The victims in Sarh, awaiting reparations, want to know more about them
Sarh, Chad, 1 June 2017
The outreach team travelled to Sarh, in southern Chad, for yet another day of outreach concerning the case against Hissein HabrĂ©. More than 300 victims were on hand in the Don Bosco hall, located in the town centre. The big question on everyoneâ€™s lips was: am I among the 7,396 victims that the Appeals Chamber recognized as civil parties in its judgement of 27 April 2017? They were also eager to know when and how pecuniary compensation will be disbursed. The same evening, the screening of a video summary of the trial and the live show on Lotiko, a local radio station, provided an opportunity to reach a broad audience. Â
The Outreach Consortium on the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) continued its campaign in southern Chad, close to the border with the Central African Republic, an area where its events are well attended. Whereas many doubted whether the case against Hissein HabrĂ© would ever go to trial, trust has been built up over the last three years between the outreach team and the local people, as they are eager to be apprised of all the decisions rendered by the court in Dakar. Once the verdict on the appeal was handed down, their main preoccupation was reparations, and information fell on deaf ears; admittedly, the recognised victims were clearly identified and listed, the amounts awarded were clearly stated and the modalities for implementation by the Trust Fund were announced. Yet, a large number of victims were not recognised because they were unable to obtain the materials required by the local administration. Having secured the conviction, people here and elsewhere in Chad are now eagerly awaiting reparations.
Are the victims being subject to â€śfurther tortureâ€ť?
Introducing himself as a direct victim, Rassim Madaye thanked the outreach team, saying that with its experts â€śit did everything it did with the interests of the Chadian people at heart, as though all its members were Chadiansâ€ť. But he was curious as to why the EAC recognised only 7,396 victims whereas Chadâ€™s National Commission of Inquiry reported that some 40,000 people were victims of the Hissein HabrĂ© regime. He asked, â€śWhy were so many victims rejected? Isnâ€™t the EAC subjecting them to further torture?â€ť In his view, the Chamberâ€™s criteria, which require proof of identity and kinship are ill-adapted to a situation where the administrations engage in stonewalling and harassment, and where â€śeveryone knows everyone elseâ€ť and no one can claim to be victim if he wasnâ€™t.
â€śThe Chadian people are all victimsâ€ś
Delphine Anadoum spoke in a mix of Sara and Ngambaye while gesticulating and throwing her arms about. A petite woman, she wore a red headscarf and a green velvet shawl over a dress with delicate prints. She said that all the widows such as herself â€śhave waited for too longâ€ť and ought to be awarded compensation â€świthout further ado!â€ť even if this does not cover the full amount. Her words were greeted by loud applause from both men and women. Emmanuel Djimasra Doumkodje, a DDS survivor, is a regular at the outreach events. He is also an artist-painter. He looked haggard, exasperated and beaten up by time. â€śThe Chadian people are all victimsâ€ś, he said: â€śWhy were some of them rejected when it came to awarding reparations? What I would like to know is: when will I, Emmanuel, who was a victim of arbitrary detention, be able to enjoy my rights and not have to wait for you to come here time after time to tell us what remains to be done?!â€ť
â€śMust one become doubting Thomas?â€ť
Many a question was asked about how the Victimsâ€™ Fund will to be funded. RFI has reported that the European Union will not contribute to the Fund. â€śSo then, who will?,â€ś asked an elderly man. â€śKnowing what African countries are like, is there anything to hope for or must one become doubting Thomas?â€ť A number of victims said that they faced red-tape at the court in Sarh, and were thus prevented from obtaining the necessary testimonials. What are people expected to do and what is the recourse is available to them at this time? A man named JosuĂ© expressed concern about how reparations were to be disbursed. He said, â€śIf you give money to Paul through John, some it will be taken along the way. Those monies must be distributed directly to the victims who are entitled to reparations. Otherwise, that will end up with further problems and conflict here.â€ť
The communication expert, Franck Petit, reiterated the explanations given by Counsel Jacqueline MoudeĂŻna in Nâ€™Djamena in regard to the establishment of a Victimsâ€™ Fund and donations by States. The struggle is on again for both the lawyers and the victims after their major victory; they are driven by the hope of obtaining reparations. The EAC is no longer an option for the victims who were unable to obtain the necessary testimonials to claim civil party status and the unfortunate truth is that it is now too late. However, proceedings in relation to the application of the judgment can be file before domestic courts in Senegal, and the Appeals Chamber has invited those who were unable to obtain victim status to get in contact with the Fund.
Even though the victims in Sarh hold out little hope of obtaining reparations, they are eager to know whether or not they are on list of civil parties. The Outreach Consortium will communicate that list to the civil society coalition in Sarh, and others elsewhere in the country, which will then post it and enable everyone to consult it.