United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Chad, 30 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa328.html [accessed 16 March 2014]
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.
CHAD Chad is governed by a transitional regime in which 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. The CNS also adopted an interim constitutional document, the Transitional Charter, establishing a provisional parliament, the Higher Transitional Council (CST), and mandating an independent judiciary. In April the CST amended the Charter to permit a third extension of the transition, through April 9, 1996. The Government is headed by Prime Minister Djimasta Koibla, who was elected by the CST. The army, gendarmerie, police and intelligence services are responsible for internal security. Members of the security forces committed serious human rights abuses and were not subject to effective control by either the Government or judicial authorities. Officers associated with the ethnic group of President Deby dominate the Rapid Intervention Force, formerly known as the Republican Guard, and the National Security Agency (ANS), a counterintelligence organ that also acted as an internal political police. Chad's economy relies on subsistence agriculture, herding, and fishing. Annual per capita income is an estimated $130 to $190. It has little industry; the chief export is raw cotton. The Government relies heavily on external financial and technical assistance. Its major source of revenue is customs duties, but pervasive smuggling and corruption severely limit revenues. The human rights situation worsened in some respects during the year. Government and rebel forces committed serious abuses of human rights and humanitarian law. The Government did not prosecute security personnel reportedly responsible for murder, rape, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and illegal search and seizure. Political activity continued, but an opposition leader was arrested in September. He was later released after opposition protests. The Government generally respected freedom of expression, but agents of the ANS ransacked the offices of an opposition newspaper and beat two journalists in June. No one was prosecuted for these actions. The Government at times imposed illegal limits on freedom of assembly and association and forced cancellation of a legal protest march in June. In other respects, the judiciary remained subject to government interference and was unable to provide citizens with prompt trials. Citizens do not have the ability to change their government. Discrimination against women was common.
Respect for Human Rights
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
Government forces and rebel fighters, including those of the so-called Armed Forces of the Federal Republic (FARF), were responsible for numerous deaths by summary execution or use of excessive force. Members of the security forces also committed criminal acts that resulted in civilian deaths. The Government took no action to prosecute abuses committed by its forces and routinely granted amnesties to rebels. According to credible reports, government troops killed a number of farmers in Eastern Logone province during counterinsurgency operations in late April and May. An investigation by human rights associations confirmed at least four victims: Jerome Gondje, Eloi Diondei, Claude Djeratoroum, and Faustin Grongrondje. The investigation also confirmed that the FARF killed a herder, Adoum Mahamat. Unconfirmed but credible reports by human rights organizations alleged that government forces killed at least 50 other persons in Eastern and Western Logone provinces from July through September. Most of the victims were farmers, but the total included a teacher and a priest as well as rebels kidnaped from prison. Most were allegedly summarily executed, while others were said to have been brutally tortured before being killed. Points of sheet metal were pounded into the head of one person, a spike through the head of another, and four nails in the head of a third. Two victims were reported burned alive, one was drowned, and one was hanged. Victims were said to have included a 15-year-old girl who was killed resisting rape, and a husband who was killed defending his wife. One victim's name had earlier appeared on the list of 55 alleged rebels granted amnesty by President Deby in June. Human rights groups alleged that during the same period FARF guerrillas killed four peasants in the Eastern and Western Logone provinces. Government troops stationed in the region were a law unto themselves. According to credible reports, a regimental commander ordered that Malachie Mbakoubou, a noncommissioned officer, be tortured. Torture continued for more than 24 hours before he was executed May 25. Mbaiterem Nasson, a FARF rebel imprisoned in Moundou, capital of the Western Logone, was seized by armed men and transported to the countryside where he was tortured and executed on August 6. On September 24 four bound and mutilated bodies were found floating near Moundou. In January the Government implicitly acknowledged responsibility for past human rights abuses in the Logone provinces when an official delegation to the region offered financial compensation to victims' families, but the Government prosecuted no one for these or subsequent violations. Members of the security forces were also implicated in criminal acts of murder or attempted murder, as were armed customs agents. In one case, military assassins claimed that they mistook a World Bank consultant for their intended target and attempted to kill him. Although press reports and human rights associations identified many of the perpetrators of these acts, the Government did not prosecute anyone. Confirmed killings or attempting killings in N'Djamena included: an unidentified pedestrian who survived being shot three times at point-blank range by a bodyguard of former Army Chief of Staff Becher Moussa Houno; Al-Hadj Hassane and Al-Hadj Abdoulaye, shot by customs agents at the N'Djamena central market; and Moussa Galmaye and Kalimi Adoum, shot by ANS official Issa Brahim following a traffic dispute. Similar cases outside N'Djamena included Samantchouna Dongo Mboulou, a veterinary technician fatally shot in Moundou by two officers in April, one a security official of the regional military command, and Ambroise Ndoyo, a driver who failed to stop at a Moundou roadblock.
