Dakar – Former Chadian President Hissène Habré was ordered to pay tens of millions of dollars to victims of human rights abuses after his conviction by a special court in 2017. But at the time of his death in August, victims of Habré still had not received a penny.
The African Union-backed tribunal tried former Chadian leader Hissène Habré in Senegal and found him guilty of crimes he committed in the 1980s – a first for the continent.
On September 15, a team of AU lawyers arrived in Chad to meet with victim advocates, lawyers and government officials, to begin the process of establishing a trust fund for victims. by Habré.
Habré oversaw the murder and torture of tens of thousands of people during his reign as President of Chad from 1982 to 1990. When convicted, the African Union was ordered to raise an estimated 150 million dollars. dollars that would be allocated to more than 7,000 of Habré’s victims.
The money was to come from Habré’s assets, as well as from outside contributions. But the victims have still not been paid.
Their plight attracted renewed attention in August when Habré passed away just five years after his life sentence.
Jacqueline Moudeina is the main counsel for the victims of Habré. She says the African Union has not made much progress. They still need to furnish their seats and hire an executive secretary, among other tasks.
“There is still a lot to do,” she said. “They’ve waited four years, and they don’t know how many more years they’ll have to wait.” If it were up to her, they would have done it all in a week.
An important task is to raise funds. Maadjitonke Trahohgra, director general of the Chadian justice ministry, said the Chadian government will contribute to the trust fund, but he does not know how much.
He says many victims have already died, but the fund will bring relief to those who survived.
Clément Abaifouta is one of the surviving victims tortured for four years under Habré’s reign. He witnessed the deaths of many fellow inmates and in some cases was forced to dig their graves.
Now 63, he is president of the Association of Victims of Crimes of the Hissène Habré Regime, an organization that defends victims and their families.
He now says that the African Union has come to speed up the process, the victims are satisfied and they hope the process will go faster than expected.
Experts from the African Union plan to return to Chad in the coming weeks to continue setting up the trust fund.