Chad: Increasing use of repressive laws against Human Rights Defenders

In Chad, popular discontent in light of the country’s economic crisis has prompted many human rights defenders and activists to speak out in protest. However, in the last two years, the Chadian government has employed an arsenal of tactics to keep the voices of activists and civil society organizations muzzled.

Peaceful protests are regularly banned.

Activists involved in the planning of or attending peaceful protests get arrested. Some, like Moaoundoe Decladore, spokesperson of the movement “Ca Doit Changer” (‘It must change’ in French) was arrested by four armed men on the evening of May, 9th 2017. He was held in secret for 25 days, without any contact with his lawyer or loved ones, before being charged and released on bail.

Others are followed or receive threatening phone calls from members of the country’s notorious intelligence service, the ANS, in an effort to intimidate them.

Social media access was blocked throughout 2016 while online activities are heavily monitored. Tadjadine Mahamat Babouri was arrested on September 30th 2016, following the upload of a series of online videos in which he criticizes the government’s mismanagement of public funds. He is currently in jail, in an alarming medical condition.

Free speech is under attack in Chad.

Even journalists have been victims of this governmental crackdown against civil voices. Sylver Beindé Bassandé, the head of a community radio, was charged for complicity in contempt of the court has been sentenced to 2 years of prison in June 2017 after airing an interview with a municipal councillor who had previously been convicted. In the interview, the municipal councillor described the judges as “inexperienced youngsters” and was given the same sentence as Sylver. Sylver was released on bail while the municipal councillor remains in jail. Citizen platforms are also tacitly denied legal statusInes, making their members liable to prosecution. This harsh climate makes it more and more difficult for Chadian citizens and activists to speak up.

Tell Chad you stand with activists and human rights defenders.

• Immediately and unconditionally release and drop charges against Tadjadine Mahamat Babouri, Maoundoe Decladore, Sylver Beindé Bassandé and other prisoners of conscience.
• Refrain from restricting access to internet and social media.
• Abolish the contempt and defamation laws and ensure they are not used to restrict one’s right to freedom of expression.
• Acknowledge the existence of civil society platforms and allow them to carry out their activities.
• Address the threats and attacks made against human rights defenders.