There were reports of peasants abducted by security forces for suspected involvement with FARF rebels. These reports remain unconfirmed, but many appear credible. Some persons who reportedly disappeared were among those granted amnesty in June and released in N'Djamena.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Transitional Charter specifically prohibits torture and degrading or humiliating treatment. However, the Government failed to halt acts of torture and brutality by its security forces and took no effective action to improve conditions in its prisons. In March, following FARF threats to the parastatal Cotontchad, a police official and former secret police agent, Baal Zahr Papy, was sent to Moundou to assist military authorities in uncovering FARF sympathizers. Security forces arrested Cotontchad employee Edmond Mbaiornom without warrant at his residence on March 28. They bound and beat him, then forced him to drink large quantities of water in order to extract a confession. He was freed after 49 days without being charged. From late April to mid-May, the army intensified counterinsurgency operations in the Logone provinces. Units would typically arrive in villages, demand information about rebels from local notables such as canton or village chiefs or church pastors and proceed to beat or torture them to obtain information. Other villagers received similar treatment for resisting abuses by troops. Rape of women of all ages by soldiers was common. All villagers risked retaliation by FARF guerrillas if they cooperated. There were numerous reports of victims tortured by troops employing a practice called the arbatachar, in which a victim's arms and legs are tied behind the back, cutting off circulation and causing possible paralysis. Some victims were bound this way and left in the sun; others were hung from trees and beaten. There were similar reports in August and September when the Government dispatched reinforcements following an accord between FARF leader Laokein Barde Frisson and exiled former president Goukouni Wedeye. Logone villagers were not the only victims of these abuses. In March the prefet of Ouaddai province accused local security forces of illegal night arrests, beatings, and other abuses. On April 25, political leader Antoine Bangui, a retired international civil servant, was beaten by army soldiers while campaigning in the Western Logone. Prison conditions are harsh. Prisons throughout the country are appallingly overcrowded, have poor sanitation, inadequate food, shelter, and medical facilities, and mix male and female prisoners. Prisoners are almost totally dependent on their families for food and clothing. All prisons are in need of major repairs, and escapes are frequent.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Transitional Charter and the Penal Code prohibit arbitrary arrest. Arrest warrants must usually be signed by a judicial official. However, the Government does not always respect these requirements. Military and security authorities routinely arrest or detain persons without warrant or trial. On April 9 in Moundou, Baal Zahr Papy ordered the illegal night arrest of Damtangar Ley Gatou, vice president of the Moundou Chapter of the Chadian Human Rights League. Community residents came to Gatou Ley's defense, forcing security officers to flee. Security forces illegally detained a number of alleged rebels. These included 10 persons arrested in N'Djamena for connections with the National Front of Chad and 55 accused FARF rebels, mostly peasant farmers in the Logone provinces. All were released when President Deby decreed an amnesty for opponents of the Government on June 9. On June 1 in N'Djamena, ANS agents and gendarmes arrested without warrant two N'Djamena Hebdo journalists, Yaldet Begoto Oulatar and Dieudonne Djonabaye, after ransacking the newspaper's offices. The journalists were taken to ANS headquarters where they were beaten and threatened. Authorities released them only after the intervention of Prime Minister Koibla. The ANS agents responsible were identified by an investigation promised by President Deby and carried out by the National Human Rights Commission, but have not been bought to trial. The Government did not use exile as a political weapon.