19 June 2020

BOOK: Sharon WEILL, Kim Thuy SEELINGER, and Kerstin Bree CARLSON, eds., The President on Trial - Prosecuting Hissène Habré (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020). ISBN 9780198858621, $125.00

(Source: OUP)

OUP is publishing a new book on the Hissène Habré trial.


During the 1980s, thousands of Chadian citizens were detained, tortured, and raped by then-President Hissène Habré's security forces. Decades later, Habré was finally prosecuted for his role in these atrocities not in his own country or in The Hague, but across the African continent, at the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal. By some accounts, Habré's trial and conviction by a specially built court in Dakar is the most significant achievement of global criminal justice in the past decade. Simply creating a court and commencing a trial against a deposed head of state was an extraordinary success. With its 2016 judgment, affirmed on appeal in 2017, the hybrid tribunal in Senegal exceeded expectations, working to deadlines and within its budget, with no murdered witnesses or self-dealing officials.

This book details and contextualizes the Habré trial. It presents the trial and its impact using a novel structure of first-person accounts from 26 direct actors (Part I), accompanied by academic analysis from leading experts on international criminal justice (Part II). Combined, these views present both local and international perspectives through distinct but inter-locking parts: empirical source material from understudied actors both within and outside the court is then contextualized with expert analysis that reflects on the construction and work of: the Extraordinary African Chamber (EAC) as well as wider themes of international criminal law. Together with an introduction laying out the work and significance of the EAC and its trial of Hissène Habré, the book is a comprehensive consideration of a history-making trial.


Dr. Sharon Weill is Assistant Professor at The American University of Paris and a Senior Lecturer in international law and associate researcher at Sciences-Po, Paris (PSIA/CERI). Her particular field of interest is the relationship between international and domestic law, the politics of international law and the role of courts- topics on which she has published several articles and book chapters. Her post-doctoral research on the Guantanamo Bay military commissions was conducted at the Center for the Study of Law and Society, University of California, Berkeley (2015-2016). Prior to that, she participated in the European research project "Security in Transition" led by Professor Mary Kaldor (London School of Economic), and was a research fellow at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian and Human rights law for several years. She received her PhD in international law from the University of Geneva in 2012.

Kim Thuy Seelinger, JD, is Research Associate Professor at the Brown School and Visiting Professor of Law, Washington University in St. Louis, where she is also the inaugural director of the cross-disciplinary Center for Human Rights, Gender, and Migration under the Institute of Public Health. From 2010-2019, Seelinger served as the founding Director of the Sexual Violence Program at the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she remains a Research Fellow. In 2015, she co-authored an amicus curiae brief on sexual violence under customary international law in the Habré case. Seelinger received her JD from New York University School of Law and is a member of the New York bar.

Dr Kerstin Bree Carlson is Associate Professor in the Law Department of the University of Southern Denmark, where she teaches in the Masters of International Security and Law program. She is also affiliated with The American University of Paris and iCourts at the University of Copenhagen. Carlson began her work on the Habré trial in 2015 as a post-doctoral researcher at iCourts at the University of Copenhagen, and did extensive field research in Dakar. Carlson received her JD and PhD degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.


