“On the morning of the protest, text messages and Internet networks were reportedly slowed down for hours in some areas of N’Djamena, confirming the link between disruptions in Internet access and moments of political contestation we have been observing over the past five years in the country. “Since the beginning of the political transition, several demonstrations were banned and suppressed by the authorities. Between 27 April and 19 May 2021, at least 16 people were killed during protests in N’Djamena and the southern town of Moundou. The investigations’ outcomes are still awaited. “Authorities in Chad must end this campaign of intimidation against critical voices, respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The apparent restrictions on Internet connectivity which took place around the protest must be investigated, and people in Chad must be allowed to freely access and exchange information online.” Background Since the death of former President Idriss Deby Itno in April 2021, Chad has been ruled by the Transitional Military Council (Conseil militaire de transition in French) led by his son, Mahamat Idriss Deby. On Saturday 9 October 2021, ‘Wakit Tama’, a coalition of civil society organizations and opposition parties in Chad, called for a protest to denounce the transitional authorities’ governance. The authorities, evoking “risks of disturbing public order”, banned the protest, but people gathered in the capital N’Djamena. According to ‘Wakit Tama’s’ spokespersons, at least 10 people were injured by tear gas and 45 others were arrested during the protest repression. On 2 October, police fired tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators starting to gather around the headquarters of the opposition political party ‘Les Transformateurs’ . The police also dispersed demonstrators in other areas of Ndjamena. According to the authorities, the agreed itinerary for the protest has not been respected. . On 10 October, Wakit Tama said in a statement that five of its main leaders were to be heard by the judicial police today, after police reportedly raided the headquarters of ‘Les Transformateurs’.
When authorities’ attempts to ban the protest did not deter demonstrators, security forces took over the main streets in the capital N’Djamena and fired tear gas, injuring several people, and arresting dozens of demonstrators who have been released on the same day.
Abdoulaye Diarra, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher
Chad: Announcement of investigation following death of protesters must lead to prosecutions
“We spoke to protestors, some of whom had been surrounded by three groups of defense and security forces constituted of gendarmes and police officers. One of them said it was a police officer who shot at him, causing injuries to his left knee,” said Abdoulaye Diarra, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher. ‘’Firearms, which are not a law enforcement tool, should only be used as a last resort, in the face of imminent risk of death or serious injury. Chadian authorities must fully respect the guidelines of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the maintenance of order by law enforcement officials.’’ ‘’Their announcement of an investigation into the killings and injuries must be independent and impartial and lead to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators.” Amnesty International spoke to victims and witnesses who described the use of lethal force by the defense and security forces. For example, during the 8 May protest in N’Djamena, a police officer shot at protesters and killed one of them, according to an eyewitness. “There was a group of protesters who agreed to gather at the 6th Arrondissement District in N’Djamena. The place was already occupied by the security forces who started firing tear gas at protesters, a scene which lasted several minutes. That was when a young man on his motorbike was hit by a bullet,” the eyewitness told Amnesty International. On 19 May, transition authorities announced that the police officer who killed the young protester on his motorbike had been sacked but they did not confirm whether he was subject to legal proceedings. The 27 April protest in N’Djamena was also the scene of armed police intervention on board pick-up vehicles patrolling the streets. Amnesty International has collected several testimonies from relatives of victims killed during that day’s protest. The victims were shot and later died in various health facilities. One of the victims was shot three times, twice to the chest. According to witnesses, security forces and plainclothes officers were shooting from an unregistered car with tinted windows. In the N’Djamena 9th District, other witnesses told Amnesty International they have seen on 27 April armed men in vehicles with tinted windows shooting at the crowd without any reaction from soldiers and police officers who were present at the scene. Three people were injured on 27 April and one of them, a young man of 19, died from his injuries after he was brought to the Walia University Hospital Center (UHC). “He was 19-years-old. He was shot three times, twice in the left side and once to the thigh. He was evacuated with others injured to the UHC where he died just as we were entering the operating room,” a witness said. While protests organized by either civil society organizations or opposition parties in Chad have systematically been banned since April, those supporting the Transitional Military Committee (CMT) can freely protest. A civil society member has confirmed it to Amnesty International: “Protests organized since April were banned and repressed by the security forces while the one organized in support to the CMT was authorized on 12 May.” This approach proves that the bans on demonstrations during the same period were disproportionate and in violation of international law. In a statement released on 7 May, the Ministry of Public Security and Immigration said peaceful protests were only allowed if they met criteria set out by the law. The Minister of Communication justified the ban on the 8 May protest in N’Djamena by its organizers’ refusal to indicate their itinerary and to set up internal security. “There have been regular violations of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Chad for several months. Everyone must be able to safely exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly guaranteed by the Chadian and international laws,” said Abdoulaye Diarra.We spoke to protestors, some of whom had been surrounded by three groups of defense and security forces constituted of gendarmes and police officers. One of them said it was a police officer who shot at him, causing injuries to his left knee.
