Annual Report: Chad 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Chad 2011

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Head of state: Idriss Déby Itno
Head of government: Emmanuel Djelassem Nadingar (replaced Youssouf Saleh Abbas in March)
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 11.5 million
Life expectancy: 49.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 220/201 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 32.7 per cent

The political situation remained tense, especially in eastern Chad, despite normalization of relations with Sudan and peace agreements with leaders of some armed groups. Inter-ethnic clashes erupted and human rights violations were committed with almost total impunity. Civilians and humanitarian workers were killed and abducted; women and girls were victims of rape and other violence; and children were recruited as soldiers or abducted for ransom. Journalists and human rights defenders faced harassment and intimidation. Forcible evictions continued. The UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) was withdrawn on 31 December.

Background

In January, the government asked the UN Security Council to withdraw MINURCAT. At the time, agreed benchmarks to measure MINURCAT's success had not yet been achieved. On 25 May, under pressure from Chad, the UN Security Council resolved to end MINURCAT by 31 December 2010. The Chadian government indicated it would assume full responsibility for protecting civilians on its territory. In October, Chad presented a protection plan - centred around the Détachement Intégré de Sécurité (DIS) security force - and requested financial assistance.

On 15 January Chad and Sudan signed an agreement to deny armed groups the use of their respective territories and to normalize relations. The Chad-Sudan border that had been closed since 2003 reopened in April. In March, Chad and Sudan deployed a joint border monitoring force to counter criminal activity and armed groups. In May, Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Sudanese armed group, the Justice and Equality Movement, was denied access to Chad, although his forces had been based in Chad for years. In July, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir visited Chad for a meeting, despite facing an International Criminal Court arrest warrant. President Al-Bashir also asked Chadian armed group leaders Timane Erdimi, Mahamat Nouri and Adouma Hassaballah to leave Sudan.

The electoral census started in May. In October, President Déby announced that legislative and local elections planned for November were postponed and would take place in 2011 together with the presidential elections.

Most of the recommendations of a commission of inquiry into events in the capital, N'Djamena in February 2008 had not been implemented by the end of 2010. During the fighting, serious human rights violations had been committed including the disappearance of opposition leader Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh.

At least 150,000 people in many parts of the country were forced to leave their homes because of heavy rains and floods. Around 68,000 refugees from the Central African Republic continued to live in camps in southern Chad.

Chadian authorities organized a national human rights conference in March with support from MINURCAT, but most local human rights organizations refused to participate. In June, the government organized a regional conference on ending the use and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Eastern Chad

The security situation remained volatile in the east. More than 262,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur were living in 12 refugee camps and around 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 38 IDP sites. In May, at least 5,000 new refugees arrived following fighting in Darfur. According to the UN, 48,000 IDPs returned to their home villages, mainly in the Ouaddai and the Dar Sila region. Most were reluctant to return because of the insecurity in their villages, the proliferation of small arms and the lack of basic services such as water, health and education.

Human rights abuses continued, including rape of girls and women, recruitment of children, kidnapping of humanitarian personnel and killings of civilians. Fighting between the national army, the Armée Nationale Tchadienne (ANT), and armed groups also continued. In April, fighting erupted between the ANT and the opposition Front populaire pour la renaissance nationale (FPRN) around Tissi and For Djahaname on the Darfur border.

Tensions between Chadian ethnic groups were high.

  • In March, a man was killed following fighting between members of the Arab and Dadjo communities in Goz Beida. One person was arrested in connection with this incident.
  • Increasing ethnic violence between President Déby's ethnic group, the Zaghawa, and the Tama was a major concern. On 21 October, Colonel Dongui, a member of the Zaghawa ethnic group and head of military intelligence in the Dar Tama region, shot dead Colonel Ismael Mahamat Sossal, a Tama and Commandant of the military region. In response, Colonel Sossal's bodyguards killed Colonel Dongui. Other people were injured in this incident. Several people were subsequently arrested, including two Tama army officers.

There were fears that the full withdrawal of MINURCAT would lead to a further deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation. Chadian authorities delayed the implementation of plans presented to the UN Security Council in October.

Abuses by armed groups and bandits

Serious incidents of banditry and armed attacks against humanitarian workers occurred in eastern Chad, especially between May and July. Numerous abductions of humanitarian personnel, carjackings and robberies were reported.

  • An ICRC staff member, agronomist Laurent Maurice, was released in February after being abducted and held for 89 days by armed men.
  • On 6 June, three Oxfam personnel were abducted in Abeché. Two were released later that day, but the third was held until 15 June. According to the authorities, he was freed by the joint Chadian/Sudanese military force at Sarne, in eastern Chad. The authorities stated that those responsible had been arrested but no trial had started by the end of 2010.
  • On 10 July, a vehicle belonging to the French Red Cross was stolen by six armed men near the village of Boulala. The driver and his colleague were held and later released near Moussoro.

Violence against women and girls

Rape and other forms of violence against women and girls continued to be perpetrated by members of their communities, armed groups and the security forces. In most of the cases documented, the victims were children and the suspects enjoyed impunity.

  • Two refugee girls aged 13 were raped on 16 July by a group of men near Farchana refugee camp. The girls had gone to search for firewood. The Chadian gendarmerie and the DIS reportedly opened an investigation into the case.
  • On 6 September a 14-year-old refugee girl from Am Nabak camp was raped at the village of Shandi by a local cattle herder, who paid the village chief compensation in Sudanese money before leaving the area. Clashes erupted over the camels he left behind, in which one person was killed.
  • The UN reported that army soldiers allegedly committed at least 11 cases of violence against women between February and April. Although senior officers reportedly said that they would take appropriate action, it was unclear at the end of the year whether any action had been taken against the suspects.

Child soldiers

The recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups continued and recruiters enjoyed total impunity. The UN stated in 2007 that between 7,000 and 10,000 children might have been used as fighters or associated with Chadian and Sudanese armed groups and the Chadian army. Less than 10 per cent had officially been released from these armed forces and groups by the end of 2010.

Children from villages in eastern Chad, refugee camps and IDP sites continued to be used by the Chadian security forces, and some senior ANT officers were involved in recruiting children during the year.

  • Following a peace agreement signed in April with the Chadian government, the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (Mouvement pour la Démocratie et la Justice au Tchad, MDJT) released 58 children, including 10 girls, in August.
  • In September, after a Sudanese armed group organized meetings to recruit children in the Goz Amir refugee camp, members of the DIS arrested 11 individuals. It was later established that these individuals regularly organized such meetings.

Unlawful killings

Members of the Chadian security forces, Sudanese and Chadian armed groups were responsible for unlawful killings committed with impunity in the context of ongoing insecurity.

  • On 19 October Defa Adoum, a Tama farmer suspected of possessing firearms, was arrested by Colonel Dongui, head of military intelligence in the Dar Tama region, who was based in Guéréda and a member of the Zaghawa ethnic community. The farmer reportedly died as a result of torture.