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Transitional Charter mandates an independent judiciary. A national judicial system operates with courts located in provincial capitals, but it is underfunded and overburdened and subject to official interference. The Government has failed to implement judicial reforms ordered by the CNS. Breakdown of the criminal courts especially cripples the system, as official inaction and interference often prevent the judiciary from prosecuting cases. Persons accused of crimes may have to endure up to several years of incarceration before being charged or tried. In many cases, persons arrested for felonies in the provinces may be brought to trial only if remanded to the overcrowded and dangerous house of detention in N'Djamena. The N'Djamena court of appeals is supposed to conduct regular assizes in the provinces, but rarely does so. Civil courts, in contrast to their criminal counterparts, did demonstrate independence in several high-profile cases. The N'Djamena court of appeals overturned a government voter registration campaign. This was followed by a wholesale reassignment of judicial personnel. It also fined and sentenced to prison the director general of the ANS, who successfully defied the verdict by refusing to recognize the court's competence to judge him. The court convicted on a civil charge a presidential guard who fired on a diplomatic vehicle, but he escaped from custody the following month after being arraigned for attempted murder. The Moundou Tribunal sentenced to prison and fined an ANS agent for the attempted kidnaping of Damtangar Ley Gatou of the Chadian Human Rights League. The Military Code of Justice has not been enforced since the 1979-1980 Civil War, and courts-martial instituted early in the Deby Regime to try MPS fighters for crimes against civilians no longer operate. The remaining military magistrates now sit as civilian judges on the N'Djamena court. People in rural areas usually do not have access to formal judicial institutions. In most civil cases they rely on traditional courts presided over by village chiefs, Chefs de Canton, or sultans. Their decisions may be appealed to a formal court.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Transitional Charter provides for the right to privacy of home and correspondence and freedom from arbitrary search. The Penal Code requires that authorities conduct searches of homes only during daylight hours and with a legal warrant. In practice, security forces ignored these provisions and conducted extrajudicial searches at any time. Chief offenders were the ANS and gendarmerie, who mounted illegal operations against opposition figures, and the army, which invaded villages in areas of internal conflict, in many cases abusing their victims and extorting goods and money from them (see Section 1.g.). On January 12, acting on orders of the Interior Minister, gendarmes entered the house of veteran political figure and major opposition leader Abdoulaye Lamana without possession of a warrant. They confiscated two registered hunting rifles. On August 30, ANS agents and gendarmes mounted a search of the residence of another opposition figure, former Minister Saleh Kebzabo, without a warrant and after dark. They abused his pregnant wife when she asked to see a warrant, then confiscated documents, money, and an automobile. Police arrested Kebzabo several days later, but released him after protests by opposition political parties. He filed a civil suit against the officials responsible. The Government engages in widespread telephone surveillance without judicial authority.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
Security forces often failed to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants in carrying out military actions and exacted reprisals against villagers suspected of aiding rebels, including burning villages and destroying crops. There were credible reports from Eastern and Western Logone, Ouaddai, and Lake provinces of villages which were pillaged and terrorized by government and rebel forces. Both sides extorted or stole money and goods from villagers. Inhabitants of villages victimized by one side were often then subject to exactions by the other for their supposed collaboration. In the Logone provinces, villages were forced to quarter army troops operating in the area, since the Government provided no barracks and little pay. Army units also evicted villagers from schools and churches for use as quarters. An inquiry conducted by the Papal Nuncio and the Catholic bishop of Moundou confirmed that troops had occupied churches in at least six Logone villages in August. Both the army and FARF guerrillas prevented villagers from working their fields, at times destroying their seeds. The army forced some inhabitants to abandon villages by threats and exactions, including burning. Army troops stole villagers' grain, livestock and other possessions, raising fears of famine. As a means of crippling government export earnings, FARF fighters intimidated the inhabitants of many villages from raising cotton, their sole cash crop. In March, Movement for Democracy and Development (MDD) rebels in the Lake Chad region seized an American U.N. consultant and two associates as hostages. They later released the U.S. citizen in Nigeria.