Fighting continued between government forces and a myriad of armed opposition groups. Since independence from France in 1960, Chad has been racked by civil strife. Constitutional changes in 2005, which enabled President Idriss Déby Itno to run for election for a third term, re-ignited the conflict. One of the main drivers of the conflict centred on the control of state power and oil revenues. In addition, inter-communal tensions were fuelled by competition over natural resources, such as land and water, and years of impunity for human rights abuses. These tensions exacerbated violence between groups which define themselves as “Africans” and as “Arabs”.
In December 2006, the government of Chad reached a peace agreement with one of the main armed opposition groups, the United Front for Democratic Change (Front uni pour le changement démocratique, FUC). Following this agreement, the FUC’s members joined the national army and its leader, Mahamat Nour, was appointed as Minister of Defence. In October 2007, desertions of former FUC members to Darfur were reported, and in December Mahamat Nour was dismissed.
On 4 October the government of Chad reached another agreement in Syrte, Libya, with four other armed opposition groups, including the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), the Rally of Democratic Forces (Rassemblement des forces démocratiques, RAFD) and the Chadian National Concord (Concorde nationale tchadienne, CNT). This agreement was not fully implemented, however, because of divergences between the government and armed opposition leaders over its content and exact extent.At the end of November, renewed fighting erupted between some of these armed groups and the Chadian national army.
On 25 September, the UN Security Council unanimously authorized for a period of one year a UN operation (MINURCAT), alongside a European military operation (EUFOR), in eastern Chad and the north-east of the Central African Republic (CAR). This force was intended to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance and create favourable conditions for reconstruction and development, so as to create the conditions conducive to a voluntary, secure and sustainable return of refugees and displaced people.
Prime Minister Pascal Yoadimnadji died in February and was replaced by Nouradine Delwa Kassiré Comakye.
In August, about 20 political parties, some of them from the opposition, signed a political accord with the government to take part in the public affairs of the country and to prolong the term of the National Assembly until 2009.
Unlawful killings by armed groups
Unlawful killings of civilians by armed groups continued in 2007. Inter-ethnic and inter-communal fighting accounted for most civilian casualties. Attacks on civilians by “Arab” Janjawid militia from Sudan supported by their local Chadian allies were reported, as were attacks by “African” groups on their “Arab” neighbours.
- On 30 March, the villages of Tiero and Marena and 30 neighbouring villages, which were inhabited mainly by members of the Dajo ethnic group, were attacked by armed Chadian men, allegedly belonging to Arab groups, and members of the CNT, an armed group with bases in Sudan. The Chadian government claimed that the Sudanese Janjawid militia had also been involved in this raid. A UNHCR team visiting the area the day after the attack spoke of “apocalyptic” scenes. Between 270 and 400 people were reportedly killed.
- In the area of Dar Sila, Arab communities were attacked on several occasions by armed men reportedly from the Dajo community or from Sudanese armed opposition groups present in the refugee camps known as the Toro Boro. The attacks may have been motivated by the perception among the Dajo and other African Sudanese groups that these Chadian Arab communities were allied to Sudanese Arab armed groups.
Violence against women
Sexual violence against women and girls remained prevalent in Chad. In eastern Chad, women continued to face rape and other forms of sexual violence at the hands of militias, armed groups and Chadian government soldiers. Displaced women and girls were particularly vulnerable to attack when they ventured outside their camps to collect firewood or other essentials. In almost all cases, the perpetrators of these abuses, whether they were state or non-state actors, went unpunished.
- A 14-year-old girl living in the Aradip camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Dar Sila region was caught and raped by several armed men when she left the camp to collect firewood early in the morning of 30 April.
- Rape and other forms of sexual violence against women were also reported in other provinces of the country, such as Moyen Chari.
- A 15-year-old girl and her brother were stopped on their way to a church service by relatives of the gendarmerie commander of Moissala, Moyen Chari. They were taken to the commander’s house where the girl was raped six times. Both children were beaten. The perpetrators demanded that they pay CFA100 (less than US$1) for their release, but they had no money and were beaten again before being released. The perpetrators were not arrested or prosecuted.
Violations against children
The armed conflict in eastern Chad and widespread insecurity in other parts of the country exacerbated violations of children’s rights.
Recruitment of child soldiers
Children were recruited into the Chadian army, as well as into armed opposition movements and local defence groups, notably in the east. The UN also reported that Sudanese children from refugee camps in eastern Chad had been forcibly recruited by Sudanese armed groups.
- On 30 March, military trucks went to Habile IDP camp in Dar Sila. Chadian soldiers in combat uniform called on the local leaders to convene the population, in particular young men. They then took a number of people away in the trucks, reportedly saying they had to defend their country. Several children, including Ateb Khaled Ahmad, aged 17, and Yasin Yakob Issak, aged 16, were among those taken away.
- According to UNICEF, by the end of November, about 500 child soldiers had been demobilized from the national army.
- In February, in a statement to the Paris Principles and Commitments Conference, the Chadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmad Allam-Mi, said that Chad respected its international obligations with regard to rights of children.
Scores of children were abducted and held for ransom by armed bandits commonly known as coupeurs de routes.
- On 25 November, in the village of Gondoyilla, Tandjilé Est, seven people, including five children, were kidnapped for a ransom of CFA1,000,000 (US$2,200). They were held for 11 days by armed bandits.
- In November, six members of a French NGO, Zoe’s Ark, as well as four Chadians were charged by the Chadian authorities with fraud and abduction after their attempt to fly out 103 children, aged between one and 10 years old, from the airport of Abeche in eastern Chad. Representatives of the NGO claimed that the children were orphans from Darfur. According to a UN investigation, however, the majority of these children, who were from villages near the Sudanese border, had been living with their families with at least one adult they considered to be their parent.
- Other reported abuses against children included trafficking in children to work as domestic servants, herders and beggars.
Freedom of expression
Independent journalists and human rights defenders were subject to intimidation, harassment and illegal arrest. The government restricted freedom of speech and of the press, in particular when the authorities were criticized.
One mechanism of control and censorship used by the government was the state of emergency. While its official purpose was to curb the fighting between different ethnic groups in eastern Chad, the government also used it to censor and muzzle the independent news media. In June, the government lifted the state of emergency in seven provinces and the capital. It was reimposed in mid-November for about two weeks in some provinces of eastern Chad.
- In January, human rights defender Marcel Ngargoto was unlawfully detained by the gendarmerie of his home town of Moissala, 500 km south-east of the capital, for about a month and a half. He was not charged with any offence, but he was told by the gendarmes that he had been detained because he had been critical of the gendarmerie in the area, and particularly of the commandant, whom he alleged had extorted money from local residents.
- On 31 October, armed men broke into the home of Mikael Didama, director of Le temps newspaper. They fired a volley of shots into his car before leaving. Mikael Didama was abroad, but his family was in the house.
The fate of more than 14 army officers and civilians, victims of enforced disappearance between April and August 2006, remained unknown. The men were detained by members of the security forces because they were suspected of involvement in an attack on the capital, N’Djamena, by an armed group in April 2006. Despite persistent and repeated calls from the victims’ families and human rights organizations, the authorities refused to disclose their whereabouts.
- On 30 November, at least seven members of the Tama ethnic group were arrested in the eastern town of Guéréda. The authorities subsequently refused to disclose their whereabouts. Some were members of the FUC and were arrested during or soon after a meeting with President Déby to discuss disarmament and the integration of former FUC members into the army.
The case of Hissène Habré, the former Chadian president accused of committing grave human rights violations, progressed slowly. (See Senegal entry.)
Refugees and internally displaced people
According to UNHCR, eastern Chad hosted some 240,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps who had fled the fighting in Darfur. There were also about 50,000 refugees from the Central African Republic living in refugee camps in southern Chad.
More than 170,000 people still lived in IDP camps in eastern Chad.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Amnesty International delegates visited Chad in March and visited eastern Chad in April and May.
- Chad: Civilians under attack – Darfur conflict spreads to eastern Chad (AFR 20/005/2007)
- Chad: No protection from rape and violence for displaced women and girls in eastern Chad (AFR 20/008/2007)
- Chad: ‘Are we citizens of this country?’ – Civilians in Chad unprotected from Janjawid attacks (AFR 20/001/2007)
- Chad: Escalating violence means UN must deploy, but be adequately resourced (AFR 20/012/2007)
- Chad: Urgent need to protect the people of eastern Chad (AFR 20/003/2007)
- Chad: Government must accept UN forces to protect civilians in East (AFR 20/006/2007)
- Chad: UN Security Council resolution a step forward in protecting civilians but concerns remain (AFR 20/011/2007)