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Cablegate: Senegal Modifies Constitution to Try Habre

VZCZCXRO6261
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0918 2210859
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080859Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0933
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 000918

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL MODIFIES CONSTITUTION TO TRY HABRE

1. (U) Former Chadian President Hissene Habre has moved one step
closer to being put on trial. On July 23, Senegal's Senate and
National Assembly met in congress to vote on a number of proposed
amendment's to the country's constitution which had already
previously passed separate votes in both houses parliament. The
most significant of the measures was one that modifies article 9 of
the constitution and permits Senegal's courts to permit the
"judgment and condemnation of any person for any act or omission
which, at the time it was committed was criminal according to
international law, especially acts of genocide, crimes against
humanity and war crimes." As a result of this change, Senegalese
courts now have jurisdiction to try Habre.

2. (SBU) Comment: The amendment to the constitution
notwithstanding, many observers question if Habre will ever actually
go on trial in Senegal. Habre, who has lived in Senegal since 1991,
is not under any form of arrest and lives comfortably in a prominent
Dakar neighborhood. The former dictator has developed an extensive
network of supporters in Senegalese political and religious circles.
As a result, many Western diplomats and human rights activists
resident in Dakar believe that is unlikely that Senegal will make
any aggressive effort to move toward criminal proceedings against
Habre, although the government will continue to go through the
motions of preparing for a Habre trial because of the pressure from
donor countries.
BERNICAT

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