Good or Bad?
From Human Rights Watch:
The most brutal U.S.-backed dictator you’ve never heard of -- Hissène Habré of Chad -- has just been indicted in Belgium on charges of mass murder and torture. His indictment was a decisive breakthrough in a judicial chess game pitting the former central African dictator against a Chadian torture victim who did not give up and a New York “dictator hunter" at Human Rights Watch. ...
Then, after former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London, Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch took an interest in the Habré case. Brody, whose legal brief helped persuade the House of Lords to strip Pinochet of his immunity, was looking to extend the "Pinochet precedent" to other abusive tyrants. ... Back in 1981, Ronald Reagan saw Habré, then a local warlord, as a man who could be used to help contain the ambitions of Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, Chad’s expansionist northern neighbor.
When the ambitious Belgian law crumbled under a U.S. attack in response to charges brought against senior U.S. officials, Guengueng and Brody dashed to Brussels. In meetings with cabinet ministers and legislative leaders, they won a grandfather clause for the Habré prosecution, convincing the authorities that Belgium could not abandon the Chadian victims to whom it had given hope.
Now, nearly fifteen years after Habré was deposed and five years after he was first arrested in Senegal, a Belgian judge has indicted Habré and is seeking his extradition from Senegal, whose president has said that he has no objections to handing him over to Belgium. Habré’s extradition would be a wake-up call to dictators in Africa and elsewhere, warning them that if they commit similar atrocities, they could also be brought to justice one day. As well as serving as another feather in Brody’s dictator-hunting cap ...
From ABC News:
BRUSSELS, Belgium Sep 29, 2005 — Belgium has issued an international arrest warrant for Chad's former leader Hissene Habre, charging him with atrocities during his 1982-90 rule, lawyers said Thursday.
Habre, who lives in exile in Senegal, is being pursued under Belgium's "universal jurisdiction" laws, which allow for prosecutions for crimes against humanity wherever they were committed. ... Belgium watered down its universal jurisdiction laws in 2003 under pressure from the United States after individuals brought complaints against President Bush and other senior officials.