The Trial of Hissène Habré

How the People of Chad Brought a Tyrant to Justice

Celeste Hicks


The extraordinary story of how one of Africa's most notorious tyrants was finally brought to justice.

When Hissène Habré, the deposed dictator of Chad, was found guilty of crimes against humanity in 2016, it was described as ‘a watershed for human rights justice in Africa and beyond’. For the first time, an African war criminal had been convicted on African soil.

Having followed the trial from the very beginning and interviewed many of those involved, journalist Celeste Hicks tells the remarkable story of how Habré was brought to justice. His conviction followed a heroic 25 year campaign by activists and survivors of Habré’s atrocities, which succeeded despite international indifference, opposition from Habré’s allies, and several failed attempts to bring him to trial in Europe and elsewhere. In the face of such overwhelming odds, the conviction of a once untouchable tyrant represents a major turning point, with profound implications for African justice and the future of human rights activism globally.

Author Bio

Celeste Hicks is a freelance journalist who has been writing about Chad and the Sahel for more than ten years. Previously BBC correspondent in Chad and Mali, she worked for BBC World Service African Service in London before becoming an independent journalist in 2011. She writes for BBC, the Guardian, World Politics Review, Jane’s Intelligence Review, Africa Report, Bloomberg and many others. She is the author of Africa’s New Oil: Power, Pipelines and Future Fortunes (Zed 2015).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. From the Presidential Palace to Ouakam
  • 2. The Long Road to Dakar
  • 3. The Extraordinary African Chambers
  • 4. Healing at Home
  • 5. The International Context
  • Conclusion


‘This is a story that had to be told, of hell on earth and humanity’s determination to fight back. A wonderful account of a campaign that achieved justice after 25 years.’
Mike Dottridge, former head of Amnesty International’s Africa Research Unit

‘Written by a journalist with a deep and broad knowledge of Chad, Hicks’s book offers a vivid and compelling account of the long road to bring Hissène Habré to trial and brilliantly shows its significance both for Chad and international justice.’
Marielle Debos, author of Living by the Gun in Chad

‘Shows the profound and wide-ranging impact of Habré’s prosecution. Hicks's interviews with Chadian victims are incredibly moving. At the same time, she offers essential insights into whether the Extraordinary African Chambers represent a viable African alternative to the International Criminal Court.’
Phil Clark, SOAS, University of London


Publication Date: 15 April 2018
232 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786991836
Hardback: 9781786991843
eBook ePub: 9781786991867
eBook PDF: 9781786991850
eBook Kindle: 9781786991874

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