SPOTLIGHT: CHAD, THE TIME OF JUSTICE
Since the post-War trials of Nazi leaders in Nuremberg, the world has wrestled with the task of bringing the worst of humanity to account for their crimes. It is a challenge that requires both courage from the individual victims and a commitment to justice by society at large. It also, in some cases, requires an abundance of patience and determination. By the time a court in Senegal sentenced Hissene Habre to life in jail yesterday for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Chad's former dictator had been out of power for more than 25 years. The decision by authorities in Senegal — where Habre had taken refuge in 1990 after a coup — to arrest him in 2013 was key to the conviction, but observers also noted the decades of work by activists and victims, both inside and outside of Chad, who never gave up on the case.
Now 73, Habre reigned over his country with what the judges said was "a system where impunity and terror were the law." Some 40,000 people were killed and many others kidnapped, raped and tortured during his eight-year term as president of Chad. Beyond the scale of his crime, one particularly powerful part of the verdict was the judges' ruling that Habre had personally raped Khadidja Hassan four times.
Many of the defeated despots of history wind up dead by their own hand (Hitler, Pol Pot) or those of their enemies (Mussolini, Richard III). But when men and women of peace mete out justice in an open court of law, it sends a message of progress — and persistence — to both the good and evil people of this world.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- François Hollande inaugurates the 81-million-euro Cité du Vin in Bordeaux. 450,000 visitors a year expected.
- Soccer star Lionel Messi and his father go on trial in Spain for alleged tax fraud.