[JURIST] An African Union panel recommended [HRW release] on Friday that former Chadian president Hissene Habre [Wikipedia profile; JURIST news archive], accused of committing torture, mass killings, and other abuses in the 1980s, face trial in Africa instead of in Belgium, which last September issued an international arrest warrant [JURIST report] for the ex-dictator, who has been in exile in Senegal since 1990. The panel, which was formed [JURIST report] after Senegal announced it was "not competent" [JURIST report] to rule on Belgium's extradition request, recommended that Habre face trial back in Senegal, which has twice refused to prosecute Habre already, or in Chad or in any of the 45 African countries that have adopted the international Convention Against Torture [text]. The panel identified Senegal as the best place for the trial and confirmed that the country has jurisdiction.
The announcement has sparked criticism from victims' lawyers and Human Rights Watch [advocacy website], which has been the most vocal rights watchdog pushing to have Habre brought to justice. The European Parliament urged Senegal to try Habre in March, and last May, the UN Committee against Torture [official website] gave Senegal 90 days to extradite [JURIST report] him to Belgium. IRIN has more.