World Report - Chad
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||October 2012|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, World Report - Chad, October 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/509237532.html [accessed 4 March 2015]|
- Area: 1,284,000 sq km
- Population: 11.3 million (2009)
- Language: French and Arabic
- Head of state: Idriss Déby Itno since 1991
A climate of permanent mistrust has prevailed for years in Chad between the authorities and the often unruly privately-owned print media, which have a limited circulation and, for the most part, are only published in the capital. Threats and acts of intimidation are common.
Chad's constitution guarantees media freedom but in practice the tight political control exercised by President Idriss Déby, government ministers and judicial officials limits the possibilities of expressing critical views. After ousting former comrade in arms Hissène Habré in a coup, Déby has ruled and been elected and reelected for 21 years, making no bones about his hostility towards opposition and independent media.
The declaration of a state of emergency and adoption of Order 05 on the press in response to an armed rebellion in February 2008 had dramatic consequences for the media -- a censorship committee, a strike by privately-owned newspapers, the suspension of some programmes on privately-owned radio stations, aggressive comments by the communication minister about independent media and journalists fleeing to escape arrest. The crackdown was particularly harsh as the rebels advanced on the capital and even after their retreat.
The media law that has been in place since August 2010 is more supple but no less restrictive and repressive. It abolished prison sentences for defamation and insult but maintained exorbitant fines and allows newspapers to be suspended for up to three years. And "inciting tribal, racial or religious hatred" carries a possible sentence of one to two years in prison and a fine of 1 to 3 million CFA francs (1,500 to 4,500 euros).
Jean-Claude Nékim, the editor of the opposition newspaper N'Djamena Bi-Hebdo, suffered at the hands of this law in September 2012, when he was given a one-year suspended jail sentence and his newspaper was suspended for three months over a brief about a petition referring to the social crisis in Chad and condemning misgovernance.
Like Chadian politics, in which the opposition struggles to make its voice heard, the different currents of thought are barely represented in the media. Chad does have some critical newspapers, above all N'Djamena Bi-Hebdo and Abba Garde, but their influence is limited to the capital because the population is still rural, it has no purchasing power and the literacy rate is very low despite the government's boasts about the "development progress" being made.
The country's only daily, Le Progrès, benefits from the government's generosity, especially in the form of state subsidies, in return for its political support. The main source of news and information in Chad continues to be the community radio stations, which lack funding, professionalism and infrastructure.
The fact that this former French colony has no journalists in prison is offset by the constant intimidation of the media. Abduction, kidnap attempts, harassment and threats sustain a climate of danger and fear. Self-censorship is on the increase. And many journalists have had no choice but to go into exile after discovering that they are unwanted in their homeland.
Updated in October 2012