Paris, August 23, 2012 (FH) - On Wednesday, Senegal signed an agreement with the African Union to set up a special tribunal to try Chad's former leader Hissene Habre.

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The International Court of Justice ruled on July 21 that Senegal had breached its international obligations by failing to make immediately a preliminary inquiry into the facts relating to the crimes allegedly committed by Hissène Habré. According to the ruling, Senegal must “without further delay, submit the case of Mr. Hissène Habré to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, if it does not extradite him”. The court’s ruling was legally binding.

"Through the agreement, we are setting the procedure by which the trial should take place," said Senegal's Justice Minister Aminata Toure after signing the agreement with African Union representative Robert Dossou in the capital, Dakar. “There are no more obstacles. We are going to start recruiting judges”, she added.

The Senegalese government has said it intends to start proceedings against Habre before the end of the year. Under the deal finalized Wednesday, an African magistrate will preside over the special court in Senegal and will be assisted by two Senegalese judges.

"The holding of these proceedings will show that Africa can try Africa, and it happens to be in Sénégal", said Robert Dossou.

"We are one step closer to justice today," said Alioune Tine, president of the Dakar-based African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights (RADDHO). "We're counting on Senegal and the African Union to move quickly now and to begin Habre's trial before even more survivors die."