Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 6
Status: Not Free
|Ten-Year Ratings Timeline for Year under Review
(Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Status)
|Year Under Review
2009 Key Developments: In May 2009, less than a week after the governments of Chad and Sudan signed an accord on normalizing their relations, a new alliance of Chadian rebel groups launched an offensive from bases in Sudan's Darfur region. Chadian and Sudanese officials met again in October to reaffirm their commitment to peace. A UN peacekeeping mission replaced a European Union force in eastern Chad in March, but as of September the UN force still had less than half of the recommended personnel.
Political Rights: Chad is not an electoral democracy. The country has never experienced a free and fair transfer of power through elections. The president is elected for five-year terms, and a 2005 constitutional amendment abolished term limits. The 2006 presidential election was held shortly after a rebel assault on the capital despite calls for a postponement. Many opposition members boycotted the balloting, which was reportedly marred by irregularities, and voter turnout may have been as low as 10 percent in some areas. The executive branch dominates the judicial and legislative branches, and the president appoints the prime minister. Despite rivalries within President Idriss Deby's northeastern Zaghawa ethnic group, members of that and other northern ethnic groups continue to control Chad's political and economic systems, causing resentment among the country's more than 200 other ethnic groups. Corruption is rampant within Deby's inner circle.
Civil Liberties: Freedom of expression is severely restricted, and self-censorship is common. Broadcast media are controlled by the state. Following the 2008 rebel attack on the capital, the government imposed a new press law that increased the maximum penalty for false news and defamation to three years in prison, and the maximum penalty for insulting the president to five years. In October 2009, Cameroonian- born editor Innocent Ebode was expelled for writing a column that criticized a minister's suggestion that President Deby be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After returning to Chad to contest the suspension of his newspaper, Ebode was abducted from his home in December and reportedly held at the Cameroonian border. Although Chad is a secular state, religion is a divisive force. Muslims, who make up slightly more than half of the population, hold a disproportionately large number of senior government posts, and some policies favor Islam in practice. At the same time, the authorities have banned Muslim groups that are seen as promoting violence. The government does not restrict academic freedom. Despite the constitutional guarantee of free assembly, the authorities ban demonstrations by groups thought to be critical of the government. Insecurity in the east and south has severely hindered the activities of humanitarian organizations in recent years. The constitution guarantees the rights to strike and unionize, but a 2007 law imposed new limits on public-sector workers' right to strike. The rule of law and the judicial system remain weak, with courts heavily influenced by the political leadership. Former president Hissene Habre was sentenced to death in absentia by a Chadian court in August 2008. Habre, who lives in exile in Senegal, was scheduled to face a trial there for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during his presidency. However, in its first ruling in December 2009, the African Court on Human and People's Rights dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. Human rights groups credibly accuse the security forces and rebel groups of killing and torturing with impunity. The army and its paramilitary forces, as well as rebel forces, have recruited child soldiers. Chadian women face widespread discrimination and violence.
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