Victims of Pervasive Sexual Violence Under Habré in Desperate Need of Reparations: Death of Two Victims’ Leaders Highlights Urgency to Act
Seven years after the landmark conviction of the late Chadian President Hissène Habré victims of the pervasive sexual violence under his regime are in desperate need of reparations, having lived with its grave effects for three decades, without any kind of relief, finds a new report, Breaking the Silence, released today by REDRESS, the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (ATPDH) and the Global Survivors Fund (GSF).
The release of the report coincides with a renewed call from a coalition of NGOs, including REDRESS, and two Chadian organisations representing victims of human rights abuses during the Habré regime, for Chad and the African Union to urgently deliver court-ordered reparations to victims, before they die.
Just days before the anniversary, two more victims of the Habré regime died, including Ginette Ngarbaye, who was tortured and raped and gave birth in a secret Habré prison. She was secretary of the Association of Victims of the Crimes of Hissène Habré (AVCHH) and a leading witness at Habré’s trial. She died on 15 May 2023, the same day, Fatime Kagone Tchangdoum, whose husband had been murdered by Habré’s security forces in 1983 and became an activist at the same organisation, died. According to the victims’ group, some 400 direct and indirect victims have passed away since the 2016 verdict.
The report was produced as part of a global study on reparations launched by GSF, examining the need and opportunities for reparations for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in over 20 countries. It draws from detailed consultations with survivors, civil society organisations and experts.
The report shows how victims of CRSV have received no financial compensation or other forms of reparations, such as rehabilitation, despite sexual violence being so systematic under Habré that they were characterised as a crime against humanity by the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC), an ad hoc court sitting in Senegal, established by Senegal and the African Union. Two court-ordered reparations awards are yet to be implemented, including one from the EAC, which sentenced Habré for rape and sexual slavery, among other offenses. The EAC awarded individual financial compensation and other forms of reparation to victims, with victims of sexual violence being awarded the highest amount: 20 million CFA (32,800 USD) each. Another judgment from a ocal Chadian criminal court from 2015 has also not been implemented. It awarded over 125 million USD in reparations to 7,000 victims, including victims of sexual violence, and ordered the establishment of a monument and a museum, which have not been erected. A case brought by 7,000 victims, supported by REDRESS, is currently pending before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights against Chad for its failure to implement this later judgment.
The report found that many survivors suffer profound physical and psychological problems, socio-economic hardships and social isolation caused by stigma, with affect several generations. Having also not received interim relief or humanitarian aid, many survivors live in poverty and urgently need access to income-generating activities and resources to survive and to medical and psychological care. A majority of interviewees for this report said that victims consider a priority receiving individual financial compensation as a form of reparations.
The report recommends the urgent enforcement of the reparation awards as well as reforms to remove the barriers to justice for CRSV survivors in Chad, including legal reforms to guarantee the non-repetition of CRSV, and ensuring that Chad’s ongoing political transition includes a focus on gender-sensitivity and reparation to CRSV survivors.
Julie Bardeche, Legal Advisor at REDRESS, said:
“Survivors are running out of time as the recent deaths of two more survivors of the Habré regime on the eve of the anniversary of its landmark conviction reminds us. The Chadian government and the African Union have failed survivors, including survivors of sexual violence. It is imperative that they take urgent measures to deliver the reparations owed to survivors.”
To read more about the project, see here.
For media queries, please contact: Eva Sanchis, Head of Communications of REDRESS, at [email protected] or + 44 (0) 20 7793 1777 or Sarah-Eve Hammond, Head of Communications of the Global Survivors Fund, at [email protected] or +41 (0) 762 94 94 85.