CASE BRIEF

Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal)

On February 19, 2009, Belgium filed an application instituting proceeding against Senegal. This application related to Mr. Hissène Habré, the former president of Chad, and resident in Senegal. Mr. Habré had been granted political asylum by the Senegalese Government in 1990. Belgium submitted that, by failing to prosecute Mr. Habré for certain acts he was alleged to have committed during his presidency, including acts of torture and crimes against humanity, or to extradite him to Belgium, Senegal had violated the obligation aut dedere aut judicare (to prosecute or extradite). Belgium founded this application on conventional law and customary international law (under conventional international law, Senegal’s failure to prosecute Mr. Habré, if he not extradited to Belgium, violates Articles 5, 7, 8, and 9 of the Convention against Torture of 1984. Under customary international law, Senegal’s failure to prosecute Mr. Habré or to extradite him to Belgium violates the general obligation to punish crimes under international humanitarian law). Belgium relied on two bases of jurisdiction – Article 30 of the Convention against Torture and declarations made by the Parties under article 36 of the Statute of the Court. As for Senegal, it disputes the existence of Belgium’s jurisdiction on either basis, maintaining that the conditions set forth have not been met and that there is no dispute between the Parties in the first place.