U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Chad
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Chad, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa3020.html [accessed 5 May 2015]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
CHADChad continued its transition from an authoritarian system to a constitutional democracy. Effective power is held by President Idriss Deby and his party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS). President Deby took power in a December 1990 coup and was confirmed as Chief of State by the Sovereign National Conference (CNS) of 1993. He was elected President in mid-1996 under a Constitution adopted in a referendum earlier that year. Elections for a National Legislative Assembly were held in early 1997 and resulted in the replacement of the provisional parliament known as the Higher Transitional Council (CST). General Wadal Abdelkader Kamougue, the runner-up to Idriss Deby in the 1996 presidential elections, was elected President of the new Assembly. The Government is headed by a Prime Minister nominated by the President and confirmed by the National Assembly. Prime Minister Nassour Guelengdouksia Ouaidou has held office since May. Insurgent groups opposed to the Government did not mount any serious campaigns, and a number of rebels changed their support to the Government. An important peace accord was signed in Moundou on April 18 between the Government and the rebel group known as the Armed Forces for the Federal Republic (FARF), led by Laokein Barde Frisson. However, fighting broke out between the Government and FARF in Moundou in October, resulting in the breakdown of the accord and arresting the downward trend of Government-rebel confrontation. The judicial system continued to be ineffective, overburdened and subject to outside, including official, interference, notably in the handling by the Court of Appeals of the results of the legislative elections. The army, gendarmerie, police, National and Nomadic Guard (GNNT), and intelligence services are responsible for internal security. Officers from the ethnic group of President Deby dominate the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR), and the National Security Agency (ANS), a counterintelligence organization that has acted as an internal political police force. The security forces continued to commit serious human rights abuses, with the army remaining an essentially undisciplined force. The economy is mainly based on subsistence agriculture, herding, and fishing. Per capita income is estimated at $190 per year. The country has little industry; its chief export is cotton. The Government relies heavily on external financial and technical assistance, but has substantial undeveloped oil reserves. The human rights situation improved in several respects; however, serious problems remain. According to local human rights groups, the security forces committed scores of extrajudicial killings. There were reports of disappearances. Members of the security forces also beat and reportedly raped citizens. Prison conditions are harsh and life threatening. Security forces continued to use arbitrary arrest, detention illegal searches and wiretaps. The Government did not prosecute security personnel accused in previous years of killings, rape, torture, and arbitrary arrest and detention. The judiciary remained subject to government interference. It was unable to provide citizens with prompt trials, and lengthy pretrial detention remained a problem. Citizens' right to change their government remained in doubt. The second round of the legislative elections was marred by widespread reports of fraud, vote-rigging, and irregularities committed by local officials, although no major incidents of violence were reported. The Court of Appeals succumbed to government pressure to ensure that a majority of parliamentary seats was held by the ruling party. There was infringement on worker rights, including reported instances of forced labor in agricultural communities and the military forces. Discrimination against women is common; violence against women is also believed to be common. Female genital mutilation is widespread. FARF rebels reportedly committed serious abuses, including killings of civilians in the area of Moundou in November and December.