Human rights violations go unpunished in Chad

30 January 2009

One year after the battle between government and armed opposition forces in N’Djaména, Chad, serious human rights violations perpetrated by the security forces are continuing with no one being held accountable.

"A year after the conflict, members of the security forces who carried out a regime of murder, torture and enforced disappearance of suspected government opponents have not been brought to justice, fuelling an already pervasive problem of impunity," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Programme Director.

Many people who were forcibly disappeared during the conflict have still not been found, while others continue to go missing. On 3 September 2008, Issa Palkoubou, an English teacher at the American Language Centre in N'Djaména, was abducted from the centre by three men in plain clothes and forced into a car. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since. The whereabouts of Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, a leading opposition politician who was one of many arrested last February, also remains unknown.

"Enforced disappearance appears to be a method used by Chadian security forces to spread fear among the population and intimidate perceived or real political opponents," said Tawanda Hondora. "Scores of people arrested by the security forces simply disappeared. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

"The Chadian government must disclose the whereabouts of those who have disappeared. They must also initiate criminal proceedings against members of their security forces and others who may have committed human rights violations," said Tawanda Hondora.

Amnesty International has called on the Chadian government to initiate criminal investigations into allegations of human rights abuses -- including war crimes and crimes against humanity – and to bring those responsible to justice.

The Battle of N’Djaména
On 2 and 3 February 2008, armed opposition groups mounted an offensive in the heavily populated areas of the capital city of Chad, N’Djaména. Government forces responded by bombing areas in N’Djaména where they believed the opposition forces were attacking from. Hundreds of civilians were killed or injured and more than 50,000 fled the capital to seek refuge in neighbouring Cameroon. The government of Chad regained control of N’Djaména and opposition forces retreated to Sudan.

Late in the afternoon of 3 February, the security forces entered the homes of several leaders of the unarmed opposition. They arrested the former Chadian president, Lol Mahamat Choa, Member of Parliament, Ngalegy Yorongar and the leader of the Party for Freedom and Devlopment, Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh. Lol Mahamat Choa was placed in detention for 25 days before being released, Ngalegy Yorongar was detained for 19 days and Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh disappeared and has not been heard of since.

On 15 March 2009, MINURCAT, a multi-dimensional UN Mission in Chad, will take over from EUFOR, the European Union-led military force. According to its new mandate, the UN  mission will "contribute to the monitoring and to the promotion and protection of human rights in Chad, with particular attention to sexual and gender-based violence, and to recommend action to the competent authorities, with a view to fighting impunity".

Chad: Double Misfortune: Deepening human rights crisis in Chad

Index Number: AFR 20/007/2008
Date Published: 18 December 2008
Categories: Chad

This report focuses on violations of human rights and humanitarian law that took place in N’Djaména. Armed opposition groups were in the city during the two days of intense fighting on 2 and 3 February 2008. The report highlights serious concerns about possible violations of international humanitarian law by both government and armed opposition forces at that time. As the human rights situation in Chad worsens, the implications for the people of Chad and for the region are extremely concerning.

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