"A Monster and a Test Case" Media framing in the Hissène Habré war crimes case
De Gray, Lisa. “"A Monster and a Test Case" Media framing in the Hissène Habré war crimes case”, Boston College, 2009. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/687.
In September 2005 the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré, was charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture. Following an extradition request, Habré was arrested in Senegal – the country he had been living in since 1990, when he was deposed in a coup. The Senegalese government, however, did not follow through on the extradition order. The charges and order had not come from a Chadian court but rather from a Belgian judge. Faced with the delicate issue of extraditing a former African head of state to stand trial in the court of a former colonial power, the Senegalese government turned to the African Union, asking the organization to recommend how to try Habré.During the period between Habré’s arrest in November 2005 and the African Union’s ruling in July 2006, the Habré case appeared in the news framed in several different contexts. For human rights groups, the trial was not only the chance to bring Habré to justice; it was also a chance to further develop the legal precedent established in the Pinochet case. For the Senegalese government, the Belgian extradition order was a threat to African sovereignty.The Habré case as it appears in the media and as it is framed by the involved parties reveals the complexities of the case, demonstrating that the Habré case is not simply about trying a former head of state; rather it is about the politics of war crimes, from the scope and limitations of international law to the emerging role of the African Union on the world stage.