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Transitional Charter provides for freedom of speech and the press. The Government generally respected these rights, but there were instances of censorship of state radio, including by the Chief of State. The Higher Council on Communications (HCC) intervened effectively as an ombudsman. The Government did not censor opposition newspapers, and some were vociferously critical of government policies and leaders. It also did not interfere with the distribution of opposition tracts and press releases. However, government agents were responsible for two attacks on independent journalists. In April army personnel assaulted Mahdi Khalil Mahdi, the Moundou correspondent for the independent newspaper Le Progres, causing the newspaper to recall him. On June 1, ANS agents and gendarmes conducting a search of the home of a senior civil servant were surprised by a reporter for the newspaper N'Djamena Hebdo. The ANS detained the reporter and took him to the newspaper's offices, where ANS agents destroyed computers, printers, and other equipment, abused employees, and arrested journalists. The press consists of a national radio network, a press agency, and an N'Djamena television station, all owned and operated by the State, as well as a number of small, limited-circulation, independent and party newspapers. The state media, although regularly providing coverage of opponents of the Government, give priority to government officials and events and is subject to both official and informal censorship. In August President Deby banned news of the ransacking of opposition party leader Saleh Kebzabo's compound by government agents. Deby lifted this order only after the HCC chairman intervened. The HCC, an independent institution mandated by the CNS, acts as an arbiter whose main function is to promote free access to the media. It has been able to prod state radio and television to air opposition views. In October, despite strong pressure from religious groups, it ruled that the television station had to drop its longstanding refusal to show an award winning film condemning female genital mutilation, directed by state television producer Zara Mahamat Yacoub. Academic freedom is respected.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Transitional Charter provides for freedom of association and assembly, and the Government generally respects these rights. Authorities routinely grant permits for political and nongovernmental organization (NGO) meetings and usually do not interfere in meetings or press conferences. Nevertheless, the Government was responsible for serious assaults on freedom of assembly and association. In June the Government banned a citywide march organized by a coalition of opposition parties and NGO's to protest the ransacking of the N'Djamena Hebdo newspaper offices and the mistreatment of its journalists (see Sections 1.f. and 2.a.). Authorities informed organizers that they would disperse marchers using lethal force if necessary. The Government stationed armed gendarmes along the planned route and occupied the offices of major labor organizations. The organizers cancelled the march. Chad currently has 60 registered political parties and several hundred NGO's. However, a confusion of laws governing NGO's enabled the Minister of Territorial Administration to threaten unions and human rights organizations with dissolution for organizing joint rallies with political parties in July and August in N'Djamena. The NGO's maintained that the law cited by the Government had been superseded, but acceded to the ruling. On November 4, gendarmes illegally broke up a meeting of political parties called at Prime Minister's Koibla's request. In protest, the president of the CST, Issa Abbas Ali, briefly suspended the activities of the provisional parliament.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Transitional Charter provides that the state is officially secular; all faiths worship without government constraint.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Transitional Charter provides for these rights. The Government does not require special permission for travel in most areas. However, armed bandits operate on many roads, exposing travelers to assault, robbery, and murder; many bandits have been identified as soldiers and deserters. The Defense Minister personally led a mission to clear the country's main routes of illegal roadblocks, but security forces, guerrillas and bandits continue to maintain them, extorting money from travelers. Citizens may leave the country and return. Chadian refugees are free to repatriate, although many remain in neighboring countries. In May approximately 7,000 citizens returned to southern Chad from the Boubou refugee camp in the Central African Republic under the auspices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. About 4,000 remain in the camp, in addition to others at Kaga Bandro and Bangui. Several thousand other Chadian refugees remain in Niger, partisans of an unsuccessful rebel invasion of Chad in 1992. Fewer than 2,000 former Chadian refugees remain in Cameroon.