Chad - Amnesty International Report 2007

Human Rights in REPUBLIC OF CHAD

Amnesty International  Report 2013


The 2013 Annual Report on
Chad is now live »

Head of state: Idriss Déby
Head of government: Pascal Yaodimnadji
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: ratified

Clashes between the security forces and armed opposition groups intensified from April onwards. The Janjawid, an armed Sudanese militia group, crossed the border into eastern Chad, attacking villages, killing civilians and forcibly displacing tens of thousands. Women suffered grave human rights abuses, including rape, during these attacks. At least two people were extrajudicially executed by the security forces, one of whom was tortured before being killed. Human rights defenders and journalists continued to be at risk of detention, unfair trial and imprisonment.

Background

President Idriss Déby's administration continued to be threatened by armed conflict. Armed groups, including the United Front for Change (Front uni pour le changement, FUC), the Rally of Democratic Forces (Rassemblement des forces démocratiques, RAFD) and the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (Union des forces pour la démocratie et le développement, UFDD), carried out military operations throughout 2006 in the north and east of the country. Armed clashes between the security forces and armed opposition groups intensified from April onwards along the eastern border with Sudan and the Chadian authorities accused Sudan of backing the attackers. In April, the FUC launched attacks in the east and southeast, reaching the capital city, N'Djaména; scores of soldiers and members of armed groups were reportedly killed. The FUC failed to conquer N'Djaména and dozens of its members were arrested. In October, several towns, including Goz Beida, were occupied for more than 24 hours by the UFDD. In November, the UFDD and the RAFD attacked several towns in the east and occupied the towns of Abéché and Guerreda for more than 24 hours. In December, the FUC and the Chadian authorities signed a peace deal in Libya. Under the provision of the accord, the FUC forces would be integrated into the Chadian army.

In order to combat the armed groups, the Chadian authorities withdrew government troops from the eastern border with Sudan, leaving civilians to face larger and more prolonged attacks by the Janjawid.

In January, the National Assembly passed a law extending its own term in office by over a year. Legislative elections which should have taken place in 2006 were postponed until 2007. Despite calls from the African Union and national human rights organizations to postpone the presidential elections, President Idriss Déby was elected in May to serve a third five-year term in a poll boycotted by opposition parties.

In November, the government declared a state of emergency in some regions including Chari Baguirmi, Borkou Ennedi Tibesti and N'Djaména. It created a committee to censor all public and private newspapers and radio stations, in order to prevent the publication or broadcast of information liable to jeopardize public order, national unity, territorial integrity or respect for the republic's institutions.

Also in November, Chad ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Unlawful killings

The conflict in Sudan spilled over into Chad. The Janjawid extended its activities into eastern Chad, mainly in the Dar Sila department, and attacked a diverse range of ethnic groups identified as "African" rather than Arab. Members of communities such as the Dajo, Mobeh and Masalit left the border area as a result of Janjawid incursions. Hundreds of people, particularly members of the Dajo ethnic group, were killed by the Janjawid throughout 2006, and more than 80,000 people were forcibly displaced. Many remained in Chad as internally displaced persons, but at least 15,000, cut off from a safer escape route, fled into Darfur, despite the continuing conflict and disruption there. The refugees who fled into Darfur had virtually no access to humanitarian assistance. The internally displaced within Chad congregated in informal camps where they often remained at risk of further attacks.

Janjawid attacks on communities in eastern Chad, which began in 2003, initially consisted of frequent, small-scale raids aimed primarily at stealing cattle, which were generally kept at some distance from the villages. People guarding the cattle were often killed if they resisted the better-armed Janjawid, but the villages themselves were not attacked. However, as these incursions became more frequent, the Janjawid began to attack, burn and loot villages, sometimes repeatedly over a period of several days or months, until most of the inhabitants had been killed or forced to flee.

• In March, the Janjawid launched a large-scale attack near N'Djaména village, a few kilometres from Modaina, in which 72 people were killed.

• In October, the Janjawid used incendiary weapons during attacks on Djimeze Djarma village. Seventeen people, including Adam Oumar, Ahmed Haroon and a 90-year-old woman, Hawa Rashadiya, were killed.

• In November, the village of Djorlo was attacked on three sides simultaneously. The Janjawid fired on the outskirts of the village before advancing. Forty people including Yahyah Omar, aged 75, and Sabil Awat, aged 60, were killed. In addition, three babies who were still breastfeeding, including Adam Haroon, were burned alive in their homes and one old crippled man, unable to flee, was also burned alive.

• The village of Koloy was attacked several times between September and November. During these attacks, more than 100 people were killed, including Adam Abdelkerim, Ibrahim Said, Mahamat Abakar and an 85-year-old woman, Hawa Issa.

Violence against women

The widespread insecurity in eastern Chad had particularly severe consequences for women, who suffered grave human rights abuses, including rape, during attacks on villages. Sexual violence often continued after the women were displaced. Women also suffered extreme hardship associated with displacement and the deaths of their male relatives.

• In October, seven women were abducted in Djimeze Djarma and held for 20 days by their attackers. They were beaten with whips and sticks throughout this period. The women did not identify their attackers as members of the Janjawid.

• During an attack on the village of Djorlo in November, the Janjawid raped seven women who had taken refuge in a mosque. According to an eye-witness, the women were captured and beaten, then thrown to the ground. The attackers pinned the women to the ground, tore off their clothes and raped them.

Detention without trial

In May, at least 10 people were arrested in Guité on the suspicion of links with armed groups. Two were released without charge after two days and the others after 15 days.

Dozens of military officers and soldiers, including Adil Ousmane and Colonel Abakar Gawi, were arrested in April shortly after an attack by an armed group on N'Djaména. Some were released, but seven high-ranking officers remained in detention at the end of the year. The reasons for their arrest remained unclear, and no charges were brought against them. The authorities refused to grant the detainees access to their families and lawyers and would not reveal where or on what grounds they were held.

Extrajudicial executions

At least two people were extrajudicially executed by the security forces.

• In May, soldiers in three separate vehicles arrived in Guité and arrested several people. One person was asked to produce his identity card and told to lie down on the ground. Soldiers stamped on him, then one soldier shot him dead at close range.

• In April, Commander Idriss Mahamat Idriss was arrested while riding in a military vehicle. His body, showing signs of gunshot wounds, was found in the morgue a few days later.

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders and journalists continued to be at risk of detention, unfair trial and imprisonment in violation of their right to freedom of expression. Two human rights defenders were illegally detained and threatened.

Following the decision to censor the press, the Association of Privately Owned Press Editors suspended the publication of five affiliated newspapers: N'Djaména Bi-hebdo, Notre Temps, le Temps, Sarh Tribune and le Messager.

• In April, René Dillah Yombirin, a public radio journalist and French service correspondent for the BBC, was attacked by several soldiers while he was interviewing residents in the Moursal area shortly after the attack on N'Djaména. He was taken to an unknown destination before being released a few hours later.

• In April, Mingar Monodji, a member of the Chadian Human Rights League, was arrested and detained by soldiers for three days in an unknown location. At the end of the third day, they abandoned him by the side of a road. During his detention, Mingar Monodji was beaten regularly by soldiers who accused him and other human rights activists of being mercenaries opposed to President Déby.

• In May, Tchanguiz Vathankha, director of Radio Brakoss, a community radio station, and president of the Chad Union of Privately Owned Radio Stations, was arrested and held without charge for eight days. He was arrested after his organization issued a statement calling for the postponement of the May presidential election.

• In October, Evariste Ngaralbaye, a journalist for the privately owned weekly, Notre Temps, was arrested and detained for four days. He was charged with defamation and damage to the reputation and morale of the gendarmerie. Shortly before his arrest, he had published a critical article on the conflict in eastern Chad.

Chad-Cameroon pipeline

In April, Chad threatened to shut down the Chad-Cameroon pipeline if the World Bank refused to release assets frozen in January after the Chadian government amended the Revenue Management Law governing the proceeds of the pipeline project. The government sought to divert pipeline revenues, originally reserved for health and education spending and poverty reduction, to fighting the armed rebellion against President Déby. An interim accord was reached in April, and in July relations were fully normalized after a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Chadian government and the World Bank.

In August, following a tax dispute, the activities of US and Malaysian companies sponsoring the pipeline were suspended. They resumed in October, following an accord reached with the Chadian government.

AI country reports/visits

Reports

• Chad/Sudan: Thousands displaced by attacks from Sudan (AI Index: AFR 20/005/2006)

• Chad: "We don't want to die before Hissène Habré is brought to trial" (AI Index: AFR 20/002/2006)

• Chad: Testimonies from eastern Chad (AI Index: AFR 20/007/2006)

• Chad: Des militaires détenus depuis plus de cinq mois (AI Index: AFR 20/010/2006)

• Chad: Civilians left unprotected as brutal Janjawid attacks reach 150 kilometres inside Chad (AI Index: AFR 20/013/2006)

Visits

AI delegates visited Chad in May/June and in November/December to carry out research and hold talks with the authorities.