Human Rights Speaker Series: Torture, International Tribunals and Universal Jurisdiction: Is the Hissène Habré Case a Model to Ensure the Punishment of Gross Human Rights Violators?


Former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré was finally tried on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese courts in July 2015. The trial is the first in the world in which the courts of one country have prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes. The trial is the result of the perseverance of Habré’s victims and the NGOs that supported them for many years. In addition, the trial was brought to exist due to the engagement of some international judicial and quasi-judicial bodies that consistently upheld Senegal’s duty under international law to exercise jurisdiction over Habré for the crimes committed to Chadian people, including the UN Committee against Torture and the International Court of Justice. The judgment of Hissène Habré, scheduled for May 30, 2016, creates an opportunity to assess the role and relevance that international courts and other organs can play in supporting domestic trials of crimes against humanity and other international crimes, particularly those that do not qualify, for jurisdictional or other reasons, to be tried by other courts, such as the International Criminal Court. The panel will explore the impact of the international courts and other organs in bringing Habré to justice in Senegal and explore whether this model could be a successful one to pursue in similar cases in the future. 


  • Jens Modvig, Committee against Torture, United Nations
  • Juan Méndez, U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • Frans Viljoen, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Moderator: Helen Duffy, Human Rights in Practice

This event is sponsored by ASIL and the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Date and Location

Monday, June 13, 2016 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Tillar House
Address 1: 
2223 Massachusetts Ave NW
Zip Code: