Woman lawyer receives human rights award

A Chadian woman lawyer who represents victims of the regime of former president Hissene Habre, has received the 2002 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, Amnesty International reported on Thursday.

Jacqueline Moudeina has filed complaints in Chad against a number of Habre's accomplices, many of who are still in power. She is also one of the lawyers in a case against Habre in Senegal, where he lives, Amnesty said.

Habre, president from 1982 to 1990 when he was toppled, is said to have committed serious rights abuses. Amnesty in August 2001, demanded that the Senegalese government hand over Habre to face trial for crimes of torture. Chadian victims and rights activists have also been involved in the campaign against Habre

“As one of the few women lawyers in Chad, Moudeina gives much of her time to a local NGO, ATPDH. On 11 June 2001, when she took part in a peaceful protest against fraudulent elections, a security squad led by one of the men she is suing, threw a grenade at her. (She) had to go to Paris for treatment,” Amnesty said.

Named after the first secretary-general of Amnesty, and granted jointly by 10 leading rights NGOs, the award is the highest for international criminal justice work since 1993. It is granted annually to an individual or an organisation “who has displayed exceptional courage in combating human rights violations”.

Recipients have included Peace Brigades International, Immaculée Birhaheka (Democratic Republic of Congo), Natasa Kandic (Yugoslavia), Eyad El Sarraj (Palestine), Samuel Ruiz Garcia (Mexico), Clement Nwankwo (Nigeria), Asma Jahangir (Pakistan) and Harry Wu (China).