Republic of Chad
Head of state Idriss Déby Itno
Head of government Emmanuel Djelassem Nadingar
Trade unionists, journalists and human rights defenders were intimidated and the criminal justice system was used to harass political opponents. People continued to be arbitrarily arrested and held in lengthy pre-trial detention. Many children were recruited as child soldiers. Prison conditions remained extremely harsh. Impunity for human rights violations and abuses continued.
Chad continued to host a large number of refugees and internally displaced persons. According to the UN, as of 31 December, there were 281,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad and 79,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in the south, in addition to 120,000 internally displaced people in various sites on the border with Darfur, Sudan.
Rebel leader Abdel Kader Baba Laddé of the Popular Front for Redress (Front populaire pour le redressement, FPR), who was based in northern Central African Republic, returned to Chad in September after negotiations between the FPR and the Chadian and Central African Republic governments. He was accused by human rights groups of recruiting child soldiers.
Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment
Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments, including beatings, continued to be widely practised by security forces and prison guards, with almost total impunity.
Detention without trial
Most prisoners were held in lengthy pre-trial detention. Several had spent years in detention without the authorities being aware of their presence. In March, a 17-year-old boy had spent more than 18 months in Doba prison without the knowledge of the local prosecutor.
Arbitrary arrests and detentions
People continued to be arrested and detained without charge. Detainees were routinely held in police cells as well as in secret detention facilities.
Conditions remained harsh, amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Cells were severely overcrowded, and food and drinking water were inadequate. There was no health care in prisons, including for serious transmissible diseases such as tuberculosis. Men, women and children were held together indiscriminately in the majority of prisons. No mechanisms were in place to allow prisoners to complain about their treatment.
- Inmates were often chained in the prisons in Abéché, Sarh and Doba. In March, at least 15 prisoners were chained by their legs day and night in Abéché prison.
No effective action was taken to bring to justice those suspected in the disappearance of opposition leader Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh. His whereabouts remained unknown more than four years after his arrest in February 2008. A 2009 report of a national commission of inquiry had confirmed that he was arrested from his home by eight members of the security forces.
Harassment of political opponents
Chadian officials continued to use the criminal justice system to harass political opponents and influence the judiciary.
- In March, opposition MP Gali Ngothé Gatta of the United Democratic Forces (Union des Forces Démocratiques) was arrested and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for attempted corruption and poaching by the Tribunal of first instance in Sahr, southern Chad. He was tried and sentenced three days after his arrest, despite his parliamentary immunity not being lifted. He was detained in Sahr prison and later transferred to Moundou prison following an appeal. On 24 April, the Moundou Court of Appeal annulled the proceedings due to “grave flaws” and ordered the release of Gali Ngothé Gatta. The Supreme Court later confirmed the Court of Appeal’s ruling.
- Emmanuel Dekeumbé, a judge at the Moundou Court of Appeal who refused to sentence Gali Ngothé Gatta and denounced the procedural irregularities, was dismissed by the Supreme Judicial Council (Conseil supérieur de la Magistrature). The decision was confirmed by a Presidential ordinance in July.
Freedom of expression
- Monsignor Michele Russo, Catholic bishop of Doba, was expelled from Chad by the authorities on 14 October following an address he gave during a mass on 30 September. In his statement, broadcast by a Doba-based radio station, he denounced mismanagement by the authorities and unequal distribution of wealth from oil revenues of the region.
The authorities continued to threaten media outlets and harass journalists.
- On 18 September, Jean-Claude Nekim, chief editor of the bi-weekly newspaper N’Djamena Bi-Hebdo, was sentenced to one year’s suspended imprisonment and fined CFA 1 million (US$2,000) after his newspaper printed extracts from a petition issued by the Union of Chad Trade Unions (Union des syndicats du Tchad, UST). He was charged with “incitement of racial hatred” and “defamation”. The newspaper was also banned for three months. His appeal against the decision was still pending at the end of the year.
Human rights defenders
Human rights defenders, including trade union leaders, were attacked and continued to be subjected to intimidation and harassment by government officials. In some instances, the judiciary was used to silence them.
- On 18 September, Michel Barka, Younous Mahadjir and François Djondang, all leading members of the UST, were sentenced to 18 months’ suspended imprisonment and each fined CFA 1 million (US$2,000). The N’Djamena First Instance Tribunal found the three men guilty of “incitement to racial hatred” and “defamation” in relation to the UST’s petition published earlier that month. Their appeal was pending at the end of the year.
- On 19 October, Jacqueline Moudeina, a lawyer and president of the human rights organization Association tchadienne de promotion et de défense des droits de l’homme (ATPDH), was attacked by unidentified armed men in front of her house in N’Djamena. She was unharmed but her vehicle was taken by the men and found on 22 October in the village of Malo-Tama, 35km away. This incident occurred several days after Jacqueline Moudeina received the 2011 Right Livelihood Award for her human rights work. Arrests were made but by the end of the year it was not clear if anyone had been charged.
- On 20 October, six men in the military uniform of the gendarmerie entered the compound of Dobian Assingar, a human rights activist and honorary president of the Chadian League of Human Rights (LTDH). They searched the house without a warrant and said they were looking for a stolen car. Dobian Assingar filed a complaint but no reply had been received by the end of the year.
There were persistent reports during the year that children were recruited by the Chadian National Army, including massive numbers in February-March. The recruitment and use of children by Chadian and Sudanese armed groups also continued. Information collected by various sources between February and April reported that many children in the departments of Assoungha and Kimiti in eastern Chad, including already demobilized children who had been reunited with their families, regularly travelled to Sudan where they served in armed groups.
- At least 24 children aged between 14 and 17 were found by social workers at the Mongo Military Training Center in June.
Housing rights – forced evictions
Forced evictions continued to take place throughout the year, even in cases where there was a court injunction against eviction. No alternative housing or compensation were offered to victims, even those who had won compensation before a court.
- In January, more than 600 people were forcibly evicted and their homes destroyed in Sabangali, N’Djamena, to make way for the construction of a hotel. In April, some of those evicted were allocated plots of land, but only half of the former residents received compensation promised by an inter-ministerial commission.
International justice – Hissène Habré
On 22 August, an agreement was signed between Senegal and the African Union to establish a special court to try former President Hissène Habré. In September, Chadian authorities stated that they had confirmed their financial contribution of CFA 2 billion (around US$4 million) for the trial. In December, Senegal’s national assembly adopted a law creating a special tribunal to try Hissène Habré.
Violence against women and girls
The authorities consistently failed to prevent and address sexual violence by both state and non-state agents.
- On the night of 8 January, 13 women detainees were sexually assaulted by prison guards at Moussoro prison. All women detained in the prison were subsequently transferred to Amsinene prison in N’Djamena, on the orders of the Minister of Justice. No independent investigation had begun by the end of the year.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Amnesty International delegates visited Chad in March and September.
- Chad: ‘We are all dying here’ – human rights violations in prisons (AFR 20/007/2012)
- Chad: Judicial harassment of political opponents and journalists must stop (PRE01/455/2012)