Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.On 19 February 2009, Belgium initiated proceedings against Senegal before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) claiming that Senegal had breached its international obligations by failing to prosecute or extradite Hissène Habré, the former President of Chad. Habré, living in exile in Senegal, is accused of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during his eight-year rule from 1982 until 1990 in the central African state.

According to the Application by Belgium, the failure to prosecute Habré, “violates the general obligation to punish crimes against international humanitarian law” as well as the 1984 UN Convention against Torture. To found the Court’s jurisdiction, Belgium invoked the unilateral declarations of compulsory jurisdiction made by the parties pursuant to Article 36 (2) of the Statute of the Court. Belgium has also requested the Court to indicate provisional measures ordering Senegal to keep Habré under house arrest pending its final decision.

Public hearings in the proceedings will commence on 6 April 2009, and will last until 8 April, during which time the Court will hear oral pleadings from the two parties.

On 28 May 2009, the ICJ ruled that provisional measures will only be ordered when there is a "real and imminent risk that irreparable prejudice may be caused to the rights in dispute". The Court decided that the risk of irreparable prejudice to the rights claimed by Belgium was not apparent, and there existed no urgency to justify the indication of provisional measures.

Hissène Habré on the DomCLIC project

Research/ miscellaneous (Research Document)
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