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Citizens were unable to exercise this right in 1995. Effective power remains in the hands of President Deby, members of his Zaghawa ethnic group, the military and security services they dominate, and his MPS party. The CNS granted the Government a limited mandate to rule in accordance with the Transitional Charter. Neither the President nor members of the CST are subject to recall. The national government appoints local officials. The CNS mandated the establishment of an Independent National Electoral Commission to oversee elections, but it was not installed until February. The National Voter Registration Commission initiated its campaign in December. Few women hold senior leadership positions. Two women currently serve in the 20-member Cabinet; there are four women in the 52-member CST.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Human rights organizations operate with few overt restrictions, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials are often accessible, but are generally unresponsive or hostile to their findings. Nongovernmental human rights associations have become established members of civil society under the Deby regime and participate in key governmental institutions. They are courageous, if often partisan in publicizing abuses through reports and press releases, but only occasionally are able to intervene with authorities. All are dominated by opponents of the Government, impairing their credibility. Two governmental bodies, the newly established National Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Committee of the CST, are also active, but the Government consistently ignores their recommendations. The Government permitted investigations by international human rights organizations, but took no action on their reports. In January, the U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) released a report on the human rights situation. Its Chad Special Rapporteur, M'bam Diarra Ndoure visited again in November. The Government defended its record in two cases before the UNHRC under the confidential 1503 Procedure. A delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited prisons in N'Djamena, Moundou, Sarh, Abeche, Biltine, Bol and Baga Sola in March and April.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Transitional Charter provides for equal rights for all citizens, regardless of sex, race, or origin. In practice, cultural traditions maintain women in subordinate status, and the Government favors its ethnic supporters and allies.
While no statistics are available, domestic violence against women is common. By tradition, wives are subject to their husbands, and have only limited legal recourse against abuse. Family or ethnic authorities may act in such cases, but police rarely intervene. Neither government nor advocacy groups operate programs to redress discrimination against women. Women do not have equal opportunities for education and training, so it is difficult for them to compete for the few formal sector jobs. Property and inheritance laws do not discriminate against women, but traditional practice favors men. Exploitation of women is especially pervasive in rural areas, where women do most of the agricultural labor and are discouraged from study.
The Government has demonstrated little commitment to children's rights and welfare. It has not committed adequate funding to public education and medical care. Educational opportunities for girls are limited. About as many girls as boys are enrolled in primary school, but the percentage of girls enrolled in secondary school is extremely low, primarily because of early marriage. Although the law prohibits sex with a girl under the age of 14, even if married, this law is rarely enforced, and many families arrange marriages for girls as young as age 11 or 12--sometimes forcibly--for the financial gain of a dowry. Many are then obligated to work long hours of physical labor for their husbands in fields or homes. Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is widespread and deeply rooted in tradition. Advocated by women as well as by men, the practice is strongest among ethnic groups in the east and south. It is usually performed prior to puberty as a rite of passage, an occasion many families use to profit from gifts from their communities. Opposition to its elimination is strong. Several female officials of the Health Ministry attempted to develop a public education program to change attitudes toward FGM, but received no government support. A number of women's groups are active in promoting change, but few are effective; government officials discourage their activities. The award winning film on FGM by a Muslim woman was strongly condemned by Islamic associations and the Imam of the N'Djamena grand mosque. It was shown on state television, and provoked widespread discussion of this previously taboo subject.
