International Federation for Human Rights

Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme - History


-From January 2000, Chad: in Dakar on the 25th of January 2000, the FIDH supports the complaint of the AVCRP (Association of Victims of Crimes and Political Repression) against Hissène Habré, who has been living in Senegal in exile since he fell from power in N’djamena in December 1990. Accused of being responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, he is charged with complicity of torture on the 3rd of February 2000. On the 20th of March 2001, however, the Supreme Court in Dakar declares that the Senegalese courts are not competent to judge crimes committed abroad, so that Hissène Habré can remain in the country until a proper extradition is asked for. On the 25th of November 2005, again, the Court of Appeal in Dakar rejects the extradition that Belgium requested formally.
-From October 2000, Côte d’Ivoire: after the uneasy election of a “socialist”, President Laurent Gbagbo, the LIDHO (Ivorian League of Human Rights), a FIDH member which was supporting him, informs less against the xenophobic attitude of the new government to prevent his main opponent, of Burkina descent, Alassane Ouattara, from gaining power. In December 2003, a former LIDHO chairman, Martin Bléou, becomes the minister of Home Affairs and the security forces under his control slaughter between 37 and 200 demonstrators in Abidjan in March 2004. The MIDH (Ivorian Movement for Human Rights), which does not belong to the FIDH, takes over to investigate on governmental death squads. The FIDH, whose president Sidiki Kaba defended Laurent Gbagbo during a former trial in 1992, does not officially protest against the bias of the LIDHO.
-2001, France: the FIDH launches an ethical fund, “Libertés et Solidarités”, with the support of the “Caisse des dépôts et consignations”, the French post office, and the Macif (“Mutual insurance for French traders and industrialists”). This “Sicav” (mutual fund) is composed of 80% of bonds and 20% of shares. The bonds are released by the most democratic states of the euro zone and the shares by companies that demonstrate social responsibility. The companies taken in the portfolio are listed by a consultant office in Brussels, Stock@Stake, and selected by the FIDH after receiving the advice of an ethical committee composed of five independent personalities. Half of the dividends of the shares are transferred by the subscribers to the FIDH, as donations.
-From May 2002, France: as an exception by contrast with its usual political neutrality, the FIDH takes a public stance during a democratic election and supports the French LDH, which calls to vote Jacques Chirac against the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who came second during the first presidential ballot on 21st of April 2002. Jacques Chirac is re-elected and the LDH, in a report on human rights in France in 2003, criticises its right-wing government regarding restrictions on political asylum, social laws, justice and the police. Yet NGOs like SOS Racisme, which is closed to the socialist party, do not join the LDH protest against Nicolas Sarkozy, the minister for Home Affairs.
-From June 2002, Congo-Brazzaville: taking advantage of the Belgian justice, which condemned in June 2001 four Rwandese citizens for their participation in the 1994 genocide, the FIDH supports a complaint against the Congolese president Denis Sassou Nguesso, his minister of Home Affairs Pierre Oba, the commander of his presidential guard, Blaise Adoua, and an army officer, general Norbert Dabira. They are sued for torture and crime against humanity as they are accused of supervising summary executions committed by the Cobras militia in Brazzaville in May 1999. The victims were coming back from Congo-Kinshasa, where they had fled, and were suspected of belonging to a rival group, the Ninjas. Yet the trial never happens and the FIDH protests in April 2004 against the quick release, during a private visit in France, of Jean-François Ndengue, director of the national police in Congo-Brazzaville, also indicted for his responsibility during the massacres. In August 2005, the Federation eventually denounces a mockery of justice when the suspects are brought before a court in Brazzaville and acquitted. In a reply published by the daily newspaper Le Monde on 28th August 2005, lawyers of the defendant explain that the FIDH observers attended only some parts of the proceedings and made a mistake when they exaggerated and claimed the summary executions were a genocide-like “crime against humanity”.
-February 2003, Central African Republic: the FIDH lodges the very first complaint before the international criminal court, whose judges have just been appointed. The complaint for war crimes is directed at the head of the Central African Republic, Ange-Félix Patassé, and his armed forces commander, colonel Abdoulaye Miskine, as well as an ally in Congo-Kinshasa, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who leads the MLC (Movement for the Liberation of Congo).
-2-4th March 2004, Equator: the 35th international congress of the FIDH, the first to be held in Latin America, gathers in Quito. It was initially planned in Bogota but had to be cancelled after the Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez, in a statement dated 11th September 2003, attacked human rights activists and claimed that they were helping the “terrorists”, i.e. guerrillas.
-From 2005, France: during its 83rd Congress, held in Lille in June 2005, the LDH elects a new president, Jean-Pierre Dubois, who is a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Paris XI. He replaces Michel Tubiana and tries to manage the internal divisions that developed during Henri Leclerc’s tenure. But in November 2006, two members of the LDH’s central committee, Antoine Spire and Cédric Porin, resign and denounce the accommodation of the organisation with Islamist lobbies. They regret that the League pays less attention to anti-semitism and did not participate to the celebration of the rehabilitation of Alfred Dreyfus. The LDH rejected the “nasty ideas” of Robert Redeker, a French philosopher threatened to death by Muslim radicals. Yet it said nothing about the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the Shoah. Moreover, it supported the Palestinians and focused on human rights violations by Israel, instead of investigating conflicts that are more deadly, as in Darfur or Chechnya. During the war in Lebanon in July and August 2006, for instance, it condemned war crimes by Tsahal against the civilian population, but “forgot” to talk about the Israeli inhabitants bombed by the Hezbollah.
-From 2006, Germany: with the Center for Constitutional Rights, its American affiliated member, the FIDH fills in November 2006 a criminal complaint on behalf of eleven Iraqi and one Saudi who were subjected to torture and detained at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Thanks to Germany’s 2002 universal jurisdiction statute, which allows to investigate war crimes committed abroad, a tribunal in Berlin follows up the case of high-ranking U.S. civilian and military officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who just lost his immunity when he resigned from the George Bush administration. But the proceedings achieve nothing despite a similar complaint in France during an official visit of Donald Rumsfeld in Paris in October 2007.
-24 April 2007, Portugal: during its 36th Congress, held in Lisbon, the FIDH elects for the first time a woman as its president, Souhair Belhassen, a Tunisian journalist and vice-chair of the LTDH.
-From 2008, Djibouti: attacks against human rights activists increase when the judiciary in Paris starts a new investigation on the death of a French judge, Bernard Borel, who was probably killed by the Djiboutian military in October 1995. An affiliated member of the FIDH, the LDDH (Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains), which monitored and criticised the legislative elections of February 2008, is amongst the organisations that are targeted by the government. Its president Jean-Paul Noël Abdi, who was already condemned in April 2007 for libel and propagation of rumours, is again under arrest in April 2009.
-January 2009, Israël/Palestine: with Broederlijk Delen, CAFOD, CCFD, Christian Aid, Medico International, Muslim Aid, Oxfam International, Trócaire and the British World Vision, the FIDH condemns Tsahal’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza and calls on the European Union to immediately suspend any further enhancement of its relations with Israel, until it agrees to a comprehensive ceasefire and provides unimpeded humanitarian access. The communiqué comes ahead of an informal meeting of European foreign ministers in Prague.