Chad: Deaths following violent crackdown on protests must be investigated
“We urge authorities to launch impartial and independent investigations into the circumstances of these deaths and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible of unlawful killing. “These protests are happening in response to the seizure of power by a Transitional Military Council (CMT in French), two weeks ago, after Chad’s President Idriss Déby died. “As opposition and civil society organizations have renewed their call for new protests today, authorities must ensure people can safely exercise their right to peaceful assembly. No one should face arrest for simply exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and all those detained for that reason should be immediately and unconditionally released.” Background A coalition of civil society organizations and opposition parties also known as ‘Wakit Tama’- meaning the time has come in local Arabic language- called yesterday for protests denouncing what they consider an “institutional coup” and “dynastic succession” following the seizure of power by the CMT headed by Mahamat Idriss Déby the son of President Idriss Déby. The CMT has banned the protests and security forces cracked down on protesters leading to four deaths in the capital N’Djamena and one in the southern town of Moundou, according to prosecutors. However, the Convention of Human Rights in Chad – a group member of ‘Waakit Tama’ – said nine people died. ‘Wakit Tama’ has renewed its calls for more protests today. Earlier this year, Amnesty International documented a rapidly shrinking political and civic space in Chad with bans on demonstrations and arbitrary arrests.We urge authorities to launch impartial and independent investigations into the circumstances of these deaths and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible of unlawful killing.
Chad: Internet shutdowns impeding freedom of expression
Nearly 2.5 years in total of internet cuts or disruptions since 2016
WhatsApp and Facebook most targeted social networks
Activists and human rights defenders impacted by cuts and disruptions
« We have seen in the last five years, a close link between internet cuts and Chad’s important moments of political dispute. These disruptions impacting all internet users undermine freedom of expression, » said Abdoulaye Diarra, Amnesty International’s Central Africa researcher. « Given the political, economic and social context that Chad is facing, authorities should refrain from blocking access to the internet and ensure the right to freedom of opinion and expression before, during and after the presidential election.” Regular internet disruptions since 2016 Organizations like Netblocks, Internet Sans Frontières and Access Now have reported a combined figure of 911 days of internet disruptions between the last presidential election in 2016 and 2021. These figures include days Chadians spent without internet and those they spent with restrictions on access to some social networks. Internet access, phone calls and phone text messages were again disrupted for two weeks in the last two months. In 2020 alone, the country experienced 192 days of internet disruptions. Human rights activists told Amnesty International that most of the restrictions took place during politically sensitive moments, such as the 2016 presidential election, demonstrations in support of dissenting voices, and the national forum for institutional reforms organized in November 2020 by the authorities. “During the 2016 presidential election, authorities took isolation measures and censorship to prevent opposition candidates from discussing between them the way the ballots were conducted,” one human rights activist, based in the capital N’Djamena, told Amnesty International. In July 2020, access to social media was restricted following the killing of a young mechanic in N’Djamena market by an army officer. In February 2021, it was restricted again during a raid by security forces on the house of an opposition presidential candidate who had refused to respond to a judicial summons. WhatsApp and Facebook are the most targeted social networks according to an activist. Activists prevented from speaking out against human rights violations The restrictions of the internet and access to social media networks are taking place in a context of increasing use of social networks by the population, who want to stay informed on the news in the country. Human rights activists told Amnesty International that internet restrictions have seriously impeded their ability to expose human rights violations and peacefully mobilize action in protest against them. They also limit the visibility of their actions via the internet. ‘’ The government is accountable for these internet cuts which impact my activities as an activist. Using the internet is the only way we can inform national and international opinion of the government’s actions,” another activist said. A member of a civil society organisation told Amnesty International that the persistent internet cuts have a severe impact on youths who use social networks as their main information channels. “That’s why when the internet is cut, few people are able to respond to calls for protests,” he added. The authorities have regularly cited internal security and the maintenance of public order as reasons to justify shutting down the internet. In March 2018, they justified the internet restriction for security reasons and the context of ‘’ terrorist threats’’. New restrictions again took place in July 2020 and authorities claimed they were temporary measures to limit the spreading of hate messages and division. One user said that many Chadians use the internet for online sale, and the cuts have social and financial repercussions on them. According to figures documented by several organisations, the restrictions on access to internet cost the country 23 million USD between July and December 2020. Violation of international law Since August 2018, several organisations in Chad have taken initiatives to fight against internet restrictions and cuts. They have set up a pool of lawyers and lodged a complaint against the two local mobile operators, Airtel and Tigo, for blocking access to social media networks. In October 2020, a court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that it was “unfounded”. In a 27 June 2016 resolution, the UN Human Rights Council stated that measures aimed at preventing or deliberately disrupting access to information or the dissemination of information online are an international human rights law violation. It called on all states to refrain from and end such practices. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa also said cuts to the internet and social media violate the rights to freedom of expression and access to information. In a 29 January 2019 statement, he added that citizens should not be penalized by internet cuts when demonstrating, calling for political and economic reforms or during electoral processes or ballots. Repression of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly Amnesty International documented numerous attacks on freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly over the past year in Chad. On 6 February 2021, several opposition members, unemployed youths, and human rights defenders who wanted to organize a protest on the country’s economic, social, and political situation were arrested. The protest was banned. Some of them were sentenced while others given suspended sentences. In December 2020, a human rights defender was arrested and taken into custody after being invited by a private radio station to comment on the ban of a civil society forum on institutional reforms that was a direct response to one organized a month earlier by the government.We have seen in the last five years, a close link between internet cuts and Chad’s important moments of political dispute. These disruptions impacting all internet users undermine freedom of expression.
During his interview, the police stormed the radio premises and arrested several people including journalists who were there at the same time for training. The journalists were released hours after their arrest. “Access to the internet is indissociable from freedom of expression. The Chadian authorities should guarantee to all their fundamental rights in accordance with international law and the country’s laws,” said Abdoulaye Diarra.Access to the internet is indissociable from freedom of expression. The Chadian authorities should guarantee to all their fundamental rights in accordance with international law and the country’s laws.
Chad: Authorities must investigate raid and killings at presidential contender’s house
“These killings highlight the high tension in Chad ahead of next month’s election characterized by human rights violations with bans on demonstrations and arbitrary arrests already in place. There are also reports of an internet shut down, in what is an unjustified attack on media freedom and freedom of expression. “Against such a volatile backdrop and fearing wider violence, we call on the Chadian authorities to set up an independent and effective investigation of the police use of fatal force to establish the facts and to ensure that anyone criminally responsible is held to account through a fair trial. The authorities must also reverse the rapidly shrinking political and civic space in Chad by ensuring the right to freedom of expression and assembly, and by keeping the internet running.” Background Yaya Dillo, an opposition candidate in Chad’s 11 April presidential election, said his house was raided by security forces and the army on Sunday, and that his mother, his son and three of his relatives were killed in the attack. In a statement, the government spokesperson and Minister of Communication said the raid followed “the systematic refusal for 48 hours by Mr. Yaya Dillo, supported by a group of armed people, to respond to two judicial warrants, challenging the authority of the state by opposing armed resistance”. The Minister of Communication said defense and security forces attempting to execute these warrants were shot at from Dillo’s house and had no other choice but to act in self-defense to protect themselves. He said two people were killed and five injured, including three members of the security forces.These killings highlight the high tension in Chad ahead of next month’s election characterized by human rights violations with bans on demonstrations and arbitrary arrests already in place.
Chad: Opposition members and human rights activists banned from freely protesting ahead of election
(Press Release February 9, 2021 )
“Over the last three months, authorities in Chad have several times banned demonstrations in the country and carried out arbitrary arrests. These bans are unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” said Abdoulaye Diarra, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher. “The situation confirms the rapidly shrinking civic space in Chad, as elections approach despite the Constitution and international law guaranteeing every citizen the right to freedom of association and demonstration. The authorities must drop the charges and release all those arrested solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in N’Djaména and elsewhere.” According to information received by Amnesty International, police on 6 February fired tear gas at protesters in N’Djamena to disperse a gathering which was starting to form. Some protesters including the leader of the opposition party “Les Transformateurs” are still at the US Embassy where they took refuge when police started firing tear gas. In November and December last year, Amnesty International documented the resurgence of attacks on freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in Chad, denouncing and calling on the authorities to end restrictive measures imposed on opposition parties by a police unit.Over the last three months, authorities in Chad have several times banned demonstrations in the country and carried out arbitrary arrests. These bans are unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
HUMAN RIGHTS REFORMS NEEDED IN CHAD:
- Ratify outstanding international treaties including the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers, and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Protect human rights defenders from reprisals in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
- Accept visits by UN Special Rapporteurs on torture, violence against women, rights to water & sanitation, human rights defenders, and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
- Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience.
- Amend ordinances regulating public meetings and protests to insure they meet international human rights standards on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful Allow civil society platforms to carry out their activities without fear of prosecution or reprisals.
- Cease using charges of contempt of court and defamation to restrict the right to freedom of expression. Stop misusing the criminal justice system to target people for exercising rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including human rights defenders and journalists.
- Unregistered associations should not be illegal. Members should not be subjected to criminal sanctions due to lack of registration.
- Unblock access to all websites because of content critical of authorities, and refrain from restricting access to the internet and messaging apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp.
- Refrain from using language that disparages or discriminates against human rights defenders and journalists, characterizing them as “rebels”, “enemies” or “opponents.”
- Investigate threats, attacks, and intimidation against human rights activists and journalists, and bring the suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials.
- Insure a clear chain of accountability within the Agence Nationale de Securité (ANS), so that its powers of arrest are subject to judicial oversight, and persons who are victims of abuse by the ANS have effective recourse and access to reparation. Publicly instruct the police, army, ANS, and gendarmerie to end unlawful arrest, incommunicado detention, extrajudicial executions, and detentions without charge beyond the 48-hour period stipulated in the Criminal Code.
- Permit all detainees, after their arrest and regularly during their detention, to see their families, independent medical practitioners, and lawyers of their choice.
- Allow independent human rights monitors access to all detention centers. Regulate the ANS so that it complies with UN good practices on legal and institutional frameworks for intelligence services and does not detain individuals in unregistered or unlawful facilities.
- Insure that current austerity measures do not result in discrimination of any kind, prioritize the most marginalized groups when allocating resources. Maintain Chadians’ economic, social and cultural rights to health care, education and adequate standard of living.
Overview of the human rights situation in Chad
Protect Detainees at Risk of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa, Unclog Prisons and Release Prisoners of Conscience
April 20, 2020 – at-risk detainees
Chad: Victims in the case against Hissène Habré awarded reparation
July 29, 2016
Hissene Habré verdict is a landmark decision bringing justice for tens of thousands of victims
May 30, 2016 – Chad
Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms
February 22, 2016
Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016
February 18, 2016 – Annual Report
Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International
February 18, 2016 – State of the World 2015
Chad: Release land-grab campaigner jailed for exposing the truth
July 8, 2015
State of the World 2014/2015
February 25, 2015
Annual Report: Chad 2013
May 17, 2013
Countries Must Adopt Strong Arms Trade Treaty to Stop Contributing to the Use of Child Soldiers
February 11, 2013
Harsh New Report by Amnesty International Exposes Appalling Prison Conditions in Chad
September 10, 2012
Chad: ‘We Are All Dying Here’ — Human Rights Violations in Prisons
September 8, 2012