HRW calls Senegal's leader to task

April 3, 2012 at 10:54 AM
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NAIROBI, Kenya, April 3 (UPI) -- Senegal's president has a chance to usher in a new era by offering up former Chadian President Hissene Habre to an international court, a rights group said.

Violence was reported in Senegal this year when a court ruled two-term former President Abdoulaye Wade could compete in national elections despite a term limit. He was later praised, however, after admitting defeat to former Prime Minister Macky Sall in a second round of voting in March.

Human Rights Watch said after Sall's inauguration that Sall has an opportunity to start a new era for his country by handing over Habre to the International Court of Justice.

"President Sall should not wait for the ICJ to find that Senegal has violated its international obligations," Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement from Kenya.

"He should ensure that the most recent Belgian extradition request has been properly transmitted to the courts so that they may swiftly authorize Habre's extradition."

The IJC confirmed in March it began public hearings related to Senegal's obligation to prosecute or extradite Habre, who was allegedly tied to the torture and killing of thousands of political opponents from 1982-90.

Those claiming to be victims of Habre filed complaints in Belgium, where a universal jurisdiction law gives judges authority to prosecute offenses regardless of the country.

Habre has been living in Senegal since he was ousted in 1990.

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