Belgium has lodged a lawsuit at the U.N. court in The Hague to force Senegal to prosecute former Chad President Hissene Habre for crimes against humanity.

In its lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Belgium also asked the court to impose an urgent measure obligating Senegal to keep Habre under judicial surveillance to prevent him from leaving the country and escaping prosecution.

Typically cases before the ICJ take years to settle but if a party requests an “indication of provisional measures”, the court’s judges can make a swift provisional order.

Belgium is pushing to have Habre put on trial after a Belgian national of Chadian origin and Chadian nationals filed complaints in Belgian courts in 2000 and 2001 alleging Habre was guilty of crimes against humanity.

Habre, accused of torturing and killing opponents during his 1982-1990 rule, has been living in exile in Senegal since 1990 and was first indicted there in 2000 on charges of complicity in crimes against humanity, acts of torture and barbarity.

Senegal’s courts later ruled he could not be tried there and rebuffed a Belgian extradition request for Habre in 2005.

Since then, the African Union has ordered Senegal to put Habre on trial, but, the Belgian lawsuit indicated, the West African country has said it is having financial difficulties that prevent it from bringing Habre to trial.

In July last year, Senegal did however lift the last constitutional obstacle to its courts trying Habre as its upper and lower legislative chambers passed an empowering bill and appointed four judges to hear the case


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