Chad: Light must be shed on the fate of missing people
The Chadian authorities must clarify the fate of several members of the security and defense forces presumed “missing” after apparently voting against the party in power, and order an independent inquiry into the ill-treatment suffered by others, Amnesty International and the Chadian Human Rights League (LTDH) today declared.
The authorities must shed light on these disappearances
According to media reports, more than 40 members of the defense and security forces have been missing since 9 April, the day of the presidential election. The two human rights organizations have confirmation of more than 20 cases of alleged disappearances.
“The authorities must shed light on these disappearances by establishing an independent and impartial investigation to bring those allegedly responsible to justice through the civilian courts, in line with Chadian law and international standards on a fair trial, and without recourse to capital punishment," said Balkissa Ide Siddo, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Campaigner.
In response to allegations that members of the defense and security forces – including police officers, detectives and soldiers from different command units – had disappeared, the authorities stated that the individuals in question were currently deployed on a mission.
On 21 April, four of those presumed missing were presented on national television as evidence that they were still alive. No information on their whereabouts was given to their families, however, who have had no news from them and do not know when they are due to return.
These families have also stated that it is extremely unusual for their loved ones to leave on a mission without telling them. Their colleagues were furthermore unaware that any such deployment was planned.
Amnesty International and the Chadian Human Rights League have met with members of the defense and security forces who state that they were arrested, assaulted and detained on 9 April. The organizations have also gathered evidence from some 20 people who claim their family members disappeared after voting.
As I took my ballot papers, they told me to place my cross in favor of the president. I refused and so they grabbed me
According to information received by Amnesty International and the Chadian Human Rights League, military commanders were forcing members of the defense and security forces to publicly vote for the party in power at at least two polling stations. Those who did not comply were publicly beaten or detained in a cell for several hours.
One police officer told Amnesty International:
“We were forced to vote for the party in power. Two people were at the entrance to the polling booth. As I took my ballot papers, they told me to place my cross in favor of the president. I refused and so they grabbed me. I didn't have time to vote. They took my ballot papers and my electoral registration card. The commander hit one police officer in plain view of everyone because she voted for an opponent in front of them.”
In addition to those who are still apparently missing, several more security officers were arrested on the same day and later released. One police officer Amnesty International met said that around 40 people were crowded into a single cell measuring 4 x 5 meters for some 19 hours before being released.
“Responsibility must be established for cases of arbitrary arrest, detention and violence exercised against members of the security forces,” said Balkissa Ide Siddo.
“More than 20 families still have no news of their relatives: husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, soldiers and police officers. They are still at our offices, waiting for news,” said Me Midaye Guerimdaye, President of the Chadian Human Rights League.
“The authorities must put an end to their anguish and give a clear response to their questions.”
The presidential elections took place on 10 April, with the security forces voting a day earlier. On 5 April, the security forces used tear gas to disperse peaceful demonstrators who were calling on the authorities to release five detained activists. On 21 April, President Idriss Deby won the presidential election in the first round with 61.56% of the votes. This result was contested by the opposition and civil society, who claim a number of irregularities, particularly on 9 April.