How to Bring a Dictator to Justice: The Hissen Habré Trial

June 19, 2014
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm

From 1982 to 1990, Chad witnessed thousands of political killings and systematic torture under the regime of its former president, Hissen Habréformer president, Hissen Habré. The Extraordinary African Chambers has accused the exiled former dictator, now based in Senegal, of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture. Twenty-four years after the end of his rule, litigation against Habré has finally gained critical momentum in Dakar. As a member of the international team of lawyers prosecuting the case, Delphine Djiraibe is well-placed to tell the story of how Habré was brought to trial and to explore the potential impact on transitional justice in Chad. In her presentation, she reflected on the legal process thus far, discussed where the trial stands today, and considered next steps in Senegal and beyond. Her presentation also examined valuable examples of alternative justice mechanisms through which victims of human rights abuses may hold their perpetrators accountable. Her presentation was followed by comments by Dave Peterson.


  • Delphine Djiraibe, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

with comments by

  • Dave Peterson, Senior Director, Africa Program, National Endowment for Democracy

moderated by

  • Sally Blair, International Forum for Democratic Studies


About the Speakers

Delphine Djiraibe is a senior human rights lawyer and chief attorney at the Public Interest Law Center, a NED grantee organization based in N’djamena that she founded in 2006 to provide Chad’s poor with access to justice and hold the Chadian government and extractive industries accountable for harm caused to local populations and the environment. In 1991, she co-founded the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights and has succeeded in helping victims of former dictator Hissen Habré bring him to justice. Ms. Djiraibe also serves as president of the Peace and Reconciliation Initiative’s Comité de Suivi de l’Appel à la Paix et à la Réconciliation, whose objective is to encourage dialogue among political actors, strengthen democratic practices, and promote the rule of law. For her extraordinary efforts in protecting human rights and preserving the environment, she received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2004. During her fellowship, she is exploring issues of transitional justice in comparative context, focusing on the Hissen Habré trial and researching mechanisms to improve equal access to justice in Chad.

Dave Peterson is senior director for Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy.

Powerpoint Presentation :: PDF

Event Highlights :: PDF