World Bulletin/News Desk
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Senegal on Friday to put on trial or extradite to Belgium Chadian ex-president Hissene Habre, and Senegal said it would put him on trial later this year.
The court, in a ruling that could affect other deposed leaders living in exile, said Senegal had failed to make serious efforts to prosecute Habre, who ruled Chad for eight years from 1982. His government was accused of torturing or killing tens of thousands of opponents.
"Senegal is required to cease this continuing wrongful act in accordance with general international law," said presiding judge Peter Tomka, ruling on a case brought by Belgium, which demanded Habre's extradition under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
In a binding decision, the ICJ ordered Senegal to act under the Convention against Torture, which it has signed. The convention obliges signatories to extradite or refer for prosecution anyone on their territory accused of responsibility for torture.
"Senegal must therefore take, without further delay, the necessary measures to submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, if it does not extradite Mr. Habre," said Tomka, reading the ruling in The Hague. The ICJ is the United Nations' highest judicial body.
Cheikh Tidiana Thiam, head of judicial affairs at Senegal's foreign ministry, said the country would try Habre this year.
Human rights groups and victims hold Habre, 70, responsible for torture or killing up to 40,000 people during the eight years he led the poor, oil-rich central African country. Ousted in a coup in 1990, he lives in exile in Senegal.
The ICJ ruling has implications for other former leaders because it gives all 150 states that have signed the convention the right, even if they have no direct involvement in the case, to demand prosecution of an alleged torturer living on another signatory state's territory.
"The ICJ declared that the torture convention means exactly what it says - if someone commits torture, he has to be brought to justice," said Reed Brody, a lawyer at Human Rights Watch.
He said the ruling could have implications for deposed leaders living in exile, such as Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the former Tunisian president now living in exile in Saudi Arabia.
Sweden's government on Wednesday proposed the reintroduction of compulsory military service
Sierra Leone lifts short-lived ban on fish exports, leaving people puzzled whether the move has made any difference
Thousands of Burundian students have begun academic year in Rwanda or Uganda
Kerry tells Lavrov Russia responsible for the dire situation
Separatists 'prepared to take final step' of holding September 2017 referendum
The EU budget commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, has entered the race to become the United Nations’ next secretary general, after the Bulgarian government swung its backing behind her.
A vote on Wednesday has become the first presidential veto overturned under Obama with the US President calling it a "big mistake"
Half of party executive quits in bid to oust leader, possibly allowing caretaker PM Mariano Rajoy to form government
Hungarians are likely to vote “no” in next week’s referendum on migrant quotas imposed by the EU
A teenage gunman, who injured three people at a South Carolina elementary school before being arrested, carried out the attack after killing his father, local officials said Wednesday.
New authorization brings number of American troops in Iraq to 5,262
Abadi's office said the US government had agreed to the request.
The suspects, a Moroccan and four Spaniards, are accused of inciting attacks and acting as go-betweens for IS recruitment in Europe.
France has repeatedly broken the EU's fiscal rules and a top independent watchdog has said it doubts Paris will reach its target next year either.
Investigation team says launcher brought from Russia to east Ukraine fired missile that hit flight carrying 298 people
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks about the dim prospects for peace with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel