Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2009 - Chad
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||18 June 2009|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2009 - Chad, 18 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a5f3009c.html [accessed 18 September 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
In February 2008, three rebel groups, heavily armed by Sudan,1 joined forces in a new attack on the capital N'Djamena, demonstrating once again the instability in the country and effecting public freedoms, especially after a state of emergency was proclaimed on February 18. A number of security measures were also taken, with the consequent restriction of political freedoms and citizens' rights: house searches, restrictions of freedom of movement, and a whole series of forcible expulsions and the destruction of homes in entire districts of N'Djamena, resulting in the displacement of thousands of people, in most cases with no compensation.2 When Chadian Government forces regained control of the capital they set themselves two goals, to identify the rebels hidden within the population and search for people who were suspected of having helped and collaborated with the rebels and who were considered traitors. Political opponents, civil society representatives, journalists or simple citizens were victims of arrest, summary and extrajudicial execution, acts of torture, extortion, rape and other forms of reprisal by units from the Government forces, especially the presidential guard, supported by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Sudanese rebel group.
The state of emergency additionally served as a pretext for the adoption, on February 26, 2008, of a Regulation on the Press Regime, which notably made the creation of newspapers more difficult3 and which also introduced new press offences such as "collaborating with the enemy", "damaging State security", "offence against the Head of State" or the criminalisation of words inciting "tribal, racial or religious hatred", all of which were liable to sentences of up to five years' imprisonment and fines of 2,500,000 CFA francs (around 3,800 Euros). As a result, any denunciation of military brutality was now considered as threatening institutions. Emblematic of the hard line that was taken was Ms. Sonia Rolley, correspondent for Radio France internationale (RFI) and the last foreign journalist in Chad, who was notified on March 18, 2008 that her accreditation had been withdrawn.4
Faced with the situation of persistent insecurity for refugees, displaced persons, the local population and staff of the United Nations agencies and humanitarian organisations in the east of Chad, the deployment of the United Nations and African Union hybrid force in Darfur was intended to contribute to the stabilisation of the country in 2008, in particular by preventing janjaweed militia incursions. But the National Coordination of Backup for the International Force in Eastern Chad (Coordination nationale d'appui au déploiement de la force internationale à l'est du Tchad – CONAFIT),5 a Government body set up at the end of 2007 by the Chadian Government to support the international forces in carrying out their mandate and to organise international community aid, slowed the deployment of the UN Peace-keeping Mission in the Central African Republic and in Chad (Mission des Nations unies en République centrafricaine et au Tchad – MINURCAT) and the European Force (EUFOR).6
The Chadian authorities set up a national commission of inquiry to investigate the grave human rights violations carried out after the attempted coup in Chad. The commission included international observers and independent civil society organisations.7 The commission report, published in September 2008, stressed the responsibility of the state of Chad for the disappearance of political opponent Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh8 and other violations committed in February 2008. On September 20, 2008, the President adopted a decree to set up a monitoring committee to "prepare and submit for Government approval the set of measures relating to the recommendations included in the report of the commission of enquiry". At the end of 2008, this committee, exclusively composed of ministers and excluding international observers and civil society participants, had not followed up any of the recommendations made by the commission of enquiry.
Threats against defenders who denounce human rights violations linked to the attempted coup d'État
Following the events of February 2008, several human rights defenders received threats and were subject to acts of intimidation, including Mr. Dobian Assingar, Honorary President of the Chadian League of Human Rights (Ligue tchadienne des droits de l'Homme – LTDH), Ms. Jacqueline Moudeïna, President of the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (Association tchadienne pour la promotion et la défense des droits de l'Homme – ATPDH), Ms. Delphine Djiraibe Kemneloum, Vice-President of ATPDH, Mr. Massalbaye Tenebaye, President of LTDH, Mr. Jean-Bernard Padaré, lawyer and member of LTDH, Mr. Clément Dokhot Abaifouta, member of the Association of Victims of Crimes and Political Repression (Association des victimes de crimes et de la répression politique – AVCRP), Mr. Lazare Kaoutar Djelourninga, Vice-President of ATPDH and Director of the radio station FM Liberté, Mr. Djacko Guila Sackou, Executive Secretary of ATPDH, and Mr. Lou Hingané Nadji, member of the Moundou branch of LTDH.9 During the months of February and March 2008, the ATPDH head office received several visits from units of the National Security Agency (Agence de sécurité nationale – ANS), the Government political police, which tried to find out whether ATPDH had contacts abroad, and intimidated head office support staff. At the end of 2008, threats continued to be made against these defenders.
In addition, the authorities orchestrated a smear campaign against LTDH following the presentation by Mr. Massalbaye Tenebaye, during an interview at RFI on July 19, 2008, of an LTDH inquiry report into human rights violations committed during and following the rebel forces' attack on N'Djamena in February 2008.10 On July 20, Mr. Tenebaye, Mr. Baldal Oyamta, LTDH Secretary General, and Mr. Dominique Touadé, in charge of LTDH communications department, received telephone calls from the Main Secretary of the Ministry of Human Rights, who insisted that they should send him the report as soon as possible. On July 21, 2008, the Minister of Communications and Government Spokesman spoke about the report on Radio Tchad in a threatening tone, accusing LTDH of lying and of wanting to cause harm. On July 22, 2008, the Minister of Human Rights, Ms. Fatimé Issa Ramadane, summoned Messrs. Tenebaye and Oyamta to her office to express her strong disapproval that the report had been published without previously informing the Ministry. On the evening of July 22, the presenter of the eight o'clock evening news on national television declared that the LTDH report was "(...) a tissue of inappropriate statements and lies". However, the report of the national commission responsible for investigating the human rights violations committed in February 2008, published in September 2008, fully confirmed the LTDH analysis of the facts and the State's responsibility for the grave human rights violations committed on this occasion.
Attempt to shut down a human rights organisation
On July 30, 2008, Mr. Clément Dokhot Abaifouta, the newly elected President of AVCRP board, was called by the N'Djamena judicial police for a hearing after the previous AVCRP board had filed a complaint that had resulted in the Minister of Interior issuing an order to shutdown AVCRP on the grounds that the association was not registered. On July 31, 2008, Mr. Abaifouta went to the offices of the judicial police accompanied by his lawyer. He was taken in for questioning on the orders of the Prosecutor of the Republic, and placed in custody for "forgery and use of forged documents" and "incitation to tribal hatred". In the police report, the police superintendent in charge of the investigation established the existence of "technical flaws since the closure was ordered without the different parties being heard" and because "this case was handled by two authorities: the judicial police and the Ministry of Interior". On August 1, 2008, Mr. Abaifouta was brought before the N'Djamena Court, which dismissed the case against him. As a result Mr. Abaifouta was released at the end of proceedings whose sole objective appeared to be to discredit the work of his organisation.
Acts of harassment against defenders who denounce corruption
In 2008, human rights defenders denouncing corruption within State bodies were subjected to acts of harassment. On January 16, 2008, FM-Liberté, the radio station created in 1998 by the Union of the Chad Trade Unions (Union des syndicats du Tchad – UST) and the Collective of Human Rights Associations to Promote Democracy (Collectif des associations de défense des droits de l'Homme pour promouvoir la démocratie), was shut down following a police raid, and its Director, Mr. Lazare Kaoutar Djekourninga, was arrested for "broadcasting false information", following the broadcast of a press release issued by the Association for the Defence of Consumers' Rights denouncing the corruption of certain civil servants, in particular the practice of demanding money paid under the table in order to obtain an identity card. Mr. Kaoutar Djekourninga was released in the days that followed and the radio station reopened on May 27, after the court declared that it was incompetent to judge the case.