Foreword, Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Co-recipient
Part I. The Trial as Told by its Actors
Editors' Introduction
A. Early Prosecution Attempts (1982-2012)
1. The 'Archives of Terror', Olivier Bercault
2. The Making of Chad's Truth Commission, Judge Abakar Mahamat Hassan
3. Documenting Crimes and Organizing Victims in Chad, Souleymane Guengueng
4. Tenacity, Perseverance, and Imagination in the 'Private International Prosecution' of Hissène Habré, Reed Brody
5. Defending Habré in Senegal During the Early Years, Hélene Cissé
6. The Belgian Investigation of the Habré Regime, Excerpt of EAC trial testimony of Daniel Fransen, Belgian Investigating Judge
7. In His Own Words: An Interview with Hissène Habré, Excerpted interview from La Gazette, Dakar, 2011
B. Establishing the Court
8. Creating the EAC in Senegal: Perspectives from the African Union, Ben Kioko
9. Arresting Habré, Marcel Mendy
10. Investigations in Senegal and Chad: Cooperation and Challenges, Judge Jean Kandé
11. Managing the EAC, Amadou Mokhtar Seck
12. Professionalizing a Political Trial: A Clerk's Perspective, Abouly Ba
C. The Trial
13. Prosecuting International Crimes in Senegal, Mbacke Fall
14. Defending Habré, Mounir Ballal
15. From Victim to Witness and the Challenges of Sexual Violence Testimony, Jacqueline Moudeina
16. Supporting Victims at Trial: Civil Parties' Perspective, Alain Werner and Emmanuelle Marchand
17. Can we be friends? Offering an Amicus Curiae Brief to the EAC, Kim Thuy Seelinger, Naomi Fenwick, Khaled Alrabe
18. The Habré Trial Judgement: A Summary of the First Instance Judgements of the EAC, Elise Le Gall
19. The Habré Appeals Decision: A Summary of the Appeal Decision of the EAC, Elise Le Gall
20. Reflections on the Habré Appeals Decision, Judge Ouagadeye Wafi
21. The Real Fight Begins; Victims Struggle for an Effective Right to Reparation, Gaëlle Carayon and Jeanne Sulzer
D. Beyond the Courtroom
22. A Donor's Perspective, Sarah Valentina Fall
23. Outreach for the EAC: An Extraordinary Experience, Franck Petit
24. Covering Habré: The Diary of a Local Journalist, Ngoundji Dieng
25. Prosecutions in Chad, Henri Thulliez
26. Academia as Partner in the Habré Trial, Érick Sullivan and Fannie Lafontaine
Part II. Reflections on the Significance of the Habré Case and Beyond
Editors' Introduction
A. Portraits, Positionality, Paradigms
27. Africa Against Global Justice? Stakes for Building a Political Sociology on the Futures of International Criminal Justice, Sara Dezalay
28. The Habré trial and the Malabo Protocol: An Emerging African Criminal Justice?, Ndeye Amy Ndiaye
29. Expertise in the Bench? The Dis-Embeddedness of International Criminal Justice, Julien Seroussi
30. Hybrid Justice and the Rights of the Defence: Existence at the Periphery, Dov Jacobs
B. Institutions, Norms, and Pillars
31. Hybrid: A Spectrum of Possibilities, Mark Kersten and Kirsten Ainley
32. "Civil Law" v. "Common Law" Criminal Procedure: The Key or the Lock for ICL Success, Leila Bourguiba
33. The ICJ's Senegal v. Belgium Judgment and the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite Alleged Torturers: The Case of Al Bashir and the ICC, Manuel Ventura and Victor Baiesu
34. Victims as a Third Party at the ICCL Empowerment of Victims?, Liesbeth Zegveld
C. Capturing the Judicial Process: Actors and Dynamics
35. "We Will Not Go Away": The Participation of Victims in International Criminal Tribunals, Eric Stover and Stephen Cody
36. Reparations and the Habré Trial in Context, Christophe Sperfeldt
37. Hybrid Courts and Amicus Curiae Briefing, Sarah Williams
38. "Sexualized Slavery" and Customary International Law, Patricia Sellers and Jocelyn Kestenbaum
39. Witness Protection, Nancy Combs
D. The Political and its Interaction: Captured Institutions?
40. Hissène Habré, the Little Bird on the Brance, and the Challenges of International Criminal Justice, Pierre Hazan
41. The ICC and Africa, Richard Goldstone
42. The 'Habré Effect', Universal Jurisdiction and Courts in Africa, Mia Swart
43. Main Challenges and the Future of International Criminal Law, William Schabas

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