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A Trial For Hissene Habre

The African Union endorsed Senegal's decision to try Hissene Habre (hee-SEHN HAH-BRAY), the former president of Chad. Mr. Habre has been living in Senegal since being overthrown in 1990. In May, the United Nations Committee Against Torture said that Senegal would be violating international human rights laws by not taking action.

Hissene Habre ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990. A commission set up by the Chadian government says that his regime was responsible for some forty-thousand politically-related deaths and two-hundred-thousand cases of torture.

Kolawole Olaniyan, director of Amnesty International's African Program, says, "Habre's victims have been fighting for sixteen years to see justice done." He says, "It is time for Habre to face trial for his alleged crimes."

Reed Brody, an attorney with Human Rights Watch, says the prosecution is "a real turning point in the international effort to bring Habre to justice":

"I think this is a victory of law over politics. You have two legal bodies, one the U-N Committee Against Torture, and the other this expert panel from the African Union, who have both said to Senegal, 'Look, this is your responsibility. You signed the torture convention. You ratified it and said that if an alleged torturer came onto your territory, you would not give that person safe haven'".

The U.S. is also a signatory of the convention. President George W. Bush has "called on all nations to speak out against torture in all its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their diplomacy." He said, "No people, no matter where they reside, should have to live in fear of their own government."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.