International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Reactions to the Conviction of Hissène Habré: A Historic Moment for Justice

This article was written by Roxane Cassehgari, an Aryeh Neieir Fellow with the Open Society Justice Initiative.

On Monday, May 30, the judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) delivered a guilty verdict against Hissène Habré, former Chadian president, for crimes committed from 1982 to 1990 during his repressive regime. The trial started on July 20, 2015 and concluded in February 2016. Habré was convicted of crimes against humanity, war crimes, summary execution, torture, and rape. The trial revealed Habré’s instructions to systematically use torture – very often leading to killings – and sexual violence on political prisoners held in secret detention centers, like the infamous Maison D’Arrêt. Notably, Habré is the first former head of State to be tried and … Continue Reading

1 Comment

Defense and Prosecution Ask for Mali Trial to Start in August

Both the defense and prosecution have asked trial judges to start the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Malian Islamic rebel leader Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi in late August or early September.

A trial date was one of the issues discussed during a status conference Trial Chamber VIII held on May 24. The purpose of the status conference was for the judges to ask questions on the submissions the defense and prosecution made last week. The two parties made a joint written submission on May 19 following an order by Trial Chamber VIII’s Single Judge Raul C. Pangalangan. The joint submission was filed under confidential cover, but Judge Pangalangan, the defense, and prosecution referred to parts of it during the … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Podcast: Bringing Hissène Habré to Trial

On May 30, trial judges at the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal are due to deliver their verdict in the trial of Hissène Habré—the first time a former African leader has been held to account for atrocity crimes before a court in another African country.

Habré, who has refused to recognize the authority of the court, is facing charges of war crimes, torture, and crimes against humanity, arising from his eight years in power, from 1982 to 1990. The special court in Senegal where he is on trial was set up with the support of the African Union, and which is presided over by Gberdao Gustave Kam from Burkina Faso, with two Senegalese judges alongside.

You can learn more about the story … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Judges Want to Start Trial of Malian Islamic Rebel Leader in Mid-June

Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have said they are inclined to begin in mid-June the trial of Malian Islamic rebel leader Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, whose single war crime charge was confirmed about two months ago.

Judge Raul C. Pangalangan, the single judge of Trial Chamber VIII, said this in an order  scheduling a status conference for Tuesday next week . The May 24 status conference is the first one Trial Chamber VIII will be holding since it was formed to handle al Faqi’s trial.

Al Faqi’s trial is taking place after Pre-Trial Chamber I confirmed on March 24 a single war crimes charge against him for completely or partially destroying historic buildings in the northern Mali city of … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Al Faqi Tells Chamber He Intends to Plead Guilty to War Crime Charge

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi has informed the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he would like to plead guilty to a single war crime charge of destroying or partially destroying historic buildings in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu.

Al Faqi informed the court of his decision on March 1, but the details of what he said have only become public this week.

The Malian Islamic rebel leader made his intention known during a hearing Pre-Trial Chamber I held on March 1 to listen to the prosecution argue why the chamber should confirm the charge against him. During the pre-trial phase of a case, a suspect is not required to enter a plea. The focus of the pre-trial phase at the ICC … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

ICC Confirms War Crime Charge against al Faqi

The International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber I decided on March 24 that Ahmad al Faqi al Madhi should stand trial on a single war crime charge for his alleged role in the complete or partial destruction of mausoleums in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu.

In one of the quickest confirmation of charges decisions made by a pre-trial chamber of the ICC, Pre-Trial Chamber I unanimously confirmed the single war crime charge the prosecution filed against al Faqi. The decision was made just 23 days after Pre-Trial Chamber I held a hearing on whether to confirm the charge. The chamber also confirmed the four types of individual criminal responsibility the prosecution alleged applied to al Faqi.

The three judges of Pre-Trial Chamber … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Join the Guidelines on Fact-Finding

When atrocities are committed, it is the community affected who are the first on the scene. Neighbors rush to find survivors in the rubble after bomb attacks against civilians in Syria. Family members gather to help find a missing loved one forcibly disappeared during political tensions in Sri Lanka. Local medical staff record injuries inflicted on their patients who have survived rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Communities are the first to take care of its members and, as a result, are the best placed to provide potential evidence that may lead to perpetrators being held responsible for their crimes. So why is this information at risk of not being found reliable in court?

International criminal law requires that information … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Al Faqi Declines to Make Submissions in Northern Mali Case

A Malian rebel leader decided not to defend himself during a hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) that was held to hear whether he should stand trial for a war crime charge of destroying religious and historic monuments in northern Mali.

Defense lawyer Mohamed Aouini informed Pre-Trial Chamber I of this decision towards the end of Tuesday’s last session when it was his turn to speak. Aouini spoke after the prosecution has spent most of the day arguing why his client, Ahmed Al Faqi Al Mahdi, should stand trial.

“We shall reserve our submissions as to the merits [of the prosecution’s case] to the later stage of the proceedings,” Aouini told the chamber. This statement suggests Aouini expects his client to … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

First ICC Case Involving Crimes in Northern Mali to Open

This week’s confirmation of charges hearings against Malian rebel leader Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi represents the first time that a member of an Islamist armed group is facing charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It is also the first case of an individual facing, as a main charge, a war crime allegation involving the destruction of religious or historic monuments at the ICC. (Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has been charged with the same crime as part of the 18 charges he faces at the ICC.)

Al Faqi is alleged to have participated in, helped in planning and directed attacks on eight mausoleums and the door of a mosque in Timbuktu, Mali between June 20, 2012 and July 11, 2012, according … Continue Reading

1 Comment

Hissène Habré Trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers: December Hearings

This guest post, part of an IJ Monitor series of summaries on the Hissène Habré trial, was produced by a group of Senegalese law school graduates, with the assistance of  TrustAfrica. The views expressed below do not necessarily reflect the views of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The trial of former Chadian president Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar, Senegal continued in December. The trial opened on July 20, 2015, but was suspended until September 7 to allow court-appointed defense lawyers time to familiarize themselves with the case after Habré instructed his original lawyers not to appear in court.

Habré is being prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture allegedly committed in Chad from June 7, 1982 … Continue Reading

Leave a comment