The International Court of Justice has been approached with the case of Belgium v. Senegal, a case that surrounds war criminal Hissene Habre. HH, as he will be known as from now on, is charged with torture and crimes against humanity in the Republic of Chad. Just another normal Saturday in Chad. HH has sought asylum in Senegal, a country where he has not been prosecuted because of recent reform in the Senegalese constitution and a lack of funding within the country. Belgium has now released a formal case against Senegal due to the fact that they are not prosecuting or extraditing HH, and thusly protecting him from international law.
Today’s meeting of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) has continued the discussion of the case of Belgium v. Senegal, and with it has opened an enormous can of worms. In order for the Court to actually act upon this case, they must determine if they have jurisdiction, which is the biggest, ugliest worm in the entire can.
In order for the court to have jurisdiction on the case, Senegal either has to have extradited HH from the country, or actually prosecute him; neither of which has been done. Senegal is like your typical high school student, they swear that they have their western civ essay done, but they can’t turn it in today because of some sort of changed constitution or monetary turmoil.
While theoretically, Senegal can probably process HH for his crimes, it cannot be ignored that they have delayed his trial significantly to the point that skeptics (like me) are wondering if it is ever going to happen. It is important for the sitting Justices to note that the victims of these crimes have the fundamental right to habeas corpus, fair and speedy trial and Senegal is not acting upon this principle of justice.
The Court must realize that when countries prove that they are actively inhibiting the rate at which justice is administered, it inherently becomes a part of their jurisdiction to rule this on this case of international significance.