to the Abéché, 8 October 2014 Men and women, for the most part elderly, were moved but yet dignified to speak for the first time. About sixty victims responded to the Rating: 0

Meeting with victims in Abéché: “Better late than never”

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Rencontre avec des victimes à Abéché : « Mieux vaut tard que jamais »

Abéché, 8 October 2014

Men and women, for the most part elderly, were moved but yet dignified to speak for the first time. About sixty victims responded to the Outreach Consortium’s invitation to discuss and share information about the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) on October 8th, 2014, in Abéché (Eastern Chad).

Mahamat is 73 years old. He speaks first, standing, straining to contain his emotion. As a teacher in Abéché, he was imprisoned and tortured between 1982 and 1983. During that time, his house and his possessions were “snatched” from him. Isaac, younger, testifies for his father, a businessman arrested in Kousseri. He is still alive but never recovered after he was released. His father is not there, is no longer there. “He is alive but unconscious,” describes his son. Zara tells the story of her father’s arrest, taken to the DDS in Abéché and then to N’Djamena, the capital city. “We never found his body, my father is not a politician, my father did not do anything…” She breaks down in tears, unable to say more.

Testimonies and questions follow one after the other, showing that Abéché and the Ouaddai Regions have not been spared during the Habré regime. The EAC came to investigate on this territory, gather evidence and conduct exhumations. But the people, probably even less here than elsewhere in Chad, were not given the opportunity to speak and apply to become civil parties. As Mouktar, a neighbourhood chief, states: “Everyone is a victim to some degree, people are still suffering, and children raised without a father are now grown up.” “What have the EAC planned to provide psychological support to these individuals and families?” he asks.

Rumors and doubts

A rumor, says another man, tells that “as long as this regime stays in power, Habré will not be judged.” “Why is Idriss Deby’s name missing from the list of the six targeted individuals, when he was at the heart of the system?” asks his neighbor. The Outreach Consortium experts’ speeches are being translated into Arabic by a local civil society representative. They give details about what can be expected at the EAC in terms of victims’ compensation following a trial. This may come with additional support coming from the civil society and the Chadian State. Hugo Jombwe, an international criminal law expert, depicts what has been done in Rwanda and Cambodia in the health, education and remembrance fields, particularly among younger generations.

In addition, Jombwe emphasizes the important investigative work that has been carried out in Chad for a year and a half by the Dakar Court, in cooperation with a pool of national magistrates in N’Djamena, which themselves opened an investigation against 33 people suspected of involvement in crimes committed during Habré’s regime. Closure of the investigation is scheduled for late 2014 at the EAC and the commencement of the trial within the three or four following months, before mid-2015. Till then, any victim can file a complaint and a civil party application through local branches of national associations.

“Better late than never,” follows up one of the CSOs’ leader. He is one of the fifteen representatives to participate to the two-day training organized by the Outreach Consortium in Abeche. “We are aware of the emergency and willing to pass on the relevant information to the victims within the binding deadlines, so that people of Ouaddai region can also participate in the proceedings. This is a trial that will make noise,” he believes. “I urge the EAC to be cautious. If the trial is conducted with tact and intelligence, everyone will benefit from it. If this ends badly, no one will support the EAC.”

The Consortium

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