(San Francisco, CA)—With the arrest warrant against the president of Sudan for atrocities in Darfur and the extradition of Charles Taylor of Liberia, “international justice” seems once again to be on the world’s agenda as the ultimate hope to stop the cycle of impunity. One of the most brutal dictators of the 20th century is the little-known Hissene Habré, who tortured the people of Chad for eight years before fleeing to Senegal. Reed Brody, an American lawyer, along with one of Habré’s victims, Souleymane Guengueng, fight against all odds to bring the African ex-dictator to justice.
Dutch filmmaker Klaartje Quirijns follows Brody around the world as the lawyer’s determination to bring the former dictator to justice intensifies. Quirijns is there with him to capture on film the historic decision made by African Union presidents that Senegal must prosecute their old colleague Habré for human rights crimes “in the name of Africa.” THE DICTATOR HUNTER will have its U.S. broadcast premiere on Sunday, April 26, 2009, at 10pm on Global Voices, a series produced by ITVS International airing on the PBS WORLD digital channel (check local listings).
Inside Reed Brody’s office is a map covered with pictures of the most notorious of the world’s leaders who are going unpunished for their crimes against humanity. The son of a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, Brody has spent the last 10 years spearheading a campaign to get the former dictator Habré tried or extradited. He has visited the places of torture, heard the firsthand accounts of widows who still mourn, and seen the physical and emotional effects the torture still has on the victims, who cry out for justice. With his help, Chadian victims filed a criminal complaint against Habré, who was then arrested in Dakar in 2000.
While politicians drag their feet to bring Habré to justice, Brody and Guengueng navigate around them as if they were chess pieces in the world of international justice. When Senegal dithers, Brody files charges against Habré in Belgium, which then asks Senegal for Habré’s extradition. When Senegal refers the case to the African Union, Brody convinces the leaders to agree to bring one of their own to justice. The result is years in the making, but sends the historic message to victims that justice is possible.
Today, more than 18 years after Habré’s removal from power, his victims are still waiting for him to face justice in Senegal. The investigation and trial are at a standstill as Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade threatens to allow Habré to leave Senegal if international donors do not provide Senegal with $35 million in trial costs. In February, faced with Senegal’s dithering, Belgium took the extraordinary step of asking the World Court to order Senegal to either prosecute or extradite Habré.
Klaartje Quirijns (Director)
Klaartje Quirijns, the award-winning director of The Brooklyn Connection (www.thebrooklynconnection.net) and THE DICTATOR HUNTER (www.thedictatorhunter.com), grew up in the Netherlands. In 1999, she moved to New York. She has produced and directed numerous documentaries on a variety of subjects, and she was creator of a video installation that was exhibited in Rotterdam’s modern art museum, De Kunsthal. Her film The Brooklyn Connection was sold all over the world, was part of the PBS series P.O.V., was a topic on CBS’s 60 Minutes and stirred up political discussions on op-ed pages of leading U.S. newspapers.
Pieter Van Huystee (Producer, Pieter van Huystee Films)
In 1995 Pieter van Huystee started his own production company. Since then he has produced 110 film projects, most of them documentaries, but also feature and short films and single plays—with both renowned Dutch filmmakers like Johan van der Keuken, Heddy Honigmann and Peter Delpeut and young talented directors. In 2000, Pieter van Huystee was awarded a Golden Calf, the highest distinction in the Dutch film industry for his work as a producer.
About Global Voices
Global Voices is produced by ITVS International to air on the PBS WORLD digital channel beginning Sunday, April 5, 2009, at 10pm (check local listings). The 26-week series brings to a national audience internationally themed documentaries made by U.S.-based and international filmmakers. This season, the series will feature the U.S. premieres of seven documentaries funded by ITVS International as well as encore broadcasts of other acclaimed ITVS programs. For more information about Global Voices, visit www.pbs.org/globalvoices. Encore presentations include the highly acclaimed THE NEW AMERICANS; 2005 Emmy Award nominee AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED; the 2007 duPont Award winner, SEOUL TRAIN; winner of the 2002 Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, SEÑORITA EXTRAVIADA; and the award-winning DEVIL’S MINER.
About ITVS International
ITVS International is a division of Independent Television Service that promotes an international exchange of documentary films made by independent producers, bringing international voices to U.S. audiences and American stories to audiences abroad. Through a unique public-private partnership called the Global Perspectives Project, ITVS International administers the International Media Development Fund (IMDF) and True Stories: Life in the USA. The IMDF funds international producers and supports the American broadcast of their programs. True Stories: Life in the USA promotes a series of American independent films to audiences around the world. ITVS created the Global Perspectives Project in 2005 with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the U.S. Department of State. More information about ITVS International is available online at itvs.org/international.
About PBS WORLD
PBS WORLD features documentary, public affairs and news programming from a number of public television’s award-winning signature series and acclaimed independent filmmakers. Produced and distributed by PBS, WGBH Boston and Thirteen/WNET New York, in association with American Public Television and the National Education Telecommunications Association, PBS WORLD launched on 55 stations across the country, representing 24 licensees and reaching more than 27 percent of U.S. households. In most markets, PBS WORLD programming is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Programming on PBS WORLD includes such popular and critically acclaimed series as American Experience, Frontline, History Detectives, Nature, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Nova, Scientific American Frontiers and The Tavis Smiley Show.
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