Civil society continued to be kept at a distance from the mechanism established to manage oil revenues, in violation of the Chadian law that provides for the presence of two NGO representatives within the Oil Resources Management and Monitoring College (Collège de contrôle et de surveillance des ressources pétrolières – CCSRP).11 In 2007, Mr. Dobian Assingar, a civil society representative within CCSRP, had already been replaced following a decision by the Chadian Government. At the beginning of 2008, when the scope and supervisory powers of the College should have been strengthened, its composition was radically altered. Mr. Michel Barka of the UST and the two other members representing civil society were replaced by people considered as more amenable by the Government.12
Urgent Interventions issued by The Observatory in 200813
|Names of human rights defenders / NGOs||Violations||Intervention Reference||Date of Issuance|
|Mr. Dobian Assingar, Ms. Jacqueline Moudeïna, Ms. Delphine Djiraibe Kemneloum, Mr. Lazare Kaoutar Djelourninga and Mr. Lou Hingané Nadji||Threats to security||Urgent Appeal TDC 001/0208/OBS 016||February 6, 2008|
|Mr. Massalbaye Tenebaye||Threats to security||Urgent Appeal TDC 001/0208/OBS 016||February 6, 2008|
|Threats / Acts of intimidation||Urgent Appeal TDC 002/0708/OBS 124||July 23, 2008|
|Mr. Jean-Bernard Padaré||Threats to security / Harassment||Urgent Appeal TDC 001/0208/OBS 016||February 6, 2008|
|Threats to security / Harassment||Urgent Appeal TDC 001/0208/OBS 016.1||23 February 2008|
|Mr. Clément Abaifouta||Threats to security||Urgent Appeal TDC 001/0208/OBS 016||February 6, 2008|
|Arbitrary arrest||Urgent Appeal TDC 003/0808/OBS 131||August 1, 2008|
|Liberation / End of judicial proceedings||Urgent Appeal TDC 003/0808/OBS 131.1||August 4, 2008|
|Messrs. Baldal Oyamta and Dominique Touadé||Threats / Acts of intimidation||Urgent Appeal TDC 002/0708/OBS 124||July 23, 2008|
1 The Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (Union des forces pour la démocratie et le développement – UFDD), the UFDD-Fundamental (UFDD-Fondamentale – UFDD-F) and the Rally of Forces for Change (Rassemblement des forces pour le changement – RFC). See report of the Chadian Human Rights League (Ligue tchadienne des droits de l'Homme – LTDH), Quand le pays sombre dans le chaos, June 2008.
2 See International Crisis Group, Chad: A New Conflict Resolution Framework, Africa Report No. 144 September 24, 2008.
3 See Regulation No. 005/PR/2008 of February 26, 2008 on the Chad Press Regime.
4 See Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières – RSF) Press Release, March 20, 2008.
5 See Decree No. 896/PR/2007 on the creation, organisation and attributions of CONAFIT.
6 See International Crisis Group, Chad: A New Conflict Resolution Framework, Africa Report No. 144 September 24, 2008.
7 See Decree No. 525/PR/2008 "Commission of enquiry into the events in the Republic of Chad from January 28 to February 8, 2008 and their consequences".
8 According to the report, Mr. Mahamat Saleh was arrested on February 3, 2008 after the rebels withdrew from N'Djamena. The soldiers who came to arrest Mr. Mahamat Saleh at his home "were wearing Chadian army uniforms" and "although it has not been possible to obtain any information or element of proof regarding his fate [...], it is probable that he is now dead". See Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the events in the Republic of Chad from January 28 to February 8, 2008 and their consequences (Unofficial translation).
9 The ACPHR Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in Africa expressed grave concern about the precarious situation of defenders in Chad. See Press Release on the situation in Chad, March 24, 2008.
10 The LTDH report, entitled Quand le pays sombre dans le chaos, was published in mid-June.
11 See Chapter 4 of the Law No. 1 of January 11, 1999 on the management of oil earnings, and International Crisis Group, Chad, a new conflict resolution framework, Africa Report No. 144, September 24, 2008.
12 See International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Press Release, Chad, peace heads the list of union demands, June 10, 2008.
13 See the Compilation of cases in the CD-Rom attached to this report.