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Human Rights in Chad

Human Rights Concerns

The political situation is currently very tense due to an alleged coup attempt that recently sparked a wave of threats, arrests, and suppression of independent voices, especially journalists and bloggers. Opposition parliamentarians, journalists, university activists and human rights defenders continue to face harassment and intimidation, and often arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, forced disappearance or even extrajudicial execution. People are detained in secret detention facilities where visits by family and lawyers are not allowed, and where torture and forced labor are routine. Calls for independent investigations into allegations of abuse on the part of government security are ignored, and severe human rights abuses by the government continue with impunity. Despite normalization of relations with Sudan and a peace treaty with leaders of some of the armed opposition groups, some of the armed opposition groups are still active, and those opposing the government are frequently accused of supporting them, whether or not there is any truth in the accusations. Human rights violations are committed with almost total impunity by members of the Chadian military, the Presidential Guard, and the Agence Nationale de Securité, who make arrests arbitrarily, without charge or trial, and there have been enforced disappearances. The situation is again dangerous in the refugee camps of eastern Chad which house both those who have fled violence in neighboring Darfur, and those internally displaced by conflict within Chad itself. Civilians and humanitarian workers have been killed and abducted; women and girls are victims of rape and other violence; and children can still be recruited as soldiers or abducted for ransom.

Human Rights in Chad

Human Rights Concerns

The political situation is currently very tense due to an alleged coup attempt that recently sparked a wave of threats, arrests, and suppression of independent voices, especially journalists and bloggers. Opposition parliamentarians, journalists, university activists and human rights defenders continue to face harassment and intimidation, and often arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, forced disappearance or even extrajudicial execution. People are detained in secret detention facilities where visits by family and lawyers are not allowed, and where torture and forced labor are routine. Calls for independent investigations into allegations of abuse on the part of government security are ignored, and severe human rights abuses by the government continue with impunity. Despite normalization of relations with Sudan and a peace treaty with leaders of some of the armed opposition groups, some of the armed opposition groups are still active, and those opposing the government are frequently accused of supporting them, whether or not there is any truth in the accusations. Human rights violations are committed with almost total impunity by members of the Chadian military, the Presidential Guard, and the Agence Nationale de Securité, who make arrests arbitrarily, without charge or trial, and there have been enforced disappearances. The situation is again dangerous in the refugee camps of eastern Chad which house both those who have fled violence in neighboring Darfur, and those internally displaced by conflict within Chad itself. Civilians and humanitarian workers have been killed and abducted; women and girls are victims of rape and other violence; and children can still be recruited as soldiers or abducted for ransom.

Prison Conditions

The Chadian prison system is in deep crisis and needs urgent and fundamental reforms. Prison conditions in Chad are harsh and far below international standards. Most of the prisons, including the six prisons visited by Amnesty International delegates in 2011 and 2012, were very old, dilapidated and overcrowded. Prisoners’ human rights including the right to security of persons and freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment were often violated. In some cases, the detention conditions themselves amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Other human rights, such as the right to access adequate health services, medical care, clean drinking water, food and sanitation as well as other basic facilities, were not respected. Men and women, children and adults, civilians and soldiers, suspected and already sentenced prisoners, were mixed indiscriminately together in the majority of the prisons.

Domestic Human Rights Abuses, Including Forced Disappearances

Independent journalists and bloggers like Eric Topona and Jean Laokolé face intimidation and arbitrary arrest by government officials. In August 2010 Chad passed a new law that introduces prison sentences and a ban on publication for "inciting racial, ethnic or religious hatred and condoning violence". Opposition parliamentarians like Dr. Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, who disappeared at the hands of the security forces, university activists and human rights defenders face harassment and intimidation, and often arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, forced disappearance or even extrajudicial execution. Amnesty International calls on the Chadian authorities to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all cases of enforced disappearance and allegations of torture, and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice in proceedings which meet international fair trial standards. Although forced evictions have slowed recently, victims of force eviction continue to deserve just compensation and accountability for the eviction of several years ago.

Child Soldiers

Children as young as 10 have been recruited into armed groups as porters and messengers, and some between 13 and 17 have been recruited and used in combat roles by government forces as well. Recruitment has largely occurred in IDP camps. A demobilization and reintegration program launched by the Chadian government with this assistance of UNICEF has been hampered by a lack of government support. Although Amnesty International welcomes Chad's signature of the June 15, 2011 UN Action Plan to end the recruitment and the use of child soldiers, past efforts of this kind have been hindered by inefficiency and a lack of both political will. To date, there have been no prosecutions of members of the Chadian national army and armed opposition groups for using child combatants. In January 2011, Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno ordered an amnesty for crimes committed by members of the armed opposition, effectively perpetuating impunity for the human rights abuses against children used in hostilities. Amnesty International is dismayed that President Barack Obama authorized a "national interest" waiver for the Republic of Chad for the United States Child Soldiers Prevention Act, even as Chad's national army and other security forces continued to recruit underage combatants and hinder their rehabilitation. The United States Child Soldiers Prevention Act, signed by President Obama in January 2009, specifically prohibits US military aid to countries which use child soldiers.

Refoulement of Refugees in Eastern Chad/Darfur

Under the terms of the current treaty, Sudan and Chad have promised not to harbor one another's opposition forces, and are now supposed to be protecting refugees and internally displaced persons on both side of the border with Darfur. The IDPs are refugees from Chad's own recent internal conflicts. Refugees continue to come to Chad, reporting fighting in Darfur, while Sudan and Chad have begun the process of returning the refugees and IDPs to their home villages, with no guarantees for their safety. Continued fighting, the proliferation of small arms, and the lack of basic services such as water, health and education make IDPs reluctant to return to their homes. Human rights abuses persist in the camps as well, including rape of girls and women, recruitment of children, kidnapping of humanitarian personnel and killings of civilians. Tensions between Chad's often ethnically-based political alliances threaten to destabilize the region further.

Former President Under indictment by the International Court of Justice

Senegal must abide by the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and prosecute the former president of Chad Hissène Habré on charges relating to large-scale human rights abuses during his time in power.

Chad-Cameroon Pipeline

Contracting out of Human Rights: The Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project highlights the potential dangers to human rights posed by investment agreements underpinning the pipeline project, as well as the need for a new approach to investment that ensures respect for human rights. Amnesty International is calling on the governments, international financial institutions and companies involved in the Chad-Cameroon pipeline project to revise the project agreements to include an explicit guarantee that nothing in the agreements can be used to undermine either the human rights obligations of the states or the human rights responsibilities of the companies.

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