People with Disabilities
There is no official discrimination against disabled persons. However, the Government operates no therapy, education, or employment programs for people with disabilities, and no laws mandate access to buildings for them.
Ethnicity continues to influence government appointments and political alliances. There are approximately 200 ethnic groups from two general traditions: Arab and Saharan/Sahelian zone Muslims in the north, center and east, and Sudanian zone Christian or animist peoples in the south. Rivalries among these many groups have caused civil tensions and conflicts for many years.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Transitional Charter specifically recognizes labor's right to organize. All employees, except members of the military, are free to join or form unions. Unions must receive authorization from the Government in order to operate legally. However, few workers belong to unions: most Chadians are subsistence cultivators or herders. The main labor organization is the Federation of Chadian Unions (UST); its major constituent union is the Teachers' Union of Chad (SET). Neither has organizational, financial, or procedural ties to the Government. A number of minor federations and unions, including the Free Confederation of Chadian Workers (CLTT), also operate, some with ties to government officials. The Government generally respected the right to strike and organize. Armed police and gendarmes occupied UST, CLTT, and SET offices for 2 days in June to prevent their participation in a march planned to protest government actions in the N'Djamena Hebdo affair. There were no strikes in the private sector, but work stoppages by civil servants, teachers, and health workers over unpaid salaries were common throughout the year in all areas of the country. On several occasions unionized public school teachers in N'Djamena engaged in intimidation of teachers in nonunion private schools, forcing these schools to close in support of SET's demands. The International Labor Organization received but did not examine UST complaints against the Government for allegedly violating the right to strike and demonstrate, and for occupying union headquarters in 1994.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The Transitional Charter and the Labor Code contain only general provisions on the rights of labor and do not specifically protect collective bargaining. The Labor Code requires the Government to set minimum wage standards and permits unions to bargain collectively. The law does not specifically prohibit antiunion discrimination, and there is no formal mechanism for resolving such complaints. In May three top union officials in Biltine prefecture, Bakari Aoudou and Nadjingar Djimodundoudje of UST and Lokal Yokassi of SET, were suspended from their jobs by their employers at the behest of government officials and expelled for publicly presenting union complaints about insecurity in the region and nonpayment of salaries. There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced labor was outlawed in 1952. There is no evidence of the practice in the formal economy, but there are indications of isolated instances among rural farming or herding communities and in military installations in the north. In 1995 the newly established National Nomad Guard freed several men held as slaves by nomadic herders in the Lake Chad region. There was also strong evidence that the military routinely compels members to perform forced labor at isolated outposts as punishment.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The law stipulates that the minimum age for employment in the formal sector is 14. The Government does not enforce the law, but in practice children are rarely employed except in agriculture and herding. Several hundred young people between the ages of 14 and 17 reportedly serve in the armed forces.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The Labor Code requires the Government to set minimum wages. It agreed this year to raise minimum monthly public sector wages beginning in 1995 from a range of $355 to $415 (cfa 7,100 to cfa 8,320) to $1,500 to $1,450 (cfa 21,000 to cfa 25,000), but failed to fully implement the changes. Most wages are insufficient to support subsistence, much less to maintain an adequate standard of living. According to a UST study, public sector wages remained the same from 1977 to 1994 while the cost of living rose by 400 percent. The Government also failed to pay its employees fully, particularly in areas outside the capital. Salary arrears to civil servants at year's end were as much as 4 to 5 months in N'Djamena and up to 8 months outside the capital. There were no payments at all to some members of the military for most of the year. Many state employees were obliged to search for second jobs, raise their own food crops, or rely on family for support. The law limits most nonagricultural work to 48 hours per week, with overtime paid for supplementary hours, and agricultural work to 2,400 hours per year. All workers are entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest per week. The Government took no actions to enforce these standards. The Labor Code mandates occupational health and safety standards and inspectors with the authority to enforce them. These standards are rarely respected in practice. There is no indication that the Government has ever appointed safety inspectors.